Straight Shootin’

Straight Shootin’
by Dr. T. J. Tomasi
Keiser University College of Golf Senior Faculty and Director of Research

TJ Tomasi

The hardest thing to do is hit the ball dead straight; and most often, even though it looks like the ball is flying straight, it’s hard to see what is actually happening.

Most shots have some curve to them, but for this discussion, I’ll describe the combination of mechanics — the swing string — that produces a straight shot.

A golf shot flies straight because there is no sidespin on the ball, only backspin as it leaves the clubface.

Think of it this way: The ball has a vertical and horizontal axis that looks like a plus sign (+). At impact, when the clubface is square to its path, there is no axis tilt (the plus sign remains perpendicular to the ground with the horizontal axis parallel to the ground), so the ball rotates with pure backspin and the shot flies straight.

Curve occurs when the clubface is not perpendicular to its path at impact; i.e. the horizontal axis tilts to the left for a draw and to the right for a fade, for a right handed player.

TJ Tomasi's Straight Shootin Visual

Using the wings of a plane as the horizontal axis makes it easy to remember.

When #1 in the diagram tilts up and to the right it’s a fade; when #2 rotates up and to the left it’s a draw spin. When #1 and #2 stay level, it’s a straight ball.

The three strings of swing mechanics all produce good golf shots, but each has a different ball flight — fade, draw or straight.

The strings are made of the same seven building blocks: clubface position, ball position, foot flare, aim/ alignment, hip action, shaft lean and weight flow.

The swing string you need to make the no-tilt, all backspin straight shot happen is:

  1. Clubface is square to its path and square at the top of the swing.
  2. Ball position is neutral; neither way up nor way back in your stance.
  3. Foot flare is medium, with both feet turned out the same degree.
  4. Aim/alignment: Clubface is aimed at the target; body is aligned parallel to target line.
  5. Hip action is at medium speed, between fast and slow.
  6. Shaft lean: Trail elbow is slightly bent at impact; shaft is on plane in pre-finish position.
  7. Weight shift is a continuous flow from back foot to front foot during downswing.

How you choose to play is up to you. Whether you hit a fade/slice, draw/hook, or straight shot, ensure you know and feel the strings needed to produce the shot shape you want. Then, trust and go!