It was right around this time last year that I truly grasped the concept and importance of start lines. We were at the RSM Classic in Sea Island, Ga and in the Rogue ST drivers were being introduced and fitted to our Tour Staff.
As with any Tour testing, my eyes and ears perked like a crazy person, and it was something one of our performance reps mentioned to more than one player that genuinely piqued my interest.
“Lets start with the right line outta the gate, once we get that the rest is simple.”
As usual, I injected myself into the conversation and asked Dean what that meant precisely and where that ranked as far as importance. His reply was:
“If the start line is correct, we know we are in the ballpark; it’s the first thing a player will see.” If that part ain’t sorted, that particular driver won’t make it past this session.”
I always understood what start lines represented but never in the context of profound importance. When I pick a driver, I base performance on center face hits, ball speed, spin, launch, etc. The Start line wasn’t something I even considered. Lo and behold, that new performance box changed how I see all my clubs.
My switch to the Rogue ST Max a few months ago was truly based on the start line. YES, it helped that there was a ball speed jump, and the forgiveness is unmatched, but it was mostly because my start line was a few yards right of center all the time. My driver miss is high-toe, and even then, the ball starts on the proper line. In the past, I would have drivers I smashed, but the start lines were extreme one way or the other. At a baseline level, if your driver has a proper “stock” start line, the big miss is mitigated substantially.
Once I prioritized my start line the rest of the data tiles became easy to satisfy with loft and weight tweaks.
Proper start lines represent a few important aspects of a club, Center of Gravity (Weighting and head shape), MOI, lie angle, shaft profile, shaft length, and swing weight. If the ball starts on a good line, all those markers are in a pretty damn good spot. The tweaks go from big to nuanced quickly.
This is why custom fitting is so important; a good fitter will always pay attention to the start line (based on your shot shape) first. If you hit a draw, the start line should be right of center and fall left. A slicer’s ball should start left and fall right.
How do I know my proper start line?
Next time you practice, pay attention to where your ball starts right after impact; we all have a window. If you hit a few good ones and look up with the ball sailing a little left of where you are looking, you might need to make some tweaks. The fix could be as simple as a lie angle bump in most cases. If the ball goes left to left, you probably want to move to a flatter lie and vice versa.
There is something in that we can all pay attention to. I have seen more focus on start lines and spin on TOUR than anything else. Knowing that your golf ball is traveling down your correct line at the start makes what happens next more predictable.
This may seem like a severe rabbit hole, but it’s not. Start lines have been the indicator of a good club vs. a bad club for generations. Hogan, Snead, Nicklaus, Woods…they all have a window, and if the ball doesn’t start there, good luck.
In the next Performance Trailer Tip i’ll explain how our reps use the Opti-Fit Cogs to REALLY dial something in.