Golf Swing Basics,What Did I Just Do and Why?

As a beginning golfer, you learn the difference between a slice and a hook.  If you were fortunate you had an instructor who took the time to explain why  a golf ball does what it does.  If not it took a while to learn that the golf club imparts spin onto the ball.  As the ball begins to  slow down in its trajectory the spin takes over and changes the flight pattern of the ball.  For a slice the ball spin is usually clockwise the ball starts out straight and then curls to the right. For a hook the ball spins counter-clockwise and curls to the left as it slows down. Of course that is just for the “Hypothetical” ball.  The more important question to answer is “What did I just do with my swing to produce the result that I just saw?”  When you can answer that question and know how to correct your swing to achieve the swing you want, there is a spot on the pro tour for you.

My original intent for writing this was to get a handle on some of the golf swing basics and give an actual explanation of what was really happening.  The important point is to know why the ball started in a certain direction and how it finished.  I decided to do some research, starting here at the Sandtrap Forum their article is very enlightening. The message has been slowly getting out; high speed radar has confirmed that primary cause of direction from the initial impact of the ball is caused by the angle of the face with the direction of the swing path contributing to the finish (slowing and curving).  The golf world has certainly known since “Iron Byron” that the prime cause of direction was the face angle at impact, however the golf training world has been slow to get the word out.  Until I read it myself in 2013 I was under the impression from instruction and from numerous golf articles/magazines that the primary cause of ball flight was the path of the club at impact, with the face angle contributing to the finish of the ball flight.

Ball Flight Laws

Ball Flight Laws From The Sand Trap Forum

That meant that for a slice an out to in path was the major contributor with my “open face” the reason for the serious tail at the end of the ball flight.  Alas, that is not true,  or it is true in a different fashion.  The angle of the face at impact is square to the target line so the ball starts out straight, the out to in path causes the ball to spin clock-wise and finish seriously to the right. Now you say so what is the difference.  Under the old understanding (which is still being promoted in numerous places including many videos you can see on youtube) you would begin to start working on your swing path in a serious way to correct your slice when in fact a simple strengthening of your grip may have been the answer.

Most professional players have the opposite problem.  Ben Hogan fought a hook, he found that by changing his grip to a weak grip he could open up the face at impact with out changing his in to out swing path significantly.  For me, changing the path of the swing is much more difficult than changing my grip. Think about it how many professionals have you heard about who have changed their “swing” have had a bad season or even career as a result.

So , to review, it is important to know what happened to cause the ball flight pattern that you witness when you hit your ball. The way in which you grip your club is vital to the flight of the ball; simple changes in the grip can alter the angle of the face at impact.  A closed face at impact can cause a hook (start left finish further left) if you add an inside to out club path. If you haven’t looked at the video above, I would Strongly urge you to do so.

Look here at this “Sandtrap” article A word of caution which you probably already know, be sure that you are comfortable with what you are being taught, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t rush right out and try to adapt any new ideas that are going to add power or distance to your swing unless you trust your source and you thoroughly understand what to do to incorporate the teaching into your swing. You can seriously affect you current golfing experience by implementing a half understood change which becomes one more part of the bad habits that you already have. Remember, the professionals have personal coaches who are available to them on a 24/7 basis to help them to understand what they are “doing” or “just did” you may not have that and it may cost you some serious money and time trying to fix a mistaken understanding.

Speaking of professionals, the ones whom I recommend are people whom I have had experience and who have taken the time to write back and answer my questions.  When I get results and my questions answered I am a happy camper and proud to give them my recognition.  Tracy Reed is one such individual. His analysis of Tiger Woods swing got me interested, but his personal comments to me have been most helpful.  The Ultimate Golf Blog has a number of fascinating articles that would do for a great read this winter when the snow is piled high on the course and all you can do it dream about the chance OR NOT! to loose your ball in the lake at your local course this coming summer.

Hit them Straight and Seldom

Michael Brown




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Michael Brown

I am not a professional golfer. Rather, I am passionate about the game of golf. I am constantly looking for ways to improve and as I discover them I am anxious to share. If you agree or disagree with my ideas please leave a comment below.

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