Ball Flight Laws #2 – Curve

Slice and Draw

Time to Fix the Slice

Welcome back for another lesson on ball flight.  Hopefully you’ve read Lesson #1 on start direction, because in today’s lesson, Curves, we’re going to build on that information.  Before we get into that, I need to clear up two things.

#1: Semantics

I will admit that I am a little obsessive about language.  As such, it drives me absolutely mad when I hear people throwing around “open” and “closed” without a reference point.  “Open” and “closed” are relative terms.  Your club face can be open relative to the target but closed relative to your path.  It is important to be clear about the reference point to avoid confusion.

#2: Path Alone Doesn’t Create Curves

While I appreciate simplification as much as the next guy, I cringe when I hear people say, “Path curves the ball.”  To me, this saying is why there are guys on every range in America trying to “swing to right field” to fix their ball flight when what they really need to do is get their club face in a better position.

Ball Flight Lesson 2-2 Ball Flight Lesson 2-1

What Does Create Curves?

Here’s the answer:

The relationship between the club face and club path creates curvature.

Or, said another way:

The ball starts between the face and the path, then curves towards the face (or away from the path).

To get even more practical:

When the club face is closed (more left) relative to the path, the ball will draw, or curve left.

When the club face is open (more right) relative to the path, the ball will fade, or curve right.

The 9 Ball Flights

With what you now know, you can understand and diagnose the 9 different ball flights.  In the examples below, I used the negative terms “Slice” and “Hook,” but you can substitute “Fade” or “Draw,” if you’d prefer.

Ball Flight Lesson 2 Pull Hook Ball Flight Lesson 2 Pull Ball Flight Lesson 2 Pull-Slice

Ball Flight Lesson 2 Hook Ball Flight Lesson 2 Straight Ball Flight Lesson 2 Slice

Ball Flight Lesson 2 Push-Hook Ball Flight Lesson 2 Push Ball Flight Lesson 2 Push-Slice

Now What?

With your new understanding of start direction and curvature, you can build an even deeper understanding of your swing and your ball flight.

Head to the range, pick a target, and set up your practice station.  Hit a few shots keeping track of where the ball starts and how it curves.  With those two pieces of information, you should be able to get a pretty solid idea of where your club face is pointed at impact and where your club path tends to be.

Once you know where you’re at, you can work on getting to where you want to be!

In future lessons, I’ll address how to change your club path and club face.  If there are specific topics or shots you’d like to see addressed, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Understanding Ball Flight

Part 1: Start Direction

Part 2: Curve

Part 3: Spin

Part 4: 3D Club Path (Resultant Path)

Part 5: Gear Effect

Watch the Video

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Matt Saternus

Co-Founder, Editor In Chief at PluggedInGolf.com
Matt is a golf instructor, club fitter, and writer living in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Matt's work has been published in Mulligan Magazine, Chicagoland Golf, South Florida Golf, and other golf media outlets. He's also been a featured speaker in the Online Golf Summit and is a member of Ultimate Golf Advantage's Faculty of Experts.

7 Comments

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  5. Hi Matt…great stuff here. One question. Why isn’t there a straight path with an open club face in the 9 flights? Straight/closed=pull hook…straight/square= straight. Shouldn’t straight/open=push fade or something? Thanks

    • Matt Saternus

      Levon,

      A club face that is open to the target and a path that is left of the face, whether it’s straight at the target, left of the target, or right of the target, will result in a push fade.

      Best,

      Matt

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