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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