The golf club's face is said to be square when it is aimed directly at the target. Put another way, when the clubface is perpendicular to the target line.
It's obvious that when the clubface is pointed at the target, the ball will fly at the target provided the club path is also square. That's not the only benefit of making contact with a square face, though.
The target line should always point to the spot where you want the ball to finish. However, the body's alignment is often different, such as when the golfer wants to hit a curved shot (fade or draw).
In these instances, the club's path will determine the direction the ball starts on – either left or right of the target. Only if the clubface is directly aligned with the target at impact will the shot finish there.
Besides accuracy, a square clubface at impact usually results in a strike on the sweet spot, which not only feels great but maximizes distance and backspin.
It is possible to hit the ball wildly off track with a square clubface, but only if the swing path is dramatically outside or inside the target line. When this happens, the face is too open or closed in relation to the swing path, creating excess sidespin.
Benefits of a Square Clubface at Impact
One of the great things about golf is the fact that there are many different ways to get the job done on the course. You don't have to swing exactly like everyone else, because it is possible to move the club in a number of different ways while still achieving excellent results. In fact, if you watch professional golf, you will find that each player on the Tour has a unique swing, yet all are capable of great performances and low scores. You are free to go your own way in this game, as long as the end result of your swing is a shot that flies directly at your target time and time again.
Of course, within that freedom, there are some things that should be considered essential – such as having a square ckubface at impact. No matter how you manage to get there, squaring up the clubface at impact is a key fundamental that will go a long way toward helping you reach your potential on the course. In the article below, we are going to highlight the many benefits of playing with a square clubface when you move through the hitting area.
For all of the work that goes into the golf swing, the entire outcome of your shot comes down to just one moment in time – impact. What happens at impact will solely determine the success or failure of the shot. Even if you made a great looking swing with plenty of solid positions, you can still hit a terrible shot if things go wrong at impact. Everything you do in the swing should be designed to help you reach a better impact position, as that is the only thing that will determine where the ball goes when it leaves the club. Put yourself in a good impact position consistently, and you will love the results. Get out of position, however – especially with the clubface – and you will be in big trouble.
Sadly, most amateur golfers fail to get the clubface square to the target line regularly at impact. There are a number of reasons for this shortcoming, but the result is the same – a shot that flies off line almost immediately, and winds up nowhere near the intended target. Golf is a target based game, so hitting the line that you have picked out (or getting as close as possible) is essential. It is hard to imagine any player that would be able to regularly shoot low scores without the ability to get the clubface square at the bottom. You might run into a good shot from time to time with the clubface out of position if you manage to curve the ball back just right, but those shots will always be the exception. Consistency is required for low scoring, and you will only be consistent when you can square the clubface at impact – it's just that simple.
All of the content below has been written from the perspective of a right handed golfer. If you happen to play left handed, please take a moment to reverse the information as necessary.
The Big Advantages
It might seem a little bit silly to write a section on the advantages of having a square ckubface at impact – after all, isn't it obvious as to why you would want to have the face as square as possible? Not necessarily. There is more to this part of the game than you might think, and having a clear understanding of the importance of face angle is crucial to the quality of your play going forward. You are only going to work hard on the parts of the game that you understand to be important, so take a moment to read through the points below and you will have a newfound appreciation for the importance of clubface angle at impact.
- Hitting your target. Of course, the biggest advantage of all is having the ability to consistently hit your target when the face is square at impact. This is the easiest way to hit your targets on a regular basis – if you fail to get the face square, you will always struggle to repeat the same ball flight over and over again. Without a repeating flight, your shots will be hard to predict, and you won't know exactly where to aim in order to successfully send the ball on its way toward the fairway or green. Playing with a square face at impact is tremendously relaxing for players who are used to trying to play from an open or shut position, because the game suddenly will seem easier and more predictable. This is a game that is all about hitting targets, and playing with the face square is the best way to do just that.
- Adding distance. In addition to hitting the ball on a more reliable path, you should also be able to squeeze more distance out of your shots when you play with the clubface square. Making impact with the face square will allow you to transfer more of the energy from your swing into the ball, meaning you will get more yards out of the same swing speed. Even if you never add a single mile per hour of swing speed to your motion, you can still hit the ball farther by just improving on the quality of contact you achieve at the bottom. Every golfer can benefit from adding some distance, so making this point a priority to give yourself a good chance to gain helpful yards off the tee and from the fairway.
- Reducing curve. There is nothing from with curving the ball intentionally from right to left or left to right from time to time, but you don't want to always have to play your shots with big curves. Of course, if you use a clubface that is dramatically open or closed at impact, that is exactly what you will have to do. It is virtually impossible to hit a generally straight ball when the clubface isn't square as it contacts the ball. Work on getting into a better position with the club at the bottom of the swing and your flights will straighten out – making your game more reliable, and your ball flight more capable of working under a variety of conditions.
- A clean strike. This is a point that is specific to iron shots that you play from the fairway. When hitting the ball off of the short grass without the aid of a tee, you need to make clean contact in order to keep the shot online and have it travel the full distance to the target. Unfortunately, if the face of the club is not square to the target line, it will be hard to hit the ball cleanly. The leading edge of the club needs to be square to the line in order to cut through the grass cleanly as you take a divot – and that edge is not going to be square if your swing is off track slightly. To sharpen up your ball striking quality (and to add backspin to your shots at the same time), work on getting into a square position.
There are plenty of benefits that could be listed above, but these are the most important ones to keep in mind. Each of the points on the list above is going to help you shoot lower scores at the end of the day, and that is the whole point in the first place. It may take some time and effort to improve the mechanics of your swing to the point where you are keeping the face square on a regular basis, but the effort will be worth it when you start to see results.
The Pressure Factor
Do you play any golf under pressure? It is common to feel pressure when you play in a tournament at your local club, or even when you have a friendly wager going with some of the other golfers in your group. Whatever the case, golf under pressure is an entirely different experience from just playing a relaxed round with nothing on the line. When you start to feel some nerves come on during your round, you will see which parts of your swing are able to hold up – and which parts quickly fall apart.
One of the biggest benefits to playing with a square ckubface is an improved ability to play golf under pressure. The key to playing well when you feel nervous is using a simple, repeatable motion through the hitting area – and that is exactly what you will have with a square face. Players who bring the club down toward the ball with the face either opened or closed will have to make some form of last second adjustment with their hands in order to strike the shot properly. It might be possible to make those last moment adjustments on the range when there is nothing at stake, but those moves become significantly more difficult when the heat is on. While nervous, you will find that your hands don't perform in the same way that they did in practice, and the outcomes of your shots will suffer accordingly.
Even if you don't plan on playing in any golf tournaments anytime soon, you can still find great benefit in terms of clutch performance by keeping your clubface as square as possible. Pressure can find you on the golf course even when you are out playing a casual round by yourself, especially as you near the end of the round with a good score in progress. For example, if you realize that you are approaching your career best round, you are sure to get nervous even if nothing else is at stake. The only way to get through the 'finish line' to post one of your best rounds is to have a swing that will hold up under the pressure you are going to feel. Work hard on the positioning of the clubface while you practice on the range and your game will be better prepared for the mental challenge to come on the course.
Have you ever heard golfers complain about not being able to take the same swing that they use on the range out onto the course? This is a common complain, and you might have made it yourself from time to time. At the heart of this concept is the role that pressure plays in the golf swing. When hitting balls on the range, your timing should be good and your tempo should be free, since there is nothing at stake. If you hit a bad shot on the driving range, you simply set up the next ball and make another swing. On the course, however, things are different. Your bad shots have consequences on the course, in the form of strokes that are added to your score. Knowing there is no second chance during a round of golf, your mind and body will feel pressure and your performance will be affected.
Dealing with Course Conditions
This point was alluded to briefly in a previous section, but it should be highlighted further here because of just how important it is to your performance during a round of golf. As you know, golf is played outdoors in all kinds of various weather conditions. Depending on where you live and where you play your golf, you can face anything from wind and rain to heat, cold, firm turf, soft turf, humidity, and more. Even the elevation of the course can have an effect on how your shots will respond. Since there are so many variables in place on the course that will be changing from round to round, you need to be able to adapt your game on the fly if you wish to play well on a consistent basis.
Players who are able to adapt to changing course conditions tend to be those who keep the clubface as square as possible through the hitting area. A square ckubface is going to strike the ball solidly and with plenty of spin, and those are two things that can help you get your ball around successfully no matter what the weather happens to be like on a given day. You won't have to worry so much about changing conditions when you swing in this manner, because you will know that you are always up for the challenge.
The problem with playing from an open or closed clubface in changing weather conditions is your inability to alter your shots as needed. For instance, consider the problems that are faced on the course during a windy day. As the round moves along, the wind is going to be coming at you from all different directions depending on the routing of the course. So, you may need to fight a right to left wind on the first few holes, and then have to switch and deal with it coming from left to right when the course turns. That might not be much of a problem for a player with a square face and a solid ball flight, but it could be a big issue if you play with the face open or closed dramatically. You will probably hit a big curve when you have an open or closed face, meaning you won't be able to deal with certain types of winds effectively.
While wind is one of the biggest challenges you will need to deal with on the course, there are plenty of other examples of how this can be an issue. For the sake of argument, lets say you hit a big draw on the majority of your shots due to a closed clubface at impact. When the course is playing soft, you are able to use this draw effectively most of the time. However, when the course dries out and firms up, the draw will suddenly become an issue as the ball is not going to stop in a timely manner. You will be getting big bounces and plenty of roll, and it will be extremely difficult to control your shots properly. Since you are used to playing with a shut face, you are not going to be able to alter this pattern easily on the fly – meaning you are stuck with the big draw even when it doesn't fit the conditions at hand.
Players who travel to play golf obviously need to be able to adjust to course conditions, but that need is just the same for golfers who only play in their local area. The weather is unpredictable in most parts of the world, and having the ability to adapt on the fly will not only help you shoot lower scores, it will make the game more fun as well.
The Key to the Short Game
Yes, using a square ckubface at impact is important in the long game. Believe or not, however, it is even more important in the short game. Why? For one simple reason – the ball isn't going to have time to curve back toward the target in the short game. If your clubface alignment is wrong at impact, the shot will not head toward the target. You can't play a draw or fade with your pitch and chip shots, and you certainly can't a curve with your putts, either. Once you pick your target line, it is essential that you match up the clubface with that target line when you hit the ball. The ability to consistently square up the face in the short game right at the top of the priority list in this part of golf (along with speed control).
One of the best ways to keep the clubface square during your short game swings is to keep your hands as quiet as possible. It is the hands and wrists that will open and close the face of the club if you are not careful, so don't let them get too involved in the action. Focus on controlling the swings that you make in the short game with your shoulders while your hands simply guide the club through the hitting area. Specifically, be sure to keep your left wrist firm and stable, as it is going to mirror the movement of the clubhead and clubface. By hitting all of your putts and chips with a firm left wrist, it will become dramatically easier to find the target line at impact time after time.
Of course, making a great swing is only one piece of the puzzle, as you aren't going to hit the target line if you never were lined up correctly to begin with. At address, take your time to be sure you have aligned the clubface with the target line properly. If necessary, pick an intermediate target that is just a few inches in front of your ball to aid with alignment. This intermediate target should be on the exact line that you wish to use for the shot as a whole. If you can get the club lined up correctly with that short range target, you will know that you are nicely aligned with the target line that is going to take your shot to the hole. Accuracy in alignment is important throughout the course, so it is a smart move to get into a habit of paying attention to this point before all of your shots.
Reaching a square position with the clubface at impact is a key ingredient to playing great golf. There are countless reasons why this fundamental will help you shoot lower scores, and many of those points have been outlined above. During your upcoming practice sessions, be sure to think about this element of your game and work on improving it one step at a time. You are never going to reach a point where you hit every single shot with a perfectly square face – that just isn't possible – but you can continually strive to get a little bit closer to that unreachable goal.