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The Lesson Tee

Ever dreamed of being able to work the ball around a tree, shape your shots or even bend it like Bubba? The secret of pulling off these shots is Physics. Now before you scroll away thinking this is a boring science lesson, just hear me out.

There are two factors that affect the direction a golf balls goes, 1) club face angle and 2) swing path (the direction the club head arrives from at impact). Let’s break it down and for all examples below we are talking about right handed golfers. (Same physics apply for lefties, but my references to left/right will be the opposite).

Club Face Angle
A player when making contact with the ball will have their face face in one of three (3) positions: open face, squared face or closed face.

Swing Path (Club Head Path)
A player when making contact with the ball is swinging the club down one of three possible paths (in relation to the target line): Outside to Inside, Down the Line, or Inside to Outside

These three face angles when combined with the three swing paths give us golf’s magical laws of physics. They create the 9 Laws of Ball Flight. The graphic below will show you with more detail. The green line is our desired target line.

Want to hit a ball that starts right then bends back to the left after the tree? You have to take an inside-to-outside swing path with a closed club face.

Want to hit a ball that goes straight then turns left in mid-air (slight hook)? You have to take a swing straight down the line and have a slightly closed club face.

Did you just hit that famous “banana ball” that started way left then bended back to the right? It was the outside-in swing with an open club face that caused it!

Now that you know “How” to create these mystical shots, its time to get to the driving range and start experimenting with these 9 different ball flights. Have fun imagining that you have large tree in front and you need to bend it around it. Work on picking a target and trying to hit it with several different shapes of these ball flights. These laws of flight work for all shots: high ones, low ones and even punch-outs. Practice them all so you are prepared next time you get in trouble. You will quickly see which come easy to you and which you need to work on. Get down to the range, channel your inner-child, explore and have fun. Its what we used to always do as kids!

Learn these ball flights and they will help you learn to work the ball, give you skill to hit trouble shots and even help you become a swing MD. Next time you hit surprise shot on the course (good or bad!), you will know exactly what physics were involved (face angle and path) to get the ball flight you just witnessed. Grab your clubs, get to the range and have fun trying to Bend it like Bubba.