How to control the trajectory of the ball while playing Golf?
Having learnt how to curve the ball at will – the draw/fade and hook/slice – let us now look at controlling the trajectory of the ball. That is, learn how to hit it high and low.
Hitting it high or low is a matter of understanding that the most important factor altering the height of the shot is the effective loft on the clubface at impact.
Now let’s see how the ball position in relation to the feet effects the loft at impact. Take a 7-iron as an example and see how this works. In picture 1, I have placed the ball in the centre of the feet, while in picture 2, the ball is placed closer in line with the left foot (forward in the stance). In picture 3, the ball is placed closer in line with the right foot (back in the stance).
Having the ball opposite the centre of the feet will give me a normal height on the shot, and this is how I will play a standard 7-iron. If I now place the ball forward, I will be making contact with the ball when the clubface is past the bottom of the arc and on the way up. I will now have more effective loft at impact, making the ball fly higher.
The exact opposite will happen if I play the ball from the back of the stance. The clubface will be de-lofted at impact, as it is swinging downward when it hits the ball, creating a lower ball flight. The pointer attached to the clubface in the pictures shows the difference.
The swing thought when trying to hit the ball higher should be to ensure that the spine angle stays tilted away from the target through impact and the weight stays on the right foot just that little bit longer. When trying to hit the ball lower, you must feel that you are hitting down on the ball with the weight favouring the front foot at impact. Here the spine angle feels more over the ball at impact rather than tilted to the right.
I also want to point out that there is a difference in ‘de-lofting’ the clubface and ‘closing’ it. De-lofting is simply playing the club with a lower effective loft without changing the angle of the clubface (left or right). De-lofting will make the ball fly lower, while closing the clubface (pointing to the left) will make the ball curve left. Vice versa for hitting it higher and making it curve to the right.
Once we have understood how to hit it high and low, try to apply these principles to the draw and the fade, let’s now play the high draw, low draw, high fade and low fade. It will be easier to hit the low draw (and high fade), as you are closing the clubface for both hitting it low and drawing the ball (and vice versa). Having a skill set to master the high draw and low fade will tell you how much control you have on these shots.
(The author has been a golf professional for over 20 years)