Ball Flight Laws.
I find this topic to be very interesting as most people don’t truly understand what makes a golf ball curve. I think your progression as a player can develop much quicker if you have an accurate understanding of why a ball starts where it does and curves to where it ends.
First off, the ball starts where the clubface is pointed and curves based on the club path in relation to clubface. For the discussion of starting line and shot shape the target is COMPLETELY irrelevant. The ball and club don’t know what the target or target line is. The ball only knows the physics of how it is struck for the purposes of where it is going. So for now completely ignore the target line and only think of the face and path at impact.
The ball will start almost exactly where the clubface is pointed. If the path (for right handers) is “in to out” in relation to the face angle the ball will curve left once in the air. If it is “out to in” in relation to face angle the ball will curve right once in the air.
These “Modern Ball Flight Laws” have been proven to be absolute fact with TrackMan technology.
I was taught growing up that to hit a hook you close the clubface and swing in to out. In theory this created the desired shot by having the path starting the ball to the right and the closed clubface would then create the hook back to the target. If you actually performed this swing you would hit a massive pull hook. Conversely, to hit a fade you open the clubface and swing from out to in. Again, the path projecting the ball to the left and the open clubface creating the fade…in reality this would create a massive push cut. Only due to talent (cocky) was my body able to make the shots work. If I ever actually hit the shot I was trying to I for sure was not doing what I thought the shot required. I am not the only one who did this, even Nick Faldo evidently never understood exactly what he did to make a ball curve as evidenced here - http://iacas.org/asm/fimgs/nick_faldo_ball_flight_1.jpg
. It wasn’t our fault, it was the general belief until recently.
So again, target is irrelevant for the PHYSICS of what is happening to the ball. The only thing the ball knows is face and path. However, you obviously have a target in golf. In order to bring target into the discussion you now know that you actually hit a draw with an open clubface and a fade with a closed clubface, relative to your target which is just an arbitrary point in space.
To draw the ball you have a clubface that is open to the target at impact and a path that is further right of the target than the face. To fade the ball you have a clubface that is closed to the target and a path that is further left of the target than the face.
Understanding these laws is what will allow you to self diagnose problems on the course or range. Through my work as an electricity salesman I play in a TON of charity scrambles with clients. Often after 4 or 5 holes my partner will typically ask me what they are doing wrong. Assuming the player can break 100 I typically find that an initial discussion of ball flight laws really helps them conceptualize what is going on in their swing. If a guy is hitting pull hooks I will lay a club down on the line the ball is starting and show them that is where his clubface is at impact. I will then lay a club down with a guesstimate of what his swing path is and that information typically is the opposite of what they are expecting.
Once you see what is really going on it is easier to use athletic ability to regulate the problem. If a ball is starting at the target and then curving you know you have a path issue. If a ball is starting right and then going straight you know you have an open clubface with a path that matches the clubface.....and so on. The magnitude of the difference in path and face angle is how much the ball will curve.