As senior golfers swing though impact on a standard full shot, the club could be moving at nearly 100 miles per hour.
At this speed, it’s difficult to get accurate feedback on where the club face is striking the ball and where the club’s sole is hitting the ground.
These two factors are vital as both could ultimately determine the ball flight.
The goal for any iron shot is to deliver the club at impact with its sole (bottom edge) parallel to the ground. If it is parallel, and the club face is square to the intended target, the ball will fly straight when struck from the centre of the club. However, if at impact the heel of the club strikes the ground first, the face will point left of the target and send the ball in that direction. Likewise, if the toe of the club hits the ground first at impact, the face will point right of the target sending shots in that direction (this has nothing to do with the club face twisting at impact which is a common myth!).
To get an accurate reading of where the club’s sole is impacting the ground, use lie tape and an impact mat which can be sourced from a local PGA pro. If golfers hit the ground with the heel first, it usually indicates an excessive in-to-out swing path in relation to the ball-to-target line. If golfers hit the ground with the toe first it usually indicates an excessive out-to-in swing path in relation to the ball-to-target line.
Striking the ball with the centre of the club face will produce the most consistent and powerful ball flights. If players impact the ball with the club’s toe, the resulting shot will most likely move from right-to-left in the air (for a right handed golfer). The opposite is true for strikes off the heel which will move left-to-right in the air. To test where the club face is striking the ball, use face tape or sprinkle practice balls with talcum powder. After hitting the ball, the powder will leave a mark indicating where the ball hit the face.
Striking the ball with the toe usually occurs when the arms lose their extension through impact pulling the club inside. Strikes from the heel normally occur when the club moves excessively from in-to-out or when a golfer ‘comes over the top’, swinging the club from out-to-in. To help solve both these problems use the following drill. Place two tee pegs in the ground just over a club head's width apart and practice hitting balls from between the pegs.
This drill will not only help you swing the club through on the correct path, improving where the club face strikes the ball, but will help bring the club sole through impact parallel to the ground.