Director of Instruction
McCormick Ranch Golf Club
As driver technology has evolved through the years, golfers have benefitted greatly with increased distance and forgiveness. A lot has been written regarding how a player gets fit or chooses a driver. With today’s marketing bombardment from all the club manufacturers, it seems no matter where a player turns, more distance and forgiveness awaits them. The advent of launch monitors have given golf professionals, fitters and manufacturers data they can use to analyze each shot with the various club and shaft combinations a player will hit. Some common numbers we are all used to hearing are club speed, ball speed, launch angle, spin rate and smash factor. Trackman, has given me a new number to look at while fitting drivers; landing angle.
What is Landing Angle? Landing Angle is simply the back end angle at which a shot hits the ground.
Why is landing angle important? As illustrated in the picture above, an optimal landing angle for achieving consistent bounce and roll is around 40 degrees. For each degree flatter the landing angle becomes, the roll will increase 1.5 to 2 yards. Conversely, for each degree steeper the landing angle becomes the ball will roll 1.5 to 2 yards less.
How do I know if my landing angle is optimal? Watch the overall height of the golf shot. The average height of a drive on the PGA Tour is 92 feet, or about the height of a 9 story building. Picture that building on the side of the driving range or fairway. If your drive is flying significantly lower than that, your landing angle is probably too flat and carry distance is being sacrificed. If your ball is flying much higher than that, your landing angle is probably too steep and roll is being sacrificed.
How do I change my landing angle? The first way to change landing angle is to make sure the ball is struck slightly above center in the middle of the driver face. A ball struck there will almost always spin less. Secondly, try to hit UP on the golf ball. Common knowledge has told us that hitting down makes the ball go up; this is not an optimal approach. With a driver, hitting UP at the golf ball combined with a pure strike will give a player a solid launch and spin combination necessary to make sure the ball falls with an appropriate landing angle allowing for optimal roll and maximum distance.
Scott Sackett, GOLF Magazine Top 100 Teacher the past 14 years, just voted as one of Golf Digest’s Best Teacher in the State for the fifth year in a row. Also, Director of Instruction at Park Meadows CC in Park City Utah and while in Scottsdale teaches at McCormick Ranch Golf Club. Scott can be reached by email at email@example.com.