Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Joy of D-Plane, The Duck Hook...

I get asked sometimes as to why I think understanding D-Plane is so important because I’ve played golf well without understanding D-Plane, so why does this knowledge matter?

Usually the complaint I get against D-Plane is that with the old ball flight laws (ball starts on initial direction to the path and then curves depending if the face is closed or open to the path) have worked for golfers.

That is somewhat true

Jack Nicklaus prescribed if you want to hit a draw, have the face closed at address and take your normal stance and swing. If you want to hit a fade, open the face at address and take your normal swing.

This, if done exactly as prescribed, will get the golfer to hit a draw or a fade. So there is some truth to it.

But to have a shot that draws or fades back to the target, the golfer has to do some manipulation of the clubface in order to get the ball to start where it needs to go so it can curve back to the target. In Nicklaus’ prescription, if he kept the face closed at impact like it was at address, the ball would start left of the target and then hook even more left.

One of the great joys of understanding D-Plane though is in the duck hook. Y’know…that shot that starts left and goes about 3 feet off the ground and hooks. According to the ‘old ball flight laws’, the golfer simply ‘came over the top of it’ because the ball initially starts left, so the path had to be going left as well.

Well, that’s not always true.

The golfer can hit a duck hook with a DEAD PERFECT SQUARE PATH. If the face is at 7* closed and the path is square, D-Plane says the ball will start left and even though the path is square to the target, it is 7* inside-to-out with relation to the *face*. Thus, the ball starts left (7* closed face) and hooks even further left (path is 7* inside-to-out with relation to the face). And because the face has been hooded, this de-lofts the face and that’s why duck hooks go low.

And that’s important to understand because if you’re hitting a duck hook, the old ball flight laws prescription is to ‘swing out to the right’ because you’re obviously ‘coming over the top.’ But the reality is that the path may be perfect and the face is screwing things up. Thus, when a golfer with a dead perfect path is now being told to ‘swing out to right field’, they are now even more likely to hook the ball.

Obviously, there’s more to D-Plane than understanding that you may hit a duck hook with a perfect path. But if you can start to understand D-Plane, your efforts to troubleshoot problems will become much easier.


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