DISTANCE OF IMPACT FROM SWEET SPOT
Research demonstrates that golfers hit the ball farther and straighter when
the ball and the club impact on the so-called sweet spot of the club. Richard
D. O’Brien, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at Hofstra University,
and Thomas C. Simek did additional and valuable research on this subject, which
they presented in their book Total Golf. They measured how much closer golfers
came to impacting the sweet spot after they received accurate feedback immediately
following every shot. The golfers looked at impact tape placed on the face of
the club after each shot and measured and recorded how far the impact was from
the sweet spot and in what clock-hour direction.
With every club, the impact point for the group of golfers was closer to the
sweet spot, ranging from 20% to 50% closer, depending on the club used. (Dr.
O’Brien was instrumental in Ed Feeney receiving a Lifetime Achievement
Award for applying behavior modification in organizations.)
There are two problems in detecting where the impact point is to the sweet spot.
One, few golfers know precisely where the sweet spot is on each of their clubs.
Two, and more important, the golfers do not ever receive accurate feedback after
the shot on where that impact was. Well, there are a few exceptions. If you
hit the ball on the ground, it is evident, or should be, that the impact point
was quite low on the club (and high on the ball). If you sky the ball, the impact
point was on or near the top edge of the club. You, of course, can feel the
impact in your hands, but that is usually inaccurate information. Some computer
programs, often used indoors, also provide such impact data.
What you need is accurate feedback on how far the impact was from sweet spot
and in what direction. To get it, you need four items. The first is a recording
form, DISTANCE OF IMPACT FROM SWEET SPOT, which you can print after you download
the form at no charge from this web site. Two, you need a pen or an instrument
with a sharp point. Three, you need to bring a ruler from home, which you probably
already own. Three, you need to buy an inexpensive supply of impact paper or
tape from a golf supply house or your club professional.
Here is the procedure I suggest you use. One, hold the club at the angle the
shaft would have at impact. Two, tap the clubface with a pen or sharply pointed
object repeatedly. Three, when the clubhead stops wobbling from side to side,
mark the point with the pen. Four, measure the distance of that point accurately
from each side and from the top and bottom of the clubface. Four, record those
distances by club on a piece of paper, which is for future reference.
Hit about ten balls with a given club and record the data. Add the distance
from the sweet spot for all shots combined with a given club. Divide the total
for the distance by the number of shots hit with that club. That will be the
average distance from the sweet spot. Find the quadrant (a three-hour period
on the clock, beginning at one o’clock) that has the most impact points.
Keep the form for future reference. The data will serve as a baseline to judge
whether you are hitting it closer to the sweet spot, further away or staying
at the same average distance.
Walk away with a confident stride, knowing you are the only member or player
at your club who has that information. You will feel smarter. More important,
you will hit the ball longer and straighter. It will give you an edge in competition.