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PING - Blogs Pretty good article from Chris Broadie, the head of fitting science at Ping, showing the advantage of hitting the ball straighter. Outliers like Bubba Watson (he's mentioned in the article) aside, better players tend to curve the ball less. That makes sense. Straighter shots are more accurate and more predictable, so it would lead to better golf scores. Chris demonstrates the effect of large curves by using a tour pro's impact variability and simulating straight shots ( average of 0° face-to-path) vs a big draw (average of -6° face-to-path) So if the average tour player were to hit drives with large curves, he would lose 24 yards off the tee and gain 12% accuracy. People always like to have the distance vs accuracy debate, but I don't think anyone can reasonably argue that 12% accuracy is worth losing 2-3 clubs for on the second shot. He does point out that the accuracy can be advantageous. I suppose if you hit the ball 320 yards, you can afford to hit it 296 yards to get a better chance at hitting the fairway when you really need to. The 1.1 strokes per round is significant though. That's a lot of strokes the simulated tour player is giving up off the tee with the bigger curve. A more realistic scenario for a tour player looks like this: Here you can see the difference between the straight shot vs the curved shot is negligible. So a curve is not bad in and of itself, but too much curve and you're not getting the most out of your drives.
Here's Mike Bender, otherwise a good instructor, doling out some misguided information. First, let's see how accurate that is: At 100 yards in the rough, PGA Tour players average 3.02. At 175 in the fairway, they average 3.07. Close enough. At 80, it's 2.96. At 155, it's 2.97. Close enough. At 120, it's 3.08. At 195, it's 3.17. That's not super close - it's a tenth of a stroke, or 1.4 strokes in favor of being in the rough per round. At 140, it's 3.15. At 215, it's 3.3. Not really close. Over a round with 14 driver holes, that's 2.1 strokes. Here's the other problem, and it's one commonly made by people who make comments like "distance sounds great but I don't want to play every drive from the trees." This isn't how it works. The longer hitters are not "hitting from the trees" all that often. In fact, despite what Mike Bender says, they're not hitting from the ROUGH much more often, either. Look at the 2017 driving accuracy stats. First place: 72.73% (by absolute world-beater [sarcasm] Ryan Armour). A player who hits 2 fewer fairways ranks all the way down at almost 125th place (at about 58.44% fairways hit). Those people are Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Rose, and Branden Grace. Being as little as 20 yards ahead on EVERY tee shot OFTEN outweigh the disadvantage of being in the rough one to two extra times per round. (72.73% of 14 is 10.18, 58.44% is 8.18.) It's not like short hitters are gaining strokes with every drive. Truth be told, they're only gaining strokes on about 2 to 2.5 drives per round. On the other 12 or so, they're losing strokes to the longer hitters: they're losing strokes on the 8.18 fairways the longer hitters also hit, and the 3.82 fairways that even the short hitters miss. Mike Bender should know better. One of his students, Zach Johnson, would absolutely take an extra 20-30 yards, even if it came at the cost of a fairway or two per round. After all…
I'm interested in Michelle Wie's swing in 2017. So far she's returning back to her peak level. I like her shortened upswing and controlled downswing. To my surprise, this "stinger-like" swing doesn't cost much distance at all. Check this out, comments are welcome!