Beyond golf blog

The Four Things the Golf Ball Knows

Shane McClure

March 10, 2021

Goal setting is a useful and often used tool in our golf game development. A common first goal may be to break 100.  When that is accomplished, we will want to break 90, then 80, then even maybe 70. That set goal will be a moving goal post. But in order to reach this main goal, we will likely work on a subset of goals. These constant subsets are what we call the four things the golf ball knows.

  1. The ball knows the speed of the club. In essence, it knows how hard it is being hit. This can, but not necessarily, increase ball speed which translates to distance. Unfortunately, swinging with speeds outside of our abilities creates errant shots and even distance lost. Unless your game is at the point of workout regiments and stretching exercises, this one is probably just good to know, but you likely won’t need to focus on it.

  1. The ball knows the path of the club. It is important to understand that we measure path in side spin but that a golf ball can not have both back and side spin. The path will tilt the axis of the ball positioning the back spin off center. A path inside to out will make the ball draw or if more severe, hook. A path outside to in will make the ball fade or if more severe, slice. With that being said, the path is only responsible for at most 15% of the direction of the flight. So unless that path affects the next two we talk about, it probably won’t need a ton of focus.

  1. The ball knows the angle of the face. A square face is crucial for directional control but what is square? No one is 0.0 degrees. If so, it was an accident. But if we can get within 3 degrees, we see good golf shots; an iron that finds the green or a drive that finds the fairway. I had this 3 degrees verified for me when I looked up tour averages. Their average with a driver was guess what? 3 degrees. Now when they got to the wedge it was like 1.2! That’s why they shoot sixty nothings, but for us, at least at first, within 3 degrees is a great goal.

  1. The ball knows where it is being hit in the face. If you don’t own face impact tape, please get some. Without center hit, the first three we talked about are moot. Think about hammering a nail. When you were young and swung the hammer hard, you nicked the nail and just bent it. Now you take a steady stroke, hit the nail on the head and drive it in a couple strokes. Center hit will increase your ball speed with the club head speed you already have. Off center will “nick the nail” and lose ball speed. Off center hits will also tilt the axis of the ball affecting direction. So if we aren’t getting center hit, I’d work on this first.

How do we measure the four things the golf ball knows? Fortunately we live in a time that technology provides us such information. Beyond Golf’s Golfzon simulators will show you all four. Observe them, set goals for them, and watch your main goal ‘goal post’ move!

By Shane McClure

PGA Professional