The nine ball flight laws help an instructor check for their students swing  flaws.   Although I always use the laws while playing, seldom will I actually teach them during a lesson.  But, I think if you know them they can help you as well.

Here's how the ball flight laws work. The initial direction of the ball after impact tells us the swing path.  After the ball leaves the club face, the movement indicates the squareness of the clubface.

The ideal swing path is slightly inside to out then back to in after the release.  If you hit a big slice, then we know that the path was outside to in and the clubface was wide open.  Hooks are just the opposite, too much of an inside to out path and a closed clubface will cause this. 

The draw and fade can easily be made to fly at the target by simply adjusting you're alignment.  If you hit a bad shot, don't look away, watch it, then identify the initial path and which way the ball turns. Then you can use the ball flight laws to make the necessary adjustments!

9 Ball Flight Laws:

Understanding Ball Flight Patterns:

There are generally nine different ball flight patterns. Undesirable (and also unscheduled!) ball flights are caused not only by player error but also by ill-fitting equipment. The following is a brief overview of some of the causes of these ball flights and their corrections. Do you see yourself in here?

Note: These ball flights are written from the perspective of a right-handed golfer. For lefties, simply reverse the numbers, i.e. #1 – Pull Hook for righties becomes #9-Push Fade or Slice for lefties.

Ball Flight Pattern #1 – Pull Hook

Description: The ball starts out left of target and proceeds to curve more sharply left.

Swing Fault Causes: The player starts the forward swing with the shoulders and closes the clubface sharply with the hands at impact. Swing path is from outside to inside with clubface closed at impact.

Correction: Return to a sweeping motion with your arms on the forward swing. Soften your grip pressure, especially with your right hand. Visualize the shaft as being parallel to the target line with the leading edge of the clubface pointing up as the shaft is even with your waist (horizontal position) on the follow-through.

Suggested Drills: To correct the “over the top” swing, start with your club in position at the end of your backswing. SLOWLY return the club to the ball feeling your arms delivering the clubface through the ball. Continue this same motion through to the finish. You should feel the arms and hands, NOT the shoulders, deliver the clubface through the ball.

Potential Equipment Causes:

  • Shafts are too soft or too light
  • Grips may be too small causing you to grip the club too tightly
  • Lie angle of iron may be too upright
  • Club may be too long

Suggested Equipment Changes:

  • First check the shaft flex to be sure it is within one half flex of your swing requirement.
  • Second, check length and lie angle and adjust if necessary.
  • Third, regrip your clubs with the proper size grip.

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Ball Flight Pattern #2 – Pull

Description: The ball starts out left of target and continues straight left.

Swing Fault Causes: The ball may be positioned too far forward in the stance. Swing path is from outside to inside with the clubface square at impact.

Correction: Address the ball with the club centered in the middle of your body. Return to a sweeping motion with your arms on the forward swing. Visualize the shaft as being parallel to the target line with the leading edge of the clubface pointing up as the shaft is horizontal on the follow-through.

Suggested Drills: To correct the “over the top” swing, start with your club in position at the end of your backswing. SLOWLY return the club to the ball feeling your arms delivering the clubface through the ball. Continue this same motion through to the finish. You should feel the arms and hands, NOT the shoulders, deliver the clubface through the ball.

Potential Equipment Causes:

  • Shafts may be too light (especially for fast swinging players)
  • Shafts are too soft
  • Lie angle of iron may be too upright (major cause in short irons)
  • Club may be too long causing lie angle to be too upright

Suggested Equipment Changes:

  • First check the shaft flex to be sure it is within one half flex of your requirement
  • Second, check length and lie angle and adjust if necessary

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Ball Flight Pattern #3 – Pull Fade or Slice

Description: The ball starts out left of target and curves back to the right.

Swing Fault Causes: The forward swing is started with the shoulders to get the ball going left. At impact, the left arm stays firm and opens the clubface to put a slice spin on the ball. Swing path is from outside to inside with the clubface open at impact.

Correction: Start the forward swing with your arms instead of your shoulders. Keep your left arm soft and flexible through impact.

Suggested Drills: To correct the “over the top” swing, start with your club in position at the end of your backswing. SLOWLY return the club to the ball feeling your arms delivering the clubface through the ball. Continue this same motion through to the finish. You should feel the arms and hands, NOT the shoulders, deliver the clubface through the ball. Make sure you maintain flexibility in your arms and hands.

Potential Equipment Causes:

  • Shafts may be too light (especially for fast swinging players).
  • Shafts may be too stiff.
  • Grips may be too big causing the clubface to remain open at impact.
  • Lie angle of iron may be too upright (major cause in short irons)

Suggested Equipment Changes:

  • First check the shaft weight to be sure it is not too light for your swing speed and tempo
  • Second, check lie angle and adjust if necessary
  • Third, regrip with the proper grip size.

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Ball Flight Pattern #4 – Draw or Hook

Description: The ball starts out straight and curves left of target.

Swing Fault Causes: At impact the hands have over-rotated and closed the clubface. Swing path is square to target with clubface closed at impact. Could be caused by a grip that is too strong.

Correction: Return to a sweeping motion with your arms on the forward swing. Visualize the shaft parallel to the target line with the leading edge of the clubface pointing up as the shaft is horizontal on the follow-through. Change your grip position to a slightly more neutral grip.

Suggested Drills: Practice your putting stroke and notice that there is no rotation of your hands at impact. Now, take this same motion of moving your arms, hands, and club together and apply that to a full swing.

Potential Equipment Causes:

  • Shafts may be too soft
  • Grips may be too small
  • Lie angle of iron may be too upright (major cause in short irons)
  • Club may be too long causing lie angle to be too upright

Suggested Equipment Changes:

  • First check the shaft flex to be sure it is not too soft for you based upon your Shaft Lab profile.
  • Second, check the length and lie angle of your clubs and adjust if necessary.
  • Third, regrip with larger grips.

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Ball Flight Pattern #5 - Straight

Description: The ball starts out straight and stays straight.

Swing Fault Causes: You must be doing something right!! Swing path is square with clubface square at impact.

Correction: Now why in the world would you want to change this?

Suggested Drills: Keep doing what you are doing

Potential Equipment Causes:

  • Shaft length, weight and flex are all perfect for you swing profile
  • Lie angles are adjusted properly
  • Grip size is perfect

Suggested Equipment Changes:

  • None that I can think of.

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Ball Flight Pattern #6 – Fade or Slice

Description: The ball starts out straight and curves right of target.

Swing Fault Causes: Left arm is too rigid at impact. Swing center is moving forward too early in the forward swing. Swing path is on line to target with clubface open at impact.

Correction: Soften your left arm. To stop your swing center from moving too early, maintain equal weight distribution until the ball has been struck. Then let your weight shift to the left side while following through to the finish.

Suggested Drills: After impact, follow through to the finish raising the heel of your right shoe so it points behind you. Be sure to wait until the club passes your body before lifting your back heel.

Potential Equipment Causes:

  • Shaft flex may be too stiff for your swing profile
  • Lie angle may be too flat causing shots to float right
  • Grip size may be too big
  • Shaft length may be too short

Suggested Equipment Changes:

  • First, check shaft flex to be sure it is not too stiff for your swing profile
  • Second, check lie angle and shaft length
  • Third, try reducing the size of your grip

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Ball Flight Pattern #7-Push Draw

Description: The ball starts out right of target and then curves left.

Swing Fault Causes: Club is swung too much from the inside to outside with a rolling motion of the hands. Right elbow may be too close to the body in your forward swing. Swing path is from inside to outside with clubface closed at impact.

Correction: Use more of a sweeping motion with your arms. Visualize the shaft parallel to the target line halfway back and halfway into the follow-through with the leading edge of the clubface pointing up.

Suggested Drills: Take several swings visualizing the shaft parallel to the target line halfway back and halfway in the follow through. Be sure to keep the leading edge of the clubface point straight up at each half way point.

Potential Equipment Causes:

  • Shaft flex may be too stiff for your swing profile
  • Shaft weight may be too light
  • Lie angle may be too flat causing shots to start right
  • Grip size may be too small
  • Shaft length may be too short

Suggested Equipment Changes:

  • First, check shaft flex to be sure it is not too stiff for your swing profile
  • Second, check shaft weight to make sure it is not way too light for your swing speed and tempo
  • Third, check the length and lie angle of your club

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Ball Flight Pattern #8-Push

Description: The ball starts out right of target and stays straight right.

Swing Fault Causes: Ball may be too far back in your stance. Club is swung too much from the inside to outside. Swing path is from inside to outside with clubface square at impact.

Correction: Address the ball with the club in the center of your body. Visualize the shaft parallel to the target line halfway back and halfway into the follow-through with the leading edge of the clubface pointing up.

Suggested Drills: Practice your swing with your arms, legs and club moving in the same direction at the same time.

Potential Equipment Causes:

  • Shaft flex may be too stiff for your swing profile
  • Lie angle may be too flat causing shots to start right
  • Grip size may be too big
  • Shaft length may be too short

Suggested Equipment Changes:

  • First, check shaft flex to be sure it is not too stiff for your swing profile.
  • Second, check the length and lie angle of your clubs.
  • Third, try a smaller grip.

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Ball Flight Pattern #9-Push Fade or Slice

Description: The ball starts out right of target and curves farther right.

Swing Fault Causes: There are many causes for this shot but the most common is trying to lift the ball in the air. Swing path is from the inside to outside with an open clubface at impact.

Correction: Simply quit trying to lift the ball into the air at impact. The purpose of the swing is to make the ball go forward, not up. The loft of the club gets the ball airborne, not the swing.

Suggested Drills: Try your putting stroke with a lofted iron like a 9 iron. Notice how the ball gets airborne without you trying to lift the ball.

Potential Equipment Causes:

  • Shaft flex may be too stiff for your swing profile
  • Lie angle may be too flat causing shots to start right
  • Grip size may be too big
  • Shaft length may be too short

Suggested Equipment Changes:

  • First, check shaft flex to be sure it is not too stiff for your swing profile.
  • Second, check the length and lie angle of your clubs.
    Third, try a smaller grip.

 

 

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