A famous golfer once said, “It is a rare occurrence when the ball doesn’t curve in flight. Good golfers use the curve. Poor golfers fight it.” When I use this quote with my students at the United States Golf Academy, they often get very frustrated, often commenting, “It is the curve on the ball that gets me into trouble!” Ok I agree, excessive curve on the ball can be hard to control, but is not the curve that causes the problem but whether the ball curves toward the target or away. My goal is to always make my students better players, so we always learn to embrace the fact the ball has a tendency to curve in flight and use it to our advantage rather than have the constant battle of fighting it.
The first step in controlling a curved ball flight is to indentify your natural ball flight tendencies. Not what the ball does when you try to steer it to a target, but the curve your natural swing produces. To find this simply go to the practice range and hit balls without any target. Just set up and swing without even looking down range. Swing without any sense of direction. The first thing you will notice is that the ball does not curve as much as it does on the golf course. Why? You are swinging the club where you body is set up and not to a point where you think the target is located. The only time the ball spins and curves excessively is when our setup is in a different direction than our target. So when we swing at the target, our setup pulls the club in a different direction, causing a glancing blow and a big curve. Once you have identified the curve, use the following technique to use it the curve to effectively get the ball to go toward the target.
Stand behind the ball and select the point where you would like the ball to end up. Now build an imaginary wall from that point straight back to the ball. Next using your tendency and predictable curve, align yourself so that your swing starts the ball on the side of the wall that allows the ball to curve back to the wall, for left to right players this means starting left of the wall and for right to left players starting right of the wall. Now step up and with no sense of the final target, swing the club with the sole intent of starting the ball on “your” side of the wall. After a few trials you will find the ball curves less as our swing matches our alignment, and you will hit more fairways by staying on your side of the wall. Give this a try. It is a concept that has served many good players very well.