Understanding spin is key to learning golf. When you grasp the concept of why the ball goes where, you will be on the road to teaching yourself instead of scratching your head and saying, “Now what did I do wrong that time?”
Everyone makes a perfect swing every time. If, for instance, your hit is a big slice, you made the perfect slice swing.
Golf is like pingpong. They both are played with a flat stick and a round ball. It is a relatively easy thing, while hitting a pingpong ball, to ascertain why the ball went where it did. A golf ball will react the same way to the golf club head.
There are only nine ways a golf shot can go, forgetting trajectory. It can start straight and continue on that line, or start straight and curve either to the left or to the right. It can start to the left and stay on that path or curve left or right from that direction. The same applies for a shot starting to the right.
The direction the golf ball starts is determined by the club head path. The way it curves is determined by the direction the club head is facing to the path of the swing. Try just putting the palm of your hand in front of you and pretend it is a pingpong paddle. Now with the swing of your hand make the imaginary ball go in the nine different ways I described earlier. To make the ball start left and curve back to the right, you would naturally swing your hand down a left path and to make it curve you would open up your palm (in a cutting-like motion) to make it spin to the right. Now if you’re a slicer, you now know what you are doing to cause that curve.
Start by hitting little shots on the range, using a five-iron (a lofted club will not have as much sidespin).
Try to get the ball to react to these principles. After a time you will be able to get the ball to curve both ways. This is why PGA players seldom try to hit straight shots. It is so much easier to make the ball curve a little than it is to hit it without any sidespin.
In teaching juniors for the first time, I have used a striped beach ball and a hockey stick as it makes it easier to see the relationship between the head of the stick and ball.
John Lucas is the professional at SkyRidge Golf Course and can be reached at email@example.com.
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