Controlling Ballflight Trajectory

We’ve all been in a situation where we’ve had to alter our normal shot. Maybe we were too close to a group of overhanging branches that prevented us from reaching the fairway in one hot. Or maybe we were behind a clump of trees that blocked our way to the green. Whatever the case, we were left with no choice but to change our shot. That’s when the ability to control ballflight trajectory comes in handy.

Controlling trajectory saves strokes. It gets you out of trouble when you need it. That’s why I cover it in my golf instruction sessions. Sometimes, the trouble forces you to alter ball flight trajectory. Other times, it gives us a choice. We can play it safe, which can cost us a stroke, or we can go for it, which saves us an extra stroke. How successful you are at making this shot, as I often tell players taking my golf lessons, depends on how well you control trajectory.

Setup is the Key
Two keys dominate this shot-setup and club selection. How you set up, as I’ve often said in my golf tips, often dictates the success of the shot. What changes you make here, which we discuss below, depend on the type of shot you need to make. If you want to go low with the shot, you need to make one set of changes. If you want to go high, you need to make another set.

Choosing the right club is also a key to controlling trajectory. Using the right club also helps dictate the success of the shot, just like making the right changes to your setup. For low shots, select one more club than is needed, choke down on the handle a few inches, and execute a smooth abbreviated swing. For high shots, choose one less club than needed, keep your normal grip, and get more aggressive.

Since your setup is so critical to controlling trajectory, let’s review the basics of your set-up when trying to do so.

Go Low
Our main goal in hitting this type of shot is getting out of trouble. Don’t be concerned with hitting at miracle shot, here. Just focus on getting the ball back on the fairway or in a good position to take your next shot.

Here are six keys to going low:

-Ball back
-Weight forward
-Shoulders level
-Hands forward
-Swing low
-Finish low

Position the ball anywhere from dead center in your stance to your rear foot. Now, lean forward. Leaning de-lofts the clubface and ensures a steep, descending blow. Next, level your shoulders. Keep them level as you start your swing. Focus your eyes on the ground to get your shoulders to match the horizon.

Lean the hands and the shaft forward, which de-lofts the club. Now take a softer swing than normal. A softer swing reduces the balls spin and prevents an up-shooting flight. Swing with an even, pendulum like rhythm to accomplish this goal. Don’t take a full finish. Hold the clubhead below your waistline after impact.

Go High
Like going low, going high can get you out of trouble in the least amount of strokes. But it can cost you if you miss the shot. So don’t try to pull off a miracle shot. Assess the situation carefully before deciding to go over something. Sometimes it’s better playing it safe-even though it costs you a stroke-than going for broke.

Here are six tips on going high:

-Ball forward
-Weight back
-Back shoulder low
-Hands Neutral
-Be aggressive
-Finish high

Position the ball forward in your stance. This facilitates catching the ball on a slightly ascending arc. Now lean backward. Be sure that your back shoulder is lower than your front shoulder at address.

Maintain a neutral hand and shaft position as a means of retaining the loft built into the clubface at impact. Keeping your hands low in the center of your stance works well. Also, don’t hold back. Be aggressive. Speed creates lift. A high ballflight needs a high finish, so try completing your swing in balance, with your hands and arms back over your front shoulder.

Controlling ballflight trajectory depends on making setup adjustments and good club selection. Learning to do so, as I’ve mentioned in my golf tips, increases your arsenal of shots, making you better equipped to tackle whatever a course may bring that day. In addition, it saves strokes. And cutting down on strokes can’t help but reduce your golf handicap to where you want it.

Copyright (c) 2007 Jack Moorehouse