Importance Of Understanding Ball Flight Laws

Importance Of Understanding Ball Flight Laws

In order to play consistent golf, we must understand the concept of ball flight and the principles behind it. The flight of the golf ball is one of the best instructors in the world, yet few students properly understand what the ball is teaching them. If you learn to understand ball flight laws, your golf ball will become the ally in improving your game.These laws are fairly straight forward. Two factors effect a shot’s direction: Clubface angle and clubhead path. Three factors affect distance: The clubheads’ approach (Angle of attack), point of contact on the clubface (sweet spot), and the clubhead speed. Now let’s look at these in detail:CLUBFACE ANGLE: Where the clubface points at impact, indicates the direction in which the ball will curve during flight – hence where it will land. Clubface angle can also influence the shot’s starting direction in extreme cases. The lie angle of your golf club will also affect the clubface angle at impact if it is not fitted correctly.CLUBHEAD PATH: The path of the clubhead in conjunction with the clubface angle – influences the shot’s initial starting direction. The faster the clubhead is travelling, the more influence path has on the initial direction.

ANGLE OF APPROACH: This is the steepness of the clubhead path approaching impact. This can either be in an upward or downward direction. The greater the angle, the more backspin that is generated, creating additional lift. Additional backspin also counteracts sidespin on the shot.

POINT OF CONTACT: The ball will travel further and straighter when struck closer to the centre of the clubhead’s sweet spot.

CLUBHEAD SPEED: The faster the clubhead is travelling at impact, the further the ball will travel.

All these factors are at play on every shot. But because the angle of approach, clubhead speed and point of contact are more consistent, generally have less effect. Clubhead path and clubface angle, which can vary significantly from shot to shot, have greater influence on the shot’s result.

“The ultimate judge of your swing is the flight of your ball.” – Ben Hogan

There are two rules we therefore need to remember when observing our ball flight;

Rule #1

The initial direction that the ball takes is a result of the path of the clubhead at impact.

Rule #2

The end direction the ball takes (i.e. where the ball lands) is a result of the clubface angle at impact.

Note: The reason why tour players are so good is, whether or not they hit a good shot or bad shot, they learn by watching the ball flight.

There are in total nine different ball flights that can be produced. They are derived from three different paths’ in which the clubhead can travel during impact and three different clubface angles at impact. They are as follows;

Square Path to the Target Line

If your clubhead is moving square to the target line at the moment of impact, there is only one variable that can influence the flight of the ball, the clubface angle.

Sqaure path

 

  1. The ball will begin travelling in a straight line towards the target due to the square path of the clubhead. The ball will then hook back to the left because of the rotation placed upon the ball by the closed clubface.
  2. The ball will travel in a straight line toward the target.
  3. The ball will begin travelling in a straight line towards the target due to the square path of the clubhead. The ball will then slice to the right because of the rotation placed upon the ball by the open clubface.

 Inside/out Path to the Target Line

Inside to out path

  1. The ball will begin travelling in a straight path to the right. The ball will then begin moving back to the left because of the rotation placed upon the ball by the closed clubface. This is commonly known as a push hook.
  2. The ball will travel in a straight path to the right and is commonly known as a push.
  3. The ball will begin travelling in a straight path to the right. The ball will continue moving farther to the right because of the rotation place upon the ball by the open clubface. This is commonly known as a push slice.

Outside/In path to the Target Line

Outside in Path

  1. The ball will begin travelling in a straight path to the left. The ball will continue moving farther to the left because of the rotation place upon the ball by the closed clubface. This is commonly known as a pull hook.
  2. The ball will travel in a straight path to the left, which is commonly known as a pull.
  3. The ball will begin travelling in a straight path to the left. The ball will the begin moving back to the right because of the rotation placed upon the ball by the open clubface. This is commonly known as a pull slice.

So next time you are analysing your swing, look at what the ball is doing, then relate it back to what the club, hands and body are doing. Without going into too much detail, your golf clubs can influence the ball flight as well, but that is opening up another can of worms. For more information on golf club fitting, go to www.learntoplaybettergolf.com

Until next time;

Enjoy your game. Cheers. Jim Kennedy

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