Can You "Work" the Ball?
By Erika Larkin on 9/4/13
I often ask my students "What is our desired ball flight?" and I often get a reply preceded with a desperate giggle, "I just want to hit it straight."
Straight is the hardest shot in golf. The stars need to align to have the clubface and path perfectly straight/square the moment of impact with no side spin.
Typically we are all going to have a ball flight that falls on one side of the fence or another -- are you someone who hits the ball right to left? Or left to right? Which way does the ball fall on its arc back down to Earth? If your ball goes both ways that is even a better reason to keep reading this article.
It seems unimaginable for the average golfer to think they would be able to "work" the ball both ways on demand when they can't seem to get ball control in one direction let alone two.
I'm here to encourage you to try on your next driving range outing to hit the ball in the opposite direction of your norm. It will seem foreign and outside your comfort zone but LET YOURSELF EXPERIMENT. If you give yourself the permission to try something different you might actually discover an improved ball flight in the process. Example: The more exaggerated ball flight you have (with lots of sideways movement) your swing is probably far enough away from neutral/square ranges of movement that trying to work the ball the opposite direction might actually help you find a more neutral path in the process.
So how do you do this? Well, start with path. Whatever direction the ball usually starts, try directing your arm swing and body position the opposite much earlier in your downswing without changing your aim. From here, try and steer the clubface to point in the direction you want the ball to turn as it starts to fly. Example, if you hit a left to right ball flight try and swing out to the right and then turn your hands/clubface over through impact more aggressively.
Be brave and try something new with your swing, trust me with a little trial and error its one of the best lessons you can teach yourself!
Erika Larkin is the Director of Instruction at Larkin Golf Learning Community, at Stonewall Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia. She was named the 2012 Middle Atlantic PGA "Teacher of the Year" and the 2011 "Top Golf Pro" by Washingtonian Magazine — and she's oobgolf's newest columnist! She writes on a variety of topics including instruction, so if you have a question for her or an idea for a column, e-mail her at ErikaLarkin@pga.com. Enjoy!
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