Chip Dwyer's Golf Tip
Posted June 11, 2012
April’s Masters Tournament held up its tradition of having a very exciting back nine on Sunday with the bonus of having a two hole sudden death won by Bubba Watson. As the press struggled to put a moniker on Bubba I have found a favorite; “Bubba is the master of impact.” Meaning that Bubba does not have an orthodox swing (just look at his footwork), but he knows how to get the clubface on the ball to produce the desired results.
Additionally, he rarely hits the ball straight, instead he curves the ball most of the time –despite how the modern golf ball is engineered to fly straight and far.
How do you to curve a ball both ways?
First you must understand the five impact laws which are:
- Club face angle (in relationship to target)
- Club head path (in relationship to target)
- Centerness of impact (sweet spot or not)
- Club head speed (Bubba averages more than 120 mph with driver)
- Angle of attack (most of the time you hit down on the ball)
The first two laws on this list are the yin and yang of a golf balls direction and whether it curves or not. In other words the two are hard to separate, but in general, the club face angle has the biggest effect on direction and the club head path helps with curve.
When the swing is slow (like in putting and chipping), the face angle has a 90% effect on shot accuracy and when swinging the club fast it contributes 80%. Both of these impact laws come with three possibilities including the club face can be closed, square or open in relation to the target line, and the club head path can be inside-out, inside-down the line-inside or outside-to-in.
To hook the ball like Bubba in the final playoff hole, you need an inside-out club head path with a closed club face to impart the sidespin on the ball that curves it right-to-left (for us right handed golfers), which is mostly true. To get a little more technical though the ball does not have sidespin, but has backspin on a tilted axis.
Bubba was able to curve ball 30 yards with a wedge for his winning shot.
To practice hitting fades (gentle curve to the right) and draws (gentle curve to the left), start hitting with a 4 or 5 iron and try to get the desired curve mostly through your club head path. It is the club head path that you must master to curve the ball both ways. After getting these gentle curves now you can add the change to the club face and get dramatic curves.
To hook the ball:
- Close club face (turn club face to left when holding it at chest level) 10-30 degrees. Place club behind ball and turn your body till the face now aims at the target.
- Take your normal swing but at 60% effort and try to stay down on ball as you swing out towards the right of your target.
- Once you can hook the ball at 60% effort start to swing harder but keep in mind a hook is always helped by a smooth swing because an in-to-out path is hard to do swinging fast.
- Imagine your driving range as a baseball field and if your target line goes over second base try to have your club head path swing towards the infielder between first and second base (second baseman).
- On the downswing delay the unwinding of your shoulders so you can hit the ball on the inside half. Try to feel the arms start down and legs shift weight to front leg then the shoulders turn.
To slice the ball:
- Open club face (turn club face to the right when holding it at chest level) 10-30 degrees. Place club behind ball and turn your body till the face now aims at the target.
- Take your normal swing but at 60% effort and try to stay down on ball as you swing towards the left of your target.
- Again stay steady with your head (don’t look up early, you wont like what you see) and this is one of the few times it is OK to hold the club tightly.
- As you start going to your normal swing speed, keep in mind it will usually help the slice the harder you swing.
- Timing of the downswing is different from the hook in that you start the downswing with a shift of weight to your front leg and then the arms and shoulder start swinging down together.
- The out-to-in club head path should produce more of a divot and you should notice the divot points left of your target line.
Most golfers will be natural slicers, so the hooks and draws can be a challenge but the whole idea here is to have fun curving the ball on demand both ways. Like most of golf, when practicing curving the ball both ways, be patient and learn to enjoy the challenge.