How to Drive the Ball on a Dogleg Hole

By Steve Silverman

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Dogleg holes can be incredibly challenging and difficult for accomplished golfers, but they can also represent an opportunity to put pars and birdies on the scoreboard depending on the wind and weather conditions. Dogleg holes get their name because of the way the hole turns right to left or left to right in the middle of the fairway. If the wind is with you, you can cut many yards off the hole. However, if you are facing the wind or the hole is exceptionally long, it can be especially difficult.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging
  1. Assess the weather and wind situation when you get to the tee of a dogleg par 4 or 5. If the wind is behind you and you are facing a dogleg to the right, you have options. You can take a long iron and try to hit the ball down the middle or you can take a driver, tee the ball high and try to cut the corner of the dogleg, creating a shorter second shot to the hole. If you decide to take the second option, take a 1 1/2-inch tee (3/4-inch is standard) and aim somewhere past the dogleg and let your shot go high. If you catch a strong breeze behind you, it should make it to the fairway.
  2. Hit a low shot if you are hitting into the wind. Depending on how far the dogleg is from the tee area, you can hit a 3-wood, a 2-iron, a 3-iron or a 4-iron to get to the break. Tee the ball low and play the ball midway between your front foot and your back foot.
  3. Hit your driver if there is no discernible wind in either direction, but don't try to cut the corner unless you are regularly a big hitter. Sometimes you have to play the hole the prescribed way, especially if it is more than 225 yards to the break. Your ego may say you can try to cut the distance on the hole by going over the trees on the dogleg, but that is not usually wise.
  4. Hit your drive straight on a right-to-left dogleg at all times. Many right-handed golfers are comfortable fading the ball on a left-to-right hole but they are not as comfortable trying to play a draw and going right to left. Don't do anything on the course that leaves you feeling uncomfortable.
  5. Work on your draw and your fade at the driving range. Many golf courses will have at least four dogleg holes on it, so it would be in your best interests to learn how to hit the shots that can make the hole easier for you.

Tips & Warnings

  • Plan your shots carefully. If you are ahead in a tournament or a match and you face a dogleg on the 16th hole, don't put your round in jeopardy by trying to hit over the dogleg when you don't need to take the chance.

About the Author

Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.