Techniques for Hitting Golf Balls

By Matthew DeBord

While it may look as if all the pros have the same swing, there are many subtle differences in an individual stroke. The golf ball can still be struck in such a way that it will fly higher or lower, curve left or right, stop quickly on the green or roll out. There are also two basic ways of approaching what's known as the "swing plane," or the arc that the club follows as it goes back and comes through the shot.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderate
Step 1
Experiment with the swing plane. Most golf swings are either flat or upright. A flat swing goes around the body more and promotes a lower, right-to-left shot that draws or hooks. An upright swing is more up and down, producing shots that fly higher and either go straight or fade from left-to-right (for a right-handed player).
The length of the club actually makes the swing plane more flat or upright. A driver plane is flatter because the club is longer. A wedge plane is more upright because the club is shorter.
Step 2
Hold the clubface open. Prevent the clubface from closing through impact to make the ball fly higher with more spin. This is good technique to use with chips and when you want to hit a high-flying shot that lands softly, or that stops quickly due to backspin.
Step 3
Close the clubface. Releasing the clubface through impact and allowing the toe to "turn over" produces a lower-flying shot that runs when it hits the ground. This is a good technique for longer chips and pitches, or when you want to get the ball on the green quickly, rather than lofting it all the way to the hole.
Step 4
Move the ball around in your stance. It's not necessary to reposition the ball much for standard shots. But to hit the ball higher than normal, you may want to move the ball up toward your front foot. To hit the ball lower, move the ball back toward your rear foot.
Step 5
Vary the power of the strike. The harder you swing, the more spin you'll put on the ball. This can be useful if you want to make the ball stop quickly with iron shots. It can also help if your drives are flying too low. Conversely, a gentler swing can flight the ball lower--and also prevent it from getting caught up in the wind.
Step 6
Exaggerate the width of your backswing and follow-through. Pushing the club as far away from your body as you can on the backswing and follow-through will allow you to strike the ball more squarely, creating a penetrating ball flight that holds its line and is more accurate and aggressive.
Step 7
Hit hooks and slices on purpose. Using a more inside-out swing for hooks and a more outside-in swing for slices will teach you how to play with sidespin when you need it.

Tips & Warnings

Take a video lesson. Seeing your swing in action can give you a good sense of how to vary the way you hit the ball.
Stay away from the shot that spins backwards. We all see the pros hit the wedge shot that lands and zips backwards because it's loaded up with spin. This is impressive, but also difficult, because it demands a precise strike as well as good distance control. Amateurs are better off playing a simple, high wedge shot with enough backspin to make in stop where it lands. Save experiments for the practice range. Once you get to the course, the idea is to play golf, not fool around with your swing plane. When playing, just swing the club to produce the shot you need. If you don't know how to play an unfamiliar shot, then just hit a normal shot and live with the consequences.
Stay away from the shot that spins backwards. We all see the pros hit the wedge shot that lands and zips backwards because it's loaded up with spin. This is impressive, but also difficult, because it demands a precise strike as well as good distance control. Amateurs are better off playing a simple, high wedge shot with enough backspin to make in stop where it lands.
Save experiments for the practice range. Once you get to the course, the idea is to play golf, not fool around with your swing plane. When playing, just swing the club to produce the shot you need. If you don't know how to play an unfamiliar shot, then just hit a normal shot and live with the consequences.

About The Author

Matthew DeBord has written about sports, cars, and wine since 1994 for a variety of publications. Formerly the golf columnist for the “Improper Hamptonian,” he has covered major championship tournaments and played some of the best courses in America. He graduated from Clemson University and has a master's degree from New York University.

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Larry S.  Scored 92 at  The Links Golf Club At Queen Creek Queen Creek, Arizona

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