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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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Instruction

What you can learn from the rearview camera angle

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We often analyze the golf swing from the face-on view or down-the-line camera angle. However, we can also learn how the body moves in the swing from the rearview or backside view.

When seeing the swing from the rearview, we can easily see how the glutes work. The trail glute actually moves back and around in the backswing. This means the glute moves towards the target or towards the lead heel. Note the trail glute start point and endpoint at the top of the backswing.

To some, this may seem like it would cause a reverse weight shift. However, this glute movement can enable the upper body to get loaded behind the ball. This is where understanding the difference between pressure, and weight is critical (see: “Pressure and Weight”).

This also enhances the shape of the body in the backswing. From the rear angle, I prefer to have players with a tuck to their body in their trail side, a sign of no left-side bend.

This puts the body and trail arm into a “throwing position”, a dynamic backswing position. Note how the trailing arm has folded with the elbow pointing down. This is a sign the trailing arm moved in an efficient sequence to the top of the backswing.

Next time you throw your swing on video, take a look at the rearview camera angle. From this new angle, you may find a swing fault or matchup needed in your golf swing to produce your desired ball flight.

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How to stop 3-putting and start making putts

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When we are 3-putting we are ‘stuck in the box’. This means that when we are standing over the putt the second before we make our stroke everything happens to ‘go downhill.’ When this happens, depending on your playing level, things can become a bit erratic on the putting surface.

When a 3 putt happens, it is typically because you failed to do something before you made your stroke. The large majority of my 3 putts happen when I am not completely SOLD on the line of my putt, aka not committed. Questioning anything over the ball will lead to 3 putts.

Here is a breakdown/checklist on how to approach the green and get your ball in the cup without hesitation.

1. It starts with the approach shot into the green and the decision of direction you make to enter the hole. Scan the entire green with your eyes on the walk-up. Left to right and right to left. Look for a few seconds before you step onto the putting surface. This helps determine the high side and the low side, or if the green is relatively flat. Don’t be picky, just look and make a decision.

2. Once you get to the ball, mark it. Take 3 steps behind your ball mark. Now you must pick a line… Left, Center, or Right of the cup. (Skip step 3 if you know the line) It should take seconds but for those that are not sure it will take longer. Understand that every putt has a statistical level of difficulty. So to increase the odds, players must avoid putting in the unsure mind, and take the time to figure out a line. I also find that people who are 3 putting are overly confident and just not committed aka too quick to putt.

3. To commit, you must find the angle of entry into the cup. Walk up to the hole and look at the cup. How is it cut? Determine if it is cut flat or on a slope angle. This will help you see the break if you are having a hard time. Then determine how much break to play. Cut the hole into 4 quarters with your eyes standing right next to it. Ask yourself, which quarter of the cup does the ball need to enter to make the putt go in the hole?

I encourage using the phrases ‘in the hole’ or ‘to the hole’ as great reinforcement and end thoughts before stroking the ball. I personally visualize a dial on the cup. When my eyes scan the edges, I see tick marks of a clock or a masterlock – I see the dial pop open right when I pick the entry quadrant/tick mark because I cracked the code.

Remember, the most important parts of the putt are: 1.) Where it starts and 2. ) Where it ends.

4. To secure the line, pick something out as the apex of the putt on the walk back to the mark. Stand square behind the ball mark and the line you have chosen.

5. To further secure the line, place your ball down and step behind it to view the line from behind the ball. Don’t pick up the ball mark until you have looked from behind. When you look, you need to scan the line from the ball to the cup with your eyes. While you are scanning, you can make adjustments to the line – left, right or center. Now, on the walk into the box, pickup the mark. This seals the deal on the line. Square your putter head to the ball, with feet together, on the intended line.

6. To make the putt, look at the apex and then the cup while taking your stance and making practice strokes to calibrate and gauge how far back and through the stroke needs to be.

7. To prove the level of commitment, step up to the ball and look down the intended line to the apex back to the cup and then back to the apex down to your ball. As soon as you look down at the ball, never look up again. Complete one entire stroke. A good visual for a putting stroke is a battery percentage and comparing your ‘complete stroke’ to the percentage of battery in the bar.

8. Look over your shoulder once your putter has completed the stroke, i.e. listen for the ball to go in and then look up!

If you find a way that works, remember it, and use it!

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Golf 101: Why do I chunk it?

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Whether you are a beginner, 10 handicaps, or Rory McIlroy, no one player is immune to the dreaded chunk. How many times have you hit a great drive, breathing down the flag from your favorite yardage and laid the holy sod over one? It’s awful and can be a total rally killer.

So what causes it? It could be several things, for some players, it could be a steep angle of attack, others, early extension and an early bottoming out and sometimes you’ve just had too many Coors Lights and the ground was closer than your eyes told you…been there.

This is Golf 101—let’s make it real simple and find one or two ways that a new golfer can self diagnose and treat themselves on the fly.

THE MAIN CAUSE

With beginners I have noticed there are two main things that cause the dreaded chunk:

  1. Players stand too close to the ball and have no way to get outta the way on the way down. This also really helps to hit Chunk’s skinny cousin: Skull.
  2. No rotation in any form causing a steep angle of attack. You’ve seen this, arms go back, the body stays static, the club comes back down and sticks a foot in the ground.

SO HOW DO I FIX MYSELF?

Without doing all-out brain surgery, here are two simple things you can do on the course (or the range) to get that strike behind the ball and not behind your trail foot.

This is what I was taught when I was a kid and it worked for years.

  1. Make baseball swings: Put the club up and in front of your body and make horizontal swings paying close attention to accelerating on the way through. After a few start to bend at the hips down and down until you are in the address position. This not only gives your body the sensation of turning but reorientates you to exactly where the bottom of your arc is.
  2. Drive a nail into the back of the ball: This was a cure-all for me. Whether I had the shanks, chunks, skulls, etc, focusing on putting the clubhead into the back of that nail seemed to give me a mental picture that just worked. When you are hammering a nail into a wall. you focus on the back of that nail and for the most part, hit it flush 9 outta 10 times. Not sure if its a Jedi mind trick or a real thing, but it has gotten me outta more pickles than I care to admit.

As you get better, the reason for the chunk may change, but regardless of my skill level, these two drills got me out of it faster than anything all while helping encourage better fundamentals. Nothing wrong with that.

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