All golfers want to improve. Those serious about doing so take golf lessons from professionals or study golf tips offered in books, magazines, and newsletters, like mine. Usually, the golf lessons and golf tips focus on swing flaws. Refining your swing to eliminate flaws is a great way to improve ballstriking. Understanding how club design dictates the quality of impact is also a great way to improve ballstriking. In fact, it may be just as good, if not better than, working at eliminating swing flaws.
When we discuss club design, we usually talk clubhead size or shaft materials. These can affect your ballstriking and shot distance. But here we want to discuss a different aspect of club design. A club has three key design features:
* shaft lean toward target,
* significant lie (or shaft lean toward body),
* center of gravity
These features exist in every club, even your putter. They contain secrets on how to swing your drivers, wedges, and irons to improve your ballstriking, if we interpret them correctly. In other words, if we look at the features closely, we’ll see how they dictate proper golf swing mechanics.
Shaft Lean Toward Target
Shaft lean is the first, and possibly the most important, club design feature to consider. If you sole a club properly in your normal address position, you’ll see that the club sits on an angle where the handle leans slightly toward the target. The angle is important. It represents the angle at which the club must be delivered to the ball at impact to create optimal pressure. This pressure compresses a ball to a portion of its original size when hit, just like a racquet does with a tennis ball does when it’s hit or a wall does when rubber is thrown against it.
Effective ball compression causes the ball to spring off a clubface at maximum velocity. The only way to effectively compress the golf ball—and produce crisp, clean shots—is to deliver a forward leaning shaft at impact, whether you’re swinging a driver, iron, or wedge. This leads to maximum distance. A backward leaning shaft, on the other hand, doesn’t achieve maximum distance because it lacks the pressure needed to compress the ball enough to maximize impact.
Using A Backward Leaning Shaft
Most golfers present a backward leaning shaft at impact, where the club’s handle leans away from the target instead of toward it. A backward leaning shaft reduces the compression being delivered to the ball, leading to poor contact, poor direction, and a serious loss of distance. But you can learn to deliver a forward-leaning shaft with few simple chipping and pitching drills:
Begin by using a sand wedge. Place the ball well back in your stance to play a chip shot. The shaft should lean forward so that the handle is positioned in front of the clubhead, with your hands in front of your left pant pleat. Using your arms and shoulders only, swing the club back and through. Make sure you lead the handle of the club through the impact area. Hold the finish. The shaft should line up with your left arm and the ball should pop in the air. You’ve just hit a chip.
Next, widen your stance. Place the ball in the center of your feet. Make the same swing as before, but add some wrist hinge on your backswing. This will carry the ball a little further. Make sure to lead with the handle through impact as before. Continue to the same follow through position as the chip. You’ve just hit a pitch and run.
Keep Impact Attitude in Mind
Finally, hit some shots with your full swing, while keeping the same “impact attitude” in mind, as you have for the previous shots. You should notice a big difference in the quality of contact you get from this swing.
Forward-shaft lean is one of three key club design features. These features point the way to efficient swings when examined closely. Forward-shaft lean encourages you to swing the ball with a forward-leaning shaft at impact just like you’re taught in golf instruction sessions and like how the clubmakers designed the club to be swung. If you want improved ballstriking, you must strike the ball with the impact attitude designed into the club. If you do, you’ll hit longer, straighter shots that will help take strokes off your golf handicap.