Vertical Lift? Um… Numbers Say No Way…

I made a point in a comment about Justin Thomas having very low Angle of Attack despite his “flying foot” which is supposed to add “vertical lift” or to be “using the ground,” and I said to Joe S. that I’d check to make sure.

I had checked before, and I went to check another couple of very well-known “flying foot” club members, Patrick Rodgers and Jordan Spieth, to see what their launch numbers were saying.

I want to make a point as well that this isn’t an attack on any player, all of whom are among the best golfers in the universe if they are on the PGA Tour.

This is about the rubbish proffered daily to the viewing/reading public about things that just aren’t true – like the “flying foot.”

So again, great golfers, both of whom have the “flying foot” going on, and it has nothing to do with “using the ground,” it’s a compensation for an anchored trailing foot while swinging at high speed with a wider stance than will allow full hip rotation without the “flying foot” compensation.

Spieth, Thomas & Rodgers


Here are the current average Launch Angles for the 3 players (last year for Rodgers b/c that’s the latest driver info I could find) with the latest available driver lofts:

Jordan SpiethT96th with an average of 10.01 degrees Launch Angle. Driver 9.5 Degrees

Justin Thomas131st with an average of 9.28 degrees Launch Angle. Driver 9.5 degrees

Patrick Rodgers – 149th with an average of 10.09 degrees Launch Angle for 2018 season. Driver 8.5 degrees (2018)


That’s some “vertical lift” there, friends – Spieth with a half-degree of LA higher than his driver loft, Thomas with a negative LA to driver loft of nearly a quarter degree, and Rodgers with a towering 1.59 degrees of LA to driver loft.

And for Rodgers, it gets much worse, as he’s currently 153rd in rankings, averaging 8.76 degrees Launch Angle for the 2019 season. I just don’t have his current driver loft to compare but unless he has dropped it to 7 degrees, his Attack Angle is even lower this season and is likely barely above 0-1 degrees.

Meanwhile, you can always see that I’m producing as high a Launch Angle and Attack Angle as the highest ranked guys on Tour, and I have nothing of the sort going on with my feet:



There’s nothing else to say.  You cannot make a serious suggestion that the “flying foot” is creating higher Attack or Launch Angle when the 3 most egregious flying footers are hovering between negative and +1-2 degrees Attack Angle and they are at the bottom of the rankings for Launch Angle.

Unless you’re trying to gloss over either the compensations themselves or the fact that you have no clue why they’re doing it and therefore have to make stuff up out of whole cloth.

I don’t see any other option.

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5 thoughts on “Vertical Lift? Um… Numbers Say No Way…

  1. Mr. McJohn

    Vertical lift? Who coins these terms? Has nothing to do with being vertical. I want the ball to go forward, “lifting” anything is counterproductive.

    I actually disagree with the driver being hit on the up, btw. It’s glancing, and while it decreases spin for more roll, roll is so dependent on conditions it’s not exactly reliable. For me, I want more a level strike to transfer max energy and a touch more backspin for extra carry.

    Speaking of which, I’m curious how to change ball flights using the MCS model. Controlling distance, traj control, draw and fade, stingers…in other words, shifting the model a bit to adjust for desired shots…maybe some info on that would be cool in a product or something.

    1. D Watts Post author

      Speaking of which, I’m curious how to change ball flights using the MCS model. Controlling distance, traj control, draw and fade, stingers…in other words, shifting the model a bit to adjust for desired shots…maybe some info on that would be cool in a product or something.

      Already done, MJJ – The way to vary trajectory is with ball position.

      Also, Trackman research has shown that optimal conditions for distance both carry and roll is about 4 degrees positive AA and low spin, preferably under 2500 rmp. In fact, the lower the club and ball speed, the higher the Launch Angle required.

      As you can see on a sample drive of mine in the lab, I got over 300 yards carry and good extra roll with under 120 mph club speed and around 170 mph ball speed due to my launch conditions – around that 4 degrees positive AA and low spin in the 2150 rmp range.

      I hope that helps!

      DJ

      1. Mr. McJohn

        Speaking of which, I had my swing on a trackman once. My spin was around 4000 rpm with a 10.5 driver and the carry for a 105 mph swing speed (is higher now, with a 9.5) was around 250. Didn’t roll but a yard. I have a feeling it’s still around 4000, maybe less. Any idea on how that might affect distance?

        1. D Watts Post author

          My spin was around 4000 rpm with a 10.5 driver… I have a feeling it’s still around 4000, maybe less. Any idea on how that might affect distance?

          In a word, “badly.”

          High spin creates lift and you get a ball that balloons and drops sharply with no roll-out. The lower the spin (until it gets too low, which hardly anyone in the world has to worry about save long drivers with very low lofts), the more the ball penetrates the air.

          Mid-2000’s or lower, and with a swing speed of 105, you will want an even higher Launch Angle than with 115 mph.

          They’ve done the studies and the numbers don’t lie. They’re the only things in modern golf that you can trust, keeping in mind of course that one can fiddle with the “conditions” on the monitor (setting it for high altitude and with a strong following wind, but that’s cheating if you’re going to use those distances to blow your horn).

          Have the launch monitor pre-set for zero wind and normal altitude, and you can take those numbers to the bank.

  2. Mike Divot

    “Let’s put those numbers into the Konica Minolta bizhub swing analyzer ….. let’s see …. 10.1 …… 9.5 …… holy crap, the thing’s caught on fire! Now what are we going to tell the viewers!?”

    “Relax. We’ll do what we always do … we’ll just say that this is a very very fine golf swing.”

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