Why Do Golfers Curve The Ball? (Complete Overview)


Have you ever wondered why the better golfers curve the ball one way or another.

Maybe you have played with a really good golfer recently and they always seemed to work the ball both ways and make it curve.

The best golfers prefer to hit a draw or fade on just about every shot and rarely attempt to hit a bad straight, but why is this?

Golfers prefer to curve the ball one way or the other to increase angles and to stay away from trouble on a hole.  The best golfers use the curve of the ball to their advantage to keep the ball in play and use the angles to their benefit.

Many golfers prefer to work the ball towards the pin! Check out below why!

Here are the top reasons golfers curve the ball

  • Keeps the ball away from trouble
  • Eliminates one side of the golf course
  • Allows them to aim center on approach shots and work the ball towards the hole
  • Easier to hit than a straight shot

Keeps the Ball Away From Trouble

If the hole has out of bounds right, the better golfers may aim down the right side and hit a right to left ball flight which is known as a draw for golfers.  This way if the ball over curves it is moving away from the trouble.  If they hit the perfect draw, the ball will be in the middle.  If the ball flies straight they are down the right side, but still in play.

This strategy off the tee helps golfers keep the ball in play.  There is nothing worse than and shot out bounds as it is pretty much a two stroke penalty as you must re hit from the previous spot and add one more stroke. For example, if you hit your first shot off the out of bounds, the next shot from the tee box is now your third shot.

Why does my golf ball curve to the right?

Eliminates One Side of The Golf Course

Other golfers ensure they never over curve a ball.  If they prefer to hit the draw, they can eliminate the left side by ensuring they start the ball down the right side and keep it from over curving.  This is at the highest level, but it is the ultimate when you can reduce or pretty much eliminates one side of the course.  The Stack and Tilt method teaches golfers to hit a draw, but to ensure that they do not over draw it base the target line.  This pretty much eliminates the left side of the course.

What causes a slice in golf? (solution included)

Allows Golfers To Aim Center on Approach Shots

If you are a golfer that draws or fades the ball, the last thing you want to do is aim outside the edge of the green.  For example, if you normally hit a draw and the pin is tucked on the right side, you might be in trouble.  Your best best is to aim right at the pin and if you hit a slight draw you are in the middle of the green.  The best golfers can hit both a draw or fade depending on where the pin is located.

How to hit a draw (In 5 simple steps!)

Here are two different examples:

  • Pin Left: The golfer will want to aim in the middle of the green and hit a slight draw.  If the golfer can prevent the overdraw on command they will be in good shape either in the middle of the green or closer to the pin.
  • Pin Right: The golfer will want to aim in the middle of the green and hit a slight fade.  If the golfer can prevent the over fade on command they will be in good shape either in the middle of the green or closer to the pin.

So the ultimate is to be able to work it both ways, especially with the approach shots.  This might be difficult for most and there are professional golfers that rely on one shot pattern for many of their shots.  This is fine, just ensure you are on the green and give yourself the birdie putt and avoid a bogey from being over aggressive and chasing pins when they are tucked in certain positions where your shape shot does not provide safe access.

Easier To Hit Than A Straight Shot

The most difficult shot in golf is the perfectly straight shot.  It takes a club face that is perfectly square and a path that is completely centered.  It is much more simple to hit a draw or fade because it provides a higher margin for error.  Below, I get into the ball flight laws and by understanding the basics, you will better understand why the straight shot should not really ever be an option.  If you head out on tour and watch a local event, you will see the shots of most pros falling to the left or right 99% of the time.

Are you a beginner? Check out everything you need to start the game!

Troubles always seems to be lurking on the course. Learn to control the curve of your ball to eliminate the danger!

Is A Draw or Fade Better?

One is not better than the other, but a matter of personal preference.  The best golfers can work the ball both ways and control their curve.  However, one can play some quality golf without a shot that can curve either way.

I would recommend focusing on one shot and learning that pattern and then work on the next.  Engrain your stock shot and develop a consistent shot pattern.  Once a golfer develops this skills, they can then work in the other direction.

Golf draw vs fade

Here is a drill to develop a stock shot:

  • Set up an alignment stick 6-8 yards in front of the line right down your target line.
  • Take another alignment stick and set it up 2-3 yards left (for a fade) or right (for a draw).
  • Now hit shots between the gap and try to get the ball to curve back towards the target.
  • Go ahead and build your consistency by hitting it through this gate at least 7 out of every 10 swings.
  • An 8 or 9 iron would be the right club to complete this drill with at first.

Once you have developed this shot, you could move the alignment stick to the other side and work on curving or working the ball the other direction.  This is a drill that can be used for golfers of all ability levels.

What Causes a Golf Ball To Curve?

The alignment between the direction of the club face and the direction of the swing path.  This relationship is known to produce a consistent ball flight known as the ball flight laws.

So 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.  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.

Below, I will provide plenty of examples that help you practice what way your ball will curve and get the general understanding of what is taking place.  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.

Ball Flight Laws and 9 Potential Shots in Golf
  • Pull
  • Pull Hook 
  • Pull Slice
  • Straight
  • Push 
  • Push Slice
  • Push Hook
  • Slice 
  • Hook

All of these shots have numbers connected with it.  The pull shot will have a different reading and the push shot.  And will vary between the pull shot and the pull slice.  Once you understand the correlation between clubface at impact and the swing path, you will start to understand.

Let’s dive right in with some scenarios and see if you got the main concept.  

First check out this video for further explanation on the different types of shot and how they are related to ball flight laws.

Ready, here we go!

Some Examples of Ball Flight Laws

My recommendation is to look at the numbers presented, think your mind about what direction the ball wil curve and then see if you are right.  I have 9 scenarios for you to assess your current knowledge and to help you understand this concept!

Ball Flight Laws: Scenario 1

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 2

Clubface: 3 degrees left

Swing Path: 5 degree left

The ball will start left of the target line (club face is 3 degree closed or left) and curve away from the swing path, which means it will curve right. 

The end result is a fade shot.  The ball will curve a decent amount with these numbers.

This shot would be considered a pull fade.

Ball Flight Laws: Scenario 3

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.

For a complete post on ball flight laws, check out this post.

Take Your Game to The Next Level

To really understand the ball flight laws and have immediate feedback for your golf swing, I would highly recommend checking out the portable launch monitors. I know you might be saying, “but I cannot afford a Trackman!”  The good news is that there are some impressive launch monitors in the 500 to 2000 dollar range. 

I would highly recommend the SkyTrack Launch Monitor.  I purchased one over 3 years ago and have been able to reduce by scores by 4-6 shots on average and now average between 68-74 on most rounds.

The ability to get feedback on the following has been helpful!

  • Ball speed
  • Carry distance
  • Total distance
  • Path
  • Spin rate
  • Spin axis

I went the extra step and built a golfer simulator setup, but that is not necessary.  You can simply use a mat and a net or take it with you to the range or the golf course.

To get better we must have feedback and understand what is happening at impact.  The ability to practice in your home, garage or back yard is a game changer.

Here are three launch monitors that I would recommend (Between 500 and 2000 dollars):
Love the golfer simulator setup. I am able to play golf 365 days a year!

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:

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