Golf isn’t always about how far you can hit the ball.
How you handle the course is what counts.
The best golfers can make the ball do what they want it to do and go where they want it to go, which allows them to shave shots off their scorecard.
Some of the best ball-strikers in the business, like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Bubba Watson, aren’t the biggest hitters on tour, but they can control the ball’s flight and speed better than most players on tour, which helps them avoid the rough and find the greens.
In this guide, we’ll show you some of the different shots you can make with your clubs, how to make them, and when to make them.
Each shot calls for a unique set of skills. Whether you’re driving or putting, you’ll need a different way to set up and address the ball for each shot.
So let’s get started right away with a few basics.
Driving the ball is probably the hardest part of the game for a beginner. Getting the ball in the air and down the middle of the fairway is a technical task that players need to do right to get their hole off to a good start.
A good approach to a hole can save you many shots, so watch how big drivers like Rory McIlroy play, where they aim, and how they manage the course with their driver to save many shots.
So you hit your drive 250 yards down the fairway, but you still have about 170 yards to go to the hole. You must be precise here because a bad approach play can cost you many shots.
Depending on where you are and how far away the hole is, you may want to use an iron, a hybrid, or even a three-wood if you want to go for it. But remember that your goal is to land the ball on the green or, if the distance is too great, on the fairway before the green.
Jason Day, an Australian, is one of the best chippers on the PGA Tour. He saves a lot of shots around the greens by pitching in from 40 yards away. When you pitch for the strike zone, speed and accuracy are the most important things.
When you pitch, you want to drop the ball into the hole or get it as close to the hole as possible to save yourself a putt.
Even though Jordan Speith hasn’t been playing well lately, he’s back on the course, and his putting is better than ever. Speith became well known as one of the best putters on the PGA Tour after he won the Open Championship in 2017.
But putting is where golfers really make their money, and you need to practice it as much, if not more, than you do your drives.
As the saying goes, you should drive for show and play for money.
Depending on the shape of the fairway in front of you, you may need to change the shape of your shot to get to the green in the best way. Here are some of the different shots you can play, from draws to stingers, and when it’s best to play them.
1. The Draw
A draw is probably one of the hardest shots to hit on the golf course. It reduces the amount of spin on the ball, which means that when it lands, it will go farther than most other shots.
The draw moves the ball smoothly from right to left, and it’s a great shot to hit off the tee or on your approach to get the ball further down the fairway.
To hit a draw, golfers need to almost push their clubface into the ball, almost pointing the face out to the right. This will add a little spin to the ball, which will make it curve from right to left.
To hit a draw, move the ball slightly forward in your stance, wrap your right hand further around the shaft, and move your left foot closer to the ball.
2. The Fade
The fade is the opposite of the draw, and it’s a great way to get around left-to-right doglegs, which golf course designers put in to make right-handers’ lives harder.
The fade sends the ball in a left-to-right arc. The ball doesn’t travel as far on a fade as it does on a draw, but you can put a lot more spin on it.
Dustin Johnson, who may hit the best fades on the PGA Tour, can drop a ball on a fairway from 170 yards away and still put about 3 feet of backspin on it. This is probably a fade.
To bring the ball around from left to right, stand a little farther away from the ball, move your left foot slightly back in your stance, and open your clubface so that you’re almost cutting across the ball. But don’t try too hard, or you’ll slice the shot onto the next fairway.
3. The Slice
As I just said, a slice happens when you hit the ball too far across. Even though slices are usually bad, they can be useful in some situations, like when you’re trying to get around a tight dogleg or shooting from behind a tree at an awkward angle.
4. The Hook
A hook is the opposite of a slice and is another shot you don’t want to hit from the tee. It’s a big draw that can help you get around an obstacle or hazard, but if you’re trying to get a low score, you should stay away from it.
5. The Stinger
This is what Tiger does best. Around Augusta National, Woods is known for his ripping stinger shots. He may be the only player on tour who can consistently rip a stinger shot whenever he wants to.
It’s basically a low driving shot that you would usually hit with a 4-iron or maybe a driving iron. It’s called a “stinger” because if you hit it right, it will fly low and hard to your target.
This is a great shot to hit when it’s windy and dry, because the ball will go right through the wind and roll for miles down a hard fairway.
6. The Flop
The flop or lob is a short game shot that golfers use to get up and over sand traps and water hazards around the greens.
It’s also a great way to make your ball spin backwards, so if you hit it right, you can cut under it and stop it right on the green. As you’ll see below, Phil Mickelson is the best at the flop shot.
7. The Punch
A punch shot is similar to a stinger in that it uses a low iron or wedge to literally “punch” the ball off the ground. The player will hit the ball with a fast club speed and then stop his follow-through on the ball.
This will force the ball off the ground and into the air. Punch shots don’t go very far and have a lot of backspin, which means they don’t roll very far either.
8. Sand Shots
Some of the hardest shots to play on the course are from bunkers. I’ve seen people take four or five shots to get out of the sand trap. Even so, sand shots aren’t that different from regular lobs.
All you have to do is swing a little faster and hit the ball two or three inches behind it, so you hit a chunk of sand before you hit the ball. This will help you get more under your shot and get the ball up and over the edge of the bunker.
The 19th Hole
Golf is a game that requires a lot of different skills, and the best golfers are the ones with the most dexterity. This means that they are the golfers who have a wide range of shots they can use to get out of any trouble on the course.
Take Seve Ballesteros, who has won five major titles. Seve could get into all kinds of trouble on the course, but he was such a good golfer that he could always get back to par.
So being able to hit the ball far isn’t everything in golf.Learn how to hit fades, draws, stingers, and flops, and you’ll find yourself saving shots all over the course.
The more shots you know how to use in golf, the better you will get at it.