Clubface + Swing Path = Ball Flight
Ken Martin, PGA
IMPACT ZONE™ Master Instructor
As discussed in my article Just the Facts in our September newsletter, it is the clubface that tells the golf ball what to do and all the information is transmitted at the moment of impact. Focusing your attention on your forward swing path and the orientation of the clubface to that path is the key to telling your ball where to go.
What follows in this article will clarify exactly what the clubface and forward swing path orientations need to be in order to hit any shape golf shot you desire.
The only caveat to playing with the information below is that it relies on the IMPACT ZONE 2nd Dynamic for masterful results. Yes, the 4-inch forward swing bottom will give you ideal contact at impact so you can begin to shape your shots on purpose. You can review Dynamic #2 by reading our August newsletter.
It is a known fact, proven by scientific studies using high-tech equipment, that a golf ball’s flight pattern is primarily dependent on clubface orientation at impact. Approximately 85% of the ball’s initial flight direction is determined by the clubface, leaving only 15% of its initial flight direction reliant on forward swing path.
This image shows the reality of initial ball flight direction (red arrow) when the clubface is OPEN to a swing path that is to the LEFT. The ball will initially start to the RIGHT of the swing path, primarily in the direction the clubface is looking at impact.
Also, the ball will curve in the air in the same direction the clubface is oriented to the swing path. Namely, in this example, the ball will curve in the air to the right; a fade or slice.
The diagram below illustrates clearly the relationship between clubface orientation to a forward swing path direction and the corresponding initial ball flight direction. Also noted in the diagram is the spin direction (curve) the ball will have in the air.
BLUE = Forward swing path
RED = Clubface direction
PURPLE = Initial starting direction
GREEN = Arrows indicate ball spin direction
The important detail to take away from the image above is how closely the initial shot direction matches the direction the clubface is looking. It is a common misconception that the ball “starts in the direction of the swing path and curves in the direction of the clubface”. I have seen many a golfer try to hit around a lake on the right side of the fairway by aiming the clubface down the middle (where they want their ball to end up) and aligning down the left side of the fairway (where they want their ball to start). They execute a swing path down the left side but the ball starts close to the middle and fades into the water!
The correct components to the above scenario would be to aim the clubface at the left edge of the fairway and align so that the forward swing path was left of that, in the left rough. This way the ball will start more toward the left edge of the fairway and fade to the middle. Even if the result was a slice, the ball would most likely still be in the fairway on the right side but safely left of the water.
If you hit the ball generally straight but it is right or left of your target, chances are good your aim and/or alignment are incorrect. A simple way to check is by placing a club, alignment stick, or yardstick on the ground between your feet and the ball aimed at your target. This will provide an easy reference for both clubface aim and body alignment.
What you can do with this information is very powerful. The simple key to remember is that the ball generally starts in the direction the clubface is looking at impact, so aim it where you want the ball to start. (To contact Ken, Click Here)