Ball Flight Laws (Complete Overview)


Are you ready to take your golf game to the next level?

Are you tired of having an unpredictable, inconsistent golf swing?

Are you tired of playing the same old golf?

Well, I have something that might help you finally understand the golf swing and understand why the ball curves the way it does.

Many amateurs spend years trying to fix their slice and hit that beautiful looking push draw that starts right of the target line and curves back towards the target.

I was able to learn the importance and the connection between the club face and the swing path through the Stack and Tilt Instructors.  They helped revolutionize the golf swing and the way it is taught by focusing on the ball flight laws.

Within their system, they provided a checklist of items to review if you started to hit certain shots. 

This complete system allowed the golfer to understand the relationship between the club face and the swing path.  The golfer from there could make an assessment of what took place and what the proper adjustments were.

This is based on the ball flight laws in golf.  The ball flight laws can provide clarity on why a ball starts in the direction that it does and then curves in the direction that it does. 

Once the golfer can start to understand what is taking place, he or she can make certain adjustments to either correct the club face or the swing path.

The game can become really basic if you know some of the simple ball flight laws and what minor adjustments are needed to fix your swing.  I believe there are some awesome teachers in the online golf world and I will end this post with some recommendations based on your swing faults that you are experiencing. 

Having explored many of these different instructors, I have a strong sense on who is best based on your current struggles or future goals.

In my own golf journey I have been able to reduce my average score from somewhere to between 74-78 to between 68-73.  I feel confident with the help of my understanding of the ball flight laws and the adjustments needed that I can shoot under 73 on the majority of days. 

Of course I will have the occasional round where it struggles, but by understanding the ball flight laws, combined with my launch monitor (see more below), I can make the adjustments and make the corrections between rounds.

The basic understanding of the ball flight laws can mean the difference between a consistent golf swing vs an inconsistent golf swing. Make sure you check out the scenarios below!

What Are The Ball Flight Laws?

The basic idea is that the ball will start in the direction that the club face is pointing at impact.  From there it will curve based on the swing path relative to the club face.  For example, if your club face is 2 degrees right and your path is 4 degrees right.  The ball will start right and curve left towards the target, which is away from the swing path direction.

Below, I will provide plenty of examples that help you practice what way your ball will curve and get the general understanding of what is taking place.  Having this information will help you make the adjustments mid round or post round and not get stuck in the rabbit hole of swing corrections.

Ball Flight Laws and 9 Potential Shots in Golf

  • Pull
  • Pull Hook 
  • Pull Slice
  • Straight
  • Push 
  • Push Slice
  • Push Hook
  • Slice 
  • Hook

All of these shots have numbers connected with it.  The pull shot will have a different reading and the push shot.  And will vary between the pull shot and the pull slice.  Once you understand the correlation between clubface at impact and the swing path, you will start to understand.

Let’s dive right in with some scenarios and see if you got the main concept.  

First check out this video for further explanation on the different types of shot and how they are related to ball flight laws.

Ready, here we go!

Scenarios of Ball Flight Laws

My recommendation is to look at the numbers presented, think your mind about what direction the ball wil curve and then see if you are right.  I have 9 scenarios for you to assess your current knowledge and to help you understand this concept!

Ball Flight Laws: Scenario 1

  • Clubface: 3 degrees right
  • Swing Path: 5 degree right

The ball will start right of the target line (club face is 3 degree open or right) and curve away from the swing ptch, which means it will curve left.  

The end result is a draw shot.  The ball will curve a decent amount with these numbers.

This shot would be considered a push draw.

Ball Flight Laws: Scenario 2

  • Clubface: 3 degrees left
  • Swing Path: 5 degree left

The ball will start left of the target line (club face is 3 degree closed or left) and curve away from the swing path, which means it will curve right. 

The end result is a fade shot.  The ball will curve a decent amount with these numbers.

This shot would be considered a pull fade.

Ball Flight Laws: Scenario 3

  • Clubface: 3 degrees right
  • Swing Path: 3 degree right

The ball will start right of the target line (club face is 3 degree open or right) and fly straight since the clubface and the swing path are the same number of degrees open or right of the target line.

The end result is a push shot.  The ball will start right and stay right.

Ball Flight Laws: Scenario 4

  • Clubface: 3 degrees left
  • Swing Path: 3 degree left

The ball will start left of the target line (club face is 3 degree closed or left) and fly straight since the clubface and the swing path are the same number of degrees closed or left of the target line.

The end result is a pull shot.  The ball will start left and stay left.

Ball Flight Laws: Scenario 5

  • Clubface: 3 degrees left
  • Swing Path: 10 degree left

The ball will start left of the target line (club face is 3 degree closed or open) and slice since there is a big gap between clubface and swing path.  The end result is a pull slice.  The ball will start left and curve hard to the right.

This is a shot that many amateurs struggle with.  They continue to aim further and further left.  The swing path keeps moving left and the face remains open.  The end result is a full slice.

Ball Flight Laws: Scenario 6

  • Clubface: 3 degrees right
  • Swing Path: 10 degree right

The ball will start right of the target line (club face is 3 degree closed or open) and hook since there is a big gap between clubface and swing path.  The end result is a pull slice.  The ball will start right and curve hard to the left.

This is a shot that many elite amateurs struggle with.  They end up getting too far inside with the swing path and try to save it by closing the clubface at impact.

Ball Flight Laws: Scenario 7

  • Clubface: 0 degrees
  • Swing Path: 0 degrees

The ball will start straight and fly straight.  This might be the hardest shot to hit in golf because if either number is off just several degree your ball will curve away from the target.

Ball Flight Laws: Scenario 8

  • Clubface: 3 degrees right
  • Swing Path: 1 degree right

The ball will start right of the target and fade.  Many of the best players of all time hit a push fade.  You will often see them aimed left and hit the ball from the inside with a slight fade.  This is a premium shot to hit under pressure.  Many of the recent majors won by Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson feature them hitting power fades with the driver.  They were able to control their ball flight and keep the driver in play.

Hooks vs Slice: What is the Difference?

Ball Flight Laws: Scenario 9

  • Clubface: 3 degrees right
  • Swing Path: 3 degree Left

The ball will start right and curve right.  This will result in a slice.  Many amateurs struggle with this shot as well.  Even if they are able to fix their path a bit, the clubface is open here and right of the swing path resulting in a slice.

The overall basic premise here is to keep in mind that the ball will curve away from the swing path.  It will start in the direction of the clubface and then curve away from the swing path.

Each of the golfers above might have a different reading on their numbers, but can control their clubface relative to the swing path. Make sure you check out how to measure your own golf swing below!

What Were The Old Ball Flight Laws?

Golf instructors believed for years that the ball would start in the direction of the swing path and then curve relative to the face.

I spent years as a junior golfer trying to hit a draw by getting my clubface closed.  When the reality is that the push draw shot results from a face that is open to the target line, but closed or left of the path.

This is where my learning with STack and Tilt opened up my eyes and changed my game.  I realized that in order to hit a draw you have to have hit the ball with your face open to the target line with a path that is still moving out or towards the right.

They often talk about hitting the ball on the backswing of the circle and not swinging left until after impact.  This opened my eyes and changed my game!

Did the old ball flight laws ever leave your feeling like this? Check out how to hit a draw or fade with the new ball flight laws.

New Ball Flight Laws and a Draw

Quick review: In order to hit a stock draw shot, you will want a face that is 1-2 degrees open or right of the target line with a path that is 3-4 degrees open or to the right of the target line.

New Ball Flight Laws and a Fade

Quick Review: I would recommend a push fade.  This means your club face will be 2-3 degrees open or right of the target line with a path that is square to 2 degrees open.  Make sure you aim slightly left of the target for enough space to hit a push fade.

Why Do Ball Flight Laws Matter?

If you can understand the basic concept, you can make corrections on the course and understand what is actually taking place.  Too often golfers can receive the same old advice from their playing partners or default to general golf instruction that they think will work.  Have you ever heard any of the following:

  • Keep your head down
  • Swing easier
  • Make sure you close your club face

All of these pieces of advice are actually poor tips that won’t fix your issue more than likely.  The key here is to read your ball flight and understand the relationship between clubface and swing path. 

Additional Resource: Draw vs Fade (Complete Review)

There are simple things you can do to correct your clubface and swing path during a round of golf or in a post round practice session.

How To Measure Your Swing?

One of the great things about being a golfer in today’s era is that the instruction has come a long way and we now understand ball flight laws and what is actually impacting the curve of the ball.  In addition, you can measure the interaction and spin axis on your ball through technology.  

If you visit any PGA Tour stop you will see the majority of professionals use a launch monitor at some point throughout the week . Many are monitoring their clubface, swing path relationship as well as swing speed. 

How To Hit A Draw – 5 Simple Steps

These are important numbers to monitor to make sure you are keeping your swing within a certain range.

While many won’t have $16,000 to spend on a Trackman, there are some great affordable options that can be used at your local driving range, on the golf course or in your garage or house as part of a practice area of golf simulator setup.

Here are my top 3 recommend affordable golf launch monitors:
Some of the key information that you will be able to received immediately after every swing includes:
  • Ball Speed
  • Club Speed
  • Launch Angle 
  • Spin Rate
  • Spin Axis

Over time, knowing where your numbers are when you are making quality swings will help you groove a swing and become more consistent.  When you are struggling, you can use your launch monitor to see where your numbers are at.  Is it a clubface or swing path issue? 

When your spin axis number is really high either way, you know there is a major gap between the two.  In the ideal world, you have a 1-3 degree difference between clubface and swing path, unless you are trying to hit a hook or slice intentionally then a bigger gap is desired.

Where Can I Use A Golf Launch Monitor?

The SkyTrak has been a game changer for me. See more below!

Final Recommendation: Ball Flight Laws

I would recommend working on building a stock shot for your game.  This is wehre you can rely on a draw or a fade, whichever you are most comfortable hitting under pressure and really work on hitting that shot in all situations. 

Eventually, you could progress to hitting a draw or fade, whoever the shot calls for, but int he short term gain some consistency by working on building a stock shot.

Here is a drill you can utilize:
  • Set up an alignment stick straight down your target line about 6-8 yards in front of you.
  • Set up a 2nd alignment stick about 3-4 feet right of the first alignment stick.
  • Go ahead and try to hit your shot between these two alignment sticks. . This will help you hit the ball with a slightly open face and get the ball starting right of the target.
  • Once you can do this, notice the flight of the ball.  If you are hitting a slight draw, perfect.  If the ball is starting right and fading right, you will want to get your path further to the right or at least right of the clubface.  This will help produce a draw.
  • Work on this drill at every range session and build your stock shot!
Here is a video further explaining this drill:

Swing Faults and Golf Instructor Recommendations

Do you slice the ball?

Do you hook the ball?

Do you struggle with contact?

Do you struggle with getting stuck?

Do you lack distance?

Are you tired of chasing positions in the golf swing?

Want a complete alternative swing where you can hit a draw shot?

Closing Thoughts: My Secret To Golf Improvement

Let’s face it, in order to get really good at golf, we must practice frequently.  About three years ago, I made the leap and invested in a golf simulator build for my garage.  

I went with a SkyTrak Launch Monitor and the TGC software and can now play over 100,000 courses including Augusta, Pebble Beach, Bethpage Black, Whistling Straits. St. Andrews and many other of the top 100 courses in the world.

This golf simulator setup, which is more affordable that you might imagine, has been a game changer.  I can now play golf everyday of the year regardless of rain, snow, cold weather or time of day. 

I can practice or play rounds of golf.  I can stand in the 11th fairway at Augusta and with the auto-rewind feature I am able to practice my approach shots from various differences.

It is worth checking out through Rain or Shine Golf as they offer some incredible packages along with financing offers that are difficult to beat.

Some direct links to Rain or Shine Golf for pricing and financing:

Take Action – What You Can Do Today to Get Better

What does this mean for you?  I believe in the following recipe to get better:

1 – Improve your motion in the golf swing by identifying a golf instructor.  Here are some options:

Here is a list of golf instructors that we have reviewed:

2 – Train to swing faster and improve your swing speed.  Here are some options:

Looking to gain more Speed and Distance in your swing. Two Options:

3 – Understand course strategy and work to break through your next barrier.  Here is a series on breaking through:

We have provided guides on how to break 100, 90, 80 and 70. Check out more below, if interested.

4 – Practice Frequently

Did you know that I build a golf simulator in my garage and have played over 500 rounds of golf on my SkyTrak system?  It has been a game changer and one worth checking out. Here are some of my other posts on golf simulators frequently asked questions:

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