Tom Tucker is a World Golf Teachers and United States Golf Teacher Federation-certified golf instructor. He may be contacted via his website or at the Plum Creek driving range in Batavia, NY.

Many new instructors and better players think that they can derive club path and face angle information solely from their ball flight, but that’s not always the case.

Now, you would be able to do so if you hit the ball on the sweet spot of the club each time, but that’s unlikely for most of us.

The other factor that has to be taken into consideration is impact location.
I have one student that has been making very steady progress over the two years that we have been working together, and he has grooved a very repeatable swing that strikes the ball “on the back of the circle” with a slightly closed clubface. In other words, he’s consistently attacking the ball from the inside with a slightly closed face, which normally produces a nice draw.

The problem is that every now and then his ball fades or goes straight.

At first glance, one might think that his swing got a little over the top, but actually the path and face angle were good – he just struck the ball inside of center on the clubface.

It usually takes more than the naked eye to figure this out.

If you miss your driver 1/2″ inside or outside of the horizontal center of the face with a normal release of the club, your shot dispersion could be off 14% from the resultant hook or slice spin axis (-20 degrees) due to the off center hit. This means an accuracy error of 28 yards on a 200 yard carry shot, which is pretty significant.

A strike too much inside of center on the clubface produces a fade or slice spin axis, too much toward the toe produces a draw or hook spin axis. Where the ball ends up would also depend on face angle and path at impact. Bulge, roll, and gear effect also come into play – more so for a driver, less so for irons.

Video can help diagnose this problem if shot from the correct angle, and with a trained eye looking at the result. Simulators are more precise – as long as someone knows how to interpret the data.

But what can you do if you don’t have an instructor, don’t use video, and don’t have access to a simulator?

The first thing you need to do is groove a consistent swing path, and train your hands to maintain the correct angles through impact.

Then to check on impact location, you can use any of the following items:

  • Impact Decals GolfWorks Impact Decals
  • Talcum Powder dusted onto the face of the club
  • I’ve been using Dr Scholls Spray on Foot Powder, but I’m going to give MARKIT Impact Spray a try. Here’s an interesting YouTube video of an instructor demonstrating MARKIT Impact Spray  and another from the MARKIT Company on how to use the product:  Google the name for the best price, I found it at Amazon and Hireko Golf for $14.95, one of the reviews on Amazon said that it was overpriced but worked well.
  • Dry Erase Marker Pens rubbed onto the face of the club (this take a little scrubbing to remove after your practice session)

Don’t use any of the powders or dry erase markers when hitting into a simulator bay, you’ll leave marks on the screen.

I’m also testing PSP’s “The Little Club” for use in impact location practice, I’ll report on that in an upcoming issue.

Also be aware that you can’t use any of the above items during a round because they cause an increase in friction between the ball and the clubface, which results in an increased spin rate. Your goal when you use something to check impact location is solely to check where the ball and clubface are colliding, so that you can start making corrections to hit the ball on the sweet spot of the clubface consistently.

One way or another, find out where your contact consistently occurs, then make adjustments as necessary to hit the ball squarely, regulary.

Hitting the ball squarely is a factor that is often overlooked in lieu of swing speed for distance.

Don’t ignore it; it’s actually something that everyone can get better at.

Love your practice, enjoy your golf,