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Squaring The Club Face Explained

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Face To Path Explained With A Plane Board

Understanding Face-to-path is a key skill for playing golf. It is responsible for the amount of curve or shaft lean in your swing. I use a plane board to help illustrate how the face-to-path relationship changes throughout the swing and how you can visualize it.

Tags: Fundamentals, Poor Contact, Not Straight Enough, Early Extension, Chicken Wing, Cast, Draw vs Fade, Iron, Driver, Fairway Wood, Transition, Release, Concept, Advanced, Intermediate

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This concept video is exploring the face-to-path relationship in the golf swing.

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So I've got a little target here that we use for wedge practice, but we're going to use it like a plane board.

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So you can see if I were to set my forearm on the ground, it's not quite flush to it,

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but it's going to give us a decent representation of a swing plane.

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Now, what we're going to look at is the club face orientation compared to this plane at different points during the swing.

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There's a philosophy out there that you want to try to keep the club face square to this plane of movement as long as possible.

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And what I'm going to show you is that that's a challenging to do and b, I don't think it's the most athletic way or most natural way for the club to swing.

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And we'll look at a bunch of examples of tour pros to kind of see what they've figured out as far as the amount of rotation.

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So what we're going to do is let's pretend that instead of making a swing way up here where the club's following kind of a somewhat planar circular path, we're going to shrink it down.

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So that I'm standing right here in this H and the club is going to work around me as I make my swing.

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So in order for the club face to be square to the path, most people would define that as perpendicular.

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So the leading edge perpendicular kind of like that.

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Now what we'll see is let's say it's perpendicular when the shaft is vertical.

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If I lean the shaft forward, I can still keep the leading edge perpendicular, but that would actually take a little bit of rotation in order to do so.

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So if I kept the face square to the path of the grip, it would be open and then if I rotated it, that makes it square.

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So down at the bottom when I'm making contact, we're going to have a little bit of shaft lean, and then the club face will be rotated just a touch to compare to the plane of the club in order to square the face.

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Now the theory of keeping the club face square to the path, you'll see really doesn't show up when we look at it in the backswing, because there's a couple key points where it's easy to see the face to path relationship.

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And when the shaft is parallel on either side of the ball, and then two is looking at the top of the swing.

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So if we're looking at when the shaft is parallel, if it was to be square, that means that during the takeaway and during the downswing, you would want the face to be roughly at that angle there.

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If I had my six iron, that's roughly a 60 degree vertical swing plane with the six iron.

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That means that the club face would be square or perpendicular to that 60 degree angle. It would look very much like that, and most people would say that that's pretty closed.

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So if we fast forward to the downswing, that means that if we're saying this is pretty close to square, or even vertical is square, I don't care too much.

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That means that I've still got to rotate it a good 40 degrees or so from here down to the bottom of the swing, in order to get the club face pointed at the target or get it square to the path.

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So if I've got some rotation happening between here and contact, it doesn't make sense if you look at a lot of other sports that I would want to then change the path or change the movement of my arms right there in impact.

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We'll make a lot more sense that I would want to gradually close it and continue it closing so that when it's in this follow through position, square to the path would actually point close to like that.

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That would look like a very open club face by most standards.

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Square would be something like that, but now you can see that that's more closed than it was at the impact.

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So I tend to look for more of a gradual rotation and gradual closing compared to the path.

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The place where it's the most apparent is if you look at the top of the swing.

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If I was to try to keep this square to the path at the top of the swing, you can see that that would look extremely closed by most standards.

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Most golfers are going to be closer to parallel to the plane, not perpendicular to it.

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So the club face has to rotate a good 78-90 degrees between the top of the swing and impact.

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So you could either, we'll do it there. So here's the top of the swing, there's impact.

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You could either wait wait wait wait wait wait and then try to snap it closed.

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Or you could gradually close it the whole time or you could close it early and then try to hold it on.

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I tend to prefer more of the gradual closing the entire downswing and even into the follow because I think it has the most fluidity and kind of,

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I like what it does to the path of the club in terms of helping to build the flat spot.

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Now you can see that from a practical standpoint trying to create a swing where I keep that closed becomes really challenging as I start to get up towards the top of the swing.

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You can see that if I get my wrist in any sort of natural position, it's going to be closer to parallel to the plane instead of perpendicular to it.

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So if the downswing starts with it, not square to the plane, there's no way I could keep the club face square to the plane during the entire swing.

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So now the two major ways that the club face is going to rotate.

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One would be if I start to pull the grip back like this and kept the club face square, you can put the club face in the same orientation.

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You can see that it would be pointing way to the right.

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But because of how this arm tends to rotate when it's straightens, what ends up happening is when I pull this in, that shoulder will tend to rotate this close.

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So that many golfers who have a look of it open open open open and then snapping close do so by more bringing the grip back instead of twisting the face.

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The only way that I can keep the grip moving towards the target or in the moving a little bit up, but moving through there, the only way that I could then square it through that would be having pure shaper rotation.

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Maybe that will make a little bit more sense from the face on view.

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From the face on view, you'll frequently see the club face looking like this when it's wide open.

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Gauper's who tend to have more of that earlier rotation will tend to have the club face looking more like this.

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If it's open through this face here, then what'll typically happen is the grip lined up moving backward like this and the club will rotate because of how the right arm works on it.

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Like that, as opposed to getting it close a little bit earlier and then I can continue the grip moving forward, which helps delay the low point and create some of that flat spot.

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I thought it would be helpful to take a quick look at a couple different examples in the video analyzer.

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So we got a couple different golfers who are thought to have kind of quiet wrists not a whole lot of club face rotation.

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So we got Dustin Johnson and Steve Stricker.

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Now it's a little tricky to see the club face because this camera angles a little bit low, but if we go just until he starts down, you can start to see the club face there is pointing pretty much that way.

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Now if it was perpendicular to the swing plane, which would be somewhere in that general category, we would expect to see it pointing kind of more parallel to that line or the club face would be along that line pointing out that way.

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So even Dustin with his close grip or a strong grip, bogerist doesn't get the club face square to the swing plane at the top of the swing.

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And then as he comes down, you can see at this point the club face is pretty vertical.

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So if you were to imagine some type of swing plane, again, it's still got a good 2030 degrees to rotate the only swing plane that that would be square to would be when that was perpendicular or something about like that.

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Now you will see that he gets it fairly close to your as or close to square to that path as anybody that I've seen, but you will see that on the way through through here he gets it close to vertical, which again, that would be turned down compared to the swing plane.

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Now it's I will look at another view, we'll look at one of my swings from overhead and just to show some of the challenges of being able to see the amount of rotation in through here because the collision with the golf ball can definitely disrupt the way that the club face will look.

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But quickly we can look at Steve Strikker over here on the right, you can see at the top it's is club face would be considered square or even slightly open maybe, but it's pretty close to parallel to the forearm and we know if it was pretty if it was in that same orientation down at the bottom.

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So we would be pointing along the swing plane not perpendicular to it so the club face would actually be pointing basically out like that or probably 60 degrees 70 degrees out to the right.

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But then as we get to those two check points that are easiest to see the face to path relationship here you can see again the only swing plane that would be perpendicular to would be pretty horizontal so it's still got a good 20 30 degrees to rotate there and then you'll see at the point in the follow through when it's toe up.

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He's rotated it past perpendicular so we know that it's rotating through that phase and we know that it's rotating through that phase to me it wouldn't make a whole lot of sense to rotate it hold on and then rotate it again it seems more.

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Repeatable or athletic to have slow smooth consistent rotation during the entire release pattern.

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I thought it'd be fun to look at two different perspectives of my own swing from a couple years ago here we've got camera I've got down the line and then here you can see that same alignment stick.

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But now we're looking from close to overhead now we're going to use those two references over here you can see the club face close to vertical.

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And then on the way through close to vertical as well so there's definitely there's definitely some rotation through that phase right because the club face if it stayed.

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At the same orientation to this swing plane would be pointed out the right so we know it's closing and then to get back to to get to vertical it would have to close even past where it was at impact now from overhead.

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You'll see that I struck this ball a little bit on the toe and so what you'll see is that slightly off center strike can disrupt some of the speed of how it looks like it's closing which is part of the reason why I think it can be more helpful to look at the window just prior to just prior to impact and then a couple feet after where some of that noise has been somewhat zeroed out.

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But you can see that there's definitely some rotation of the club through this phase even on a release that looks pretty close to square.

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