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It can be considered the ultimate goal for any golfer to be able to hit shots straight and do it consistently.
The reality is that when you swing a club at an average of about 80 miles per hour, any small deviation from a square clubface position at impact is magnified many times over. With long clubs like driver, this can lead to disastrous shots that sail far off line.
If you’re one of those people who just can’t seem to hit a solid straight ball more than once every ten shots, this article should help get you on track so you can start hitting more fairways and greens.
Understanding Shot Curvature
Before presenting some solutions, it’s important to have a basic understanding of shot curvature and what causes a straight shot.
A straight ball happens when the clubface at impact is square relative to the swing path. In addition, if you want the shot to move in the direction of the target, the face also needs to be square relative to the target line. Everything essentially needs to be lined up.
If the clubface is not square at impact relative to the swing path, sidespin will be imparted on the ball which will result in a shot that curves left or right:
- draw (right to left): the face is closed at impact relative to the swing path
- fade (left to right): the face is open at impact relative to the swing path
Of course, the more the face is open or closed at impact, the more pronounced the curve, which could even lead to a nasty hook or slice.
Sometimes, it’s a good idea to put curve on a shot, like when you’re teeing off on a dogleg, hitting to a left or right pin, or getting around a tree. Most amateurs and recreational golfers, however, just want to hit it straight! Often times, the simplest ball flight is the most effective one on the course.
Although the concept of a straight ball is simple and straightforward, it is often difficult for people to keep their clubface square at impact with any consistency, and most golfers have a natural tendency for some other type of shot.
Moreover, the particular solution tends to differ for every golfer because every golfer has a unique swing.
Hitting A Straight Shot: Solutions
The best way to go about straightening your shots is to analyze your own swing, whether through video, launch monitors or another person, and try to determine:
- Why your clubface is not being delivered square at impact.
- Which direction your ball is going and how it’s curving, if applicable.
There are many methods and techniques that golfers can implement in order to square up their clubface, several of which I will discuss below.
The adjustments that follow are by no means guaranteed to work for you; rather, they are suggestions based on my own personal experiences and research.
Case #1: You tend to fade or slice the ball.
Unintentional cutting or slicing is one of the most common reasons golfers fail to hit the ball straight.
First, I recommend you read my article on how to fix a slice. It’s not generally something that’s easy to do, and there is plenty of information there that hopefully will help you.
Summarizing the contents of that article, the goal is to go from impacting the ball with an open clubface to a square clubface. Some ways you might be able to do this include:
1. Adopt a neutral grip from a weak grip.
A weak grip promotes a slice not only because it discourages the clubface from turning over through impact, but also because it promotes an outside-in (over-the-top) swing path.
Adopting a neutral grip will mitigate these effects and help the clubface contact the ball in a more square position.
2. Close your clubface at address.
If you discover that the face at address is slightly open, square it up. If the face is square, try closing it a little bit and make the same swing.
3. Correct your address posture.
Ensure that your feet and shoulders are square and parallel to the target line, and also that your ball is not too far forward in your stance. If your ball is too far forward, it causes you to open your shoulders to the target and swing outside-in, which leads to a slice.
Proper alignment and ball position will help you avoid making an out-to-in swing and leaving the clubface open at impact.
Case #2: You tend to draw or hook the ball.
In this case, the goal is to go from impacting the ball with a closed clubface to impacting the ball with a square clubface.
Possible fixes for this include:
1. Adopt a neutral grip from a strong grip.
A strong grip involves your right hand (for a right-handed golfer) rotating away from the target into a position more underneath the club. This encourages turning over the club through impact, making it more likely you’ll impact the ball with a closed face.
Adopting a neutral grip will mitigate the hook-causing effects of a strong grip so you can impact the ball in a more square position.
2. Open your clubface at address.
Check to see if your clubface is actually square to the target when you set up behind the ball. The face should be perpendicular to the target line.
Sometimes a fix is as simple as observing your club at address and making a simple adjustment.
3. Move your ball forward in your stance.
When you move the ball forward in your stance, you create a more outside-in path, which promotes a fade. This helps to counteract your natural hook tendencies and straighten out your shots.
Note: this fix may be ideal if you have a naturally inside-out path that you need to correct, but if your swing path is already sound, you should probably look for a better solution elsewhere.
Case #3: You hit the ball straight but it doesn’t start on your intended line.
There are a couple things you should look at. The first is your alignment.
Make sure that your shoulders and your feet are parallel to the target. You may think you’re already aligned properly, but you’d be surprised to know that incorrect alignment is very common and goes unnoticed by many golfers.
If your alignment is sound, the problem most likely lies in your swing path: you’re either swinging inside-out or outside-in with the clubface square to the swing path.
Two of the main causes of an outside-in swing are:
- a transition from the backswing to the downswing that is too fast and aggressive. Your legs and lower body don’t have time to get out of the way, so you throw the club out and cut across the ball to compensate.
- you take the club too far to the inside in the takeaway. Because this doesn’t give you room to drop the club to the inside in the downswing, you throw your arms out and cut across the ball to compensate.
An outside-in swing path is generally considered to be bad form and should be corrected.
Having some degree of an inside-out swing path is generally desired by many golfers and considered to be beneficial, particularly if you impact the ball with the face in a slightly closed position so that the shot curves gently towards the target.
However, if you feel that it’s detrimental to your game, one effective strategy is to simply exaggerate an over-the-top swing move and try to feel like you’re swinging “towards” yourself. This should balance out your inside-out tendencies and result in a swing path that is more aligned with the target.
One quick (but not necessarily the best) fix for an incorrect swing path is to just change your alignment to compensate and take your normal swing.
What equipment is best for the job?
The modern, technologically advanced equipment of today can make a surprising difference as to whether or not you hit a straight shot. In fact, it could very well be the determining factor.
Since curved shots (slices, hooks) are much more pronounced with drivers than with any other club in the bag, they often come with adjustable sole weights that can be moved towards the heel or toe. Many drivers have built-in draw biases.
Adding weight to the heel region promotes a draw shot shape, while adding it to the toe region promotes a fade.
Also, most woods have adjustable hosels which allow you to adjust loft and lie. When you adjust clubs this way, it opens or closes the face.
All of these features are designed to help counteract the effects of any swing patterns that are causing sidespin, thus helping you hit it straighter.
In addition, adding loft to your driver and woods will allow you to put more backspin on the ball and thus less sidespin.
Here’s an awesome (highly rated) draw-biased driver from PING. There are plenty of quality drivers from other golf brands like Callaway and TaylorMade that you could also take a look at. Check out the club reviews page for reviews and recommendations.
If you’re not hitting the ball straight, your clubface is not square in relation to the swing path. Fortunately, there’s always something you can do; it comes down to identifying the cause and taking the necessary steps to correct it.
If you find something that gives you the results you’re looking for, repeat it until it becomes a natural part of your swing.
Remember that having quality equipment (clubs, training aids, etc.) will not only help you hit it straight, but also help lift up your entire game.
Thanks for reading. Are you struggling with hitting the ball straight? Share your experience by leaving a comment below.