One of the most difficult things for beginner/high handicap golfers to do is to achieve a consistent ball strike…too often they will hit it out of the heel or toe of the club without realising. One of the best ways round this is to use some specialist golf impact tape as a visual aid.
If you’ve not got any around though, are there any decent alternatives? The best alternative is athlete’s foot spray powder, the type that dries as a white powder on the clubface and lets the ball leave an imprint when you strike it. Other alternatives would include dry shampoo, talcum powder, chalk spray. Some pros even use lipstick.
Below I’ve outlined what impact tape is, how to use it to improve ball striking and go into more detail about the alternatives!
What Is Golf Impact Tape?
Impact tape is available from most specialist golf retailers. One of the most popular brands is made by a company called Longshot (available on Amazon by clicking here).
As you can see from the above picture it comes shaped for your clubface (there’s a different one designed for woods)
You stick the tape to the face of the club (don’t worry it won’t damage it) and then make a swing as normal.
The ball leaves an imprint on the tape at the point it makes contact with the clubface. This allows you to see if you’ve managed to hit it out of the centre, the heel or the toe.
There’s also some handy markings on the tape that show you how much power you lose as you move further from the sweet spot.
You should take those as guides only however, some clubs are more forgiving than others and the drop off in power will be much less (the difference between blades and game improvement irons is significant).
If you’re seeing a lot of your strikes coming out of the toe of the club you’ll likely be hitting the ball with a right to left shot flight (dependent on your club path). This would be a draw-hook type of shot. If you’re seeing the ball strike more towards the heel the opposite is true – you’ll be playing a fade-slice.
Once you know where you’re hitting it and how that feels you can start to try and manufacture the opposite feel to start deliberately shaping your shot in one direction or another. Get good at this and your handicap will tumble!
After you’re done with your practice session you can simply rip the tape off your club. You can even keep it so you can build a record of how you have improved over multiple sessions.
Is Impact Tape Expensive?
You already spend a lot on your golf game, that’s a given. Between clubs, balls, bags, clothes and green fees golf is an expensive hobby so I’m guessing you don’t want to be spending even more on training aids if there’s a cheaper solution.
One of the issues with impact tape is that a roll of it can be pretty expensive. You need need to use a different sticker from the roll on each club (so that’s probably about 13 of them) and then each piece of tape lasts for less than 10 shots before it’s impossible to see where you’ve been hitting.
On top of this, impact tape is shaped for either a driver or iron head meaning if you want to cover your entire bag you need to buy both types (you can see it’s adding up!)
So there must be better alternatives right?
Can You Use Masking Tape?
Yes, you absolutely can. In fact, this is probably the best alternative to using a dedicated strip of impact tape.
It’s cheap, lasts for ages and you can cut it to size quickly and in any shape you need.
The best type to get is the wider stuff (like this one on Amazon) but you can also get the narrower strips as well, you might have to use a couple to cover larger iron faces and your driver though.
This is probably the easiest way to experiement with different tapes as almost everyone has a role of masking tape lying around the garage or utility room. Give it a go and see what you think!
Does Impact Tape Affect Distance or Ball Flight?
This is one of the big problems with impact tape. One hundred percent, without doubt, the use of any type of tape on the club face will affect ball flight and distance considerably.
By adding tape to the clubface you are changing how the ball interacts with the club.
The tape sits between the surface of the clubface and the surface of the ball and prevents the grooves on the face from making proper contact.
As the grooves are what gives the ball it’s spin, every shot you hit will have a much lower spin rate than an identical shot without tape on the clubface.
As spin is what causes the ball to get airborne you’ll notice your shots take on a naturally lower flight when you have taped up the club face.
The same lack of spin will also lead to the shot travelling much further than one with more spin (there’s a reason drivers are designed to hit around 2500-3000 rpm and a 6 iron spins at over double that).
By some estimates impact take can lead to an additional 10 percent carry being added to your distances.
Now you might be happy with that but remember, you can’t use impact tape in an official round so any distances you think you can hit it will be reduced with a normal clubface.
Poor understanding of your gapping is one of the most common mistakes a higher handicap player can make – if you don’t know how far each club goes how do you know which one to hit?
What Other Alternatives Are There To Impact Tape?
There are several alternatives to specialist golf impact tape. As discussed above you can use ordinary masking tape but there are limitations to do with ball striking.
One of the most popular methods is athlete’s foot/jock itch powder much like this one on Amazon.
You would spray this on the face of the club and the white powder would coat the clubface. Once you hit the club you’d then be able to see the marks left by the ball.
When you’d finished your practice session you could simply wipe it away.
This method has the advantage of not affecting the flight or distance that you would hit the ball.
My favorite method (and probably the least expensive) involves a dry wipe marker. You simply color in the face of the club and then swing away.
After each hit some of the marker will be transferred off the club face and on to the ball, leaving you with a perfect mark showing where you have struck the ball.
Again, once your practice session is over the dry wipe marker simply wipes off the club face.
What Are The Best Ball Striking Drills To Use Tape With?
There are many, many different drills and practice routines you can use with (or without) practice tape to help improve your game.
My favorite ball striking drill is the one I’ve outlined below however for a more comprehensive post on practice drills try reading this article.
Swing Path Drill
If your goal is to produce a predictable, repeatable ball flight then you need good control of your swing path and to keep it on the correct plane. If you swing too far out-to-in or vice versa then you will find trouble.
For a player who has an out-to-in (also known as over the top) action the biggest problem will normall be a slice. You need to practice swinging from the inside and more to the right.
Try lying a club on the ground by your left foot and have it pointing to your target. Then stand on the clubhead so it comes up off the ground.
Make some practice swings trying to avoid hitting the shaft of your other club. The only way to do this will be to swing on an in-to-out path.
If you have the opposite problem and swing too far in-to-out (someone who hooks the ball) then you can do the opposite. Place the club by your right foot, stand on it and concentrate leaving your weight more evenly balanced for slightly longer before transferring it forward on the downswing. This will make you swing on a straighter path.
So that’s it, I think that’s a pretty comprehensive round up of golf impact tape, what it is and how to use it…and perhaps most importantly a few alternatives that will save you some cash…to obviously spend on other golf-related goodies!