The 3 Ingredients to Cooking Up a Great Golf Shot!

John Stahlschmidt
PGA Director of Instruction
JW Marriott Camelback Golf Club
Scottsdale, AZ

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We all know there are many different swings that get the job done. Even on the major professional tours no swing looks alike. Take Jim Furyk, for instance. Jim is one of the best players in the world but has a very odd looking swing. What about Lee Trevino? Lee always aimed to the left of his target but was one of the best ball strikers in the history of golf. Then you have swings that look flawless. Tiger Woods, Adam Scott and Justin Rose are just a few that come to mind. So, what gives? What are the common threads that allow all these great champions to control their golf balls so efficiently? The answer is…they all control their swing direction, angle of attack and club face. Yes, these three are the ingredients necessary in order to hit quality golf shots.

Club Face – The club face dictates where your ball starts in relationship to the target. I would say that given this fact, club face control is vital in producing golf shots that start on the line you choose. Now, if you don’t have an abundance of time to dedicate to practice and play, make sure your grip is perfect and in addition to this, you could purchase a contact bag. This allows for at home practice and trains your hands to square the face at the moment of truth – impact.

Swing Direction – This is a relatively new term to golf. Your swing direction is defined simply as the direction your golf club moves in relationship to the target through the impact zone. There are only three options - left of the target, at the target or right of the target. Now without getting too complicated, your swing direction dictates how your ball will curve. In general, if you swing right of the target, you will hit a ball that curves left. If you swing to the left of the target, your ball will curve right. A neutral swing direction will produce a ball that has minimal curve.

Angle of Attack ­– Why is the angle of attack important? The simple answer is this ingredient affects the overall path of your golf club. Confused yet? It is relatively simple when you think about it. The golf swing moves on an angled plane. Not a vertical plane like a ferris wheel or a horizontal plane like a merry-go-round. Due to this fact, when the club head is moving down towards the ground, it is moving out to the right of the target. When the club head moves up away from the ground, the club head is moving to the left of the target. So, when you measure the angle of attack and swing direction, you get your adjusted path.

In summary, the above information is all fine and dandy, but I doubt many of you have any idea what your club face, swing direction and angle of attack are. That is my job as a golf instructor and coach. When working with all my clients, I focus on making the necessary changes to create a more efficient face, swing direction and attack angle. When a player has control of the above three ingredients, the result will be better golf shots… period!

John Stahlschmidt, PGA, is the Senior Head Instructor and Regional Manager for the TOURAcademy Brand. To comment on this article, email John at