WORKING THE GOLF BALL
Review of Ball Flight Laws
There are five ball flight laws that control a ball’s flight; and the flight of the little white ball has clear messages needed for focused practice, evolving awareness of the golf swing, and strategic play of this pesky, fun game. The laws are as follows:
- Clubface angle.
- Clubface path.
- Angle of the club’s approach to the ball.
- Centeredness of impact of the ball with the clubface.
- Speed of the clubface at impact.
The two primary variables that control ball flight direction are clubface angle and clubface path. Trackman data indicate that for irons clubface angle at impact controls 75% of ball flight direction; and that clubface path at impact controls 25% of ball flight direction. For the driver Trackman data indicate that clubface angle at impact controls 85% of ball flight direction; and that clubface path at impact controls 15% of ball flight direction.
Clubface path at impact dictates the initial ball flight direction. Path can be inside-out, straight, or outside-in to the ball-target line. Clubface angle at impact dictates the secondary ball flight direction. Clubface angle can be closed, square, or open to the ball-target line. Together, clubface angle and clubface path result in nine different ball flights that can be read and managed. The nine ball flight laws for a right-handed golfer are as follows:
- Push-Draw (inside-out path, clubface closed): ball flies straight but to right of target; and then bends-draws-hooks to the left.
- Push (inside-out path, clubface square): ball flies straight but to right of target.
- Push-Fade (inside-out path, clubface open): ball flies straight but to right of target; and then bends-fades-slices to right.
- Straight-Draw (straight path, clubface closed): ball flies straight; and then bends-draws-hooks left.
- Straight (straight path, clubface square): ball is on target.
- Straight-Fade (straight path, clubface open): ball flies straight; and then bends-fades-slices right.
- Pull-Draw (outside-in path, clubface closed): ball flies straight but to left of target; and then bends-draws-hooks left.
- Pull (outside-in path, clubface square): ball flies straight but to left of target.
- Pull-Fade (outside-in path, clubface open): ball flies straight but left of target; and then bends-fades-slices right.
Deliberately working the golf ball
DISTANCE: deliberately working the ball impacts club selection. A draw and a fade travel less distance than a straight shot; and a draw travels less distance than the fade because of spin differences generated at impact.
SET UP, right-handed golfer.
- Draw: visualize the initial ball flight moving to the right of the intended target; and the secondary ball flight drawing left to the intended target.
- Fade: visualize the initial ball flight moving to the left of the intended target; and the secondary ball flight fading right to the intended target.
- Aim line: the direction the ball is initially intended to start, right of intended target for a draw, left of intended target for a fade.
- Stance: parallel left of aim line.
- Ball position: on the aim line two balls behind inside of left heel.
- Grip: hands remain at neutral grip position; slightly loosen grip and with one free hand, rotate the club shaft-club face to intended target, rotate left for draw, rotate right for fade; and re-grip club.
- Posture: same as straight shot.
SWING MOTION: straight shot swing motion.
- Ground: take a couple of deep, elevating breaths, and visualize energy circulating between your feet and the earth below you. Feel static and dynamic balance and sense a balanced and solid foundation; and connect with the environment surrounding you.
- Passionate Intention: take three-five short breaths into the upper chest to activate the sympathetic nervous system, increase oxygen, and intensify subtle energy currents. Charge the whole body, physically and emotionally, preparing for the exertion to come, make a final visual touch of the target.
- Relaxed Focus: on an out-breath, one-pointed concentration on the point of impact of club with ball—mindfulness—channeling all body energies into a laser beam of relaxed, focused concentration, letting go of everything—self-restraint—and sensing the synchronous, flowing swing to impact with a ball creatively floating to the target—awareness. Become one with the environment, a golf club, a golf ball, and the target.
Squeeze Trigger: With passion burning, the captain of the ship squeezes the auto-pilot button and trusts the programmed subconscious to creatively deliver a ball to an intended target.
A good athlete can enter a state of body-awareness in which the right stroke or the right movement happens by itself, effortlessly, without any interference of the conscious will. This is the paradigm for non-action: the purest and most effective form of action. The game plays the game; the poem writes the poem; we cannot tell the dancer from the dance. (Stephen Mitchel, Tao Te Ching, vii)