Training, “The Club”
By Michael Hebron
Golfers can work on their swing and game in a variety of ways, but I would like to suggest
using your training time to develop swings using the 3 elements the club was designed with, not
tips from your friends. Learn the alignments of a golf club’s clubface, head, and shaft for the
variety of shots you will be confronted with on the golf course.
In 1910, champion golfer Harry Vardon said, “The best advice I can give – you must obey the
club and what the club wants you to do – letting the results be natural.” Bobby Jones, a
champion golfer in 1930 said, “Golfers should first and most importantly, learn how the clubface
and ball interact at impact. No one can play good golf until they know all the many ways a ball
can be expected to react when struck in different ways.”
What follows is grounded in the suggestions of Harry Vardon and Bobby Jones. These
suggestions are based on basic core golf knowledge that has been the same since the game of
golf’s inception, over 500 years ago. Every shot in golf (for over 500 years) had some type of
ball flight that was influenced by how the golfer angled the clubface, club head, and shaft of club
through impact (intentionally or unintentionally). Golfers should be focusing their learning
sessions on what to do with the golf club’s shaft, head, and face, instead of focusing on how to
move their bodies.
When working on your game and swing, you can pick one element (face, head or shaft) at a
time to be aware of. It is not difficult to learn where and what the club head, clubface and shaft
are doing at impact. Just let yourself be aware, and don’t fill your mind with swing tips.
Becoming aware of the club’s 3 elements is a much easier skill to learn than learning how to type
reasonably well, much easier! There are only three elements - face, head, and shaft to be
aware of, not the 60+ keys on keyboards to learn. I know a 6 year old boy who more often than
not is aware of what his clubface, club head, and shaft are doing through impact.
When schools offer driver education classes to high school students or adults go to driving
schools – a general description of what they intend to do is – Learn to drive. When driver
education is looked at from a different point of view, we can clearly see students are learning to
influence a steering wheel, and gas and break pedals. When students learn to influence these
three elements of a car they are developing an unconscious foundation for driving a car.
Driving a car is really the end result of learning to influence a steering wheel, gas and break
pedals. Just as an effective golf swing is clearly the end product of learning to influence the
shaft, face, and head of a golf club. My suggestion is do not try to learn the golf swing per se,
but become aware of and learn the required alignments of shaft, clubface, and club head at
impact for the shot at hand.
Where do I want the shaft for the shot at hand? Where do I want the club head for the shot at
hand? Where do I want the clubface for the shot at hand? Be engaged with what you want.
The end product then becomes a golf swing foundation with effective alignment and application
force, just as learning to influence a steering wheel, gas and break pedal is the foundation for
improving driving skills.
I suggest staying away from swing thoughts and tips from your friends, and become more open
and unconsciously aware of ball flight when training and practicing.
• Was the clubface open or closed at impact?
• Was the clubface behind my hands or ahead of them?
• Through impact was the shaft above, below, or on the same lie angle it was on at
• Where was the shaft pointing at the top of the swing?
Your ball flight path can give you the answers to all these and similar questions (nature knows
no other possibilities). Did the ball start right or left? Did the ball have any side spin? Was
impact solid or weak? Did the ball fly too high or too low? It’s the rules for the club that produces
Some general observations about the design of a club are:
• In general: when through impact the shaft and rotational swing forces are not parallel to
the angle the shaft occupied at address, it causes a ball flight the player most likely did not
• When the face of the club is either open or closed to the club head path side spin is
increased. An open clubface, with the club head coming to the ball from outside the target line
increases left to right side spin. A closed face with the club head coming from inside the target
line increases right to left side spin. In both examples there is a misalignment of force.
• When the face of the club is looking in the same direction the club head is traveling into
impact on; i.e. an out-to-in path it pulls the ball left, an in-to-out path pushes the ball off line to
the right. Both of these ball flights are without side spin.
• 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 players with swings that intentionally alter one or more of the original design angles
through impact, they can intentionally alter the application of force and the flight of the ball
making it go high or low, or give the ball a left to right or right to left side spin for the shot at
• When the original design angles are changing 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 caused by the original design angles going through impact
unintentionally out of control, causing a misapplication of force.
Any efforts and plans to build effective golf swing force will be less than then they could be when
the design angles of the golf club are not taken into consideration.
Keep in mind every desired ball flight (high, low, left, right, etc.) has a corresponding alignment
and path of clubface, head, and shaft for the shot at hand that must be taken into consideration
before the player swings. It’s only after players are aware of impact alignments for the club’s 3
elements that it possible to build an effective swing. Train so you learn to be unconsciously
aware of where the clubface, head, and shaft are at impact; i.e. a sand shot requires different
alignments than the driver swing. Players should be previewing seeing and feeling impact
alignments before they start their swing.
It’s quite possible no one has ever asked you to become aware of the clubface, head, and shaft
before. But this is the only real key to an efficient swing! Let me ask, If we do not know where
clubface, head and shaft are and what they are doing, how can we change our flight? Becoming
aware of current alignments and angles is the first step to progress.
Any guidelines for golf swings that can produce effective impact force and alignments for the
shot we are playing have the design of the club at their foundation.
Copyright Michael Hebron, 2009 Learning Golf, Inc.
All Rights Reserved
Neuro Learning for golf and Neurogolf Learning are trademarks of Learning Golf, Inc.