It’s important to understand the influence of the clubhead’s angle of attack coming back into the ball, as it helps dictate ball flight and, therefore, shot outcome.
In this video, I’m demonstrating two highly contrasting angles of attack that will create different interactions between clubhead and ball at impact.
You’ll notice in the steeper one that the ball is much further back in my stance. And while there’s wrist hinge evident in both shots, it’s much more pronounced with a steep angle of attack.
This is necessary for the clubhead to descend on a steeper path back into the ball. This clearly highlights just how different the angles of attack can be, and I hope it’s now easier to understand just why they produce such different ball flights.
What’s the difference?
With the steeper angle of attack, there’s more shaft lean at address and you’ll be taking bounce away from the club by using the leading edge more at impact.
This means the club will have less loft and the ball will fly lower, but with the same spin. With the shallower angle, there’s virtually no shaft lean and the idea is to get the club working more underneath the ball, using the bounce to create more height.
You can promote different angles of attack by varying ball position, and therefore shaft lean at address.
The steeper angle produces a much deeper divot and, therefore, more resistance from the turf or sand through impact.
To counter this, you need to stay firm-wristed and take extra care to get the ball first, as the club’s leading edge will dig in more through impact.
With the shallower angle, it’s going to be a smoother strike, with less resistance at impact. The ball will come out softer with a shallower divot.
You’re aiming to gather the ball – ‘collect’ it with a light brushing of the turf or sand – and push it forwards.
When and why
Lies on the fairway can be fairly constant, but closer to the green your lie can really affect how best to play a shot.
People often move the ball position back, especially when pitching, but that may not always be the right choice.
In bunkers and from lusher lies, for example, you invariably need to use the bounce in the sole for the best results, so a shallower angle of attack is desirable.
With the steeper angle, the ball will come out lower, which can be useful if you’re punching back out from under trees, for example, where it’s best to put the ball back, push the hands forwards and drive it out low.
But if there are no height restrictions and you go for a more lofted club to achieve a higher flight, you need to be aware that you’ll also be increasing spin, and spin can be very unpredictable.
Indeed, a less steep angle of attack will actually improve your strike, so around the greens, you should usually try to keep things as neutral as possible.