How To Hit The Golf Ball Straight

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 many4010582747_704cc0866e_z times over (particularly with longer clubs like the driver), and this can result in disastrous shots that you would think shouldn’t be that far off.  More specifically, if the clubface is not square at impact relative to the swing plane, sidespin will be imparted on the ball which will result in a shot that curves into a hook, draw, fade, slice, etc.

Sometimes, you’ll want this to happen, like when you’re teeing off on a dogleg.  Most amateurs and recreational golfers, however, just want to hit it straight!  It’s a simple ball flight that is effective in almost any situation the average golfer will face on the course.

The problem is that most golfers have a natural tendency for some other type of shot, and thus is usually requires a lot of practice to be able to consistently hit it straight.  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 may help you get on track.

How do I hitting a straight ball?

Before presenting some solutions, we first should have a clear understanding of what causes a straight shot (you’d be surprised at how many people do not):

The clubface at impact is square relative to the target line.

That’s really all there is to it.  If the clubface is open or closed at impact relative to the target line, the ball will draw or fade, or, depending on the severity, even result in a nasty hook or a slice.

Although the essential cause of a straight ball is simple and straightforward, it is often difficult for people to keep their clubface square at impact with any consistency.  Moreover, the particular solution differs for every golfer because every golfer has a unique swing.

The best way to go about straightening your shot is to look at your own swing, whether by using video or using another person, and try to determine why your clubface is not being delivered square to the target line. There are many methods and techniques that golfers can implement in order to square up their clubface, and I will discuss several of them below.

Be aware that these adjustments are by no means guaranteed to work for you; rather, they are suggestions based on my own personal experiences and research.

Case 1:  If you tend to fade or slice the ball…

I would 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 can do this include:

  • adopting a neutral grip from a weak grip.  A neutral grip will help the clubhead catch up to your hands on the downswing and thus tend to contact the ball in a more square position.
  • closing 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 bit (and make the same swing) and see if it helps.
  • correcting 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.  This will help you avoid making an out-to-in swing and leaving the clubface open at impact.

Case 2:  If 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 a square clubface.  Some ways you can do this include:

  • adopting a neutral grip from a strong grip.  A neutral grip will help allow your hands to lead the clubhead more and thus tend to open up the clubface from a closed position.
  • opening your clubface at address.  Check to see if your clubface is actually square to the target when you set up behind the ball.  Sometimes a fix is as simple as observing your club at address and making a simple adjustment.
  • moving your ball more forward in your stance.  See the third bullet for the slice case.

Case 3:  If you tend to hit the ball straight but it never starts 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 aligned properly, but you’d be surprised to know that it’s common not to be.

If your alignment is sound, the problem most likely lies in your swing plane: you’re either swinging inside-out or outside-in with the clubface square to the plane line.  That problem and the solution deserves an entire page of its own.  For a quick (but not necessarily the best) fix, just change your alignment to compensate and take your normal swing.

What equipment is best for the job?

Since a curved shot (slice, hook) is much more pronounced with drivers and woods than with any other club in the bag, it would be beneficial to get quality ones — preferably ones that are adjustable where you can alter the loft and alter the weight near the heel of the clubhead.

Adding loft to your driver and woods will allow you to put more backspin on the ball and thus less sidespin.  Changing the weight on the clubhead’s heel changes the tendency for the clubhead to open or close, which of course directly determines whether or not your shot will be straight or curved.

There are plenty of quality drivers and woods from name-brand golf companies that you should take a look at.  Check out the product reviews page for reviews and recommendations.

 Image attributed to:  Wojciech Kulicki