Director of Instruction
McCormick Ranch Golf Club
April is Masters month and this year was definitely a masters to remember. Aside from Jordan, the tee shot on number 13 caught my interest the most this year, after watching most every player in the field come through on spotlight Amen corner coverage online. A lot of players chose 3 wood off the 13th tee. According to the announcers, it was because “it is easier to curve a 3 wood around the corner than a driver.” This was the statement that stood out to me as it was repeated over and over again, group after group by numerous commentators.
Physics disagrees with the claim it is easier to curve a 3 wood than a driver. The 13th at Augusta favors a draw (for right hander) around the dogleg to help position the 2nd shot into the par 5.
When looking at the curvature of the golf ball in flight, we are going to examine spin loft. For this article, the assumed contact point will be center, face to path differential -3 and attack angle of 0. (For more on what these parameters mean, visit my website www.scottsackett.com/trackman.) Our driver static loft will be 10 degrees and 3 wood static loft will be 15 degrees.
Spin Loft is the amount of loft delivered to the golf ball at impact. In this example, each simulated shot already has our Spin Loft calculated. For our driver it is 10 degrees and 3 wood is 15 degrees. With that being true, we will need to figure out how much the axis of the golf ball is titled by each simulated shot.
Referencing the images, let’s take a look at each shot. (For each 1 degree of axis tilt the shot will bend 0.7%)
Our simulated driver, with a spin loft of 10 degrees, will have the golf ball axis tilted approximately 5.7 degrees for each degree the face differs from the path. That would equal a tilt of 17.1 degrees and a total shot bend of 11.94%.
The 3 wood, with a spin loft of 15 degrees, will have the golf ball axis tilted approximately 3.8 degrees for each degree the face differs from the path. That would equal a tilt of 11.4 degrees and have a total shot bend of 7.98%.
Assuming the average carry distances on the PGA Tour to calculate the amount of actual curvature in the air,
we can say a driver in our simulated example will fly 275 yards and curve
33 yards (99 feet) and a 3 wood will fly 245 yards and curve 20 yards (60 feet).
Moral of this story backed by science is the less loft on the club at impact, the easier it is the curve the golf ball.
Scott Sackett, GOLF Magazine Top 100 Teacher since 1999, 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 he teaches at McCormick Ranch Golf Club.
If you would like reach Scott , you can contact him through his website at www.scottsackett.com.