When you watch professional golf events, you will often notice the pros utilizing a three-quarter golf shot.
(This is when they swing about ¾ of the way on their back swing and ¾ of the way on their follow-through.) You'll mainly see this when they hit second or third shots onto the green. The main reason for the abbreviated swing is distance control when they find they are “between clubs” if they were to take a full swing. The more control you have over your shot distance, the better your game will be.
Helpful hints for successfully utilizing this handy golf shot:
1. If you find yourself between clubs for the yardage needed, you should consider hitting a three-quarter shot. For example, if a full swing with the 9 Iron won't get you there, use a three-quarter swing with the lower-lofted 8 Iron.
2. Place the ball closer to the center of your stance. This will help in contacting the ball at the bottom of your swing arc, creating the optimal strike.
3. Remember, you are only going to take your hands back to about shoulder height. A good key is to find the shaft pointing vertically to the sky at the top of your swing, then again, after the follow through.
4. You will want to feel as though you are hitting the golf ball with your upper body/chest. This will help eliminate any “flipping” motion of the wrist through impact, which is often a cause of inconsistent golf shots.
5. On the follow-through, make sure you extend through the ball and finish with your belt-buckle facing the target and the shaft pointing to the sky.
* Mastering the three-quarter golf shot can be very beneficial, but keep in mind it is also more difficult than the regular feeling of a full swing, so it will require practice.
How to Hit the Three Quarter Golf Shot
Golf is a game of endless variety. One of the things that makes the game so addictive is the constant adjustments that have to be made on the course. You won't ever face two shots that are exactly alike – each shot has its own unique combination of distance, elevation, weather, turf conditions, pressure, and more. Golf would likely get pretty boring if you faced the same shots over and over again. Fortunately, that isn't the case. To shoot good scores, you are required to make endless adjustments to your basic swing technique. The best golfers are the ones who can adjust on the fly and produce good shots even under the most challenging of circumstances.
The three quarter golf shot is one of the commonly used methods of dealing with distances that don't fit perfectly into your full swing yardages. For example, if you hit your eight iron 140 yards and your seven iron 155 yards, you might have to produce a three quarter shot with your seven iron in order to handle a 145-yard approach. You would probably love to have every shot you encounter fall nicely into a full swing yardage – but that isn't going to happen anytime soon. Developing a reliable three quarter swing, along with a few other 'modified' shots, is your best bet in the pursuit of lower scores.
Hitting three quarter shots can be challenging because you have to learn how to control your swing in a way that takes power off of the shot while still striking the ball cleanly. It is easy to swing softer – but you don't want that softer swing to result in poor contact or an off-line trajectory. Finding the right balance between maintaining your regular technique while reducing the speed that the club moves through impact is a skill that requires plenty of practice. Professional golfers are adept at making these kinds of adjustments, and you can be sure they have spent countless hours on the driving range working on their three quarter swing. There is good news, however – once you learn how to use a three quarter swing on the course to adjust your distances as necessary, you will be able to set up far more birdie and par opportunities than ever before.
Adjusting yardage isn't the only reason for using a three quarter swing. You also may choose to hit this kind of shot when you need to keep the ball out of the wind, or when you want to be sure that you are accurate with your approach in order to avoid a hazard. As you build confidence in your three quarter shot, you will likely find more and more opportunities to pull it out of the bag. The goal of playing golf is simple – to shoot the lowest score possible. There is no requirement to use full swings in order to reach that goal, and many players find that shooting low scores is made easier through the use of plenty of three quarter swings.
All of the instruction below is based on a right handed golfer. If you play left handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.
The Basic Adjustments
When you set out to create a three quarter swing that you can add to your assortment of shots, you should do it with the thinking that you are going to keep your swing as 'normal' as possible. In other words, you want to develop a three quarter swing that is able to take some height and distance off of your shots without having to radically change your swing. If you make dramatic changes to your swing in order to hit a three quarter shot, you will never be able to execute that move with consistency. No shot is useful if it isn't consistent, so make your three quarter swing look and feel as much like your full swing as you possibly can to increase your chances of repeatable performance.
With that goal in mind, the following three points are a great place to start when making alterations to your swing. In fact, if you can make each of the three changes listed below, you will be most of the way to your objective of having a consistent three quarter shot.
- Choke down on the grip. The first step when you are going to hit a softer-than-normal shot should always be to move your hands down on the grip. By using less of the club when you make your swing, you will be able to reduce your swing speed – and reduce the total distance that the ball flies through the air. If you only were to make this single adjustment, you would likely take a few yards off of your shot successfully. As you might already know, you will continue to take more and more distance off of the shot the farther you move your hands down the club. Choking down on the grip makes the swing arc shorter, which reduces the amount of time you have to build speed, therefore the overall power of your swing is reduced.
- Play the ball slightly back in your stance. While choking down on the club is the best way to take some speed out of the swing, moving the ball back slightly in your stance is going to be the best way to lower the ball flight slightly. You don't want to make this a dramatic move – just an inch or two back from your normal ball position will be enough to bring the launch angle down a few degrees. While you don't have to make this adjustment on every three quarter shot that you hit, it will make it easier to achieve solid contact at the bottom of the swing. Unless you have a specific reason for wanting to hit the ball high with your three quarter swing, it is a good idea to move the ball back a couple of inches.
- Stand slightly closer to the ball. The last adjustment you will need to make in order to create a three quarter swing is to stand slightly closer to the ball. Moving closer to the ball will force your swing to become more upright, which is perfect for this type of shot. If you choose not to get closer, there is a good chance you will fight a draw/hook when playing your three quarter shots. Since your swing will be flat and your backswing will be short, it is easy to close the face of the club down through impact when hitting a three quarter shot with an iron. However, by standing closer to the ball, you will keep the face square longer through the hitting area, meaning you should be able to hold your target line effectively.
The three tips above should each be relatively easy to use, and they will lead you to a solid three quarter swing that can be used in a variety of situations. Work these adjustments into your swing one by one on the range until you start to hit some beautifully controlled three quarter shots.
There is one tip that you don't see on the list above which you might have been expecting. Many golfers think that they need to intentionally cut their backswing short when they try to hit a three quarter shot. They will arbitrarily pick a point during the backswing at which to stop and change directions into the forward swing. You don't actually need to alter your swing in this way – and your results will be disappointing if you try to use an artificially short backswing for your three quarter shot.
Why doesn't this method work very well? It comes down to consistency. There is almost no way that you will be able to stop your backswing at the same point time after time, meaning each of your three quarter shots will fly a different distance. Instead, you should just make a regular swing while using the adjustments above to take distance off of your shots. By choking down on the club, your swing arc will naturally be smaller, even if you feel like you are making a full backswing. There will be a few times on the course when you will be forced to make a short backswing in order to hit a shot, but your stock three quarter shot should include a full turn that is modified by the adjustments in the list above.
How to Practice
Now that you have the instructions you need to hit quality three quarter shots, you need to get out on the driving range and try your hand at it. Your initial results will likely be a mixed bag, so you will need to have the patience to deal with the poor shots as you are learning to get comfortable with this technique. Hopefully, it won't be long before you begin to produce more and more great looking soft shots.
The best way to practice your three quarter shots is to work back and forth between your full swings and these new soft shots. On the course, you are going to be going back and forth between the two types of swings, so it is important that you learn to do that same thing on the range. You will likely never play a round where you hit nothing but three quarter shots, so hitting one after another on the range doesn't make much sense. Instead, hit a couple three quarter shots followed by a couple full shots, and repeat. You will quickly learn how to feel the differences between the two swings, and you should develop the ability to comfortably switch back and forth with no drop in performance.
As with any other shots that you hit on the practice range, you should be picking out a specific target for all of your three quarter swings. If you would like, you can pick out two targets for the club that you are holding – one farther than the other – and you can alternate between the two targets as you change between three quarter and full shots. Golf is a target oriented game, so you should never miss a chance to work on your ability to put the ball close to a target.
As an example, imagine that you are hitting shots on the range with your eight iron. With your full swing, you can hit your eight iron 140 yards. When you decide to use a three quarter swing, that yardage comes down to around 125. So, you could pick one target in the area of 125 and another in the 140 range, and move back and forth between the two. If you can successfully alter your swing enough to land the ball near each of these targets on command, you will have a great chance to hit your mark on the course. Most golfers lack the ability to control their distances with this kind of precision, so consider this skill to be a big advantage over your competition once you develop it fully.
There is another important note that needs to be made regarding three quarter swing practice – you have to use this shot on the course from time to time if it is ever going to become reliable. It is one thing to learn the technique on the range, but it is quite another thing to actually use it properly on the course. Make it a point to find one or two chances during your upcoming rounds to hit a three quarter shot rather than a full swing. Even if you don't get great results at first, stick with it until you get a fell for executing this type of swing under pressure. Most likely, after you force yourself to use the three quarter swing a few times, you will start to look forward to the opportunities to get to break out this useful shot.
Picking Your Spots
Shot selection is an underrated part of the game of golf. Once you have a variety of shots at your disposal, you will need to learn how to pick and choose the right shot for the right situation. Picking the wrong shot can lead to disappointing results – even if you actually execute the swing correctly. Only when your shot selection comes together with consistent execution can you expect to post good scores on a regular basis.
So, when it comes to the three quarter shot, when is the right time to pull it out of the bag? The following three circumstances are all possible opportunities to show off your new skill.
- In-between distances. This is obviously the most-common reason to use a three quarter shot. When you are stuck right in between the full swing distances of two of your clubs, you can opt to hit a three quarter shot to hopefully get the number just right. Usually, you will want to use this strategy when you are stuck between short irons, as short irons are meant to be scoring clubs. If you are stuck between numbers on a long iron shot, you will be better off just picking the best option and making a full swing.
- Into the wind. Another great chance to use a three quarter swing is when you are playing a shot into the wind. For many golfers, this advice seems counterintuitive. After all, if you are hitting into the wind, don't you want to swing as hard as possible? No, not at all. In fact, swinging harder will only put more spin onto the ball, which will cause it to climb up into the wind and fall well short of the target. If you want to hit quality shots that actually get to the target while playing into the wind, you will use your three quarter swing. Obviously you will still need to take extra club to cover the distance, but this is a far better option than trying to 'overpower' the wind.
- Target guarded by hazards. Most players will find that their three quarter swings are more accurate than their full swings. If that is the case for you, it might be a wise idea to use your three quarter swing in instances when you are hitting toward a target that is protected by hazards of some kind. For example, if you are hitting an approach shot to a green that is guarded on one side by water, consider using a three quarter shot to play the ball into the center of the green. Keeping penalty strokes off of your scorecard is one of the most important things you can do in the pursuit of low scores. By using your accurate three quarter shot to avoid hazards, you can wait to be more aggressive on holes that don't present as much danger.
Of course, these are just three of countless possible situations where you could choose to put your three quarter golf swing to use. It will be up to you to decide how much confidence you have in this shot, and when it can provide you an advantage over using a full swing. Remember, your full swing should always be your 'default' option, and you should only turn to something like a three quarter swing when it is going to give you a better chance at being successful.
As mentioned above, shot selection is an important skill on the golf course. By picking the right shot, you can position yourself for success, sometimes even if you don't make a great swing. One of the most important elements of shot selection is commitment, and that is certainly true of the three quarter swing. If you aren't committed to this shot as you stand over the ball, it has almost no chance of leading to a good result.
Getting stuck in between your three quarter and full swings is something that you never want to have happen on the course. You should have a very clear picture in your head of the swing you are going to make before you ever walk up and take your stance. If you can't decide if you are going to hit a full shot or a three quarter shot, stand back from the ball until you have made up your mind. There can't be any doubt in that decision, either – you must be 100% dedicated to your choice so you can execute the swing to the best of your ability. Doubt does bad things to golf swings, so trust your choice completely before you put the club in motion.
It is easy to commit to a three quarter swing while you are practicing on the range – but it is not so easy when you are playing a match against your friend or playing in a tournament at your club. All golfers fight doubt to a certain degree, so you will have to develop the ability to push those doubts aside as you execute the technique that you have practiced. Whether it is the three quarter shot or any other style of shot that you are going to use to attack the target, nothing less than total commitment to the shot is going to work.
Diversity is a powerful thing on the golf course. Most players can make a full swing and send the ball somewhere near the target, but only good players are able to adjust their swings based on the situation that they are facing. When you don't love the yardage that you have in to the target, or you are facing a stiff breeze that just won't give you a break, it is a good feeling to know that you have the right shot in your bag for those challenges. By using the tips included in the content above, you should be able to build a three quarter swing that will hold up under the pressure that comes with playing a round of golf. Pick your spots wisely and this shot will become a valuable part of your overall game.