The first three ball flights have one thing in common, the club is headed straight down the target line. If you are standing behind the ball the target line is a straight line from your ball to the target. How your club impacts the ball in relation to this line is called path. This affects which direction the ball will travel. When one of the first three ball flights is employed the path is straight down the target line, or the club is moving straight toward the target at impact.
The top goal of every golfer is to hit the ball straight. Often times this is more luck than skill but it is important to understand what is happening to repeat it more often in the swing. The key is to get the club to travel straight down the target line and have a square club face at impact. This means that the club is moving towards the target and the club face is perpendicular to the target line when impact is made. When these are both done the result is a straight shot that never leaves the target.
While the straight shot is the most desired there is another shot that is far more common in the game of golf, the fade or slice. Most golfers that play the game recreationally hit this shot, even thought they may not know why. The fade is the result of the club moving straight down the path but with the club face being open at impact. This means that when the club comes into contact with ball the heel, or back of the club, is ahead of the toe. This makes the club head point to right at impact and imparts spin that causes the ball to curve to the right after starting at the target.
The last of the flights with the path heading down the target line is the draw. This is the exact opposite of the fade. When the club makes impact with the ball it is still traveling down the target line but the face is closed rather than open. The toe of the club is ahead of the heel at impact. This causes the ball to start at the target line and turn to the left because of the spin caused by the closed club face at impact.
In the following articles we will cover the final six ball flights. When a basic understanding of these is accomplished it will become much easier to understand the golf swing.