Fundamentals for a Better Game – Launch Direction – Part 5

Scott Sackett
Director of Instruction
McCormick Ranch Golf Club
Scottsdale, AZ

More Information

This is the continuation of my series titled, “Fundamentals for a Better Game”. The aim of this is to provide ball flight and impact fundamentals any player regardless of skill level can use to become better. This is part 5, Launch Direction.    

What is Launch Direction?
Launch Direction is where the ball launches (right or left) in relation to the target line. 

Previous Misconceptions?
Launch Direction is one of the more exciting fundamentals because it’s one which is most misunderstood across time. The biggest misconception is what influences the Launch Direction of the golf ball. Launch Direction is specific to the target line as stated earlier and is comprised of two major variables: Club path & Face Angle. Face Angle is responsible for approximately 80% of the golf ball’s Launch Direction, whereas the direction the club is traveling (Club Path) is only responsible for 20%. Over many years of using TrackMan, this is becoming more of a golfing norm. But for a very long time, it was Club Path is responsible for starting direction & Face Angle for curvature.  

What Do I need to know?
Really, a few things. First, (for a right handed player), to simplify this in practice. The operating principle should be that a Club Face which is closed will start left of target and one that is open will start right. Second, where the ball starts can work its way from the putter, all the way up to driver. A player who can become more aware of where every shot starts in relation to the target line will exponentially improve their flight. Third, when striking a driver, fairway wood or hybrid, one must contend with the curvature of the face from heel to toe. All things equal (0 face angle, 0 path) a ball struck on the heel is closed and will start left where a ball struck on the toe will be open and start right. 

How Can I Practice This?
Practicing Launch Direction is something which can be done on every shot. One must first bring attention and awareness to where the golf ball is starting. You can put a video camera directly behind the target line & replay each shot to gain a more precise estimate. Practice getting the golf ball to start both right & left of your target. Know what it feels like to have a shut face versus an open face and vice versa. This is paramount. Always be finding the balance between the two.

Scott Sackett, GOLF Magazine Top 100 Teacher the past 14 years. Voted as one of Golf Digest’s Best Teacher in the State the past 21 years. Trackman Master Instructor. Titleist Certified Club Fitter. Director of Instruction at Park Meadows CC in Park City, Utah and while in Scottsdale teaches private lessons at McCormick Ranch Golf Club. The Scott Sackett Signature Schools take place at SunRidge Canyon Golf Club. Follow Scott on Instagram @scottsackettgolf.  Email: | Site URL: