12 Feb 2004
The Law of Angle of Approach
This is the last of the Ball Flight Laws we will look at, and it can be the most confusing. Angle of Approach is the angle from which the club head strikes the ball relative to the slope of the ground. It affects trajectory and distance.
Imagine you are on an airplane getting ready to make a landing. The pilot is bringing the plane down gradually and when you touch the ground it is a gentle landing.
However if the airplane dove suddenly towards the ground the result would be a crash landing. The difference is angle of approach. If the angle your club arrives at the ball is too steep you will lose distance.
Imagine you are swinging a golf club like a baseball bat trying to hit a chest high ball. The club would arrive on the same level as the ball. We would call that a shallow Angle of Approach. However, if the club swings like an axe coming straight down to chop a piece of wood; it is on a steep Angle of Approach.
Here is a look at how this can affect your game and a solution:
You are hitting pop fly drives that go no where. Your club is coming down too steeply into the golf ball, which may feel like chopping. In an attempt to correct this problem I put you on a hillside where the ball is much higher than your feet. After several swings you start to develop a shallower and more desirable Angle of Approach to the golf ball, for a driver. The result will be a lower trajectory and more distance.
Here is another way to think about this to create more distance:
Picture you are holding a garden hose and trying to water the far of the garden. Aim the hose straight up, and the water comes back down on you. Aim directly at the ground, and the water will not reach the other side of the garden. Angle it just right and all of the plants on the other side of the garden get watered.
Likewise achieving proper trajectory means the ball will travel farther. The distance would also depend on speed because speed also affects distance.
If your tendency is to hit high pop up drives, level out your swing with a practice swing at chest high as if driving a baseball and you will be rewarded with a shot that bores through the air and creates more distance.