Control the Clubface at Impact

Dan Gold
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How to Control the Clubface at Impact

One of the key elements to a solid and consistent impact at the ball is how the angle of the clubface is held or fixed at the moment of impact. It is also one of the most important elements in controlling the quality and flight of the ball.

Too many players think that they have to do a lot of work at impact. In fact, this is a common fault or problem with many amateurs. They tend to drop the right shoulder or get lazy with their wrist in a relative effort to focus or maintain their impact of swing. The result is often a slicing or topping of the ball at impact. This is why players are told, “keep your right shoulder up,” or “keep your wrists firm.” In reality, neither of these is the optimal method to achieve solid and consistent impact.

Instead of focusing on muscle action to make the clubface hold a consistent impact, the most effective way to have that same result is to simply hold the face at a constant angle at impact. For amateurs, I commonly teach this concept as holding or reminding yourself at the add of the follow through. This ensures that the clubface is at a consistent angle at impact.

Start By Checking Your Grip

The grip and set up that will make you slice a 7 iron from 100 yards will be the same grip that will help you hit the ball solid and straight off the tee. Why?

Because you want to have good feel at address. You want to feel like the club is part of you, part of your body. And that means your grip needs to be consistent.

If you’re grip changes from club to club, you’re never going to groove your swing. Your set-up will be inconsistent. And that means you’re never going to feel like you’ve got control in any given situation.

Are You Rolling Your Wrists?

Watch a Tour de France mountain-stage finish and you will see a near constant stream of riders’ hands and wrists flapping as they work at the front of the bunch.

Part of this is to do with aerodynamics, keeping the bars still and the hands in a straight line for as long as possible, but I don’t think it’s just that.

The wrists are the major joints in the body not designed for twisting movements.

Yet the clubface twists through impact.

I’m not sure this can be avoided, but a little control could help prevent over-twisting and stiff wrists.

How can you control the clubface at impact?

It’s all about developing some sort of an oblique twist in the swing rather than a pure wrist turn.

To do this, think about working some small shoulder circles as you take back the club.

The biggest circle of the lot will be the backswing so adapt accordingly over the course of the shot.

You can’t control the bounce off the ground, so just try to keep the hands directly behind the ball.

How To Close the Clubface on the Downswing

A common problem in the downswing is the “Loose Release.” What this means is that the hands release the club too soon. They are often a little premature releasing the club from the top “Power Position” on the backswing.

This often happens in golfers who are “golfing” the ball and not working the golf club. The clubface opens prematurely in the downswing and often has a harder time finding the ball.

Fixing the loose release is easy, but you need to always make the commitment to do it. Many golfers play for years with a loose release and get by.

But many of them never learn and progress as golfers. With the problem being so easy to fix, why not take care of it now? Fix your loose release and you will find staggering improvements in your scores.

The ball will start to get in the hole more often. Your short game will improve. A solid foundation is the cornerstone for all the elements of the game.

An Easy Way to Develop Clubface Awareness

Depending on the type of swing you have, you may be aware of your clubface at impact or you may not be.

If you’re like most golfers, you don’t set your clubface at impact because you bite the ball. You’ve only just learned to swing the club on the driving range or chipping green. You can’t feel what you don’t know.

I want to share a very simple exercise to develop clubface awareness. Here’s what you’ve got to do ‖

Get a helper. You go to the practice area.

Mark off 10 yards (10 yards can be approximated to a tennis ball length) with white spray paint.

Your helper places a white ball about 3 inches ahead of it.

You have to hit the ball with a 7 iron just back of the center of the white ball.

Your helper checks to see where the ball was and drops the second white ball about 3 inches behind the first one.

You swing again and have to hit the second white ball again.

Continue until you hit 4 white balls.

You’ll start to feel that your ball park is too narrow.

How to Square the Clubface Consistently

When you take a golf lesson, your instructor is likely to tell you to keep your clubface square to the target as you swing through the ball. Unless your aim is to hit a ball right left it is also necessary to aim your clubface square to the target.

Your instructor can analyze your swing and correct your posture to make sure your club is always pointing toward the target.

You can also do these exercises to ensure you are achieving this goal.

Practice holding your wedges such that they are pointing in the direction that the club will face when you swing through the ball.

With your putter, putt while looking at the target through the shaft of the putter. Set up for a short distance putt and aim the clubface square to the target.

Practice your chipping and pitching while looking through the clubface. Strike one ball with your driver while aiming your driver toward the target through the clubface.

This will feel awkward at first but the skill will come with time and practice.

The Half Swing Drill

The golf swing starts the moment you tee off and this half swing drill helps to speed up your body rotation starts the moment you tee off.

It is a pre-impact drill and can be practised from all kinds of lies including from the tee – it helps produce a solid impact on the ball.

To begin the half swing drill, pick up the club and hold it at the top of your backswing, with both hands together.

Clubface Control Drill

If you watch the pros, they seemingly have no control over where the shaft goes when hitting a golf ball. The club face has no real effect on the ball’s direction, they just know where to release the club at the right time.

This is an age-old technique of the pros, but it’s an essential one to master. The reason why it’s unnoticeable until you actually start practicing, is because it’s one of those things that you develop over the years with practice. Until then, someone on the outside looking in will not be able to tell if you have the ability to control where the ball goes or not.

Building that skill takes time. In the mean time, there’s always some slight direction of the ball with the face of the club. So here’s a place if you are starting to develop that skill.

If your most common shot is a long par 5, you’re likely not to get to the green in two. You are also likely to be leaving the ball well before the green. Usually the only shot you can make is a relatively short pitch.

By practicing getting the face of the club as square at impact as possible, you’ll be able to keep the ball closer to the hole.

Chair Drill

This drill will give you a physical reference point for seeing if your hands are tipping into the impact zone too soon.

When someone first starts golf lessons, a lot of their instruction is based in how to address the ball properly and how to set their body to create a consistent, repeatable swing.

One of the key instructions you might get on your first day of golf is keeping your lead hand position the same throughout the swing. One of the easiest ways to do that is to drill impact aim and practice feeling where that hand position feels the most solid.

You can use the back of a chair to standardize your impact position. You want to start with your aim, then think about creating a feeling of distance from the ball by tipping your hands inward so that you see the clubface from a first person point of view.

You’ll see that distance with your arms fully extended that sets you up for the best swing possible.

Final Thoughts

To get the greatest benefit of this powerful grip shape, make sure that you hit the ball in the middle of your face. The clubface angle should generally be square at impact and you should avoid hooking or slicing the ball with the face angle open or closed.

If you’re missing shots consistently from right or left, this is often an indicator of your clubhead path. If this is the case, work on fixing your swing plane, which is more important than anything else when it comes to hitting shots straight for golfers at every skill level.

If you already have a clean swing plane and your clubface is slightly open at impact, your stem is probably too straight. Try to use a mid to open Clubface angle and swing more on the inside. This is referred to as coming inside the target line and will help you shape shots to the right without extra effort.

If your Clubface is slightly closed at impact, you are likely pushing the ball or the ball is hitting the outside of the face before it rotates into the turf. This can be fixed by moving your hands slightly ahead of the clubhead and by swinging towards the outside of the target line.