The secret to better golf is making solid contact with the golf ball. Off-center hits affect the flight of the golf ball, distance, accuracy, and more specifically, launch, spin, trajectory, and spin axis. Spin axis determines which way and how much the golf ball turns after initial launch. As an instructor I first look at ball flight before evaluating the student’s golf swing. Then I will try to change any swing patterns that may be causing the undesired ball flight, and unwanted misses. Before making any changes to the ball flight I determine where the student is making contact with the ball on the club face.
As stated before, this makes a huge difference in where the ball starts, and how the ball will fly in the air. The contact position on a driver makes a bigger difference than any other club. Thecontact point of the club face changing ball flight is called gear effect. In this article we will not get into much detail about gear effect, other than we need to understand that gear effect can take a swing that should make a certain ball flight and change it completely. If a student makes a slice swing, out to a swing path with the club face open to the path, but makes contact in the toe of the club, the ball could fly straight instead of a 20 yard slice.
For example, if you watched Rory McIlroy in the 2010 Masters there was a great example of gear effect. On hole #10 Rory, who at that time hit a sweeping draw, hit the ball on the toe of the club. This sweeping draw became a snap hook left in the cabins left of thehole. The toe hit caused the ball to turn significantly more to the left than it would if contact was in the center of the club face.
Even for an amateur golfer it can make a difference between hitting the fairway, and being in the water hazard left of the fairway. Do you know where you make contact on the club face? There are some tools to determine contact point. Three ways to determine contact point are, club face tape, Dr. Scholl’s foot spray, and neon dry erase markers, which are all pictured.
I encourage everyone not to make any changes with their swing, with a PGA Professional or on their own, without knowing where the contact point is on the club face. You could be making the correct swing, and the contact point on the club face could be causing all the problems. Iwould also suggest having one of these three tools with you on the range or course when practicing. If you are a little off that day use these tools before you start tinkering with your swing. Short term solutions to fix toe and heel hits are to stand farther away if hitting on the heel of the clubface, and standing closer at address if making contact on the toe of the clubface. For further understanding of why you are contacting the golf ball off-center see your local PGA Professional.
Todd Elliott is the PGA Head Golf Professional for Hideaway Beach. Todd is TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) Certified as a golf professional. This gives him the ability to give golf specific physical screening to detect any physical limitation that might affect the golf swing. Todd is also a Coutour-certified putting fitter, a Titlteist-certified fitter and a Titliest staff member. Follow Todd on Twitter @elliottgolfpro or for any question or comments email firstname.lastname@example.org.