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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 Big Shift: How to master pressure and the golf transition using prior sports training

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If you’re an #AverageJoeGolfer, work a day job, and don’t spend countless hours practicing, you might be interested in knowing that sports you played growing up, and even beer league softball skills, can be used to help you play better golf. We’re sure you’ve heard hockey players tend to hit the ball a mile, make the “best golfers”, while pitchers and quarterbacks have solid games, but baseball/softball hitters struggle with consistency. Did you know that a killer tennis backhand might help your golf game if you play from the opposite side? Dancers are way ahead of other athletes making a switch to golf because they understand that centeredness creates power and consistency much more efficiently than shifting all around, unnecessary swaying, or “happy feet.”

Lurking beneath fat shots, worm burners, and occasional shanks, are skillsets and motions you can pull from the old memory bank to apply on the golf course. Yes, you heard us right; your high school letterman jacket can finally be put to good use and help you improve your move. You just need to understand some simple adjustments different sports athletes need to make to be successful golfers.

In golf, shifting from your trailside into your lead side is what we’ll call the TRANSITION. Old School teachers refer to this motion, or shift, as “Foot Work”, New-Fangled-Techno-Jargon-Packed-Instruction uses “Ground Pressure/Force” to refer to the same concept. Don’t worry about the nomenclature; just know, as many GolfWRXers already do, that you must get your weight to your lead side if you want any chance at making solid and consistent contact. TRANSITION might be THE toughest motion in golf to master.

The good news for you is that TRANSITION happens in all other sports but in slightly different ways, depending on the sport. Golfers can more quickly learn TRANSITION, and speed up their swing learning process by understanding how prior sport experience can be applied to the golf swing.

[The basics of a solid golf move are; 1) you should have a SETUP that is centered and balanced, 2) you move your weight/pressure into your trail side during the TAKEAWAY and BACKSWING, 3) TRANSITION moves your weight/pressure back into your lead side, and 4) you FINISH with the club smashing the ball down the fairway. Okay, it’s not quite as easy as I make it sound, but hopefully our discussion today can relieve some stress when it comes time for you to start training your game.]

Baseball/Softball Hitters

Hitting coaches don’t like their hitters playing golf during the season, that’s a fact. The TRANSITIONS are too different, and if they play too much golf, they can lose the ability to hit off-speed pitches because their swing can become too upright. Golf requires an orbital hand path (around an angled plane) with an upright-stacked finish, while hitting requires batters to have a straight-line (more horizontal) hand path and to “stay back or on top of” the ball.

Now we apologize for the lack of intricate knowledge and terminology around hitting a baseball, we only played up through high school. What we know for sure is that guys/gals who have played a lot of ball growing up, and who aren’t pitchers struggle with golf’s TRANSITION. Hitters tend to hang back and do a poor job of transferring weight properly. When they get the timing right, they can make contact, but consistency is a struggle with fat shots and scooping being the biggest issues that come to mind.

So how can you use your star baseball/softball hitting skills with some adjustments for golf? Load, Stride, Swing is what all-good hitters do, in that order. Hitters’ issues revolve around the Stride, when it comes to golf. They just don’t get into their lead sides fast enough. As a golfer, hitters can still take the same approach, with one big adjustment; move more pressure to your lead side during your stride, AND move it sooner. We’ve had plenty of ‘a ha’ moments when we put Hitters on balance boards or have them repeat step drills hundreds of times; “oh, that’s what I need to do”…BINGO…Pound Town, Baby!

Softball/Baseball Pitchers, Quarterbacks, & Kickers

There’s a reason that kickers, pitchers, and quarterbacks are constantly ranked as the top athlete golfers and it’s not because they have a ton of downtime between starts and play a lot of golf. Their ‘day jobs’ throwing/kicking motions have a much greater impact on how they approach sending a golf ball down the fairway. It’s apparent that each of these sports TRAINS and INGRAINS golf’s TRANSITION motion very well. They tend to load properly into their trailside while staying centered (TAKEAWAY/BACKSWING), and they transfer pressure into their lead side, thus creating effortless speed and power. Now there are nuances for how to make adjustments for golf, but the feeling of a pitching or kicking motion is a great training move for golf.

If this was your sport growing up, how can you improve your consistency? Work on staying centered and minimizing “happy feet” because golf is not a sport where you want to move too much or get past your lead side.


Dance

My wife was captain of her high school dance team, has practiced ballet since she was in junior high, and is our resident expert on Ground Pressure forces relating to dance. She has such a firm grasp on these forces that she is able to transfer her prior sports skill to play golf once or twice a year and still hit the ball past me and shoot in the low 100s; what can I say, she has a good coach. More importantly, she understands that staying centered and a proper TRANSITION, just like in Dance, are requirements that create stability, speed, and consistent motions for golf. Christo Garcia is a great example of a Ballerina turned scratch golfer who uses the movement of a plié (below left) to power his Hogan-esque golf move. There is no possible way Misty Copeland would be able to powerfully propel herself into the air without a proper TRANSITION (right).

Being centered is critical to consistently hitting the golf ball. So, in the same way that dancers stay centered and shift their weight/pressure to propel themselves through the air, they can stay on the ground and instead create a golf swing. Dancers tend to struggle with the timing of the hands and arms in the golf swing. We train them a little differently by training their timing just like a dance routine; 1 and 2 and 3 and…. Dancers learn small motions independently and stack each micro-movement on top of one another, with proper timing, to create a dance move (golf swing) more like musicians learn, but that article is for another time.

Hockey

Hockey is a great example of the golf TRANSITION because it mimics golf’s motions almost perfectly. Even a subtlety like the direction in which the feet apply pressure is the same in Hockey as in Golf, but that’s getting in the weeds a bit. Hockey players load up on their trailside, and then perform the TRANSITION well; they shift into their lead sides and then rotate into the puck with the puck getting in the way of the stick…this is the golf swing, just on skates and ice…my ankles hurt just writing that.

If you played hockey growing up, you have the skillsets for a proper golf TRANSITION, and you’ll improve much faster if you spend your time training a full FINISH which involves staying centered and balanced.

Now we didn’t get into nuances of each and every sport, but we tried to cover most popular athletic motions we thought you might have experience in in the following table. The key for your Big Shift, is using what you’ve already learned in other sports and understanding how you might need to change existing and known motions to adapt them to golf. If you played another sport, and are struggling, it doesn’t mean you need to give up golf because your motion is flawed…you just need to know how to train aspects of your golf move a little differently than someone who comes from a different sport might.

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Clement: Effortless power for senior golfers

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Are you struggling with range of motion? Want more EFFORTLESS POWER? We are truly the experts at this having taught these methods for 25 plus years, while others were teaching resistance, breaking everyone’s backs and screwing up their minds with endless positions to hit and defects to fix. Welcome home to Wisdom in Golf!

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Clement: How to turbo charge your swing

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The shift in golf instruction continues and Wisdom in Golf and GolfWRX are right out there blazing a trail of fantastic content and techniques to get you to feel the most blissful, rhythmic golf shots you can strike! This here is the humdinger that keeps on giving and is now used by a plethora of tour players who are benefitting greatly and moving up the world rankings because of it.

The new trend (ours is about 25 years young) is the antithesis of the “be careful, don’t move too much, don’t make a mistake” approach we have endured for the last 30 years plus. Time to break free of the shackles that hold you back and experience the greatness that is already right there inside that gorgeous human machine you have that is so far from being defective! Enjoy!

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