Sunday, June 27, 2004

Geeky Golf Stuff - The Launch Monitor!

Ah, Duffergeek heaven! The nice people from Callaway were at the Plateau Club today for a demo day. They also brought along the launch monitor so I had a chance to compare the performance of my much maligned Nike Ignite, my old TaylorMade R580 and some of the new Callaway Fusion drivers.

As a bit of background, after trying Rick's R7 yesterday, it became clear to me that part of the problem was that the regular shaft on my Ignite was too loose for me. My R580 has a stiff shaft so I brought it to the range this morning and tried it out.

Wait, let's get the stiff shaft jokes out of the way. I'll wait...... Done? OK. Let's move on.

I had much more control with the 580 than with the Ignite. I was looking forward to using the launch monitor as a way of getting some data. Here is what I found out.

First, the launch ball speed when I hit my driver is about 130 MPH. Given this, the nice people from Callaway say that I need a launch angle (the angle at which the ball leaves the clubface) of between 12 and 14 degrees. I also want a spin rate of between 3000 and 3400 RPMs. The combination of launch angle and spin rate should provide the best distance for the speed of my swing.

When I started out with the Ignite, I was only getting a launch angle of about 6 degrees. This was way too low, particularly given the 13 degree loft on the club. I move the ball forward some in my stance and teed it up a bit higher and started to get much better results. Then I tried my R580 10.5 loft with a stiff shaft, the Ignite with 13 degree loft and a regular shaft and a Callaway Fusion 10 degree loft with a stiff shaft. Here are the results for each:

Ideal for ball speed 126-135 MPH
Launch angle: 12-14 degrees
Spin: 3000-3400 RPM

Taylor Made R580
Average ball speed: 131 MPH
Launch angle: 13.6 degree
Spin: 3300

Nike Ignite
Average ball speed: 130 MPH
Launch angle: 11.4 degree
Spin: 4188

Callaway Fusion
Average ball speed: 132 MPH
Launch angle: 12.7 degree
Spin: 3077

What can we take away from this? Well, the Ignite has waay too much spin which causes me my consistency problems. Two things would probably fix this. First is getting a stiff shaft, which would also probably increase the launch angle. The second is getting a smaller head on it since the deep face helps to increase the spin. Good for people with a slower swing, not so good for me.

Second, while the nice Callaway people said that the Fusion was the best suited club for me (surprised?), my own 580 is equally within the ideal range on all categories. I think I will still try to reshaft my Ignite since I like the feel that it has (and the half full beer can 'boink' sound it makes when I hit it well) but there is a good chance that the R580 will be accompanying me to Hawaii next month.

I love having data to back things up :)

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