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Understanding Golf Ball Flight Laws

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Everyone wants to see the golf ball fly far and straight. One of the most frustrating things to most golfers is the inability to understand why that does not happen for them consistently.

If you don’t know why, you can’t fix the problem. A big part of the solution is to gain an understanding of Ball Flight Laws.

What is a Law?

The PGA swing model has three conceptual levels, one being Laws. A law is something that is absolute. In golf, laws are basically established by cause and effect. I want to give you a better understanding of the laws that produce direction. 

Path and Face

There are only two things that cause the golf ball to go in a specific direction, one is the club face and the other is the club head path. I remember one of the instructors at the PGA learning center making this statement, “The path sends it, and the face bends it.” 

Following this explanation below will be a diagram that will be helpful in your understanding of direction. 

Path with a Square Face

Let’s focus on the path of the club with the face square to the path.

A club path straight toward the target with a square face will produce a shot straight to the target.

A club path right of the target with the face square will produce a straight “Push”.

A club path left of the target with a square face will produce a straight “Pull”.

These are laws and will not change. 

Path with an Open or Closed Face

Now let’s add the open or close face to each of these club paths. A straight club path with an open face will produce a “Slice” and the same path with a closed face will result in a “Hook”.

A right club path with an open face produces a “Push Slice” and one with a closed face gives us a “Push Hook”.

With a left club path and an open face we get a “Pull Slice” and with a closed face this causes a Pull Hook”. You can see all of these on the diagram below. 

Is Path or Face More Influencial?

I have been asked which of these two has the most effect on ball direction. There is a “face override” that occurs when direction is produced. The face position has a more dramatic effect on direction than the path. 


I hope this information gives you a better understanding of why the ball ends up where it does allowing you to correct or improve the desired direction of your shots to come.

To find out how to find your club distances for each club in your bag, click here.

Another helpful hint, go by and visit your local PGA professional for additional help. Do you slice or hook the ball? Leave a comment if you have success applying these ball flight laws to your swing.

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