Updated: Feb 12
Everyone is capable and has hit a well struck golf shot, and at the same time everyone has hit that shot offline with no idea why. Why did I just hit that shot so far offline when I have been hitting it so well all day? Most people think that out of nowhere all of a sudden they were to “over the top” or “underneath” or in other words the club path changed and that is what caused the offline shot.
Most golfers are fairly consistent with the path their club travels during the swing. So how can these players that hit a little draw all day long step up and hit a big fade into the trees? I hear it time and time again that it is because they came “over the top” on that one. Implying that their club path changed drastically from an in to out path, to an out to in path. While changing the path of the club is a way to hit different shot shapes, there are other factors that can be attributed to hitting misses.
Face angle at impact is the primary influencer of where the golf ball will start. It makes sense that if my face is pointed left of the target at impact the golf ball will start left of the target. If my face is pointed right of the target the golf ball will start right of the target. The other factor is where the golf ball hit on the face of the club. Keep in mind that ball flight laws are based on center strikes.
If we start missing the ball towards to the toe or the heel now we have another variable to account for. Golf clubs are designed to help us with gear effect, if we miss it towards the heel that golf club design will help the ball curve left to right (for right handers). So it is more likely that if we were hitting little draws all day and all of a sudden stepped up and hit a big fade into the trees, that it wasn’t our path that changed drastically on that shot but rather our club face at impact and the location of where we hit it on the face.
Keep this in mind when you are out practicing next time paying attention to where you hit the ball on the face and where the golf ball starts in relation to your target. It is more than likely the face and location of strike had a lot more to do with that miss than the path of the club.
Head Golf Professional, The Winston Golf Club
PGA of Canada Class A Professional