Impact is a very important and often misunderstood part of the golf swing. Specifically, a good-looking swing is all for naught if it’s not sound at impact. On the flip side, an ugly swing can produce a good result if it’s correct at impact. Howevera a better swing will always give you a much better chance to hit consistently good shots.
To understand what happens at impact, consider this: When you watch a pro event on TV and see a golf club strike a ball in super-slow motion, notice how the ball “smooshes” against the club face for a millisecond. This compression is achieved through “trapping” the ball momentarily between the downward-traveling clubhead and the turf.
A few things have to happen in a swing in order to trap and compress the golf ball. First, you have to hit the ball solidly, which means putting the ball on or near the center of the clubface. If you hit the ball on the toe or heel, or thin or fat, the ball can literally go anywhere, or it can go nowhere. Second, not only should you put the ball near the center of the clubface, but ideally on a clubface that’s square to the target (yes, easier said than done). If the clubface is open, a righthander will see the ball go to the right; if the clubface is closed, the ball will go left.
Lastly, at the moment of impact, the club handle should be leaning slightly toward the target--the hands and the grip lead the clubhead a bit. Unfortunately, most golfers have the shaft of the club leaning a bit away from the target at impact, which actually adds loft to the club (turning a 5-iron into a 7-iron). At best, the result is a high shot that loses distance; worst case is a fat or thin shot.
Remember the golf swing is a domino effect—to fix the problems, you have to fix the causes rather than compensate in other ways. If your club is not returning to the correct position at impact, you must fix those faults to hit consistently good shots.