Techniques for Shaping Your Tee Shot

    When playing a straight hole, you are usually going to stick with the ball flight that comes naturally in your game. Whether you hit a draw or a fade, you will use that ‘stock’ ball flight and aim down a line that gives the ball room to work back toward the middle of the fairway. This is the right way to play, as it allows you to stick with your strengths. The story changes a bit when you add a dogleg into the mix, however.

    On a hole with a dogleg, you have a couple of different options. For one, you could choose to shape your tee shot to match the angle of the dogleg. For example, if the hole turns from left to right, you could hit a fade which would follow the same path. Basically, you would be straightening out the dogleg by using this method. The ball would be coming in from a better angle, and you’d have a wider landing area as a result.

    On the other hand, you could choose to work the ball back across the corner of the dogleg. With this plan, you are going to hit a draw in the situation above, where the fairway turns from left to right. This option is a bit more intimidating, as you have to take the ball out away from the fairway and bring it back. If you are going to use this method, you’ll need to be able to carry the ball over the corner so it can land in the fairway and bounce and roll from there. This is usually the way you’ll want to go if you are trying to push the ball as far up toward the green as possible.

    Rather than picking one of these two as your go-to option, you should be open to using either of them depending on the situation. On a tree-lined golf course, you will probably be forced to match the angle of the dogleg, as trying to turn the ball back into the fairway would probably lead you on a path into the trees. As is always the case in golf, it should be the situation you face which dictates the decision you make. Keep an open mind and make your choice based on what you see in front of you.

    Of course, before you make the decision to use a particular ball flight on a given hole, you need to have practiced that ball flight on the range. Do you know how to turn the ball in both directions on command? If not, it doesn’t much matter what you decide will be the best choice, as you won’t be able to pull off the shot. Spend some time during an upcoming practice session working on your ability to go back and forth between a fade and a draw. Only when you are confident that you can hit these shots consistently should you consider using them on the course.