Golf on TV—the ball always appears to fly dead-right

Whenever I see a golfer on television, especially when the pin is within view, it does appear that the shot is mishit—then, the ball drops at the presumed target; near said pin. As I allude to in my title, the ball appears to fly dead right despite all of this.

Why is this? Do many golfers play an intentional draw? Distortion from the camera lens?

I’ve noticed this too, and I’m pretty sure it’s just the geometry of the camera position. The cameras seem to generally be set up behind and to the right of the players, which makes the ball appear to go right on the screen. Also I think they tend to use quite long lenses, which will mess with your depth perception.

You can compare this to some shots on driving holes, where the camera is set up directly behind the tee box. The flight of the ball seems “correct” on those shots.

I believe that professionals will choose to draw or fade the ball, if it makes for a more predictable landing. For example, if the green slopes towards the front right, a ‘straight’ landing makes for an awkward angle to predict where the roll & backspin will place the ball. Coming in from the right makes for a simpler landing.

You wanna see a leftward ball flight? Have them put the camera behind me when I’m playing. Mr. “Pull-hook”–yep, that’s me. Pros are much more likely to have an inside to outside swing path, which I’m sure has at least something to do with what you’re seeing. Watch someone who generally plays a fade (Nicklaus, for example, relied on a power fade). It may look different.

I’m no golf expert, but I remember reading an article that basically said that no professionals hit straight shots. They always draw or fade their shots because the flight of the ball is more predictable that way. Some players can only do 1 of these consistently. That’s why you’ll announcers say that “so-and-so hits the ball right-to-left so this shot is a tough one for him.” Hitting straight consistently is too difficult.

If by “too difficult” you mean in-fucking-possible (for me, at least), I agree.

That is pretty close to the whole truth about things. Most above average golfers can manage a reasonably controlled fade but the draw is more the territory of better players. It is like professional tennis players - apart from Jimmy Connors they all hit the ball with so much spin that the average player cannot comprehend it. The spin imparted on the ball does make it easier to control its flight.

But what I’m talking about, and what I think Joe K is talking about, can’t be explained by players hitting draws. The ball looks like it is hit way off-line to the right. And it’s always to the right, you don’t see an equivalent shot on the left of the screen for cut shots.

Yep. I spent several years as the head bartender at a pretty nice golf club, and managed to get down to single digit handicap at one point (when I had a lot of time on my hands).

Never could hit a straight shot with anything greater than a 7 iron.

I never had a problem with a draw vs. fade, though. That is really a function of the swing and mechanics of the shot setup.

Maybe** Joe K** should ask to have this moved to GQ. I’ll bet he’d get an answer there.

I see shots go left and right. My friends and I noticed the phenomenon years ago and noticed that all shots seem to go right or left, just never straight. That’s why the article that I mentioned in my previous post rung a bell for me.

I found this on Usenet (Google Groups, actually):

*Check again next time you see the ball heading right and you’ll notice the camera is not directly behind the player…but rather a bit off to the right so as to frame both the player and the hole. (if the camera was directly behind the player his body would block the target, but you’d see the ball go straight) When the player hits the ball straight it actually travels across the frame from lower left (player) to upper right (target) and therefore appears to be a huge push, shank or slice. *

I guess that answers it, for the most part. I was also happy to receive more information as to the common occurrence of imparting intentional draw or fade for control—thanks!

Not quite. Anyone see the Masters? DiMarco’s ball always went to the left. That’s because he’s a fader.