Learn to Correctly Interpret Your Ball Flight and Lower Your Scores!

Scott Sackett
Director of Instruction
McCormick Ranch Golf Club
Scottsdale, AZ

More Information

In learning to interpret your ball flight, there are some basic truths, which serve as the foundation for instruction and improvement. Having used Trackman, the technology the best players in the world turn to for ball flight and club delivery analysis in every lesson for 3 years now, I’ve come to realize how powerful ball flight interpretation is to improvement.

•  In most cases, given center contact, the direction the clubface is pointing at impact will determine whether the ball starts right or left. (For a right handed player, a clubface which is open at impact will result in a ball starting right of target and a clubface which is closed at impact will result in a ball starting left or target.) 

What does this mean for interpreting your ball flight? 
As you hit balls, don’t worry about how the ball is curving in the air, just focus on what side of the alignment stick the ball is starting on. It is very difficult for the human eye to pick up the exact starting direction of the golf ball so having something like a vertical alignment stick in the ground as a reference point is paramount. I suggest keeping a log either in the notes section of your Smartphone or on a notepad for where each shot starts in relation to the stick. You will most likely see a pattern develop. 

How does the ball curve in the air?
•  The path of the club head through impact is what creates the curvature of the golf ball.  (A club head which is moving left through impact will produce a shot traveling left to right.  A club head which is moving right through impact will produce a shot traveling right to left.) *This is assuming center contact and a square club face at impact. This is true in most cases but not all. 

Continuing to use the alignment sticks, hit some more shots. In the notes you’re taking, log which way the ball curves in the air along with where the ball is starting in relation to the vertical alignment stick. Again, another pattern will most likely develop. 

How much does the ball curve?
•  The difference between where the clubface is pointing at impact and the direction the club head is traveling through impact, determines the amount of curvature the golf ball will have in the air. The greater the difference, the more the ball curves.  (Starting with driver and working down through the bag to lob wedge, it is important to understand the shorter the club is, the greater the difference between face and path would need to be to curve the ball the same distance.) A small difference between face and path with driver will produce more curvature than that same difference with a lob wedge. A ball struck on the toe or heel will either increase or decrease the amount of curvature depending on the path of the golf club through impact. 

Increase your awareness of where the ball starts and the direction it’s curving and you’ll see improvements on the golf course! 

For more on how to interpret your ball flight, visit the Trackman section of Scott’s website
www.scottsackett.com/trackman, follow him on twitter at @Scott_Sackett or like
Scott Sackett Golf on facebook www.facebook.com/scottsackettPGA. Scott can be reached by email at scott@scottsackett.com.