What if I told you that the golf shot your prefer to hit, whether it’s a draw or a fade, may be based purely on your perception of parallel? Allow me to explain. What I’m about to tell you isn’t in any textbook, and I haven’t read it anywhere on the internet. But it’s scientific fact.
There are two kinds of parallel, true parallel and optical parallel. True parallel is easy to define. We see it in our everyday lives – or every time we cross a set of train tracks. True parallel represents the two train tracks, 4.85′ apart all the way down the line. You know that those tracks run parallel to one another, yet those two lines appear to be converging on the horizon.
Now, put your arms out in front of you, shoulder length apart. Choose an object off in the distance, say 50-100 yards away down your right arm, and look at it with your right eye open and your left eye closed. Then, choose an object 50-100 yards off in the distance off your left arm, and again, look down your left arm with your right eye open and your left eye closed. Your arms can’t be more than about 24″ apart at shoulder width, yet if you measure the distance between the objects off in the distance, they will be much farther apart. Optical parallel is actually the opposite of true parallel. Instead of the lines converging (like they do with true parallel), the lines actually diverge.
So how does this relate to your golf swing? Think of how you align yourself to your target. The ball is in line with the target. That target line represents one parallel line. Your shoulders, hips, and knees are aligned parallel to the target line. That’s another parallel line. Because of the way our eyes and brains perceive depth, we as human beings have come to accept converging lines as parallel. To make the lines converge on the target, the brain thinks it has to swing (for the right-handed golfer) outside-in. When you inevitably pull the ball, the brain compensates by keeping the hands from turning over. This produces a fade or a cut shot.
Now that you know that the lines diverge to achieve optical parallel, try aligning your body parallel to the target line like you did in the scenario above. But instead of swinging outside-in or over-the-top to make the lines converge, try to make the lines diverge by swinging out to the right. To reach the target line to the right, now the brain knows it has to swing inside-out. This produces a draw. It’s all about perception. If you aim your shoulders down the left side of the fairway or landing area, the worst thing that can happen is your hitting the fairway. If you pull it slightly, you’re in the left center of the fairway. If you push it slightly, you’re in the right center of the fairway. Hit it square, and you’re right in the middle of the fairway. It’s really that simple – and it was Ben Hogan who discovered the difference between true and optical parallels. Hogan fought a hook all his life, so he preferred to hit a cut.
That means, ideally, every (right-handed) golfer should hit a push draw – aiming to the left of the target and swinging the club out to the right. That’s swinging to optical parallel.