Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Achieving 1-Way Golf Ball Curvature

One of the questions I’ve been receiving from readers is about my believe in playing golf with a ‘1-way curve.’ How do we go about that, see progress, etc?

First off, I would like to go a bit off topic and say that I believe the good thing about all of this is that I now understand D-Plane which makes the process much easier to figure out than understanding the ‘old ball flight laws.’ It’s why I find that information is actually a good thing and I believe it is better for most golfers than using a ‘Bagger Vance’ teaching approach or assuming that everything must be kept as simple as possible. The problem with simplicity is that it often leaves out too much important information for the golfer to fully understand what they are trying to do. And often times, ‘making it simple’ means that the instructor is teaching mechanics from feel, rather than the superior teaching of feel from mechanics.

I think where golfers get screwed up is when teachers have inaccurate information, apply information incorrectly, or apply information that is unnecessary. Golfers chalk it up to being ‘too analytical.’ But in reality, it’s just bad information or poorly applied information.


What do we know about the basics of D-Plane?

The clubface is responsible for about 80% of the golf ball’s initial direction.

The path is responsible for about 20% of the golf ball’s initial direction.

Thus…if we have a clubface that is pointing about 10* right of the target at impact and the path is square to the target, the ball will start somewhere around 8*right of the target.

Now, the curve is influence by what the path is doing with relation to the clubface. If the path is inside-to-out with relation to where the clubface is pointing…the ball will have a hook spin on it. If it’s outside-to-in with relation to where the clubface is pointing…the ball will have a slice spin on it.

Thus…if we have a clubface that is pointing 10* right of the target and the path is square to the target (0*), the ball will initially go about 8* right of the target and then slice further to the right.


I will go over the big one….clubface contact. Hit the ball off the toe, the ball will generate hook spin. Hit it off the heel…it will generate slice spin.

According to Trackman, if you hit a driver 250 yards long and you have a 0* face and 0* path, BUT…you miss by 1 dimple (0.14 inches), your ball will travel 10 yards off line. If you miss by ½ an inch, the ball will travel 35 yards off line.

But, what often happens is a golfer may be aiming down the right side of the fairway and hit one ¼ of an inch off the toe and the ball pushes out towards the right rough and hooks back into the fairway. Or they may have a face angle of -1* left at impact with a path of -3* left…which would produce a slight fade, but they catch it off the toe by 1 or 2 dimples and the ball actually goes straight.


1. While the path creates the spin axis on the ball, the clubface is more important for controlling the curve.

If I have a 0* path on 3 shots, but the first shot has a +5* open clubface, the 2nd shot has a -5* closed clubface and the 3rd shot has a 0* square clubface, it will produce 3 different shots (slice, hook, straight ball).

2. The path plays a bigger influence on clubface contact

The further the clubpath gets away from the baseline, the more likely you will mis-hit the shot.

3. The face is much more difficult to control than the path.

Mainly because if you look at Trackman shot results, even for PGA Tour level pros, the clubface angle is more dispersed at impact than the path numbers. It’s not unusual for a PGA Tour player to have a clubface that is open at impact on one shot, then closed on the next shot. But, if their path is inside-to-out on one shot, it’s likely to be inside-to-out on almost every shot. This also applies to the 20 handicapper.
In essence, golf does not make it easy…if you want to have 1-way curves. You have to control both the clubface and the path. The clubface is too important with how the ball will curve and how much it will curve and the path is too important for clubface contact. BUT, if I had to choose, I will always take clubface control over path control.


One of the principles I plan on employing in my golf swing is to be able to keep the clubface ‘square to the arc.’ As we know, the clubhead swings on what resembles an arc on the downswing. The goal is to keep the clubface square with relation to the arc throughout the downswing and post impact.

A lot of people ask ‘if the ball is already struck, why do I care if the clubface is square to the arc?’

One of the smart things that John Erickson teaches ( is that you need to ‘connect the dots’ when learning the golf swing.

A good example of this is let’s say you have established what mechanics you want at p3. If you know where you are at p1, then figuring out p2 can be done by ‘connecting the dots’ and comprehending how you would get to p3 from p1. Often times golfers (myself included), think we MUST go from p1 to p2 then to p3, but we can cut a step out by just connecting the dots instead.

With relation to the clubface being square to the arc post impact…if my clubface happens to be closed post impact, we can ‘connect the dots’ that the clubface was in the *process* of closing pre-impact.

Yes, we can still hit a great, straight shot at impact. Or in Kenny Perry’s case, consistently hit draws and hooks.

But, this requires precise timing that many golfers, even top PGA Tour players, simply don’t have.


Trackman is a great, measuring device. I think people get the idea that Trackman fans are saying that it is more than that, but really…that’s not the case. Trackman is like a GPS system for your car. It doesn’t make you a good driver, but it will tell you ‘where you are’ and which direction you need to go to get to your final destination.

Obviously, Trackman measures the clubface angle at impact and the path as well (along with various other data). But, we can also use it to figure out the clubface contact.

I discussed how a shot that misses the sweetspot of a 250 yard driver by 1 dimple will move the ball offline by 10 yards. The issue, in my mind, is that we will not be able to feel that. Thus, if I am producing a club face of 0* and a path of 1* inside-to-out, but hitting a fade, then it’s obvious that I’m catching the heel of the club on some level and that should be fixed.


LEVEL 1 – Tighten the Dispersion of the clubface angle at impact

LEVEL 2 – Get the clubface consistently pointing 1-way (closed or open)

LEVEL 3 – Get the clubface consistently pointing 1-way and closer to square

Achieving 1-Way Golf Ball Curvature
– Get the clubface to consistently pointing on command depending on the desired shot>



Captain Sunset said...

OK. I Go along with all this as the old ball flight laws always seemed a bit daft to me. My question is that surely the momentum (...that must?) be briefly stored within the golf ball at impact must have some effect on the balls flight/direction. No?

Rich H. said...

Momentum cannot be stored.

The ball actually goes where the face is pointing when the ball is at its maximum deformation (the point when the ball reaches its maximum amount of compression).

It's kinda why the ball starts to go more towards the *path* initially at slower swing speeds. The compression of the ball is less, so the path plays a larger role than 20%. I think if you generate 125 mph of clubhead speed, the face becomes more like 90% responsible for the inital flight whereas 70 mph clubhead speed (with a driver) the face is more like 60% responsible.