Straightforward fixes to the most common ball-flight issues
For those of us who don’t know how to fix what we’re doing wrong when the ball starts flying left and right on the golf course, there are a few simple keys you can focus on to hit the ball straighter.
Dana Dahlquist, a veteran teacher at El Dorado Park Golf Course in Long Beach who works with tour pros and amateurs alike, took some time to break down the most common swing faults and how to address them. What follows are the most common miss-hits along with the causes and cures…
A young Tiger Woods offers a clever take on curing your slice in this "Golf's Not Hard" bit.
THE BANANA SLICE
Cause: Hitting a big banana slice off the tee is among the most common woes for high-handicappers. It is typically the result of the swing direction going left of the intended target with a severe outside-in path and open club face.
Cure: Think about how you can get your swing path moving to the right, which you can accomplish a number of different ways. One of the easiest is simply to aim more to the right.
The best way to get rid of a slice is to create more depth on your back swing and focus on getting more hip turn and shoulder turn. That rotation will allow you to swing more outwardly.
Also, check your setup and make sure your head is not in front of the ball.
THE BIG HOOK
Cause: A hook may occasionally work out on a hole that doglegs left, but when you find yourself two fairways over, you know you are swinging right of the target line on an inside to outward path and with the face closed to that path.
Cure: First, check your alignment and make sure you’re not aiming too far right. At address, your club face should be square and your grip should be neutral – these are quick fixes that can help get you on the right path without dramatic changes to your swing.
Your upper body may be tilting too far back and forcing you to swing to the right, so be aware of that as well.
Avoid pushes and pulls with a club face that is square at impact, like PGA Tour star Xander Schauffele.
Cause: A push happens when the club face is open and the swing path is to the right – and those two are in equal proportion.
The shot travels on a straight line to the right of the intended target, which can be frustrating because the error could have been corrected relatively easily.
Cure: If you’re consistently pushing the ball, focus on your address. Place a heavy emphasis on ensuring that your club face is square before you start your back swing, and then work on getting your swing direction right of the face. If you use Trackman, your numbers should show a small as possible positive at impact.
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Cause: The pull exactly mirrors the push, meaning a closed club face and right-to-left swing path come together to launch the ball without much curve but you may find yourself in a bunker left of the green when you were shooting at a right pin.
Cure: Setup is again key here, and often an overly strong grip can put you in position to fail from the start.
Overcompensate a bit at first, starting with what may feel like a slightly open club face. Then work on finishing after impact right of the target line to help correct your swing direction.
PGA Tour stars Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy offer textbook examples of hitting a fade and a draw.
Next steps toward better ball striking
Players who have corrected their ball flight issues and generally hit it straight can take their game up a notch by learning to hit fades and draws when the situation calls for it. Here’s how…
THE BABY FADE
The benefits: Contrary to what we’ve been told, fading the ball won’t necessarily help you that often hitting the ball where you want to in relation to the pin. A fade is most useful for cutting the corner on a fairway or getting out of trouble.
How to hit it: Position the ball slightly farther forward than normal and align your body to aim left of the target while keeping the club face directed at the desired starting point. This will result in an out-to-in swing direction, with the face open to the path, similar to a slice but significantly less severe.
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THE GENTLE DRAW
The benefits: Drawing the ball comes in most handy when a straight shot simply won’t do. A good example of this is trying to recover from an errant tee shot when a tree or other obstacle is between you and where you intend to hit the ball.
How to hit it: The draw is essentially a mirror image of the fade. Set up with the ball an inch or two further back in your stance than normal, get the club square to your target line and shift your alignment slightly right. The resulting in-to-out swing will keep your club face closed to the path and create a gentle draw.
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