Down is Not Up in This Case

Tom Velarde
Golf Professional
Black Mesa Golf Club
La Mesilla, AZ

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I have been reading an article, which is actually a physics test, in how trackman works and how terms are defined. Seems that some terms are not actually part of the English language and have been “invented” to explain a technical point.

The D Plane – This is what my bride usually places me into when I have been unruly (akin to being sent to the corner to contemplate your ill intentions). But for golf, it’s the clubhead direction and face orientation, it’s a representation of perfect contact between the clubface and the ball - confusing?

Launch Direction – This is very simple. This is when we (as good husbands) duck when an incoming object is traveling at a low enough velocity to allow us to react. When the incoming object has more velocity than we can avoid we call in the specialist, who normally is the ER doctor. But for golf, it’s the realization that the face angle has four times greater impact than club path in determining the balls’ starting direction.

Spin Axis from the D plane – This is a little known scientific vortex that is caused by a puppy chasing its tail, the extreme g forces on the pup moving in a circular motion will cause the puppy to imbed itself into the ground.  We could give you the golf version but it really is nothing but numbers that by luck coincide with global warming numbers. Could be another factor in our warming planet are those puppies.

Off-center Impact – Does it get any easier? This is when we hit a nail the glancing blow that smashes our finger, holding the nail as our spouse says we should use the pliers to hold the nail. Not to be confused with smash factor, off center impacts do not require trips to the ER.

Smash Factor – Can be accomplished many ways, the hammer to the finger being the most prominent with a few others. Notably the excessive force knuckle smash when we apply too much force to bolts and the wrench slips off causing our knuckles to smash into either scalding hot metal or unyielding surfaces that only accept blood sacrifices. For golf, it’s the ball speed divided by the clubhead speed.

Spin Generation – Friction, in regular life this is - did you put the toilet seat down? I guess the best question would be what other force is responsible for spin generation or as the younger generation now says – Really?

While golf keeps reinventing itself it keeps also getting more and more complex. We, as a society, have become so immersed in the minutia of a process we forget that it’s a game, meant to only be enjoyed. So next time you’re playing companion is off to the side checking so many points in a swing, casually offer to up the wager. It will be the best investment you can make.

Tom Velarde is the Manager at Black Mesa Golf Club in Espanola, New Mexico, just northwest of Santa Fe. For more information or to reach Tom, email