Shape The Ball – Hit A Golf Draw, Tour Alignment Stick Drill

This is a great exercise to help to shape the ball and hit a draw golf shot.

A set of two tour sticks is needed to illustrate and practice the shot. Firstly, describing a draw golf shot is to describe a shot, for a right handed golfer, that is a controlled, small curve, that starts to the right of the intended target and curves in the air to the left, back towards the target. This is, of course, reversed for a left handed golfer, where the ball starts out to the left and curves back to the right, towards the target.

This shot can be very useful during a game of golf. It can be used in many ways. The most popular is to move the ball around obstacles, such as trees or other obstructions. The shot can also be used to move the ball into a target, such as a flag that could not be accessed from a normal straight shot, maybe because of a bunker guarding that area of the green. It is a great shot to avoid trouble by making sure that the ball moves in a direction away from a hazard, such as water or out of bounds.

To hit a draw shot, two things must be understood. The first is where the intended target is - where the ball needs to finish - and the second is the golf ball's initial direction, which for the draw is to the right of the intended target.

Use the two tour sticks to visualize and align the body to be able to practice this shot. Put the first stick in the ground, vertically, approximately 10 feet in front of the golf ball, in a direct line between the ball and the intended target. This shows the line for a straight shot to the target. Now, position the second tour stick, laying it on the floor, pointing in a line, to the right of the intended target. This will be the direction that the ball needs to start on and the line that the body will be aligned with at set up.

Now, set up to the tour stick lying on the floor, for a normal golf swing. Following this, point the club face at the vertical stick, 10 feet in front of the ball. This is now pointing at the target but closed, or pointing to the left of where the body aims. It is important that the grip is still held correctly at this point. Do not just turn the hands to turn the club face towards the tour stick. Make sure that the club face is turned, and then the hands are put correctly on the club.

The aim of this drill, when the club is swung, is to strike the golf ball with as normal a swing as possible, to get the ball to take off to the right of the vertical tour stick. If the ball is struck correctly, because the club face is pointing at the intended target at the moment of impact, the ball sets out to the right of the vertical tour stick and curves in the air towards the intended target, in a controlled draw shape.

Using the sticks in this way helps to visualise the drawing right to left shot, and gives some great feedback on how far the ball will curve in the air.

Shape the Ball – Hit a Golf Draw

Shape the Ball – Hit a Golf Draw

The direction that you curve the golf ball has a lot to do with the kind of golf that you are able to play. There is a big difference between playing a draw and a fade, although it is certainly possible to play well while curving the ball either way. As long as you know which way the ball is going to turn while in the air, you should be able to navigate your way around the course successfully. In this article, we will look at the draw half of the equation. If you are able to learn how to produce a draw on a regular basis, you will love the options that suddenly open up to you from a course management perspective.

There are many reasons why a draw is favored over a fade by a great number of golfers. For one thing, a draw typically will fly farther through the air than a fade, so it is a good option if you are looking to add a few yards to your shots. Also, a draw tends to work its way through the wind better than a fade will, mostly due to the lower backspin rate imparted on a draw ball flight. If you are able to hit from the inside with a club face that is square to the target line, you should be able to produce a powerful draw that cuts through the wind and heads precisely toward your target.

Of course, just because you learn how to hit a draw doesn't mean you have to use one on every shot that you hit. The best golfers in the world are able to carve the ball both directions based on the shot that they are facing, and you should strive to have the same kind of flexibility in your game. You will likely always have one shot that you prefer over the others, but building as much versatility as possible will make you a better player. Even if you think you would like to stick with a fade as your main ball flight, it is still worth your time and effort to work on learning a draw. Not only will you benefit from having the option to hit a draw from time to time, you will also learn about your swing in the process.

Many amateur golfers view hitting a draw as some kind of magic because they struggle so badly with the slice - which is basically the exact opposite of a draw. However, there really is no magic involved in producing a draw at all. It comes down to physics and solid technique in terms of getting the ball to move from right to left in the air. As long as you hit from the inside with the club face in the right position, the ball will turn left - it is just that simple. Take the time to learn the right fundamentals to hit a draw and you will love the newfound flexibility that is present in your game.

All of the content below is based on a right handed golfer. If you happen to play left handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

Basics of a Draw

Basics of a Draw

Having a clear picture in your mind of what you are trying to do with the golf club at impact is one of the first steps toward being able to control your ball flight. Most golfers just swing through the ball while simply hoping to hit the shot straight, but you can do much better than hope. It is important to have a clear plan for how you are going to use the club to contact the ball, as it is the moment of impact that is ultimately going to determine the outcome of the shot.

With that in mind, there are three keys points that you should understand when it comes to producing a draw. If all of the three elements listed below are present in your swing, the ball should consistently curve from right to left in the air.

  • Attack from the inside. The first element that you need to have in place is an inside-out angle of attack. That means that the club head should be getting farther away from you as it moves through impact, which will give you the chance to impart that crucial right to left spin. Without this first ingredient, it won't matter what else you do in the swing - a draw will not be the outcome. Most amateur golfers move the club from outside-in through impact, which is why the slice is such a common problem. If you are familiar with the struggle that comes along with the slice, it may take some time to switch your path to be able to attack from the inside, but it will be worth the effort in the end.
  • Club face closed to the path. Golf is a game that is all about relative positions. That means that you can really only compare one element of your swing to another element. In this case, that means comparing the position of your club face to the path that you are swinging along. Through impact, the club face needs to be closed relative to your swing path if you are going to hit a draw. In other words, the club face needs to be pointing to the left of the swing path - the farther left the club face is pointing, the bigger the curve will be. If you are currently playing a fade or a slice, you can be sure that your club face is open to your path. Flip that equation around and you will start to see the ball turn left in the air.
  • Keep everything moving. From a technical standpoint, the two points above are all you need in order to produce a draw. As long as you get the club face closed in comparison to the swing path, you will turn the ball left. However, if you want to have control over that ball flight shot after shot, you will also need to make sure you keep everything moving through the hitting area. If your swing loses speed at the bottom, that nice controlled draw can quickly turn into a nasty hook. There is nothing good about a hook, and you will likely spend at least a stroke or two anytime you flip the ball to the left. To avoid that outcome, continue your body rotation aggressively through impact until you get all the way into a balanced finish. By combining the two points above (path and club face) with an aggressive turn, you should be able to produce a draw that safely resists turning into a hook.

In the end, producing a draw really isn't a complicated proposition. Is it easy to do? No - not really. Most players are naturally inclined to swing the club from outside-in, so making the adjustment to get into a position to produce a draw can be a challenging task. With that said, proper practice habits and plenty of effort can lead to a beautiful right to left ball flight and some of the best rounds of your life.

Getting into Position

Getting into Position

So, now that you know what you need to do, how do you go about getting it done? That is where things get tricky. If you don't already hit a draw, your body is currently out of position to hit this shot. Getting from where you are now to where you need to be might not be the easiest task in the world, but it is possible. In fact, you might be surprised at how just a couple of minor tweaks can lead to changing your ball flight from a fade to a draw. It will take time to really get comfortable with this shot, but you could start to at least move the ball from right to left as soon as your very next practice session.

There are two major adjustments that you need to make right off the bat if you want to hit a draw. Work on these two points first, and you can then move on to some smaller elements later in order to fine tune the results.

  • Make a longer backswing. Short backswings result in fades, and long swings result in draws. Obviously it isn't quite that simple, but for an amateur golfer, that is a good way to think about it. Most players who hit a fade or a slice never get back far enough to get on the right plane, which leads them to swing across the ball and hit that left to right flight. Therefore, getting back farther into your backswing is a key to moving your ball flight toward the draw pattern. It is easy to rush your golf swing in an effort to hit the ball as quickly as possible, but that rushed feeling will shorten things up and make it nearly impossible to hit from inside the ball. If you are going to create a draw over and over again, you are going to need to spend plenty of time in the backswing and only start forward when you are sure you have gotten all the way behind the ball.
  • Start with the hips. After you learn how to take more time in your backswing, the other half of the equation is to start your downswing with your hips rather than your hands. Of all of the mistakes that the average golfer makes in their swing, this is easily the most common. Most golfers lead the downswing by starting their hands and arms down toward the ball while the lower body remains stationary. This is a critical mistake, and it will make it nearly impossible to produce a draw. As the club gets to the top of your swing, the first thing you need to do is rotate your hips toward the target to initiate the action that will eventually lead to the club contacting the ball. It is important to get your lower body started first because that action will allow the club to 'drop' into the slot from which it can attack on an inside path. If you start with your hands first, you will push the club up over the correct path and a slice is almost guaranteed to be the outcome.

The combination of a longer backswing and a downswing that is initiated with hip rotation should be enough to allow you to start attacking the golf ball from the inside. Put these two moves to the test on the driving range and see what happens to your ball flight. Hopefully, if you are able to hit on these points, the ball will start curving to the left. There will still be plenty of work to do in terms of refining your technique and stabilizing the ball flight, but you will be headed in the right direction. Take as much practice time as you need to get these two points under control before moving on to the finishing touches.

The Subtle Adjustments

The Subtle Adjustments

Think of the two points above as the foundation of your 'house' that will eventually become a controlled draw. You can't build a house without a foundation, so you have now set the groundwork for the right to left shot that you wish to hit. Now, you need to put all of the finishing touches on the house in order to complete the project. Each of these points will seem like a relatively small detail, but they add up to make the difference between a pretty draw and an ugly hook.

  • Square stance. It will be helpful if you can get yourself into a perfectly square stance prior to making each swing. Many golfers instantly think they need to go into a closed stance when trying to play a draw, but that Isn't necessarily the case. In fact, if you try to play your draw from a closed stance, you will be increasing the likelihood of hitting a hook. Do your best to remain square to the target and produce your draw through the shape of your swing rather than the positioning of your feet.
  • Hands ahead of ball at address. You need to have your hands slightly past the ball at impact to hit a draw, so make that job a little easier by starting out with your hands in that position. As you set up for a swing, make sure your hands are just slightly closer to the target than the ball. You don't want to have a dramatic forward press at setup, but just enough to make it easier to return to that spot at impact in order to promote the right to left shot.
  • Stand slightly farther away from the ball. This is another point that needs to be done subtly in order to have the desired effect. Work on standing just slightly farther away from the ball to give yourself more room to swing from the inside. The important word in the previous sentence is 'slightly'. Trying to stand dramatically farther away from the ball is a bad idea, and will almost certainly result in poor shots. Move away by just an inch or two at first, and then experiment with your positioning in relation to the ball until you find a comfortable point that leads to a nice draw. If the need should arise during a round of golf to change back to a fade, simply move back in closer to the ball to alter the path of your swing appropriately.
  • Strong left hand grip. It is difficult to regularly hit a draw while using a weak grip, so turn your left hand into a strong position on the club prior to starting your swing. A strong grip is one where you can see at least three of the knuckles on the back of your left hand when looking down from address. Check on this point during your practice sessions and work on turning your hand to the right as necessary in order to get it into a strong position. With a relatively strong grip in place, the club head will be free to release aggressively through the ball, and you will have an easier time turning it from right to left.

Each of the four points on this list needs to be addressed on the practice range at some point. Once you are able to at least move the ball right to left in some fashion, start working on these tips in order to gain more control over your shots. It doesn't do you any good to hit a draw if you don't know exactly where it is going to go. Invest time in the finer points of your draw swing and you will be left with a much more useful shot.

Playing a Draw

Playing a Draw

Your work is never done in the game of golf. Even after you put in all of the effort to learn how to actually produce a draw with your swing, you then still need to learn how to use that ball flight on the course. Playing with a draw is significantly different the playing with a fade, so you will have to change the way you look at the game in order to be successful on the scorecard.

The first thing to adjust to is your new distance. Most likely, you will hit the ball longer with your draw flight than you will with a fade, so there might be a period of adjustment required to dial in your distances correctly. For example, if you are used to hitting a seven iron 150 yards with a fade, that same club might not send the ball 155 yards in the air. That five yards may not seem like a big difference, but it could mean facing a long two putt instead of a short birdie attempt. The story will likely be the same throughout your set, so spend your first couple rounds back on the course paying close attention to your distances - you might even wish to write them down for reference until you gain more experience with this new shot shape.

Another adjustment that you will need to make is picking your targets in relation to the hazards on the course. If you have been a player who relied on a fade, you are used to looking at the right side of the course as the danger area. Hazards on the right side of the fairways and greens probably grabbed your attention, while hazards on the left went mostly unnoticed. Now, of course, that is going to be reversed. You now need to be concerned about the left side, as a draw that turns a little bit too much could lead to trouble. Before each shot, picture the ball flight you are hoping to play and account for any dangerous spots that are lurking near your target.

The final adjustment that needs to be made with reference to your draw is the flatter overall trajectory of the ball in the air. A fade will almost always fly higher and come down softer than a draw, so switching from one to the other can be confusing at first. Expect a flatter ball and a bigger first bounce when playing a draw, especially with your mid and long irons. While this flatter shot is great for dealing with adverse weather conditions, it can make it harder to access certain hole locations. As time passes, you will learn more and more about your draw and how you can manipulate it to get the ball close to the hole.

You don't have to play a draw to play good golf. Many of the best players in the history of the game, including Jack Nicklaus, have favored a fade over a draw. However, there are some benefits to learning how to turn the ball right to left, especially for the 'average golfer' who could benefit from gaining a few extra yards. Take the information provided above and work on your draw technique during your next trip to the driving range - it can be a long process to successfully change your ball flight, but the benefits very well may be worth the effort required.