Why Does It Look Like Golf Balls Go Right On TV?

If the players in your favorite competitions are so good, then how come their shots always look a little off when you watch them play? It’s a question that we see everywhere in golfing forums online – ‘why does it look like golf balls go right on TV?’

Is there some secret technique at play here that only the pros know? Are professional courses just that much more challenging? The truth is that there’s more to this than first meets the eye. We’re mostly dealing with an optical illusion here, not a strange flight path.

On this page, we’ll be exploring this age-old TV question. We’ll cover the most common illusion that most people spot, what causes it, and a few other things that can impact the way the ball travels. 

Why Does it Look Like Golf Balls Go Right On TV? The Issue People Notice 

So, what are people claiming to notice when they watch professional golfers on TV? Most people notice that the golf ball appears to veer a bit off to the right after being hit from the tee box. In some cases, this can even look like the ball has moved significantly off course. 

While it can be tempting to dream up all manner of explanations for this phenomenon, it’s usually caused by one thing and one thing only – it’s an optical illusion. We explore this below. 

lady hitting a golf ball

What Causes The Issue? 

So, why does the golf ball look like it’s moving so far to the right? Surely the pros would be able to keep things straight when playing? In this section, we’ll outline what causes this confusing optical illusion. 

The Camera Operator’s Position 

In the vast majority of cases, it’s the position of the camera operator that’s causing the confusing flight path that many people notice on TV. If the camera was directly behind the player when striking the ball, its path would appear ‘true to life.’ 

As the operator is usually standing a bit to the right of the player, an optical parallax illusion is caused. Even though the ball is in fact traveling in a straight line, it appears to be moving off to one side on your TV screen. 

Further down this page, we’ll be outlining a few other possible causes for this ‘right-veering’ phenomenon. Keep in mind, however, that the camera’s position is by far the most likely cause in most cases.

Why Can’t the Camera Operator Stand Behind the Player? 

Because it’s so distracting! You’d be hard-pressed to find a pro golfer who’s happy having someone standing directly behind them during a professional game. In some games, it’s even illegal for the caddy to stand behind the player once the game is in session. 

It’s this standard etiquette that informs where the camera operator stands during broadcast. With the camera slightly to the side of the player, the path of the ball is bound to look a little ‘off.’

Distance and Perspective in General

The distance the camera is from the ball can also influence how its flight path appears on the TV screen. This is why most modern broadcasts rely on multiple camera angles to give  a more complete picture of the game they’re recording. 

If you notice something looks a little odd about the flight path of a ball when you’re watching it on the screen, consider how far the camera might be from the action. It’s also worth thinking about how ‘off center’ the camera operator is from the player. 

Sometimes You’re Looking at the Tee 

This one is less likely, but it can happen. It’s not uncommon for the tee to leave the grass after the golf ball has been hit by the club’s head. A professional player’s swing has a considerable amount of force behind it. This can easily make the tee fly off to the right or left. 

In some cases, this tee is what viewers are seeing and getting confused by on TV. They see the tee moving off to the left in a wide camera shot and assume that they’ve seen the golf ball by mistake. 

“Curving Out” 

In some cases, the ball may actually be curving out to the right or left. Some professional golfers have a certain level of flair in their swing that means the ball goes ‘wrong’ before it goes right again. This doesn’t necessarily mean that their shots are inaccurate – on the contrary. 

It just means that the overall shape of their flight path is curved. If it looks like the golf balls are going right on TV, it might be the position of the camera operator causing an optical illusion. Alternatively, it might be that you’re watching a pro golfer with a more curved flight path!

Why Does the Golf Ball Sound Better On TV?

Ever noticed how the sound the club makes when striking the golf ball just sounds that much better when on TV? Why is that? 

Professional Skill Levels 

Ever played a real game of golf with a professional golfer? It sounds just as good then too! It’s got less to do with the TV than you might think. Pro golfers have spent decades perfecting their technique and can strike the ball with the accuracy and power that it needs. 

This often results in that super satisfying sound when the club connects with the ball. 

Audio Processing 

The explanation for the noise sounding that extra bit special could be down to the audio processing used by the company broadcasting the game. It might also be your speaker setup causing the sonic bliss. 

In most cases, though, it’s caused by the skill of the player hitting the ball and doesn’t really have anything to do with the fact that the game is being broadcast on TV.

Why Does it Look Like Golf Balls Go Right On TV? Conclusion 

We hope this article has helped to clear up any confusion. If you notice that the golf ball is going to the right on TV, it might be that the shot is ‘curving out’ before recentering and landing on the fairway or green. 

In most cases, however, what you’re noticing is an optical illusion – the camera operator is standing slightly to the side of the player which means the golf ball’s path looks a little ‘off.’