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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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Instruction

Why you are probably better at golf than you think (Part 1)

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Golf is hard. I spend my career helping people learn that truth, but golfers are better than they give themselves credit for.

As a golf performance specialist, I give a lot of “first time working together” lessons, and most of them start the same way. I hear about all the ways the golfer is cursed and how s/he is never going to “get it” and how s/he should take up another sport. Granted, the last statement generally applies to an 18-plus handicap player, but I hear lots of negatives from better players as well.

Even though the golfers make convincing arguments for why they are cursed, I know the truth. It’s my job to help them realize the fates aren’t conspiring against them.

All golfers can play well consistently

I know this is a bold statement, but I believe this because I know that “well” does not equate to trophies and personal bests. Playing “well” equates to understanding your margin of error and learning to live within it.

With this said, I have arrived at my first point of proving why golfers are not cursed or bad golfers: They typically do not know what “good” looks like.

What does “good” look like from 150 yards out to a center pin?

Depending on your skill level, the answer can change a lot. I frequently ask golfers this same question when selecting a shot on the golf course during a coaching session and am always surprised at the response. I find that most golfers tend to either have a target that is way too vague or a target that is much too small.

The PGA Tour average proximity to the hole from 150 yards is roughly 30 feet. The reason I mention this statistic is that it gives us a frame of reference. The best players in the world are equivalent to a +4 or better handicap. With that said, a 15-handicap player hitting it to 30 feet from the pin from 150 yards out sounds like a good shot to me.

I always encourage golfers to understand the statistics from the PGA Tour not because that should be our benchmark, but because we need to realize that often our expectations are way out of line with our current skill level. I have found that golfers attempting to hold themselves to unrealistic standards tend to perform worse due to the constant feeling of “failing” they create when they do not hit every fairway and green.

Jim Furyk, while playing a limited PGA Tour schedule, was the most accurate driver of the golf ball during the 2020 season on the PGA Tour hitting 73.96 percent of his fairways (roughly 10/14 per round) and ranked T-136 in Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee. Bryson Dechambeau hit the fairway 58.45 percent (roughly 8/14 per round) of the time and ranked first in Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee.

There are two key takeaways in this comparison

Sometimes the fairway is not the best place to play an approach shot from. Even the best drivers of the golf ball miss fairways.

By using statistics to help athletes gain a better understanding of what “good” looks like, I am able to help them play better golf by being aware that “good” is not always in the middle of the fairway or finishing next to the hole.

Golf is hard. Setting yourself up for failure by having unrealistic expectations is only going to stunt your development as a player. We all know the guy who plays the “tips” or purchases a set of forged blades applying the logic that it will make them better in the long run—how does that story normally end?

Take action

If you are interested in applying some statistics to your golf game, there are a ton of great apps that you can download and use. Also, if you are like me and were unable to pass Math 104 in four attempts and would like to do some reading up on the math behind these statistics, I highly recommend the book by Mark Broadie Every Shot Counts. If you begin to keep statistics and would like how to put them into action and design better strategies for the golf course, then I highly recommend the Decade system designed by Scott Fawcett.

You may not be living up to your expectations on the golf course, but that does not make you a bad or cursed golfer. Human beings are very inconsistent by design, which makes a sport that requires absolute precision exceedingly difficult.

It has been said before: “Golf is not a game of perfect.” It’s time we finally accept that fact and learn to live within our variance.

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Walters: Try this practice hack for better bunker shots

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Your ability to hit better bunker shots is dramatically reduced if you have no facility to practice these shots. With so few facilities (especially in the UK) having a practice bunker it’s no wonder I see so many golfers struggle with this skill.

Yet the biggest issue they all seem to have is the inability to get the club to enter the sand (hit the ground) in a consistent spot. So here is a hack to use at the range to improve your bunker shots.

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Golf Blueprint: A plan for productive practice sessions

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Practice range at the Dormie Club. Photo credit: Scott Arden

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

You’ve gotten lessons.  Several of them.  You’ve been custom fitted for everything in your bag.  You even bought another half a dozen driver shafts last year looking for an extra couple of yards.  And yet, you’re still…stuck.  Either your handicap hasn’t moved at all in years or you keep bouncing back and forth between the same two numbers.  You’ve had all the swing fixes and all the technological advances you could realistically hope to achieve, yet no appreciable result has been achieved in lowering your score.  What gives?

Sample Golf Blueprint practice plan for a client.

One could argue that no one scientifically disassembled and then systematically reassembled the game of golf quite like the great Ben Hogan.  His penchant for doing so created a mystique which is still the stuff of legend even today.  A great many people have tried to decipher his secret over the years and the inevitable conclusion is always a somewhat anticlimactic, “The secret’s in the dirt.”  Mr. Hogan’s ball striking prowess was carved one divot at a time from countless hours on the practice range.  In an interview with golf journalist George Peper in 1987, Mr. Hogan once said:

“You hear stories about me beating my brains out practicing, but the truth is, I was enjoying myself. I couldn’t wait to get up in the morning so I could hit balls. I’d be at the practice tee at the crack of dawn, hit balls for a few hours, then take a break and get right back to it. And I still thoroughly enjoy it. When I’m hitting the ball where I want, hard and crisply—when anyone is— it’s a joy that very few people experience.”

Let me guess.  You’ve tried that before, right?  You’ve hit buckets and buckets of range rocks trying to groove the perfect 7-iron swing and still to no avail, right?  Read that last sentence again closely and you might discover the problem.  There’s a difference between mindful practice and mindless practice.  Mindful practice, like Mr. Hogan undoubtedly employed, is structured, focused, and intentional.  It has specific targets and goals in mind and progresses in a systematic fashion until those goals are met.

This is exactly what Nico Darras and Kevin Moore had in mind when they started Golf Blueprint.  In truth, though, the journey actually started when Nico was a client of Kevin’s Squares2Circles project.  Nico is actually a former DI baseball player who suffered a career-ending injury and took up golf at 22 years old.  In a short time, he was approaching scratch and then getting into some mini tour events.  Kevin, as mentioned in the Squares2Circles piece, is a mathematics education professor and accomplished golfer who has played in several USGA events.  Their conversations quickly changed from refining course strategy to making targeted improvements in Nico’s game.  By analyzing the greatest weaknesses in Nico’s game and designing specific practice sessions (which they call “blueprints”) around them, Nico started reaching his goals.

The transition from client to partners was equal parts swift and organic, as they quickly realized they were on to something.  Nico and Kevin used their experiences to develop an algorithm which, when combined with the client’s feedback, establishes a player profile within Golf Blueprint’s system.  Clients get a plan with weekly, monthly, and long-term goals including all of the specific blueprints that target the areas of their game where they need it most.  Not to mention, clients get direct access to Nico and Kevin through Golf Blueprint.

Nico Darras, co-founder of Golf Blueprint

While this is approaching shades of Mr. Hogan’s practice method above, there is one key distinction here.  Kevin and Nico aren’t recommending practicing for hours at a time.  Far from it.  In Nico’s words:

“We recommend 3 days a week.  You can do more or less, for sure, but we’ve found that 3 days a week is within the realm of possibility for most of our clients.  Practice sessions are roughly 45-70 minutes each, but again, all of this depends on the client and what resources they have at their disposal.  Each blueprint card is roughly 10 minutes each, so you can choose which cards to do if you only have limited time to practice.  Nothing is worse than cranking 7 irons at the range for hours.  We want to make these engaging and rewarding.”

Kevin Moore, co-founder of Golf Blueprint

So far, Golf Blueprint has been working for a wide range of golfers – from tour pros to the No Laying Up crew to amateurs alike.  Kevin shares some key data in that regard:

“When we went into this, we weren’t really sure what to expect.  Were we going to be an elite player product?  Were we going to be an amateur player product?  We didn’t know, honestly.  So far, what’s exciting is that we’ve had success with a huge range of players.  Probably 20-25% of our players (roughly speaking) are in that 7-11 handicap range.  That’s probably the center of the bell curve, if you will, right around that high-single-digit handicap range.  We have a huge range though, scratch handicap and tour players all the way to 20 handicaps.  It runs the full gamut.  What’s been so rewarding is that the handicap dropping has been significantly more than we anticipated.  The average handicap drop for our clients was about 2.7 in just 3 months’ time.”

Needless to say, that’s a pretty significant drop in a short amount of time from only changing how you practice.  Maybe that Hogan guy was on to something.  I think these guys might be too.  To learn more about Golf Blueprint and get involved, visit their website. @Golf_Blueprint is their handle for both Twitter and Instagram.

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