How to use lead tape: the do-it-yourself way to tweak your ball flight
Many amateur golfers are fascinated by the strips of lead tape they see plastered to the back of pros’ clubs, and they often ask me if lead tape can help fix their own swings.
Lead tape isn’t a swing cure, nor will it straighten out a full-blown slice. But better players–those who hit shots that start straight but curve slightly at the end–can use lead tape to fine-tune their ball flights.
Shots that start out straight are the result of a good swing path; how the clubface reacts at impact determines how much the ball will curve near the end of its flight. By adding a small amount of weight to the toe or heel of the club, you can affect how the clubface squares at impact. Add a bit of tape behind the sweet spot and you can increase the height of your shots. You can also use lead tape to fix that one club in your bag that feels different and produces a different ball flight than the others.
Here I’ll show you exactly where to place the lead tape to tweak a variety of ball flights. Find lead tape at your local golf shop or via mail-order suppliers like Golfsmith (800-396-0099) or GolfWorks (800-848-8358). It’s sold by the roll or in strips; a one-inch strip weighs .7 to 1.5 grams, depending on the brand.
1. To hit it higher…
… add tape to the back of the club. A driver’s center of gravity is typically located toward the back of the head, down low and slightly toward the toe, which is where you’ll want to add the tape. To raise the trajectory of your irons, apply a few strips to the base of the back of the club. For these adjustments, start by adding several one-inch strips, and monitor the effect.
2. To enhance a draw or reduce a fade…
… add tape to the heel. Adding weight to the heel area helps the clubface rotate, or close, through impact. (The larger the clubhead, the harder it is to square the clubface at impact, which is why many of the latest oversize drivers feature extra heel-weighting.) Conversely, adding lead tape to the toe of your driver will help reduce draw-spin.
3. To reduce a draw or enhance a fade…
… add tape to the toe. This will slow the rotation of the clubhead around its axis. If that sounds counterintuitive, think of how figure skaters spin: To speed their rotation, they draw their arms close to their body. To spin more slowly, they extend their arms, moving weight away from their center of gravity. The same principle is at work when you add tape to the toe.
4. Got a club that just doesn’t feel right? …
… tape can help. If you have a club that produces an odd ball flight, it could be because its swingweight is lighter than the others. Adding two grams of tape–two or three one-inch strips, depending on the tape’s thickness–increases the swingweight by a point (from a D-1 to D-2, for example). Apply tape to the back of the odd club to bring it in line with the rest of your set.
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