Simple Explanation of the New Ball Flight Laws

Dan Gold
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Why Do Ball Flight Laws Matter?

Every golfer understands the importance of trajectory. It’s the angle of your ball in flight as it relates to achieving the most distance off of the tee.

You can hit a ball high and far, both up down slope in a bunker or in the opposite direction.

Its character is determined by the trajectory. The golfer simply adjust the angle of the club at the bottom of the swing for that purpose.

The old ball flight laws have been deprecated and are no longer used. Nowadays, the clubs are built from the heel to the toe and the smash factor indicates the amount of spin. A higher smash factor on the irons means that the face is sitting lower than the toe-line, and the more the smash factor, the more spin there is. That accounts for the shape of the driver heads and the design of the cavity as well on those face.

There are three categories of ball flight:

Low: This category is used when the ball is angled either up or down from the target, depending on the angle of the club at the bottom of the swing.

Medium: In this, the ball is going in an opposite direction to the target.

High: When the ball is going along the target line, it’s considered as a high smash factor.

Old Ball Flight Laws (9 shots)

Old ball flight laws can get you going in the right direction, but the truth is they are mostly useless on the golf course. But they are a logical starting point for a beginner golfer.

They can also help get you into the habit of how to release the club. Overall, they are a great way to get started with what will ultimately be the foundation of your golf swing.

Here’s what they are.

Cup: It’s the most shallow of all real ball flights. It is very similar to a high lob shot.

Skull: The ball is low to the ground, but when it lands, it rolls a bit, similar to a skull shot.

Punch: The ball comes off the clubface low, below the knees. It has a low spin rate with a shallow descent and a quick roll after landing.

Even Flow: Similar to a wedge-shot, the ball hits the ground and rolls a bit, then rolls and rolls. Don’t hit it too far or it will roll too far and possibly end up out-of-bounds.

Stall: The ball comes off the clubface low and then goes into a stall for a moment before it falls forward.

High Draw: The ball goes straight, high and slightly fades in the end.

New Ball Flight Laws

In order to promote sound and common sense practice, the USGA has issued new rules governing the classification of balls struck between the two extremes of the lightest and the heaviest of the new range of balls offered in America. The previous distinction simply into light and heavy was becoming unsatisfactory and confusing though it was a number of years old.

The main purpose of this shift in rules was to provide a measure for those golfers who preferred good distance and a degree of control over those who cared more for a pleasing flight of their ball.

The old Law 6-4 applied to different conditions of midsummer weather. This situation being unsatisfactory, a new one called Rule 6-5 has been issued. This new rule now refers to the true range of golf balls available that are designed to suit player preferences.

In order to better understand this new law, it is good for golfers to know what it is that they are striking when going for a shot. There are four basic types of golf balls, which are as follows:

  • Soft(or short game): golf balls that allow the longest distance hits
  • Medium: balls that allow mid-range frequency of distance hits
  • Hard: balls that have a lower frequency of hits but at long distances.
  • Longest distance: balls that travel at the highest average distance

How to Use the New Ball Flight Laws

If you want to improve your golf game, you need to understand the ways that the golf ball reacts to swing movements.

We have been taught that the golf ball’s in gyroscopic motion during the flight.

In simple terms, a gyroscope is a spinning device that spins at a constant speed around an axis. It is found to react to external forces based on how that external force has acted on the axis.

The gyroscopic action of the golf ball is also based on speed and spin rate. However, it relies primarily on spin rate.

If the ball does not spin in gyroscopic motion, it follows a similar path to a baseball. In this case, golfers can play the ball with a fade or draw based on the external factor of the biomechanics of the golf swing.

If the ball does spin in gyroscopic motion, it will react to the biomechanics of the golf swing as well as external factors.

Final Thoughts

It was a big day for golf when the R&A and USGA announced these changes in 2008. Though they have now been implemented for several years, they are still not fully understood. Many golfers follow them. Others don’t. What else could there be to know about them?

The answer: a lot. The relationship between clubhead speed and ball speed is quite complex and strongly depends on the initial club position. At the PGA level, the final result of the swing can not be perfectly controlled, even when attempting to follow the new laws. Moreover, in practice, the swing does not follow a straight line, being a triangle where, for example, the club is pointing downhill at impact. All in all, there are a huge number of factors that affect the resulting ball speed, and even the most experienced golfers can not control all of them simultaneously. And that’s where the real challenge lies.

If you’re planning to play professionally, knowing as much as possible about the new ball flight laws will be advantageous. If you’re an amateur, why not play the game by the new rules? After all, the main goal of golf is to have fun and if you can see that you are improving as a golfer, you are certainly having fun.