The New Rules

Tom Stickney, PGA, outlines the new rules for ballflight

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THE BALL BENDS AWAY FROM THE SWINGPATH
Shotshaping has everything to do with the relationship the path has to the clubface. To hit a draw, you want a clubface angle that's closed to the clubpath, but still slightly open relative to the target line. A fade? The same, but in reverse. The clubface needs to be open to the path, but still relatively closed to the target line.

The more open/closed the clubface is relative to the path, the more bend your shots will have. So if you want to hit a big sweeping hook, you need to have a face that's closed relative to a clubpath that's wide to the right. A big fade is similar, but on the opposite side of the spectrum.

Above and in the sequence to the right, I'm working on drawing the ball. I've set up a yellow rod that shows you my target line and two tees to the right of that line. The left tee is my clubface angle at impact. That's where I aim. But the right tee is the desired marker that I'm trying to swing toward. Meaning, I'm trying to start the ball over the left tee, but I'm swinging over the right tee. Both tees are helping me hit a draw and in no instance am I trying to hit a draw with a clubface slammed shut!


How you align your shots is critical, too. If you don't align your body, clubface and swing path properly, you can kiss any chance at consistency goodbye. In my case, as I work on hitting some draws, what I'm conscious of is making sure is that my toe line is parallel to the target line, not directly pointing at the target. I put a driver down along my toes to further illustrate what I mean.

Second, because I have my target in sight (thanks to the yellow alignment rod), I can practice how it feels to swing to the right of my target and get used to not feeling as though I need to pull the club to the inside at any point during the swing. And get this, even though I'm "swinging out to the right", and I'm more or less telling you to do that too, I'm only swinging to the right as far as my low point will allow. Once my swing arc hits its low point, the club is going to swing back toward my body anyway, so there's no need to feel that urge or sensation that you'll hit the ball too far to the right by swinging to the right. You won't, trust me!

Again, for this to be a successful draw, that clubface angle has to be a little closed relative to my path, and the path needs to be to the right of my target. That's key for hitting a draw. As for hitting a fade? The same physics apply to the opposite side of the target line. Swing further to the left with the clubface a little open to the path. Have I beaten that relationship to a pulp yet? Good!

How closed and how open should you be relative to your path? That's all dependent on how much curvature you want to see. The more your face and path diverge, the more curvature you'll create.


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