Charlie Rymer takes a lot of ribbing on GC -- and often it's about ribs (barbequed, that is). But I heard him give a little trajectory tip that I thought was just about the coolest and simplest tip on the subject that I've ever heard.
Ok, here's the deal: Many of the shots we want to play require us to accurately guess what trajectory a given club is going to launch the ball on. (A classic example would be the glass-breaking challenge on GC's Big Break shows.) But learning the trajectories each club is capable of creating can be a long, drawn-out process...
Unless you use Charlie Rymer's trajectory tip. First let me give you a diagram, then I'll explain it.
First look at the drawing on the left. This is a standard setup. The arrow shows you the angle the ball is going to be launched at.
Charlie's tip is on the right. You flip the club over so the back of the head is on the ground. Make sure the face of the club is parallel to the ground. If you do, the shaft of the club will give you a really good idea what angle the ball is going to launch at. You can use this info to choose your club.
Of course, there are some caveats you have to be aware of.
First, this isn't going to work very well with your hybrids and fairway woods, for obvious reasons. But typically it's an iron shot that requires this kind of knowledge. And since you know all your hybrid and wood trajectories will be lower than your longest iron's trajectory, you'll have a starting point for them as well.
Second, if you lean your club shafts slightly forward at address, the way I recommend, your actual trajectories will be slightly lower than the shaft indicates. The arrow in the right hand drawing is just a copy of the one from the left hand drawing, and they look the same. But if you look really close, you'll see that top of the shaft is actually closer to the arrow than the bottom of the shaft. You should be aware of it, just in case you've got a really tight window to fit through... but most of the time, it won't make a huge difference.
And finally, uphills and downhills will affect the accuracy of this technique a little. Still, it'll be helpful. Just make sure the face of the club is parallel to the slope, and you should get a pretty good idea of what to expect.
Like I said, simple and cool. Make sure you thank Charlie for this one. (He'll probably accept payment in ribs.)