It’s All About Impact – Centeredness Of Contact
By Chris Foley
In striking the golf ball, impact is where the clubface gives the golf ball all 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’re addressing 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 Web 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 striking the golf ball in the center of the clubface. Centeredness of contacts two biggest influences are distance and how the golf ball curves.
The two most important factors in maximizing distance are clubhead speed and hitting the golf ball in the center of the clubface. When the ball is hit off center, there is less energy transferred to the ball and it doesn’t go the potential distance that it could. When trying to maximize distance a player should swing the golf club as fast as they can, but not swing so fast that hitting the ball in the center of the face is sacrificed.
In previous articles we have discussed how the clubface/path relationship creates the curve of the golf ball. The clubface has the biggest influence on where the golf ball starts and the relationship of the face to the path causes the ball to curve. The clubface/path relationship only holds true however when the ball is struck in the center of the clubface. Shots that are hit off center negate that relationship. Shots that are hit off the toe will curve to the right and shots that are hit off the heal will curve to the left.
Having an awareness of where you are striking the ball on the clubface is essential in correcting ball flight errors.
The following elements of the swing influence where on the clubface the ball is struck.
Posture/Balance – If the golfer is not in good posture or balance at address they will seek in in the swing. In seeking balance when the ball is struck on the clubface can be affected.
Distance From The Ball – When a golfer is in a good golf posture, they should grip the club from where their arms hang relaxed from the shoulders. The length of the club will then dictate the distance they stand from the ball. If the golfer is too close it influences the ball to be struck on the heal. Toe hits are influences by the golfer being too far away.
Ball Position – the ball position relative to the front or back of the stance influences the low point of the swing, the path, and centeredness of contact. Ball position too far forward can influence toe hits. Ball position too far back can influence heal hits.
The forward swing is a result of the set-up and the backswing. If the backswing influences the path to the left in the forward swing that will tend to promote heal hits. A backswing promoting a rightward path will tend to move the strike point more to the heal.
When a player changes their posture in the backswing it changes where the club will bottom out in the forward swing. Based on a player’s timing it will affect where on the face the ball is struck.
How the player moves from the backswing to the forward swing has a big influence on where the club strikes the ball in relationship to the center of the face. If the sequence influences the path to the left the player will tend to hit the ball towards the toe. Heal hits are influenced by a sequence the shifts the path to the right.
Understanding the elements of the swing that influence the centeredness of contact and the ability to identify those will allow you to adjust your golf swing and become a much better ball striker.