Category: Golf

Golf Lessons: Maximizing Distance off the Tee


Benjamin Barrone is an experienced accounting and finance professional from Chicago, IL.  As Director of Finance for Vital Proteins, Mr. Barrone recently led the Chicago-based startup in their efforts to secure a $19 million Series A financing round.  Benjamin was the first finance hire at Vital Proteins and built the department to scale with the significant growth the company is experiencing.  In his spare time, Benjamin Barrone is an avid golfer and enjoys playing many of the great Chicago courses.

Mr. Barrone carries a single digit handicap and is a fairly long hitter off the tee.  While Benjamin acknowledges accuracy is far more important than distance, maximizing distance is very helpful in scoring well on Par 5s and short Par 4s.

Getting a driver that is properly fitted to your swing is of paramount importance in the quest for distance.  Driver technology continues to evolve so if you’re carrying a driver that is more than five years old it is very likely you could stand to gain at least 10 yards off the tee simply by upgrading to a more recent model that is properly fit.

When considering the proper fit it is vitally important to use current technology like Trackman to find the right combination of ball speed, launch angle, and spin rate.  As technology has evolved, one of the lingering misconceptions is that golfers should seek to maximize launch angle and minimize spin rate.  While this may be true for some golfers, the reality is that every swing is unique and one needs to find the right launch angle and spin rate for the ball speed you generate.

For example, professional golfers generate a ball speed of 165 mph or greater and optimize their distance by achieving average launch angles around 11 degrees with average spin rates of approximately 2700 rpm.  In contrast, a weekend golfer with a ball speed of 140 mph would benefit from a higher launch angle of 13 to 15 degrees.  However, when it comes to spin rate, the conventional wisdom of “less is more” falls short here.  The reason is the lower ball speed.  In this scenario, the golfer probably needs more spin than 2700 rpm to optimize carry and total distance because it is needed to keep the golf ball airborne longer.

Another common scenario is the low-ball hitter.  Say, for example, your ball speed is fairly high at 155 mph – just a bit slower than a professional.  However, you are a low ball hitter with a launch angle of 7 degrees.  This golfer would also want to have a higher spin rate of approximately 3000 rpm to maximize total distance.  The reason is the same – they too need that spin to keep the ball in the air longer.

Of course, there are many factors in play when it comes to driver fitting.  These examples focus on spin rate.  Both of the golfers described above could also benefit from finding equipment that further optimizes their launch angle, given their ball speed.  When the two are taken in combination, it is likely that finding the proper fit could result in an additional 10-20 yards off the tee if their existing equipment is dated and/or not properly fit to their swing.

Those 10-20 yards are quite often the difference between making a par 5 reachable in two or in getting a wedge into a short par 4, making for great scoring opportunities.  Of course, this is all for naught if accuracy is compromised but who doesn’t want a “free” 15 yards without making any swing changes?

Golf Lessons: Hitting From the Deep Grass

Deep Grass hitting golf

An accounting professional based in Chicago, Benjamin Barrone most recently served as Director of Finance with Vital Proteins, where he oversaw all financial activity at the company. Outside of his professional pursuits, Benjamin Barrone enjoys playing golf in his leisure time.

In golf, fewer situations are more frustrating than hitting a ball out of the rough, especially when the shot barely missed the fairway to begin with. Hitting a ball out of deep grass requires golfers to choose the proper club for the situation. Lofted irons are not always the best option, as they can snag on thick grass and prevent solid contact with the ball. Although it may seem counterintuitive, woods have a low center of gravity and shallow face that enables them to cut through the grass more easily.

During the swing, play the ball back in your stance to minimize the amount of grass between your club and the ball. Open the clubface to account for the closing effect of long grass. Finally, hold on tight! Tall grass can grab at the club and cause your hands to slip.

Additionally, one recommendation from Benjamin Barrone is to consider what is called a “flier” lie. This occurs when there is grass between the clubface and the ball at impact, which results in less spin. When hitting a lofted iron this can result in the ball traveling much longer distances than would be the case from the fairway. For instance, Benjamin’s normal 8 iron distance is 160 yards but says he’s hit the same club over 200 yards from flier lies.

Golf Lessons: Driver Tips


Benjamin Barrone is an avid golfer from Chicago, IL.  Professionally, Mr. Barrone recently helped a local Chicago startup complete their Series A financing round.  Benjamin (Ben) has become passionate for the growing startup culture in Chicago and is looking to build on his recent success.  Ben currently carries a USGA handicap index of 7.9 and is looking to improve upon that during the 2018 golf season.

Mr. Barrone admits that driving accuracy is not a great strength of his game and is looking to improve that for the 2018 season.  The following are tips which may improve overall driving:

  1. Shorter length shafts in driver and 3 wood.  Benjamin is a fairly long hitter and is primarily concerned with accuracy.  Traditional shaft lengths have crept in recent years and may compromise accuracy.  Shortening the shaft lengths by an inch or more may help you hit more fairways.
  2. Commit to a shot shape.  Mr. Barrone can generally work the ball left-to-right (fade) or right-to-left (draw) when he chooses.  By always committing to one shot shape there is a much greater probability of hitting the fairway.  To start pick the opposite side of the fairway you expect the shot shape to move to (left side for fade, right side for draw).  If the shot stays straight, it should stay in the fairway.  If it moves as expected, it has more fairway available to hit.
  3. Slow down tempo – often times golfers with try to “kill it”.  As a result, the transition at the top may be jerky and load the shaft too soon.  The ironic result is a golf shot that not only is likely to be further offline, but also loses ball speed and distance.

Mr. Barrone is hoping that following these tips will help improve his driving accuracy and lower his handicap in 2018.

Local Golf – Two Chicago Favorites


Benjamin Barrone is an avid golfer from Chicago, Illinois.  He likes to spend his summers playing local Chicago area golf courses.  Professionally, Benjamin (Ben) Barone is a finance and accounting professional who recently helped Vital Proteins, a Chicago-based startup, achieve their Series A financing through an equity infusion from CAVU Ventures.

Mr. Barrone is mostly a “weekend warrior” and plays all of the Chicagoland area on public courses.  His current favorites are Heritage Bluffs and Ravisloe, though for different reasons.  Ben describes himself as a strong putter and is at his best from inside 125 yards.  While also being a long hitter, Mr. Barrone would be the first to admit that he is less than straight off the tee and struggles to find fairways.

This type of game plays well at Heritage Bluffs, which offers more generous fairways and lacks steep penalties for an errant tee shot.  Additionally, many holes allow a golfer to miss on one side of the hole without a significant penalty.  Because Ben is able to work the ball both directions, he can frequently take the trouble out of play and score fairly well at Heritage Bluffs.

Ravisloe, meanwhile, does not offer this generosity off the tee.  As errant golf shot off the tee will result in a bogey or worse more often than not.  As a result, Benjamin Barrone says he does not score as well here and really needs to bring his best off the tee to get in position.  Even then, the greens at Ravisloe are typically of Donald Ross designs and have severe slopes that make 2-putting difficult.  Ben says he enjoys the challenge and the fact that there “is nowhere for your game to hide”.

Though he carries a handicap in the mid single digits Mr. Barrone says he hasn’t yet broken 80 at Ravisloe.  In 2018 he says he plans to work diligently to find a “go to fairway finder” off the tee to help break through this barrier.

Golf Lessons: How to Fix a Slice

Benjamin Barrone is an accounting and finance professional in Chicago, Illinois.  Mr. Barone worked in public accounting as an auditor for nearly five years before continuing his career in the private sector.  Most recently, he served as Director of Finance for Vital Proteins, a startup in Chicago that sells ingestible collagen products.  In addition to his passion for helping startups Benjamin (Ben) Barrone also enjoys spending the summer months golfing.  Ben prefers a right-to-left shot shape (draw) and offers the following tips for fixing a slice.

The number one influence on the shape of a golf shot is the swing path coming into the golf ball on the downswing.  An outside-to-inside swing path, sometimes referred to as “coming over the top” promoted a left-to-right ballflight.  When it is pronounced, it produces the dreaded “slice”.  A slice not only causes the ball to move further from the intended target – it also takes away significant distance from the shot.

A golf swing with similar swing speeds but different swing paths can have enormous differences in distance.  For example, a slight draw with a driver at a swing speed of 100 mph may result in a drive of approximately 260 yards.  A drive with the same swing speed, but with a pronounced slice, may barely reach 200 yards if the slice is severe.

Benjamin Barone offers the following tips which may be useful in combating the dreaded slice.  Think of these as individual swing thoughts or tips to try, rather than trying all at once, and see what works:

  1. Take the club back on the outside, to allow room to “drop it down” to the inside on the downswing.
  2. Keep your head behind the ball at impact.
  3. Ensure you aren’t finishing your swing with your weight on your toes.
  4. Move the ball back in your stance – this makes it easier to avoid “reaching for the ball”
  5. Trust the loft of the club to get the ball airborne – no need to “lift” it up.
  6. Swing from the inside-out

Hope this is helpful – hit em’ straight!