November 23, 2023

A Case Study in the Proper Setup for Your Desired Ball Flight

By Vinnie Manginelli, PGA

In the latest edition of our series on breaking down the golf swing, we asked British PGA Member Cameron Robinson to share his expertise on a case study featuring PGA of America Head Golf Professional Adam Baumann, the head pro at Brentwood Country Club in Los Angeles, California.

In this interview, Baumann shares insights into his golfing journey, his favorite PGA Tour player and how his golf game is improving with Cameron’s advice.

Probing Q&A

Robinson: How long have you been playing golf?

Baumann: 16 Years

Robinson: Are you right or left-handed?

Baumann: Right-handed

Robinson: What is your motivation for playing golf?

Baumann: As a head professional, I like to stay competitive as much as I can and feel like I have something to work towards when I enter PGA tournaments.

Robinson: Where do you play most of your golf?

Baumann: Brentwood Country Club in Los Angeles

Robinson: What is your best score for 18 holes?

Baumann: 66

Robinson: What injuries or restrictions to movement do you have?

Baumann: I once broke my neck surfing in Orange County but have no restrictions now.

Robinson: What is your background in sport/physical activity?

Baumann: I played baseball at club level until the age of 19. I also played in Texas and California with clubs.

Robinson: Who is your favorite PGA Tour player?

Baumann: Tiger Woods. I grew up watching him and he sparked an interest in the game which got me playing at age 16.

Robinson: Do you go on the practice range before a round or in between rounds?

Baumann: 1-2 hours per week. Sometimes I will play for multiple days in a row playing in professional tournaments and traveling on golf trips with members and fellow golf professionals.

Robinson: For a driver, describe your best shots.

Baumann: Fade – the ball starts left of the target line and curves to the right with a high trajectory.

Robinson: For a driver, describe your worst shots.

Baumann: Pull Hook – the ball starts left of the target line and curves to the left with a low trajectory.

Push slice – the ball starts right of the target line and curves further right of the target.

Robinson: For a 5-iron, describe your best shots.

Baumann: Fade – the ball starts left of the target line and curves to the right finishing on target.

Robinson: For a 5-iron, describe your worst shots.

Baumann: Pull Hook – the ball starts left of the target line and curves to the left.

Push slice – the ball starts right of the target line and curves further right of the target.

Strike thin.

Robinson: On wedge shots, do your divots tend to be shallow or deep?

Baumann: Deep

Robinson: Around the green, what is your favorite club for playing chip shots?

Baumann: 58-degree wedge

Robinson: What is your favorite club in the bag?

Baumann: 8-iron

Robinson: What is your desired ball flight?

Baumann: Fade

Robinson: Precisely what ball flight characteristics would you like to improve?

Baumann: Repeatability of direction and curve. I average around 175 mph ball speed with the driver, so distance is not the issue.

Robinson’s Diagnosis

Adam had the ball positioned too far back at address – under his right eye (see Figure 1). This wasn’t allowing him access during the swing to consistently hit the fade, resulting in a two-way miss. The ball being back at address is a draw feature, which encourages a rightward club path that doesn’t match his intended shot shape (fade).

As an extremely talented player, Adam was able to manage a fade by shifting his center behind the ball – away from the target (see Figure 2) – during the swing to move the club path left. However, this caused issues aligning the clubface and repeating the same impact to hit the fade. Sometimes the face would close to the target due to tilting head and center behind the ball producing a pull hook and sometimes the clubface would stay open producing the push slice.

Figure 1. Ball is positioned too far back under Adam’s right eye


Figure 2. Adam’s in-swing compensation. Head tilted back at impact in an attempt to manage the fade.


At address, move the back of the ball to align under the left ear rather than the right eye (See Figure 3).

Figure 3. The back of the ball is positioned further forward underneath Adam’s left ear.  

Adam’s new ball flights – fade or pull fade.

“It doesn’t feel like I am going to miss right now,” Adam said.

Robinson explains how the fix worked

The two-way miss has been reduced by creating a setup specific to Adam’s ball flight goal – the fade.

The change in Adam’s setup at address helped to consistently start his ball to the left of the target because moving the ball forward to under his left ear shifted the club path leftward of the target line at the moment of impact. This setup change allowed for better movement, and Adam didn’t have to make any in-swing compensations, such as tilting away from the target. See Figure 4 for the impact after changes were made.

The leftward club path for a right-handed golfer is also known as an out-to-in club path, which is required for hitting a fade that starts left of the target and curves right finishing on target. Creating an appropriate setup to hit your desired ball flight is a surefire way to produce the desired flight. If the ball position opposes your ball flight decision, then compensations will have to be made in-swing.

There is no standard setup for each golfer. However, moving the ball forward toward the target shifts the club path towards a more out-to-in path (fade bias), and moving the ball further back shifts the club path towards a more in-to-out club path (draw bias).

Figure 4. Impact after moving the ball forward at setup. The head is centered rather than tilted away from the target.

Robinson’s Summary

It is paramount to consider where the ball is positioned in your setup when you are attempting your desired ball flight. The next time you consider a swing change, make sure the desired effect on the ball flight cannot be achieved by a few simple setup changes first. The best players in the world continually check their setup for this specific reason, so they can hit the same ball flight over and over again.

Cameron Robinson, a British PGA Member, brings his golf expertise from London to Brentwood Country Club in Los Angeles, California. With a background as a lead assistant at London’s top private clubs and a coaching record that includes PGA Professionals and British Senior mid-am champions, Cameron is dedicated to helping golfers reach their goals by enhancing their current technique to achieve desired ball flight results while preserving their functional swing tendencies.