The Relationship Between Face Contact and Ball Flight

By Adam Harrell
January 20, 2015


I have witnessed hundreds of golfers trying to improve their swings.

The driving range is often times full of people looking for that magical swing key to “take them to the next level.”  Some are equipped with a camera or a camera phone videotaping every swing.  Others have a training aid to help them with their swing path.  Most simply have their clubs and a bucket of balls.

However, I have yet to see a single golfer who measures where they strike the ball on the clubface.

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Most golfers understand the clubface being open or closed and the relationship to the path.  If the face is open the ball should fade/slice.  If the face is closed the ball should draw/hook.

Unfortunately this is true only in a perfect world, when the center of the club contacts the ball.

Let’s explore this in more detail by looking at different strike points on the face and the actual ball flight.

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For shots A, B, and C assume the clubface was square and the path was swinging straight at the target.

Shot A: Center Contact– the ball does exactly what you would expect, starts at the target and flies straight at the target.  A successful shot albeit very rare in golf.

Shot B: Severe Toe Hit– the ball will start a bit more to the right and curve quite a bit to the left of the target (a hook) due to a concept called gear effect.

Shot C: Heel Strike– will start slightly left of the target but curve to the right (a slice) for the same reason.

So imagine a golfer making three consecutive swings that feel the same and getting three very different results. Even with a digital camera anyone would be hard pressed to see any differences in the swings, yet the ball flights would be drastically different.

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Last summer one of our students was hitting his driver consistently off the toe (with the aid of Dr. Scholls foot spray). Using the FlightScope X2 launch monitor revealed his face was a few degrees open and his path was “across the ball” or a few degrees left.

The classic slice, right?  NO!!!

He was hitting hooks that ended up well left of the fairway.  Before looking at the numbers he concluded that his clubface must be excessively closed resulting in the left miss.  Therefore, to fix the issue he felt he should keep the face more open through impact.

Remember the clubface was open according to the FlightScope, which is very accurate.

Imagine if he actually kept the clubface more and more open through the shot, the results would eventually get worse. When in reality all he needed to do was find the center of the clubface first and then make any adjustments.


Make sure you know the real reason behind your ball flight.

Invest in a can of Dr. Scholls foot spray and check your face contact.  You will begin to understand the relationship between face contact and ball flight.   Then make any adjustments to your swing.

As always, seek out a trained professional if you need further assistance.

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  1. I have come to the conclusion that my shanking and puling are coming from the same fault all with my Sand Iron. My Pro has me on my heels but this feels so awkward and wrong to me I’m reluctant to persevere.
    What do you think, could a severe out to in possibly be my problem and if so what do you suggest? By the was I’m off to get some foot spray to spray, probably on the hosel.

  2. Bill, thank you for reaching out.

    The foot spray will absolutely help you understand better where you are making contact.

    We have reached out to the author to respond to this question.

  3. Bill,

    Having your weight on your heels at address could be ok. However, if you “move” the weight towards your toes (or center of the feet) during the swing it could lead to hitting off the hosel, which obviously you do not want to do. Swinging from “out to in” can lead to hosel hits but this is not the root cause. First things first, grab the foot spray and figure out ways to hit the center. This self discovery can be highly valuable as you own how to make this adjustment. Experiment with different weight distribution, swing paths, and distance from the ball to determine the best formula for your success. Feel free to reach out if you have more questions.

    To finding the center,

    Adam Harrell, PGA
    Elite Performance Golf Academy
    Twitter: @EPGAcademy

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