The Dreaded Straight Shot

Rob Rashell
Director of Instruction
TPC Scottsdale
Scottsdale, AZ

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If you’re standing in the middle of the fairway on 18, 170 yards to the hole, needing a birdie to get into a playoff, with the pin right in the middle of the green, would you hit a draw, a fade, or a straight ball? I ask almost everyone I spend time with. The answer drives how I’m going to help them, and the set of instructions for each (draw, fade, straight) will be different. I’m happy to listen to the argument for the straight shot, although I hope to convince them otherwise, here’s why.

Every golf shot, right at impact, we can measure the movement of the club head, which has a vertical element and a horizontal element. We can also measure the clubface which is more constrained pointing left, right, or directly at the target. Taking for granted the ball is hit right in the middle of the clubface, these ingredients will produce either a fade, a draw, or a straight ball.

To illustrate let’s consider the club head is not moving up or down, or left or right, just directly at the target right at impact, shot after shot, something like a robot. Most of you can probably guess the only way to get the ball to fly perfectly straight is for the clubface to be pointed at the target, at impact. In Trackman terms 0 path, 0 face, straight shot.

Unless you’re a robot, doing this consistently is nearly impossible. Let’s assume we have a person who could produce zero club path every shot, and look at the possible outcomes. If you aim directly at the target with zero path and the clubface points even slightly to the right, the ball will start right of your target and will curve more right. With the clubface slightly left at impact, the ball will start left of the target and curve even more left, both of these shots would start off line and curve even more off line.

The idea is to give yourself some room for error. Get path on one side of the target or the other and give yourself some room to fit the clubface between path and zero. Trackman would tell you something like 6 of path and 3 of face, ball would always start right of the target and curve left.

Let the ball curve a little and make your life easier on the golf course. Good Luck!