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What's wrong with hitting it straight?

post #1 of 122
Thread Starter 

Is there anything wrong with hitting a golf ball straight?  Are there any professionals that hit it straight, or do they all have a draw or fade? 

 

It seems that everytime I hit a great shot, the ball goes perfectly straight.  What are the advantages or disadvantages to hitting it straight, fade or draw?  I imagine that having the ability to draw it or fade it will help on certain shots based on what you need to do. 

post #2 of 122

The purpose of a draw or fade is to keep your misses to one side.

 

When you hit *straight*, you could miss left or right.

post #3 of 122
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by meenman View Post

The purpose of a draw or fade is to keep your misses to one side.

 

When you hit *straight*, you could miss left or right.

So people who hit a draw only miss left, and fades only miss right?  It seems to me you could miss any shot left or right.  Obviously I don't know much about this subject which is why I asked the question.  Does fading or drawing have anything to do with how far the ball goes.  It seems hitting it straight would have more distance.

post #4 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by SCfanatic35 View Post

So people who hit a draw only miss left, and fades only miss right?  It seems to me you could miss any shot left or right.  Obviously I don't know much about this subject which is why I asked the question.  Does fading or drawing have anything to do with how far the ball goes.  It seems hitting it straight would have more distance.

I can tell you that a draw will generally go further than a fade - but fact is you really cant hit a ball straight - it goes right or left at least a bit.

 

But yes, missing left or right consistently is part of golf course management. 

 

If there is trouble on the right, you want to draw the ball.

post #5 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by meenman View Post

The purpose of a draw or fade is to keep your misses to one side.

 

 

I disagree. Hitting a draw is just as likely to go further left than intended as it to not go as far left as intended. If you consider an objective target line, i.e. not exactly where you align but where you plan the ball to end up, you are just as apt to miss on either side of that line with a draw as you are to miss left or right when attempting to hit "straight."

 

It is actually possible to hit a ball perfectly straight. If you hit the ball in a vacuum (devoid of all matter except for you, your club, and the ball) and with no determining factors other than the angle of the club face and the club path (no wind, for example), it is possible to hit a ball straight. To do this, you would simply need the club path to be parallel with the target line at impact, with the club face exactly perpendicular to the club path/target line at impact. Obviously when out on the course there are an infinite number of other factors that affect ball flight, so yes you are 100% correct in saying that it's pretty much impossible to hit a ball exactly straight.

 

Furthermore, to explain why a draw will go farther than a fade, it has to do with centrifugal force. When you rotate your body, your arms swing out in an arc basically, if you looked straight down at yourself swinging and followed your hands, they would make a half-circle path as you swing. If you think about how to hit a fade - slightly out to in club path with a slightly open face - your club/arms are not traveling on the same circular path as the rotation of your body is, so you are losing some of the centrifugal force generated by your body rotation. If you hit a draw, your hands are more likely to be in sync with the rotation of your body, so the swing has more of the force generated by that rotation and voila! Draw goes further than fade.


Edited by Casey - 2/9/13 at 7:48pm
post #6 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Casey View Post

 

I disagree. Hitting a draw is just as likely to go further left than intended as it to not go as far left as intended. If you consider an objective target line, i.e. not exactly where you align but where you plan the ball to end up, you are just as apt to miss on either side of that line with a draw as you are to miss left or right when attempting to hit "straight."

But the miss is still to the left side of the course, thus eliminating half of the course for your miss.

post #7 of 122

Most pro golfers will tell you that when they hit a ball straight, it's an accident (and usually an undesirable accident).  The ball is simply not designed to go straight, and the slightest miss hit will add sidespin, which will make the ball turn one way or the other.  It's easier to hit the ball straighter with a highly lofted club like a PW or SW, but even they don't usually go dead straight, and the driver is the hardest to hit straight because it has the lowest loft.  As a rule, the more backspin you impart, the less sidespin you will get.

post #8 of 122
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fourputt View Post

As a rule, the more backspin you impart, the less sidespin you will get.

This might explain why I have very little movement if any.  I seem to have a lot of backspin on my shots.  I guess my math brain can't wrap it's head around the idea that hitting it straighter isn't hitting it farther.  It seems to me that when things go in a straight line that would optimize distance and having something curve will reduce the distance hit.  So that must mean that the spin on the ball compensates it somehow.

 

So I'm guessing great golfers can draw or fade the ball whenever they want, otherwise hitting a draw on a dogleg right would be a bad thing most of the time.

post #9 of 122

You're right that all else being equal, a straight shot will go the furthest. However the mechanics of an in-to-out swing path is generally the most efficient way to generate speed. And an in-to-out path favours a draw shot, although there have been many good players who played a fade with an in-to-out path too.

 

One of the big advantages of hitting a consistent fade or draw is when considering wind. When you spin the ball into the wind (say a left to right wind and a draw shot for a right hander) the ball will travel a little shorter and probably not move far off line. When you spin the ball with the wind it will go further and move quite a long way off line. If you know which of these you're going to get, it's much easier to plan your shot.

 

If you're hitting it straight, unless you get it absolutely dead straight, you'll get at least a little spin one way or the other. If you're not sure which way it's going to spin then it could be a bit short and straight, or long and a long way off line with the wind. Pretty hard to plan your shot.

 

You'll also find that good players will have learnt how to guard against one miss. So it's not the fact that they hit a draw that means they never hit a fade, but more that they've worked out their swing in such a way as they will almost never fade/slice. So they can be pretty confident with holes with trouble down the right. Trouble down the left and they play more conservatively.

 

I'm sure there are people out there to try to hit it straight but have worked things out so they have a one way miss, but I think they're probably in the minority.

post #10 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Casey View Post

I disagree. Hitting a draw is just as likely to go further left than intended as it to not go as far left as intended. If you consider an objective target line, i.e. not exactly where you align but where you plan the ball to end up, you are just as apt to miss on either side of that line with a draw as you are to miss left or right when attempting to hit "straight."

It is actually possible to hit a ball perfectly straight. If you hit the ball in a vacuum (devoid of all matter except for you, your club, and the ball) and with no determining factors other than the angle of the club face and the club path (no wind, for example), it is possible to hit a ball straight. To do this, you would simply need the club path to be parallel with the target line at impact, with the club face exactly perpendicular to the club path/target line at impact. Obviously when out on the course there are an infinite number of other factors that affect ball flight, so yes you are 100% correct in saying that it's pretty much impossible to hit a ball exactly straight.

Furthermore, to explain why a draw will go farther than a fade, it has to do with centrifugal force. When you rotate your body, your arms swing out in an arc basically, if you looked straight down at yourself swinging and followed your hands, they would make a half-circle path as you swing. If you think about how to hit a fade - slightly out to in club path with a slightly open face - your club/arms are not traveling on the same circular path as the rotation of your body is, so you are losing some of the centrifugal force generated by your body rotation. If you hit a draw, your hands are more likely to be in sync with the rotation of your body, so the swing has more of the force generated by that rotation and voila! Draw goes further than fade.

What if I hit the ball with my club still moving out, but just open the face up a bit more. I could still hit a fade with an inside out path. Draws don't always go further than fades.
post #11 of 122

Certain shapes of shots will often work better on a given hole; a hole that slopes right to left will add a kick on draws or cushion a fade. The drive also can land a bit earlier than a straight one aimed at the same target without rolling into trouble. If the fairway is on an angle and is 20 yards wide at the landing area, there's more to aim at depth wise if you curve it along the fairway. The angle the ball comes in is important so you don't hit through the fairway and you can avoid overhanging branches around the tees.

post #12 of 122

You guys should check out what Trackman is telling us. Really interesting stuff.

 

I might have gotten some stuff wrong here, so please offer corrections where you find them. Thanks, guys. I'm learning too.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SCfanatic35 View Post

Is there anything wrong with hitting a golf ball straight?  Are there any professionals that hit it straight, or do they all have a draw or fade? 

 

It seems that everytime I hit a great shot, the ball goes perfectly straight.  What are the advantages or disadvantages to hitting it straight, fade or draw?  I imagine that having the ability to draw it or fade it will help on certain shots based on what you need to do. 

 

Hitting the ball "straight" in a literal sense (meaning, where you are aiming) is quite difficult to do, as alluded to above. The swing path, the club face angle, and the target line all have to match perfectly.

 

Pros, for the most part though, hit extremely tight draws or fades that appear relatively straight to the naked eye. They only have a few yards of curve on them. To many, those are considered "straight shots" even though they aren't. All my best shots have this type of flight, and some of my more obnoxious flights have too much draw curve on them, where they push way out to the right and then draw back to the center. Some, like Bubba Watson, play with a ton of curve, but its generally better to have less than more.

 

Here are some protracer vids though to give you an idea of what they're doing:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by meenman View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by SCfanatic35 View Post

So people who hit a draw only miss left, and fades only miss right?  It seems to me you could miss any shot left or right.  Obviously I don't know much about this subject which is why I asked the question.  Does fading or drawing have anything to do with how far the ball goes.  It seems hitting it straight would have more distance.

I can tell you that a draw will generally go further than a fade - but fact is you really cant hit a ball straight - it goes right or left at least a bit.

 

But yes, missing left or right consistently is part of golf course management. 

 

If there is trouble on the right, you want to draw the ball.

 

A ball struck with a left leaning axis has no reason to go any farther than a ball struck with a right leaning axis. Trackman, once again, to the rescue. All things being equal, a draw does not go farther than a fade. 

 

To your third point, you don't want to hit a draw if there is trouble on the right if your shot is a fade, and vice versa. PGA Tour players play their stock shot most of the time, regardless of hole design or pin location. The reason is because even for pros, changing their ball flight from fade to draw or vice versa is extremely difficult to do consistently. For amateurs to even attempt to this is simply a poor on-the-course decision to be making. Bubba Watson and some others are the exception to the rule, but a PGA tour pro will generally not attempt to alter his shot shape like that unless he desperately needs to make birdie to make a cut or win a tournament. And even then, you might not even see him do it.

 

Shots hit high and to the right have open club faces and more loft. Shots hit low and to the left have closed clubfaces and less loft. The former will launch higher and roll less, and the latter will launch lower and roll more. Differences in distance have nothing to do with the directionality of the spin axis, but rather the differences in effective loft at impact.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Casey View Post

 

Furthermore, to explain why a draw will go farther than a fade, it has to do with centrifugal force. When you rotate your body, your arms swing out in an arc basically, if you looked straight down at yourself swinging and followed your hands, they would make a half-circle path as you swing. If you think about how to hit a fade - slightly out to in club path with a slightly open face - your club/arms are not traveling on the same circular path as the rotation of your body is, so you are losing some of the centrifugal force generated by your body rotation. If you hit a draw, your hands are more likely to be in sync with the rotation of your body, so the swing has more of the force generated by that rotation and voila! Draw goes further than fade.

 

The shorter hitting fader you are referring to in this post tends to only be the high handicapper. He doesn't get his weight forward enough, doesn't hit the ball with shaft lean, flips his hands, loses his inclination to the ground, etc. etc. The professional who hits a fade -- all things being equal -- would hit the ball the same distance using a draw shot. The draw goes farther in comparison to the amateurish fader because that player gets his weight more forward and hits the ball with his hands ahead of the golf ball at impact, among other good pieces.  

 

But besides the clubface-path relationship, understanding where the ball is struck on the clubface further determines spin factors. This is known as the "gear effect" where shots struck on the toe tend to increase one's draw or decrease one's fade. Shots struck on the heel tend to increase one's fade or decrease one's draw. I mention this because amateurs miss the sweet spot about half the time, and this can further confuse players as to why their shots lack power. A drawer of the golf ball tends to get his weight forward and handle forward more often, so he is more likely to find the sweet spot versus the crappy fader. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by meenman View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Casey View Post

 

I disagree. Hitting a draw is just as likely to go further left than intended as it to not go as far left as intended. If you consider an objective target line, i.e. not exactly where you align but where you plan the ball to end up, you are just as apt to miss on either side of that line with a draw as you are to miss left or right when attempting to hit "straight."

But the miss is still to the left side of the course, thus eliminating half of the course for your miss.

 

A draw player can miss left with a hook or right with a block. Both have the same swing path but differing club face angles. The same is said of the fader who can hit pulls and slices. A really good player can eliminate one side of the course (see Ben Hogan) but I hit a draw, and I miss both left and right.... not saying it can't be done, but just because you hit a draw doesn't mean you can't miss way right too. Trust me, it sucks! a3_biggrin.gif

 

And honestly, I hit a draw and would rather miss right than left most of the time. Can't stand over-drawing it or hooking it.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fourputt View Post
 As a rule, the more backspin you impart, the less sidespin you will get.

 

Trackman has proven that there is actually no such thing as side spin. There is only backspin on a spin axis. And the more that axis tilts, the more the ball will curve. 

 

***

 

For those of you who like this type of stuff and would like to play around with and learn more about it, play with this flightscope program that offers simulations on trajectory:

 

http://www.flightscope.com/index.php/Technology-Explained/trajectory-optimizer.html

post #13 of 122

And that tilt is caused by adding a lateral force vector (or sidespin) to the back spin.  Since a solid object can't spin in 2 directions at once, the combination of backspin and sidespin creates a tilt in the spin axis.  The more lateral force that's applied, the more tilt in the axis, ultimately resulting in drastic hooks and slices.

post #14 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by JetFan1983 View Post

A draw player can miss left with a hook or right with a block. Both have the same swing path but differing club face angles. The same is said of the fader who can hit pulls and slices. A really good player can eliminate one side of the course (see Ben Hogan) but I hit a draw, and I miss both left and right.... not saying it can't be done, but just because you hit a draw doesn't mean you can't miss way right too. Trust me, it sucks! a3_biggrin.gif

 

And honestly, I hit a draw and would rather miss right than left most of the time. Can't stand over-drawing it or hooking it.

Jetfan, your whole post was great, but I just want to elaborate on one part.  When I get this question, the answer always seems really straightforward in my head, it just never comes out that way.  But let's try it again with an example:

 

Of course, if you play a draw or a fade you can miss both ways, however, to miss one of the ways, you really have to miss.  If you are trying to hit it straight, you aim down the center of the fairway and you have 1/2 of the fairway to miss on either side and still be OK.  (And because it's virtually impossible to hit it straight, then you don't know where it's going to go)  If you play a draw - just to pick one - and you are reasonably confident in said draw, then you are eliminating the right side of the course because now you can aim down the left side of the fairway.  If it draws like you planned, a little less than planned, or even if you block it and hit a straight push, then you are still in the fairway.  The only way to miss the fairway (without making a really bad swing and hitting a push-cut) is to over-draw it.  And course management can factor in to help you keep yourself out of trouble in these cases, obviously you wouldn't aim down the left side of the fairway if there is trouble left, as one example.

 

I believe that there is a thread on here that Erik started about "shot cones" that much better explains what I'm eluding to above.  One of the simplified axioms regarding playing a draw or a fade is that your ball will usually be curving towards your target, whereas if you aim at your target and try to hit it straight, your ball is pretty much guaranteed to be curving away from your target.

post #15 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fourputt View Post

And that tilt is caused by adding a lateral force vector (or sidespin) to the back spin.  Since a solid object can't spin in 2 directions at once, the combination of backspin and sidespin creates a tilt in the spin axis.  The more lateral force that's applied, the more tilt in the axis, ultimately resulting in drastic hooks and slices.

 

Yea, that part I wasn't sure about. Thanks for the post. So I guess ultimately, side-spin is really just a poor term because it implies the ball is spinning sideways? And that the backspin is generally always a lot greater than the side spin, so that tilt is only by a handful of degrees. Agree or disagree?

 

 


Quote:
Originally Posted by Golfingdad View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by JetFan1983 View Post

A draw player can miss left with a hook or right with a block. Both have the same swing path but differing club face angles. The same is said of the fader who can hit pulls and slices. A really good player can eliminate one side of the course (see Ben Hogan) but I hit a draw, and I miss both left and right.... not saying it can't be done, but just because you hit a draw doesn't mean you can't miss way right too. Trust me, it sucks! a3_biggrin.gif

 

And honestly, I hit a draw and would rather miss right than left most of the time. Can't stand over-drawing it or hooking it.

Jetfan, your whole post was great, but I just want to elaborate on one part.  When I get this question, the answer always seems really straightforward in my head, it just never comes out that way.  But let's try it again with an example:

 

Of course, if you play a draw or a fade you can miss both ways, however, to miss one of the ways, you really have to miss.  If you are trying to hit it straight, you aim down the center of the fairway and you have 1/2 of the fairway to miss on either side and still be OK.  (And because it's virtually impossible to hit it straight, then you don't know where it's going to go)  If you play a draw - just to pick one - and you are reasonably confident in said draw, then you are eliminating the right side of the course because now you can aim down the left side of the fairway.  If it draws like you planned, a little less than planned, or even if you block it and hit a straight push, then you are still in the fairway.  The only way to miss the fairway (without making a really bad swing and hitting a push-cut) is to over-draw it.  And course management can factor in to help you keep yourself out of trouble in these cases, obviously you wouldn't aim down the left side of the fairway if there is trouble left, as one example.

 

I believe that there is a thread on here that Erik started about "shot cones" that much better explains what I'm eluding to above.  One of the simplified axioms regarding playing a draw or a fade is that your ball will usually be curving towards your target, whereas if you aim at your target and try to hit it straight, your ball is pretty much guaranteed to be curving away from your target.

 

 

Good points, GD. Yea, shot coning is a good way to think about it too. Some guys do aim at the junk and then curve it away from it, but yea, thanks for the follow up here. Makes sense to me.

post #16 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fourputt View Post

And that tilt is caused by adding a lateral force vector (or sidespin) to the back spin.  Since a solid object can't spin in 2 directions at once, the combination of backspin and sidespin creates a tilt in the spin axis.  The more lateral force that's applied, the more tilt in the axis, ultimately resulting in drastic hooks and slices.

 

Rick, I know what you're trying to say, but no, there's no such thing as "sidespin" nor is there really a "combination" of them. It's just one spin, that's tilted most of the time. It's still convenient to think about sidespin though, but less so than spin axis. Is 250 RPM side spin a lot? If you're only talking about 2500 total spin, yeah. If you're talking about 7500, no. "Sidespin" is just the spin axis converted to two components. So you're both right, but again, there's really no such thing as "sidespin." It's just a sometimes (increasingly less so) convenient way to imagine spin or describe a shot.

post #17 of 122
Let me answer the initial question.

There's NOTHING wrong with hitting the ball straight......

....the problem is, very few people can consistently do so!
post #18 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by David in FL View Post

Let me answer the initial question.

There's NOTHING wrong with hitting the ball straight......

....the problem is, very few people can consistently do so!

 

Yep.

 

It can be somewhat psychologically damaging to almost never have a ball curving towards the target, though. :)

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