# Confusing Ball Flight Information - followup

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I started with a new instructor this weekend, and I'm trying to figure out if he knows what he's talking about or he's throwing up alot of smoke and mirrors.  Basic swing theory he subscribes to is the direction one is swinging at ball contact determines the direction the ball will take.

He claims and demonstrated that regardless of how the face of the club is at impact (open or too closed) he can send the ball in the direction he wants based on the path of his swing.  His reasoning is that the direction of the force at impact will override the face angle and project the ball in the direction of the swing path.

To demonstrate; He lined up to hit the ball straight, severely closed the club face and asked me to predict where the ball would, go, I said left.  He hit the ball straight and to the right with a slight draw.  He claims this was done by directing his left leg and hip to the right during his swing.  He repeated the same ball address, only severely opened the face, asked me to predict again, I said right, but he hit the ball left with a slight fade.  According to him it was same swing, only directing his left leg to the left.  He then hit 5 out of 5 straight down the middle with a closed club face, same address as before.

Any thoughts?

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He is wrong. Just because he sets the club closed at address doesn't mean it'll be closed at impact. If he severly closed the clubface and the ball started straight, he hit the ball with a square clubface. Show him these videos:

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Originally Posted by Zeph

He is wrong. Just because he sets the club closed at address doesn't mean it'll be closed at impact. If he severly closed the clubface and the ball started straight, he hit the ball with a square clubface. Show him these videos:

Thanks Zeph, I thought he was off given what I've read on here, but wanted to make sure before I questioned him.

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Originally Posted by newtogolf

Thanks Zeph, I thought he was off given what I've read on here, but wanted to make sure before I questioned him.

Do you want to question him, or do you want to just ask for a refund and take your business elsewhere?

I'm not suggesting you be confrontational, but in my mind there's no excuse for getting such basic information wrong these days. How a ball flies the way it does is not an opinion.

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Originally Posted by iacas

Do you want to question him, or do you want to just ask for a refund and take your business elsewhere?

I'm not suggesting you be confrontational, but in my mind there's no excuse for getting such basic information wrong these days. How a ball flies the way it does is not an opinion.

Agree 100% Just leave. It's funny how guys like Manuel De La Torre were using the "new" ball flight laws decades before anyone else figured them out. I guess prior to that everyone just figured they sucked at hitting fades and draws!

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Originally Posted by iacas

Do you want to question him, or do you want to just ask for a refund and take your business elsewhere?

I'm not suggesting you be confrontational, but in my mind there's no excuse for getting such basic information wrong these days. How a ball flies the way it does is not an opinion.

I'm in no position to question a PGA certified instructors knowledge given my limited amount.  What I meant by question was to ask him to clarify why what he was saying was contrary to what I've read in books and seen on here.   He did point out some fundamental flaws with my swing (too much arms) but when he got into ball flight laws they didn't seem right.  He got pretty salesy on how everyone else was wrong, and he was talking basic physics, so I just listened.  I didn't commit to lessons with him despite the hard sell he was giving me.  Guess I'll keep looking... thanks.

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If he's a competent instructor, he should have video available when he's giving lessons so you can see your swing.  If so, have him show you the video of those 'example' swings and see what the actual clubface was doing through the impact zone.

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As you are just starting out, there are many things for you to learn before worrying about ball flight laws. Yes, they will become more important with time, but right now you need to master the basics such as a solid grip, good posture, good alignment, good impact position etc.  If your current pro can get you to do those things, and you connect with and understand what he is saying and are making improvement, I say stick with him.  If, however, you don't have confidence in what he is saying, then go elsewhere.

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Give his method a try.  As you can tell by what's going on in the PGA, not every instructor is for every golfer.  If he can teach you how to do what he does, it might improve your game.

Edited

I just watched the videos that Zeph posted (thanks) and the instructor may technically be right but I think he is forgetting that the path of the swing has an instant effect on the ball direction, either left or right of center, but side spin takes time to work.  His slow motion swings prove his point but are not imparting realistically proportionally forces to the ball.  Simple vectoring tells me that, if the face is open 10*, roughly 81% of the force on the ball is on the swing line (with a square face giving 100% force) with 19% going to side spin.

I wonder how the instructor in the video would teach hitting a draw from the right edge to the middle of the fairway.  It seems that he would say to square your club face with the right side of the fairway...but then what?  How does he plan on getting the ball to work back to the left?

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Since i can produce very high shots, i tend to go over my obstructions than around.

Though i have found that i can gauge how much it will curve by gut feeling. I have to really try to turn one over right to left. but for the fade, i usually try to push fade it more. So i will aim the club were i want it to start out at, then open my stance and guage how much curve i will get if i swing along my normal swing path. To make sure i do, i do not look to the target, because that will cause me to not swing normal, i will look to were my body is aiming. This will get my mind to swing with my body aiming.

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Originally Posted by pound puppy

I just watched the videos that Zeph posted (thanks) and the instructor may technically be right but I think he is forgetting that the path of the swing has an instant effect on the ball direction, either left or right of center, but side spin takes time to work. His slow motion swings prove his point but are not imparting realistically proportionally forces to the ball.  Simple vectoring tells me that, if the face is open 10*, roughly 81% of the force on the ball is on the swing line (with a square face giving 100% force) with 19% going to side spin.

I wonder how the instructor in the video would teach hitting a draw from the right edge to the middle of the fairway.  It seems that he would say to square your club face with the right side of the fairway...but then what?  How does he plan on getting the ball to work back to the left?

I could be wrong, but you don't seem to have a grasp of the ball flight laws: http://thesandtrap.com/b/playing_tips/ball_flight_laws .

The instructor would tell you to aim the face where you want the ball to start and to make the ball curve by swinging to the right of the face.

There's no "instant effect on the ball direction." The face is responsible for roughly 85%... period.

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Random thoughts:

Hitting baseballs reminds me of the ball flight laws. It's easy to getting a feel for how the ball's initial flight direction is very reliant on deflection. Imagine a swing path intended to hit the ball straight over second base. Contacting the ball on the bottom of the barrel may result in a foul ball into the dirt or a dribbler to the pitcher. Hit the ball too high on the barrel and it's a foul ball back to the screen or a pop fly. Hit the ball too early and it could be straight to the short stop. Too late - right at the second baseman. Regardless of the path the bat takes, where and when the ball is struck affects the direction of the hit. Hitting the ball on or off the sweet also has an effect on distance and on the hitter's ability to keep the bat travelling through the ball with power - hitting a ball off the end of the bat is like hitting blades from the 1960s off the toe.  : (

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There are no exceptions to ball flight.  There is a distinct marriage between club path and face angle.  Swing out side in wit a square face and the ball will curve to the right.  Swing inside out with a square face and the ball will curve left.  Change the face angle and you can either accentuate or negate some of the effect of swing path.

This guy sounds like a tool.

When he hit a ball dead straight with a closed face at set up I can guarantee you that the face was not closed at impact.

I've been playing many years and could easily repeat what you saw here by simply manipulating my swing path and hands through the ball for the desired ball flight regardless of what the set up is.

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As you can see, the initial direction of the ball never drops down to 60%. On average with a 9 iron it's around 70%, 75% with 6 iron and 85% with the driver.

If you aim the clubface at the target with a 6 iron and swing 10º in-to-out, the ball will start around 2-3º to the right of the target. Because of the sidespin, it will cross the target line over to the left side.

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So around 70% of the initial direction is influenced by face angle, 30% by swing path.  Then explain why you say aiming the clubface directly to the target will then produce a shot that starts out directly at the target.  Would it not be more accurate to say that the ball would start out 30% away from the initial face angle toward the swing path?  And, if that is the case, that poor old tree that you would always hit directly into would actually be safe, no?

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Originally Posted by Harmonious

So around 70% of the initial direction is influenced by face angle, 30% by swing path.  Then explain why you say aiming the clubface directly to the target will then produce a shot that starts out directly at the target.  Would it not be more accurate to say that the ball would start out 30% away from the initial face angle toward the swing path?  And, if that is the case, that poor old tree that you would always hit directly into would actually be safe, no?

Do the math. The tree is still gonna get hit because 30% is not enough to miss the tree. If the far left edge (assuming a cut) just outside the edge of the tree is "where you want to start the ball" and the target is in the middle of the tree, 30% is never going to be enough to miss the tree. You'd have to aim more than 3x farther left to miss the tree relying on the 30% contribution from the path.

To put some numbers on it, if the tree is 10 degrees wide, a path contribution of 25% (light rough) means you're swinging 41 degrees left in order to miss the tree. If the tree is only 5 degrees wide (that's a really skinny tree, or one that's far enough away you might just be better off going over it) that's 21 degrees left. That's a heck of a lot left and would produce a massive, horrible slice that would be well short and right of the final target (assuming you don't keep clubbing up...).

And that's assuming 30%, which is clearly just the 9I numbers (who tries to slice 9Is around trees???). Go to a 6-iron and the raw number from a clean lie goes to 25%, and from a light rough more like 20%, which means even the 5 degree tree requires 26 degrees to miss the tree.

Yes, what you said is "more accurate," but again it's with a 9-iron. With a 6-iron, it's 75+% face. That's enough, as a teacher and a golfer, to say "the ball starts generally where the face is pointing, and curves due to the path relative to the face." Unless you're really good and really working hard with a Trackman or Flightscope, it's pointless to get any more precise than "the ball starts where the face is pointing."

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That is correct, the ball will never start 100% in the direction of the clubface angle, except if the FA and CP are at the same angle.

We often say that the ball starts in the direction of the clubface to make it easier, but yes, it will start 10-30% off the clubface angle.

If you are safe from the tree or not depends how big it is. The ball will have sidespin, so it will immediately spin towards the tree. In any way, the ball won't land on your target line if the clubface is aimed at the target at impact, and swingpath is outside of it. The ball may start 3 yards right of the target, but all the sidespin will send it too far left.

Defining how far you aim right, taking the 30% into account won't make things easier. The general saying is that you don't want the clubface aimed at the target at impact if you are shaping the ball. First you pick a starting line for the ball, depending on how much you shape the ball in the air. If you aim your swing path double the distance you aim the clubface off the target, you'll have a good starting point. Aim clubface 5º right and swing 10º right.

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Originally Posted by iacas

Yes, what you said is "more accurate," but again it's with a 9-iron. With a 6-iron, it's 75+% face. That's enough, as a teacher and a golfer, to say "the ball starts generally where the face is pointing, and curves due to the path relative to the face." Unless you're really good and really working hard with a Trackman or Flightscope, it's pointless to get any more precise than "the ball starts where the face is pointing."

OK, Eric, I'm going to mess with you a little bit, so take it as such.  Why is it OK for you to say "the ball starts GENERALLY (my emphasis) where the face is pointing, but someone else who says to "aim the clubface GENERALLY toward the target" is wrong, a bad instructor, etc.  I understand the  ball flight laws, and it sure seems that you are trying to have it both ways.

Example: I want to draw around a tree.  I set the clubface "generally" toward the target, say 2 degrees right of it.  I set up so my swing path is 10 degrees right of target. The ball should start out about 25-30% between the two, thus around 4 degrees right. Assuming I've done my calculating correctly, I'll make it around the tree and curve the ball to the target.  Your advice is to set up "generally" about 4 degrees right in order to miss that darn tree, make the swing path somewhere further right (how much, I don't know, I don't think you have ever said) in order to curve the ball exactly to the target.  Let's say you set up 10 degrees right, same as me.  Your ball will start our about 6 degrees right, then curve left.  Which one of us gets closer to the target?  If you are honest, you can't say for sure.  And that is my point.  Only through trial and error can either of us have any confidence that our setup and face angles are correct for that particular shot.

Zeph has already said that my shot would be too far left, but can you be certain that your shot wouldn't be too far right?  There are so many variables in this type of shot, that trying to use hard and fast ball flight laws to determine the outcome is, as you said, "pointless".

This is getting way into theoretical realms, but I think it's important for others, like the OP,  to understand that golf instruction shouldn't have to come with a ball flight litmus test.  I know you disagree, but if an instructor can get a beginning golfer to understand the fundamentals (grip, posture, alignment, impact) and to start to make consistently good contact, then he/she is doing a good job, IMO.

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Note: This thread is 3268 days old. We appreciate that you found this thread instead of starting a new one, but if you plan to post here please make sure it's still relevant. If not, please start a new topic. Thank you!

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