Golf is hard. Actually, that might be an understatement. Golf is REALLY HARD and as a beginner, it may seem impossible! With so many different types of golf shots, it’s hard to know which shot to use and when…
NOW DON’T WORRY
Learning to control the golf ball on the course is the key to having lower rounds and more fun out on the golf course! In this article, I’m going to teach you how hit your shots:
All while staying in control of the golf ball and avoiding danger!
There are 7 cool golf shots that you must know and learn in order to be able to handle different situations out on the golf course and lower your round. I have included a checklist for each shot so you know how to set up and execute that particular shot. In addition, I mention the use of a variety of different golf clubs that may be required for a particular golf shot. To make sure you are prepared for the course, please read my golfers survival guide here!
THE PUNCH SHOT
One of the most useful shots in golf, the punch shot is used to keep the ball low to the ground.
It is best used when:
- There is a lot of wind out on the course
- You need to hit under a tree branch
- You want extra roll on your shot
To execute the punch shot, you MUST go through the following checklist so that the ball stays low to the ground.
- Club up: Choose a lower club than you normally would hit by about 2 clubs. (Ex. If you normally hit a 7 iron, choose the 5 iron)
- Choke down by sliding the hands towards the bottom of the grip about a half an inch.
- Stand tall over the golf ball
- Play the ball back in your stance towards your back foot
- Press forward on the club handle so that your hands are head of the golf ball. This DELOFTS your club keeping the shot lower to the ground
- Keep the lower body rather quiet, using your shoulders to make the rotation
- Shorten your swing so that the follow through is only about 50% of what it is normally, finishing with the arms extended, away from the body
Hitting this shot will reduce some distance but will keep the ball low and is very important to master, as many golf scenarios will require you to hit the punch. To learn more about hitting the punch shot in bad weather, read my full article here.
Inversely related to the punch shot is the flop shot, where the ball travels high and lands soft.
You should use the flop shot when:
- You need to go over an obstacle
- You need to land the ball softly with little roll
- You are in heavy rough and need to get out
The flop shot is most often used with a sand wedge or pitching wedge, as they are the highest lofted clubs. If you are confused on what the difference is between a sand wedge and pitching wedge and how to use them, read my article on which clubs you need in your bag
How to hit the flop shot:
- Open your stance to the target line so that your arms have more room on the downswing (Left foot back if right-handed is an open stance)
- Move the ball far up in the stance so it feels like it is lined up with your front toe.
- Open you clubface turning the club head AWAY from the target
- Swing OUT to IN, feeling like you are chopping across at the ball
- Finish your swing high, completing a full follow through
You don’t need to be Phil Mickelson to hit the flop shot. Anyone can do it and some shots may require a high shot to put you in the best position on the course.
The fade is a golf shot that starts off straight but slowly moves to the right if you are a right-handed golfer.
Many golfers confuse the fade with the slice. A slice is a golf shot caused by the combination of an open clubface and an out-to-in club path whereas a fade is caused by a square clubface and an out-to-in club path. In short, a fade is a controlled shot while the slice is a difficult shot to manage. If you are struggling with slicing the golf ball, get rid of it forever by checking out my article here!
The fade is best used when there is an obstacle, such as a tree, in your way and you need to shape your shot around it. It is also used off the tee when you want to cut the corner on a hole that has a sharp turn to the right or left (dogleg)
To hit a fade you must have:
- An open stance
- An Out to In swing path
- Good contact with the golf ball (Square clubface)
If you noticed this shot is similar to the flop shot, you are correct! The only difference is that we don’t want to open the clubface. Opening up the clubface will decrease distance and make your shot start off “away” from your target line.
The draw is a golf shot that starts off straight and then moves to the left in the air if you are a right-handed golfer. Not to be confused with a hook which is caused by a closed clubface and an in- to- out swing path. Like the fade, a draw shot it is best used to go around objects or to cut the corner on a hole that has a dogleg.
It is created by:
- A closed stance
- In to Out swing path
- Good contact with the golf ball (Square clubface)
The draw is often thought of as a more difficult shot than the fade to execute because it requires more utilization of lower body movement and clubface control. Remember that the wrists and elbows MUST not break during the swing to ensure good connectivity.
The pitch shot is used when you are 25-50 yards away from the green and you need to hit a shortened shot for the ball to pop in the air and land softly on the putting surface.
You can choose to hit a pitch shot with a
- 8 iron
- Pitching wedge (Most popular)
- Gap Wedge
- Sand wedge
- Open your stance to the target line
- Feet are about shoulder width apart
- The ball is in the middle to back of your stance
- Keep the clubface square to the target line (don’t open or close)
- Keep your weight on your front leg
- Take back the club with your shoulders
- Keep the arms extended during the swing
- Make contact using rotation rather than trying to use your wrists to hit the ball.
The pitch shot is used when your shot is too short for a full swing put not short enough to chip. This shot will feel robotic, as the wrists should not be used to “help” the ball into the air.
The chip shot is used when you are 25 yards or closer to the green and is used to pop the ball up in the air and land as close to the hole as possible. It is used in the rough or on the fairway.
On the PGA tour last year, the average percentage of golfers saving par (scrambling) around the green was 57%! If you want to shave off extra strokes, learning to master the chip shot is the FASTEST WAY to do that. Because of how essential it is to learn the chip shot, I highly recommend reading my article on my 7 ways to become more consistent around the greens. You can access my post here!
To hit a chip shot you can use a:
- 6-9 iron
- Pitching wedge
- Gap Wedge
- Sand wedge
Most golfers will use either a pitching wedge or sand wedge as they offer the most forgiveness because they have a larger bounce angle at the bottom of the club.
Note: Lower lofted clubs can also be used around the green as they keep the ball low and deliver more roll on the green, which some golfers may prefer.
- Open the stance (Left foot back for right-handed golfers)
- Feet are very close together with little separation
- The ball is located in the back of the stance positioned in line with the back toe.
- Hands are pressed forward so they are ahead of the golf ball
- The clubface is square to the target
- Keep the weight heavy on your front side (75% on the front side, 25 % on back)
- Using the shoulders take the swing back while keeping the weight forward.
- Extend the arms taking the wrists out of the swing
- Use a small body rotation allowing the hands to come down first before the club head avoiding the “scoop” shot.
- Finish with the arms extended away from the body
The chip shot is one of the more difficult shots to learn, as it requires a great deal of feel and touch. Many beginning golfers will try and “help” the ball in the air which will cause either a thin shot or a chunk shot (hitting behind the ball).
Following this checklist will help fuel some confidence around the greens and help you to save par.
Around most golf courses are conveniently placed sand hazards or bunkers.
As part of the USGA rules, you are NOT allowed to ground your club if your ball is in the sand, meaning, you must hover your club over the ball until you make your swing.
For the sand shot, you should use
- Any iron (If far away from the green)
- Sand wedge (54 degrees or 56 degrees)
The sand wedge is designed to slide down underneath the golf ball and pops the ball out of the sand so it is best when around the green.
For this shot, you need to hit a combination of the FLOP shot and the PITCH shot
- Feet open to the target
- Stance is narrow with the weight neutral on each side
- Play the ball off your front foot in line with the heel
- Open the clubface (DON’T TOUCH THE SAND)
- Using your shoulders, take the swing back OUTSIDE of your target line
- Swing across the ball feeling like you are chopping down at the sand
- FOLLOW THROUGH keeping the arms moving after contact
You want to hit just behind the golf ball so that the club slides underneath the ball and explodes the ball out of the bunker. The sand shot isn’t as scary as it seems. Once you get the technique, you won’t mind having to go into the bunker from time to time!
These 7 different shots are essential shot that every beginning golfer must know when out on the course.
Whether you need to hit the ball:
- From hazards
I would recommend copying the checklists from each shot and bringing them on the course with you so that you can go over each step without having to remember the order Doing this will allow you to reference these steps to be able to control your golf ball out on the course in real time!
Now I know this article might be overwhelming and a little confusing for some beginners and that’s okay! Take a look at some of my other articles on this site to gain confidence and learn of the fundamentals of the game! You’re not going to master all of these shots overnight but if you put in the effort and trust these tips, you will start to see a great improvement in your game!
Golf is hard, but with practice and knowledge of the right shots to hit, you WILL be able to conquer the course!