Philippe Bonfanti Golf

Golf Performance Coach - Dorset

How Does the Wind Effect Your Golf Shots

How does the wind affect your golf shots?

Even though Poole is blessed with more than its fair share of sunny weather compared to many areas of the British Isles, because it is located by the coast, the courses in the area are sometimes exposed to what many golfers would describe as particularly windy conditions. For the uninitiated these can be particularly difficult to handle so here are a few facts and tips that can help you handle the wind.

Headwind and Tailwind
The following table shows you how much a headwind or tailwind can affect your carry distance. I have used an amateur golfer who swings a 6 iron at 80 mph in this example which normally leads him to carrying the ball 153 yards when there is no wind.

Headwind and Tailwind golf shot

As you can see, a headwind hurts more than a tailwind helps. It is worth noting that headwinds and tail winds also affect the height and land angle of a golf shot. When hitting into a headwind shots will fly higher and land steeper and a tailwind produces shots that fly lower and land flatter. Contrary to popular belief, the wind does not have an effect on the spin rate of the golf shot but into a head wind, spin is the enemy as it increases lift and drag. Swinging harder creates more club head speed which creates more spin. To counter this you should use a club with less loft as this will reduce the spin loft and therefore the spin rate. If you want to take maximum advantage of a tail wind, make sure you use a club that enables you to launch the ball higher as otherwise the ball will fall to the ground too soon.

Headwind Driver Tip: You may have heard of high launch and low spin to maximise distance? Theoretically, when hitting a driver into a headwind you will still benefit from doing this unless the wind speed is above 30mph. However, the longer the ball is in the air the more the ball can be affected by the wind. This means that if you sometimes have difficulties hitting the ball down the middle you may benefit from launching the ball lower and relying on more roll to get the ball to travel the expected distance.

The following table shows you how far offline the ball will travel when hitting into crosswinds. Again I have used an amateur golfer who is swinging a 6 iron at 80 miles per hour.

Cross Wind Golf Shot

As you can see, a 20 mph crosswind will send a straight shot 81 feet to the side, that is a full 27 yards to the side! Make sure you are aware of this so you can sufficiently allow for it when you are next on the course.

Many people are often shocked when they find out quite how much the wind can affect a golf shot, make sure you don’t let it surprise you.

5 Tips to Stop Swinging from Out/In

5 tips to Stop Swinging Excessively Across the Ball
If you struggle with slices, pulls, short clubs that fly too high and long clubs that fly too low or a general lack of distance there is a good chance you suffer from this fault. These are shots that for a right handed golfer fly to the left and stay to the left left or shots that curve excessively to the right. Swinging across the ball is commonly known as swinging from out/in. For right handed players, it means your club head is moving to the left of the target as you strike the ball.
Here are 5 tips you can follow to correct this issue:
1. Weight location Your weight should be forwards as you strike the ball. Often golfers will have too much weight back at address, move it back during the backswing, during the follow though or a combination of all these. Your hips must shift forwards during your downswing. It is common knowledge that the hips must turn but there must also be an element of lateral slide. If the hips turn but don’t slide, your club will begin to swing across the ball.
2. Handle location When the handle leans away from the target at impact the club head will swing across the ball. You do not want to deliberately attempt to roll the wrists through impact. Instead focus on keeping the distance between your elbows constant throughout your swing as this will enable you to hit the ball with your handle leaning towards the target.
3. Hand Path The hands should work backwards, upwards and inwards during the course of the backswing. Golfers who swing across the ball often don’t move the hands sufficiently inwards and instead lift the arms off the ribcage in an overly upward motion.
4. Lead Knee Action Make sure you don’t straighten your lead knee too soon during your downswing as this throws the hips back and spins them open. Straightening the knee is a power move but should not start to happen until the club shaft is parallel to the ground during the downswing. The lead knee should not be straight until your arms are parallel to the ground during the follow through.
5. Ball Position Move the ball slightly back in your stance so you make contact with the ball earlier on the club head’s arc through the ball.
Play well and I look forward to your feedback when you try these 5 tips.

It's All About Impact

This is an often used refrain that carries a lot of truth. Even though impact with the golf ball lasts only 1/2000 of a second, it will determine in large part what happens to your shot. The club’s direction of travel, where the face points and the speed at which the club travels are all important, but none more so than where on the club face you make contact. When the strike point is off centre then all bets are off.
Did you know that if you strike the ball towards the heel of the club this causes the ball to fade or draw less and if you hit the ball towards the toe of the club it causes the ball to draw or fade less? This is especially the case with the driver and is why they are not built with a flat surface.
Did you know that if you hit the ball towards the bottom of your driver face then your ball speed will go down by almost as much as 10 miles per hour and the spin rate will increase by almost 800rpm?
All this is caused by a phenomenon called gear effect and it happens on virtually every single golf shot that is hit. This is because even the best golfers miss the sweet spot more often than they find it. With that being said, it is also true that most golfers tend to have a specific pattern of where they hit the ball on the club face.
If you would like to find out where your contact point is I recommend you bring to the course a bottle of dry shampoo or any spray that doesn’t leave a permanent mark, spray it on your club face, hit some shots and see where the marks are left.

If you create an awareness of what your strike pattern is you will then be able to embark on the journey towards improving it.
Remember, if you are after more distance, it is more important to learn to hit the ball on the middle of the club face than it is to learn to swing the club faster.
Note of Caution: For those of you who have access to a Trackman when you practice, quality of strike is sometimes correlated to the Smash Factor number. Please be aware that there are instances when you cannot reach the elusive 1.5 smash factor number with a driver even with a perfect strike. This would happen, for example, when you hit down on the driver and your spin loft needs to be high enough for the ball to stay in the air longer.

Making Permanent Changes


How to practice and work on your golf game

Knowing what to practice and how to practice are crucial factors to understand for the golfer who wants to improve the fastest, When working on swing mechanics during a lesson I expect the golfer to be able to demonstrate the new mechanic almost immediately with the corresponding change in ball flight being apparent. This does not mean, however, that this new mechanic is immediately fully acquired. New thoughts and ideas tend to need to spend time in the golfer’s incubator before being fully understood and applied. I am very keen for golfers to clearly understand the function of any changes that are made. If a player doesn’t truly understand why a change is being made it will be much harder for them to commit and work on the change diligently. This will result in them making a quick return to swinging the club in their accustomed manner with no change and progress having been made.

Learn feel from mechanics
Once the correct mechanic has been identified and nothing has been lost in translation, make sure you make your practice stroke while you look, look, look” at the new piece you are incorporating into your swing. Do not rely exclusively on feel. If the technique being worked on is a stationary head and you are used to swaying away from the target during your backswing you may well need to feel like you are tilting your spine to the left only during your backswing without turning. This will of course, not be the reality of what you are doing but will be the feel required. Every golfer will experience a slightly different feel and even from day to day a golfer’s own feel can change.

Don’t waste your time by putting in inordinate amounts of effort if you are not going to use that effort to apply the relevant technique. Deliberate practice should be mentally very demanding, the result of every shot needs to be carefully analysed and the feedback used for the next stroke. Because it isn’t always fun, only a few will be prepared to do this, use that to your advantage.

One final note, there are by and large two categories of golfers, those who spend all their time on the range working on their swings and those who spend all their time on the course. Both of these are only half correct, so make sure you do both.