Impacts of a Square, Open, or Closed Clubface in Golf

VD January 01 2022

Clubface control could be the first step to your success as a golfer. In this practical article, we show you how to improve your clubface control and thus achieve a more consistent game.

You don't learn golf overnight - all players will probably agree with this thesis. Looking at the development of a player, there are many individual tasks to be solved along the way, uncontrollable events to be dealt with, and milestones to be overcome which obviously give access to completely new possibilities. 

One of those milestones on the path of the golfer’s development is controlling the face, the area of the club that has a tremendous impact on the success rate of each shot.

To improve your clubface control, it is necessary to reflect on the physics of the golf swing.

First of all, not enough players are aware that they are hitting down on the ball. Additionally, most amateurs rotate their arms too early, which leads to a closed clubface at impact. It goes without saying that this will cause you to hit a push or a pull which will not always be ideal.

Square, closed, and open clubface impacts

Clubface impact lasts only a fraction of a second, so gives you very little time to correct it if it is not square. Millions of golf players are not getting it right. are doing. To hit the ball square, you first must put the club in a proper position at the top of the backswing, which means having what is known as a “square face.” 

  • Square in this case describes the impact of the clubface at the top of the swing that lays down on the plane of the swing. As a result, the face is perpendicular to it. If you have a 90 degree angle from the shaft to the clubface at the top of your backswing, you can be certain that your swing is on track.
  • Closed describes a clubface at the top that is facing upwards. It is not square, so the plane of the swing describes an angle between 90 and 180 degrees.
  • Open describes the clubface at the top which faces downwards. This angle is between 0 and 90 degrees. The open clubface at the top is the result of an early arm movement in the backswing. The arms lead and close down on the way to impact, so that right before impact they are in front of the chest and push through the impact zone.

Impact location and its implications

So how does clubface control relate to your game? What is a square clubface and how do we hit it? Answering these questions leads us into many interesting discoveries about distance, ball flight, accuracy, and spin.

To achieve a square impact position at impact (the red lines), you must make sure that your hands take over control from your body well before hitting the shot. This hand action has two major effects:

  1. The ball is hit slightly in front of the body, which results in a draw or a fade.
  2. The clubface remains square to the swing plane.

An open clubface position at impact (blue lines) also can be described as hitting behind the ball with your hands. This leads to the natural result of either pushing it right or pulling it left off target. It will come as no surprise that this type of shot is less accurate and lacks spin - you need to make corrections for this by adding more loft or more distance on your shot.

A closed clubface position at impact (green lines) means making contact underneath the back of the ball and causing a slice or an unintentional draw due to torque on your arms and wrists. Once again, this will also require you to add or subtract loft from your club to combat the lack of ball flight control.

How often does your Swing Lead you to hit closed, open, or square?

As described above, there are three possibilities for striking the ball with your clubface at impact: square, closed or open. The following table shows how many times these three situations occurred in our test group which consisted of amateur golfers who had played at least 10 rounds ever before this experiment took place.

The average player from our test group ends up with a square clubface position at impact almost as often as he hits open or closed. In fact, there is not much of a difference between the two. This means that most amateurs are playing with an open, closed or square face about equally often. However, experts who have played golf for more than 20 years show a clear preference towards a square clubface at impact - representing a significant improvement in their success rate at hitting it square! They hit this shot twice as often as they lay off and make corrections to their swing by adding more distance on the ball.

What causes your Swing to Lead you to hit Open, Closed, or Square?

So how does this happen, why do we end up hitting open, closed, or square? The likely reason is in our bio-mechanics and in our body movements. An early arm lead (open) takes place when we swing the club led by your arms instead of your whole body. This early arm movement can also happen on the downswing, but it is less common - which explains why amateurs hit late (closed). It goes without saying that an early hand action during the backswing will result in a flat path through impact - again resulting in either an open or a closed position at impact.

What does this mean for your Golf Game?

There are two key takeaways from all this:

  1. Find out if you tend to hit open, closed, or square and work on making the right corrections to your swing mechanics.
  2. Remember that a square clubface at impact is essential for accuracy and spin control. Playing with an open or closed clubface will result in erratic contact, high inaccuracy, and will limit you from hitting your desired shot shape (fades/draws).

Working on keeping the clubface square at impact has two major benefits: it helps to improve accuracy while also increasing ball flight distance. This second benefit might be surprising to some golfers, but the reason lies in physics. The vertical path of your swing determines whether or not you can hit your top-spin shots like draws and fades. So when you make small changes to increase backswing loft (vertical plane), you also make it easier to hit draws and fades. On the other hand, if you make changes that lead to less loft at the top of your backswing, then hitting control shots like draws and fades will also be more difficult.

Can you change your Swing Path?

Don't worry if you're not able to swing exactly on the plane - many golfers can't. However, there are some things that you can do to work on getting the path of your club closer to what is considered ideal for controlling ball flight distance: 1) Practice swinging with a stronger grip pressure (weakened grip leads to an outside-in swing). 2) Increase hip turn speed during the backswing by using more powerful muscles (hips/legs). 3) Improve the speed of your pelvic rotation during the downswing by hitting balls with weaker grip pressure.

These 3 corrections are simple moves that will help you get closer to the ideal swing path that results in square impacts more often. And this is exactly what you want - square clubface positions at impact so you hit it straight! So remember, if your Swing produces undesirable opens, closes, or squares - make sure to give these tips a try on the practice range so they can boost both distance and accuracy!

How to correct the clubface impact

Poor posture of the wrists, shoulders, or an incorrect stance creeps in errors in the movement, which you can usually correct yourself. 

The best way to control the clubface is by adjusting the body and wrists' position at impact. The best golf masters also make sure to clear and relax their hips which gives the maximum space and flexibility to deliver square, optimal clubface impact without wriggling their wrists.

Wrist movements and steeping club shaft can result in wrong clubface impacts, either too closed or too open, which ultimately affects the accuracy of your shots. The first step is to adopt a neutral grip as early as possible, and that’s what we are going to discuss later in this article.

One important tip comes from the famous golf coach Javier Varela. It relates to the posture - upright, meaning a little more upright than it should be. If we hold our hands a little higher, we adopt a position that allows us to walk a little more in one line. This is because when the tip of the clubface dominates when hitting, the design of the club keeps the face square - the desired kind of impact - for longer.

Coca-Cola training tip

Many mistakes are also caused by using too much force during the swing. A tip right at the beginning, because it can actually apply to every swing error:

  • Train your swing and shot mentally. To do this, use the word Coca-Cola. During the upswing, say very quietly to yourself: Co – ca – Co (where the upswing reaches its highest point). 
  • Focus briefly, dropping the club on the downswing while pronouncing the "laaa" long.
  • Force yourself to look at the ball. Only after the clubhead has hit the ball do you slowly turn your head towards the ball.

Training the grip for the right clubface impact

The influence of the face has become extremely high with an impact of up to 75% on the ball's launch direction on iron shots. The question arises as to what actually influences the clubface and how it can be controlled?

The only connection between the racquet and the player is obviously the point at which the hands touch the racquet - in short, the player's grip position. 

A player's grip is extremely individual and depends on various other physical conditions and preferences of the player. The movements generated with the wrists and the direction of movement of the hands through the moment of impact have a significant influence on the control of the clubface. 

At this point, a starting point is to find an individually suitable position of your hands on the club, possibly with the help of a golf professional.

  1. First, place your racquet on a table or bench. If you are right-handed, place your left hand with the ball of your thumb and thumb on the table. This will ensure your arm is not twisted against the racquet. The handle runs under the knuckles, the thumb is in position on the handle.
  2. Now grab the racket from this position and hold it in front of your body. There is now a clear, stabilizing crease behind the back of your hand. 
  3. You may need to readjust the front edge of the racquet with your right hand so that the front edge of the racquet is pointing straight up.
  4. Regardless of whether you place all 10 fingers on the handle, the right little finger overlaps or hooks in, the right hand covering the thumb of the left hand with the groove between the palm of your hand and the ball of your thumb, ensuring additional stability.

If the hands are properly placed on the club, this enables the functional use of the wrists and at the same time optimizes the direction of movement of the hands through the moment of impact. 

Take courage and give it a try. You won't lose your previous grip once you try something new.

Conclusion

Even in the most gorgeous car in the world, the car is of no use if the engine is faulty. It’s the same in golf. You may have mastered the perfect swing, but if the elements are wrong, you won’t be able to put a good game. The positioning of your clubface at impact is the engine of your game, and this article will help you get it right.

Whether you've been a golfer for a long time or are just a beginner, it never hurts to invest a little time in a few lessons to correct the most common golf mistakes and improve your game. This is completely normal and not a problem at all, as these can easily be ironed out with the help of professional teachers.