Originally Posted by Golfingdad
I agree that if you don't know where it's going to go then you are probably best off aiming down the middle, furthest away from both edges where the trouble usually lurks. But, that is precisely why the goal should be to develop a swing that will consistently produce a fade or draw. If you've developed a consistent pattern then you've basically doubled your margin for error.
That's the answer. The thread could have ended after that post.
Originally Posted by logman
I think it could be one of those "because the pros do it we should too" moments
No, sorry, as much as you want to try to shove that down people's throats, it's simply a better player's way to play golf. No good to great players play golf not knowing which way their ball will curve.
Originally Posted by birlyshirly
From what I've seen, what a very good player describes as "shaping" a shot is very often what a handicap golfer would describe as essentially a straight ball.
Agree. A pro curves the ball two yards or so. The guys a step or two behind the PGA Tour pros will tend to curve it a little more. And the guys a step or two behind them will curve it a little more. They do so because having a pattern is a good way to play golf - hitting the ball and not knowing what it's going to do is a lousy way to play golf.
Originally Posted by birlyshirly
I do think that psychology plays a part. If you know that your ball is likely to curve, then if you aim for a straight shot you know that your ball is likely to fly away from the target - so I understand the instinct to aim off and try to anticipate the curve and then hopefully watch your ball work towards the target. But I reckon this is a form of attractive self-deception, rather than geometrically valid.
I wouldn't call it "attractive self deception" at all - it's simply playing your pattern. Even those PGA Tour players will aim two yards left or right of where their final target is with a mid-iron, or five yards off with a driver, and let the curve work the ball to their target. A ball curving away from your target is disheartening. A ball curving towards your target - even if it doesn't curve quite enough - is still a more positive experience.
Goal #1 of any player we tend to teach is give them a pattern. Whether it's fades or draws, we give them a pattern, because playing a pattern-free game leads to frustration and high scores.
Once you have a pattern, your natural shot cone emerges, and you play for that. It looks a lot like the Nicklaus photo above, except it's half as large: we generally don't like to see the over-curve.
It's almost purely psychological. You could try to hit the ball straight, but the odds of that are almost nil, and your ball is almost always working away from your target. Or you can curve the ball with your pattern and play the expanded Nicklaus shot cone, where even the ball that curves away from his target (the "slice" in his photo) at least crossed the target rather than starting away and curving farther away.
The little bit that isn't psychological? The fact that when you hit your typical shot playing your curve, you'll end up closer than when you hit your "typical" shot playing no curve. Yes, if you slice and hook the ball equally your average works out to straight, but that's like missing a putt two feet high and missing one two feet low and saying that because of that you made them both. :P
Originally Posted by dsc123
my understanding is that if you have a consistent draw, you're hitting the ball with an inside out path and closed face (relative to swing path). if you make a slightly bad swing and open the club face a bit more, you hit the ball straight. if it's too closed, you over curve. either way, you have a one way miss. so if you line up so that a push would not be in trouble, youre shot will end up there, or left of there, but not right.
I think a lot of better players would still call that a two-way miss.
It's basically the same as this:
That's still a two-way miss in my book. The point is, you don't really have a shot cone. Your shot cone should END at your target. A ball that over-curves is also working away from your target. Jack talked about eliminating one side of the golf course, and you can't do that if you're playing for a straight ball AND a ball that over-curves. You need to pick your poison.
For a righty, if you're playing a draw, your "miss" should either be a ball that doesn't draw much at all (i.e. a push) or a ball that ALWAYS curves but perhaps draws more than you want (an over-draw). THEN you can eliminate one side of the golf course (the left side for the guy who pushes as his miss, the right side for the guy who over-curves as his miss). You can't eliminate one side playing both misses.
BTW here's a relevant thread that's overlooked: http://thesandtrap.com/t/39974/shot-cones . Notice I have the Nicklaus over-curve in the "leaving the cone" diagram.