Obtaining Higher Launch Angle | Swing Surgeon - Don Trahan Peak Performance Golf Swing

Obtaining Higher Launch Angle

Thu, 08/01/2013 - 14:00 -- Don Trahan

When you're faced with a shot that has a forced carry, you need to be able to get the ball up in the air. This is especially true for tee shots that have a forced carry to the fairway. Low, boring trajectory is good for playing in the wind and the ball rolls nicely down the fairway, but it won't work for that type of tee shot.

Lynn Schenk has struggled with this problem, and he's not the only one. I've always had a lower ball flight with my woods, but after talking with Doc Griffin, I think I've been able to fix this issue. Today, I'm going to share what I've figured out with you!


I enjoyed this video on the launch angle. However, my problem is just the opposite. When using a long iron or driver, my launch angle is low and boring which gives good roll, but the ball flight is not good. What am I doing that causes the low ball flight? I hit my driver 225 to 250 but feel I could gain distance with proper flight angle.

Thank you,
Lynn Schenk

I've always hit the ball with a lower trajectory, which is partly because I have long arms for my height. I just recently realized that my ball position had gotten a little too far forward, which caused me to hit the ball lower on the clubface.

You might also want to look at the loft on your clubs. As we get older, getting more loft on the club can help us get the ball up in the air. It's something I'm currently discussing with Doc Griffin.

The issue with drivers is that club manufacturers are moving the sweet spot up on the face of the club. I tee the driver down to combat this, but it's a good rule of thumb to always check where you're making contact with the ball on your clubface. You can do this by placing white tape on the face of the club and taking a swing. Once you see where your ball is making impact, you can start identifying the issue.

Keep it vertical!

The Surge

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jnora's picture

Submitted by jnora on

Don, most of us have to make adjustments to the classic PPGS because of our unique abilities and physique. For example, I use Enlow grips because of arthritis and have a looser grip resting more in my hands, than I would with a standard grip.

However, staying behind the ball until after impact and shooting up to the top as fast as you can, for me, are irreconcilable. This dilemma almost caused me to abandon the PPGS and search elsewhere.

I finally resolved the issue focusing only on staying behind the ball until my forward swing pulled me up to the balanced finish automatically. You say the downswing is automatic, for me the upswing has to be automatic.

I bet I am not the only one who does not have the split second timing to shoot to the top as fast as possible without starting this prior to impact with predictable poor results.

I am interested in you comments. Thanks and keep up the good work, I love the daily videos.

John Nora

NeilofOZ's picture

Submitted by NeilofOZ on

John, you sound just like me.
Recently I had Don review a video of me and one aspect of my swing he commented on was the fact that my nose was still pointing towards the ball well after impact. Iv'e tried many times to come up AFAP, but the result is always the same, ie the release point is inconsistent and so is the ball flight and loss of yardage. For me it's imperative that I stay down and until I feel the wrists release, then come up. My theory is, it's obvious that golfers with fast swing speeds can come out of shot much faster than those with slower speeds and this is where different individuals have to make adjustment for their particular swing type, does this relate?

Kevin McGarrahan's picture

Submitted by Kevin McGarrahan on

John and Neil,

I have been working on this aspect of the PPGS quite diligently of late. For the longest time, it has been something I have struggle with. What I have found to be the problem is TENSION. True, we need to have a firm grip, and also true, we need to keep the knees and lower body fairly still until the top of the BUS. I have either had too much tension in the lower body or too much in the shoulders and neck. Both of those prevent popping up AFAP.

What works for me is to think of only three positions: MSP, top of BUS, and T-Finish. I get in the Master Setup Position (MSP) and start the BUS as quickly as I can, but not swinging quickly. I like to think of constant acceleration. As soon as I am set, I start the turn-and-lift relatively slowly. I think of driving my car on ice (something most people can relate to); start slowly so the wheels don't spin, gradually and smoothly accelerating. At the top of the BUS, I shift gears and continue the smooth acceleration, all the way to the T-Finish. I try not to let off the gas until the club passes my left ear (I'm right-handed); then recoil and relax. I try not to even think about hitting the ball; impact is a non-sequitur. Making the proper swing from MSP to T-Finish is all that matters. If I do the PPGS correctly, the ball will go where it is supposed to go - every time!

Now, if I can do all that more consistently, I believe my game will improve dramatically. At the moment, I am fighting some shoulder and knee problems, but can do the PPGS mostly pain free. All the other things I do that are not related to golf are the problem.

Hope this helps in some fashion.

NeilofOZ's picture

Submitted by NeilofOZ on

Kevin, down under on the West Coast, the only ice I ever see is in a restaurant at the bottom of a glass, not legal when driving LOL. Good point on not thinking about hitting the ball, just BUS then FUS, get that right and the ball will go where it suppose to, most of the time. Iv'e mentioned previously about the "No Fear" factor, ie forget about the ball, just let it "get in the way", same for putting. My spies are telling me that Surge and his team are coming down under soon and I have a long list waiting for them. Currently I'm hitting the ball OK, winning more than my share of club comps. so i'm not going start doing too much radical from what I've got until I catch up with Surge's team.

jnora's picture

Submitted by jnora on

The worst of two evils for me is to come out of the swing too early. This causes my front shoulder to turn across the target line to the left producing a steep outside to in FUS. Result is poor contact, loss of distance, and weak fade. If I stay too long with my eyes at the ball I may loose a little distance, but the ball is straight and I have solid contact. Coming out of the shot before contact gets worse with pressure shots. The problem is the more I try to stay back the more I move forward before the hit. Does anyone with this problem have a swing thought or is relax and let the ball get in the way of the ball up to the finish the mantra I should try?

NeilofOZ's picture

Submitted by NeilofOZ on

John, some things you should try and work on. First check your spine angle at setup, you may have too much tilt. Second, don't forget that the PPGS is all
arms from the top into the FUS, think of letting the club dropping/pulling with the butt of the club pointing downwards, during work I frequently get out of my chair and practise this many times in the day (no club) and also in front of some large glass areas which I have around me. Third, make sure your club is heading towards the target line on the FUS. Fourth, watch the ball disappear off the club face, then AFAP. These are things that I work on a lot.

Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade on

Lower flight off the lower half of the driver makes complete sense. On all drivers today, especially the large, deep faced 460cc the actual loft is only as stated on the driver on the middle of the face. For example, if you have an 11 degree 460cc driver, the face likely has a 2.5 inch height and if you hit the ball on a spot the size of a thumb tack in the center you will get your 11 degree loft. All drivers have roll radius up and down the face (except those built by Tom Wishon. His up and down the face curvature is nearly flat and so the true loft is consistent any where on the face). This roll curve from top to bottom changes the actual loft quite a bit. Toward the top the actual loft may be as much as 14 degrees and at the bottom as little as 8 degrees. What! Really?? Yes really. The egos of the average male golfer likes to tell his friends he hits an 8/9 degree driver but the reality for most is they get their best drives hitting off the top half of the club as Surge mentioned. The reason is not only because the sweet spot has been moved a bit higher but because there is more loft when you hit that 8 degree off the upper half of the driver and that is why it goes higher and further. How can we know if our current driver really has enough loft? Put contact tape on the face and keep hitting drives until you see the impact mark on the dead center of the face. Was it farther or shorter than drives hit higher on the face? If lower and shorter you may need more loft.

All of the above information was taken from pages 19 and 20 from Tom Wishon's "The Search for the Perfect Driver" I have frequently recommended this and his other best seller, "The Search for the Perfect Golf Club".

BTW I normally do use a 9 and sometimes a 10.5 degree driver. Most of the time I have a level to upward angle of attack on my drives giving me a 13-15 degree launch angle. This all changes depending on whether I am hitting down wind or against the wind. Spine angle changes according to the need.

jcartier's picture

Submitted by jcartier on

Any movement of the club after the ball has left its face cannot influence the ball. Why so much emphasis on swinging up?

Robert Fleck's picture

Submitted by Robert Fleck on

The focus is on swinging up because in order to create that motion after impact, you have to accelerate the club straight through the impact zone, which is how you create optimum power and straight ball flight. Where the club goes AFTER impact tells you a lot about what the club was doing coming INTO impact. If you stop your focus at the ball, the club will almost certainly be decelerating into impact rather than accelerating through impact.