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Born with Clubface Control

iacas

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The next time you're on the range, try this:

  • Get out your 8-iron.
  • Select a target about 80-90% of your normal 8I distance away.
  • Grip the club with an excessive, extreme strong grip. Take one swing with the sole goal of hitting the ball to the target, without much curve.
  • Grip the club with an excessive, extreme weak grip. Take one swing with the sole goal of hitting the ball to the target, without much curve.

That's it. Two swings. No practice…

How'd you do?

If you can hit the ball toward the target with both grips, you likely have an innate, natural sense of clubface control. Congratulations… at least one part of golf is probably fairly simple for you.

If you cannot, you can work on developing clubface control. There are a bunch of ways to do this, and listing them or detailing them is too much for this short post here, but I am curious to hear about not only the results of the brief test above, but how you think you might go about learning clubface control.



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@iacas

A lot of folks here are very shut at the top. 

As far as the semantics point,  you have to admit clubface control is a difficult thing to describe.

However I would posit that things are happening so fast at the bottom that we almost truly get a sense of them from memory more than we actual CONTROL the exact alignment at impact.

I know when my six iron will be a little right without looking up. That's experience. Memory and learning.

In fact no golfer truly has control.  Pros do well but they do not have control.

Edited by Jack Watson

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7 minutes ago, Jack Watson said:

A lot of folks here are very shut at the top.

So are some Tour players. Heck, I had a very good golfer trying out for the college team last year whose clubface pointed BEHIND him at the top. Not toward the sky more than you want, but literally to his the camera's left filmed down the line. Wasn't a student of mine at all. Returned the clubface in almost the same position (slightly right pointing) every time. Very good clubface control.

I don't know that I agree with you that "a lot of folks here" are anything. Never mind the fact that I have no idea what "a lot" means to you.

7 minutes ago, Jack Watson said:

As far as the semantics point,  you have to admit clubface control is a difficult thing to describe.

Clubface Control: doing what's necessary to return the clubface to a desirable position at impact.

I found that pretty easy to describe.

7 minutes ago, Jack Watson said:

However I would posit that things are happening so fast at the bottom that we almost truly get a sense of them from memory more than we actual CONTROL the exact alignment at impact.

"Control" doesn't have to be "active" nor does it have to be "at the bottom" of the swing. Like I said, you're seeming to take it more as "manipulation." That's not it.

You're all kinds of off-base here.

7 minutes ago, Jack Watson said:

I know when my six iron will be a little right without looking up. That's experience. Memory and learning.

In fact no golfer truly has control.  Pros do well but they do not have control.

Uhhh… no. You're wrong.

Good players do things that help them return the clubface to a desirable position at impact. Bad golfers do things that hinder their ability to do so.

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@iacas This sounds like an awesome experiment! I'm gonna try this tomorrow if I get out to the practice tee. Curious, how did you do when you did it? Is this something you thought of? I don't believe I've ever come across this test.

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3 minutes ago, Vinsk said:

@iacas This sounds like an awesome experiment! I'm gonna try this tomorrow if I get out to the practice tee. Curious, how did you do when you did it? Is this something you thought of? I don't believe I've ever come across this test.

I striped two over the flag. This is one of the reasons why I've always been a pretty good golfer. It's also why I was a good hitter in baseball - I could put the ball between the first and second basemen if that was my goal (say, a runner on second base) more often than not, and much more often than most other players.

I generally keep my ball inside the ropes.

I don't know if I came up with it. I'm sure someone's done it before me. I don't recall reading about it anywhere, if that means anything (it doesn't to me - almost everything is recycled). "Everything is a Remix."


As kids we used to have our buddy yell "low fade" during our backswing and then we'd have to hit that shot.

The other day I'd say "left" or "right" or "straight" to try to train one of my college golfers to feel what those things felt like, by actively creating them in the middle of his swing. That's NOT what "control" means - he was learning what they felt like. Because before that, he'd hit a duck hook (started way left) and then a big block… and he'd say they felt almost the same.

We eventually arrived at him setting up with a square clubface and then feeling that he holds it off a little through impact. That works much better - for him - than what he was doing previously: setting up with a right-pointing clubface and trying to time his "release."

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Quick story about clubface control which I'm sure many of you have already heard. When Nicklaus hit that famous 1-iron on 17 in '72 he said he felt he took the club back a little too shut and had to hold it off more coming into impact. That's an example at obviously a high level. Some players just have a better sense of the sweetspot than others.

1 hour ago, Jack Watson said:

In a good swing you don't CONTROL the face.  Face angle consistency at impact is exactly that.  It stems from consistency of all aspects and swingpath really affects this.

Anyone selling the idea that you CONTROL the face to me is being semantically inaccurate.

You're misinterpreting what Key #5 is about, @iacas already replied to you but it's not about "manipulating" the face during the swing.

1 hour ago, Jack Watson said:

A lot of folks here are very shut at the top. 

Where? Mine is (by design a bit) but I don't see it with most people that post their swings. Also not everyone that posts their swings is a 5SK student.

Being a little shut is a lot better than being open. This is mostly my opinion, not something from 5SK.

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If nothing else, this blog entry and challenge had me thinking about and working on key #5 this morning.

How my wrists hinge throughout the take-away and backswing seems to control what the club head does - more so than trying to manipulate the rotation. It just kind of happens naturally (not saying any of what's happening is right :-P).

Please correct me if I'm wrong.

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 I think I have gotten fairly good at spotting a hook or a straight push coming on mid way through the downswing. 

While not much I can do mid swing clubface wise that would prevent it but I instinctively let up on 'pressure' to minimize damage. I still hit hooks and straight pushes regularly but not as many result in jail or OB as they used to. Definitely a learned instinct.

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12 hours ago, iacas said:

It's not about the contact. If it hooked 20 yards, you probably failed. Key #5 is about clubface control, not solidness of contact.

Oh I know I failed it haha! I planned on the hook, so it ended up about where I wanted it, but I knew I wasn't going to keep it straight.

9 minutes ago, GolfLug said:

 I think I have gotten fairly good at spotting a hook or a straight push coming on mid way through the downswing. 

While not much I can do mid swing clubface wise that would prevent it but I instinctively let up on 'pressure' to minimize damage. I still hit hooks and straight pushes regularly but not as many result in jail or OB as they used to. Definitely a learned instinct.

This is me.  I am screaming "NO!" as I hit the ball when I know it's a bad swing.  I can't change anything mid-swing.  I have to stay committed.

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Very week grip, the left hand thumb just left of 12 on the grip produced a 30 yard push cut. 

The very strong grip, left hand thumb just shy of 3 on the grip produced a big pull draw. 

Bad club face control for me. 

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2 hours ago, JonMA1 said:

If nothing else, this blog entry and challenge had me thinking about and working on key #5 this morning.

How my wrists hinge throughout the take-away and backswing seems to control what the club head does - more so than trying to manipulate the rotation. It just kind of happens naturally (not saying any of what's happening is right :-P).

Please correct me if I'm wrong.

There's a lot of factors that contribute to your clubface control, not just your hands and wrists.

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26 minutes ago, billchao said:

There's a lot of factors that contribute to your clubface control, not just your hands and wrists.

That makes sense - it doesn't take much to screw things up in a full swing. Even if my hands and wrists were doing the exact same thing on every swing (they're not), if I stopped my backswing too short, or my tempo was off, or any number of other things, I could understand where it would have an effect on the club face.

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Extreme strong: Pretty solid but drew about 10' off flag

Exteme weak: Less solid and faded gently. 

Classic: Posted this...went to do again just to see how I'd do: 

Shank.

Shank.

Golf is hard.

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1 hour ago, billchao said:

There's a lot of factors that contribute to your clubface control, not just your hands and wrists.

Yeah, super strong, a lot more rotated @ impact no?

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1 hour ago, nevets88 said:

Yeah, super strong, a lot more rotated @ impact no?

What I was talking about is that your mechanics affect how the clubface returns to impact, not just your hands and wrists. I wasn't specifically referring to this test.

As to your question, yea that's how I would attempt to do it with the super strong grip.

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First shots after warming up with some short game.

Extreme strong was dead straight on target. Well struck.

Extreme weak felt really awkward. Started on target but curved 5-7 meters off target to the right. Struck ok.

 

Its pretty much what I wouldve expected. Ive always been more comfortable with a strong grip. For me atleast grip doesnt effect feeling how face is oriented. A good grip for me just means less "work" to square the face to impact.

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I tried this a couple of days ago. I'm not 100% sure I was extreme enough, but my two shots were pretty much exactly the same. They both had a baby draw, but started left of the target. I ended up about 10 yards to the left of where I was aiming, but both shots ended up in the same place with the same ball flight.

So I guess I'm consistent, but the face is closed. That's expected based on my swing video and my results on the course.

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Tried this.

Extreme weak grip.  Horrible thin shot.  Felt like I was dislocating some important joint when doing it!

Extreme strong grip.  Managed to land it with a push draw about 10 yds left of target.

Currently, I'm learning that a harder left hand grip pressure feeling allows me to start on a push line more.  Really loosening up brings a pull start line into play.  For me this is one way I am learning to feel the club face.

As I improve I can also feel mid swing if my timing of body rotation is good or bad.  If good, the club face returns to square/slightly open.  If bad i either pull or get some extra unconscious manipulation thing happening  Which is usually not helpful!

 

Edited by carri10

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I'm surprised no one has put up a video of themselves trying this.

So I will...

As with most things in the golf swing, the feeling of extreme really isn't as extreme as it actually is.

The right hand kept on creeping back around.

They both started off the same, a little right of my intended target.

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On 9/14/2017 at 11:42 AM, billchao said:

I'll test this sometime soon, but my gut says no.

I was right. Strong grip started on my target line and drew about 15 yards left of target, which actually isn't much different than my normal miss. Weak grip pushed right of my target line and held its line with maybe a slight fade at the end, 15 yards right of target. Funny how I use two extremely different grips and hit equal but opposite misses. Path was consistent at least but that's not Key #5.

I wonder if that means I should be playing a weaker grip because it aligns more with my path. I've tried learning clubface control in the past by sticking an alignment stick out in the range and trying to curve balls around it, but I can't hit a pull-fade with any consistency. I can generally hit the ball left or right of the stick on command but anything left of the stick is not very playable.

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I hit a low draw that started left and ended up a little less than 20 yards left of target with extremely strong grip. It felt like I had to fight off my clubface releasing closed just to avoid a hard trap draw. With a weak grip I hit a slight push fade that started just right of target and finished about 10 yards right. 

 

It was an eye opening experience in that it got me to focus so much more on my grip, hands, and wrists.  

 

Over the last week, I've hit about 400 balls really focusing on my clubface control. For one thing, I understand the ball flight laws, but in practice I never realized how much slight-- previously unconscious-- movements that might close or open the club face can dramatically alter the shot result. I know I typically hit draws despite not wanting to, but I just didn't think too hard about what was happening, at least in my hands. I realized I have a tendency when I take my normal grip (top hand neutral, bottom hand slightly strong) to have the clubface at impact slightly closed relative to address, probably only a few degrees By having my clubface a few degrees open to the line I want my ball to start on, I was able to actually do what I was intending to do. By changing my grip a little (moving the bottom hand weaker) and feeling like I held off release, I could have a square clubface at address and impact, but I was less consistent, and it definitely felt like I was fighting my swing a little. 

 

It's a great topic. 

 

On 9/15/2017 at 11:16 PM, iacas said:

It's also why I was a good hitter in baseball - I could put the ball between the first and second basemen if that was my goal (say, a runner on second base) more often than not, and much more often than most other players.

 

I was a good hitter in baseball but that just seems so much easier, the tolerance for error is much higher. But the analogy has made me be more aware in general of the clubface. 

 

 

 

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