Controlling the Clubface

Here's a great drill that will help to create awareness of where the clubface is angled at impact...

Keep in mind that the clubface is PRIMARILY responsible for where the ball launches, while the clubpath is PRIMARILY responsible for the curvature of the shot. If you know the predominant shape of your shots, the key is to launch the ball in the proper direction - this drill will help! Give it a try and please let me know if you've made any progress.

Hitting Draws and Smash Factor

Bobby Locke There has been a fair amount of banter online recently regarding various topics and I thought it would help both of us if I jotted down a few thoughts:

Hitting Draws

A functional draw is one that finishes at the target - something many of us strive for. In order to hit functional draws you need a clubpath that is traveling outward (in to out) and a clubface that is angled slightly closed relative to the clubpath, yet open to the target (assuming center contact). 

It is possible to hit both functional draws, ones that finish at the target, and bad draws, ones that move away from the target, with a clubface that is open, square and closed to the target at impact. You can even hit good and bad draws with the appropriate clubpath, but I believe an outward moving clubpath is integral to hitting functional draws. And here's why...

I am yet to teach a golfer who fades the ball that consistently swings from in to out!

Clubpath is king and clubface is queen - I might get the desired shot shape with clubface, but I cannot get the desired result without clubpath. It is simply not possible to hit a functional draw with a clubpath that travels from out to in (assuming center contact). It is clearly not the only thing, but in my opinion it is the most important thing.

I am well aware there are many different ways to achieve this and whether as a coach or golfer you upgrade the clubface first or the clubpath first is entirely up to you. After all it's all about results no?

Smash Factor

Many golfers and TrackMan users are under the impression that smash factor indicates how well a ball was hit, or how centered the strike was - this is not necessarily the case. A high smash factor purely indicates high ball speed relative to club speed. Here is the simplified formula:

Smash Factor (Simple)

It is quite possible to have  a smash factor with irons that is too high. Golfers who play from a closed face position and who tend to flight the ball low will often have a higher smash factor than golfers who flight the ball appropriately. This does not mean the low ball hitters are striking it better, it just means they are generating too much linear ball speed off of a particular club.

It is important for golfers to understand that ball type and condition, dynamic loft, clubhead mass, attack angle, CoR and of course quality of strike go into determining the smash factor for any given shot.

The objective with the driver should be 1.50 or higher, but with the shorter clubs a higher smash just might not necessarily better. Go for solid hits and ball flight over smash factor any day!

A Note to Golf Coaches: 

I have made more than my fair share of mistakes in life. From these mistakes I have learned and improved as a coach and a person. One of the many valuable lessons I have learned from making mistakes is to never deride, belittle or insult another golf coach. It does nothing to enhance your image or reputation and you will never look better while attempting to make someone else look worse. Be wise when addressing other coaches and the methods they employ - you'll be better off for it.

A Clubface Primer

A Square Face at the Top
A Square Face at the Top

It is important to understand that the angle of the clubface will influence a golfers' ability to get into a proper impact position. Athletic instinct will always compensate in order to position the face squarely (or as squarely as possible!) at contact. Thus, a square clubface will allow any golfer to naturally more repeatable impact position.

There are three good check points that occur prior to impact to observe the position of the clubface. As these check points get closer to impact they tend to have a greater effect, not only on the impact position, but also the outcome of the shot. Here they are:

Going up:

An Open Face
An Open Face

- Invariably if the clubface fans open early in the swing the clubhead will assume a position inside the hands at this point.

- Here the face is looking more towards the sky than is optimal

- Also notice how there is more daylight between my left hand and right thigh than the picture below

A Square Face
A Square Face

Ideally the clubface should be vertical to slightly tilted down here with the clubhead covering the hands.

A Closed Face
A Closed Face

- In this situation the clubhead has lagged a little behind the hands and arms with a slight draggy start to the swing

-The arms are moving in and close to the body as the handle stays inside the clubhead

- The clubface is looking at the ground too much here

At the top of the backswing:

An Open Face at the Top
An Open Face at the Top

- Notice how the clubface hangs down vertically (almost perpendicular to the ground) and is visible under the shaft

- Also notice the cupping in the back of the left wrist

- This position requires active hands through impact and will generally lead to an over the top approach into the ball

A Square Face at the Top
A Square Face at the Top

Ideally here the clubface should parallel the shaft and the angle of the left arm.

Here you can see the clubface angled up toward the sky (almost parallel to the ground) and it is clearly visible above the shaft

- The left wrist position is quite flat and may even become bowed

- This face position will often cause a golfer to get under plane coming into the hit and force the body to raise up through the hit in an attempt to hold the face square

Coming down:

Open Face Approaching Impact
Open Face Approaching Impact

- This position invariably causes a wiping motion across the ball through impact

- The weight will invariably stay back as the golfer tries to position the body to aid in squaring the face

- Shots struck from this open faced position will be weak and generally not have any "sting" on them

Ideally here the clubface should be in a position where it is perpendicular to the ground.

Closed Face Approaching Impact
Closed Face Approaching Impact

- This clubface position will lead to a raising of the hands through impact

-There must be a loss of body angles through the hit in an attempt to deter the face from flipping closed

-Practice hitting high, cut up 8-iron shots that travel 50 yards to overcome this fault

Additional articles regarding the clubface:

What is a Square Clubface? by Dave Wesley

Secret to Squaring Your Clubface by Kelvin Miyahira

Keep a Square Clubface by Karen Palacios-Jansen

See open, closed, and square club faces by Ty Daniels