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Shaping the Ball


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Someone asked me to make a post talking about how I shape the golf ball, and it dovetails nicely with some work I've been doing with some students lately on how they can control their ball flight, so

I see that you bumped this thread with your questions and nobody has helped you yet, so I'll give it a shot.  Assuming that your swing path was along your body line and assuming that the clubface was

Saw this today and thought I'd share. Even though the 11th hole is a dogleg right both Rahm and Rory hit draws and found the fairway. They stuck with their stock pattern.

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Great article on how to shape the ball. Just knowing the ball flight laws has helped my swing tremendously. Especially when i get my pull fade in, i really start to think the right corrections i need. I'm starting to see bigger improvements, it hasn't shown up in the scoring yet, but i'm gaining a few shots per round of the type of ball flight i want to have majority of the time. So its getting there.

I have to agree with Kenny Perry, i really do like that way of thinking. I think that would help a lot of people if they knew they hit a fade or a draw, to really stop flag hunting. But i can understand if you play around of golf on a course that has a lot of pins on the right or left. If then, you might want to take some chances if you know your short side chip isn't going to be tough. But still, a very solid strategy. Look at Rory, he hits that draw all day and he smoked the guys last weekend. So those who say you got to hit it left or right to score, are just wrong.. Its knowing your main shot is going to curve from 2-5 yards.

I'm like you, when i hit my draw its with a very neutral swing path, and the draw is very small. But i can tell the difference in contact when i do hit it, it such a solid strike on the ball.

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One of the best posts I ever read, thanks Erik.  I have a question:

Using your handle forward and out with a backed up ball position method, how would you hit a high draw?  Could I bring my eyeline back and move the ball forward with a forward and out handle and swing?

Edit:  I meant with the driver... the above is what I do with irons to hit the high draw and it works but I can't get it to work with driver.

Edit #2 (sorry): How would you alter your baseline, assuming your swing characteristics, to play a straight low piercing wedge shot.

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Originally Posted by Hoganwoods

Using your handle forward and out with a backed up ball position method, how would you hit a high draw?  Could I bring my eyeline back and move the ball forward with a forward and out handle and swing?

With a driver, well, it depends. First of all if you have a perfectly neutral swing path and catch the driver on the upswing you'll be sending the path naturally a bit left. So not a high draw, because you'd have to play a pull-draw to draw the ball, and pulls have less loft.

So really you have to do a few more things if your path isn't naturally a bit more "out" (right) - throw the arms off the chest, etc. Try to get a baseline of +6 or 8° so that when you swing up 3° you're still swinging out 3-5° (drivers at 45° vertical swing plane tend to be pretty close to 1:1 AoA and effect on resultant path).

+6 to +8 baseline is pretty far out there. Handle forward, ball slightly back isn't going to do that for you. You have to throw the arms off the chest, create a good amount of secondary axis tilt with the hips going forward but NOT overly spinning or spinning prematurely (path gets sent left if they spin early). It's requires "more," typically, than just ball back, handle forward/up.

Originally Posted by Hoganwoods

Edit #2 (sorry): How would you alter your baseline, assuming your swing characteristics, to play a straight low piercing wedge shot.

Well, couple of ways to do those.

I like to open my stance quite a bit, move the ball back in my stance, and get a lot of shaft lean. That said you don't want to chop down with a super-steep AoA because the ball will spin like crazy. It may come out low, but it can balloon. So you have to point your feet left (a little), play the ball back, and try to have a good amount of shaft lean but try to shallow out the AoA at the last instant by going into extension a bit sooner in the follow through. More hip slide than normal for a wedge shot, too.

Experiment to see what you're comfortable with. You might not have to aim your feet as far left as you think - just enough to take any little extra AoA-induced draw bias off the shot. I feel almost like if anything the ball might cut a yard. I prefer that over a ball that's going to draw a yard.

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Originally Posted by iacas

With a driver, well, it depends. First of all if you have a perfectly neutral swing path and catch the driver on the upswing you'll be sending the path naturally a bit left. So not a high draw, because you'd have to play a pull-draw to draw the ball, and pulls have less loft.

So really you have to do a few more things if your path isn't naturally a bit more "out" (right) - throw the arms off the chest, etc. Try to get a baseline of +6 or 8° so that when you swing up 3° you're still swinging out 3-5° (drivers at 45° vertical swing plane tend to be pretty close to 1:1 AoA and effect on resultant path).

+6 to +8 baseline is pretty far out there. Handle forward, ball slightly back isn't going to do that for you. You have to throw the arms off the chest, create a good amount of secondary axis tilt with the hips going forward but NOT overly spinning or spinning prematurely (path gets sent left if they spin early). It's requires "more," typically, than just ball back, handle forward/up.

Well, couple of ways to do those.

I like to open my stance quite a bit, move the ball back in my stance, and get a lot of shaft lean. That said you don't want to chop down with a super-steep AoA because the ball will spin like crazy. It may come out low, but it can balloon. So you have to point your feet left (a little), play the ball back, and try to have a good amount of shaft lean but try to shallow out the AoA at the last instant by going into extension a bit sooner in the follow through. More hip slide than normal for a wedge shot, too.

Experiment to see what you're comfortable with. You might not have to aim your feet as far left as you think - just enough to take any little extra AoA-induced draw bias off the shot. I feel almost like if anything the ball might cut a yard. I prefer that over a ball that's going to draw a yard.

Thanks for the reply, Erik.  I think the way you explain the high draw is exactly why it's so hard to hit without screwing up your irons during a round.  I'll try it so that I can use it on those few holes where it's worth the risk.

For the wedge what I've been doing is opening the stance and putting the ball way back there but I don't deloft the club at all.  Same loft as though I played the ball up in my stance and I swing.  I get nice shallow divots but I straight/pull hook the wedges 20 yards.  I wonder if I'm putting my eyeline too far back like I do with my irons to play the high draw.  Obviously its a path issue right?

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Originally Posted by Hoganwoods

Thanks for the reply, Erik.  I think the way you explain the high draw is exactly why it's so hard to hit without screwing up your irons during a round.  I'll try it so that I can use it on those few holes where it's worth the risk.

I thought I answered the high draw for a driver.

For irons, it's just a push-draw, ideally with a shallow AoA (lots of extension in the follow-through). To hit them the highest create secondary axis tilt with good hip slides (feeds into the extension pieces anyway) and finish with the hands and arms high and fleeing just a little bit (shallower AoA will hold path from getting too far right).

Of course, the nice thing about high draws with irons is that you can move the ball back in your stance a little, which shifts the path right more, which lets you point the face farther right, which adds MORE loft to the club - probably about as much as you took off by moving the ball back - so you can almost keep going backwards. Dave, for example, can hit HIGH push-draws with the ball behind his BACK foot. His path is probably +30° (not kidding) so his clubface can be 15-18° right.


Originally Posted by Hoganwoods

For the wedge what I've been doing is opening the stance and putting the ball way back there but I don't deloft the club at all.  Same loft as though I played the ball up in my stance and I swing.  I get nice shallow divots but I straight/pull hook the wedges 20 yards.  I wonder if I'm putting my eyeline too far back like I do with my irons to play the high draw.  Obviously its a path issue right?

Pulls are path issues, yeah - it's too far left and your face rolls around to square up to the path. You've gotta find a way to point those more to the right. Seriously, try putting the handle more forward. Just try to shallow the divot with the extension pieces.

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Awesome thread.  Thanks Erik.  I'll be using this one for future reference for sure...

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Bravo Erik. Everyone ought to print this up and laminate it. I know I will be using it for my kids.

This sums up and confirms what has taken me 25 yrs to learn on my own, esp weight location, path, and alignment. Beautiful job.

Edit: I was actually planning to draw something just like your colored path diagram, but adding in face orientation, for the wife and kids..

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Great info Erik, thanks!

You mentioned quite a few options for shaping the ball but it looks like the grip is not one of them?  I only ask this, because I was at the range a few weeks ago goofing around and it seemed like I could manipulate the ball flight with some simple grip adjustments.  My normal shot with the driver right now is a push or a push-fade.  (Not good, I know, but I am working on it)  I found that if I simply strengthened my grip a little - and by a little I mean all I did was move my right thumb to the right and feel more pressure against the underside of the club with the last knuckle of my right index finger - I could hit a draw.  Conversely, if I put my thumb back in its normal position and just concentrated on extra pressure of the first knuckle of my right index finger against the back of the club, I would fade it.

Can you talk a little bit about why that isn't a good idea?

Thanks!

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Originally Posted by Golfingdad

You mentioned quite a few options for shaping the ball but it looks like the grip is not one of them?  I only ask this, because I was at the range a few weeks ago goofing around and it seemed like I could manipulate the ball flight with some simple grip adjustments.  My normal shot with the driver right now is a push or a push-fade.  (Not good, I know, but I am working on it)  I found that if I simply strengthened my grip a little - and by a little I mean all I did was move my right thumb to the right and feel more pressure against the underside of the club with the last knuckle of my right index finger - I could hit a draw.  Conversely, if I put my thumb back in its normal position and just concentrated on extra pressure of the first knuckle of my right index finger against the back of the club, I would fade it.

Can you talk a little bit about why that isn't a good idea?

The grip is one of them. When in the one post I said you had to make your clubface 2° closed to your stance when normally it's 2° open to your stance, you do that by changing where your hands grip the club.

You think you're changing the grip. I see it more as you're just changing your clubface alignments. I could take a super-strong grip and keep the face pointing right of target at setup but it's probably not going to return that way in the course of a swing.

Six of one, half dozen of the other. I talked about grip - but I talked about it by saying clubface.

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Originally Posted by iacas

The grip is one of them. When in the one post I said you had to make your clubface 2° closed to your stance when normally it's 2° open to your stance, you do that by changing where your hands grip the club.

You think you're changing the grip. I see it more as you're just changing your clubface alignments. I could take a super-strong grip and keep the face pointing right of target at setup but it's probably not going to return that way in the course of a swing.

Six of one, half dozen of the other. I talked about grip - but I talked about it by saying clubface.

Ah, I hadn't thought of it like that.  When I take a strong grip, it feels a little weird because my hands want to turn the clubface closed back to my "normal" grip ... and so the effect is that happens at impact, thus the draw.

OK, I got it.  Thanks!

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Are there any other keys to controlling the club face like the right index finger pressure point?  I struggle with this with the driver more than anything.  With irons I am a lot better.

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Originally Posted by boogielicious

Are there any other keys to controlling the club face like the right index finger pressure point?  I struggle with this with the driver more than anything.  With irons I am a lot better.

Pressure point #1 and #3.  #1 is the left thumb.  #3 is the right index finger as you mentioned.  Master monitoring these two - and you will be ahead of the game.  As they control the clubface.

Go to the 2:57 mark in this video.  This is how you control the clubface - and Jeff does a really cool explanation of how the sweet spot - or as he refers to it as the 'longitudinal center of gravity' and 'sweet spot plane'... This is TGM speak.  But again, very relevant to what you are asking.  He proceeds to go into detail how the proper grip - controls the sweet spot plane.  Excellent commentary - and once you grasp it... It's pretty effective.

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Thank you for this. I realize I have a long way to go before shaping, but I do play around with it from time to time when practicing....

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Originally Posted by Beachcomber

Pressure point #1 and #3.  #1 is the left thumb.  #3 is the right index finger as you mentioned.  Master monitoring these two - and you will be ahead of the game.  As they control the clubface.

WAAAAAAY too much TGM Beach. I don't worry about those pressure points much at all in my golf swing. Never really have. I like Homer, and I respect the heck out of the work he did, but there's more to a golf swing and science has advanced.

And to the point of this thread: if you can consistently control the clubface enough so that you have a consistent shot pattern, then you don't need to "monitor pressure point #1 and #3." You just set the clubface where it needs to be at address for the dynamics you generate during impact (some people set it exactly where they want it, others know they open or close it slightly more during their swing to impact). That's it. No need to over-complicate things with needless TGM blather.

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I guess that's my question though. I consistently control the face from my 58 wedge up through my 3H.  But the driver and sometimes the 3W are unpredictable for me.  I use the same grip with all my clubs.  Could it be simply the ball position or are these two clubs a bit more challenging to control?

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What a great thread.  I just read it again and I wish we had instructors with this knowledge and common sense here.  If we do, I apologize, but I've yet to see them.

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I guess that's my question though. I consistently control the face from my 58 wedge up through my 3H.  But the driver and sometimes the 3W are unpredictable for me.  I use the same grip with all my clubs.  Could it be simply the ball position or are these two clubs a bit more challenging to control?

I'm guessing your swing is too flat and not vertical enough. And then again, possibly vertical enough, but not enough 2ndary axis tilt combined with hip slide? As the club lengthens, these become more revelant and focus areas for improvement in 99% of us.

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Note: This thread is 820 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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