In Part 1 of the series I explained that one of the biggest request I hear from golfers is a desire to be more CONSISTENT off the tee. In that post, I defined what it meant to be consistent, and pointed out the 2 most important factors in accomplishing that goal. Those factors were:
1. Centeredness of Contact (Click here to read this element explained in detail)
2. Understanding the flight of your golf ball
The purpose of part 2 of this series will be to teach you about ball flight. Essentially, why your ball flies the way it does or put into fancy terms: THE BALL FLIGHT LAWS. Let me be clear that this piece is meant to be strictly entry level and only cover the flight of the ball when struck in the center of the club face. Additionally, it is designed to help your average golfer get a better grip on their ball flight. Click here to read what happens when you don’t hit the ball in the center of the face.
For years these Ball Flight Laws were taught incorrectly. As you can see pictured below a screenshot from a Golf Channel broadcast showing Nick Faldo educating golfers on how to hit a fade. Unfortunately, if you followed Mr. Faldo’s advice you would miss your target well to the right. Luckily, through extreme study and revolutionary machines like TrackMan we now have a much clearer picture of what makes a ball move the way it does.
Let’s start with 2 basic rules of thumb:
1. The angle of the club face at impact is primarily responsible for the starting direction of the golf ball.
For example, if the golf ball is struck in the center of the face but the club face is angled like pictured above that golf ball will take off on a line that is to the right of the target line.
2. The golf ball curves away from the club path relative to the club face.
To better understand this let’s define club path:
Now that we’ve defined club path, let’s take a look at the second part of rule of thumb #2 where I stated RELATIVE TO THE CLUB FACE. Not completely understanding this is often where golfers get tripped up and make incorrect adjustments to their swing. You must remember that the golf club and golf ball do not care about your target line, and the only thing that matters when it comes to curving the golf ball is the relationship between the club path and the club face.
Understanding this relationship is critical to becoming a good player who can make corrections to their own golf swing. I think the best way to help you understand this relationship is to provide a few examples.
In this example both the club face and the club path are left of our desired target line. Assuming a center strike, and using our two rules of thumb we can conclude that this ball will start to the left of the target line and curve to the right. How much to the right? There are a few factors that determine how much the ball curves:
- The difference between the face and path (red and white lines)
- The loft of the club (less loft equals more curve). It’s why your driver curves more than your sand wedge.
- The distance you hit the golf ball. The longer the ball travels in the air the more time it has to curve.
Notice in this example how the club face is the same as our previous example, but the club path has shifted significantly to the right (more in-to-out). Once again assuming a center strike, this scenario would produce a golf ball that started just slightly left of the target line, but this time the ball would curve to the left. Why??? Because the club face is now closed or the left of the path.
For our final example, I shifted our face to the right of the target line but left the path the same as the previous scenario. This time both the face and path are to the exact same amount to the right. What happens? A shot that starts to the right of the target and does not curve at all, creating a shot known as a push. This happens when there is no difference between face and path.
How does this make me more consistent off the tee?
Too many time I see golfers make adjustments to their swing because they don’t understand the ball flight laws. What happens is this forces them to constantly be changing and making continuous adjustments. This constant change prevents them from developing a regular miss and they find themselves missing shots everywhere. If you have played much golf you quickly realize that standing on the tee not knowing if the ball is going right or left can be a scary proposition. Quite simply, constant change is a big enemy to developing consistency.
I hope that I’ve given you the tools to start diagnosing your ball flight. Once you diagnose you can start working towards having a consistent and repeatable curve to every golf shot.
In Depth Training
If you are someone who desperately wants be more consistent off the tee, I invite you to join me for a two part class focused on hitting longer tee shots that finish in the fairway. Class will be held on August 19th & 26th from 6:30pm-7:30pm. Click here for more information and to reserve your spot.