When I was growing up and learning golf I always thought the perfect shot was a little draw. (Draw=The ball starts flying right of the target and curves back to the target). I wanted to swing the club a little in to out and close the club face just as I struck the ball. That is how I was taught and believed it for years. The trouble with it was it was hard to do. Sometimes I would leave it out to the right, while other times I would close it too much and hook it. Under pressure it was very hard to do. I never wanted to let it go. As a matter of fact, a cut felt great under the gun but I never practiced it. It's a great feeling playing in a tournament and thinking about a cut when you have not hit one in 20 rounds. My misses always seemed to be the opposite to what I really wanted to do. What was up with that? When I wanted to hit a draw my miss was right and when I did not want to hit a draw I would hit it way left. That kind of golf would drive a man crazy!
Then, several years ago I started trying to play without any club face rotation. I have always believed that you had to stand for something in life and I sure thought I needed an anchor or principles for my golf instruction and swing theories as well. A stable face or square face to the plane became one of those. I knew from my own game that club face rotation was difficult to play with and the more I focused on keeping the face square to the plane the better I performed and the better my students performed. I also quit trying to create the draw ball flight and started trying to hit it straight. (That is against what I was taught as a junior. I was taught straight shots were misses.)
A few years later I met my little orange friend, Trackman. After 20 years of playing and teaching golf I finally had a tool that would tell me exactly what happened between the ball and club face. It changed everything! Very rarely do I practice or teach without Trackman running the background. When I hit a shot or a client hits a shot, Trackman describes exactly what happened. I have had to retrain myself to understand what happens to create different ball flights. I have gotten so good at it I can predict trackman numbers before the ball hits the ground. Trackman has made me a better player and teacher. Not necessarily because the information is so technical or new, but because the old information was wrong!
So, back to the perfect draw. If the information I had was wrong what did I learn from trackman that was correct. It was pretty simple. I did not have to close the club face to hit the draw. I could hit a draw with an open club face to the target! As long as the face was closed to the path the ball would turn back to the target. The perfect draw on Trackman looks something like this: Swing Path four degrees to the right, Face Angle two degrees to the right of the target, Face to Path two closed. In the picture below you can see the ball turned just a little too much. The path was 4.8 degrees to the right of the target and the face was 1.1 right of the target. This created a club face that was 3.7 degrees closed to the path and the ball turned too much to the left. To correct this I need to create less swing path to the right or create more face angle to the right. If it were me, I would try to move the path more left because I prefer less curve.
This also answered my question about my crazy misses. The shots that I wanted to draw more would stay to the right were caused by the club path moving too far to the left. Even if I closed the club face several degrees to the left the path would be more left causing the ball to fall right. The nasty little left shot that was my biggest fear was caused by the path being too far to the right. The fear of hitting it left caused me to swing farther right. This created a swing path that was very far to the right causing the ball to hook left. Now I play and teach keeping the face to path in mind instead of just face or just path. The perfect shot is pretty straight. The perfect swing is repeatable and can create a little fade or a little draw. As long as its repeatable with speed with a slight to no curve I am good.
I hope my experience over the years helps golfers understand ball flight. There has been a renaissance in golf instruction and it is a challenge for golfers to sort through all the information. I suggest taking a lesson from someone who has a launch monitor. They are great tools to measure and track performance. They also help golfers understand what is actually happening versus what the golfer is feeling like is happening.
Good luck and good golfing. Play P.U.R.E. !
And a note for the slicer......... A slice is created by the path being left of the face angle. So slicers who swear they close the face are closing the face to the target but not the swing path. A slicer must swing the club more to the right to eliminate the slice on the ball. One of the most difficult lessons is convincing a slicer of this. Imagine telling a chronic slicer to swing right with an open club face! Yep, that is the fix. Trackman helps but it is still hard.