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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: [email protected]

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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Clement: This wrist position can add 30 yards to your drive

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Drop the mic on how the wrists should load and be positioned for compressive power, accuracy, and longevity! There is a better way, and this is it!

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Short Game University: How to hit wedges 301

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In golf, there is nothing harder than judging a flop shot over a bunker to a tight pin out of long grass. Why? Because there are so many variables to account for — in addition to what you can and cannot do with a wedge. In fact, up until very recently in the world of wedge design, we were limited to only increasing the landing angle to stop the ball, because relying on spin from this lie and this close to the green was next to impossible.

Now with the advent of things like raw faces, different CG locations, new groove design, and micro-ribs between the grooves, we can now spin the ball out of lies that we never could have done so before. This is not to say that you can now zip the ball back from these types of lies, but we are seeing spin rates that have skyrocketed, and this allows us to not open the face as much as we needed to do before in order to stop the ball.

Before we get into the shot around the green itself, let’s talk a bit about wedge design. For that, I called a great friend of mine, Greg Cesario, TaylorMade’s Staff Manager to help us understand a bit more about wedges. Greg was a former PGA Tour Player and had a big hand in designing the new Milled Grind 3 Wedges.

Cesario said: “Wedge technology centers on two key areas- the first is optimizing its overall launch/spin (just like drivers) on all shots and the second is optimum ground interaction through the geometry of the sole (bounce, sole width, and sole shape).”

“Two key things impact spin: Groove design and face texture. Spin is the secondary effect of friction. This friction essentially helps the ball stick to the face a little longer and reduces slippage. We define slippage as how much the ball slides up the face at impact. That happens more when it’s wet outside during those early morning tee times, out of thicker lies, or after a bit of weather hits. Our Raised Micro-Ribs increase friction and reduce slippage on short partial shots around the round – that’s particularly true in wet conditions.”

“We’ve been experimenting with ways to find optimal CG (center of gravity) placement and how new geometries can influence that. We know that CG locations can influence launch, trajectory and spin. Everyone is chasing the ability to produce lower launching and higher spinning wedge shots to help players increase precision distance control. In that space, moving CG just a few millimeters can have big results. Beyond that, we’re continuing to advance our spin and friction capabilities – aiming to reduce the decay of spin from dry to fluffy, or wet conditions.”

Basically, what Greg is saying is that without improvements in design, we would never be able to spin the ball like we would normally when it’s dry and the lie is perfect. So, with this new design in a wedge like the Milled Grind 3 (and others!), how can we make sure we have the optimal opportunity to hit these faster-stopping pitch shots?

  1. Make sure the face is clean and dry
  2. Open the blade slightly, but not too much
  3. Set the wrists quicker on the backswing to increase the AoA
  4. Keep the rear shoulder moving through impact to keep the arms going

Make sure the face is clean and dry

If your thought is to use spin to stop the ball quicker under any situation, then you must give the club a chance to do its job. When the grooves are full of dirt and grass and the remaining exposed face is wet, then you are basically eliminating any opportunity to create spin. In fact, if you decide to hit the shot under these conditions, you might as well hit a flop shot as this would be the only opportunity to create a successful outcome. Don’t put yourself behind the eight-ball automatically, keep your club in a clean and dry condition so you have the best chance to do what you are capable of doing.

Open the blade slightly, but not too much

Without going into too much extra detail, spinloft is the difference between your angle of attack and your dynamic loft. And this difference is one of the main areas where you can maximize your spin output.

Too little or too much spinloft and you will not be able to get the maximum spin out of the shot at hand. With wedges, people equate an open clubface to spinning the ball, and this can be a problem due to excessive spinloft. Whenever you have too much dynamic loft, the ball will slide up the face (reduced friction equals reduced spin) and the ball will float out higher than expected and roll out upon landing.

My thought around the green is to open the face slightly, but not all the way, in efforts to reduce the probability of having too much spinloft during impact. Don’t forget under this scenario we are relying on additional spin to stop the ball. If you are using increased landing angle to stop the ball, then you would obviously not worry about increasing spinloft! Make sure you have these clear in your mind before you decide how much to open the blade.

Opened slightly

Opened too much

One final note: Please make sure you understand what bounce option you need for the type of conditions you normally play. Your professional can help you but I would say that more bounce is better than less bounce for the average player. You can find the bounce listed on the wedge itself. It will range between 4-14, with the mid-range bounce being around 10 degrees.

Set the wrists quicker on the backswing to increase the angle of attack

As we know, when debris gets in between the clubface and the ball (such as dirt/grass), you will have two problems. One, you will not be able to control the ball as much. Secondly, you will not be able to spin the ball as much due to the loss of friction.

So, what is the key to counteract this problem? Increasing the angle of attack by setting the wrists quicker on the backswing. Making your downswing look more like a V rather than a U allows less junk to get between the club and the ball. We are not using the bounce on this type of shot, we are using the leading edge to slice through the rough en route to the ball. Coming in too shallow is a huge problem with this shot, because you will tend to hit it high on the face reducing control.

Use your increased AoA on all of your crappy lies, and you will have a much better chance to get up and down more often!

Keep the rear shoulder moving through impact to keep the arms going

The final piece of the puzzle through the ball is speed through the pivot. You cannot hit shots around the green out of tall grass without keeping the club moving and having speed. A reduction of speed is obvious as the club enters into the tall grass, but you don’t want to exacerbate this problem by cutting off your pivot and letting the arms do all the work.

Sure, there are times when you want to cut off the body rotation through the ball, but not on the shot I am discussing here. When we are using spin, you must have speed to generate the spin itself. So, what is the key to maintaining your speed? Keeping the rear shoulder rotating long into the forward swing. If you do this, you will find that your arms, hands, and club will be pulled through the impact zone. If your pivot stalls, then your speed will decrease and your shots will suffer.

Hopefully, by now you understand how to create better shots around the green using the new wedge technology to create more spin with lies that we had no chance to do so before. Remembering these simple tips — coupled with your clean and dry wedge — will give you the best opportunity to be Tiger-like around the greens!

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An awesome drill for lag that works with the ball!

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Many lag drills have come and gone in this game because they have a hard time working when the ball is there! How many times do you hear about someone having a great practice swing and then having it all go away when the ball is there? This one is a keeper!

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