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Golf teaching and playing articles > Know your Ball Flight Laws

8 Jan 2004

Have you ever played a round of golf where no matter how hard you try, no matter how many swing thoughts you use nothing works.  Can you recall using your 10th different swing of the day?


 Instead of getting frustrated and giving up on the round as your score balloons, I’d like to teach you how to help yourself on the golf course by knowing and understanding the Ball Flight Laws.  


You can use this knowledge to grow as a golfer, save stokes, and salvage your round of golf. 


Taking a little time to learn and understand these Laws will reward you with a more consistent game and lower scores.


This week I’ll briefly introduce and define these five laws.


Over the next few weeks, we’ll look at each one individually, learn how they affect the golf ball, and take a look at how you or your teacher might work on them to improve your game.


·      PATH:  The direction of the arc the golf club is following at impact. Primarily influences the ball’s starting direction.


·      FACE:   the angle which the leading or bottom edge of the club face arrives at impact, relative to the path.  It primarily affects the curve on the ball, this means draws and hooks, or fades and slices.


·      CENTEREDNESS:  the impact with the ball in relationship to the center or sweet spot on the club head.  If the ball hits the center of the club head, we refer to that as centeredness of contact.  If not, the ball will strike either the heel or toe of the club head, or it could be high or low on the club face. Distance and trajectory will be affected, as will the spin on the ball.


·      SPEED:  the velocity which the club head is traveling at impact, usually measured in miles per hour.  As you’d probably guess, the distance the ball travels is the major effect.  The trajectory of the ball will also be affected.


·      ANGLE OF APPROACH:  the steepness or shallowness of the angle of the arc on which the club head strikes the ball, relative to the slope of the ground.  Again, both trajectory and distance will be affected.


The five Ball Flight Laws control the four motions a golf ball has on it.  These are the starting direction, the distance the ball travels, what kind of spin and curvature the ball has, and the trajectory on which the ball travels to its destination (low and boring or high and floating). 


When you take a golf lesson, your instructor is always working on one or more of these five laws to correct your ball flight.  Next week, I’ll take a deeper look at the Path and some of the things that influence it.