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Golf IQ

The genius 'one degree' tip buried in Tiger Woods' latest video, explained

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November 27, 2023

Tiger Woods has been on a bit of a hot streak recently. Not on the golf course (though with his return at the Hero World Challenge this week incoming, hopefully we'll get one of those soon), but in the kind of golf nerd video realm.

A few weeks ago, Tiger went viral for his explanation of his infamous no divots comment to Scottie Scheffler (I went pretty deep on that explanation right here, if you're interested).

Then, this week, we got another video, where Tiger dropped a series of Tiger-isms ("up shoot spin cuts") as he visited a group of college students, to help them with their games. This included one throwaway line which was equal parts fascinating, informative, and helpful.

Close the clubface for...fades?

About halfway through the video, Tiger looks at one golfer who wants to hit powerful fades. The camera zooms close to the clubface, and Tiger says:

"So, your [club]face is already open. That's a draw bias. If you want to start the ball left for a cut, the face needs to be slightly closed. Like one degree."

Discerning golfers may do a double take. Wait, close a clubface for a fade? Doesn't an open clubface creates a fade and slices while a closed one causes draws and hooks? Why would Tiger be telling a golfer who wants to hit the ball to the right, to aim his clubface to the left?

That's because Tiger's keying in on a small, but essential, technical detail that makes him such a master of his craft.

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It's called the D-Plane, but basically, where the clubface is pointing is the most important element in where the golf ball is going to go.

But it's not the only factor. The direction you swing the club plays a role, so when Tiger tells this young golf to close the face, he only tells him to do it a tiny bit —"one degree." A slight closing of the clubface will start the ball slightly to the left, as he says, but a severe out-to-in swing path will help the ball curve back.

The opposite is true for draws, as Tiger Woods' former coach Sean Foley explains to Golf Digest here.

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Again, it's a small technical detail, but the clubface is open and closed relative to the direction you're swinging the golf club, not the target line.

Back to this golfer: If his clubface was to be open and aiming to the right of his target, with a swing that's moving to the left, it wouldn't be a tight fade. It would be a big slice. Which is why Tiger tells him to close the clubface slightly.

  • The slightly closed clubface will help the ball start slightly left.
  • The more severe out-to-in swing path will help the ball curve back.
  • The clubface is open relative to the swing, but not the target.

From a wipey fade to a bullet cut, with one small adjustment.

Something for the rest of us to keep in mind: The clubface is king. And if you're noticing too much curve on the golf ball, it may be time to take a closer look at yours.