GRANT HEPBURN makes use of practical visual aids to help you better understand some key golfing concepts.
In this tip, I’d like to use another common household item – in this instance a pool noodle – to help you get a better understanding of the three different swing paths that help produce three different shot shapes: straight, a draw or a fade.
The idea is not to start swinging a pool noodle like a golf club, but rather for it to act as a visual aid so that you can picture the arc of your swing and work on hitting the shape you are after.
It’s a helpful basic image to have in your mind when swinging the golf club, as it helps you to understand that the golf swing is neither an up-and-down motion nor a straight-back-and-straight-through motion, but rather an arc around your body.
It’s also important to note that while there are many variables that affect the way you shape the ball, including your hands, the angle of the club at impact and your grip, for the purposes of this tip, I am focussing on how you can control the swing path to create your desired shot shape.
The straight shot
In what is essentially a standard swing, note how I swing the noodle on an arc around my body. On the takeaway, the noodle goes back slightly on the inside, and up over my right shoulder. On the downswing, notice how the noodle approaches the point of impact on a similar arc. Through impact, the pool noodle swings down the line towards the target before tracking its way back towards the inside on an arc over my left shoulder.
For the draw shape, one should set up aiming a little to the right, as I have demonstrated. To encourage the right-to-left shape, imagine that your swing arc is a little more around your body. As I’ve demonstrated with the noodle, you should take the club a little bit more to the inside, behind your right shoulder on the backswing.
On the downswing, notice how the arc of the pool noodle is far more inside than it was for the regular swing. Importantly, it swings out to the right at impact and continues high over my left shoulder to finish. The shape of this swing encourages a hooking-type action on the ball, similar to how a tennis player would hit a topspin shot.
In order to hit a gentle fade, you need to set up aiming slightly to the left of target. Picture a more upright swing path, as shown by the path of the pool noodle, which is steeper on the way back than with a regular swing. Through impact, the swing path should cut across the ball, imparting a left-to-right spin on the ball. Notice how I have finished relatively low over my left shoulder.
– This article first appeared in the December 2022 issue of Compleat Golfer magazine.