Did you know that the hardest shot to hit in golf is the straight shot?
Many people spend their entire golfing journey trying to figure out how to hit the ball straight.
Instead, the focus should be on shaping the ball or working the ball in the same direction on many shots.
This is often referred to as a stock shot. You will see some golfers hit the draw (right to left) or the fade (right to left) on the majority of the shots.
In the past decade, we have learned a lot about what causes a ball to curve, this allows golfers to develop a feel for what it takes to shape the ball and have a go to stock shot to rely on.
How To Shape The Golf Ball
There are essentially two key numbers to help a golfer learn to shape the ball. The first is the club face angle and the second is the path. To hit a draw shaped shot, a golfer will want a path around 4 degrees to the right with a club face of around 2 degrees open. To his a fade shaped shot. A golfer will want a path around 4 degrees to the left with a club face of around 2 degrees closed.
Before we dive into the 5 tips of how to shape the golf ball, we must first understand the ball flight laws as it will give us the basis for how to shape the golf ball and the 5 tips will help us take action on learning to develop a stock shot.
Ultimately, understanding the ball flight laws and working on the 5 tips, you will be able to gain consistency in your swing and have a reliable, go to stock shot that can help you manage your way around the course.
Key Understanding: What Are The Ball Flight Laws?
The basic idea is that the ball will start in the direction that the club face is pointing at impact. The clubface controls about 75% of where the ball will start.
From there it will curve based on the swing path relative to the club face. For example, if your club face is 2 degrees right and your path is 4 degrees right. The ball will start right and curve left towards the target, which is away from the swing path direction.
To develop a consistent shape in your shot pattern, you will attempt to build similar numbers with the majority of your golf swings.
Below, I will provide several examples that help you practice what way your ball will curve and get the general understanding of what is taking place. The goal is to eliminate the shot that starts and curves in a different direction then what you are intending to do.
This will help eliminate big numbers from your scorecard.
Having this information will help you make the adjustments mid round or post round and not get stuck in the rabbit hole of swing corrections.
I provide three examples below, all which include a club face that is right and a path that is right. You can see how a slight variation in the difference between the face and the path can cause a ball to curve.
Ball Flight Laws: Scenario 1
Clubface: 3 degrees right
Swing Path: 3 degree right
The ball will start right of the target line (club face is 3 degree open or right) and fly straight since the clubface and the swing path are the same number of degrees open or right of the target line.
The end result is a push shot. The ball will start right and stay right.
Ball Flight Laws: Scenario 2
Clubface: 3 degrees right
Swing Path: 5 degree right
The ball will start right of the target line (club face is 3 degree open or right) and curve away from the swing ptch, which means it will curve left.
The end result is a draw shot. The ball will curve a decent amount with these numbers.
This shot would be considered a push draw.
Ball Flight Laws: Scenario 3
Clubface: 3 degrees left
Swing Path: 10 degree left
The ball will start left of the target line (club face is 3 degree closed or open) and slice since there is a big gap between clubface and swing path. The end result is a pull slice. The ball will start left and curve hard to the right.
This is a shot that many amateurs struggle with. They continue to aim further and further left. The swing path keeps moving left and the face remains open. The end result is a full slice.
How To Shape the Ball Tip #1: Control Your Club Face
If you can control your club face, you will control your start line. If you want to hit a push draw, you will want a club face that is around 2-3 degrees open. If you want to hit a slight pull fade, you will want a face that is around 2-3 degrees closed.
The best way to practice this is to set up an alignment stick that is about 6-10 feet in front your at at the driving range. Set up a second alignment stick about 3-4 feet of either side. Work on hitting it through that gate and assess your game out of 10 swings.
Keep track and work on this drill frequently to control your club face.
How To Shape the Ball Tip #2: Control Your Path
Once you have achieved a level of about 7 out of 10 times being able to start the ball where you want, the next step is to assess what way the ball is curving. The goal is to create a shot that curves back towards the target.
You will want to use the same setup as above to start the ball down the intended line and then watch the curve. If you are starting it right and fading it right, this means your path needs to be more to the right.
If you are starting it left and it is curving left, your path needs to be more left.
These simple ball flight laws and the understanding of adjustments can help you groove the shot that you need to play your best golf.
How To Shape The Ball Tip #3: Work on the Extremes
To help you further understand the ball flight laws and the impact of relationship between the clubface and the swing path, try really curving the ball right to left and left to right. This will help you see the two extremes and can come in handy when in bad spots on the course for punch shots.
Or on extreme dog leg holes where a draw shaped shot that has a 3 degree club face angle and a 10 degree path might help you curve the ball more.
How To Shape the Ball Tip #4: Play Both Styles
There are those in the camp that believe you should always play one shaped shot. If you hit a draw, they tell you to always hit a draw and the same thing for a fade.
I believe that the visualization part of golf is key. Try playing golf in both manners. One day, go out with the goal of hitting all draws or all fades. The next round, go out and play the shot that matches the shot of the course.
Over time, you will find what you are most comfortable doing and settle into that style.
How To Shape the Ball Tip #5: Practice High and Low Shots
The final steps to mastering the ability to work the ball is to practice hitting a 9 window pattern.
Even if you don’t play all of these shots, practicing the shots at the range can help keep your swing balanced and neutral. The goal isn’t to hit perfect 0 clubface and 0 swing path shots, so the ability to shape the ball and work it either direction, high or low can become a major asset to your game!
Major Key: Monitor Your Clubface and Swing Path!
Understanding that the relationship between the clubface and swing path will impact the amount that your ball curves.
We do not recommend you try to perfectly zero your clubface and swing path out, as that is near impossible and will most likely result in misses both ways, but instead we recommend developing the stock shot where you can predict the start line and the amount of curve.
I use my own portable launch monitor to check for spin axis and the amount I am curving the ball and to ensure I am maximizing my distance and controlling my start lines and curve.
My SkyTrak Launch Monitor has been a game changer and has helped me reach the scratch level in golf due to the amazing feedback I get during my practice sessions. I have been able to develop a stock shot that is reliable.
You may have heard of professional golfers using the Trackman, but the reality is that those are rather expensive.
There are some viable options in the 500 to 2000 dollars range that provide the following data after every shot:
- Ball Speed
- Spin Rate
- Spin Axis
- Launch Angle
- Carry and Total Distance
What I find most helpful is the shot tracer and the spin axis information. I am visually able to check the flight of my ball as I work to build my stock shot and have the reliable shot I can count on in any situation.
Here are the top 3 options to check out:
This technology is a game changer as the golfer can build a stock shot using the information while expanding a golf season where the golfer can practice 365 days a year. Whether the golfer goes all out and builds a home simulator or simply sets up a net and mat in their garage, the possibility of improving the swing and being able to practice or play 365 days a year is a game changer!
Closing Thoughts: My Secret To Golf Improvement
Let’s face it, in order to get really good at golf, we must practice frequently. About three years ago, I made the leap and invested in a golf simulator build for my garage.
I went with a SkyTrak Launch Monitor and the TGC software and can now play over 100,000 courses including Augusta, Pebble Beach, Bethpage Black, Whistling Straits. St. Andrews and many other of the top 100 courses in the world.
This golf simulator setup, which is more affordable that you might imagine, has been a game changer. I can now play golf everyday of the year regardless of rain, snow, cold weather or time of day. I can practice or play rounds of golf. I can stand in the 11th fairway at Augusta and with the auto-rewind feature I am able to practice my approach shots from various differences.
It is worth checking out through Rain or Shine Golf as they offer some incredible packages along with financing offers that are difficult to beat.
Some direct links to Rain or Shine Golf for pricing and financing:
Take Action – What You Can Do Today to Get Better
What does this mean for you? I believe in the following recipe to get better:
1 – Improve your motion in the golf swing by identifying a golf instructor. Here are some options:
Here is a list of golf instructors that we have reviewed:
2 – Train to swing faster and improve your swing speed. Here are some options:
Looking to gain more Speed and Distance in your swing. Two Options:
3 – Understand course strategy and work to break through your next barrier. Here is a series on breaking through:
We have provided guides on how to break 100, 90, 80 and 70. Check out more below, if interested.
4 – Practice Frequently
Did you know that I build a golf simulator in my garage and have played over 500 rounds of golf on my SkyTrak system? It has been a game changer and one worth checking out. Here are some of my other posts on golf simulators frequently asked questions:
- Is a Golf Simulator Worth It?
- How to Build a Golf Simulator?
- What is the Best Golf Simulator?
- Golf Simulator Accessories?
- How to Build a Golf Simulator for under $7000
- Top 11 Reasons to Buy a SkyTrak
- How to Build a Golf Simulator for Under $1000
- Why Build A Golf Simulator?
- What Space is Needed?
- Can A Golf Simulator Improve My Game?
- How Much Does A Golf Simulator Cost?
- Don’t Forget to Check out our 15 best golf swings of all time.