What actually happens when you get a “flyer” and why can’t you recreate the condition when the ball is on a tee?
You have asked a question which is probably of great interest to many golfers but we first need to define a “flyer”.
A “flyer” is commonly considered a shot — when using an iron, generally from a five-iron on down to the wedge – which travels (flies) considerably farther than expected under normal conditions. The difference in distance of the “flyer” compared to the usual shot, using the same club is at least 20 yards or more than expected.
The average golfer does not recognize this phenomenon often, because our distance control and consistency is not as good as we would like to believe it is. For this reason, an extraordinary shot for a pro – who knows precisely how far he/she hits the ball — is not so extraordinary for us. We may sometimes claim that a shot – which we occasionally hit on the sweet spot and goes the proper distance – was a “flyer” simply because the distance it traveled was so unusual.
The other thing we need to know is that it is impossible to get a “flyer” when the ball is launched off a tee where there is no grass juice between the club-face and the ball. It is this juice (lubricant) at the interface between the ball and the club, which causes the ball to slide up the face a little more than usual than from a dry condition (no grass or other lubricant). This additional sliding will reduce the spin and increase launch angle as well as increase the ball speed. This change in conditions will result in a “flyer” i.e. a ball going farther than expected – if we really knew what to expect.
The pros – who do know what to expect – will often take the “flyer” phenomenon into account and back off a little with the club choice, or swing to compensate for the potential difference in distance. It is generally believed that the new smaller grooves do produce more flyers than the older version from the light rough. There is evidence that the new grooves reduce the spin from the light rough but this is not considered by itself a “flyer”.
Doug, I hope this helps your understanding of the phenomenon and will alleviate the need for you to join any frequent-“flyer” program.