The Oval Ball and How to Hit It
For many golfers constantly assailed with information about the importance of the golf balls perfect roundness, it comes as a bit of a surprise to learn that the oval golf ball is more stable and significantly easier to control the very opposite of what most would expect. Its less regular shape suggests it will behave unpredictably, when in fact its greater aerodynamic complexity is the key to its advanced performance capabilities.
The flight path of a round golf ball is primarily determined by the amount and direction of spin imparted by the club face. However, the oval ball almost completely resists any spin you may give it and instead, allows its flight pattern to be solely determined by the way you set it up. Its like playing with a smart ball that has a programmable memory, provided you hit it cleanly it will comply with your setup instructions.
Why the oval ball flies straight
When positioned vertically, the oval ball is almost impossible to hook or slice because it has two axes of spin. Slicing your club across the face of the ball has no effect because the sideways spin that results is immediately counteracted by the balls simultaneous tumbling spin. Each half revolution the ball makes as it tumbles through the air reverses the direction of the sideways spin that causes a round golf ball to curve.
Why it can fly round corners
The golfcross ball will curve in a preset direction because once it has been set spinning on a particular axis it maintains its angle of orientation in space in the same way as a spinning gyroscope or frisbee. If the balls angle of rotation is leaning over to one side then it will curve round to that side.
Using a tee cup
Because the flight of the ball is controlled by the way you position it, a rubber tee cup has been developed to hold the ball at any number of different angles when teeing off. If local rules permit, it may also be used on the fairway. The cup may be used on its own or stretched over a regular tee after pushing the tees sharp end through the bottom of the cup.
How the oval ball flies through the air is determined not so much by how you hit it but by how you position it before you hit it. Once youve learnt the five basic positions, common sense will tell you how best to position the ball in various playing situations.
The reflected ball has a low trajectory and travels farthest.
For maximum distance, position the ball vertically and then slope it straight back at the same angle as the loft of the club face. This is called reflecting because the angle of the ball closely reflects the angle of loft. The reflected ball carries farther because the club face makes full contact with it and promotes minimal backspin. This ensures less aerodynamic drag, a lower more efficient trajectory and no arresting backspin on pitching. The well struck shot flies straight, tumbling slowly backwards with a pulsating whooshing noise and no hum. You should be careful not to over reflect the ball by angling it back too far as this can promote topspin and cause it to dive.
The vertical ball stops very quickly with any club.
To apply backspin so that the ball stops dead on landing, position it vertically. This allows the club face to strike below the center of the ball which means less clubball contact and therefore less velocity but plenty of backspin. The ball flies straight, tumbling rapidly backwards with a high pitched hum the higher the pitch, the greater the speed of spin and the shorter the flight of the ball. It has less carry than a reflected shot, a higher trajectory and a steeper angle of descent which, along with its backspin, means it stops very quickly even with a 3wood. For a better feel with the more lofted clubs, you can reflect the ball back a little and still retain sufficient backspin.
To make the ball fly right, angle it to the right.
To hit a fade, position the ball vertically and then angle it over to the right to the extent of the fade required. Then hit straight through. It’s interesting to experiment with fades and draws, angling the ball a little bit farther over to the side each time you hit it in order to see how much more it flies to that side. The more vertical the ball, the higher its trajectory will be, the farther it will carry and the less runon it will achieve. On pitching, the ball will usually continue to maintain its direction of travel. When angling the ball to the side it’s important that you don’t also reflect it back as this will stop backwards spin and prevent it from maintaining its angle of rotation.
Fades, draws, and controlled slices and hooks are easily achieved.
Hitting fades or draws and controlled slices and hooks is simply a matter of setting the spin axis of the ball. The farther over it is angled to one side the greater the movement will be to that side. You’ll find that the more the ball is angled to the side the flatter its trajectory will be, resulting in a more oblique angle of descent with greater runon. Also, the more horizontal the ball is the sweeter it will feel off the club. When using shorter irons (anything from the 8 down) controlled hooks (a above) and slices (b above) are best achieved by laying the ball horizontally and moving it into a ten-past-eight position for a slice and a ten-to-four position for a hook.
When the ball is laid horizontally and hit on one sharp end like a torpedo, the resulting top spin produces a long, low, bounding flight.
Because it’s oval, you can strike the golfcross ball well off center and apply a great deal of top spin. The ball is laid horizontally with one sharp end pointed at the target like a torpedo and struck on its other end. It descends quickly and skips along on its ends in a series of giant humming leaps that carry it almost as far as the lofted ball. The high spin rate keeps the ball on track despite unevenness of terrain. This makes it a useful shot in high winds or when needing to keep the ball low under trees. Best with woods and long irons.
Making the torpedo turn corners The Snake
The snake shot travels one way in the air and the reverse on landing. Lay the ball in the torpedo position and then point its back end in the direction you want it to move. As with draws and fades, the more you move it to one side the farther to that side it will go. When you hit this shot the topspin forces the ball back to earth while it still holds a lot of kinetic energy. Whereupon it is subjected to a vigorous torque from the ground that drives it off in a series of curving bounces at 90 degrees from its original direction in the air.
The horizontal ball is swingplane sensitive and tends to drift.
Because the oval ball lying on its side makes contact along the length of the club face, it has the best feel and comes off hotter than the vertically positioned ball. However, the horizontal position is very sensitive to your swing plane and unless its long axis is exactly parallel with the club face it will tend to veer off. When hit straight it takes plenty of backspin which promotes good lift but tends left or right on descent. Raising its end just a few millimeters will promote a predictable draw or fade with a high trajectory. Because it maintains direction over short distances, the horizontal position is most effective around the yard and produces the best punch shot for goal.