Understanding the ball flight that you are seeing from the shots you are hitting is a really important diagnostic skill to have.
It will allow you to work out exactly what is going on with the club head at impact and what needs to be altered, to change and correct the ball flight.
A golf ball’s flight is 85% influenced by the club face and where this is aiming during impact.
If the ball flies to the left of the target, the club face was aiming left of the target and if the ball flies to the right of the target, the club face was aiming right of the target as it struck the ball.
The ball flight is also influenced, but less so, only 15%, by the direction of movement in the club head, or the club head’s swing path. If the direction of the club head’s swing path is towards the target and the club face is aiming along this swing path, you will hit a straight shot at the target. If the club head’s swing path is to the left of target and the club face is aiming along this swing path, the ball will fly straight left of the target and if the club head’s swing path is to the right of the target with the club face aiming down the swing path, the ball will fly straight right.
There are three possible club head swing path directions that can be produced when swinging a golf club, in to out, out to in and down the line. Each of these swing paths have three possible directions that the club face could be aiming in, left of the swing path, down the swing path or right of the swing path. This in total produces nine possible outcomes for ball flight. A straight shot flies directly at the target. Then starting on the left of this there is a pull hook, a pull, a slice and a fade and starting on the right of this there is a draw, a hook, a push and a push slice.
We see a curve in the ball flight whenever there is a divergence between the direction that the club face is aiming and the direction that the club head swing path is travelling in. So a slice where the ball begins left of the target and then curves to the right, finishing right of the target, is a result of the club head swing path to the left of the target, a club face aiming to the right of this swing path, but not to the right of the target. This will start the ball left of the target and then the divergence between path and face produces a tilted axis spin on the golf ball that results in a curve in it's flight to the right.
A hook, where the ball begins right of the target and then curves to the left, finishing left of the target is the opposite. Here the swing path of the club head is to the right of the target and the club face is aiming to the left of this swing path, but not left of the target. The ball starts on the right of the target as this is where the face is aiming and the divergence between path and face angle this time produces tilted axis spin curving right to left.
You can learn a lot from observing your ball flight when at the range or out on the golf course. Using your understanding of what is causing the ball to fly in the manner you are observing will allow you to make the correction that is need to alter the flight and get you hitting straighter shots.