I’m sure you’ve seen the pros on TV hit these big swooping hooks around the course and I’m sure you’ve hit your fair share of slices off the tee. Shots that curve are a lot more common than shots that go dead straight, and there is a good reason for it.
For most golfers, the main reason to hit a shot that curves are that it’s actually easier to do and will help you hit more consistent shots. Drawing or fading the ball can also help you manage the course better and can even give you some extra distance.
Just think about how tough it actually is to hit the ball straight. When was the last time you stepped up to the tee with the driver and crushed one right down the middle? The majority of shots will have some sort of curve, but that said, it might make your time on the course a little easier.
1. A Curved Shot Is Easier To Hit
If you’ve golfed for any amount of time, you know that hitting a shot straight down the middle is pretty tough to do. Sure, it happens every now and then, especially with the shorter clubs, but more often than not, your shots have some curve to them.
A curved shot is an accidentBen Hogan
The two things that have the biggest impact on what your ball does is the club face and club path. Where your club face points at impact is where the ball will start. The direction the club comes into the ball impacts the way the ball curves.
If you want to hit the ball perfectly straight, you need to have a square club face at impact and your club needs to come straight down the target line (top middle). You swing the club on an arc, so it’s not always easy doing this.
If your club face and club path are different, it’ll cause the ball to spin. If your club face is square and your club path is from the inside (bottom left), your shot will curve to the left (for a right-handed player). The mishit here will be a hook.
On the other hand, if your club face is square and your club path is coming from the outside (over the top), your ball will curve to the right. The mishit here is a slice (bottom right).
In short, the ball tends to curve because the golf swing is on an arc. For most shots, the club doesn’t travel down the target line, which will cause the ball to spin, either left or right.
2. A Curved Shot Is More Consistent
Just think about it, what if you stepped up to the ball and knew exactly what it was going to do? How much easier do you think the game would be?
Let’s say you could hit every type of shot, a fade, draw, and even straight. You walk up to the tee and aim right down the middle, hoping to hit a straight shot.
Sure, if you smack the ball down the middle then you’d be perfect. What happens though if your ball doesn’t go straight? It could end up anywhere.
If you get a little too over the top, you might slice the ball into the right rough. Come from the inside, you might hook the ball into the left rough. You just have no idea where the ball could end up.
What if you knew that your ball would fade to the right? It’s so much more predictable. Simply aim down the left side of the fairway.
You never curve the ball to the left, so the left rough is taken out of play. Ideally, your ball fades into the middle of the fairway. If you do hit the ball straight, you’ll hopefully end up on the left edge of the fairway.
3. To Better Manage The Course
On most courses, there are a bunch of obstacles to get around. Having a curved shot is sometimes better for avoiding them and putting your ball in an ideal spot.
Here is a few situations where you’d want a shot that curves:
- To get around doglegs
- To find tricky pin locations
- To avoid bunkers and ponds
Almost all holes have some sort of shape to them, meaning they aren’t perfectly straight. The image below is an example of a hole that turns to the right. Here, you have three scenarios:
- You hit the ball straight and hope it ends up short of the bunker
- You layup well short of the green
- You start the ball at the left edge of the bunker and fade it toward the hole
I’d say that shot #1 is pretty risky. Shot #2 plays things safe, but you’ll leave yourself a long second shot. #3 is the most ideal, in my opinion.
Here’s another example. Sometimes the pin location is a bit tricky, where it’s tucked in a corner surrounded by a hazard. If you were here you’d have two different options:
- Go right at the flag and hope you don’t end up short (water) or long (water/bunker)
- Start the ball at the left side of the green (hotel side) and fade it toward the hole
Shot #1 is high-risk high-reward, but you have a lot that can go wrong. Shot #2 takes the water and sand hazard out of play and is a much more conservative shot.
4. To Remove One Side Of The Hole
We touched on this briefly, but if you’re able to curve the ball, you can basically eliminate one side of the hole. Maybe it’s deep rough on the left side or maybe there’s water on the right.
If there’s something on the course you really want to avoid, you have a couple of options:
- Aim at the hazard and curve the ball away from it
- Aim far away from the hazard and curve the ball toward it
Obviously, it’s easier said than done. A lot of golfers fade/slice the ball with almost every club. If you know that, use that to your advantage.
If there’s water on the left side of the fairway, you could start the ball down the left side of the fairway and fade it back toward the center. You could also start the ball down the right edge and draw it back.
5. To Manage The Wind
Wind also plays a big role on the course and you can use it to your advantage. That said, it can also make your day frustrating, so it’s important to understand how to use it properly.
If you’re on the tee and the wind is blowing from left to right, you have three options. You could hit the ball straight, with a draw, or with a fade.
Straight: It all depends on how much the wind is blowing but let’s assume it’s pretty aggressive. If you aimed down the middle and hit the ball straight, you might get pushed into the right rough.
Fade: If you start the ball too far right, you’ll end up on the next hole. If you start the ball down the middle, you’ll end up in the rough. You’re going to need to aim well left because the wind will make your fade/slice much worse.
Draw: This is probably the best option for wind that’s going left to right. If you’re able to hit a draw, you could aim anywhere from the middle of the fairway to the right edge. A draw will spin against the wind and reduce some of the effects.
6. To Get More Distance
The final benefit of curving the ball is that you can actually get more distance. This is only true to an extent though. If you’re used to slicing the ball two fairways over, hitting a straight shot will probably give you a lot more distance.
What I’m talking about is when you’re able to land the ball in the fairway consistently. You can get it there with a straight shot or one that curves. In most cases, the curved shot will go further.
When you hit the ball dead straight, it’s going to have a lot of backspin (rather than sidespin). When you have backspin, your ball will go higher. When your ball goes higher, it won’t roll down the fairway as much.
When you draw or fade the ball, it’ll have less backspin and more sidespin. This means that it might not go as high and will most likely roll out a lot more when it hits the ground.
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