Hit More Fairways and Greens

Henrik Stenson

The #1 Key to Good Ball Striking

There are many important things in the golf swing, but there is nothing more important than controlling the club face.  It is the #1 thing that you must do if you want to have accuracy off the tee and into the greens.  In this lesson, I will help you to build your awareness of the club face and learn how to control it.

This Lesson Is For You If:

You want to improve your accuracy

You want to understand your misses and shrink your dispersion

You want to control the golf ball and shape your shots

Club Face Control (2)

The Lesson

Every time I play golf, I see people concoct crazy explanations for their bad shots.  “I lifted my head!”  “I came out of it!”  “I was totally over-the-top!”  These things may be true, but most golfers are ignoring the main reason for offline shots: they have no control of their club face.

Let’s start by understanding this basic truth: the golf ball starts where the club face is pointing at impact (click HERE for the full explanation).  The club face also has a lot to do with how the ball curves.

Once you understand those two things, you realize that controlling the club face is #1 in terms of improving your accuracy.  How can you improve your ability to control the club face?  Try the drill below.

Club Face Control (1)Club Face Control (3)

The Drill

Go to the range with a pair of alignment sticks (you can use a pool noodle as shown above, if you prefer).  Place the rods in the ground a few feet in front of you and a couple feet apart.  Work on hitting shots through the middle of the sticks, but also hit shots left and right of the sticks.

When you’re starting out with this drill, the main thing you want to do is build awareness of your club face.  Develop a sense of how to make the club face open or closed at impact.  For me, the feel is primarily in my left hand.  I feel like the back of my left hand mirrors my club face, but you may feel something different.

Enhance your awareness by asking yourself some questions.  How much effort does it take to close the face and go left of the sticks?  How much effort does it take to hold it open?  Hit shots with different clubs.  Does the required effort change from club to club?

As you build your awareness, you can start to move the sticks closer together, but don’t forget to play.  Hit a shot that’s barely outside the right stick, then hit one that’s a mile left.  Work on starting the ball right and curving it further right.  Start one right and curve it back left.

If you use this drill to hit a variety of shots with a variety of clubs, you’ll see the number of fairways and greens that you hit skyrocket in no time.

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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.

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5 Comments

  1. Hi just wondering the logical steps in progressing a golf swing. Should i be practing my contact with the ball ( ball first then ground) or is it more important to practice the club path to club face relationship? I would like to improve with both but i would say my ball contact is more consistant then my ball direction. Thank you

    • Matt Saternus

      Douglas,

      There’s no clear cut answer – it’s a matter of fixing things in proportion. If you’re hitting the ground an inch behind the ball on every shot, that’s priority #1 because none of your shots will go anywhere at that rate. However, if you’re making ball-first contact most of the time and hitting the occasional fat shot, I would start to look at controlling the club face.

      Ultimately, it’s like any other fix in golf: what’s the goal? What’s keeping you from the goal? Answer those questions and you’re on your way.

      Best,

      Matt

  2. Frank Maiorana

    Matt,
    I think this is the ultimate way to practice. Great Tip! If you recall, Johnny Miller has always taught that if you can hit the (9) shots of golf-Draw, Cut, Straight-Low, Mid and High, you have learned how to control the ball.

  3. Frank Maiorana

    Matt,
    This is a great way to practice hitting “shots”. Awesome tip!! If you recall, Johnny Miller has taught that if you can hit the (9) shots of golf you have learned to control the ball. For those who don’t know…it’s hitting a low, mid and high traj of a draw, fade and straight shot. 3 x 3 =9.
    Keep up the good tips.

  4. I’m not easily imdessrep. . . but that’s impressing me! :)

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