You’ll remember the Mark Twain line about there being, “Lies, damned lies, and statistics,” I’ll wager – and I’m not accusing anyone of lying here, just of the same old “hype” over numbers that mean absolutely nothing they are meant to mean, but tell you all you need to know.
This time is Golf.com’s Extra Spin piece about Rickie Fowler “crushing” a persimmon driver, but if you look at the Trackman numbers and read some of the Twitter responses to the piece, you’ll see that no one who knows even a little about golf, equipment and technology was fooled for a second (or at least, not many).
In fact, it’s ironic that the piece is an “Extra Spin” feature, because if you are familiar with the political term of “spinning,” that’s exactly what’s going on, and inconvenient facts are quickly pointed out.
Let’s tee it up: Rickie Fowler “steps up” and hits a ball on camera with a persimmon headed driver, and Holy Cow!! drives it about 292 yards total… and the skeptics weigh in immediately on Twitter.
OK, before we get to the responses, let me weigh in with a couple of observations:
That is a pretty hard cut – if you watch Rickie’s left foot, he completely jumps out of his shoes swinging this club – and generates a whole 114 mph of club head speed, which we’ll assume is in the maximum range for him with this club with that amount of effort and assuming (let’s just assume) that this was one of his best, if not the best swing of the bunch.
Why would I say that?
Well this Twitter exchange:
LOL… OK, that’s how many?
Let’s assume it was a few, and that “pearl” was the best one, because a better one would surely have been posted to Twitter, correct?
OK, club speed on the drive was 114.5 mph, and let’s compare his 2016 numbers:
Rickie’s average club head speed last season (with controlled, “playing swings” and not “jumping out of my shoes on the range” swings) was 117.71 mph, but his highest speed recorded was 123, and his lowest recorded club head speed was 114.52… so here we have proof of how juiced-up the equipment is – Rickie swinging out of his shoes with a persimmon club matched his lowest recorded club speed of 2016 and was nearly 10 mph slower than his fastest recorded swing.
I would bet that if Rickie Fowler actually played with that persimmon driver every day, he’d not only throw his back out very quickly (he’s already had injury issues swinging the modern and much lighter drivers), but his average club speed would be much, much lower than his 117 average from last year… like, 10 mph lower, or more.
Now, let’s talk about ball distance – if that was a modern ball Rickie is hitting, then all bets are off for this whole deal – the whole of distance technology today has to do with the modern ball, and Rickie couldn’t get even one out to 300 yards when his driving average last year was 301 yards.
As for ball speed, again, the numbers tell the real tale – with a pretty hard swing, Rickie got 170.3 mph out of the modern ball with persimmon, but he averaged 175.78 mph last season, and his slowest recorded ball speed was about what he did with the persimmon ( 170.3 vs 169.58) and his highest ball speed of 181.92 was over 10 mph higher than the “crushed” persimmon ball…
Again, that wasn’t lost on the Twitter people who responded to this spin job:
So, you can put up whichever numbers you wish when trying to prove a point (I guess, that “these guys are good?”), but looking at more numbers tells you exactly what you need to know:
That Rickie Fowler would likely struggle to drive the ball 270 yards with persimmon and balata (he got 290 or so with a very hard swing, nearly perfect impact – 1.49 smash – and using a modern ball and getting 20 yards run on pristine grass) – in fact, if he even got close to averaging 270 yards with a persimmon club and a ’60s – ’80s era balata ball, I’d be very surprised.
With the balata ball’s much higher spin rates (he was already near 3000 rpm with the modern ball using the persimmon club), and with the shaggy fairways of the classic era, I would be more willing to bet the “under” on 270, and that he’d be in the 260’s at best, on average, with a regular swing, and there’s no guarantee he’d find the fairway with the way balata balls slice and hook on even slight mis-hits.
But he’s driving it over 300 yards on average on perfectly manicured fairways that run 10 on the Stimp, with modern equipment that still caused him injuries with his modern swing a few years back.
Oh, and even Rickie’s modern numbers aren’t that impressive, by the way, as I’m inclined to post this response:
See that? And yes, they were, if you’ve ever watched those old classics back in the day when they actually showed proper golf swings on TV.
300 yards on Shell’s Wonderful World Of Golf, and you’ve seen the fairway conditions they were playing back then – Rickie wouldn’t come close to those Trackman numbers on 60’s era fairways, with the same clubs and balls.
So, I guess Rickie and Golf.com proved my point for me, without meaning to!
Want to learn more about the MCS Golf Swing Theory? Try one of DJ’s “Secrets of the MCS” video shorts available via download.
Or you can download the very latest MCS Golf Swing video “MCS – Perfect Pivot“ based on the flawless pivot action of Ben Hogan.**
**”MCS – Perfect Pivot” is Part 3 of the “MCS Golf Swing Trilogy,” now available for download!