A Question Without an Answer?
One of the eternal questions in golf is whether you should play one shot shape or two. While there does seem to be a trend toward the former, good luck convincing the more old school player that you don’t need to go both ways. In this lesson, I’ll discuss the pros and cons of each approach and offer some thoughts on how to decide what’s best for your game.
For the record: I’m not personally invested in either answer. I’m presenting the theoretical arguments, not claiming to have the data. Please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section. If you have data, even better.
This Lesson Is For You If:
You’re unsure what shots to bring to the course
You want to shoot lower scores
You want to use your practice time more effectively
The Case for Hitting One Shape
This can be summed up in one word: consistency. It’s believed that players who only hit one shot will know that shot better and will be able to hit it more reliably. And the folks in this camp can point to some pretty solid ball strikers who shaped it almost exclusively one way: Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan.
There is a common sense appeal to this argument. If you did only one thing, it seems logical that you would be really good at that thing. Additionally, it reduces mental fatigue because you don’t have to wonder what shot shape you’re going to play.
The Case for Shaping It Both Ways
The one word argument here is versatility. If you can only hit fades, what do you do on a dogleg left? How do you get to pins on the left side of the green? Can you play in a left-to-right wind?
In additions, working the ball both ways develops more skill. If you are consistently working on changing your swing path, altering your trajectory, modifying your club face, you will build the skills that allow you to adapt your game to the challenges you face on the course.
The Case for No Shape
Some modern teachers will make the case that both of the above approaches are wrong: the optimal solution is hitting it straight. Hitting it straight does seem pretty great, and using a club face and path that’s square to the target will maximize ball speed. Does aiming for a neutral path and face actually reduce dispersion? To my knowledge, the jury is still out.
What Should You Do?
One thing that I would say unequivocally is that you should try to hit all kinds of different shots in practice. I – and a chorus of others – have often railed against standing on the range hitting the same shot over and over. It’s not just boring, it’s not productive. You need to develop your skills by hitting different kinds of shots and learning what works and what doesn’t. I discuss this in more detail HERE.
On the course, I would suggest that you start by asking yourself why you play. If you’re playing to have fun and enjoy yourself, hit every shot you can dream of. I’ve found that my most enjoyable moments on the course come from trying to pull off shots that are outside my normal range.
On the other hand, if you’re playing to shoot low scores, I would suggest you lean heavily on the 80% Rule and one shot shape. Even if you like to hit draws and fades, you know that one of those is more reliable than the other.
Finally, if you’re truly committed to one side of this argument, try playing the other way. It’s a good chance to learn something about your game, and you may find that you like it.