Just the Facts

As discussed in my previous article Know What before Know How, Knowledge is one of Ball Flight Laws determine Club Mechanicsthe key facets to Impact Zone Golf®.  Knowledge about what makes a ball fly and what the club has to do to accomplish this task are beginning concepts.

Once the ball is airborne, it will either fly straight, to the right or to the left.  Now, you are probably aware of what causes these variations in flight, but it bears reviewing because, as you will read later, clubface awareness will help you create the shots you want when you want them.

The three pictures below tell the story about varying ball flights.

Square Clubface   Open ClubfaceClosed Clubface

Ball Flight Laws tell us the following (for right-handed golfers):

  • Square Clubface to the Swing Path = Ball Flies Straight in direction of Path
  • Open Clubface to the Swing Path = Ball Flies Right of Path
  • Closed Clubface to the Swing Path = Ball Flies Left of Path

Simple, right?  The basic concepts to create ball flight and control its direction are clear.  Strike the ball below the equator and it will fly; control the clubface orientation at impact and you will control its direction.  Now that’s some knowledge you can use!

It’s a fact that the golf ball reacts to only one thing at the moment of impact and that is the clubface.  It follows that if you focus your attention on the clubface during impact you will have the best chance of controlling where your ball goes.  And along the way, attention on the clubface during impact will become the foundation for the swing you build.

Follow my logic thread below and I believe it will help you embark on playing the best golf of your life!

It all starts with an image of what you want the ball to do to get to the target.  Generally, the Club Mechanics create Swing Mechanicsterm for this image is Ball Flight, even though the chosen shot may be one that rolls the whole way, as in putting.  Once you’ve selected the Ball Flight, you then choose the club that will best accomplish it.  Now you simply determine what that club must do through  ball impact to create the shot you selected.  What the club does is termed Club Mechanics.

For example, say you want to curve the ball from right to left (a draw for a right-hander) so you can go around a hazard instead of over it; based on the yardage you determine a 7 iron is the club for the shot.  Your knowledge of Ball Flight dictates the clubface must descend through impact (to strike the ball below its equator) with the clubface closed to its swing path (so the ball will curve left or draw).   This will make it clear that your swing path must be right of the hazard you want to go around so the ball will have room to curve toward the target, avoiding the hazard. These specifics regarding clubface orientation and direction are the Club Mechanics for hitting that draw.

Now that you are clear on the Club Mechanics needed for your shot, you can begin to sense the movement needed to deliver the club accordingly, this we term Swing Mechanics.  Let me be clear, Swing Mechanics are a function of the Ball Flight you have chosen and are determined by the Club Mechanics needed during ball impact to create that intended flight.  Intended golf shots determine attentive golf swings.

Shot Imagery is the heart of the golf swingThe goal for every golf shot is to reach a target.  To do this you must apply the clubface to the ball in a way that creates the ball flight you intend.  Attention on applying the clubface to the ball creates the swing and not vise-versa.  Your golf swing is dynamic and whole; there is not one physical piece or part that makes it all work to create the desired outcome of proper club mechanics that produce the ball flight intended – all the ‘parts’ work together to deliver the clubface to the ball.  Your body is like a machine with many moving parts that must work in harmonious order; it all needs a good manager so that everything works together and at the right time.

I pose to you that your brain is that manager, more specifically; your brain is a ‘task manager’.  Just think about how you get through daily life. You “shower”, “shave”, “dress”, “drive”, “eat”, “drink”, “walk”, “talk”, “stand”, “sit”, “hammer”, “rake”, “open”, “close”, etc…all of these are tasks.  All you need is the intent to do the task and your brain manages your body to get the task done…Brilliant!  So why would you treat a golf shot any differently?

For golf shots, the task is applying the clubface to the ball and the task is clarified first with “ball to target” imagery.  This ‘task orientation’ is the glue that combines all the swing ‘parts’ into one fluid motion that produces desired results.  What you are doing with the clubface to the ball is the primary task; the swing you produce will be an effect, not a cause.  Misunderstanding this process is why sometimes golfers ask “what did I do right?” when they hit a great shot.

Simple Task of Square Clubface In these instances, their task was usually very simple, like “just hit it”, “ball then divot” or “keep the face square” and this “task” orientation orchestrates the body’s swing mechanics to deliver the goods.  Sometimes golfers aren’t even that conscious of the task, they just have a fleeting glimpse or image of what they want to happen with the ball and automatically execute the shot without getting in their way consciously. That’s why they don’t know how they did it; they Simple Task of Connect the Dotsdid the whole thing of “ball to target” and how is of little concern to the task oriented mind.

With intent only on the strike, spawned from the image of “ball to target”, great shots happen.  And those shots are usually great because that’s all the ball reacts to – the strike!

So here is your formula for success:

Ball Flight leads to Club Mechanics that create Swing Mechanics 

Note: I often hear golfers say “I get it, but all I want is a swing that will hit the ball straight”.  This comment usually stems from a false concept that if they “do the right swing” they will “hit the right shot”.  My intent with this article is that you understand once and for all that you are in control of every shot you hit because you are in control of where you focus your attention.  The reality is “if you hit the right shot then you will have done the right swing”…that’s right… Ball Flight leads to Club Mechanics that create Swing Mechanics.

You can begin to apply these concepts during a practice session by simply playing with the clubface through impact.  Focus on delivering a square clubface through impact for a few shots, then focus on delivering an open clubface for a few shots then a closed clubface for a few shots.  See what happens when you put your attention on what you are doing with the clubface through impact, I believe you will sense different swing mechanics for each variation.  This little exercise may reveal that you can hit any shot you want when your attention is focused on a clear intent for What the clubface is doing through impact and not on How to swing, hoping for an acceptable result.

I invite you to give it a go and let me know what your experience reveals!

Can Impact Zone Golf® be applied to the Single Plane Swing?

I received a very good question a short time ago…thanks to RL.  Here it is:

Can these 5 dynamics be incorporated easily into your natural golf method? Bobby Clampett’s book, although it implies you can choose your own style of swing and just focus on the impact zone, clearly relates these 5 dynamics to a conventional golf swing where body pivot is necessary. Yet, your natural golf swing methods have minimal body pivoting as it is more an arm swing. Am I right or mistaken? How do you plan to integrate the impact zone dynamics into your natural golf swing?

And, here is my answer:

Impact Zone Golf’s 5 Dynamics provide an overview of elements found in all quality golf swings.  Therefore they can be applied quite easily to the Single Plane Swing method.  Regarding the body pivot, I addressed the issue in a previous post by stating the following:

How your body moves to apply pressure (through impact) is a direct result of how you setup to the ball. In other words, where you position the ball at setup will correlate directly to how you must move to apply pressure in the correct direction.

There are two basic components to ball position:

  1. Left or right relative to hip center (belt buckle) – right of center is considered “back”, left of center is considered “forward”.
  2. Proximity, meaning near or far relative to toe line – one can stand close to the ball (Jim Furyk) or far from the ball (Nancy Lopez).

Jim Fuyrk SetupNancy Lopez Setup

Also, two generalizations can be made relative to how your body will move when considering whether to stand closer or farther from the golf ball:

  1. Standing closer requires more body rotation to apply pressure in the correct direction, i.e. “turn your belt buckle to the target through impact”.
  2. Standing farther requires less body rotation to apply pressure in the correct direction, i.e. “face the ball through impact”.

The 4th Impact Zone Dynamic is “Lagging the Load” and the source of this lag is the workhorse or body pivot.  The pivot blends both lateral and rotational movement.  Simply stated, when one uses a Single Plane Setup the lateral component is maximized and the rotational component is minimized.  Below I have posted pictures of my Single Plane forward swing above pictures of my more conventional “two plane” swing.  When comparing the two you will see less rotation in the Single Plane Swing sequence.  (click on pictures to enlarge)

SPFO6.1

The other primary difference you will see is that my left knee remains flexed through impact in the Single Plane sequence (top) while my left knee straightens through impact in the two plane sequence (bottom).  The straightening left leg facilitates a faster and more rotational body pivot.

 

The bottom line is that where you position the ball relative to your body will determine the movement necessary to return the club consistently through impact.  The workhorse for all quality golf swings is the pivot.

 

IMPACT – The Key to Learning a Better Golf Game

Golf started for me in 1972.  I was 13 years old and my Dad introduced me to the game at a driving range in Tucson, AZ.  I remember hitting ball after ball, “clunk”, “thud”, “dirt”, “twist”, “grounder”, “chunk”, “blade” and then boom!  Out of nowhere, I hit the ball in the middle of the clubface and it seemingly soared in the air…Wow, what a feeling!  From that moment watching the first ball that flew in the air I was hooked.  The feeling of the ball coming off the clubface, the view of the ball climbing into the sky and flying true toward the 100 yard sign let me know I had found something so delightful I wanted to do it as much as I could.  Thus began a hobby that became a lifestyle and a career.

Forty years later, after a practice session on the range reviewing video of my swing, I am still delighted at the accomplishment of striking a ball clean and true…and now it is on purpose!  So what led me to this moment of truth, pure ball striking on purpose?  I searched for the majority of my golf life to replicate solid and accurate shots.  I followed the usual map, copying great player’s movements, listening to great teachers articulate body movements; constantly searching for a style that would work for me too.  Unfortunately, the more I learned about the swing styles I witnessed, the further I seemed to travel from my delightful goal of pure impact.

Then, with some wise words from Chuck Hogan one day in 2001, I realized it wasn’t HOW I swung, but WHAT the club was doing through impact that really mattered to the ball.  By this time I was steeped deeply in a method of swinging.  I was studying and teaching Natural Golf, which, at that time, was a method of swinging based on a theory of club movement on a single plane.

My philosophy for playing and teaching began to shift.  I was teaching and playing the single plane swing method.  And within this swing framework I was working toward understanding impact.  I began to understand that the single plane swing was a style, and while it was effective for many, the focus was still somehow clouded.  My focus and that of my students became wrapped around HOW to make the swing hoping it would translate to WHAT the club was doing through the impact.  There was much attention paid to setup positions, backswing motions, transition move to start the club forward, keeping the feet on the ground through impact, releasing the forearms, finishing on balance, etc.

While all of this thought of “swing” was correct and measurable in one sense, it still left awareness of impact secondary.  There was some disconnect of thought, the process was more important than the result.  Somehow, the belief is that if the swing was made correctly, the impact of the ball would take care of itself.  But it doesn’t.

Impact is a thought, awareness, a process, an intent all to itself.  Think of driving a nail with a hammer.  Do you think of wrist hinge, elbow bend, balance, weight transfer, angle retention?  Or do you simply drive the nail into the board?  When you bend a nail do you buy a copy of Hammer Digest or turn on the Hammer Channel to learn about how the best carpenters in the world hold a hammer, hinge their wrists, transfer their weight, bend their elbow?  No, you use the claw on the other end of the hammer head, pull out the “mistake”, place another nail in the hole and drive it pure and true!

This intent on pure impact is the source of pure impact.  In order to get good at impact one must focus on impact, one must be Impact Aware.  And herein lies a paradigm shift:  It is not swing style that produces impact, it is impact that produces swing style.  HOW one produces pure impact is not as important as the result of pure impact.  HOW becomes your style and your style is just that – Your Style!

These statements were validated for me in 2009 when I met Bobby Clampett, we were paired together in the final round of Champions Tour Qualifying School.  Bobby, PGA Tour player, CBS Sports golf analyst, and author of the widely acclaimed book, The Impact Zone, has launched a revolutionary new teaching and learning system based on five dynamics of proper impact outlined in his book.  Bobby’s journey in golf is an intriguing story.  You can learn about it at his website www.impactzonegolf.com.

I have since spent time with Bobby attending an Impact Zone workshop in Louisville, KY while competing in the 2011 Senior PGA Championship, becoming a Certified Impact Zone Instructor in November 2011 and once again attending an Advanced Impact Zone Workshop in January 2012 in Orlando after which Bobby graciously changed my status to Impact Zone Golf Master Instructor.Impact Zone Master Instructor CertificateBobby Clampett congratulates Ken

 

 

 

 

Impact awareness has liberated me from the cycle of searching for a swing style and has allowed me to focus in both playing and teaching on Mastering the Moment of Truth, The Impact Zone.  I believe it can do the same for you, allowing you to reach your potential for enjoyment playing this wonderful game.

Impact – It’s All That Matters…

When it comes to pleasurable golf, solid, straight shots rule! The bottom line goal for any golf swing is to make solid contact with the ball and send it right toward your target. Too many golfers spend their attention on the parts or pieces of the swing, hoping dearly that it will all come together at “the moment of truth” and provide the desired result. My instructional philosophy is to put my student’s attention where it matters most – IMPACT! You see, your brain works best as a task manager; give it a task and through trial and accurate feedback, it will accomplish the goal.

When learning to strike a golf ball, it is best to focus your attention on what you are doing with the clubface to the golf ball not on the pieces of the swing (body movement) involved to get it done. So, what does the clubface really have to do to the golf ball to get a solid and straight shot? Here is my formula for success:

Perfect Impact = Pressure + Direction

Perfect Impact is generated by a square clubface contacting the ball on the sweet spot while moving toward the target. Moving is the key word in the sentence above because the more the clubface is accelerating through impact the more the ball is compressed. Ball compression is what you experience when the ball suddenly “rockets” off the clubface with seemingly effortless power. The experience is only elusive if your attention is not on task, namely applying pressure to the ball through impact.

It’s the clubface that applies pressure to the ball and because you are holding the handle of the club, you must apply pressure there, in the correct direction, for it to transfer down the shaft, to the clubhead and eventually through the ball by the clubface.

An Important Note

How your body moves to apply pressure is a direct result of how you setup to the ball. In other words, where you position the ball at setup will correlate directly to how you must move to apply pressure in the correct direction.

There are two basic components to ball position:

  1. Left or right relative to hip center (belt buckle) – right of center is considered “back”, left of center is considered “forward”.
  2. Proximity, meaning near or far relative to toe line – one can stand close to the ball (Jim Furyk) or far from the ball (Nancy Lopez).

Jim Fuyrk Setup Nancy Lopez Setup

Also, two generalizations can be made relative to how your body will move when considering whether to stand closer or farther from the golf ball:

  1. Standing closer requires more body rotation to apply pressure in the correct direction, i.e. “turn your belt buckle to the target through impact”.
  2. Standing farther requires less body rotation to apply pressure in the correct direction, i.e. “face the ball through impact”.

Think about those two distinctions during your next practice session and see which provides the easiest way for you to apply pressure to the back of the golf ball in the correct direction. Remember:

Perfect Impact = Pressure + Direction