Saying that a golfer wants to hit longer drives is kind of like saying that water is wet – it’s not exactly breaking news.
Every golfer wants to hit the ball farther off the tee, because longer drives set up shorter approach shots, and shorter approach shots lead to more birdies. Of course, hitting the ball longer off the tee will also give you a chance to show up your playing partners as you make your way around the course.
Between the lower scores and the bragging rights, it’s not hard to understand why distance is such a hot topic in this game.
Of course, there are a number of ways in which you can pursue added distance. In this article, we are going to look at one specific method – optimizing your launch angle.
As the name would indicate, your launch angle is the angle at which the ball leaves the club face immediately after impact. If you launch the ball too high, you will waste some of the energy of the shot going up into the sky, and the ball will fall short of its potential. Or, if you hit the ball too low, carry distance will be reduced, and you will again be wasting yards.
Only when you find the sweet spot between those two extremes will you be able to send the ball deep down the fairway to set up those easy wedge approach shots that every golfer loves.
What is the Perfect Launch Angle?
If golf were a simple game, we would be able to provide you with the ideal launch angle for your driver and you could head off to the range to work on finding it. Of course, golf is anything but simple, and there is no one answer to this question.
The ideal launch angle for you is going to depend on a number of variables.
For example, the average player on the PGA TOUR launches the ball at a little more than 10 degrees with the driver. So does that mean that you should be shooting for something in the 10-degree range? No – probably not.
The swing speed possessed by a tour player will produce a high rate of backspin at impact, meaning the ball will be able to climb out of that low launch to eventually carry well down the fairway. You do not have the same luxury, in all likelihood.
Unless you swing the driver in excess of 110 miles per hour, you are going to need to launch the ball higher to maximize your overall distance.
Signs of Trouble With Your Launch Angle
Believe it or not, it should be relatively easy to notice if you are having trouble with your launch angle, even without the use of fancy equipment.
During your next round of golf, pay particular attention to the ball flight created each time you hit a driver. Does the ball seem like it is struggling to get off the ground? Or, is it climbing up into the sky, only to fall straight down and stop where it lands?
Any ball flight which looks ‘extreme’ (high or low) should be cause for concern.
Another way to notice that you have a launch angle problem is to listen to the comments of your playing partners. They will have a better view of your drives than you will standing over the ball, so they can tell you if the ball is launching unusually high or low.
If you feel like you are making a swing which has a similar speed to the others in your group, but you are consistently the shortest hitter, it may well be that your launch angle is the underlying problem.
Most golfers who are having trouble with their launch angle will turn first to new equipment in an effort to solve the problem. However, you might not need to go that far – the fix could be as simple as improving the mechanics in your swing.
Check out the list below for some ideas on how you can tweak your technique to get back on track.
#1 Stay Balanced
Losing your balance can quickly cause launch angle problems.
If you keep your weight on your back foot during the downswing, the ball will typically launch higher than you would like.
If you get stuck on your front foot before impact arrives, you will hit the ball lower than intended.
Work hard on improving your balance and your trajectory should improve at the same time.
#2 Let Your Hands Lead the Way
If your launch angle is currently too high, you may be arriving at impact with your hands behind the position of the ball.
During the downswing, work on accelerating your hands aggressively so that they pass the ball prior to the club head making contact.
By moving your hands into a better position at the moment of impact, you should be able to lower your launch angle and add distance to your drives.
#3 Have a Flat Left Wrist at Impact
Another way to improve your ball flight is to make sure your left wrist is in a flat position at the moment of impact (for a right-handed golfer).
With the left wrist flat, you will have the club head in a good position without adding extra loft to the face.
It is possible that your launch angle problems come down to nothing more than having the wrong driver in your hands. If you suspect that to be the case, the best thing to do is head to your local golf shop for a driver fitting.
The pro who completes your fitting will be able to help you find the right shaft and driver head combination using a launch monitor to measure every aspect of your swing – including your launch angle. This option can be expensive, of course, as you may wind up buying a new driver, but it will get you on the right track in a hurry.
Optimizing your launch angle is an important step to take if you would like to send the ball as far down the fairway as possible with your driver.
With a perfect launch angle for your swing firmly in place, you can check off this point and move on to the next as you strive to be the best player you can be.