Rapsodo MLB Pro Staff On the Range with Advisor Mike Malaska

Learning to Control the Clubface

“Control your clubface, control your game.”

One of the distinguishing characteristics of elite golfers is their ability to control the clubface.  Whether managing direction or maximizing distance, an awareness of clubface orientation is paramount.

When many golfers rehearse their swings they focus on the arms (club path), but don’t consider their wrists (face angle).  In terms of controlling the direction of your shot, what your wrists (and, therefore, club face) is doing at impact is the moment of truth in the golf swing. 

For example, with a mid-ron the club face controls 75% of the launch direction. With a driver, the club face is responsible for 85% of the launch direction.

In a recent lesson with MLB players Kevin Pillar, Kevin Plawecki, and Ryon Healy, Rapsodo advisor Mike Malaska made a point that was instructive to golfers, especially those with a baseball background.  

Baseball and golf are both rotational sports, but the implementation isn’t as similar as it might seem.  During the lesson, Mike shared the eureka moment with the MLB players.  The “baseball bat” is not the shaft, it’s the clubface.  Baseball players square to a ball with the bat, golfers do it with the face.

“What you’re trying to do is hit it with the bat, but it’s the wrong bat.  The clubface is the bat,” Malaska said.

As we’ve covered in the past, the relationship between face and path will dictate ball flight.  For a right-handed player, if the club is closed to the path, it will curve the ball left.  If the club is open to the path, it will curve the ball right.  

By improving face orientation at impact, we can develop a more consistent launch direction, ball flight and even distance.  An amateur golfer should probably spend less time thinking about body position throughout the swing and more time thinking about their hand position at impact.  As Mike says, “You play the game with your hands.  You need to control your hands to control the face.”  

If you’re having a difficult time controlling launch direction, pay attention to what your wrists are doing.  Here’s a great drill from Mike that you can try to improve your awareness of the club face at impact.