Arc Height

Arc height is an important skill to develop in the full swing and wedge game.  The reason is you can have good or poor technique but if you can control the Arc Height variable you can have a functional result.  This skill combined with the low point is also valuable in the full swing.

First let’s address what arc height is.  Arc Height is where the swing changes from going down on the circle to up.  That point is shown below at the black line.  I want to thank Adam Young Golf for the great graphics I got off his YouTube Channel. Also Click Here to go to his site and find out more info on The Strike Plan and NGL programs he offers.

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In the above image the correct height will collect the ball, brush the dirt in front, and start to change direction after the ball.  If that arc is lower like the lower arc above you will see that the impact where the star is moves back and the arc goes more into the ground.  Below is an iron strike off the grass.  The club first touches the blades of the grass at the furthest left arrow, continues down to the middle arrow, then comes above the blades of grass at the last arrow on the right.  In this scenario if the circle stayed consistent and the arc was moved 2″ lower the contact would enter further back and be traveling too far under the ball resulting in a heavy shot.

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Here is a visual of a club traveling too low.  Put the ball on a tee to see what would happen if there was no ground under the ball.  Imagine the ball is sitting on the ground and the ground is the black alignment rod.  In this scenario the club has came into first contact where the red arrow is then continues down to the bottom of the tee.  If there was actual ground here the club would crash into it and stop or bounce out.

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Below is an image of an arc height that is too high.  You can see that the leading edge of the club collided with the middle of the ball.  The causes the ball to go straight forward instead of letting the loft project the ball into the air.  Higher up than the equator then it will project the ball down into the ground.

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Here is a good arc height and low point control added together.you can see the club clipped the tee and was at the lowest point where the red arrow is at.  The club collided into the ball and was a center strike which projected the ball upwards.

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Now let’s look at a wedge.  If you can control how deep under the ball the club travels your low point can be at or around the ball as long as the club is not traveling down too steep and for too long.  A good drill for arc height control is to place the ball on a tee and have the tee 2-5mm above the turf.  The goal is to clip the tee and avoid the turf.  When you can do that move the ball onto the turf and have the same depth under the ball.

Here are 3 scenarios showing how depth control works in the short game area and having a wide margin of error is beneficial.  You can land the club a few inches behind the ball, at the ball, or slightly infront and have functional shots for all.  The launch, contact, and spin will all be different but results acceptable.

Scenario 1 Low point at the ball and good height control.  With this if you have the leading edge below the arc (too much shaft lean) the sharp edge will catch the ground and dig.  Also if you have too much bounce the back of the club can hit the ground and cause the leading edge to be turned into the ground and catch the leading edge.  Bounce effects how the club interacts with the turf so get fit!!

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Scenario 2 Low point behind the ball and good height control.  Club will slide across the ground and project the ball up.

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Scenario 3 Low point is in front of the ball and good height control.

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Can see the leading edge will travel below the equator in each scenario and project the ball upwards.

Arc Height Drill
Good Strike Clip
Arc Height too high, Thin Shot Clip
Arc Height too low, Fat Shot Clip
Thin/Fat are sometimes the same thing – Video
Good Low Point, matching bounce, proper shaft lean – Chipping off a tight lie video

Attack Angle

This article is mostly going to cover attack angle on a stock mid range wedge.  For the YouTube clip Click Here.  In the wedge game you can get away with a low point in front of the ball, at the ball, or slightly behind which would be a club landing slightly behind the ball.  That is as long as the club is coming down like an airplane that is going to do a touch and go instead of one that is too steep and would crash.  For a stock shot it is good to have an attack angle from 4-10*.  The reason for this is to reduce the amount of interference between ball and club.  Also when you are in the rough the steeper attack angle will not have to go through as much grass as a shallower club.  Less interference will help create more friction, launch the ball lower, and increase the spin on a stock shot.

Now let’s take a look at a drill that will give you instant feedback.  Place a golf ball 1 grip behind the ball you are going to strike.  The goal is to land the club in a manner that the club will miss the back ball and not dig into the ground.  Sounds easier than it is if you are someone that has a tendency to want to try to help the ball in the air.

Below on the left is a successful attempt and the one on the right was not.  At shaft parallel to the ground you will notice that the butt of the club is closer to being over the ball on the left.  That is setting up the steepness needed.  When doing this drill or hitting my stock shot I feel as if I am going to miss the ball 2-3″ in front of the ball.

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As the club starts to release to be shallow through the turf strike the handle is now in front of the ball.

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Drawing a circle around that point you will see that the low point, where the yellow line is, varies.  On the left it is in front of the ball and on the right it is slightly behind.  If the back ball was not there I might have gotten away with the right shot.  The more grass behind the ball would have shown the club down more and more as well as reducing the amount of speed transferred to the ball.

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On the left the club is slightly pass the yellow line, or low point, and starting to travel slightly up.  The orange arrow is from where the ball started and where it is going.  You can see that on the left side of the circle the club was still traveling down and through.  A lot of golfers do not understand this and they want to try and help the ball in the air not trusting the club to do the work.

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Outside of shorter wedge shots we are looking for the left image more consistently.  The reason is that on the right the ball will be deflected too high and not out enough.  The right photo with the club arriving more vertical at the ball gets into high technique where the club actually lands behind the ball, projects it more upwards, and uses the landing angle to stop the ball instead of spin.

Also remember to change your wedges when needed, play a premium ball, and keep the grooves clean, and club face dry in order to create as much friction as possible.  I tell a lot of students that play Vokey wedges to replace their main wedge when each new model comes out which is roughly 2 years.  Their other wedges could be done every 2 cycles or 4 years or sooner if needed.

For the YouTube clip Click Here.