It’s been a few months since I got my Flightscope Xi Tour radar. I can’t tell you how helpful it has been in my lessons. Not only am I able to validate the concepts I teach, but I can quickly confirm if a student is able to execute those concepts. And because it’s so portable, it’s easy for me to take it anywhere on the course.
I’ve always been curious about the amount of backspin you can produce from the rough. I’ve been around launch monitors since 2005 being a certified fitter for PING, so I’m already familiar with spin rates produced by different clubs from perfect lies. I had actually asked the help of a student for this mini experiment a few weeks ago. The problem is I can’t seem to find that session on my iPad. So I went back and took some measurements again. This time, I made sure I took screenshots. (Sorry, Gido!)
With a 50 degree gap wedge from the fairway, I managed to carry the ball 105 yards with a clubhead speed of 81.6 mph. Spin rate was 10,525 rpm.
From the rough, I carried the ball 120.9 yards – 15 yards longer – even with a slightly slower clubhead speed of 80.9mph. Even the ball speed was slower. Spin rate was only 3,535 rpm, which is similar to what you would get from a well-struck 4 iron off the fairway. That’s almost 70% less backspin. Here’s a picture of that lie.
This phenomenon is referred to as a “flyer”. The ball flies and rolls farther than it should. And oftentimes left of the target because the long grass tends to close the clubface. (I missed mine 10 yards left).
What can we learn here? Obviously, you need a different strategy. Use a shorter club. Let the ball run up to the green instead of landing it there. Play the ball farther back in your stance. Grip a little tighter to prevent the clubface from closing. Or aim slightly right. It’s hard to predict how the ball is going to behave exactly, but knowing how to deal with a flyer can definitely help save strokes.
Of course the best cure is still prevention. Watch the next two majors, the US Open this June and the British Open in July. You’ll appreciate how important it is to hit the fairway.