Golf Tips From A Pro: Pete Popovich - Dispelling the Myths
Author: Pete Popovich | Photographer: Photography By Anne
Perhaps the most significant reason most golfers seem unable to improve is their belief in common golf myths. Forget these, and you’ll be on your way to a better game of golf:
Myth #1. Turn your back to the target
Because the way the human body is designed, it is extremely difficult to turn your back to the target and maintain focus on the ball. Try this: Set up to a golf ball and focus your eyes on one spot on that ball: a dimple, number, letter, etc. Now turn your back until your back faces the target and is at a 90-degree angle to the intended target line. Can you still see the same spot on the golf ball? For most of you, the answer is no.
The Reason: The human body is not built to rotate on a consistent basis at such a high degree. The rotation of the lumbar region of your back, comprised of muscles, ligaments and vertebrae, is designed to flex forward and backward. This area has a limited amount of rotation before the muscles, ligaments & tendons become strained and bones bump into one another.
Myth #2. Stiffer shafts allow you to hit the ball straighter.
Stiffer shafts will only allow you to hit the ball straighter if the shafts you currently play are not stiff enough. Playing a shaft that is too stiff causes a myriad of problems: elongated back swing, over the top, loss of distance, and the list goes on.
The Reason: Frequency (an electronic measure of stiffness) must match the amount of energy (horsepower) a golfer produces. If a shaft is too stiff, the golfer will somehow try to generate more horsepower. This often causes compensations in the swing. Conversely, if a shaft is too soft/weak the golfer will compensate by slowing down the swing. It is only when the amount of horsepower a golfer produces is equal to the horsepower the shaft requires that the shaft functions the way it was designed to function, maximizing distance and direction.
Myth #3. A softer golf ball does not go as far as a harder ball.
This is one of the biggest misconceptions in golf, especially among amateurs. A golf ball will travel farther so long as it stays in the air. If a golf ball does not have enough spin, the amount of lift required for sufficient trajectory cannot be attained. When this happens, a ball knuckles (much like a pitch in baseball) and falls out of the sky, leaving the golfer short of his/her potential. Most amateurs with slower swing speeds would benefit greatly from playing a ball that is softer.
The Reason: The more a ball spins, the more it will climb or lift into the air. Different factors help or hinder the amount of spin on a golfer’s ball: swing speed, swing characteristics (steep or shallow angle of attack), club head design, shaft design, etc. If a golfer has a shallow angle of attack into the golf ball, he/she will typically not produce enough spin and require a softer ball, helping increase spin and ultimately distance. Conversely, if a golfer has a ball that is too soft, creating too much spin, the ball will float in the air and easily be moved around by the wind. Long hitters on the PGA TOUR who use a softer ball are Geoff Ogilvey, Tiger Woods, Adam Scott and Camilo Villegas.
Myth #4. Lie angles should be determined using a lie board and all clubs set at the same degree upright/flat.
The lie board was given its name because that is exactly what it does: lie. Once a person is properly fit for the correct shaft flex, then and only then should the lie be set. Various factors go into making sure lie angles are set properly: shaft flex, club head weight and design, golfer’s set-up position, and these must be considered when determining the correct lie angle for each club.
The Reason: The head of a golf club rotates around the center of the axis of the shaft. As a club head gets closer to impact, it bends the shaft in two directions. The shaft bends backward (also known as lag) and it bends down, vertically, because the toe of the club extends away from the shaft. Depending upon the design of a club, the amount of toe droop (the amount the toe will cause the shaft to bend down) varies. On average, the toe of the club should be approximately one degree off the ground at setup. (NOTE: this will vary dependent upon club head design and weight distribution.) Because the design of all irons is not identical, lower irons are shorter from heel to toe but higher from the sole to the topline; all the irons should not be set at the same degree upright or flat. The amount of degree upright/flat will change from club to club.
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