Column: Distance in golf depends on an accurate strike

Jennifer Greggain writes a bi-weekly column providing golf tips and analysis.

If you have ever had a golf lesson where you have worked on direction, you have probably discussed the club path and club face ball flight laws.

In general, the club path is the predominant ball flight law that controls the curve of your golf ball and the angle of your club face at impact controls the starting direction of your golf ball.

However, there is one very important additional variable that you may not have discussed during your lesson.

That is the ‘gear effect”’ that occurs when you don’t hit the center of the club face. And since not many of us find the ‘sweet spot’ of our club very often, specifically with our driver, it is definitely a concept to learn more about.

Simply put, for every off-center strike you make on a golf ball, your club will twist. This twisting motion will cause additional spin that will make your ball fade or draw more than expected. Shots hit more toward the toe will produce more draw spin, and shots hit more to the heel will produce more fade spin.

Additionally, did you know that for every one quarter inch off-center strike, you will lose 10 per cent in distance? Many people try to gain more distance by increasing their swing speed. But, if you don’t hit the center of the club face, you will lose even more distance.

This sounds complicated, and it definitely can be.

What every golfer can take away from this concept is the importance of center-strike hits. And this, surprisingly, is not a concept often discussed.

With that said, if you are having a hard time hitting straight shots, you should definitely check where on the club face you tend to strike the ball.

This can easily be done by using a can of spray powder that you can buy at any drug store.

Once you spray the club face, hit several shots and make notice of where you tend to strike the ball on the face.

Many golfers find a consistent pattern, whether it be mostly to the toe, heel, or inconsistently all over the club face with every swing.

If you find that you are not hitting the center of the club face often enough, try this simple drill.

Place two tees like a gate on the ground slightly wider than the width of your club head.

Practice by making some swings, and missing both of the tees in the gate.

Once you are able to make several swings and miss both tees in the gate, try hitting a ball placed in the middle of the gate.

Jennifer teaches golf to adults and juniors at the Chilliwack Golf Academy.

She played professionally on tour for over 10 years, won the 2016 LPGA Western Section Teacher of the Year award, and most recently has been named the 2018 PGA of Canada Junior Leader of the Year.

She can be contacted by phone at 604-798-9805 or email at Jennifer@chilliwackgolf.com.

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