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Old 07-08-2011, 11:26 AM   #1
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Ball Flight Laws

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.
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Old 07-08-2011, 11:27 AM   #2
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Re: Ball Flight Laws

Just to break this up so you don't tl, dr


Personally I am trying to cut 100% of my golf shots in 2011 unless it is completely impossible to hit a fade due to some obstacle. So I am trying to have all my body lines and clubface approximately 3 yards left of target with a 9 iron to as much as 10 yards left of target with a driver. I then try to make sure my swing path is slightly left of those lines. By doing this I have (hopefully) taken the left side of the course completely out of play. My mi**** should be a wipey cut due to an exaggerated swing path. There has been discussion in other threads of hitting a straight shot. The problem with that is you are then aiming at the center of the fairway and only have half the fairway to miss your shot. By my aiming just inside of the left rough I have the entire fairway to flare it to the right and then another 10+ yards before I typically get in trouble. That is a HUGE margin for error.

Over the last few years I have tried to work the ball both ways. I got to the point that a straight ball was my stock shot with the driver with my misses going very marginally either way. At second stage of Q School last year there was a par 5 with a big fairway and water right and left. Lining up down the middle left me little room for error with trouble on both sides. This hole made me realize that while I am giving up distance with my fade it has to be my shot. My miss with a draw is a push so that obviously doesn’t work, but my miss with a fade is a flare.…that works. Now on that same hole I could line up just inside the left rough and hammer it knowing if I flare one I have almost 40 yards to work with instead of 20 yards either way if playing a straight ball. Sure there are players on Tour who try to work it both ways, but the easiest way to score is having only one shot your swing can produce.

Last edited by ship---this; 07-08-2011 at 11:29 AM. Reason: Why can't I say mi**** yet but Dikshit is ok. :)
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Old 07-08-2011, 11:38 AM   #3
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Re: Ball Flight Laws

Off topic but what kind of electric stuff do you sell?

I work for one of the leading manufacturers of TVSS products.
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Old 07-08-2011, 11:47 AM   #4
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Re: Ball Flight Laws

I sell electricity in Texas. Would you like to buy some?
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Old 07-08-2011, 11:49 AM   #5
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Re: Ball Flight Laws

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I sell electricity in Texas. Would you like to buy some?
I sell Surge Supression from Florida would you like to buy some, then charge your customers to install it?
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Old 07-08-2011, 12:35 PM   #6
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Re: Ball Flight Laws

thinly veiled brag of getting to 2nd stage of Q school.
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Old 07-08-2011, 12:42 PM   #7
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Re: Ball Flight Laws

Quote:
Originally Posted by ship---this View Post
Just to break this up so you don't tl, dr


Personally I am trying to cut 100% of my golf shots in 2011 unless it is completely impossible to hit a fade due to some obstacle. So I am trying to have all my body lines and clubface approximately 3 yards left of target with a 9 iron to as much as 10 yards left of target with a driver. I then try to make sure my swing path is slightly left of those lines. By doing this I have (hopefully) taken the left side of the course completely out of play. My mi**** should be a wipey cut due to an exaggerated swing path. There has been discussion in other threads of hitting a straight shot. The problem with that is you are then aiming at the center of the fairway and only have half the fairway to miss your shot. By my aiming just inside of the left rough I have the entire fairway to flare it to the right and then another 10+ yards before I typically get in trouble. That is a HUGE margin for error.

Over the last few years I have tried to work the ball both ways. I got to the point that a straight ball was my stock shot with the driver with my misses going very marginally either way. At second stage of Q School last year there was a par 5 with a big fairway and water right and left. Lining up down the middle left me little room for error with trouble on both sides. This hole made me realize that while I am giving up distance with my fade it has to be my shot. My miss with a draw is a push so that obviously doesn’t work, but my miss with a fade is a flare.…that works. Now on that same hole I could line up just inside the left rough and hammer it knowing if I flare one I have almost 40 yards to work with instead of 20 yards either way if playing a straight ball. Sure there are players on Tour who try to work it both ways, but the easiest way to score is having only one shot your swing can produce.
Ok so this means your "go to" shot is going to be striking the ball with a semi closed club face,aimed slightly left of target ...with a slightly right to left path. But this does not imply that you want to come "over the top" or anything like that to get this "right to left" path, correct?

What we are talking about here is the final path of the club FACE as it meets the ball correct? I would think that to get that path going more outside in, you would want to catch the ball further along your swing arc, and you would thus be setting up your angles and ball position to accomodate that. (Ball a tad further forward and/or slightly more spine tilt?)
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Old 07-08-2011, 01:23 PM   #8
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Re: Ball Flight Laws

Ball flight laws apply unless the ball is a Slazenger. That ball really did some weird things in the air, or at least it appeared that way.
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Old 07-08-2011, 02:16 PM   #9
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Re: Ball Flight Laws

This makes it way easier to understand why golfers can work the ball 2 ways and still miss on the same side. I never understood why I almost always miss in one direction whether I am hitting a draw or a fade.
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Old 07-08-2011, 02:28 PM   #10
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Re: Ball Flight Laws

Fade is my go-to shot when I'm hitting normal approaches and normal rips off the tee, but when I need one in play and safety I always go to the low draw with a 3wood or 3iron. I just like getting less carry and more roll so it gets in play quicker. Hitting a fade for a must-hit fairways sucks for me when it's windy and they balloon.

And it's very important to play the ball one way or the other for your stock shots imo. Like you said, when you know where your misses are going to be, whether you're hitting a fade and your misses are flares or you hit a straight ball and your misses are always left, you can have so much more wiggle room on the course.

Earlier this year I had fades and draws/hooks on all my shots and I felt like killing myself. Finally got my fade swing back and the game feels so much more fun and easier.
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Old 07-08-2011, 02:34 PM   #11
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Re: Ball Flight Laws

Sheets....i think the numbers golfdoc said were Tour averages were 1.8 degrees for clubface to target and 1.9 degrees for path. So its not much. Since I am starting with everything aligned left of target I don't really need much out to in for path to create the shot I am looking for. Again, remember that target line is irrelevant. I am swinging 2 degrees left of target yes, but only about .2 degrees left of my setup. Not much over the top there.

Make sense?
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Old 07-08-2011, 02:59 PM   #12
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Re: Ball Flight Laws

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Sheets....i think the numbers golfdoc said were Tour averages were 1.8 degrees for clubface to target and 1.9 degrees for path. So its not much. Since I am starting with everything aligned left of target I don't really need much out to in for path to create the shot I am looking for. Again, remember that target line is irrelevant. I am swinging 2 degrees left of target yes, but only about .2 degrees left of my setup. Not much over the top there.

Make sense?
Yes thanks.......

One thing I would like to ask, though, regarding the logic behind keeping your 40 yards of acceptable fairway dispersion going in one direction...

Is there that much confidence in the setup for that shot on that par 5 to discount what could be the even more punishing miss in this system, the "I aimed it left and thought it would fade, either a little or a lot, but I screwed it up and it went just dead straight into the left trees/water?

I guess from a real good player the answer is probably...."ummm...yes there is" ?
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Old 07-08-2011, 03:07 PM   #13
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Re: Ball Flight Laws

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Yes thanks.......

One thing I would like to ask, though, regarding the logic behind keeping your 40 yards of acceptable fairway dispersion going in one direction...

Is there that much confidence in the setup for that shot on that par 5 to discount what could be the even more punishing miss in this system, the "I aimed it left and thought it would fade, either a little or a lot, but I screwed it up and it went just dead straight into the left trees/water?

I guess from a real good player the answer is probably...."ummm...yes there is" ?

Im a 16 handicap.

Id love to have a dollar for every time I've said "****, it went right where I aimed it" on the golf course.
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Old 07-08-2011, 03:20 PM   #14
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Re: Ball Flight Laws

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Yes thanks.......

One thing I would like to ask, though, regarding the logic behind keeping your 40 yards of acceptable fairway dispersion going in one direction...

Is there that much confidence in the setup for that shot on that par 5 to discount what could be the even more punishing miss in this system, the "I aimed it left and thought it would fade, either a little or a lot, but I screwed it up and it went just dead straight into the left trees/water?

I guess from a real good player the answer is probably...."ummm...yes there is" ?
My line would always be inside the left edge of fairway invade of straight shot. Obviously I will miss some left, I just want that to be the exception and not the norm. Also if the miss left is a penalty I will try to play a larger few than stock to ensure it doesn't go left.
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Old 07-08-2011, 03:31 PM   #15
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Re: Ball Flight Laws

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My line would always be inside the left edge of fairway invade of straight shot. Obviously I will miss some left, I just want that to be the exception and not the norm. Also if the miss left is a penalty I will try to play a larger few than stock to ensure it doesn't go left.

Got it....tyty
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Old 07-08-2011, 03:47 PM   #16
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Re: Ball Flight Laws

Larger fade above obv. Damn iPhone.
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Old 07-08-2011, 04:01 PM   #17
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Re: Ball Flight Laws

I'm wondering how you produce the swing path you want? Do you actually try and adjust your path with your arms?

I've tried controlling the ball with my body. i.e. I keep a more-or-less constant swing speed and control the ball flight with the speed of my body through the ball. I've had decent results with this. I know what my tempo is for my usual shot of a straight/draw and can alter that based on how fast I move my hips through the ball (i.e. snap through a little faster to produce a slight fade).
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Old 07-08-2011, 06:58 PM   #18
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Re: Ball Flight Laws

This is very interesting reading thanks ship... i have a question if you have time. I draw all my shots and can't hit a fade to save my life with my irons or hybrids. is there a swing thought or a key more i can try to be able to change the path of my club to hit the fade ?
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Old 07-08-2011, 07:20 PM   #19
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Re: Ball Flight Laws

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Originally Posted by ship---this View Post
Personally I am trying to cut 100% of my golf shots in 2011 unless it is completely impossible to hit a fade due to some obstacle. So I am trying to have all my body lines and clubface approximately 3 yards left of target with a 9 iron to as much as 10 yards left of target with a driver. I then try to make sure my swing path is slightly left of those lines. By doing this I have (hopefully) taken the left side of the course completely out of play. My mi**** should be a wipey cut due to an exaggerated swing path. There has been discussion in other threads of hitting a straight shot. The problem with that is you are then aiming at the center of the fairway and only have half the fairway to miss your shot. By my aiming just inside of the left rough I have the entire fairway to flare it to the right and then another 10+ yards before I typically get in trouble. That is a HUGE margin for error.


Great thread/posting to enlighten the average golfers but just wanted to say that I've started doing this after watching my cousin play a round during his college days. this is so helpful for the "better" player. fade > draw pattern all day
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Old 07-08-2011, 09:02 PM   #20
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Re: Ball Flight Laws

What ship said (in the op) but in video form
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Old 07-08-2011, 09:31 PM   #21
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Re: Ball Flight Laws

Just wanted to say the "modern" stack and tilt swing is based on this scientific data. Their model shot shot is an open face, in-to-in path which promotes a high draw.
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Old 07-08-2011, 09:52 PM   #22
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Re: Ball Flight Laws

That's a great video.
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Old 07-09-2011, 07:10 AM   #23
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Re: Ball Flight Laws

Great description here Ship! It's amazing how many "old-school" golf professionals still argue the modern laws. There's actually some very interesting factors still being discovered/discussed - such as, how much effect does contact on the face have on spin. For example, when I was going through trackman training, they were showing how a ball hit on the heel would create more fade spin as opposed to a ball hit with the same face angle hit on the center. Most good players know with a driver, the higher you hit it on the face, the higher launch & lower spin you'll create, the lower on the face you hit it, the lower launch/higher spin you'll create. It's really interesting stuff, and it makes total sense. I can't tell you how many times in my life I would try to punch out or fade a ball around a tree and follow the "old rules" -- aim the face where you want it to land and swing where you want it to start, and, sure enough, I'd hit it straight into the tree I was trying to avoid!

Quote:
Just wanted to say the "modern" stack and tilt swing is based on this scientific data. Their model shot shot is an open face, in-to-in path which promotes a high draw.
This is absolutely correct. However, the numbers they (Bennett/Plumber) want are pretty drastic, at least for Tour caliber players. According to the guys I know who use/used the method on tour, they prefer 4 degrees in-to-out with a 2* open face - the face angle is 2* open to the target, but 2* closed relative to the path, which creates a pretty big draw. As ship mentioned, the average tour player swings at 1.9 in-to-out, so they are doubling the amount of in-to-out of the tour average. From my understanding this works for them because of the technique they call "braking" as opposed to a common release of the club.
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Old 07-09-2011, 08:43 AM   #24
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Re: Ball Flight Laws

For years I played and taught by the old laws. It was the way I was taught.

I also learned instinctively that I needed to not use these laws when hooking or slicing around a tree. I learned I needed to give it much more "margin for error" or I'd be ducking!
It cleared many things up when I learned of the correct ball flight laws (I don't like the term "new ball flight laws" for obvious reasons).
It not only explained the problem of recovering from behind trees, but also why I sometimes pull hooked shots when I was sure I was hitting the inside half of the ball.
And why students that came way over the top with short irons hit these massive blocks (mostly with wedges).
I think the terms "pulled" and "pushed" need to become obsolete, as they are misleading in terms of description.
I think "blocked" is a fair description of shots going straight right (assuming proper alignment). What whould be the opposite?
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Old 07-09-2011, 08:51 AM   #25
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Re: Ball Flight Laws

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I think "blocked" is a fair description of shots going straight right (assuming proper alignment). What whould be the opposite?
Dead?

I do agree pulled and pushed are misleading though. Never really thought about that.
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