One thing has remained constant in all the years that I have been teaching golf: I have never lost sight of what the golf ball is telling me. It may sound funny to say that but if you can understand the relationship between the golf ball and the golf club at impact, you are long on your way to improving your impact.
For now, let’s look at what the correct impact is. What the ball would tell us if the golf club arrives correct at impact. There are three important factors to the correct impact between the club and ball:
The club face, the direction the club swings through the ball and the level of the club’s arrival at impact.
The club face needs to arrive square at impact to be correct. The bottom edge of the club should arrive at a right angle to the swings direction. We will assume that the club’s direction’s through the ball is along the target line. The ball will fly straight in the air with the arrival of a square club face.
The direction the club swings through the ball should be straight towards the target line at impact. Because the ball is to the side of us as we address it, the swings direction would be a circular motion traveling from inside the target line, arriving straight thru the ball as you hit and continuing back to the inside of the target line. Anything from the ball towards your feet would be considered inside the target line, anything from the ball away from you would be outside the target line. The ball will start flying in the direction of your target with the correct swing direction and combined with a square club face, will continue flying straight in the air.
The last part of impact deals with the fact that the ball is on the ground. The club must swing up off the ground, back down to it and back up again. To be correct, the club needs to coincide with the ball when it is traveling level to the ground. This will give you solid contact and help to maximize distance. This combined with the swings direction straight thru the ball and club the club face square to it gives you the correct impact between the club and the ball.
We can always look for more than this, but this is really as simple as it gets. To have the ball behave flying straight in the air towards your target with maximum contact, the golf club needs to arrive properly as described above. The sole function of your golf swing should be to accomplish this impact. The nice part about all of this is the ball will tell you if you have the correct impact. If your golf ball is not flying straight in the air, starting in the direction of your target or the contact not solid, then you have some work to do to correct this.
Pete Buchanan is the Founder and Director of Instruction for Plane Simple Golf.