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Impact Golf-Clubhead Path

By William Kipp, Teaching Professional

Colorado Golf Schools at Estes Park


Does your golf ball always seem to start off line toward the right or the left, even when it does not even get airborne? If so, you are likely having problems with the second important impact factor, clubhead path. Often, this problem has developed as a result of your reactions to the ball curving off target in the past (see last week’s column on clubface alignment). Today I will explain how you can tell if you are swinging the club on an incorrect path, and how to go about correcting the problem.


When your club strikes the ball, it will be moving either STRAIGHT THROUGH TOWARD THE TARGET, ACROSS AND TO THE RIGHT, or ACROSS AND TO THE LEFT OF THE TARGET LINE. If your club is moving toward the target at impact, it is considered “on line”. When your club is swinging across and to the right of the target line (for a right handed player) it is swinging from “in-to-out”. This often occurs because the player’s ball has curved too much to the left in the past (a “hook”). When your club is swinging across and to the left of the target line it is swinging on an “out-to-in” swing path. This often happens because the player’s ball has often curved too much to the right in the past (a “slice”).


Your clubhead’s path at impact will, to a great extent, determine the initial direction of your ball relative to your target line. Shots that start out to the right result from an “in-to-out” path, while those that start out toward the left are the result of an “out-to-in” path.


Because we must stand to the side of the golf ball in order to swing at it, your golf club must be swung on an arc (curve) around the body. Thus your club should swing slightly to the inside during the backswing, back to on line at the bottom of your swing (the impact zone), and then to the inside of the target line again during the through swing. Because the arc of your swing is from inside-to-straight-to-inside, your club is only travelling “on line” toward the target for an instant. Therefore, trying to keep your club swinging along a straight line is totally incorrect and virtually impossible because your golf swing must arc around your body!


How you aim your golf club and align your body before you swing have a strong influence on the clubhead’s path at impact. After gripping the club correctly (for you), aim your club by setting the bottom edge perpendicular to your target line while setting the clubshaft so it is at a right angle to the turf, keeping the sole of the club resting flat on the ground. Now assume your stance by spreading your feet apart to roughly shoulder-width, with the front foot turned out slightly. Stand to the butt-end of the club so that the club handle points approximately to the center of your body (just left of the belt buckle for most right handed players). Depending on the individual, the handle may point as much as two inches forward of the center of the body. Align your feet, knees, hips, and (most importantly) your shoulders parallel to the target line.


The club’s handle points to the same point in relation to the body for every club. This dictates the correct and consistent ball position in relation to your feet for each club (the actual ball position will vary slightly from club to club due to the slight design differences between each of them). Because your golf club should swing on an inside-to-straight-to-inside path, ball position is very important. The club will be travelling straight through toward the target for only a short distance so you need to have the ball positioned precisely and consistently in relation to your swing arc. If the ball is too far forward in your stance you will tend to start the ball to the left. If the ball is too far back in your stance you will tend to start the ball to the right.


In next week’s column we will explore the important relationship between the clubhead’s path at impact and its angle of approach which determines the quality of contact between the club and ball, and the trajectory of the ball as it gets airborne (or not)!


William Kipp has played on several regional professional golf tours, and was a collegiate player at Kansas University. He is an employee of the Estes Park Golf Courses, and is the Teaching Professional for Colorado Golf Schools at Estes Park is Recognized by the

PGA of America



 John Herlong, PGA

(Director of Golf)





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Southwest, USA


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Midwest, USA


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