Saturday, January 14, 2012

Golf Height and Spin Influences

The following are often trumpeted physical aspects of the golf swing that are associated with particular ball flights, but it should be noted that they are not exclusive to those ball flights (one can hit a fade using an inside-out swing). Slice or cut spin (clockwise-tilted spin) is typically associated with high ball flights and hook spin (counter-clockwise-tilted spin) is typically associated with low ball flights, but that doesn't mean one can't hit high draws and low fades. Understanding these attributes can help one diagnose when something goes wrong on the course (because it inevitably will).

Hook Spin (Draw) and Lower Ball Flight Characteristics Slice Spin (Fade) and Higher Ball Flight Characteristics
Setup further away from the ball; posture more bent over; elbow away from torso Setup closer to the ball; posture more upright; elbows close to the torso
Flatter swing plane (more around the body) More vertical swing plane (more up and down or down the line)
Stronger Grip (hands turned to the right) / lighter grip pressure Weaker Grip (hands turned to the left) / firmer grip pressure
Knuckles down at impact (flat or cupped left wrist - closes and delofts club face) Knuckles up at impact (bowed wrist or knuckles up - opens and adds loft to club face)
Swinging from in to out (swing plane tilted to right or swinging from inside) Swinging out to in (swing plane tilted to left or over-the-top move)
Closed stance (shoulders, feet, hips aligned right of target) Open stance (shoulders, feet, hips aligned left of target)
Back foot flared out, front foot perpendicular Front foot flared out, back foot perpendicular
Closed or closing club face Open or opening club face
Ball positioned further back (ball on the backside of swing arc) Ball positioned further forward (ball on the front side of swing arc)
Grip more in the fingers (promotes club face closure) Grip more in the palm (slows club face closure)
Posture more bent over from hips (promotes flatter swing plane) Posture more upright from hips (promotes vertical swing plane)
Short thumb on left hand grip (promotes club face closure) Long thumb on left hand grip (slows club face closure)
Lag retained excessively (hands in front of club head at impact) Club casting or losing wrist hinge before impact (no lag retention)
Full shoulder turn (90 deg) = flatter plane/higher shoulder-hip turn ratio Partial shoulder turn (<90 deg) = steeper plane/lower shoulder-hip turn ratio
More diagonal finish (club points more down behind the back) Picture frame finish (club and arms form an open rectangle shape over the head)
Downswing begins with lower body ahead of upper body Downswing begins with upper body ahead of lower body
Arm motion more active than body Body motion more active than arms
Hands and arms extending out away from body past impact Hands and arms pulling in toward the body past impact
Left arm straight through impact and followthrough Left arm "chicken winging" (bending) through impact and followthrough
Ball tee'd up higher (high trajectory, hook) Ball tee'd down lower (low trajectory, slice)
Smaller diameter golf grip (promotes earlier club face closure) Larger diameter grip (promotes later club face closure)
Higher lofted clubs (easier to hook and draw) (e.g., 9-iron) Lower lofted clubs (easier to fade and slice) (e.g., driver)
Gripping down on clubs (easier to release) Gripping at full length (slower to release)


Of course, there are some outliers (it wouldn't be golf if there weren't):

Hook Spin (Draw) and HIGHER Ball Flight Characteristics
Slice Spin (Fade) and LOWER Ball Flight Characteristics
Ball tee'd up higher (high trajectory, hook) Ball tee'd down lower (low trajectory, slice)
Head behind the ball at impact (high flight, hook) Head forward of the ball at impact (low flight, slice)
Wide stance (especially with driver) Narrow stance (especially with driver)



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