Master Your Straight Golf Shot

A response by Hank Haney (@HankDHaney) to a ques­tion on Twit­ter recent­ly caught my eye.

Hank replied “Straight” to the ques­tion of the one shot all golfers should learn. Hank helps ama­teurs with their golf game every­day on Twit­ter. He is a golf pro­fes­sion­al who coached Tiger Woods from 2004 to 2010. He is also author of The Big Miss and host of The Haney Project on The Golf Chan­nel.

I enjoy watch­ing pro­fes­sion­al golf on tele­vi­sion. While there are many things you can pick up to improve your game from watch­ing the pros, their abil­i­ty to shape their shots with draws and fades is not some­thing you should try to emu­late until your games requires it.

You must mas­ter hit­ting your straight shot before you pur­pose­ly curve your ball to the left (draw for right han­ders) or to the right (fade for right han­ders). Notice I said “hit­ting your straight shot” as opposed to “hit­ting the ball straight”. Your reg­u­lar swing may pro­duce a slight draw or fade which is per­fect­ly nat­ur­al and not a prob­lem as long as your flight path is con­sis­tent. Keep in mind I’m not say­ing to work around a hook or slice. Hooks and slices are severe draws and fades which have too much move­ment to effec­tive­ly man­age. You should work on your swing to elim­i­nate hooks or slices.

The fact is you can eas­i­ly break 80 on a con­sis­tent basis with­out shap­ing any of your shots. I enjoy when I get the change to golf with old­er golfers. Many of these golfers lose a con­sid­er­able amount of dis­tance as they age, but their abil­i­ty to con­sis­tent­ly hit the ball straight enables them to con­tin­ue to enjoy the game they love.

There is one shot, the punch shot, that you real­ly need to go along with your straight shot which will help you get to shoot­ing 90 and beyond. A punch shot has much less ele­va­tion than a nor­mal shot. Low hand­i­cap and scratch golfers use a punch or knock­down shot to keep the ball down out of the wind while hit­ting their approach shots into the green. That is not what I rec­om­mend a high hand­i­cap golfer use a punch shot for. A high hand­i­cap golfer should know how to pull off a punch shot so they can go under tree branch­es and still get decent yardage on shots where they can not take a full back­swing.

Play the ball back in your stance and choke down on the club to set­up for a punch shot. You will also want to use a club or two more than you usu­al­ly would for the yardage. Short­en both your back­swing and fol­low through as you “punch” the ball.

Prac­tice the punch shot next time you are at the prac­tice range. It is a valu­able tool to help get you out of trou­ble­some spots. Keep enjoy­ing watch­ing the pros on TV. Just save try­ing to shape your shots until you are a low hand­i­cap golfer.

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