For new golfers, it can seem like there is an endless stream of terms and expressions to learn.

Why its Important to Know Where Your Club Face is Pointing at Impact

Golf has its own language, and it is important to learn that language if you hope to improve your game moving forward. Fortunately, most of what you hear on the golf course is pretty easy to understand. In this article, we are going to address one of the golf swing terms you’ll commonly hear as you practice or play – square club face. What does that mean? Does it matter? By the end of this article, you should have a clear answer to those questions and more.

Before we get into the specific definition of a square club face, we need to say that this is just one of many elements of your golf swing which need to come together successfully in order to hit a good shot. It is common for golfers to focus too much on one piece of the swing puzzle while ignoring everything else. That is an approach which is unlikely to lead to positive results in the long run. Always keep the big picture in mind while working on your swing. Sure, you want the individual parts to be functioning correctly, but no one single part will be enough on its own to send the ball toward the target. You’ll only achieve that goal when your techniques come together into a cohesive package.

Also, we need to point out that you are not going to get better at golf simply by reading some articles on the internet. We hope to offer you valuable information in this article, but the only way to improve is to practice your skills. Take what you learn from this and other articles and head out to the range with some specific goals in mind. Progress tends to come slowly in this game, but it is quite exciting when you do start to make strides. Maintain a positive attitude and be patient with yourself while working toward a brighter future on the links.

All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

What is a Square Club Face?

What is a Square Club Face?

Let’s get right down to the main question at hand in this article. What does it mean to have a square club face? This is not a particularly complicated concept, but there are a few terms you need to be familiar with first in order to wrap your mind around this idea. The list below lays out the terms you will need to know, along with a quick description of each of the techniques.

  • Target. Naturally, this is going to be the target for your shot. Sometimes, this will be the hole itself, but not always. You might pick out the center of the fairway as your target for a tee shot, or you may pick a spot on the green (away from the hole) as your target for an approach, if the hole is cut in a dangerous spot. Every shot that you hit during a round of golf, without exception, should have a specific target.
  • Target line. This is an imaginary line which runs from the golf ball to the target you have selected for the shot. It’s important to understand this line as much of what you do during the golf swing is going to be compared to the target line. It is worth noting that the target line does not indicate the path that you expect the ball to take as it flies from its current location up toward the target. Most likely, you are going to expect the ball to curve at least slightly in one direction or another, since hitting straight golf shots is extremely difficult. However, for the purposes of planning out your shot and assessing your swing, you are going to see the target line as a straight line which runs from your ball to the target you have picked out.
  • Swing path. The path your club takes as it moves through the hitting area is known as the swing path. This is one of the most important concepts in golf to understand. If your club is traveling perfectly down the target line as you move through impact, you are swinging down on a straight path. That would be extremely rare. More commonly, you will be swinging at least slightly from one side to the other. The two options are an inside-out swing path, and an outside-in swing path. As the names would indicate, an inside-out path is one which moves from inside the target line to outside the target line as it heads through the ball. An outside-in path does just the opposite. Any golfer who would like to improve his or her level of play moving forward would be wise to get familiar with the concept of swing path and what it means to the outcome of each shot.
  • Face angle. At this point, we are going to get down to the business of explaining what it means to have a square club face. The face angle that you use at impact is another key ingredient in the overall success or failure of the swing. Don’t let this term confuse you – face angle means nothing more than the direction the face is pointing. In this context, we will be talking about the direction the face is pointing when you make contact with the ball. If the face is pointing directly at the target, you are in a square position. There’s your definition! When the club face is pointed perfectly down the target line when you make contact with the ball, you have managed to find yourself with a square club face. Much like the straight down the line swing path, placing the club face perfectly square at impact is not a common occurrence. The club moves quickly through the hitting area while rotating from open to closed, so timing things up just right to achieve a square position is a tough task. Still, understanding square and what it means to your game is a valuable lesson.

So, we now know that a square club face is one which is pointed directly at the target when you make contact with the ball. We also know that such a position is difficult to achieve. If it’s so hard to get the face perfectly square at impact, why are we bothering to talk so much about this subject? While you might not wind up with the face square very often, you can use square as a point of reference to determine what you are trying to do with the club as it moves through impact. In the next section, we will discuss why this is an important concept, and how you can use it to play better golf.

Why It’s Important

Why It’s Important

At its core, golf is a target game. You need to pick targets for your shots, and you need to do your best to hit those targets. While it is easy to get distracted by the various hazards and course design elements you will encounter during a round, golf is really nothing more than a series of shots hit at a series of specific targets. If you do a good job of hitting your targets, you will post a good score. If you miss your targets too often, you will post a bad score. This can be a complicated game at times, but it really does boil down to the simple concept of hitting targets over and over again.

If you would like to hit more targets – and of course you would – it will help to know how your club face is positioned at impact. This brings us back to the focus of this article, the concept of a square club face at impact. You might not be able to square up the face on each and every swing, but you can work off of that point in order to find a nice position that fits your ball striking plan. The points below will explain what we mean.

  • Playing open or closed. Most golfers like to play either one of two ways – with the face slightly open to the target at impact, or with the face slightly closed at impact. By having a play before each swing, you will be able to more accurately predict the ball flight that is going to result from your swing, and you will be able to aim appropriately as a result. If you were to simply try to square up the club face on each swing, you may miss a little open sometimes and a little closed on other occasions. This is a problem because you won’t know where to aim. If you aim straight at the target, those shots which you do happen to square up will work nicely, but those will be the exception rather than the rule. Your ball flight will feel unpredictable, and you’ll struggle for the results you desire. By planning to play with the face either a bit open or closed, you can hopefully find more predictable outcomes. And, as a result, you can post lower scores.
  • Matching face with path. Knowing the club face position you are going to strive for is only helpful if you have a plan for the path that you would like the club to take through the hitting area. In other words, path and face angle are forever connected. For example, the combination of an inside-out path and a slightly closed face is a great way to produce a draw. Going the other direction, blending an outside-in path with a slightly open face should lead to a fade. There is no one right way to play the game, so feel free to pick out the ball flight – and the associated face angle and path – that seems to suit you best.
  • Considering trajectory. It is easy to get caught up in the draw and fade aspect of face angle, since the way the ball curves is certainly going to be impacted by where the face is pointing when you make contact. With that said, it would be a mistake to forget about how important trajectory is in your success on the course. Do you want to hit a high ball, or a low ball? Ideally, you’ll be able to vary the trajectory of your shots based on the circumstances at hand. Always remember that face angle is going to impact trajectory nearly as much as it is going to impact the curve of the shot. An open face at impact is going to mean that loft has been added to the club, and the shot should fly higher. Or, if the face is closed at impact, loft will be taken away and the shot will fly lower. Learning how to manipulate your face angle based on the kind of shot you would like to hit is a great way to diversify your game.

It is true that actually squaring up your face angle at impact with a full swing is a challenging task. It can happen from time to time, but it shouldn’t be relied on for consistent results. Rather, you should work on either side of a square position most of the time, playing a little bit open or closed to create the curve that you have in mind for the shot.

Correcting Your Mistakes

Correcting Your Mistakes

If you already play golf, you already have a swing in place. That swing might not be working to your satisfaction at this point, but it is still your swing and you need to take ownership of it. Moving forward, it’s important to understand that you aren’t starting with a blank slate in golf – you have a swing, and everything you do to improve is going to involve altering that swing in some way.

With that said, it is desirable to work toward correcting your mistakes with regard to the position of the club face at impact. Instead of just deciding that you want to play one particular way – say with a closed club face and an inside-out path to hit a draw – you should think about how your swing works now and how you could alter it to improve your performance. The points below should help to clear up this concept.

  • Face angle or swing path. Don’t try to change both your face angle and your swing path at the same time. Taking on such an ambitious project is unlikely to be successful, and you’ll probably wind up quite frustrated with the entire process. Instead, think about altering just one of these elements at a time before moving on to the other one. For instance, imagine you currently hit a slice as a result of an open club face at impact and an outside-in swing path. It would be tempting to try and fix both of those issues at once, but slow yourself down and deal with them one at a time. First, work on correcting your path. Once you manage to swing into the ball on a good path, you can then turn your attention to fixing any remaining face angle issues. Golfers frequently take on too many tasks at once in practice, which is one of the reasons many golfers never manage to get any better. Be patient and address your swing problems one at a time to have a better chance at finding real progress.
  • Carefully watch your ball flight. This may be a little bit obvious, but one of the key things you can do to work on fixing your mistakes is to actually watch your shots as they fly. Watch the ball carefully as it moves through the air and think about what that ball flight says about the swing that you made. If you are producing dramatic curves to the left or right, it’s nearly certain that your club face is in a significantly closed or open position. If you are hitting shots with only subtle curves, you can feel good that your face is at least relatively close to square. It would be a shame to attempt to make a dramatic change to your club face position at impact when your ball flight was trying to tell you that only a minor adjustment was necessary.
  • Pay attention to aim. Sometimes, what you think is a mistake in your swing path or face angle winds up to actually be an issue with your aim. Aiming correctly at the target you select for a given shot is more difficult than you might imagine at first. Take time during each visit to the range to practice your ability to aim precisely at the target you have picked out. Just like any other skill in golf, you will get better and better at aiming your shots if you consistently practice this part of the game.

The exact things you are going to need to work on in your swing will depend, naturally, on the issues you are facing currently. Break down your swing and decide which parts are in good shape and which could stand to be improved.

Getting Square in the Short Game

Getting Square in the Short Game

Discussing the concept of a square club face in the short game is entirely different from discussing this same topic in the long game. When making a full swing, achieving a square position at impact isn’t a realistic goal to strive for on a regular basis. Instead, you are going to use a square position as a landmark, or milestone, which will help you make the kind of swing you have in mind.

With the short game, it is possible to square up the club regularly – and, in fact, it is necessary in order to have success. The swings you make in the short game, whether putting or chipping, are much smaller and slower than those you make in the long game. As a result, it’s possible to find a square position at impact on a regular basis. And, since the ball isn’t going to curve in the air after it is struck, hitting your shots straight is the name of the game. Although it still presents a significant challenge, of course, the short game is far simpler than the long game with regard to the concept of face angle.

For most players, improving the consistency with which they are able to find a square position at impact is going to come down to take hand action out of the equation. When putting, for example, you want to keep your hands and wrists entirely out of the action while using your shoulders to rock back and forth. If this is done correctly, you should find it relatively easy to square up the face of the putter when it contacts the ball.

When chipping, you will probably need to use a bit of hand and wrist action, but that movement should be kept as minimal as possible in order to improve your chances of success. Only hinge and unhinge your wrists as is needed to get the club down to the ball properly – especially if it is sitting in the rough. If you have a clean lie, you may be able to use the same technique as your putting stroke to pick the ball off the top of the grass.

At first, it can be a little hard to understand exactly what a square club face is, and why it is important in the game of golf. After you think it through, however, the concept isn’t actually that complex, and the importance of knowing where your club face is pointing at impact becomes obvious. It may take some time to work on improving the position of your club face when you make contact with the ball, but the work you put in on this point is almost sure to pay off in the long run. Good luck!