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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Video of the "New Ball Flight Laws"

Well, they say a picture is worth a thousand words. I certainly hope so!

I'm sure many of you are just as unconvinced as Court about how accurate these "new ball flight laws" are, so I decided to see if I could find some slo-mo footage actually showing what happens when you hit a golf ball.

Here's what I found -- and no, there's no sound with it, so there's nothing wrong with your computer.

Please note that, if the traditional rules are correct, these balls should travel in the same direction the clubhead is traveling once it hits them. This video shows several hits, with lines clearly showing the direction of the club path and the resulting launch direction of the golf ball.

To make a long story short, the initial direction of a golf ball is not determined by the club path. The face angle has the biggest effect. If this video (and TrackMan's documented research) isn't sufficient to demonstrate that these "new laws" are valid, I don't know how to convince any unbelievers out there. The evidence is there; if you want to ignore it, it's up to you.

Between TrackMan and this video, I don't know what I could add anyway.

Tomorrow we'll look at how these "new laws" actually affect how we play the game.


  1. Now I'm really confused. This is still not new. That video shows an intentional hook and an intentional slice to get around trouble. I thought we were talking about standard shots. Both of those shots are going to produce sweeping turns left or right.

    That's how I was taught to hit an intentional draw or fade. Set the club face toward the target, open or close the stance (depending on the shape you want) and swing along the line of your body.

    I don't understand what the video concludes with just that tight shot. What are they saying that the ball will do other than what it looks like it's doing ?

  2. I know exactly what you mean, Court. I know I keep saying it, but that's why it took me so long to do these posts -- it took me a while to understand exactly what they're talking about.

    Here's the deal about these "new rules": Their main point is that the starting path of the ball is different from what we've been taught. Most of us have been taught that the ball should start along the line of the swing path when it's hit, but the video shows it actually goes kinda sideways... and then it curves at the end, so the ball doesn't go where we expected.

    In tomorrow's post I'm going to look at how this changes our actual play. After studying it some, I've come to the conclusion that the key is how much the face angle differs from the swing path:

    1) If the face angle is close perpendicular to the swing path, things don't change much at all. So if you're just trying to hit a small fade or draw you probably won't have to do anything different. BUT...

    2) If the face angle is really open or closed -- like when you're trying to hit a big curving shot around a tree or hit a big one around a dogleg -- it changes things a lot.

    It'll make a lot more sense after tomorrow's post. The changes aren't as wide-sweeping as some of the teachers imply, but they're important changes that every player should be aware of -- important enough that they could save you a few shots per round just by knowing how to use them. I figure that makes it worth struggling to understand them.

  3. Here's something they need to do with those videos...

    Toss them out and start again. Cameras do lie if the angle isn't right. We've all commented on golf shots on TV that look like they are starting way right of the green.

    These videos are not only whoafully tight, only showing a few inches of the shot, but they are taken from the outside of of the swing path. You can't really tell the direction of the ball - especially in the third shot. They need to be taken from directly overhead and show more of the ball's direction. We don't see what happens with the ball.

    I'm thinking we're saying pretty much the same thing, but you can't tell based on these pictures.

    You're saying that, in these videos, the ball starts off straight, then starts to turn - which is exactly what I was saying. The ball loses enough velocity for the air pressure to act on the spin of the ball.

    This whole thing started off with a claim that teaching some new "law" will cause us to hit a straight ball that drops off just a little right or just a little left at the end. The exaggerated angles of these swings can't possibly put the ball on that kind of flight. Those balls are going to make sweeping turns, not "OVER those trees...with a little draw." :-)

    Looking forward to tomorrow's post.

  4. Yeah, I think some of the teachers are over-dramatizing the changes. They're most noticeable when you're shaping those big swinging curves, although they do affect smaller fades and draws a tiny bit.

    The big change in the rules is that the face angle has way more effect on the ball's initial flight path than the swing path does, and that change gets bigger as the face angle increases... which increasingly affects how we aim.

    I agree with you that I see no way the ball is going to fly straight then just "drop off" at the end. Maybe Foley just chose the wrong words... but given how technical some of his teaching is, you have to assume he meant what he said. One thing's for sure -- I won't be trying to explain how to do that. I just want everybody to learn how the new laws affect your aim -- and in a couple of cases, actually allow you to swing a little less "perfectly" and still get good shots.

    Tomorrow's article, which covers the shots that are slightly affected (and in a good way, I think) and Saturday's article, which will cover those big curving shots, are a lot easier to understand because they're practical applications.

    BTW, the camera is directly over the ball, and apparently about two feet above it. Go back and pause the video so you can look at the sides of the marker slats. I enlarged the video so I could check the camera angle, and everything's lined up like it should be -- even the shadows on the sides of the slats. The ball really is starting that far to the side of the swing path.