The Ball Flight laws explained

Once you know the laws of ball flight you’ll understand your trips to the rough.

Every golfer wants to play better golf and for most golfer’s that means understanding the fundamentals of the game. If your balls keep going in the same place, you can use the ball flight laws to help in identifying what your swing fault(s) are and to help you gain more control.

Ball Flight Data

Learning about ball flight laws can be tough. If you want to fully understand why your shots are ended up where they are, it’s important to understand the two types of data:

  • Ball launch data
  • Club head data

Do you know anything about ball Launch data? When you hit a golf ball there’s various things that can affect the flight of the ball.

  • The speed of the ball
  • The launch angle
  • Azimuth
  • Side spin on the ball
  • Back spin
  • total spin
  • Spin-tilt axis
  • Peak height
  • offline
  • Carry
  • Total distance

Simply put, golfers want to to know simple reasons to explain:

  • Why your ball goes all over the place
  • Your ball always goes in one direction
  • There’s no consistency with where your ball ends up

For golfers who struggle with any of the above problems, you really need to learn about the ball flight laws in golf which determine where your ball is ending up.

Learn to control your ball

Ask any golf coach what their student’s biggest weaknesses are, and they will tell you. “My students don’t understand why they hit bad shots”. Think about the last time you came off the golf course… Were you happy with your score? Or do you feel like you should be playing so much better?

What affects the ball when it's in-flight?

You can either start to learn all about your shots or as we call them “The Ball Flight Laws” Or you continue frustratingly hitting some good and bad shots round after round. A lot of golfers guess just what’s wrong with their game and that’s why they struggle. We make it easy for you to understand ball flight facts and that’s going to help make you a better golfer! Why? When you identify exactly what’s wrong, it’s far easier to put it right.

How do I hit the ball further? How do I hit the ball straighter? We all want to know the answers to these two questions. But not everyone is prepared to learn what happens at impact when you’re hitting the ball and what’s effecting the ball flight.

And if you think about playing a few rounds of golf, how would you like to reduce your mis hits or bad shots?

The easy answers are, you hit the ball well with great fundamentals and impact positions, so by following our simple process we show you how to build those positions into your game.

There are five laws that influence the flight of a golf ball. These laws are absolutes. They are the physical forces that combine when hitting a golf ball and dictate how it reacts in flight. Understanding these laws helps to explain the answers to the key questions of distance and direction. These laws shouldn’t be confused with the golf swing itself, which are subject to principles.

There are many more golf swing principles than there are laws. Whereas principles vary from teacher to teacher and are changeable over time, laws are fixed, absolute and measurable. So, lets imagine the golf swing is like a business … the backswing is the costs of the business, the through swing is the sales and impact (the most important part) is the profit or bottom line.

The ball in flight

When the ball is in the air, it’s got hidden forces that are affecting how the ball flies.

  • Drag (the drag slows the golf ball down in flight)
  • Weight (the forces of gravity on the golf ball)
  • Lift (what the launch angle is on your shots)

The 5 Laws of Ball Flight

The Speed Of The Ball

The velocity with which the club head is travelling at the moment of impact. Speed influences the distance you can propel the ball. Slower speeds produce less distance and higher speeds produce more distance. A lot of people who want to have a fast swing but who just focus on speed alone will struggle. People who have imperfections in their swing to send the ball massively to the left or right.

We always recommend beginners take a slow and steady swing whilst working on understanding the ball flights laws.Remember, work on your technique before speed. Once you’ve found your swing then you can start to increase its speed.

Face to Path - Centeredness

The exactness with which the ball makes contact with the club relative to the sweet spot. Contact on the face could be centre, toe, heel, above or below that sweet spot. Everyone wants to be hitting the sweet spot. But what happens when you don’t? If your ball in connecting with the toe and heel this results in loss of a loss of distance. Hitting above or below the sweet spot results in trajectory challenges.

When the golf club is connecting with the golf ball it has to be in the sweet spot. This gives you the best chance of having a good shot. And think about it, how long is your golf club touching the ball for? 1 second? Half a second? A quarter of a second? It’s even less than that. It’s so important to develop a steady, controlled swing that you can repeat easily.

Club Path

The direction of the arc described by the club head in its travel away from and then back toward the target. It is this line of travel at impact that is one of the primary factors influencing direction.

A swing path may be described as ‘inside to outside’, ‘outside to inside’, ‘straight to straight’ or “inside to straight to inside “

Club Face

The degree at which the leading edge of the club face is at right angles to the swing path.

This determines the accuracy of the ball’s flight along its ‘path’. This produces either a left curve or a right curve from that line. The club face can be open, closed or square.

An open club face is when your club face points to the right of the target when your club impacts the ball.
A closed club face is when your club faces to the left of the target (for a right-handed golfer).

Angle Of Approach

The angle formed by the descending or ascending arc of the club head on the forward swing in relation to the slope of the ground. Your angle of attack could be positive, negative or neutral.

How your club approaches the ball could affect its trajectory and quality of strike.

Control where your ball ends up

The aim of a golfer is simple – to get the ball from one point to another point.

To do so they must first negotiate a given distance and secondly, they need to arrive at that target in a certain direction.

What affects how far your ball goes?

The distance a golf ball travels is affected by:

Head Speed
Angle of Approach

What affects the direction of the ball

The direction a golf ball takes depends on;

The Path angles at impact
The face angles at impact

What does face to path mean?

Face to path is the difference between your face angle and your path.

Positive Face to path – When the club face points to the right of the club path. (for both left and right hitters).
Negative Face to Path – When the club face points to the left of the club path. (for both left and right hitters).

Think you can apply your new knowledge of ball flight laws?

Understanding how these factors combine helps to explain how a golfer hits a ball a given distance and in a certain direction. If a golfer wants more distance, then they need to improve their club head speed and their contact with the club head. If you need greater accuracy, then improving the path of the swing and the angle of the club face at impact gives you more accuracy.

The 5 laws can all be controlled and improved by golfers once they begin to understand how they affect the golf ball. Great coaching from The Golf School together with a solid plan and correct practice drills can help the golfer through the process of realisation, understanding, and improvement.


The Golfschool

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