Ball Flight Tip Sheets

01
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Ball Flight Faults and Fixes

Senior golfer teeing off on golf course.
Dougal Waters/Getty Images

Over the following pages, golf instructor Roger Gunn takes a look at four common ball flight problems for golfers: slices, hooks, pushes and pulls; plus two ball flights - fades and draws - that can either be a problem or the desired result, depending on what a golfer is trying to do.

Each of these ball flight pages includes a checklist that will help you understand why you are hitting that shot, and what you can do to fix the problems (or in the cases of the fade and draw, how to hit such a shot on demand). Each page also includes links to more in-depth discussions.

02
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Slice

Slice Ball Flight
The slice ball flight from the perspective of a right-handed golfer. Illustration by William Glessner

Editor's Notes: A slice is a big ol' curve to the right (for a right-hander), and is one of the problems that recreational golfers struggle with most. With a slice, the ball often starts out left of the target line before sweeping back right and winding up well right of the target. The tips below are written by instructor Roger Gunn, from the perspective of a right-hander; lefties should reverse the directional elements.

Diagnosing the Slice

Grip
Your hand or hands, especially your left hand, may be turned too far to the left. The "V" formed between the knuckle and thumb on both hands should point between your right shoulder and right ear.

Set-up
The shoulders and/or the feet are often aligned too far to the left of the target line.

Ball Position
The ball might be placed too far forward in your stance.

Backswing
You may be taking the club back too far to the outside, pushing the club away from you. This often goes along with the club "laying off" (pointing left) at the top. Additionally, there can be a clockwise twisting of the club during the backswing.

Downswing
Your right shoulder might be going too much out and not enough down. The arms are often pushed away from you at the transition, causing the club to approach the ball from outside the target line. There can also be a "blocking" of the wrists through impact, preventing the club from turning over.

In Depth: Diagnosing and Fixing a Slice

03
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Hook

Hook Trajectory - Ball Flight
The hook ball flight from the perspective of a right-handed golfer. Illustration by William Glessner

Editor's Notes: A hook is the opposite of a slice; the ball curves greatly to the left (for a right-handed golfer). The ball often begins right of the target line (as in the illustration) before sweeping back to the left and winding up well left of the target. The tips below are written by instructor Roger Gunn, from the perspective of a right-hander; lefties should reverse the directional elements.

Diagnosing the Hook

Grip
Your hand or hands, especially your left hand, may be turned too far to the right. The "V" formed between the knuckle and thumb on both hands should point between your right shoulder and right ear.

Set-up
The shoulders and/or feet are often aligned too far to the right of the target line.

Ball Position
You might have the ball too far back in your stance.

Backswing
You might be taking the club back too far inside, pulling away from the target line too quickly. This often goes along with the club going across the line at the top. Additionally, there can be a counter-clockwise twisting of the club during the backswing.

Downswing
Your right shoulder might be going too much down, often with a sliding of the hips toward the target. This causes the club to swing too much to the right through impact.

In Depth: Diagnosing and Fixing a Hook

04
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Push

Push Trajectory - Ball Flight
The push ball flight from the perspective of a right-handed golfer. Illustration by William Glessner

Editor's Notes: A push ball flight is one in which the ball starts out to the right of the target line (for right-handers) and continues traveling right in a straight line (no additional curve, as with a slice), finishing well right of the target. The divot will also point to the right. The tips below are written by instructor Roger Gunn, from the perspective of a right-hander; lefties should reverse the directional elements.

Diagnosing the Push

Grip
The grip is not normally a factor with a push.

Set-up
Make sure you aren't aiming too far to the right of the target line, or that your shoulders are aligned too far to the right.

Ball Position
You might have the ball too far back in the stance. This causes you to make contact when the club is still swinging to right field.

Backswing
You could be taking the club back too far inside, pulling the club away from the target line. The club should track a gentle arc on the way back, not a rapid arc to the inside of the target line.

Downswing
The club might be swinging too much to right field at impact. Your right shoulder could be dropping too soon and/or your hips might be sliding toward the target, preventing the club from swinging back around to the left. Make sure your head doesn't move to the right in the downswing.

05
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Pull

Pull Trajectory - Ball Flight
The pull ball flight from the perspective of a right-handed golfer. Illustration by William Glessner

Editor's Notes: A pull is the opposite of a push. The ball starts out flying left of the target line (for right-handers) and continues traveling left in a straight line (no additional curve, as with a hook), finishing well left of the target. The divot will also point to the left. The tips below are written by instructor Roger Gunn, from the perspective of a right-hander; lefties should reverse the directional elements.

Diagnosing the Pull

Grip
The grip is not normally a factor with a pull.

Set-up
Make sure you are not aiming too far left, or that your shoulders are pointing too far left.

Ball Position
You might have the ball too far forward in your stance. This causes you to catch the ball when the club is swinging back to the left.

Backswing
The club is likely being pushed outside the target line on the way back. The club should track a gentle arc on the way back. The club should be over your shoulder at the top, not over your head.

Downswing
Your arms are likely pushing away from your body at the transition. Keep your arms in so that they pass close to the right pants pocket on the approach. Make sure your head doesn't move toward the target until after impact.

06
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Fade

Fade Trajectory - Ball Flight
The fade ball flight from the perspective of a right-handed golfer. Illustration by William Glessner

Editor's Notes: With a fade, the ball curves gently from left-to-right (for right-handers), moving toward the target after starting out left of the target line. The fade is a great shot to be able to play on command in order to better attack a pin or fairway or to get around hazards. The tips below are written by instructor Roger Gunn, from the perspective of a right-hander; lefties should reverse the directional elements.

Playing a Fade

There are two good ways to play a fade:

First Method
1. Set up with the clubface aimed at the target.
2. Align your body, including your feet and shoulders, slightly left of the target (be sure to keep the clubface aimed at the target). This will create a slightly glancing blow, putting a clockwise spin on the ball.
3. Make a normal swing along your body line with no effort to alter your swing.

Second Method
1. Set up with your feet, shoulders, and clubface all aimed left of your target.
2. Take your swing. Through impact, get the slightest feeling of holding the clubface "off," keeping it slightly open through the hit. Look for a slight turn of the ball left to right.

07
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Draw

Draw Trajectory - Ball Flight
The draw ball flight from the perspective of a right-handed golfer. Illustration by William Glessner

Editor's Notes: A draw is the opposite of a fade. With a draw, the ball curves gently from right-to-left (for right-handers), moving toward the target after starting out right of the target line. A draw is a great shot to be able to play on command in order to better attack a pin or fairway or to get around hazards. A controlled draw can also add yards to drives, producing an additional roll. The tips below are written by instructor Roger Gunn, from the perspective of a right-hander; lefties should reverse the directional elements.

Playing a Draw

There are two good ways to play a draw:

First Method
1. Set up with the clubface aimed at the target.
2. Align your body, including your feet and shoulders, to the right of the target (be sure to keep the clubface aimed at the target). This will create a slightly glancing blow, putting counter-clockwise spin on the ball.
3. Make a normal swing along your body line with no effort to alter your swing.

Second Method
1. Aim your feet, shoulders, and clubface all to the right of the target.
2. Make your swing, but get a slight feeling of rolling the club through impact. Look for a slight turn of the ball to the left.

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Your Citation
Gunn, Roger. "Ball Flight Tip Sheets." ThoughtCo, Mar. 29, 2017, thoughtco.com/ball-flight-tip-sheets-1564416. Gunn, Roger. (2017, March 29). Ball Flight Tip Sheets. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/ball-flight-tip-sheets-1564416 Gunn, Roger. "Ball Flight Tip Sheets." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/ball-flight-tip-sheets-1564416 (accessed November 25, 2017).