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By the numbers: How to hit a draw

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Doppler radar launch monitors have proved at least two things about ball flight.

  1. The golf club’s face angle at impact controls the ball’s starting direction.
  2. The club’s path influences the ball’s curvature.

Simply put, this means that ball flight will begin in the direction that the face is pointing at impact and curve away from the path of the club.

So, in order for a right-handed golfer to move the ball from right to left — the goal of most golfers — the face angle at impact must be between the path of the club and the target line. I have shown you what this look like at impact in a previous article “The Technique you Need to Hit a Proper Draw,” but today I’d like to add in the Trackman data to show you how important the face-to-path relationship really is.

Below is the classic push-draw swing where the path is right of the target and the face angle is slightly left of the path. This causes the ball to begin to the right of your target before curving back to the pin.

Image 01

As you can see above, the path is moving from inside to outside at 4.5 degrees. The face at impact is 1.2 degrees right of the target, but 3.3 degrees left of the path. Now, examine the ball flight motion in the upper left screen. This shot starts out to the right and curves back to the target because of the relationship I just described above. In the true draw, you impact the ball with an open (not closed) club face as I will explain below.

One common mistake I see in amateurs trying to hit draws is the over-closing of the face at impact. That causes the ball to begin too much in-line with the target before curving to the left. In the Trackman screenshot below, you can see that the path is 1.9 degrees in-to-out, however, the clubface at impact is pointing at the target — 0.1 degree. That’s basically “0,” which means the face is pointed almost directly at the target. Now look at the top left ball flight screen; this ball started around the target-line and curved away from it, missing too far to the left.

Image 02

The final swing pattern I see on the lesson tee with students trying to hit a draw is that they have the club face left of the target at impact. This causes the dreaded pull draw. As you can see below, the path is moving from inside to outside at 1.8 degrees. The face at impact is 1.2 degrees left of the target. That’s why this ball started left of the target and moved farther left. Golfers should know that this is a face issue, NOT a path issue! The key to curing this is not to swing more from in to out. If so, the ball would start even farther left!

Image 03

Remember, in order to hit a push draw you need an in-to-out path and a face angle at impact that is pointing left of the path at impact, yet still right of the target so the ball will start right of the target before curving back on line.

I hope that you now see and understand how a draw is created and what you can do to control it on a consistent basis!

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Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction and Business Development at Punta Mita, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (www.puntamita.com) He is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, and has been honored as a Golf Digest Best Teacher and a Golf Tips Top-25 Instructor. Tom is also a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 15 people in the world. Punta Mita is a 1500 acre Golf and Beach Resort located just 45 minuted from Puerto Vallarta on a beautiful peninsula surrounded by the Bay of Banderas on three sides. Amenities include two Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses- with 14 holes directly on the water, a Golf Academy, four private Beach Clubs, a Four Seasons Hotel, a St. Regis Hotel, as well as, multiple private Villas and Homesites available. For more information regarding Punta Mita, golf outings, golf schools and private lessons, please email: tom.stickney@puntamita.com

23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Josh

    Dec 21, 2014 at 6:21 pm

  2. CD

    Oct 16, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    One thing no-one talks about is how path can control face which determines direction, nor that the feel of a draw is a closing face. Let me explain!

    If I say, suck the club inside, and my brain squares the club face to the now inside arc, I’m going to hit a push. And people will spend all day thinking ‘the face is open, better close it/square it. Then they get in a hell of a mess.

    Every time I mention this someone says ‘that’s the old ball flight laws’. It’s not! I’m saying the face determines direction, just that the path determines face, for some players. I happen to believe this happens for many, many players. So perhaps the key is to get the path sorted first?

    I’d be interested to know what you think Tom. Another key thing I see people fouling up is they try and have an open face through the ball to hit the ‘new’ ‘push draw’ and having already established an in to out arc they end up having it open to the arc or square to the arc. I think it is definitely a feeling of the face being inside or closed or closing to the arc. I think that needs to be paramount before the player tries to establish that closed club face to be open to the target. After all, again, no-one says why, despite being ‘wrong’ the ‘old ball flight’ laws did work most of the time (until you say, set the face at a tree you were trying to bend it round!) or at least were believed to work most of the time and seemed to do so too – the key principle in both being a divergence between face and path – closed for a draw and open for a fade and that the face is easier (or more sensitive to inputs) to control, and the path (or perhaps, outer boundary of the ball-flight) easier to establish with the swing or players aim.

    • CD

      Oct 16, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      Hence my old instructor’s ‘send it out there with the path (to the right), bring it back with the face’ never failed.

    • Tom Stickney

      Oct 19, 2014 at 2:56 pm

      Not quite sure what you mean. Sorry.

  3. Mike

    Oct 13, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Tom,

    The face and path angles you show are pretty small angles. If you have someone swinging 4°-8° out, but the face relationship is not closed enough (2°-4° closed to target, right?) and hitting big pushes would you say that is a path, face or both problem? In other words, at what point is path the big issue and not the face?

    No secret, that “someone” is me….

    • Jim_0068

      Oct 13, 2014 at 2:51 pm

      Couple things: One thing this article didn’t take into account was angle of attack (unless i missed it, i did read it twice), the more you hit down the more true path gets pushed to the right or in/out. For simplicity, imagine a driver..if you swing in/out 4 degrees and your face is open 2 degrees at impact and you hit down 2 degrees, you aren’t 2 closed closed you are 4 degrees closed as generally with a driver every 1* up/down will change the path 1* (down more right and up more left) so 4* in/out + 2* down = 6* true path in/out. Also with a player like yourself, who i’m going to assume is a decent player, you would usually fix your path (or AOA which you didn’t list) and leave the face alone. That much in/out will create very large push-draws (if you opened your face more) and you’d have trouble getting long irons in the air as your are delofting it so much.

      • Jafar

        Oct 13, 2014 at 4:42 pm

        you should write an article.

        • Jim_0068

          Oct 13, 2014 at 5:37 pm

          Thanks for the compliment, however everything tom wrote is 100% accruate and i agree with and the tendencies of the players he describes. I would have liked to see the angle of attack taken into account as well.

          • Tom Stickney

            Oct 14, 2014 at 12:13 pm

            Jim– did an earlier article on swing direction and aoa. Might check it out.

      • Thomas Beckett

        Oct 14, 2014 at 1:23 am

        I just wanted to add that a 1 to 1 relationship only applies if the club is delivered on a 45 degree angle. Great article Tom and nice post Jim_0068. Breaking down DPlane into practical numbers is tough to explain well.

      • Tom Stickney

        Oct 14, 2014 at 12:12 pm

        Jim-
        When talking about irons it isn’t a 1/1 ratio so aoa isn’t as big of a factor but it’s still very important. Sometimes on the lesson tee you have to do both. Wish it was cut and dry but it’s not. Lastly when a face is opened usually that adds loft not deducts loft as you stated. Thx.

        • Jim_0068

          Oct 14, 2014 at 3:53 pm

          Tom

          I know that which is why I just used driver as an example since in general it’s about a 1/1.

    • Tom Stickney

      Oct 14, 2014 at 12:06 pm

      With that in to out path it could be gear effect from heel hits causing the pushes

    • Tom Stickney

      Oct 14, 2014 at 12:08 pm

      Mike– your comment posted below… Heel hits causing pushes?

      • Mike

        Oct 15, 2014 at 9:52 am

        No heel hits causing the blocks (talking irons here for most part), just face not closed to path.

        I was wondering with a path that sometimes gets to that 8* mark if you as an instructor would work to match the face and hit bigger draws or would you work on path to get it more neutral?

        My well struck shots are not big sweeping hooks so I do have a very hard time presenting the face at an acceptable angle when the path gets way in to out. In other words, when I start swinging 8* out I’m probably blocking it.

        Thanks for the hard work on the articles. I always enjoy reading them.

    • Mike

      Oct 15, 2014 at 9:53 am

      2*-4* closed to PATH! Oops….

      • Tom Stickney

        Oct 15, 2014 at 7:17 pm

        Mike. If it was 8 in to out I’d make it a touch less.

  4. Will

    Oct 13, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Is there a good drill to practice keep the face angle slightly more open at impact?

    • Jim_0068

      Oct 13, 2014 at 2:53 pm

      As long as you’re a righty, bend your left wrist more in the backswing; feel like your left thumb is more “under” the club at the tope. This will help you open the face more (if that is what you need).

    • Jeremy

      Oct 13, 2014 at 7:03 pm

      I’m hardly a great authority, but I’ve found that weakening my grip helps a little.

      • Tom Stickney

        Oct 14, 2014 at 12:17 pm

        Be careful with wrist angle and grip changes. Big big alterations for sometimes a small issue. Start with small fixes before the tough ones.

    • Tom Stickney

      Oct 14, 2014 at 12:14 pm

      Will– set a stick in line with your target. Hit draws around the stick

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The 3 best ways to train your golf swing

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Understanding how to effectively train and practice is critical to transferring skills to the golf course.

In golf, I view training as a thoughtful, deliberate rehearsal of a motion to develop technique. This is better rehearsed away from the golf course. Practicing golf consists of developing your skill to take to the golf course—an example being learning to hit shots in certain winds and shot shaping.

“A lawyer will train to be a lawyer, then he or she will practice law” – The Lost Art of Golf

I find the below examples the best ways to train effectively. These techniques will also help facilitate a swing change and make your training and practice more efficient.

Mirror Work

I like my student to implement what I call “mirror work”. This is done by looking into a mirror from the face-on position.

This is a great way to get external feedback (information delivered from an outside source). Learning by external feedback will help facilitate the required body movement to produce a particular shot. It’s also a cheap and effective way to train. Research suggests observation in a mirror is considered external, so the use of mirrors will elicit external feedback, enhancing the learning process.

I prefer students to only check positions from the face-on view. If a player starts checking positions in a mirror from down-the-line, moving your head to look in the mirror can cause your body to change positions, losing the proper direction of turn.

Train Slow

Learning a new motion is best trained slow. At a slower speed, it is easier to monitor and analyze a new motion. You will have increased awareness of the body and where the shaft is in space. At a faster speed, this awareness is more difficult to obtain.

I often use the analogy of learning how to drive a car. First, you took time to learn how to position your hands on the wheel and position your foot next to the break. When comfortable, you put the car in motion and began to drive slowly. Once you developed the technique, you added speed and took the car on the freeway.

In martial arts, there are three speeds taught to students: Slow-speed for learning, medium speed for practice and fast speed for fighting. Again, the movement was trained slow to start. Once comfortable, the motion was put into combat. This should be similar to golf.

Finding Impact

Use an impact bag to get the feeling of impact and an efficient set-up. If you don’t have an impact bag, a spare car tire, bean bag or something light and soft that can be pushed along the ground can be used.

I like to refer to the impact bag as a “Push bag”. Start by setting up into the bag, lightly pressing the shaft into the bag. You will notice how your trail arm slightly tucks in and as your right shoulder drops below the left with your body leaning forward, an efficient set-up.

To get the feeling of impact swing the club back and down into the bag while maintaining your body shape. Don’t move the bag by hitting it, rather pushing it. Note how you maintain your wrist angles while pushing the bag (not flipping) and the right side of your body moves through impact.

Train your swing with these three training techniques to play better golf.

@KKelley_golf

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How posture influences your swing

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S0 what exactly is posture and how can it alter your swing? Posture is often the origin to a player’s swing pattern. I like to look at posture as the form of the body from the front view and down the line position at address.

“Shape” in posture is the angles our body creates at address. This includes the relationship between the upper and lower half of our bodies. This article will examine the importance of this shape from the face on view.

For an efficient posture that creates a simple, powerful, and repeatable swing, I like a player’s shape to be set into what I call their “hitting angles.” Hitting angles are similar to the impact position. In the picture below, note the body angles at address highlighted in green.

Once we are set into these hitting angles, the goal of the backswing is to maintain these angles, coiling around the spine. When these angles are maintained in the backswing, the club can return to impact in a more dynamic form of our set-up position. This creates minimal effort that produces speed and repeatability—essentially doing more with less.

The further we set up away from these hitting angles, our bodies will have to find impact by recovering. This is often where a player’s swing faults can occur. We want our body to react to the target in the golf swing, not recover to strike the ball.

Think of a baseball player or football player throwing a ball. When the athlete is in their throwing position, they can simply make the movement required to throw the ball at their intended target. If their body is contorted or out of position to make the throw, they must re-position their body (more movement) to get back into their throwing position, thus making them less accurate and powerful.

The good news about working on your posture is that it is the easiest part to control in the swing. Posture is a static motion, so our body will respond to 100 percent of what our mind tells it to do. It’s talentless.

Here is a simple routine to get you into these hitting angles.

To start, tuck in your trail arm making it shorter and below the lead arm, which makes your trail shoulder lower than the lead shoulder. This will give you the proper shape of the arms and wrist angles. Pictured right is Ben Hogan.

With these arm angles, bend from the hips to the ball and bump your body slightly forward towards the target getting ‘into yourself’. You may feel pressure on your lead foot, but your upper half will still remain behind the ball. Note the picture below with the blue lines.

Practice this drill using a mirror in front of you, head up looking into the mirror. Research has shown mirror work enhances motor skills and performance. Anytime you have external-focus based feedback, the learning process will escalate.

There are a lot of different postures on the PGA Tour and many ways to get the job done. There are no cookie-cutter swings, and players have different physiology. However, research and history have shown that an efficient posture gives us the best chance for solid contact and our desired ball flight. Work hard on the areas that are easiest to control: the set-up.

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Golf 101: How to chip (AKA “bump and run”)

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Although golf for a beginner can be an intimidating endeavor, and learning how to chip is part of that intimidation, this is one part of the game that if you can nail down the fundamentals, not only can you add some confidence to your experience but also you lay down a basic foundation you can build on.

How to chip

The chip shot, for all intents and purposes, is a mini-golf swing. To the beginner, it may seem like a nothing burger but if you look closely, it’s your first real way to understand contact, launch, spin, compression, and most importantly the fundamentals of impact.

What is a chip shot? A pitch shot?

Chip: A shot that is hit typically with anything from a 3-iron to a lob wedge that launches low, gets on the ground quickly, and rolls along the surface (like a putt) to the desired location.

Pitch: A shot that is hit typically with anything from a PW to a lob wedge that launches low- to mid-trajectory that carries a good portion of the way to your desired location and relies on spin to regulate distance.

Now that we have separated the two, the question is: How do I chip?

Since we are trying to keep this as simple as possible, let’s just do this as a quick checklist and leave it at that. Dealing with different lies, grass types, etc? Not the purpose here. We’re just concerned with how to make the motion and chip a ball on your carpet or at the golf course.

Think “rock the triangle”

  1. Pick a spot you want the ball to land. This is for visualization, direction and like any game you play, billiards, Darts, pin the tail on the donkey, having a target is helpful
  2. For today, use an 8-iron. It’s got just enough loft and bounce to make this endeavor fun.
  3. Grip the club in your palms and into the lifelines of your hands. This will lift the heel of the club of the ground for better contact and will take your wrists out of the shot.
  4. Open your stance
  5. Put most of your weight into your lead leg. 80/20 is a good ratio
  6. Ball is positioned off your right heel
  7. Lean the shaft handle to your left thigh
  8. Rock the shoulders like a putt
  9. ENJOY!

Check out this vid from @jakehuttgolf to give you some visuals.

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