Ball Flight 101 – Your Club Path & Club Face

Ball Flight 101 – Your Club Path & Club Face


I am a huge proponent for breaking down systems that seem complex into easy understandable pieces.  This makes the learning and application process much easier.  When I first started getting lessons I did not know anything about the golf swing and I had a real tough time distinguishing which variables the instructor was trying to get me to change.  I also wanted to know why it influenced my ball flight.  So what are the most basic variables that golf instructors are altering when they change alignments in your swing, and how does it produce different types of ball flight?  In this “Ball Flight” series I am going to layout a basic understanding of what produces ball flight so the player understands WHY the ball flies the way it does.  I FIRMLY believe that golfers need to have a basic understanding of these principles to really master their golf swing and be able to problem solve while on the golf course.  Each player needs to grow to be their own coach and this is just part of the process.

I hope you enjoy this series and be sure to follow me somewhere (Twitter, Facebook, RSS Feed) to never miss the next article!

Ball Flight = The Club Face and the Club Path

The  2 most basic areas are the “Path” the club is traveling, and the angle of the “Clubface” through the impact zone.  There are many variables that will determine the alignments of the Club Path and Club Face, but the purpose of this article is to introduce you to these two areas to give you a better foundation for understanding what you are changing in your swing and why the ball flight changes.

Until recently the Club Face and the Club Path have only been able to be tracked using a High Speed Video Camera but with new technology such as the FlightScope and Trackman, your Club Path and Club Face can be tracked down to the degrees that they are aligned or traveling at the point of impact!  I am extremely excited to be utilizing the FlightScope in my lessons because it offers my students physical data on their swing alignments and helps to measure improvement of the golf swing.  The FlightScope Swing Radar shows measured data on how changing the positions in their swing affect the Club Path and Club Face. (For more information on FlightScope Click Here)

Below I will give a brief overview of the Club Face and the Club Path and how they work together to produce a particular type of ball flight.

Club Face – Initial Starting Direction of the Golf Ball

Clubface - C4 Golf Coaching System - Matt Reagan, PGAThe Club Face is really the number one most important part of the golf club you need to be able to control.  Depending on the alignment of the Club Face at the point of impact will determine over 80% of the initial starting direction of the ball with a driver, and slightly less with an iron.  This means that if you were a golfer who draws the ball (ball works from right to left in the air), your club face would actually need to be open to your target line in order to get the ball to start to the right and curve back to the left.  If the clubface was not open to the target line and you were going to try and hit a draw it would start at your target and then curve leftward in the air away from your desired landing zone.

I know what you are thinking … “So you are telling me the club face needs to be open to hit a push draw? I was always told to close the clubface to hit a draw!”  This has been the talk of golf for about 3 years now, but yes you would need to have a clubface that is slightly open to your target line to get the ball to START to the right.  The next step in analyzing the ball flight is the curvature of the ball after the shot is hit, and this is determined by the Club Path in relation to the Club Face alignment.

Club Path – Determines the Curvature of the Golf Ball

Clubpath - How the ball curvesSo as we discussed above the Club Face is the largest determinant of the starting direction of the golf ball.  Your Club Path is the other player in determining the ball flight, but is a large factor on how the golf ball is going to curve in the air. I refer to the Club Path very often as the players Circle.  To keep it simple the Circle the the club head is traveling on is either directed out to the right, to the left, or is perfectly on plane with your target line through the impact zone. If you wanted to hit a straight shot we would want our Club Path and Club Face to be perfectly aligned at the point of impact.  When the Club Path and the Club Face do not align this is when you begin to get the ball to curve to the left or to the right because it imparts a tilt of the axis of the golf ball (similar to the way a plane would turn left or right).



The main point to take from this article is that two factors combine to determine ball flight.  These two factors are the Club Path and the Club Face.  There are 3 basic types of shots based on the alignments; a Straight Shot; and Fade (ball works left to right); or a Draw (ball works right to left). There are 9 Ball Flight Laws that will be explored later but those are the 3 basic shot shapes.

In the next article we are going to take a look at some ball flight examples, and the 3 different types of alignments of the Club Path and Club Face through the impact interval to produce different ball flights.

Next Article —-> Ball Flight 102 – The Club Alignments of the 3 Types of Ball Flight



1. What are the two basic areas that determine a shots ball flight pattern?

2. Which of the two variables mentioned above has a larger influence on the initial starting direction of the ball?

3. What are the 3 most basic types of ball flights?


Next Article —-> Ball Flight 102 – The Club Alignments of the 3 Types of Ball Flight


Ball Flight Laws

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