For the sake of simplicity, all advice on swings and drills is provided from a right handed perspective; lefties …. well, you know what to do!

When I teach advanced players, I encourage then to have a one sided miss.

For most of my right handed players, this miss would be to the right, never crossing left of the ball target line. Once in awhile I have a student with enough swing speed to play a power fade, that students’ miss would be to the left.

For all of my students, we cover ball flight laws during the Ball Striking lesson, so that they have an idea of why the ball starts where it does, and why it curves the way it does.

When you understand the ball flight laws, you can start to determine what went wrong with a swing that produced an undesired outcome; you can even engineer shots to start in a certain direction and curve in a certain direction.

For beginner golfers, or intermediate golfers that are taking lessons with me, I settle for a miss that might wander a few yards off center on either side of the ball – target line. Such a student would plan on hitting a straight shot, understanding that their skill level will most likely produce a shot that wanders a bit, but that if they aim straight they won’t be too far off line.

The difference between these two types of students is that the advanced student has mastered their version of swinging the club on their own angled circle. I don’t necessarily use phrases like “swing plane”, “D plane”, “takeaway plane”, “delivery plane”, etc. because I personally think it’s easier to envision swinging on an angled circle.

“Angled circles (note plural)” may apply to players that utilize a more traditional swing style.

The circle is a little more vertical for shorter clubs, and a little flatter for longer clubs, and the advanced student is able to repeat the same basic, repeatable, angled circle swing for each club.

When that’s the case, I hold these students to a higher standard of accountability for their misses – in order to get them hyper-focused on their target.

The message here is fivefold:

~Understand ball flight laws thoroughly.

~Understand your own angled swing.

~Keep practicing your angled swing for each club in your bag; the motion should feel similar for each club, but what will change will be the actual angle of the swing due to a shorter or longer shaft; practice this swing feeling until you own it.

~Until you own it, set up for your shots to travel straight at the target; misses on either side of the ball – target line will be acceptable as long as they are not outrageous. If they are outrageous, think about the ball flight rules in relation to your result and figure it out.

~After you own it, hold yourself to a higher standard – a one sided miss.

Love your practice, enjoy your golf,


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.