Trackman: Four Myths and Misconceptions

Joseph Mayo – one of the world’s leading Trackman experts – explains the science behind your ball flight

The Lowdown

Trackman is a high-tech launch monitor that tracks ball flight very accurately. Everything from ball speed to spin to quality of strike can be measured. Most top pros use it to help fine-tune new equipment and work on their swing.

Joseph Mayo busts four common misconceptions about the device. He thinks it can help you play your best golf ever.

MYTH: Swing Path Determines Start Point

Manybelieve it is your swing path that determines where the ball starts its flight, but Trackman proves that the club face is, in fact, primarily responsible for the initial direction of a shot. Indeed, the direction in which you swing the club has little to do with start line. 

When a golfer hits a draw shot that begins its flight to the right of the flag, the face was pointing there at impact. The face was actually open to the target not closed like many seem to think.

For golfers that hit a slice that starts left of the target then curves right, the club face was closed pointing left of target. That is why the ball started to the left.

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MYTH: Hitting Down Creates Backspin

This is a long-standing belief that is simply untrue. Backspin is a result of many things: ball type, grooves, club speed and contact quality among them. Angle of attack, in itself, does not create more spin. More spin is created when the angle of attack and dynamic loft increases.

Trackman has shown that, when a golfer hits down more steeply, he also reduces the dynamic loft accordingly. In other words, hitting down on the ball simply aims the spin more downward. It does not increase it.

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To increase backspin, the golfer would have to hit down more sharply while keeping the loft the same or even increasing it. Hitting down alone is not enough.
Trackman has proved that hitting down steeply into the ball does not increase launch MYTH: Swinging Steeply Makes Ball Fly Higher

Once again, this is a longstanding belief that is not true. Trackman has proved that hitting down steeply into the ball does not increase launch. It actually does the opposite – it causes the launch angle to be lower.

When the club strikes the ball, the friction between the grooves and the cover cause the initial launch angle to be pulled down. The more steeply the club is swung, the more the launch angle is pulled downward.

Looking for irons? See the results of our 2015 irons test

I am sure you have all heard that in golf you must hit down to make the ball go up – in actuality that is not true. Though that doesn’t mean you need to start scooping the ball in the air…

MYTH: Draws Spin Less Than Fades

This myth goes hand in hand with another, which says that fades spin more than draws. Trackman has proved that both these ideas are untrue.

Recently, I had one of my PGA Tour students hit draws and fades with his 5 iron. I showed him the spin rates and he was truly amazed. Of the five draws and five fades he hit, the balls spun basically the same. As a matter of fact, the shot that spun the most was a draw!

I realise this sounds impossible, but it is true. Remember what I mentioned earlier: spin is a result of many factors, and whether the shot shape is a draw or a fade is not one of them.

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