How Much Does Center Contact REALLY Matter?

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

More Information

With the help of Trackman, we are going to examine how much an off center hit effects the curvature on a golf shot. In the graphic #1, one of my students hit a shot which if hit in the center of the face should have gone relatively straight. This is because where the golf club was traveling through impact (club path) is close to 0 and where the face is pointing at impact (face angle) is also close to 0. Another way of saying that would be the path of the golf club was traveling down the target line with a face square to the target.  As you can see in the screen graphic, this shot did not go straight. 

Before we proceed, let’s first define two terms. Spin Axis is the amount of tilt the golf ball has. The ball spins on one single axis. It does not have backspin and sidespin. A difference between where the club path is moving and where the face is pointed is one way the axis of the golf ball gets titled. That difference is represented in the graphic #2 by Face to Path. As you can see, that number is relatively low indicating the Spin Axis of the golf ball should be minimally titled. It is not. It has been tilted 19.5 degrees to the left. 

*At a Spin Loft of 21.3 degrees the Spin Axis of the golf ball will be tilted approximately 2.9 degrees per 1 degree face to path differential assuming center contact.

Another way the Spin Axis gets tilted is by an off center hit. How far off the toe or heel the ball is struck will either increase or decrease the axis tilt of the ball. With a driver, a ½ inch strike towards either the toe or heel will tilt the axis of the golf ball approximately 20 degrees. In our graphic #3, our Spin Axis was -19.5 degrees indicating a DRAW Axis (for a right handed player.)  With that information, we know with relative certainty, the ball was struck approximately ½ inch on the toe.

The moral of this story is simple: You can have a club moving down the target line and face square to the target line but if you don’t strike the center of the face, the ball is not going straight. 

Scott Sackett, GOLF Magazine Top 100 Teacher the past 14 years, just voted as one of Golf Digest’s Best Teacher in the State for the fifth year in a row. Also, Director of Instruction at Park Meadows Country Club in Park City, Utah, and while in Scottsdale teaches at McCormick Ranch Golf Club. Scott can be reached by email at