This week I am going to cover the clubface angle at impact and how this can influence the golf ball as well as the club path and how it's relationship with the clubface can effect your golf ball.
Firstly, what do we mean when we talk about clubface angle? Simply put, face angle is the direction that the clubface points at the moment of impact. It can point in one of three directions relative to the target (RH golfer): at the target (square), right of the target (open) or left of the target (closed).
Studies have shown that the clubface is the most important contributor to the initial starting direction of the golf ball (up to 85%). Whilst the ball won't start in the exact direction of the clubface, it will always start closer to the face angle than the path. This basically means that if your ball starts right then your clubface is pointing right and if your ball starts left then guess what....your clubface is pointing left! Sounds simple I know, but you would be amazed at how many people think their path is the main protagonist.
So what is club path? Path can be defined as the direction the clubhead is moving at impact relative to the target line. Once again, the club can generally move in one of three directions (RH golfer): out-to-in (travelling left of target line), in-to-out (travelling right of target line) or in-square-in (in line with target line at moment of impact).
Now we understand what face angle and club path are, we can begin to look at the face to path relationship and this is where you will truly start to understand what is happening to make your golf ball do that strange thing in the air.
Face to path is simply the difference between the face angle and club path and this will have a huge influence on the curvature that you apply to the golf ball. Depending on the relationship between these two then the golf ball can either fly straight, curve left in the air or curve right in the air; the bigger the difference, the bigger the curvature.
Here is a video from Trackman Golf that goes into some more detail on the face to path relationship: http://blog.trackmangolf.com/what-is-face-to-path/
So let's go through a couple of examples.
Q. I hit a shot that starts right of my intended target and then curves further to the right of my target. What was the face angle and face to path relationship (assuming a centred hit)?
A. At impact the face angle was pointing right of the target and also pointing right of the club path. The club path could have been anything but we know the face was pointing right of it as well as the target. PUSH SLICE.
Q. I hit a shot that starts slightly left of my intended target and then curves right in the air and finishes on target. What was the face angle and face to path relationship (assuming a centred hit)?
A. At impact the face angle was pointing left of the target but right of the club path, making the ball curve slightly to the right in the air. This means the club path was out-to-in. FADE SHOT.
Hopefully what these examples show you is that if you can pay close attention to both the starting direction of your golf ball and then the curvature, you can start to determine what your face angle, club path and face to path relationship are at impact. Golf after all is 'what the ball does' so if you can analyse your ball flight correctly you can start to correctly diagnose and make the necessary changes. GOOD LUCK!