Understanding the Determining Factors of Ball Flight (Part 2 of 2)
We hope you enjoyed Part 1 of Understanding the Determining Factors of Ball Flight. In case you missed Part 1, click the following button to catch up!
Now that you understand what each of the Ball Flight terms means, lets start looking at some practical examples of golf shots and what if anything may need to be worked on in each shot.
One of the great features of Trackman® is that it can overlay the target line, face angle, club path, and the flight of the ball on the video of the swing making it much easier for the student to understand what is happening at the moment of impact. You can see this below (Figure 2).
The above picture shows the target line in white, the red arrow shows a face angle that is 3.9 degrees to the right at impact, the blue arrow shows the club path going 10.2 degrees to the left at impact, and the pink line shows the resultant ball flight of a slice to the right of the target.
In all of these scenarios we are going to assume that the player is right handed.
Above we see (Scenario 1) a shot that starts at the target and flies straight at it. This students face angle was 0.2 left (closed) and his path was 0.8 right (in to out). This resulted in a ball flight that started at the target and did not curve. Great Shot!
Below (Scenario 2) we see this student is impacting the ball with a face angle 8.4* left (closed), and a path that is 8.1* left (out to in). The result was a ball flight that flew very straight but left of the target. In this case, we see issues with both the face angle and the path, however there could be a very simple fix for this student. What we are a seeing is a shot that is going roughly 8* off line. The fix could be as simple as aiming this student 8* to the right.
This isn’t always the case but it is where I would begin.
Next, lets start looking at some students who are curving the ball, In these scenarios we are going to see some students who are controlling there ball flight and some who are not.
Above (scenario 3) we see a student that is impacting the golf ball with a face angle that is 1.3* right (open), and a club path that is 14.1* left (out to in). This resulted in a ball flight that started very close to the target line but sliced far to the right of the target. This student is controlling the face of the club quiet well (1.3* open) but definitely needs some work on his club path.
Above (Scenario 4 Part A and B) we see a student with an interesting case and we will discuss this one a little more in depth. We see that this student has just hit a great shot (Scenario 4 Part A). The very next shot the student hit a ball that started left of the target then curved even further left (Scenario 4 Part B). Right after he struck this shot he turned to me and said, “I hate that shot! I swung over the top!” So we stopped right there and had a conversation about ball flight. It went something like this. “So you feel like you came over the top and swung to the left and that is what caused your ball to miss to the left” he said “Yes”. I then showed him that Trackman® had measured that he had actually swung the club head to the right (in to out) 1.7*, which was actually 0.9* more right (in to out) than his previous swing (Scenario 4 Part A). The reason the ball started left and curved further left is because his face angle was 7.5* left (closed), and we know that the face determines start line, and his path was 9.1* right of that (face to path) causing his ball to curve left. This was eye opening to him because his first thought was to fix his swing path. His swing path was fine. He needed work on controlling his club face angle at impact. I see this with a lot of students. Their idea of what went wrong is not necessarily what is actually at fault. They then try to fix something that isn’t broken causing multiple issues in their swing. This is why Trackman® is such a valuable piece of equipment. It measures things that can not be seen with the naked eye or video.
Finally lets look at a student who is controlling his ball flight.
Above (scenario 5) we see a student impacting the ball with a face angle that is 5.6* right (open) and a path that is 10.7* right (in to out). This resulted in a ball flight right of the target and back left (draw) back to the target. This student doesn’t require any adjustments to his impact parameters. His golf ball is doing what he wants it to do. That being said, I would prefer to see a path that is in the 4* to 5* to the right and a face angle that is between 2* and 3* to the right. This would reduce the amount of curve during the flight of the ball, and would be more consistent.
I realize that this article has been quite long (longer than I intended for it to be). It is my experience that understanding impact parameters and ball flight, and being able to control them, are the two most important factors of becoming a great ball striker! You do not need a club path and face angle that are directly at the target to play great golf, and I would say that nearly all of the worlds best players don’t. What these great players do understand is that if they are trying to hit a functional draw, the club face has to be open (right) at impact, and the path must be more to the right than the face, for a right handed golfer, so the ball will start right and curve back towards the target (Figure 3). If they are trying to hit a functional fade, the club face must be closed (left) at impact, and the path must be more to the left than the face, for a right handed golfer, so the ball will start left and curve back towards the target (Figure 4).
In conclusion, the easiest way to understand your golf balls flight, and impact parameters, is to remember that the club face will determine the start direction and the ball will curve away from the club path in relation to the start line. If the path is right of the club face the ball will curve left, and if the club path is left of the club face the ball will curve right.
I would like to say thanks for taking time out of your day to read my ramblings. If you have the chance to spend some time on a Trackman I would highly recommend it. Trackman will give you unbiased fact based information on what is happening during your swing. Why guess… what you can measure?
See you in the fairway…
PGA of Saskatchewan Professional Kevin Dietz is a regular contributor to the SaskGolfer community. For help with your golf game, contact Kevin via his website at www.reginagolflessons.com
The PGA of Saskatchewan is a part of the PGA of Canada, which was established in 1911, and is the second oldest and third largest professional golf association in the world. The PGA of Canada is a non-profit Association comprised of 3,700 golf professionals across the country. The PGA of Canada develops, promotes, and supports members in living a better life and earning a better living. The Association consists of the National Office located in Acton, Ontario and nine Zone Offices across the country.
Saskatchewan is one of the smallest provincial PGA of Canada sections, yet has some of the most highly educated and trained Golf Professionals in the country. There are many PGA of Saskatchewan Members who dedicate a significant amount of time devoted to Instructing and Coaching golfers of all abilities and ages. For a complete listing of PGA of Saskatchewan Members who can improve your golf game, please visit their website at www.pgasask.com