Identifying Flying Objects
Unless you gain an understanding of what your ball is doing in the air you can’t take action to correct your problem.
There are only 9 flights that your ball will take after it has been hit. Once you have identified your predominant ball flight making the necessary corrections to your grip and alignment really aren’t that difficult. Hopefully this will help you better understand cause and effect and what adjustments need to be made to improve. Then, it’s a matter of staying committed to what is scientifically correct.
Let’s run briefly through each outcome. We will start in the middle:
Straight: This is the ideal. The club comes into the ball on a great path with the clubface square to the target. Life is good.
Hook: The path is good but the clubface is closed at impact. You just need to weaken your grip.
Slice: The path is good but the clubface is open at impact. You just need to strengthen your grip.
On the left branch of the ball flight tree (Pull) are the ball flights that of course start the ball left. Which means the clubhead came into the ball on an outside to in path.
Pull: If your ball goes straight left with no real curve the clubhead traveled on an outside to in path with a square clubface. You need to work on alignment which will affect the path of your club.
Pull Slice: The clubhead came into the ball with an outside to in path with and open clubface. You can play golf with this ball flight but you’ll really lose distance. But at least the ball works back toward the intended target.
Pull Hook: The clubhead came into the ball with an outside to in path with a closed face. If you hit this shot often keep a lot of balls in your bag, you’re gonna’ need them. Change your grip and alignment.
On the right branch of the ball flight tree (Push) are the ball flights that of course start the ball to the right. Which means the clubhead came into the ball on an inside to out path.
Push: The clubhead came into the ball with a inside to out path with a square clubface. Work on your alignment. You are probably aimed right.
Push Hook: The clubhead came into the ball with an inside to out path with a closed clubface. You can play golf with this ball flight because the ball works back toward center but you’ll probably have a pretty low ball flight and the top spin that this shot creates makes it difficult to control your iron shots because the first bounce on the green will be big. I recommend playing with a ball that gives you a lot of control. You have learned to have a strong grip to compensate for aiming so far right.
Push Slice: The clubhead came into the ball with an inside out path and an open clubface. Just like with the pull-hook if you hit this shot regularly keep a lot of balls in your bag. You need to work on alignment and strengthen your grip.
As you can see from the descriptions of each shot there are patterns. You’ll either want to adjust your grip or your alignment or both. Most of the root problems of the golf swing come back to a faulty grip and/or alignment. If you are willing to do a little investigative work and make some changes you can make a real difference in your game that will last.
In future lessons I will be giving advice on proper grip and alignment. So please keep following.
Thanks for the comments.
Having a proper grip is one of the most important first steps in golf. It can eliminate many ball flights you don’t want to have and can highlight if your alignment is wrong which will indicate where the club face is on impact. If you know the 9 ball flights and how to correct each one, you can easily rectify a poor playing day into a respectable score just by knowing your swing and trusting your knowledge.
Yesterday while playing I saw someone put this article to good use. Garrett was hitting a minor push that he couldn’t fix before we went to the first tee. Realizing that his club face, swing path, or alignment was slightly off, he made on course adjustments to control his ball. These adjustments allowed him to feel confident and swing freely.
Being able to correct your swing in the middle of a round is crucial if you want to be a successful tournament golfer. I feel that if you know where you tend to miss the ball on the range and can identify a way to fix it than you can bring that knowledge to the course and be successful.
When I am playing my best tournament golf, I am analyzing every swing. I know most coaches would say forget about the swing and go out and play, but I have found a few things to help me. First, when I make a great swing, I love to hold the finishing position and try and take a snap shot of how I feel at that exact moment. I like to feel where the club is on my neck, the balanced feeling over my feet, and connect those positions with the visual of the ball flight. When I make bad swings, I connect those positions with the ending result, and compare it in my mind to the feeling of hitting a great shot as I am walking to my next shot. By comparing the two swings and ball flights, most of the time I can make the little kinesthetic adjustments to hit better shots in the future.
I think when I get into trouble I’m more of a slice guy. I’ve learned to compensate with the pull slice, but there really is nothing like the straight ball. I think with a little help and adjusting my grip, that it should be an easy fix.
I have been working hard to control the flight of my ball lately. I like to see a slight fade off the tee, while I like the draw with my irons. I have had problems with the push fade off the tee because I used to play the draw with my driver. Ball flight is key to my game; when I am in complete control and can trust my swing, I will have a lot of success.
Golf is all about figuring out what works best for YOU. And, a major part of that is learning which way your ball goes on mishits and what your general tendencies are so that when you get into a pressure situation, you can be aware and adjust accordingly. Breaking the ball flights down like this does a great job to simplify the game, and, instead of having no clue what your ball will do, now you can categorize yourself and begin the process of learning who the real golfing you is. After all, as golfers, we are just trying to make the game as simple as possible.
Ball flight is something I can get confused about sometimes, I am not always sure why the ball flies the way it does. I will definitely remember this chart next time I am struggling with controlling my ball flight because for me confidence is everything!
Coach, one of my biggest problems is alignment. Lately, I have become more and more conscious of how this effects my ball flight. It’s crazy just how much misalignment can effect a golfer’s ball flight. I now check my alignment very frequently to make sure that everything is square before I swing. I have been back to this page multiple times to help me work through some problems. Thanks Coach!