One Little Caveat…
So, I may have left out one little detail from the last 4 lessons on ball flight: all of those rules assume that you hit the ball directly on the sweet spot (Center of Gravity).
No problem for you, right? I mean, really, who misses the sweet spot?
Oh, you do? That’s ok, so do I. Not a problem, though, we just need to understand what that does to the ball flight, and that’s what I’m covering in this final lesson: Gear Effect.
What Is Gear Effect?
Gear effect is the term used to explain how and why hitting the ball off-center changes the ball flight.
When the ball contacts the face somewhere other than the Center of Gravity (CoG), it causes the face to change its orientation and affects the spin. This is because during impact, the ball and face are enmeshed like two gears (hence the name).
The further apart the CoG of the ball and the club are, the more gear effect there is. Translation: there’s lots of gear effect with a driver, but little or none with wedges.
Technical definitions are great and all, but I promised practical knowledge. Here it is in four simple bullet points:
- When you hit the ball high on the face, it will launch higher and spin less. This is optimal for your driver…assuming you want to hit it far.
- When you hit the ball low on the face, it will launch lower and spin more. This is very bad for your driver.
- When you hit the ball on the toe, the ball will launch towards the right but draw/hook to the left.
- When you hit the ball on the heel, the ball will launch towards the left but cut/slice to the right.
What You Should Do
The next time you’re on the range, bring some impact tape and keep track of where on the face you’re hitting the ball. If you don’t have impact tape, foot spray will work, too (spray the face of the club and look for the ball mark). A third option is to dot the ball with a dry-erase marker and “aim” the dot squarely at your club.
Hit 10 or 15 shots and note your tendencies. If you’re consistently low on the face, you’re robbing yourself of distance. If you’re consistently hitting the ball on the toe or heel, then impact location, not face or path issues, may be to blame for your inaccuracy.
That’s All Folks
I hope that you have found this series to be helpful.
In the future, I will be putting out more tips on how to improve your club face control, club path, and centered contact, as well as a comprehensive lesson on diagnosing your ball flight. I welcome any feedback on specific tips or information you’d like to see.
Understanding Ball Flight
Part 5: Gear Effect