The Club’s "Three Elements"
A Blueprint for Training!
By MICHAEL HEBRON
PGA Master Professional, CI
While it is true that a golf club reacts to moving parts of the body’s, I have
found it is more useful to know "what to do" with the club, than trying to focus
on "how to" move body parts.
It is also true that telling golfers "how to" move their body is one of the
approaches that is used for helping golfers improve.
When it comes to long-term learning, a stronger case can be made for golfers
learning where the club should be aligned through impact for the shot at hand.
It helps progress to know that golf clubs are built and designed for impact
alignments, not address alignments. Clubs are designed with 1) their handle
end angled forward of the clubface, and 2) their shaft coming up from the
ground on an inclined angle that is similar to a roof. A golfer’s body parts will
normally (and I believe naturally) make the appropriate motions after the
golfer learns that golf club should return through impact with 1) the clubface
behind the handle end of the shaft, 2) with the shaft parallel to the original lie
angle that it occupied at address.
I have found instruction advice does not have to talk very much about "how"
golfers should move their bodies after golfers know what the efficient impact
alignments are for the club and the shot at hand.
A golf club has 3 elements, its clubface, club head and shaft, and it helps to
stay aware of these three elements. When developing a swing use a blueprint
based on these three elements of a golf club (clubface, club head, and shaft),
not tips from your friends I would suggest using training and practice time to
discover efficient alignments of a golf club's 3 elements (clubface, head, and
shaft) for the shot at hand.
In 1919, Harry Vardon said, "The best advice I can give -you must obey the
club and what the club wants you to do, letting results be natural. "
When working on your game and swing, pick one of the three elements of the
club (face, head or shaft) at a time to be aware of. Becoming aware of the
club's three elements is much easier than learning how to type reasonably
well, much easier! There are only three elements to learn - not the 100+ keys
that are on most modern computer keyboards. I know many 8 year-olds who
are more often than not aware of what their clubface, clubhead, and shaft are
doing through impact.
Driving a car is really the end result of learning to influence a steering wheel,
gas and break pedals, just as having an effective golf swing is clearly the end
product of influencing the shaft, face, and head of a golf club. My suggestion:
do not try to learn "how to" move your body per se, but become aware of, and
learn the required alignments of the shaft, clubface, and club head through
impact. Where you want the shaft, the club head, and clubface for the shot at
hand, is a more useful focus than thinking about moving body parts.
"Was the clubface open or closed at impact?" Did the ball start right or left?
"Was the clubface behind my hands or ahead of them?" Was impact weak or
"Was the shaft above, below, or on the same lie angle it occupied at address
through impact?" Did the ball fly left, right or straight?
"Where was the shaft pointing at the top of the swing?" Did the ball have any
sidespin in flight?
Keep in mind - ball flight is the direct result of how the club's three elements
are aligned through impact. Nature's truths know no other possibilities. Note:
By knowing what you did, you see what you can do!
In general when the shaft and swing forces are not parallel to the angle the
shaft occupied at address through impact, it causes a ball flight the player did
When the face of the club is either open or closed to the club head path,
sidespin is increased.
An open clubface, with the club head coming to the ball from outside the
target line increases left to right sidespin.
A closed face with the club head coming to the ball from inside the target line
increases right to left sidespin.
When the face of the club is facing in the same direction the club head path,
the path the clothed is traveling on, the following ball flight results occur (Both
flights without sidespin):
An out to in club head path pulls the ball off line left.
An in to out club head path pushes the ball off line to the right.
When the players' swing shape lets the club go through impact without any
changes to its original angles, the shaft, club head, and clubface are all said
to be on plane (with the clubface behind the grip end), the player has an
efficient application and alignment of force, and straight boring ball flight.
When a player with a consistent swing intentionally alters one or more of the
original design angles
Through impact they can intentionally alter the application of force and the
fight of the ball, making it go high or low, or give the ball a left to right or right
to left sidespin for the shot at hand.
When the original design angles are changed unintentionally through impact it
produces thin and fat shots. Shots can also go higher or lower than we want,
hooking and slicing out of control unintentionally. All of which is caused by the
unintentional lack of control of maintaining the original design angles through
impact, producing a misapplication of force.
Keep in mind every desired ball flight has a corresponding alignment and path
of clubface, head, and shaft for the shot at hand. To build an effective and
repeatable swing, a golfer must become aware of selecting the appropriate
impact alignments (from each of the club's three elements) for the shot at
It's quite possible that no one has ever asked you to become aware of the
clubface, head, and shaft before. But this is the only real key to a consistent
swing! Let me ask, "If you were not aware of where the clubface, head and
shaft are, how can we either repeat or change our current swing and ball
flight?" Becoming aware of your current alignments would be the first step to
©Copyright 2001 Michael Hebron, Learning Golf, Inc™. a part of the Joy of
© 2008 Michael Hebron