GOLF MYTH-BUSTING – FACE VS PATH
By Michael Balderstone – PGA Master Professional
Have you ever tried to bend a shot round a tree but hit the ball straight into the tree? Me too. The answer is in the science of ball flight, and how that differs to the traditional way we thought ball flight worked.
Traditionally the golf coaching fraternity believed that the swing path determined the starting direction and the clubface dictated where the ball would finish. For example to hit a fade around a tree, we were taught to aim our body where we wanted to start the ball, and to aim the clubface towards the target.
Modern technology such as the Flightscope launch monitors have proven the opposite of what we thought. The ball starts predominantly where the clubface is aiming, not the swing path (clubface counts approx 85%, swing path counts 15%). That’s why the ball heads straight to the tree the old way.
Therefore, to hit the correct fade around a tree, your clubface must aim (and return back to at impact) where you want to start the ball. I call this the ‘Startline’. In order for the ball to curve to the right, your swing path must be even more to the left. For simplicity, let say you aim your clubface 5 metres left of target and your swing path is 10 metres left. This will give you the fade you want. The same is true for a draw, the shot most people aspire to, but haven’t been able to master. Aim your clubface 5 metres right (yes right) of the target, then aim your body and swing the club out 10 metres right of target. If you execute correctly the ball will start right and curve back to the target, the perfect draw shape.
Try this the next time you are at the driving range. It’s fun to experiment and see what happens.
Michael Balderstone is a PGA Master Professional. He is the founder and Managing Director of Balderstone Sports Institute, which operates South Africa’s premier PGA accredited golf academy.