The Shot That Makes You Want to Quit
What’s the one shot you hate more than anything? Is it the banana ball to the right? The low, screaming hook? Maybe it’s a ballooning iron shot.
In this lesson, I’ll discuss how answering that one question can simplify your decisions regarding equipment and swing changes
This Lesson Is For You If:
You’re not sure what golf equipment to buy
You’re considering a swing change
You’re frustrated with a particular aspect of your game
A Dose of Reality
Before I go any farther, I want to inject this lesson with my standard dose of realism. No one has ever eliminated one side of the golf course. No one has ever eliminated fat or thin shots. Even at the very highest levels, undesirable shots are part of the game. All you can do – with equipment and/or swing changes – is to tilt the odds in your favor.
The Worst Shot in the World
I was prompted to write this lesson after a conversation with a reader. He was asking for advice on selecting or modifying a new set of irons, and the question I asked was, “What’s the one shot you can’t live with?” That answer would clearly lead to a particular course of action.
There are a variety of factors we can think about for golf shots. The most common one is curvature – draws and fades. We can also think about launch angle and spin rate. These things aren’t binary, they exist on a spectrum. Curvature, for example, ranges from Bubba-sized hooks and slices to dreamy two-yard fades and draws.
Every player has a shot pattern that covers a certain range of that spectrum. If you’re a very skilled player, your curvature range might go from straight shots to 10-yard fades (we’ll ignore the occasional outlier). A higher handicap player might hit anything from a 5-yard draw to a 30-yard slice.
Only practice will shrink your range and improve your consistency, but you can use equipment, set-up changes, and small swing tweaks to move your range away from the shots you dislike.
The Concept In Practice
I’ll make this more concrete by discussing my personal tastes and the decisions they have led me to. The two things I dislike are hooks and spinny, weak shots. With that in mind, I play shafts that are very stiff, irons with low offset, and lower spinning golf balls. I’ve also worked toward getting my swing path neutral or a bit left after years of having a very rightward path (read more about Ball Flight Laws HERE).
These choices come with consequences. There are times when my drives lose carry distance from being too low spinning. Sometimes my iron shots don’t stop as fast as I’d like. And, of course, my tee shots can go hard right. But I accept these things because I know that the alternative is worse, for me.
Whatever your preferences and choices: stick to the plan. If you want to get rid of your slice, don’t get mad about hitting hooks. If you want to see your approach shots stay in their ball mark, don’t be frustrated when your iron shots occasionally balloon and come up short of the target. Should your equipment or swing fail to eliminate the shot you hate, then you can make a change. Otherwise, stay the course.
In golf as in life, we don’t get to have it all. Make your choices about what you want to eliminate (knowing that you’ll never get rid of it 100%), deal with the negative side of those decisions, and enjoy the game.