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Laws of Golf

LAW is a statement of an order or relation of phenomena that so far as is known is invariable under given conditions.

When we speak of Law in the model, don’t infer that Law deals directly with the golf swing. It doesn’t. Law here refers to the physical forces which are absolutes in influencing the flight of the ball. There are no absolutes in the golf swing, only Principles. Absolutes are reserved for ball flight, that’s why they are called Laws. The following five factors are the Laws in this model. The Ball Flight Laws (assessed at the moment of impact) are:

1. SPEED The velocity with which the clubhead is traveling. Speed influences the distance the ball will be propelled, as well as the trajectory and shape of the resulting shot.

2. CENTEREDNESS The exactness with which the ball makes contact on the face of the club relative to the percussion point or “sweet spot.” Contact could be either on the center, fore (toe), aft (heel), above or below that “sweet spot.”

3. PATH The direction of the arc described by the clubhead in its travel away from then aback toward the target. Its line of travel at impact is one of the primary factors influencing direction for a full shot.

4. FACE The degree at which the leading edge of the clubface is at right angles to the swing path. It will determine the accuracy of the ball’s flight along that line, or produce a left or right curve away from that line.

5. ANGLE OF APPROACH The angle formed by the descending or ascending arc of the clubhead on the forward swing in relation to the slope of the ground. Due to its influence on the ball’s spin rate, the trajectory and the distance the ball travels will be affected by this angle.

Obviously, there are equipment factors such as clubface loft, construction of the ball, material of the hitting surface, etc., which will influence the distance and direction of the ball’s flight. Environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity, wind, terrain and altitude also have an effect. There are also psychological elements which can influence all five laws. But in this model, consideration is given only to the human physical factors and, specifically, those over which we have some control.

Ball Flight Law ranks as the first priority because they are absolute rather than arbitrary. They work every time without fail. The ball is not concerned with swing style. It responds to being stuck without any prejudice toward the striker. It doesn’t ask what particular swing method is being used, nor does it care about one’s handicap, club affiliation, sex or age. The ball follows the basic Ball Flight Laws, whether the player uses an open or square stance, has a fast or slow backswing, an overlapping or tender fingered grip, a firm or cupped wrist, or emphasizes leverage or centrifugal force as the primary source of power. Yet, all these could have an important influence on the flight of the ball.

For more information on the Laws of Golf pick of a copy of the PGA Manual of Golf, the official instruction authority of the PGA of America.

This article features excerpts from the PGA Manual of Golf.

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