Golfers have been taught to reject spin in the name of distance. But what happens when you need a “fairway finder” on 18 to win some skins off your buddy? Unless you’re Dustin Johnson and can repeatedly hit big, towering bombs on a string, the obvious choice is to dial back the speed, increase spin and smooth one down the fairway.
Knowing it’s the prudent play and understanding how to execute the shot are two entirely different things. Thankfully, GOLF Magazine Top 100 instructor Chris Mayson is here to lend a hand.
In the latest edition of GOLF.com’s RoboTest series, Mayson provides a go-to shot, called the “second serve,” that’s sure to help you keep it in the short grass.
“One of my friends and good students came up and said, ‘I have my first serve, which is a bomb, and if I need to put one in play, I have my second serve.”
To execute the “second serve,” simply tee the ball down until the entire ball is underneath the clubhead. From there, you’ll notice your path move slightly left with a downward attack angle — the average golfer is already delivering the club with a negative attack angle — all but guaranteeing a cut shot shape that’s easier to control when the heart starts pumping during the weekend money match.
To show what happens when you switch from the “first serve” to the “second serve” with the driver, we employed Gene Parente’s Golf Laboratories robot to hit both shots and recorded the launch monitor data on Foresight’s GCQuad unit.
Methodology: Duplicate two driver swings at 95 mph. One with a 10.5-degree driver head hitting the ball straight with a 0 AoA. The machine was then set up to hit the “second serve” with a swing 4 outside/in. The ball was also lowered on the face .4” and the face opened to hit a straight shot with a slight fade curvature.
Results: As expected, the “second serve” was easier to execute and produced a controlled cut shape that found the fairway on a regular basis. As you can see from the numbers below, an increase in spin reduces distance and lowers launch, but in this particular instance, finding the short grass is the key.
First Serve: 0 (Path) | 0 (Angle of Attack) | 11.6 degrees (Launch Angle) | 2705 RPM (Backspin) | 238 yards (Total Distance)
Second Serve: -4 (Path) | -3.5 (Angle of Attack) | 7 degrees (Launch Angle) | 3300 RPM (Backspin) | 224 yards (Total Distance)
For golfers who find themselves struggling to hit the fairway during the round, simply lowering the tee and keeping the same negative attack angle is a great way to keep the big number off the scorecard. You’ll likely have an extra club into the hole, but if that approach shot is coming from the fairway instead of the rough (or trees), your chances of recording par — or the very least a bogey — go up significantly.
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