Why Can’t I Hit the Golf Ball Straight?
Today’s golf swing article we will keep short and simple covering the main reasons why you may not be hitting the golf ball straight and what can be done to fix that!
First let’s break down the main components of the golf swing and how they’ll impact accuracy and ball flight which can determine how off-line your shots are.
Club Face Angle:
Club face angle is the first fault to fix in your golf swing if you’re not hitting the ball straight. When we talk about the face angle of the golf club we refer to the angle of the face at impact when it strikes the golf ball off the tee.
If the club face is slightly angled closed, this will hit the golf ball left.
If the club face is slightly angles open, this will hit the golf ball right.
A square (perpendicular face to the target line) club face will hit the ball straight.
The next factor to consider is your swing path. This is the path the club is taking as it comes into the golf ball.
A straight swing path is one which travels on the target line, which should be parallel to your stance.
The target line is simply where you hope to hit the ball. It’s an imaginary line we could draw between the ball and the center of the fairway or green.
If you have an open stance, you may find yourself swinging the club on a path to the inside of the target line.
If you have a closed stance, you may find yourself swinging the club on a path to the outside of the target line.
Start by making sure you are aiming yourself (feet, hips, shoulders) parallel to your target line so your stance is square and level.
Having a closed or open stance is one factor causing your golf shots to not travel straight.
Swing Path + Face Angle = Different Ball Flight Results
The swing path and face angle at impact will determine the type of ball flight your golf ball has. Here’s how you can self diagnose perhaps what you’re doing based on the ball flight you see happening on the golf course…
(1) Straight Swing Path + Square Face at Impact
This combo creates a straight ball flight in the air toward your target. Why? The straight swing path starts the golf ball off the tee straight and then the square club face contact on the golf ball doesn’t put any side spin so the ball continues to fly straight.
(2) Straight Swing Path + Closed Face at Impact
This combo creates a ball flight that starts straight but then curves left. Why? The swing path is straight so it starts the golf ball online off the tee but the closed angled face puts sidespin on the golf ball causing it to spin left in the air.
(3) Straight Swing Path + Open Face at Impact
This combo creates a ball flight that starts straight but then the ball trails off to the right in the air. Why? The swing path is straight at impact, starting the golf ball straight at your target. But the open face angle creates sidespin on the ball which causes it to curve off to the right side of the target.
(4) Inside to Outside Swing Path + Square Face at Impact
This swing combo would cause the ball to start right of the target line and continue heading straight but to the right of the target. In simple terms, it’s a pushed golf shot.
The swing path is moving to the outside of the target line at impact, starting the golf ball right of the target line. The face angle is square so it doesn’t side spin the ball left or right, keeping it moving in the straight path it started, which happens to be to the right of the target line.
(5) Inside to Outside Swing Path + Closed Face at Impact
This combo creates the ideal draw golf swing many golfers strive for.
The golf ball starts off to the outside of the target line since the swing path is traveling towards the outside at impact. The closed face angle puts sidespin on the golf ball that brings the ball back to the left to counter out the right initial ball flight.
(6) Inside to Outside Swing Path + Open Face at Impact
When you strike the ball with a club path moving outside the target line, the golf ball will begin flying outside the target line to the right side of the fairway or green.
Since the face angle is open, it will create side spin that causes the ball to spin even further right of the target. This is known as a pushed slice golf shot.
(7) Outside to Inside Swing Path + Square Face at Impact
When the club path is moving towards the inside of the target line at impact, the ball will start left (inside the target line) and since the face is square, it will keep moving straight left. This is known as a pulled golf shot.
(8) Outside to Inside Swing Path + Closed Face at Impact
This combo creates a pull hook golf shot. The golf club path pulls the ball to the left since it’s traveling towards the inside of the target line at impact. And the closed face angle creates hooking spin on the ball causing it to curve even further left.
(9) Outside to Inside Swing Path + Open Face at Impact
This final golf shot ball flight is the pull fade golf swing. The outside to inside swing path pulls the ball left to start and the open club face creates fade (slice) spin that moves the ball back to the right to balance out the initial leftward direction, resulting in a shot staying near the target line (center of fairway or green).
Out of all the above swing path and face angle combinations, most golfers strive to have #5 (the draw) or #9 (the fade) where the ball flight begins one direction due to the swing path, but then bends back the opposite way due to the face angle, and ends up back on target.
And the most ideal, but hardest to achieve ball flight is #1 from above which is starting the ball straight and it stays straight with no side spin curve. This requires a square club face at impact as well as a straight swing path along the target line.
You can check your club face angle by recording video of it.
You can check your club path by using some pool noodles on the ground to form a swing path. If you can keep the swing inside the noodles without making contact (like bumper guard rails) then you’ll know you swing straight. If you hit the inside or outside noodle, you’ll know which direction your path was moving on the down swing.