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Use the new ball flight laws to understand your tendencies



If you are a golfer over the age of 25, you were probably taught the old ball flight laws. You know, the one stating that club path determined the starting direction of the golf ball and that face controlled the curvature. If so, you were probably shown a ball flight law poster similar to the one shown below. Ignore it.


We now know, thanks to studies done on Doppler radar launch monitors like FlightScope and Trackman, that the old ball flight laws are invalid. The golf ball actually starts in the direction of the face angle at impact and it curves away from the club path provided a golfer has centered impact. With drivers, face angle controls about 85 percent of a ball’s starting direction.With irons, face angle accounts for about 75 percent of a golf balls starting direction. As loft is added, the ratio is reduced.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 2.51.57 PM
Note: For the sake of this article, we are going to assume that all your shots are a centered strike. When shots are hit off-center, something called “Gear Effect” applies, which changes the launch and spin of a shot.

The New Ball Flight Laws

  1. Curvature is created when the path of the club and the face angle of the club point in different directions at impact.
  2. When the path and the face are pointing in the same direction at impact, you can hit a pull, a straight shot, or a push depending on where the face and the path are pointing. The ball will not curve unless another force is acting upon it, such as wind, slopes, off-center hits, etc.
  3. The ball mostly starts in the direction of the face angle at IMPACT (green arrow).
  4. The clubface direction at ADDRESS does NOT control the face angle direction at impact, however, it can influence it.
  5. The ball curves away from your swing path (blue arrow).
  6. Divots do not tell you starting direction, true club path, angle of attack, curvature or exact lie angle. They are virtually worthless for you to use to determine what happened during impact.

How Doppler Radar Launch Monitors Show Golf Ball Curvature

  1. Club Path shows us if you are swinging in-to-out, down-the-line, or out-to-in. Negative numbers are out-to-in, while positive numbers show in-to-out.
  2. Face Angle tells you what direction the clubface was pointing at IMPACT. Negative numbers show that the face was pointing left of the target line, and vice versa for positive numbers.
  3. Face-to-Path Ratio is the difference between these two entities. With longer clubs, the bigger the face to path number, the more curvature you will see with a centered impact. Negative numbers show that the face was left of the path and positive numbers show the face right of the path.
  4. Launch Direction shows where the ball started relative to the target. Negative numbers will result if the ball begins to the left of your target, and positive numbers will result if the ball begins to the right of the target.
  5. Spin Axis shows us the curvature of the ball or tilting of its axis. Negative numbers result if the ball moves to the left and positive numbers result if the ball moves to the right.

You can see all these numbers at once in the ball flight screen below. Click the photo to enlarge the image.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 1.39.02 PM

Now, I’ll explain the numbers that create a “Pull Hook.”

  1. The club path is 4.5 degrees right of the TARGET.
  2. The club face is -8.5 degrees left of the TARGET.
  3. The face-to-path is -13 degrees.
  4. The launch direction is -6.1 degrees left of the TARGET.
  5. The spin axis is -18.8, showing the movement of the ball to the left.

This ball started a touch left of the target line and curved further away from the path, missing the target way left. Obviously it’s easy to see these actions when you have a FlightScope Trackman handy, but how do you best audit your ball’s flight when you are alone on the range?

Note: Remember, we are assuming a centered strike, because a toe hit can create a similar spin axis. 

  1. Build a practice station with sticks on the ground along your feet and your target line so you “know” you are lined up the way you feel best works for your game.
  2. Place a target ball in front of and in-line with your golf ball and the target as shown in this photo.
  3. Hit the ball and ask yourself a few questions:

Where did the ball begin relative to my target ball that I put down? What did the ball do at the apex of its flight?

  1. If your ball begins left of the target ball, your club face was pointed left of the target at impact.
  2. If your ball begins right of the target ball, your club face was pointed to the right of the target at impact

After you determine your starting direction, look at the curvature of the ball and ask yourself the following questions. 

  1. Did the ball curve right of where the ball started? If so, your path was left of your ball’s starting direction.
  2. Did the ball curve left of where the ball started? If so, your path was right of the ball’s starting direction.

When you know the answer to these questions, you have determined where your ball started and how it curved. Thus, you have backed into the impact alignments between your path and face at impact. We know this is not an exact science and Gear Effect can alter these curvatures, but this is a great way to at least get started understanding the new ball flight laws.

Have some fun at the range today!

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Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction and Business Development at Punta Mita, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico ( 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]



  1. Mark C

    May 5, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    I am very late coming to this party, but for over 20 years I’ve been an old school thinker. Wow, this article does open my eyes. According to the monitors I swing 1-2 degrees out to in and 1-2 degrees with an open face, which produces a nice little fade that starts just left of the target. But I really struggle trying to draw the ball when I have to. I just close the club face at address which in hindsight, makes the ball start way left. Based upon this model, what should I be doing to try and draw the ball, open the face a little and swing more in to out?

    • Mark C

      May 9, 2016 at 9:08 am

      Update: I opened the face and swung out to the right resulting in the prettiest high draws that I have ever seen. For over 20 years I believed I couldn’t hit the that shot because I was making adjustments based upon the wrong “rules”. Thanks Tom, you’re the best!!!

  2. Pat

    Nov 16, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    My mishits are usually a push or hook. I do try to practice a slightly in to out swing. My good shots are usually a push draw. I’ve been taught that having a slightly in to out swing ever since I was 8 years old will always be better than a out to in swing. More distance, more ball speed and it’s a better player’s miss. Only hacks swing out to in therefore hitting weak banana slices or dead pulls that go nowhere. My divots usually are dead straight or slightly pointed right. When they start pointing left is when I know my swing is way off(over the top and not initiating enough hip rotation on the down swing) and that I need to practice more and incorporate the proper drills to get my swing path back on track.

  3. B-Haf

    Nov 7, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    read this article just recently and went to the range to work on my driver. hitting the ball straight never seemed so easy. i could previously hit target, but always with a curve and some extra spin than needed. now it’s closer to point and shoot. amazed at how i’ve not figured out these laws on my own. thanks for sharing.

    • tom stickney

      Nov 7, 2014 at 4:49 pm

      We were all fooled…glad to hear! Thanks for the note

  4. James

    Nov 6, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    I was told even back in the 1960s as a kid that the way you hit a draw is swing slightly inside to out and the face has to be square to just barely closed. Not sure how this was known without a launch monitor. I have always been told the face angle determines the initial direction.

    • Tom Stickney

      Nov 6, 2014 at 10:15 pm

      Square or closed to what? The path…or the target? That’s the misconception.

  5. Andrew Cooper

    Nov 6, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Agreed the divot, usually, happens after impact so angle of attack will influence direction. But the big out to in path swing will still produce very leftward divots, especially if we add in excessive steepness- angle of attack and path will result in divots that are reflective of what was happening at impact-divots are not randomly created. Wouldn’t a golfer with a steep, over the top, out to in move see shallower and less leftward divots as they improve their swing to a shallower and less out to in move?

    • Tom Stickney

      Nov 6, 2014 at 3:49 pm

      Sure. Extremes are easy to correlate.

  6. privateclubpro

    Nov 6, 2014 at 10:06 am

    The old flight laws are still possible though, aren’t they Tom? I think that they are just a very conservative approach. They highlight 9 possible ball flights, where the possibilities are actually endless. If someone had a +4 path with a +3 face angle, that would create the push draw/hook, no? A +4 path with a +5 face would create the push fade/slice, no? Those 9 flights we used to rely on, but I think your data shows that they are just a starting point, when described properly. A 0 face and a +4 path wont create the push draw as we perhaps used to think…?

    • tom stickney

      Nov 6, 2014 at 12:13 pm

      The only point I was trying to get across was that under the old laws we assumed the ball began on the line of the path, not the face as we know now

      • privateclubpro

        Nov 6, 2014 at 1:37 pm

        I agree, bit it’s not the face exclusively…it’s the combination that gets you a launch direction. Face will account for more than we gave credit for perhaps, but the LD (which is what is being discussed) will neither start on the path nor the line, unless those two numbers are exactly the same.

        • Tom Stickney

          Nov 7, 2014 at 4:50 am

          Never said it was one or the other…launches mostly in the direction of the face.

          • privateclubpro

            Nov 7, 2014 at 9:58 am

            Really appreciate your work online, your articles, videos and instruction – thanks for the time taken to respond to everyone! Fun discussion!

          • Tom Stickney

            Nov 8, 2014 at 2:19 am

            Pri- all my pleasure!! Thx sir.

  7. Larry Armatage

    Nov 6, 2014 at 9:10 am

    Hi Tom; Great article, thank you. My only reaction is the statement that the “old Ball Flight Laws stated that club path determined the starting direction of the golf ball and that face controlled the curvature”….. and that your conclusion is that the ‘old’ Ball Flight Laws are invalid.

    A great friend, and great teacher, Dr. Gary Wiren wrote the ‘old invalid’ laws…. Gary was the author of “The PGA Teaching Manual” written in 1999.
    Here’s what it says, on Page 34, second paragraph, EXACT WORDS; “Face position has a greater potential to influence the flight of the ball than swing path; although the path of the swing does influence the ball’s starting direction, it is of lesser influence than the face. The ball’s starting path will always fall in between the face and path direction, favouring the face angle.”

    It seems to me that your article agrees with these old invalid ball flight laws, and differs only with statements that were never presented by Gary. To have this knowledge (of a lot years ago) validated by the very latest in diagnostic equipment is testament to the power of observation and careful thought on the subject by Wiren. I don’t think it’s reasonable to present statements that were never made by Gary.

    Thanks for the article…. my only question is could you please elaborate on the alignment station,’ as shown in this photo’. My computer doesn’t show this photo very well.

    Best regards,
    Larry Armatage, PGA of Canada

    • tom stickney

      Nov 6, 2014 at 12:15 pm

      Thanks for the note. Gary’s description was lost in translation…the only thing most people heard was path controlling the starting direction as it pertained to the masses

  8. Andrew Cooper

    Nov 6, 2014 at 9:02 am

    Thanks for the article Tom. Regarding divots being “virtually worthless” when determining what happens at impact-wouldn’t a right hander with an out to in swing path not create leftward divots? Wouldn’t steep or shallow divots, or divots before or after the ball not give an indication of angle of attack and low point? or toe/ heel deep divots not suggest a swing/lie angle issue?
    Also when can we stop calling these the “new” ball flight laws? The ball essentially responds to the club exactly the same way now as it did 500 years ago-equipment aside.

    • tom stickney

      Nov 6, 2014 at 12:16 pm

      I can have a leftward divot and a rightward path due to the path being shifted by the downward angle of attack.

  9. marcel

    Nov 5, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    radar can do a fair bit to simulate your swing. but i did not have the same results on course than on radar… i can shape ball fairly well left and right where the radar was always biasing me to draw… i am working on my swing with AAA+ coach and that is way better to improve than radar… pass the swing speed and smash factor i dont think its any good.

    • tom stickney

      Nov 6, 2014 at 12:18 pm

      It could be an alignment issue on the golf course…take the trackman on the course with you to see why it happens that way. That’s what I do with all my students with the same problem

  10. snowman

    Nov 5, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    I am Over 25; a reasonably competent player and never played with a lot of intentional curve on my shots, but until I understood these ‘new laws’ that came out a couple of years ago, I always struggled when trying to hit a recovery shot that had to curve around a tree (I always hit the tree because I aimed the face at the tree and trusted the path of the swing to determine the starting line of the shot…duh-“old ball flight laws” didn’t work).

    • Tom Stickney

      Nov 5, 2014 at 3:59 pm

      Thx snow. We’ve all done the same thing. 🙂

  11. Tin Whistle

    Nov 5, 2014 at 11:20 am

    this made my limited amount of hair hurt

  12. Mike T

    Nov 5, 2014 at 11:13 am

    Baffled by this article. You have a beautiful chart on ball flight that is wrong, but not one that shows the correct ball flight laws. You mention gear effect, but no explanation on how it effects ball flight. I’m old school, but I have instinctively known that the ball is going to start in the direction the club face is pointed and the swing path will determine if the ball curves left or right. Please take this article back to the drawing board.

    • Tom Stickney

      Nov 5, 2014 at 4:01 pm

      Mike– this article can’t do everything. My other articles have covered great effect.

  13. Dan Sueltz

    Nov 4, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    And the impact of the shaft on the face angle can be pretty huge based upon our testing. Too soft or stiff and face angle at impact can change by up to 2 degrees. Can also change attack angle and spin axis. Have you seen this?

    • Tom Stickney

      Nov 4, 2014 at 8:42 pm


      • Kevin

        Nov 5, 2014 at 10:00 am

        What numbers are relevant to lefties here? Which ones do we think the opposite or are all these the same?

        • Tom Stickney

          Nov 5, 2014 at 10:19 am

          Sorry Kevin. This was written for the righty

  14. Lam.b

    Nov 4, 2014 at 10:22 am

    well, they are all wrong, my bad

  15. Lam.b

    Nov 4, 2014 at 10:20 am

    The push hook is wrong in the image. Cant push it with a closed to the target face.

    • Knobbywood

      Nov 4, 2014 at 12:44 pm

      Lol reading comprehension my friend… Mr stickney clearly states that that image is incorrect

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  17. Todd

    Nov 4, 2014 at 8:52 am

    The golf research book, “Search For the Perfect Swing” showed that that the ball starts closer to the face than the path way back in 1968. This book was required reading for PGA apprentices for many years.

  18. birly-shirly

    Nov 4, 2014 at 7:13 am

    Tom – in the absence of measured club/ball data, how do you feel about the strategy of first dealing with clubface alignment relative to the path to get generally straight, albeit pushed or pulled, shots. And then tackling the issue of swing direction?

    • Tom Stickney

      Nov 4, 2014 at 9:07 am

      Depends on the player and the severity of their misses.

  19. darrell

    Nov 3, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    Many PGA teachers have known this information for years…….we just couldn’t prove it. I have a question for you: Based on this information, many of the top putting guru’s promote a “stroke” that is directly opposite of this data. Specifically, a curved putting stroke, while opening and closing the putter face. This has to be the worst way to square the putter face. A straight back and through stroke should be the easiest way to start the ball on the intended line. Your thoughts?

    • tom stickney

      Nov 4, 2014 at 12:10 am

      S t S strokes require an artificial manipulation of the lead forearm to hold the putterface square to the line on the backswing and vice versa on the way back through from a biomechanical standpoint. However, if you feel that a StS stroke works better for you then go for it..

    • Pudder

      Nov 4, 2014 at 2:58 am

      The difference between the irons/woods versus putter is….. SPEED & LIFT.

      Physically, you’re not imparting enough speed in putting to make it spin enough, and there is also not enough off the ground as the ball strikes the ground immediately (as compared to an iron or wood), that the friction of the green and the grass will also effect the roll of the ball. Mostly, and I say again – mostly – if you can square up the putter face at moment of impact in the direction you’re intending to roll the ball with the right amount of speed in that direction – the flatness of the impact should be your primary focus of attention, not how you take it back or push it through.

      • Tom Stickney

        Nov 4, 2014 at 9:08 am

        Face accounts for 87% of the ball’s starting direction in putting.

    • Stretch

      Nov 5, 2014 at 11:57 am

      As usual a great post on ball flight laws.

      As for putting a curved putting stroke does not have opening or closing unless there is supination and pronation or extension and flexion. Nor does a S t S stroke need an artificial manipulation of the lead forearm.

      A straight back and through stroke is easy if the shaft is vertical. Steve Stricker a great example. High hands give a near vertical shaft and thus more square to the line through out the stroke. As a putter gets flatter the stroke will curve more off the line in both the back swing and forward swing. Ben Crenshaw a good example of the curving stroke. In both cases neither player had supination/pronation or flexion/extension.

      The ball roll laws to give a putting stroke the most accuracy are; face square at impact,3-4 degrees of loft at impact, the ball struck at the bottom of the putting stroke arc and least important is having the putter going down the line at impact.

    • jon

      Nov 10, 2014 at 7:07 pm

      straight back and thru is manipulative and an arched path is more natural in my opinion.

  20. nikky d

    Nov 3, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    I tell you what tom, I find it ironic you wrote this article. the posts on the new ball flight laws that were coming out this summer, really helped my game a lot. there is no guessing involved anymore when my ball isn’t flying the way I intended it. now I know what I did wrong almost instantly. im glad you mentioned spin axis too. all too often does Michael Breed say stuff about having 3,000 rpms of backspin and 2,300 rpms of sidespin (or something like that) well guess what? you cannot have both! unless your golf ball is built like a gyroscope!

    • tom stickney

      Nov 4, 2014 at 12:11 am

      Thank you….many people don’t realize you only tilt the ball’s spin axis to curve it as you said

      • Blake Barrilleaux

        Nov 4, 2014 at 6:59 pm

        Tom, I’ve always wondered if ball speed could overcome ball curvature. I saw a video of Tiger, maybe 8 yrs ago doing demonstrations on hooks and slices. His hook looked as if it went straight really fast then started to really curve left farther out. I’ve tried to hit similar shots, but the ball starts curving waaayy earlier, maybe 20 yards out. I think the vid was on the golf channel for a military group outing Tiger was doing.Do you recall the vid and what do the monitors say? ( Could have been camera angle that gave the impression of straight to left flight.)Thanks

        • Tom Stickney

          Nov 4, 2014 at 11:26 pm

          Blake– not sure sorry.

        • Kurt

          Nov 5, 2014 at 3:31 pm

          @Blake: I’m definitely no expert or physicist, buy it makes sense that the faster a ball is hit, it would curve less in the beginning stages of flight. The launch ball speed is definitely NOT the same speed the ball is going at the half-way point in flight. Friction from air slows the ball considerably as the ball flight progresses. So at the beginning part of the flight while the ball is going faster, it will curve less because the air hasn’t “grabbed” it yet to impart forces on it.
          Since I have improved my swing speed and ball striking, I have definitely noticed that the majority of curvature happens during the last 2/3 of ball flight.

          • Kurt

            Nov 5, 2014 at 3:43 pm

            Just to add in case I was difficult to understand: this is much the same principal as how a putt that is hit harder along the same line will break less.

  21. Brian

    Nov 3, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    Thank you Tom for this. Believe it or not this was timely. I have an old Lee Trevino book that has been my guide in this area for a long time. Almost exactly the same as the poster you showed. I have not been golfing as much latey and also have struggled really controlling the ball when it came time. I normally do not work the ball so figured my lack of accuracy and execution was due to lack of practice. This gave me something to work on!

    Secondly, I admire your resolve. The more technical of an article you write, the more “experts” chime in in the comments. I am not talking about this one per say, this is just my first comment on any of your articles. Some of the commenters frustrate me and it isn’t even my work, time, research, and editing. I understand they are trying to make sure there is accuracy but there is no courteousy. Thanks for pressing on.

    • tom stickney

      Nov 4, 2014 at 12:12 am

      Appreciate it sir…good luck. People often criticize things they don’t fully understand…I’m not always 100% right but I try as best as I can.

    • Large chris

      Nov 4, 2014 at 8:00 am

      I’m sure you are not referring to my post Brian, which is a perfectly fair technical comment on a technical article. I do appreciate the effort Tom puts into this sort of instruction.

  22. Dave S

    Nov 3, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    The ball flight laws have changed, but somehow players still knew how to shape shots prior to this Doppler radar revolution…

    • tom stickney

      Nov 3, 2014 at 5:53 pm

      Many understood how to curve it but did not truly understand how they curved it; thus when things went off they spent time working on the incorrect things…

  23. Daniel

    Nov 3, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Hi Tom, what is the best method to draw and fade the ball without changing swing path? Thnx

    • tom stickney

      Nov 3, 2014 at 5:53 pm

      Hard to do without changing path…easiest way to change your path is to alter your aim

      • Brian

        Nov 3, 2014 at 6:07 pm

        Do you mean instead of swinging in to out, just aim right (along the path you want to swing)?

        • tom stickney

          Nov 4, 2014 at 12:14 am

          The more you aim right or left the more you will skew your swing’s direction in that manner…TOO A POINT…but be careful too much or anything is a bad thing. If you want to move the ball left to right then the face must be right of the path at impact. If you wan to move the ball left then the face must be left of the path at impact. With centered contact that is….

  24. SoConfussed

    Nov 3, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    I think the majority of golfers that swing over the top with the club face open and hit a slice…
    they already know “ball flight laws”.

    • tom stickney

      Nov 3, 2014 at 4:08 pm

      You’d be surprised…

      • other paul

        Nov 3, 2014 at 8:59 pm

        Agreed. Most people don’t know them. I fixed a friends slice in 3 minutes at the range and he couldn’t understand why. And he is a smart athlete.

        • tom stickney

          Nov 4, 2014 at 12:15 am

          golf is tough to understand…very counterintuitive

    • Alex

      Nov 3, 2014 at 11:23 pm

      Nearly 99% of them don’t.

      Most think they need to rotate the face harder to get it to stop…all the while they’re staying it 10* left of the target line.

      When they hit pull hooks they think they’re doing it worse instead of realizing they’re starting to make progress by changing the path.

      Just yesterday I heard a father telling his daughter to stop coming over the top when she was starting the ball straight and hooking it.

      It’s bad.

  25. Largechris

    Nov 3, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    I do wonder a little bit about Doppler radar alone proving this, I was under the impression only systems like GC2 HMT with dots on the club head could see and measure face angle.

    I’m surmising that Trackman etc. have algorithms based on their own previous R+D using high speed cameras etc. that are then used to calculate all the face numbers shown.

    • wineyax

      Nov 3, 2014 at 2:44 pm

      I wondered the same thing…. how much is actual captured date and how much is calculated.

      i believe a hybrid system with basically both a GC2-HMT + Trackman in 1 system would be the most accurate system.

      • tom stickney

        Nov 3, 2014 at 4:10 pm

        Gears Golf has merged the trackman coupled with vertical and horizontal impact points

    • Saevel25

      Nov 3, 2014 at 3:07 pm

      Doppler radar measures the movement of mass. Basically once the clubhead enters the field of influence of the radar it is being tracked. Does it create a plane to measure face angle, no. Trackman can measure swing path, angle of attack, and other swing characteristics. Radar does track movement in all 3 dimensions.

      Given that, Trackman states they are able to figure out face angle to half a degree accuracy that is repeatable 95% of the time.

      I don’t know about you, but I think that is good enough. Really, I don’t think anyone will be able to visually tell the difference a half a degree has in ball flight by visually looking at the ball travel down range.

    • tom stickney

      Nov 3, 2014 at 4:09 pm

      A question for Trackman…

    • tom stickney

      Nov 3, 2014 at 4:11 pm

      I’m still not convinced that the GC2 is 100% accurate with their impact point measurements but at least it’s a start.

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What to look for in a golf instructor: The difference between transformative and transactional coaching



Golf instruction comes in all different styles, methods, and formats. With that said, you would think this would be a good thing due to there being so many different types of people in the world. However, it is my opinion that the lack of standardization within the industry makes it confusing for the athlete to determine what kind of golf instruction they should seek out.

Before we can discuss what may or may not be the best type of instruction for yourself, first we need to know what our options are. Whether we are taking a “broad-spectrum approach” to learning or a more personalized approach, it is important to understand that there are differences to each, and some approaches are going to take longer than others to reach goals.

Broad-Spectrum Approach

Welcome to the world of digital golf instruction, where tips from the most famous coaches in the world are a click away. The great thing about the internet and social media for a golfer is there has never been more access to the top minds in the field—and tips and drills are plentiful. With that said, with there being so many choices and differing opinions, it can be very easy to become distracted with the latest tip and can lead to a feeling of being lost.

I would describe “internet coaching”—or YouTube and Instagram surfing—as transactional coaching. You agree to pay, either a monthly fee or provide likes or follows and the professional provides very generalized tips about the golf swing. For athletes that are new to golf or golf instruction, this tends to be the first part of their process.

There are people who prefer a more transactional approach, and there are a ton of people having success working together over the internet with their coach. With that said, for someone who is looking for more of a long-term individualized approach, this may not be the best approach. This broad-spectrum approach also tends to be the slowest in terms of development due to there being a lot of trial and error due to the generalized approach and people having different body types.

Individual Transactional Coaching

Most people who are new to golf instruction will normally seek out their local pro for help. Depending on where you live in the country, what your local pro provides will vary greatly. However, due to it being local and convenient, most golfers will accept this to be the standard golf lesson.

What makes this type of instruction transactional is that there tends to be less long-term planning and it is more of a sick patient-doctor relationship. Lessons are taken when needed and there isn’t any benchmarking or periodization being done. There also tends to be less of a relationship between the coach and player in this type of coaching and it is more of a take it or leave it style to the coaching.

For most recreational or club-level players, this type of coaching works well and is widely available. Assuming that the method or philosophies of the coach align with your body type and goals athletes can have great success with this approach. However, due to less of a relationship, this form of coaching can still take quite some time to reach its goals.

Individual Transformative Coaching

Some people are very lucky, and they live close to a transformative coach, and others, less lucky, have had to search and travel to find a coach that could help them reach their goals. Essentially, when you hire a transformative coach, you are being assigned a golf partner.

Transformative coaching begins with a solid rapport that develops into an all-encompassing relationship centered around helping you become your very best. Technology alone doesn’t make a coach transformative, but it can help when it comes to creating periodization of your development. Benchmarks and goals are agreed upon by both parties and both parties share the responsibility for putting in the work.

Due to transformative coaching tending to have larger goals, the development process tends to take some time, however, the process is more about attainment than achievement. While improved performance is the goal, the periods for both performance and development are defined.

Which One is Right for You?

It really depends on how much you are willing to invest in your development. If you are looking for a quick tip and are just out enjoying the weather with your friends, then maybe finding a drill or two on Instagram to add to your practice might be the ticket. If you are looking to really see some improvement and put together a plan for long-term development, then you are going to have to start looking into what is available in your area and beyond.

Some things to consider when selecting a coach

  • Do they use technology?
  • What are their qualifications when it comes to teaching?
  • Do they make you a priority?

As a golf coach who has access to the most state-of-the-art technology in the industry, I am always going to be biased towards a data-driven approach. That doesn’t mean that you should only consider a golf coach with technology, however, I believe that by having data present, you are able to have a better conversation about the facts with less importance placed on personal preference. Technology also tends to be quite expensive in golf, so be prepared if you go looking for a more high-tech coaching experience, as it is going to cost more than the low-tech alternative.

The general assumption is that if the person you are seeking advice from is a better player than you are, then they know more about the golf swing than you do. This is not always the case, while the better player may understand their swing better than you do yours, that does not make them an expert at your golf swing. That is why it is so important that you consider the qualifications of your coach. Where did they train to coach? Do they have success with all of their players? Do their players develop over a period of time? Do their players get injured? All things to consider.

The most important trait to look for in a transformative coach is that they make you a priority. That is the biggest difference between transactional and transformative coaches, they are with you during the good and bad, and always have your best interest top of mind. Bringing in other experts isn’t that uncommon and continuing education is paramount for the transformative coach, as it is their duty to be able to meet and exceed the needs of every athlete.

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The importance of arm structure



How the arms hang at address plays a vital role in the golf swing. Often overlooked, the structure in which we place the arms can dictate one’s swing pattern. As mentioned in the article How Posture influences your swing, if you start in an efficient position, impact is much easier to find making, the golf swing more repeatable and powerful.

To start, I opt to have a player’s trail arm bent and tucked in front of them with angle in the trail wrist. While doing so, the trail shoulder can drop below the lead with a slight bend from the pelvis. This mirrors an efficient impact position.

I always prefer plays to have soft and slightly bent arms. This promotes arm speed in the golf swing. No other sports are played with straight arms, neither should golf.

From this position, it’s easier to get the clubhead traveling first, sequencing the backswing into a dynamic direction of turn.


When a player addresses the ball with straight arms, they will often tilt with their upper body in the backswing. This requires more recovery in the downswing to find their impact position with the body.

A great drill to get the feeling of a soft-bent trail arm is to practice pushing a wall with your trail arm. Start in your golf set-up, placing your trail hand against the wall. You will instinctively start with a bent trail arm.

Practice applying slight pressure to the wall to get the feeling of a pushing motion through impact?. When trying the drill with a straight trail alarm, you will notice the difference between the two? arm structures.

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What is ground force in the golf swing?



There is no doubt about it, the guys and gals on tour have found something in the ground—and that something is power and speed. I’m sure by now you have heard of “ground reaction forces”—and I’m not talking about how you “shift your weight” during the golf swing.

Ground force in the golf swing: Pressure and force are not equal

With respect to ground force in the golf swing, it’s important to understand the difference between pressure and force. Pressure is your perception of how your weight is being balanced by the structure, in this case, the human body. Your body has a center of mass which is located roughly one inch behind the belt buckle for men and about one inch lower in women. When we shift (translate and/or torque) the center of mass, we create a pressure shift as the body has to “rebalance” the mass or body. This pressure shift can help us understand some aspects of the golf swing, but when it comes to producing power, force and torque are where it’s at.

Pressure can only be expressed in relation to the mass or weight of the body. Therefore, if you weigh 150 pounds, you can only create 150 pounds of pressure at one time. However, when we direct that mass at a larger object than our mass, all of a sudden that larger mass directs an opposite and equal reactionary force. So now, when a human being “pushes” their legs against the ground and “feels” 150 pounds of pressure, they now get 150 pounds of force directed back towards them from the ground, creating a total of 300 pounds of force that allows them to jump off the ground in this scenario.

If ground reaction forces don’t have anything to do with the “weight shift,” then what do they affect? Everything!

Most people use the same basic ingredients to make chocolate chip cookies. However, almost everyone has chocolate chip cookies that taste slightly different. Why is that? That is because people are variable and use the ingredients in different amounts and orders. When we create a golf swing, whether we are aware of it or not, we are using the same basic ingredients as everyone else: lateral force, vertical torque, and vertical force. We use these same three forces every time we move in space, and how much and when we use each force changes the outcome quite a bit.

Welcome to the world of 3D!

Understanding how to adjust the sequencing and magnitude of these forces is critical when it comes to truly owning and understand your golf swing. The good news is that most of our adjustments come before the swing and have to do with how we set up to the ball. For example, if an athlete is having a hard time controlling low point due to having too much lateral force in the golf swing (fats and thins), then we narrow up the stance width to reduce the amount of lateral force that can be produced in the swing. If an athlete is late with their vertical force, then we can square up the lead foot to promote the lead leg straightening sooner and causing the vertical force to happen sooner.

While we all will need to use the ground differently to play our best golf, two things need to happen to use the ground effectively. The forces have to exist in the correct kinetic sequence (lateral, vertical torque, vertical force), and the peaks of those forces need to be created within the correct windows (sequencing).

  • Lateral force – Peak occurs between top-of-swing and lead arm at 45 degrees
  • Vertical torque – Peak occurs between lead arm being 45 degrees and the lead arm being parallel to the ground.
  • Vertical force – Peak occurs between lead arm being parallel to the ground the club shaft being parallel to the ground.

While it may seem obvious, it’s important to remember ground reaction forces are invisible and can only be measured using force plates. With that said, their tends to be apprehension about discussing how we use the ground as most people do not have access to 3D dual force plates. However, using the screening process designed by Mike Adams, Terry Rowles, and the BioSwing Dynamics team, we can determine what the primary forces used for power production are and can align the body in a way to where the athlete can access his/her full potential and deliver the club to the ball in the most effective and efficient way based off their predispositions and anatomy.

In addition to gaining speed, we can help athletes create a better motion for their anatomy. As golfers continue to swing faster, it is imperative that they do so in a manner that doesn’t break down their body and cause injury. If the body is moving how it is designed, and the forces acting on the joints of the body are in the correct sequence and magnitude, not only do we know they are getting the most out of their swing, but we know that it will hold up and not cause an unforeseen injury down the road.

I truly believe that force plates and ground reaction forces will be as common as launch monitors in the near future. Essentially, a launch monitor measures the effect and the force plates measure the cause, so I believe we need both for the full picture. The force plate technology is still very expensive, and there is an educational barrier for people seeking to start measuring ground reaction forces and understanding how to change forces, magnitudes, and sequences, but I’m expecting a paradigm shift soon.


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