A line in the sand
By T.J. Tomasi
While the photos might lead you to believe that this article is about sand play, it isn’t. At least not directly. It’s about where you should start your divot with any iron.
I chose to demonstrate this in a fairway bunker sand shot because it’s easy to see by the divot that I picked the ball cleanly before my clubhead continued down and forward. So the divot starts where the front of the ball used to be.
Most golfers don’t do this because, true to the counterintuitive nature of the game, it appears best to hang on the back foot and scoop the ball into the air, which will cause you to hit it fat or catch the top of the ball. Either way, you can’t take a proper divot, nor can you hit a proper shot.
To get the ball airborne, your weight must be on your front leg at impact, making it easier for your clubhead to hit the back of the ball first then continue into the ground. Far too many beginners think they must get the club “under” the ball, a critical mistake that makes adherence to “Bernoulli’s principle” difficult.
Daniel Bernoulli, a Swiss mathematician, explained the principles of fluid dynamics that must be followed in order to fly a plane or spin your golf ball into the air. Although he didn’t have golf in mind, he solved a nasty problem that confronts every new golfer: How do I get the ball into the air? A properly struck golf ball comes off the clubface spinning so that the air moving over the top of the ball produces a low pressure flow while the air flow under the ball creates high pressure.
This pressure differential causes lift as the higher pressure underneath pushes the ball upward. And just like the airplane whose wings are specially designed to take advantage of Bernoulli’s principle, your golf ball is shaped to fly. All you have to do is supply the correct amount of force, as the jet engine does, and up she goes.