Secrets To Working The Ball

Players who know how to shape their shots have a significant advantage scoring-wise over those who don’t. Shaping your shots not only reduces scores and golf handicaps, it dramatically alters the way you play the game. So if you’re serious about improving your game, you must learn how to shape your shots.

But where do you start when it comes to learning how to shape shots. Initially, you should focus on learning to hit three types of shots-how to curve the ball left to right, how to curve the ball right to left, and how to hit the low punch shot.

Golf Lesson #1: Hitting Left To Right
The fade follows a left to right path (for right-handers). To do that, you must build up air on the left side of the ball, pushing it right. Adopting an open stance at address plus having an open clubface at impact are the keys to hitting a fade.

Take your normal stance, move your front foot back a few inches, and open up your hips. You should be facing left of the target line. During the takeaway, swing the club parallel to the line of your foot. The out-to-in takeaway produces a top-of-the-swing position where the clubface points left of the target. If you follow your foot line with your swing, you’ll hit the ball with an open clubface.

The keys to hitting a fade:

* Pull your front foot back slightly
* Open your stance
* Hinge wrists at about waist high
* Take a full shoulder turn
* Swing the club parallel to foot line
* Clear left hip (for right-handers)

Hitting a fade seems simple enough, but be careful, as I’ve warned in my golf tips. If you generate too much sidespin, you’ll create a slice.

Golf Lesson #2: Hitting Right To Left
The secret to hitting a draw, like the secret to hitting a fade, is imparting sidespin. The draw follows an in-to-out path. So you must build up air on the right side of the ball, pushing it left. A closed stance and a closed clubface at impact produce the correct spin.

Take a normal square stance, then draw your back foot back a few inches, closing your stance and clubface. The clubface aims directly along the target line but it follows and in-to-out path, not the out-to-in path of a fade. Adopting a slightly stronger left-handed grip encourages a more active release of the hands.

Keys to hitting a draw:

* Adopt a closed stance
* Use a stronger left-hand grip
* Follow an inside track
* Aim right at the top of the swing
* Release the club through impact

The clubhead follows an inside track (inside the target line) on the takeaway and backswing. The club points to the right of the target at the top of the backswing. How far right depends on how much of a hook you want to play. Feel the toe of the club pass the heel, as you release your hands.

Golf Lesson #3: Hitting a Low Line Drive
To hit this shot, most players play the ball back in their stances, press their hands forward, lean left (for right-handers), and “punch” the ball with a three-quarter swing. If performed correctly, this approach drives the ball forward on a low trajectory and provides the distance you need.

But this approach carries hidden dangers. Moving the ball too far back in your stance forces you to point the clubface/shoulders right of target, opens up the possibility of hitting a shank, and causes you to lunge at the ball from the top of your swing. If you fail to punch the ball correctly, you risk increasing backspin and trajectory. Here’s a safer approach.

Instead of moving the ball back, go down two clubs more than necessary and grip down on the club just above the shaft. If the situation requires a 9-iron but conditions are really windy or the pin is in a back position, drop down to a 7-iron and choke down on the club. Now take your normal set-up and swing.

The two adjustments give you distance without the loft. Choking down shortens the swing arc, reducing clubhead speed. If that trajectory is too low for the shot, drop down one club and slide your hands halfway down the grip. Then take your normal swing. Dropping down to an 8-iron lengthens your swing arc, boosts clubhead speed, and increases trajectory.

Understanding Swing Mechanics
As you can see, much of being able to work the ball comes down to understanding the impact of swing mechanics. In other words, you need to understand how and why the ball spins and how to change your mechanics to get the ball to react the way you want. Knowing how to shape the ball not only saves strokes, it also dictates strategy when playing. Remember, in golf strategy is all about controlling the ball and hitting your targets, whether you have a high golf handicap or a low one.

Copyright (c) 2007 Jack Moorehouse