It’s All About Impact – Club Path
By Chris Foley
In striking the golf ball, impact is where the clubface gives the golf ball all of its instructions on its flight. The ball’s direction, trajectory, and curve are all determined in the 1/2000 of a second that the golf ball spends on the clubface. The elements that go into creating impact are the club’s angle of attach, the path of the swing, where the clubface is pointed at impact, and where the golf ball strikes in relation to the center of the clubface.
Over the course of the summer, we will address each of these factors and what you can do in your golf swing to influence or change them. Any adjustment to the golf swing should be done with the elements of impact in mind.
A functional golf swing creates great impact alignments and there are many ways to do this. If you compare the swings of Rory McIlroy, Matthew Wolff, and Webb Simpson, the swings all look different. However, they arrive at similar impact alignments. There are many was to get to impact. Your goal should be for your golf swing to be as efficient and repeatably as possible.
This month we are going to address the influence of the club path at impact. The club’s path is the direction of the swing through impact relative to the target line. The direction of clubface relative to the path at impact creates the curve of the golf ball. A rightward path influences hooks and pushes. A leftward path influences slices and pulls.
The following elements of the swing influence the path of the swing at impact.
The Grip -The grip’s main influence is the on the clubface. The position of the clubface has a big influence on the direction of the swing. If the grip causes the face to be open it tends to influence the path to the left. A grip that causes the face to be closed will influence the path to the right.
Alignment – A player’s alignment is the relationship of their feet, hips, and shoulders relative to the target line. Alignment, especially shoulder alignment, has a huge influence on swing direction. When the shoulders are aligned left in relationship to the target line, the path tends to be more left. When the face is open in relationship to the path the ball will curve to the right. Rightward shoulder alignment biases the path to the right and tends to cause the ball to curve to the left.
The Takeaway – The first few feet of the backswing are one of the biggest influences on the path. If the takeaway is too flat the second half of the backswing tends to get too steep. Low handicap golfer’s paths tend to get too rightward when the second half of the backswing is too steep. Higher handicap golfer’s tendency is to angle the path more to the left if the second half of the backswing is too steep.
Change In Posture – The best ball strikers tend to maintain their posture throughout the golf swing. When a player changes posture in the backswing, it changes the path of the downswing, and the player is much more reliant on timing.
The Transition – the direction of the path of the swing is affected by the sequence of the transition from the backswing to the forward swing. Ideally the player begins the forward swing by shifting toward the target, the arms begin to drop, and the body starts to rotate. The position of the arms and the club at the top of the backswing determines the order in which the shift, drop of the arms and the body rotates. The path of the swing will move in the desired direction with the proper sequencing.
Understanding the elements of the swing that influence the club path and the ability to identify those will allow you to adjust your golf swing and become a much better ball striker.