- Cause: Grip is too “strong” -- If your hands are turned too far right on top of the grip, the clubface will be closed (relative to the swing path) on the backswing and at impact, creating hook spin.
- Cure: “Neutralize” your grip -- Check your hand position by gripping the club and addressing the ball, then looking at the knuckles on your left hand. If you can clearly see three or more, your grip is too strong. Rotate the hands left until 2 ½ knuckles are visible. This is still a relatively strong position, so you may need to adjust further until you find that sweet spot.
- Cause: Faulty ball position – If the ball is too far forward in your stance (toward the left/lead foot), you’ll hit it when the club has turned back to the inside of the target line and the clubface has rotated closed.
- Cure: Ball back in your stance – The standard rule is to play driver shots with the ball directly opposite your left heel, the toe flared slightly toward the target. For each successively shorter club, move the ball a bit to the right – half an inch to an inch per club. By the time you reach the wedges, the ball should be at or just forward of the middle of your stance.
- Cause: Casting hands from the top – Oftentimes, golfers start the downswing with the hands and arms, throwing the club across the target line as the body remains stationary. Instead, the lower body should lead the way, followed by the torso and shoulders, which activate the arms and hands and deliver the clubhead on an inside path.
- Cure: Pause-at-the-top drill
- Lazy lower body. The lower body plays a powerful role in the golf swing – more than most players realize. If your lower body isn’t doing its job during the downswing, the club face will likely rotate too quickly and end up in a closed position. The rotation of your body in the downswing not only serves to build power, but also to control the position of the club face and keep it square with the target line. As soon as your lower body stops turning toward the target, the club face will quickly ‘flip over’ and wind up pointing well to the left. The first thing you should do when you realize that you are dealing with a pull is make sure that your lower body is doing its job correctly.
- Short backswing. A good backswing is important for a number of reasons, but proper timing is the most notable. Making a full backswing that includes a good tempo is key because it will help you maintain a square clubface position. If you were to cut the backswing short for some reason, your body won’t have time to rotate through the hitting zone and the shot is likely to be pulled. Often, this mistake is seen when a golfer gets nervous – they want to get through the swing as quick as possible because they are anxious about the shot, so they cut the backswing shot and the ball is pulled to the left. Focus on completing your backswing on every swing, even if you are feeling a little nervous at the time.
- Strong grip. The golf grip is a personal thing that will vary greatly from one player to the next. However, if you use a particularly strong grip to hold the club, you will always be in danger of hitting a pull. A strong grip makes it easier for your hands to rotate the club through impact, meaning it will take less effort for you to hit a pull than it will for someone with a weaker grip. Should you decide to use a strong grip in your game, it will be even more important that your lower body is able to do its job and rotate aggressively toward the target during the downswing. Without that rotation, a pulled golf shot is almost sure to result.
- Slow motion swings. Since correcting your pull is all about proper timing, slowing your swing down on the practice range is a great way to feel your sequencing and make sure all parts of the swing are working as they should. At the driving range, set aside a few balls for this simple drill. Take your seven iron and get into a normal stance just as you would for any other shot. You should have also picked a specific target out on the range that you are going to aim for. As you start your swing, make an effort to swing at only about half-power from start to finish. You don’t want to make a shorter swing – still go all the way up into your full backswing position. The only difference is you want to club moving only about half as fast as usual. If your timing is good and balance is in order, you should be able to make this kind of swing without much trouble. However, if you are turning your lower body too slow or too fast, it will quickly be exposed in this drill. After hitting a few shots at half speed, slowly work your way back up into your full speed swing. Hopefully, when you get back to full speed, your pull will have disappeared.
- Punch shots. Not only are punch shots a highly useful tool when you are actually on the golf course, they are a great way to practice as well. When you hit a punch shot, it is easier to feel the position of the club face at impact because you aren’t swinging as aggressively up into a full finish. For that reason, hitting a few punch shots can help you to get rid of the pulled golf shots from your game. Use the same seven iron you used for the previous drill and set up on the range to hit a few punch shots at a specific target. These shots should fly lower than your normal swings, and they will hopefully track straight toward your target. Choke down slightly on the club for control before starting your swing. If you notice that you are struggling with the pull even on your punch shots, try using your hands less during the swing until the ball flights straighten out. Just like with the drill above, start to work from a punch shot back up to a full shot gradually. Make longer and longer swings until you arrive at your full swing and you are still hitting the ball straight at the target.
Slicers have it easy. Most courses are built with a little extra room to the right to accommodate them, because the slice is the most common miss in golf. Those who suffer from pull hooks, on the other hand, often find themselves blocked out on the second shot or, worse, in a hazard.
The pull hook is one of golf’s most devastating maladies because on top of the misdirection, a ball hit with right-to-left sidespin will run for days; plus, pull hooks fly low, so they roll even farther. In other words, a case of the pull hooks must be dealt with and defeated ASAP.
Pull hooks results from an over-the-top (or outside-to-inside) swing path paired with a closed, quickly rotating clubface. By contrast, slices occur when the same outside-in path is paired with an open clubface, imparting left-to-right spin.
Here’s a list of the most common causes of the dreaded left-to-left shot, and the cure for each:
Solving the Puzzle of Pulled Golf Shots
Every golfer knows the feeling of picking out the right club, selecting a target, making what feels like a perfect swing – only to look up and see the ball has been pulled way left of the target (or way right for a left handed player).
What happened? How could a swing that felt so good have produced a shot that went so far off line? Pulled golf shots are a common problem that plague players of all skills levels from beginners to accomplished competitive golfers. Since they can sail so far off line so quickly, fixing your pull should be near the top of your golf priority list.
In general, there are two kinds of pulled golf shots that you need to deal with – the straight pull, and the pull hook. Both of these shots can be damaging to your score, but the pull hook is particularly troubling because the ball starts off line, and then continues to turn even farther away from the target. If you hit a pull hook off the tee, for example, there is a good chance that you won’t find that golf ball. If you do, don’t expect to have a very good shot at the green.
Pulled golf shots can sneak into your game at any point along the way, and for any shot during a round. Whether you are hitting a tee shot on a long par five, or just a simple wedge approach shot into the green, your technique always needs to be solid in order to avoid the dreaded pull. The good news is that it is relatively simple to avoid the mistake of pulling golf ball left, as long as you know what swing errors cause this shot in the first place. It doesn’t matter if you are hitting a golf pull hook or just a straight pull, knowing what causes a pulled golf shot is the first step in solving the problem.
Before you should worry about how to stop pulling golf shots, you need to make sure that you are actually pulling the golf ball in the first place. While that might seem like an obvious thing to figure out, it isn’t as simple as it might appear. Many golfers mistakenly think they are pulling the ball off-line, when in fact they are just aiming incorrectly to begin with. To confirm that you are dealing with a pull and not just poor alignment, practice your aim on the driving range carefully. You should be able to reliably aim at your target prior to each and every shot. If possible, have a friend help you to double check your aim. Once you know that you are in fact aimed correctly and your shots are still flying off line, it is a safe bet that you are dealing with a pull.
Note: All of the instruction contained in this article is based on a right handed golfer. For those of you who play left handed, simply reverse the directions.
The Mechanics of a Pulled Golf Shot
To properly solve any problem, you need to first understand it thoroughly. This is definitely the case with a pulled golf shot – to understand how to stop pulling golf shots, you need to understand the root cause of the issue.
Once you know what causes a pulled golf shot, you will be a big step closer to making the necessary corrections and getting your ball back on track. Pulling golf ball left is no fun, but it is a swing fault that you can fix with some practice and attention to detail.
At the most basic level, a pulled golf shot occurs because the club face is pointed to the left of your target at impact. Even if you do everything else perfectly throughout your swing, having the club face pointed left of the target at impact is going to result in a pulled shot. It really is as simple as that. Of course, figuring out why the club face is pointed to the left of the target in the first place will be a little more complicated.
While there could be endless possible explanations for reaching an impact position that has the club face pointed too far to the left, the three causes below are by far the most common.
Playing a round of golf pulling shots is no fun – you are always fighting to keep the ball on line. If you are currently fighting a pull in your own game, start by thinking about the three causes above and determine if any of those are present in your swing. To get serious about fixing this problem once and for all, spend some time on the practice range to work out any issues you have that may be causing the pull before heading back out onto the course.
Dealing with the Golf Pull Hook
Hitting a pull can certainly be frustrating and damaging to your score, but hitting a pull hook is an even bigger problem. Rather than just flying on a straight line to the left of your target, the pull hook will start out on that line and then hook even farther into trouble. Most commonly the pull hook is a problem dealt with off the tee, but it can technically strike with any club in the bag.
The cause of a pull hook isn’t all that much different from the regular pull in that the club face is still pointed to the left of the target. However, the notable difference is that with a pull hook, the club face is also closed in relation to the path of the club head through impact. So, if you make a swing where the club face is pointed left of the target at impact but the club head is swinging along a path that points to the right of the target, a pull hook is the sure outcome. When this is done with a driver, the result is one of the ugliest shots that you can find on the golf course.
You might be surprised to learn that the cause of a pull hook is actually the opposite of the causes that we looked at for a pull. In fact, this is one of the things that makes a pull hook so tricky to fix for many players – they assume it is coming from the same mistake as a pull, but that is usually not the case. Rather than being caused by a lack of rotation in the lower body, a pull hook typically results from lower body rotation that is too fast. When your lower body races out ahead of your upper body – and the club – the result is commonly a wild pull hook.
This certainly complicates things for the golfer. If you don’t rotate fast enough, you will hit a pull. If you rotate too quickly, you will fight a pull hook. Golf is known as a hard game for a reason. In order to avoid either of these dreaded ball flights, you have to find a timing and tempo that lands safely in the middle of these two extremes. It is possible to achieve, of course, but it can be difficult to find that perfect timing that leads to a straight shot.
Where the problems that lead to a pull are usually mechanical, the issues that lead to a pull hook are often psychological. Specifically, it is an effort to hit the ball as hard as possible that frequently leads to a golf pull hook. Many golfers, when they reach the top of their backswing, start to think about how far they want to hit the shot and suddenly try to accelerate their swing down toward impact. This sudden burst of speed is usually transferred to the lower body, which starts to spin as fast as possible toward the target. If your arms and hands aren’t able to keep up with this speed, you will hit a pull hook.
The solution? Better tempo. Distance isn’t a result of raw power, but rather an even tempo that allows you to build speed gradually throughout the swing. Your focus should always be more on making solid contact than hitting the ball as far as possible. Control is more important than power in golf, so focus your efforts on creating a reliable swing that has an even tempo from start to finish. You just might be surprised at how far you are able to hit the ball when you don’t even feel like you are swinging that hard. And best of all, the pull hook should be a thing of the past.
Some Drills to Address the Pull
Even after you understand what is causing your pulled golf shots, you still might have a little trouble fixing the problem once and for all. To aid in that effort, the following two drills are designed to correct the mistakes usually encountered by golfers dealing with a pull.
These two drills are very simple, but could have a powerful effect on your game. By investing just a little bit of time and effort on the driving range to sort out the problems you are having with the pull, you just might be able to quickly fix the problem. It is important that you work on solving the pull on the driving range instead of on the golf course as there are too many other distractions when playing your round to worry about your swing technique. Get the details sorted out on the range, then go out and enjoy the rewards on the course.
What to Do When the Pull Shows Up During a Round
Despite your best efforts, sometimes the pull will start to give you trouble during the middle of a round for seemingly no reason.
While you now understand what causes the pull, and how to fix it, you can’t exactly stop off at the driving range halfway through the round to sort out your problems. You need to make the corrections on the go, and as quickly as possible. Every hole that you play while still fighting the pull is another one that you are likely to post a high number on. Solving problems fast is the hallmark of a good golfer.
Most likely, the cause of a pull that just shows up during the middle of a round is going to be your timing. Generally speaking, your technique isn’t going to change that much from round to round, let alone hole to hole. Therefore, if you were playing well and then you suddenly start to pull the ball left, it is likely a timing issue. Many golfers, for example, start to struggle with the pulls late in a round as their legs get tired and can’t get through the shot as effectively as they could at the start of the golf. Playing golf pulling shots for the last few holes is a frustrating way to finish a round. To correct your timing and stop hitting a pull, focus on the sequencing of the swing. As you reach the top of your backswing, make sure your lower body is the first thing to move toward the target. When you get the order right for all of the moving parts in your swing, you should get right back on track.
Of course, if you are hitting a pull hook during your round, it is likely that your legs are moving too fast. This happens usually when a golfer is trying to hit the ball too hard, like on a long par four or a hole that is playing directly into the wind. A good way to get out of this way of thinking is to focus more on the tempo of your swing than the raw power that you are directing at the ball. Pay attention to your target and commit yourself to the task of hitting the ball perfectly on line – regardless of how far it goes. Don’t let yourself worry about things like outdriving your playing partners or reaching par fives in two shots. Rather, focus on tempo and timing and delivering the club perfectly into the back of the golf ball. When you keep your mind off of trying to hit the ball as hard as possible, your pull hook should disappear.
Pulled golf shots are no fun, and they certainly can be damaging to your score. Hopefully, after reading through this guide, you will be able to solve the basic problems that are plaguing your swing and causing you to pull the ball to the left of the target. As with most other swing faults on the golf course, pulled shots general start with bad timing and tempo. Focus most of your attention in that direction, and you should be able to straighten that ball flight out relatively quickly. There is always a danger that your pulls will return, however, so pay attention to your ball flight and correct any errors that start to sneak back into your game. With your ball flight heading right toward the target shot after shot, you will be one step closer to playing great golf.