My Golf Instructor

Controlling Trajectory
The Highs and Lows

Learn how to control your trajectory when hitting golf shotsControl the Trajectory of your Shots

When thinking about the importance of a golfer being able to control trajectory, I keep hearing the words of the great Moe Norman spoken to me many years ago. It was the 1993 World Cup at Lake Nona in Orlando. I had stopped by to watch some of the event and happened by the driving range. There Moe Norman was hitting ball after ball with barely a pause in between. I had heard of this legend with 55 professional wins and read about him, but never thought I would ever stand before him to watch his greatness with my own eyes.

Moe Norman was a Canadian golfer who has often been called the greatest ball striker of all time. Some say even better than Ben Hogan. Moe however was considered somewhat of a savant or possibly even autistic. A head injury at the age of 5 supposedly altered his personality making it difficult for him to get along with other players. He definitely had an odd personality and supposedly some even stranger habits. Moe repeated himself over and over and had no problem proclaiming he was "the best." It was amazing to listen to him as he would look straight at you and call the result accurately before he even hit the shot. Nick Price had asked him to come over and hit some balls. Some of the young instructors for the David Leadbetter Academy were laughing at him apparently not realizing they were in the presence of greatness. As I stood there next to him, tour player after tour player started approaching to watch and I knew at that point I was witnessing something very special at the start of my golf career.

As Moe fired bullets at the flag, he would repeatedly say things such as his shots were "always straight down the middle" and "all on the pin". He didn't believe in playing golf sideways, but rather up and down. Moe didn't like spin. He didn't want the ball spinning sideways or backwards. He believed instead of trying to back it up that you should just hit it higher. He compared his shots to stories of a building calling out how many stories the ball would climb before he hit.

Knocking it Down Can Save Strokes

I received another valuable lesson on the importance of trajectory while in college when I was down in Florida taking a lesson from the current PGA Teacher of the Year Michael Hebron. One of his students was PGA Tour Player George Burns. While watching him hit balls I realized he was hitting a 5 wood, but knocking it down. I had never seen anyone do that before. He shared with me how successful he was as a wind player because he was able to slow his rate of rotation and keep his trajectory down with all his clubs. He credited this skill for some of his wins on tour.

Golf is a game played outside in the weather. One must be able to work around the wind as well as obstacles by controlling the trajectory of their shots. When I won the Illinois Open in 2002 the final day was plagued with winds strong enough to roll the balls on the greens. Each of the players in my group would nervously set up hoping the ball would not roll after addressing it. The winds were reported to have some 45 mph gusts. Typical Chicago golf weather! I credited my win that day to being able to hold it together and play shots that the other golfers weren't capable of hitting. I was the only one in the group knocking the ball down the entire back 9.

Hitting the ball high or low is not really as difficult as it may seem. A few alterations to your set up can be all it takes to alter the height of your ball flight. When you are able to control your trajectory, wind and trouble shots will be no trouble at all!

Maria Palozola

Maria Palozola is a member of the LPGA and has participated in multiple LPGA Tour events. She has provided instruction to thousands of students in the past 20+ years and has won multiple teaching awards from the LPGA, Golf Digest, and Golf Magazine including being ranked as one of the top 50 female instructors in the world.

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