Hybrids or Long Irons


Which hybrid should you buy or what about a long irons? This is a common question we get at Pure Drive Golf. This article will examine the many factors to consider to help you make the best decision for your game.


Due to the size (mass) of the hybrid and the weight distributed toward the bottom of the club, hybrids are more forgiving. The wide sole of the hybrid also prevents the club from digging into the turf to help players that hit behind the ball or get steep at impact. On the other hand, long irons are less forgiving because of the smaller size and narrow sole. However, some long irons today are designed to have much more forgiveness than previous models. If the club hits the ground behind the ball, it often digs into the ground causing a fat shot.

Trajectory and Gear Effect

Because hybrids have more weight on the bottom, it creates more spin producing a higher trajectory. This will help players that struggle getting the ball up into the air. Because of the larger size, hybrids have more gear effect, which means more curvature on miss hits. Long irons have less weight on the bottom of the club so there is less spin and the trajectory is lower. Because of the smaller size, long irons have less gear effect, which means less curvature on miss hits.


Some players struggle with the look of a hybrid and are more comfortable with long irons. On the other hand, some players prefer the look of a hybrid because they have more confidence striking the ball solid and getting the ball up into the air. Either way, look is an important factor to consider because you want to feel good about the club you are using.


The player’s speed is another important factor. Players with more than average club speed that prefer a higher trajectory, especially on approach shots, should consider hybrids. Players that want the control of long irons irons, especially on tee shots, should consider long irons or even a driving iron. If players have less than average club speed, the choice should be a hybrid. A slower speed with long irons simply does not create enough spin to get the ball into the air causing a considerable loss in carry.


In soft conditions, players should prefer hybrids because they carry further. Players may struggle with long irons in softer conditions because they travel lower and will not have as much roll out. In fast conditions, players may choose hybrids or long irons. The higher trajectory from hybrids will help land the ball softly on greens that are firm and fast. However, when players prefer more roll out, especially on tee shots, players should choose long irons or even a driving iron In windy conditions, players prefer long irons because of the lower trajectory to protect the wind from affecting the ball flight. Because hybrids travel higher, the wind will have much more effect on the ball flight. Out of the rough, the width of the sole from hybrids helps drive the club through the grass with higher ball flight trajectory. Long irons have a narrow sole and often get stuck in the grass with a lower trajectory.

As you can see, there are several factors to consider and we hope these explanations help you make the best decision when choosing a hybrid or long iron. If you’d like to book a fitting at Pure Drive Golf and test the latest hybrids and long/driving irons, click the link here.

Watch Adam’s tip below on How to Hit a Hybrid:

Practice With a Purpose

When it comes to your practice routines, what typically comes to mind? Whether it’s hitting balls on the range, hitting on a simulator, or working on short game, one thing is essential to finding results: practicing with a purpose. There is no one way to achieve this, so it’s important to find something you enjoy doing that applies pressure to some degree. There are a few important keys to remember when trying to find what works best for you:

  1. Always hit to a specified target- you’ll never find yourself in a situation on the course where you aren’t aiming at a target, so why not do it during practice?

  2. Commit to a plan- Make sure you go to each practice session with a plan. Most high-level golfers start with stretching, then progress to short swings (wedges and short irons), and then move onto their longer clubs. It is also important to note that this should not be done in a hurry. Some of your best practice sessions can be as short as 20 minutes if you’re practicing effeciently.

  3. Mix up your shots- No matter what method of practice you decide, you should be constantly switching up clubs. You’ll never hit 30 7-irons in a row on the course, so it shouldn’t be done on the range.

TrackMan has a multitude of different features that help with these. First, and one of the most common ones, is virtual golf. Playing a round of virtual golf is a great test of your course management skills with applied pressure on every shot. This is especially true if you’re playing against someone or a group of buddies. TrackMan currently offers over 40 courses, such as PGA National and Muirfield Village.


Another feature TrackMan offers is Test Center. This allows you to create a test for any yardage and grades them based on proximity to target. You can set a single yardage or yardages between a specific range (ex. 140-160 yards). If you set a range, the targets are random, which helps simulate a round because you’ll never face the same shot multiple times in a row. The more you do them, the more pressure you will feel to keep improving your test scores. Upon the completion of the test, a report will be made based on your performance and will be sent to your account on www.mytrackman.com, which can be accessed at any time.  Whether you need to improve wedges, iron play, or drives, the test center can be a great way to helping you maximize your potential.


TrackMan Combine is another tool to practice with a purpose. The Combine is a standardized test that includes various wedge and iron yardages, along with drives. 3 shots from each yardage are hit first, and then again in a second rotation, totaling 6 shots for each distance and 60 shots total. This is the ultimate way to test your ability to hit a target, as well as your physical endurance hitting 60 shots in a row. It puts an emphasis on taking your time and committing to a pre-shot routine because of how easy it is to tire yourself out and make poor swings towards the end of your session. When you finish, you will receive a report similar the Test Center, and your score will be entered into the “Combine Leaderboard”, where you’ll be able to compare your scores against other golfers around the world. Whether you’re trying to be one of the best in the world or trying to get your personal best, you’ll definitely feel some pressure to hot quality golf shots.

All in all, it is essential to find something that not only keeps you concentrated, but also applies pressure and simulates the feeling of a round on the course. Drills and games that achieve this will help you lower your scores considerably faster than just beating down balls on the driving range. So next time you’re at Pure Drive Golf or at your club, keep these tips in mind.


Gear Effect on Ball Flight Curve

gear effect on ball flight curve image.jpg

This article is an excerpt from a book I wrote with Jim McLean entitled, The Ultimate Guide to TrackMan Swing Analysis. For more information about purchasing the book, click here.

Are you a TrackMan user? Check out the color feedback app I developed with TrackMan. The app provides color feedback and tips on 5 key TrackMan parameters to help you quickly interpret the data and improve your numbers.

Gear effect is a term used to describe why hitting the ball off center will alter the ball flight. When contact is made anywhere but the sweet spot, it causes the club face to change its orientation. During that brief moment, the ball and club are trapped like two gears, and the ball moves (or gears) in the opposite direction of the club face. This is how gear effect alters the SPIN AXIS. The following examines gear effect’s influence on ball flight curve when contact is made on the toe or heel.

Trackman research published in 2009 compares a 6 iron with a driver when contact is made 1 dimple (0.14”) off center and ½” off center. Below is a summary of the findings assuming a square FACE TO PATH:

gear 1.jpg

Looking at the data, you can see gear effect increasing its effect on the SPIN AXIS the further contact is made off center. From 1 dimple to ½” off center, the SPIN AXIS increased by 14 degrees with a driver and 5 degrees with a 6 iron. These statistics from Trackman should make you take gear effect more seriously!

To illustrate this concept, when contact is made on the toe with a driver, the CG swings to the left of the target line (downward in the 2D illustration). As the CG moves left, the ball gears in the same direction (to the left). The opposite is true with heel contact and this is how gear effect changes the ball’s SPIN AXIS.

gear 2.jpg

Another factor is how far off center contact is made. The more off-center, the more gear effect will influence the SPIN AXIS. When the club head’s CG is located further behind the leading edge, it adds more twisting of the club head at impact, which makes the ball gear to a greater degree. The diagram below shows each club head’s estimated CG and its distance from the leading edge.

gear 3.jpg

As you can see, each club has a CG behind the leading edge, which means every club will experience some level of gear effect. However, woods and drivers have the CG far enough behind the leading edge to produce a very noticeable effect on the SPIN AXIS. It happens because the CG “swings” to a greater degree when contact is off-center, and that movement causes the ball to gear.

To eliminate the influence of gear effect, you must learn your impact pattern with impact tape, or spray. Identifying a common impact pattern will help you make the appropriate adjustment and prevent working on the wrong things. For example, if you’re slicing the ball, let’s say 35 yards to the right, this may entice you to practice a more closed club face or a path more from the inside. But, if you’re using impact spray and learn your impact pattern is roughly 1/2” toward the heel, you now know this is a primary cause of your slice so you do not have to practice a more closed club face or a path from the inside, You need to work on fundamentals that produce solid contact. I’ve outline these fundamentals in the book, The Ultimate Guide To TrackMan Swing Analysis and the Pure Drive Golf App (available on the Apple Store). These adjustments will help you move your impact pattern closer to the center so you can eliminate the influence of gear effect and have greater control of your ball flight curve.

How to Compress the Ball

How to Compress the Ball.jpg

This article is an excerpt from a book I wrote with Jim McLean entitled, The Ultimate Guide to TrackMan Swing Analysis. For more information about purchasing the book, click here.

Are you a TrackMan user? Check out the color feedback app I developed with TrackMan. The app provides color feedback and tips on 5 key TrackMan parameters to help you quickly interpret the data and improve your numbers.


I decided to write this article after seeing some golfers achieve a higher SMASH FACTOR more easily than others. It inspired me to research all the factors that contribute to ball compression. Being more knowledgeable about these factors will help anyone on their journey of becoming a better ball striker.

Compression describes the degree to which speed is transferred to the golf ball from the club head. In Trackman language, this is measured in SMASH FACTOR, which is the ratio of BALL SPEED to CLUB SPEED. That means we can use SMASH FACTOR as an indicator for ball compression. Why is compression good? Compression basically means the ball was struck solidly, which is arguably the most important factor when becoming a good ball striker. The following will help you learn about the factors that contribute to compression and some of the adjustments you can make in your swing to begin striking the ball more solid.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that center (sweet spot) contact is an important factor when learning to compress the ball and increase SMASH FACTOR. Center contact means the club head’s center of gravity matches up with the golf ball’s center of gravity at impact. When this happens, a high degree of speed is transferred to the ball. As contact moves away from the sweet spot, ball compression and SMASH FACTOR decrease. We call this a miss hit. The purpose behind perimeter-weighted clubs is to expand the sweet spot and give you forgiveness on these miss hits by not losing much compression and SMASH FACTOR. However, the feel of a well struck shot can be sacrificed when the sweet spot is expanded.

To improve center contact, the first step is to identify your impact pattern. At Pure Drive Golf we use impact spray to help our golfers learn where their common miss is located on the club face such as heel, toe, high, low, or fat. Identifying this pattern is critical so you know which adjustments to work on to improve center contact. I’ve outlined these adjustments in The Ultimate Guide To TrackMan Swing Analysis. I’ve also included them in the Pure Drive Golf App (available on the Apple App Store).

Another factor that influences ball compression is SPIN LOFT, which is the difference between DYNAMIC LOFT and ATTACK ANGLE. These are the vertical forces at impact. When these forces are close together, the golf ball experiences more compression at impact. However, there is a balance to consider. When SPIN LOFT is too low, it can reduce SPIN RATE, decrease max HEIGHT, and flatten the LANDING ANGLE. This is great for optimizing distance with a driver, but not for optimizing control with irons. With irons, the goal is to be within a range that is optimal for a shot that lands and stays on the green.

To lower SPIN LOFT, our research indicates that a good grip combined with a good sequence on the downswing can drastically lead to lower DYNAMIC LOFT and a more shallow ATTACK ANGLE. In addition, it helps golfers retain some degree of lag and strike the ball with forward shaft lean. All these factors will help reduce SOIN LOFT and increase compression. I’ve outlined in detail these adjustments in The Ultimate Guide To TrackMan Swing Analysis and the Pure Drive Golf App.

To maximize compression with a driver, it’s important to have a positive ATTACK ANGLE (upward angle of attack) because it requires less DYNAMIC LOFT to launch the ball optimally. This will lower SPIN LOFT and improve compression. Our research indicates that ball positioning at setup and upper center (sternum) positioning at impact have a big influence on ATTACK ANGLE. To hit up on the ball, your upper center must be behind the ball and your ball position opposite your front heel. After you learn how to hit up on the ball, lower the static loft on your driver and this will automatically lower your SPIN LOFT and maximize compression.

Another factor that influences compression is FACE TO PATH. This is the difference between FACE ANGLE and CLUB PATH at impact. These are the horizontal forces at impact. To improve compression you want to minimize FACE TO PATH as much as possible. This helps improve compression and SMASH FACTOR because the club face will be pointing in a similar direction to where the club head is moving.

However, a perfectly straight shot does not always guarantee maximum compression. A draw shot produces more compression because a closed FACE TO PATH means there will be less DYNAMIC LOFT and less SPIN LOFT. If you’ve played golf long enough you know the feeling of hitting a “hot hook,” because the ball feels like it explodes off the club face. Hitting a slice has the opposite effect because an open FACE TO PATH increases the DYNAMIC LOFT and SPIN LOFT. Therefore, there’s science behind why hitting a draw can improve your ball compression. Our research indicates that having good club face control throughout the swing, good body sequencing and trail arm positioning on the downswing are critical factors that contribute to hitting a draw. I’ve outlined these in detail in The Ultimate Guide to TrackMan Swing Analysis and the Pure Drive Golf App.

To recap, the most effective means to improve compression is to focus on center contact because without it you will never compress the ball. You can further maximize compression by minimizing SPIN LOFT and FACE TO PATH with a good grip and a good sequence – as well as hitting up on the ball with a driver and hitting a draw with all clubs. This is the common formula we see when golfers have consistently high average SMASH FACTOR numbers. If you learn to incorporate some of these, or all of them, you will learn to strike the ball more solid and maximize compression.

Adam Kolloff

Benefits of Improving Club Path

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This article is an excerpt from a book I wrote with Jim McLean entitled, "The Ultimate Guide to TrackMan Swing Analysis.” For more information about purchasing the book, click here.


I decided to write this article because I noticed bad habits being formed in golf swings when attempting to prevent a particular club face position at impact. Since this can be related to the path at impact, I took a deeper look at those habits and how the path can influence the degree to which these habits are formed. The article also proposes the potential benefits of a square (neutral) CLUB PATH and how this can help prevent bad habits from being formed in your swing.

For simplicity, imagine three golfers 150 yards from the green in the middle of the fairway. Let’s name them Player A, Player B, and Player C. The pin is located in the middle of the green and the green is 25 yards wide. Each golfer uses a 6 iron, aims perfectly at the pin, and has the same swing speed as the average male amateur with a 6 iron (80mph). Below is a description of each player’s swing with regards to their CLUB PATH and FACE TO PATH.

  • Player A has an outside-in CLUB PATH of -8 degrees. Assuming a centered strike, Player A must have an open FACE TO PATH to hit the green. Using TrackMan’s ball flight calculator, the exact range is 2 to 6 degrees open at impact. If the FACE TO PATH is anywhere outside this range, Player A will miss the green.

  • Player B has an inside-out CLUB PATH of 4 degrees. Assuming a centered strike, Player B can have a square or closed FACE TO PATH to hit the green. Using TrackMan’s ball flight calculator, the exact range is square (0) to 5 degrees closed at impact. If the FACE TO PATH is anywhere outside this range, Player B will miss the green.

  • Player C has a square CLUB PATH at impact. Assuming a centered strike, Player C can have a square, closed, or open FACE TO PATH to hit the green. Using TrackMan’s ball flight calculator, the exact range is 2.5 closed to 2.5 open at impact. If the FACE TO PATH is outside this range, Player C will miss the green.

If your CLUB PATH is similar to Player A, you make it very challenging because there is only one option to hit the green - your FACE TO PATH must be open. That means you do everything in your swing to prevent a square or closed FACE TO PATH. For Player A, this can manifest itself as a weak grip, open club face at setup, open club face in the takeaway, cupped left wrist at the top of the backswing, cupped left wrist through impact, too much tension in the hands and arms, chicken wing elbow, etc. Golfers like Player A, whether they know it or not, are using these habits to ensure they hit their target. Over time, however, these habits become highly ingrained and lead to inconsistency and poor performance.

If you’re like Player B, you have a better chance because you have two options to hit the green - with a square or closed FACE TO PATH. Having two options instead of one allows a little more freedom because there’s only one club face position you’re trying to avoid, an open FACE TO PATH. For Player B, this can manifest itself as a strong grip, closed club face at setup, closed club face in the backswing, bowed left wrist in the backswing, body stall through impact, exaggerated flip (roll) of the hands through impact, etc. If the path becomes more inside-out, these faults become more exaggerated. But since the path was only slightly inside-out, these habits don’t become excessive. Overall, golfers like Player B may develop bad habits, but not nearly to the same degree as golfers like Player A.

If you’re like Player C, you’re giving yourself the best chance because you have all three options to hit the green - with a square, closed, or open FACE TO PATH. You must be within a good range – of course – but having all three options gives you the most freedom because you’re not desperately trying to avoid a club face position. In my opinion, learning to swing like this (or at least train like this) is one of the ‘healthiest’ things you can do for your swing. For golfers like Player C, I often see more speed, lower tension levels, consistency of strike, better ball flight dispersion, etc. Overall, bad habits are less likely to develop in this type of swing. These are the reasons a square (neutral) CLUB PATH can benefit your swing.

There are exceptions of course. Some tour players have exaggerated CLUB PATH numbers and probably should not change it. In fact, changing their path could possibly do more harm than good because their patterns are so ingrained and predictable. Instead, they should work to maintain their CLUB PATH rather than change it. Amateurs, on the other hand, would benefit from learning to swing like Player B or Player C, especially if they are just getting started in the game and have access to a radar like Trackman. As we learned, this can help avoid developing bad habits in the long run.

To get started improving your CLUB PATH, you must analyze your numbers using accurate technology such as TrackMan. Once you learn your baseline average, the next step is working with a coach to come up with key feels to move your path closer to neutral. You may not maintain these same exact numbers when you play on the course, but it will be a good training for your swing. Think of it as “calibrating” your path and helping to reduce excessive patterns (bad ones) developing in the long run.

If you develop a neutral path, shaping shots becomes easier. That’s because all you have to focus on, after you adjust your aim, is club face control. Here’s an example on how to play a fade; aim your body to the left (for a righty) and focus on extra grip pressure in your lead hand. As long as you swing down your stance line, your path will be outside-in and the extra grip pressure will keep the face slightly open to the path to produce the fade. This approach to shaping shots may be more simple and easier to repeat for most golfers if they reach this level of control with their swing.

Adam Kolloff

Spin Loft on Ball Flight Curve

This article is an excerpt from the book I wrote with Jim McLean called, "The Ultimate Guide to TrackMan Swing Analysis.” For more information about purchasing the book, click here.

Spin Loft on Ball Flight Curve

Another factor that influences the ball flight curve is SPIN LOFT, which is the difference between ATTACK ANGLE and DYNAMIC LOFT. We know that SPIN LOFT determines the SPIN RATE, but most people don’t know how it can also increase or decrease the SPIN AXIS. To better explain this concept, we will examine the d-plane. 

The picture below shows a side-by-side comparison of two d-planes with roughly the same FACE TO PATH. The DYNAMIC LOFT is reduced on the right, which reduces the SPIN LOFT. By reducing the SPIN LOFT, and maintaining the same FACE TO PATH, the red line (d-plane) tilts more to the right.   


spin loft on ball flight curve.jpg

You can imagine the left scenario as a 6 iron and the right scenario as a driver. This will help you visualize why a driver curves more than a 6-iron given the same FACE TO PATH. Most golfers assume a drive travels further offline because the ball stays in the air longer. That is partly true, but SPIN LOFT influences curve to a greater degree. In simple terms, as SPIN LOFT decreases, the tilt in the SPIN AXIS increases.   

We are not immediately advocating an increase in SPIN LOFT if you’re curving the ball too much because a low SPIN LOFT is critical to long drives. It improves SMASH FACTOR, BALL SPEED, and SPIN RATE. However, when you combine a low SPIN LOFT with a high FACE TO PATH, you have a recipe for more curve than anticipated. This puts more pressure on good timing in order to hit the green or keep the ball in the fairway. To remedy the problem, we recommend reducing FACE TO PATH as much as possible in order to maintain a low SPIN LOFT. We also recommend referencing our SPIN LOFT safety zones in Level 3 to know what numbers to look for.  

To better understand the influence of SPIN LOFT on ball flight curve, I ran some tests using Trackman’s ball flight calculator on Trackman University. The following chart examines varying SPIN LOFT numbers with a driver when there is a constant CLUB SPEED and FACE TO PATH. When reducing the SPIN LOFT, I alternated between the ATTACK ANGLE and DYNAMIC LOFT. The Trackman calculator would not exceed a SPIN AXIS of 20 degrees, which is why there is missing data under SIDE when SPIN LOFT was lowered beyond 10 degrees. 

spin loft on ball flight curve 2.png


The results show a correlation between SPIN LOFT and SPIN AXIS tilt. In other words, as SPIN LOFT decreases, the SPIN AXIS increases even when FACE TO PATH stays the same. When comparing 10 degrees of SPIN LOFT with 14 degrees of SPIN LOFT, we see a 9-yard difference in SIDE. That’s not an incredible amount, but it could make the difference between hitting or missing a fairway.  

Golfers with a low SPIN LOFT are those that compress the ball very well, which is typically reserved for advanced players. You can identify this type of golfer when there is a lot of shaft lean at impact causing abnormally low DYNAMIC LOFT numbers. This golfer may also have a very shallow ATTACK ANGLE. The immediate remedy is to work on drills that lesson the FACE TO PATH. That way the advanced golfer can maintain a low SPIN LOFT. If results do not improve, an increase in SPIN LOFT may help. We know a loss in distance is expected when you increase SPIN LOFT, but you might want to consider a small tradeoff if accuracy is your weakness. In other words, if losing a few yards in CARRY means you’re going curve the ball less and hit a few more fairways, increasing the SPIN LOFT may be right for you.  

With a driver, a negative ATTACK ANGLE can be a great remedy to increase accuracy because a negative ATTACK ANGLE requires more DYNAMIC LOFT at impact, and more SPIN LOFT to launch the ball optimally. In other words, the higher SPIN LOFT would help reduce the SPIN AXIS tilt. That means there is some science behind why hitting down on the ball with a driver will help you hit more fairways. Try experimenting with the Trackman Optimizer. You will learn that a negative ATTACK ANGLE increases the optimal SPIN LOFT range. Most people see this as a bad thing because you could lose some compression and increase the spin, however, a higher SPIN LOFT may be right for you if you’re seriously struggling with ball flight curve.    

Another remedy to improve accuracy is to play a fade instead of a draw. That’s because an open FACE TO PATH often increases the DYNMAMIC LOFT and SPIN LOFT. This will help reduce the SPIN AXIS when there is a FACE TO PATH difference. If you look at the PGA TOUR, it’s no surprise why several players prefer a fade for better control. This is additional science behind why playing a fade could make you more accurate. 

Long drive competitors need to understand the relationship between SPIN LOFT and ball flight curve more than anyone. That’s because they produce extraordinarily low SPIN LOFT numbers when they compete. This helps them compress the ball and reduce spin, but when you combine a very low SPIN LOFT with a FACE TO PATH difference, that’s a recipe for a lot more curve than expected. Looking back at the chart, a SPIN LOFT of 6 degrees produced nearly double the amount of curve when compared to someone with 14 degrees of SPIN LOFT. I’m not saying long drive competitors need to immediately increase SPIN LOFT, but they should experiment with a slightly higher SPIN LOFT and see if they can still achieve optimal BALL SPEED, SPIN RATE, and LAUNCH. If they can, they may be able to gain more accuracy from a slightly higher SPIN LOFT and keep a few more drives in the grid during competition.  

This research leads several conclusions. When looking at why the ball curves, we must also examine SPIN LOFT. We learned that abnormally low SPIN LOFT numbers combined with abnormally high FACE TO PATH numbers can be a bad recipe for control. If this is your situation, we highly recommend minimizing the FACE TO PATH first so you can maintain a low SPIN LOFT. But if results do not improve, you may benefit from increasing SPIN LOFT. This can offer the benefit of reducing SPIN AXIS tilt and less curve in the ball flight. Since a negative ATTACK ANGLE increases the optimal SPIN LOFT, you can learn to hit down on the ball with a driver to gain more accuracy. Also, since an open FACE TO PATH increases the SPIN LOFT, you can learn to play a fade to gain more accuracy. These are two methods I recommend for controlling ball flight curve by increasing SPIN LOFT.  I also recommend referencing our SPIN LOFT safety zones for each club in Level 3. This will help you analyze SPIN LOFT more effectively and determine where your SPIN LOFT numbers are on the spectrum.  For more information, please review our book for helpful tips on making the appropriate adjustments in your swing.  

Adam Kolloff

8 Reasons Why Golfers Have Low Back Pain, Part 1

Low back pain is a serious issue for professional and amateur golfers alike. Research studies have shown that low back pain accounts for 18-54% of all golf injuries, depending on which study you read. The golf swing places a tremendous amount of stress on the low back (lumbar spine) combining end-range rotational range of motion at high velocity repeated over and over again over a long period of time. This is a recipe for back pain.

Research studies have shown that the golf swing produces compressive forces equivalent of up to 8x your body weight through the lumbar spine. To put this in context, running generates forces equivalent of 3x body weight. These forces approach, and sometimes surpass, the physiological limit of a tissues failure point, thus leading to pain and injury. Some common injuries can include:

  • Disc Herniation

  • Nerve Root Irritation

  • Facet Joint Dysfunction

  • Ligament Sprain

  • Muscular Strain

Although low back pain is a serious and potentially debilitating condition, it is by no means a "death sentence" to your golf game.

Since golf is a repetitive asymmetrical rotational sport, the forces on the spine and surrounding tissue are not evenly distributed between the right and left side. According to a study by Sugaya et al, low back pain and injury typically occurred on the trail side of the lumbar spine. These injuries are usually due to compression of tissues on the trail side of the body and impact when you and in right sidebending and moving into left rotation.

This means that for a right handed golfer, low back pain symptoms are typically felt on the right side of the low back.

Given that swinging a golf club places tremendous amounts of stress on the lumbar spine, I want to address the eight major factors for low back pain in golfers and what common swing faults we see in golfers with these sub-optimal qualities and how this can perpetuate low back pain in golfers.

1. Previous History of Low Back Pain

This one is logical: previously having acute or chronic low back pain is the number one risk factor for developing low back pain while golfing. In a study of almost 200 novice golfers, aorund 25% of them experienced low back pain during their first season playing. However, the majority of these players did not feel like golf was the cause of their low back pain. Rather, the study explains the players felt that golf had exaccerbated their symptoms of low back pain which they had previously experienced. Interesting.

It seems logical that the 8x body weight compression force on the lumbar spine during each full effort swing could cause a recurrence of previous low back pain.

In a 2010 study by Tsai et al, the authors examined the differences in biomechanics of the golf swing between golfers with low back pain and golfers without low back pain. The study concluded that golfers WITH low back pain demonstrated significantly less hip extensor strength, decreased lead side (left) hip abductor muscle strength, and limited trunk rotation to the trail side (right). These are all characteristics in the golf swing that can increase stress on the low back, potentially perpetuating their low back pain and impairing performance.

2. Too Much Golf!

This seems to be a common theme among athletes that I work with who play many different sports: too much of a good thing is bad. This is true whether it's baseball players who pitch over 150 innings a year, gymnasts who practice and compete all year round, or powerlifters who never take a deload week. The body needs time to rest, recover, and get stronger in order to avoid injury. Research shows that golfers who practice more often and for a longer duration are more likely to sustain an overuse injury.

I like the use two concepts of quantifying and measuring overuse in sport when I am educating a golfer on why too much golf can be harmful: The Cumulative Load Theory and The Acute-Chronic Workload Ratio.

Cumulative Load Theory

The cumulative load theory is based on the principle that there is a "threshold range of load and repetition product beyond which injury precipitates." Basically, there are only so many repetitions of a certain movement that our body can sustain without injury over a period of time (all other variables remaining equal). McCarrol et al described the cumulative load and its effect on golfers in 1982:

"In golf, the combination of large magnitude spinal forces combined with a high frequency of swing repetitions, likely results in lower back injury over time through the cumulative load process. The influence of cumulative load on golf-related LBP is likely why elite players identify overuse rather than a traumatic event as the cause of their LBP."

Acute-Chronic Workload Ratio

Tim Gabbet is credited with developing this theory to explain why overuse injuries happen. Essentially, this theory defines chronic workload as "what your body is used to doing" and acute workload as "what your body is doing today." If what you are doing today is a dramatic increase in activity compared to what your body is used to doing, the risk of injury increases.

My recommendation is to begin each golf season by easing into practice sessions, gradually increasing your swinging volume over a period of time to build up a solid foundation. Limiting the amount of abrupt spikes in golf swing volume will help to lessen the risk of injury throughout a season.  Also, maintaining an appropriate strength and conditioning program while playing golf can help to build resiliency and decrease the risk of injury.

3. Poor Lumbopelvic Control

We've all heard the saying, "It's all in the hips," and it's certainly true in golf. The lower half serves to generate power through the kinematic sequence of the golf swing through channeling and using the ground reaction forces to transmit power from your feet to the club. The legs generate power, the trunk and arms transmits the power, and the club exerts the power on the golf ball.

Poor lumbopelvic control can manifest itself in numerous phases of the golf swing. Golfers who have difficulty controlling pelvic positioning will often have a sub-optimal address position, inefficient kinematic sequence, and potentially a number of different major swing faults. Each of these issues has the potential to place a greater stress on the lower back during each swing.

When I work with a golfer who struggles with poor lumbopelvic control in their golf posture, I often find that other culprits of low back pain on this list are present as well. These can typically include general weakness of the core, glutes, and leg muscles, limited hip mobility, and limited trunk rotational mobility. It is important to recognize that although these are distinct characteristics on this list, some or all of them may be present in golfers who have ever experienced low back pain.

4. General Weakness and Decreased Muscular Endurance

Weakness of the abdominal muscles, hip extensor muscles, and hip abductor muscles have long been correlated with low back pain. The abdominal muscles should be contracting during the downswing and through impact to create a stable foundation for rotation of the upper body. If a golfer has weakness or poor endurance of the abdominal muscles, over the course of a round a golfer may begin to lose some stiffness through the core. Once this happens, the golfer is losing a lot of stability in their swing which can predispose them to placing more stress on the lumbar spine. The same thing occurs with the poweful muscles of the hips and lower body. If these muscles aren't generating the power in the swing, golfers will attempt to generate this power elsewhere.

It is well documented in the research that prolonged periods of sitting and relative inactivity can have an impact on posture and muscle strength. Im going to stereotype the typical golfer that I work with: 30-55 years old, works a desk job 40-80 hours each week, doesn't go to the gym as much as he or she wants, and has nagging aches and pains in various areas. Their physical screen reveals weakness and decreased endurance of the core and lower body muscles, and poor motor patterning in movements related to their golf swing. This same person then picks up a golf club Saturday and Sunday morning and plays 18 holes of golf. On Monday, they have significant soreness and discomfort in their low back.

Now, this is definitely not the only scenario of people that I treat for golf-related low back pain. I would say, however, that it is unfortunately the majority of golfers that I see.

The notion that golfers are weak and out of shape has been completely thrown out the window in professional golf. Golfers need to be strong enough to handle the extreme forces the golf swing places on the body. They also need to have the endurance to use that strength over 4+ hours of repeated swinging. I strongly advocate that golfers get into a solid strength and conditioning routine that focusing on general strength, rotational power development, and overall fitness. 

Stay Tuned

Stay tuned for the second part of my post on 8 Reasons Why Golfers Have Low Back Pain: Part 2. In the second part, I will talk more specifically about certain characteristics of a golfer's physical limitations and how they correlate with major swing faults.

Link to full article on mikescaduto.com: http://mikescaduto.com/2017/11/02/8-reasons-why-golfers-have-low-back-pain-part-1/

Winter Golf League Update

Thank you to the teams that completed rounds 1 & 2 before the 1/27 deadline.  It has been awesome to observe the different strategies and team work that our participants have displayed thus far.  For those of you that have not completed your required rounds, our staff understands that this is a very busy time of the year for everyone and life can get in the way, but please remember your commitments to this league.  

Now, on to the fun part….

Congratulations to the team of Alex Leifer and Evan Milstein who hold a Round 2 lead of -28!  Close on their heels at only two shots back (at -26) is the team of Andrew Hackett and Josh Filz.  There are two teams holding strong at -22 and three other teams at -20.  Do not let some of these early low scores scare any of you, as there is a lot of golf left to play!

The Leader Board (below) is only comprised of teams that have completed Rounds 1 and 2. Please give us a call if you have completed both your rounds and do not see your name on the Leader Board. We do our best to record all scores but at times the facility gets extremely busy and we may have missed your submission. 

Thanks again for your participation in the Winter League! 


The 2/10 deadline for rounds 3 and 4 is fast approaching, so please remember to book your simulator rentals in advance. 

Good luck!