How to Achieve a Penetrating Golf Ball Flight
Having a penetrating ball flight is one of the most coveted aspects of ball striking. It truly separates the average joe from the seasoned pro and today you are going to learn the secrets to unlocking this powerful ball flight. But first, what is a penetrating ball flight?
When a tour pro strikes the ball, they are doing so with a descending blow. This negative angle of attack allows the golfer to compress the ball solidly on the face.
When a golf ball is compressed, it "rebounds" off the face with a significant boost in speed over a shot that is struck "thin" or not fully compressed. The ball literally "leaps" off the face.
This is very important as it helps the ball cut through the wind for the first 30 or 40 yards with authority. This is why you hear the ball "hiss" off a clubface when struck ball a good golfer.
The last key to this is launch angle. All tour pros deloft the club at impact, turning their 8 iron into a 6 iron loft, etc. This launches the ball lower than an amateur with the same 8 iron and keeps the ball from ballooning.
Combining a properly compressed ball with a delofted clubface will give you that desired "flat" and powerful ball flight and in this video, we are going to show you how to do it.
Study the two screen captures above. First, note that in the swing on the left the shaft is still delofted and stressed after the ball has left the face. This is caused by the club being driven through the turf on a continuing descending arc.
This motion of striking down ensures the club is never "flipped" through impact which will alter the loft of the clubface through impact uncontrollably.
In the second photo, I'm hitting a 7 iron which has 35 degrees of loft. However, you can see that just after impact my shaft is still leaned toward the target some 7 degrees (slightly more the moment of impact) and the ball is being launched at 18 degrees.
This launch angle is not exact due to the camera angle, but this does give you some idea of just how much lower the ball should launch than the clubs true, static loft. Using the drill in this video will help you achieve these powerful positions at impact and give you a ball flight that all your friends will envy!
Checkpoints for Practice
- Many amateurs think a high shot is a great shot, but in fact it's important to get a penetrating ball flight for consistency
- Striking at the bottom of the swing arc gets your club's true loft, but irons should be delofted
- Your hands should be leading the club at impact so you deloft the club & retain control of the shot
- Practice by putting a tee in the ground 6-7" in front of the ball
- Strike down on the ball and visualize the club clipping the tee after impact
Video Transcription: Achieve Penetrating Ball Flight
A lot of golfers struggle with a really high, weak ball flight. I don't think that a lot of times they even realize that it's a high, weak ball flight, but I see it every day in lessons where a golfer hits a really, really high shot and, to them, that's what they associate with being a good golf shot.
Unfortunately, you won't ever see that on the Tour. You'll see high golf shots on the Tour, but there's a reason that they drive everything through the wind. They hit down on the ball, they get a penetrating ball flight, they compress the ball, and it's extremely important for consistent ball striking.
If you're always catching the ball at the bottom of your arc, you're never getting the proper amount of loft at impact. You're getting what's called a "true loft," but we don't actually want that with the irons. We want to deloft the club pretty significantly at impact to make sure our hands are leading.
That way we can trap the ball, we can compress it firmly against the face so that we get that extra boost of speed, but more importantly that first 30-40 yards off the club face are really important, especially if it's windy, to get that ball to come out low and hard through the wind.
What you'll find is that, rather than hitting down and scooping, which a lot of amateurs do; coming through impact, their hands are kind of even, or even slightly behind the club face at impact. Coming through this way, the club face is going to release up, so you're actually losing directional control of the club face.
Once you release it, it's kind of like cracking a whip, as I've always said. Once you release it, the energy is gone. You no longer have control at the end of that whip. It's pretty much going to do whatever it's going to do because momentum is going to take over.
We don't want that to happen. What we want to do is make sure that our hands are still leading because, as long as our hands are ahead of the club, we still have control of that golf club. It's very, very important.
What you need to do, it's a simple drill that I use. I call it the Tee Drill. I know we already have one on the website called the Tee Drill, so I'll come up with something more creative for this, but basically what you're trying to do is you stick a tee in the ground about 6-7" or so - my foot's about 11" - about 6" in front of the ball.
Your goal is to visualize that you're going to take the ball - coming down into impact with an iron you're going to drive the ball down into that tee. You actually want to take the tee out. You stick it low into the ground, but your divot should extend in front of the ball and through that tee.
What this is going to do, first of all, is change your conception of ball striking. If you're the kind of golfer who hits behind the ball, or you get a lot of loft and a really high, weak ball flight, this is going to get you hitting down on the ball, which is very, very important so that you're driving the ball down into the turf.
The second thing that it's going to do is completely revolutionize your ball flight because, for the first time if you hear a weak click at impact, and that's what you associate with solid ball striking, but then you go out and play with somebody good or you go out to the range and you listen to the Tour pros' balls come off the club face, it's a hard hiss off each shot. That's what you want to hear on every single golf shot - even wedge shots.
You want to hear a hard hiss through the wind, showing that you got a good compression and a good, hard launch off the club face.
The best way to do that is to use this drill, where you're driving the ball down into that tee and continuing to drive through it. That's going to get your hands ahead of the ball at impact, which is very, very important.
Not only that, but you're going to get a lot more distance because you're taking this 8 iron that I have in my hand and you're turning it into the loft of a 6 or 5 iron, and you're going to get a much lower launch. It's going to be much more penetrating through the wind.
It's a simple drill, but I almost have all of my students do this. Anybody that hits the ball high and weak and flippy through impact, I have all of them do it. It's a great drill.
That's what we're going to do here. I'm going to take this ball and I'm going to visualize that I'm driving this ball down into this tee. It's a great visual. I'm going to try and collect the ball down into that tee and I'm going to drive it down into the ground.
Here we go. The tee is right there in the ground. Now I'm going to take my swing and I'm just going to try and smash it down into that tee.
You can see, when I hit that I came down on it very hard. My tee came out of the ground a little bit; I broke my tee here.
That's it. It made all the difference in the world. Even on a little 8 iron shot, I'm only hitting this 165 yards but you can hear the compression. The ball is really launching off the face.
It's a simple drill, but it's an excellent drill and I promise you if you hit high, weak shots with your irons it will completely change your ball flight.
It's an extremely important drill, so give this a lot of time on the range.