A multitude of variables must be considered when deciding exactly how to play each golf shot. The most important factor, of course, is your target.
True, the shortest distance between any two points is a straight line. But golf isn’t about straight lines. (As the great Ben Hogan famously said, “You only hit a straight ball by accident.”) Most every shot curves, whether we want it to or not.
That’s why the target determines your alignment, which controls the shot’s trajectory and shape.
Here’s an example:
The hole: 375-yard par 4, dogleg left around trees
The target: Center of the fairway
The details: The trees will catch any shot that starts more than 10 yards left of center, ruling out a fade. Therefore, the proper shot shape is a slight draw which starts down the fairway’s right border and avoids trouble on the left. However, too much right-to left movement or excess roll and you risk running through the fairway and into the woods. That means a high trajectory is your best bet for holding the fairway.
When we chose the target, we dictated the terms for the shape and height of the shot. And those two factors tell you exactly how to line up to play a high draw:
- Clubface aimed at the fairway’s center.
- Feet, hips and shoulders aligned with the right side of the fairway.
- Ball slightly forward in the stance.
If the high draw isn’t in our repertoire, we’ve got to pick a target right of the fairway’s middle. This will give us a bit more room to start the ball left without hitting the trees, should we prefer to hit a fade. Playing a low draw toward the right-center will effectively widen the area for the ball to run out.
Other variables – wind speed and direction, ground conditions, stance position (sidehill, etc) – will always enter the equation. But your preparations for every shot begin with the target.