I believe that many golfers struggle to hit the shots they desire because they have misconceptions about the golf swing.
One of the biggest elements a golfer needs a clear understanding of, is how the club should impact the ball.
There are 5 Impact factors that have an influence on the flight of a golf ball:
1) Clubhead path
2) Face aim
3) Angle Of Attack
4) Centredness of Strike
The worlds top players have a great understanding of these and as a result can correctly diagnose a bad shot or change the shape of a shot by changing their impact conditions.
If a club golfer has a misconception of these Impact Factors, they will have a very slim chance of changing their swing. However, if the golfer has a good understanding the necessary swing changes will be made considerably quicker.
Impact Factor 1 - Clubhead Path
Clubhead path is the direction the club is swinging through impact. This is not the most important impact factor but it is still worth understanding in order to hit the ball towards a target.
The above image shows the ideal clubhead path (blue line) for a right handed golfer.
The biggest misconception I hear regarding clubhead path is that the clubhead should travel straight back from the ball (on the take-away) and straight towards the target through impact.
This misunderstanding can lead to many different ball flights but the most destructive one is the ball that starts right of target and goes further right.
As you can see from the above image, the clubhead travels on an arc, this is because we are stood to the side of the golf ball. The clubhead is only on the ball-to-target line for a very short time and is in fact travelling from the inside of the target line before impact and then back on the inside just after impact.
This image shows a golfer swinging the club on the correct arc from a different view. As you can see, the golf club swings on an angle of about 45 degrees around the body. It is this angle that means the clubhead can't travel on a straight line through impact for too long.