Stack-and-Tilt-Backswing A

A pulled problem shot that flies left of target and stays there, with little or no curve in either direction, can be a sign of several different swing maladies.

If you have a habit of pulling drives or other pulled full shots, here are a few possible pulled shot causes and tip fix cures to help correct the pull golf shot problem:

  • Swing plane is too upright (vertical): An upright plane creates an outside-to-inside or over-the-top downswing. If you're pulling drives, teeing the ball a little higher will naturally flatten your swing plane. With fairway wood, hybrid or iron shots, stand slightly farther from the ball to achieve the same effect.
  • Reverse pivot:This is when the golfer's weight shifts to the left on the backswing, then right on the downswing – the opposite of a proper correct transfer. How to stop a reverse pivot, practice by lifting your left leg on the backswing, then returning the left foot to the ground on the downswing while lifting the right leg. Finish balanced on your left foot only.
  • Slashing move from the top: Some golfers start the downswing with a quick move of the hands toward the ball, rather than leading with the lower body. On the range, practice stopping your backswing for a full 1-2 seconds at the top, then proceed to hit the ball. This will engage your hips and keep the hands from taking over.

The pull is not the most common mistake in the world of amateur golf.

Tips to Cure Your Pulled Golf Shots

Most likely, that title would go to the slice. Countless players deal with the slice, and there have been many books written about how to cure that ailment. While the pull might pale in comparison to the issue of the slice, it is still a meaningful problem for many golfers. And, you might be surprised to learn, the pull actually has a lot in common with the slice. So, by working to eliminate the pulled golf shot from your game, you will also be taking yourself farther away from slicing habits.

In this article, we are going to help you take the pulled shot out of your game. When we say 'out of your game', we mean that we are going to help you reduce it to the greatest degree possible. You can never really say that something has been eliminated from your game because there is always the chance that it will still pop up from time to time. Golf is a hard game, and mistakes are inevitable. Even the best players in the world hit a pull from time to time. It's not a big deal if you just hit one or two pulls on occasion – the important thing is that you eliminate this as a recurring pattern in your game.

The warning that comes along with the tips below is the same as in any other swing instruction article – changes to your swing can take time. If you are expecting to read this article and see immediate results, you are likely in for a big disappointment. Again, golf is hard. If it were easy to make substantial changes to your swing technique, everyone would do it and there would be a lot more people with scratch handicaps. We think the tips we have provided in this article have the potential to help you improve your game, but that is only going to happen if you put in the effort. Be patient, watch for subtle signs of improvement, and look forward to gradually improving your game over time.

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.

Understanding Pulled Shots

Understanding Pulled Shots

One of the big problems plaguing many amateur golfers is that they don't understand why the ball does what it does when it leaves their club. If you listen to golfers talk about their bad shots, you will quickly realize that most of them have a very limited understanding of the cause and effect relationships between the swing and the trajectory of the ball. So, considering most players don't know why they are hitting bad shots, it shouldn't be a surprise that those same players can't manage to fix their problems.

Before you can even think about fixing your pulled shot pattern, you need to understand why you are pulling the ball to the left in the first place. What is happening in your swing that causes the ball to miss left? Getting to the bottom of that question is essential before you can take steps toward a correction.

To start with, let's clearly define what it means to hit a pulled golf shot. A pull is a shot which starts to the left of your intended target and then flies on a relatively straight trajectory until it lands. We aren't talking about a shot that curves dramatically from right to left – that would be a hook. A pull simply starts to the left and never comes back. Often, impact will feel quite solid when you hit a pull, and you will frequently get plenty of distance out of this kind of shot, perhaps even more than expected. Only when you are sure you're dealing with a pull and not some other kind of mistake should you proceed with trying to make the changes outlined later in this article.

So, we now know what we are talking about when we reference a 'pulled' golf shot. But why do these shots occur? Check out the list below for an improved understanding of the situation.

  • It's a path problem. Many golfers think that it is the club face which is mostly responsible for determining the direction of their shots. That is not necessarily the case. When you hit a pull, it is really the path of your swing that is to blame. If the ball starts to the left and stays there, you have swung across the ball from outside to inside the target line. That's the only way to hit a pull. If you swing directly down the target line, or if you swing from inside-out, you simply aren't going to pull the shot. At this point, we know what you are thinking – isn't an outside-in swing associated with a slice? Yes, it is. This is where the club face comes into the picture. A slice is the result when you combine an outside-in swing path with an open club face. If you move that face into a square position but keep the outside-in path, you are left with a pull. The path of the swing will result in the ball starting to the left of the target, and the face being square to your swing path means that the ball will fly mostly straight. Quite simply, you need to fix your swing path if you are going to get rid of the pull.
  • A number of potential sources. While we can firmly track the roots of a pulled golf shot to a swing path that comes across the target line at impact, the cause of this mistake is less clear. That is because there are a number of ways you can wind up in this predicament. One of the main challenges you are going to face during this process is untangling your swing to figure out why the pull is occurring in the first place. It may be that you are taking the club 'over the top' during your transition – a common error among those who slice, as well. Or, your swing could be lacking in terms of body rotation in the downswing, another frequently-seen issue in the amateur game. We can't tell you what exactly is going on here, because we've never seen you swing the club. One way or another, you'll need to get to the bottom of the issue before you can move forward successfully.
  • It can come and go. With something like the slice, you are likely to see the same ball flight time after time. If the mechanics of your swing produce a slice, there is going to be very little variation from swing to swing. Most of your shots will be slices, as frustrating as that is to acknowledge. With the pull, it's a bit different. Sure, you might find yourself in a pattern where you hit a large number of pulled shots, but there will usually be some good shots sprinkled in there, as well. Those good shots give you hope, but they are also frustrating, as you will feel like you should be able to replicate those positive results more frequently. Use the good shots as motivation and proof that you aren't far away from a reliable swing.

The first step toward solving any swing problem in golf is gaining a clear understanding of that problem. During an upcoming visit to the driving range, think about how your swing is working and try to identify the root cause of your pulled shots. It may help to ask a friend to watch you make some swings, especially if that friend is an experienced player. Or, you may want to have someone record a video of your swing, so you can watch it back and dissect your technique. However you decide to do it, finding the underlying cause of your pull is a required step if you are going to move beyond this issue.

Three Possible Changes

Three Possible Changes

As mentioned above, we can't know exactly why you are pulling the ball without first seeing your swing. However, we can still offer you some basic tips to help you move away from a pull pattern. The list below includes three potential changes you may need to make in order to straighten out your ball flight pattern. Of course, before you make any changes, think specifically about your swing and your needs to make sure the change makes sense.

  • Make a wider backswing. The root of the pull is often an over-the-top move between the backswing and the downswing. That means the player keeps the club close in to his or her body on the backswing, only to push it up and away during the transition. The club winds up too high and too far away from the body to make a proper downswing. In the end, the club comes across the target line and the shot is pulled to the left. By making a wider backswing, you may be able to avoid this fate. Keep the club comfortably away from your body on the way back and give yourself plenty of space to drop it to the insider during the transition. Changing the entire shape of your swing in this way is not going to be easy, but it is possible. For many players, the key can be found in the hands and wrists. Golfers who make a narrow backswing tend to use too much hand and wrist action during the takeaway, which forces the club in close to the body. By quieting your hands, the club should stay wider and you should have more room to work with at the top.
  • Use your legs more effectively. During the downswing, you should be turning through the shot aggressively with your lower body. When the lower body works correctly, it serves a couple of functions. First, it helps you to create speed, meaning you should hit the ball farther than if you made an arms-only swing. Also, using your legs properly will help you drop the club into the right position immediately from the top of the swing. Then, as the downswing develops, continuing to turn your lower body will help the club stay on the right track. If you were to give up on your turn prematurely, the club would wind up moving across the ball, and you may be left with a pull. When you hit a pull, there is a good chance at least part of the blame can be put on the failure of your lower body to get all the way through the shot. Learn how to use your legs correctly during the downswing and you should take a step toward eliminating your pull.
  • Focus on a full finish. To be honest, this last point on our list has a lot in common with the previous point. Often, players who don't use their legs correctly in the downswing come up short of a full finish, and vice versa. However, we wanted to highlight this point separately, as it is a key piece of this conversation. If you are having trouble with persistent pulls, make sure you are getting all the way through your swing and into a full finish. A good finish position should have your chest facing the target and a majority of your weight on your left side. If you aren't hitting those points, you are almost certainly giving up on the swing before it has been completed. As a result, the club may wind up coming across the target line at impact, and the ball may be pulled to the left. During practice, emphasize the importance of making it all the way to a full finish. You might be surprised to find how much this point can help your ball striking as a whole, including your ability to avoid pulled shots.

There will be some experimentation required before you can determine which of the three changes above – if any – will help you reduce the number of pulls in your game. During an upcoming trip to the driving range, work on the changes you think will be most likely to help you succeed and see how they play out. You may not stumble on the winning formula right away, but it shouldn't take too long before you see progress.

Taking Your Time

Taking Your Time

So far, we have talked mostly about the mechanics of your swing as they relate to pulling the golf ball to the left of the target. You should understand that you need to stay away from swinging across the line, and you may be able to do that by making some of the changes we've suggested. But that isn't the whole story. In addition to the fundamentals of your swing, you may also need to address a problem with your tempo. Specifically, if you swing too quickly from start to finish, you may be prone to a pull even if you have solid mechanics.

The problem here is a matter of timing. In a properly-functioning golf swing, the lower body has a chance to get through the ball before the club arrives at the hitting area. Unfortunately, if you rush through your swing, the club may arrive at the ball before you have a chance to turn your lower body toward the target. In this case, a simple timing issue could be the root cause of your pull problem.

To get back on track, you'll need to find a way to slow down. Of course, that is easier said than done in many cases. Remember, there only needs to be one fast part of the golf swing – the part where the club is moving through the ball. Up until that point, you should feel free to take your time. Make a full turn away from the ball, take enough time to transition into the downswing properly, and then turn on the power to send the ball toward the target.

It is one thing to make this fix on the driving range, but it is quite another to make it work for you on the course. Many golfers get into a rush on the course, whether it is because they are feeling nervous or just excited. Part of improving as a golfer is learning how to execute your swing in a wide variety of circumstances. If you've noticed that you tend to hit pulls on the course while you rarely hit any on the range, there is a good chance you are rushing. One of the best ways to correct this problem is simply to be aware of it.

Once you know that rushing is a problem in your game, you can pay attention to it and actively work to avoid it. That may mean taking a deep breath before walking up to the ball for a swing, or it may mean taking one extra club so you don't feel like you have to swing so hard. Find a way around this issue and you'll be a better golfer for the effort.

Getting By for Now

Getting By for Now

Ideally, you would be able to fix your problem with pulled golf shots in a single range session, and you'd be off and running. Of course, if you have any experience at all in this game, you know better. Golf is extremely difficult and fixing your swing problems takes time and plenty of effort. In the meantime, you are probably going to keep playing golf, meaning you will have to find a way around the course while dealing with a pull. The tips below are designed to help you do just that.

  • Give yourself margin on the left. You might not have needed us to explain this one to you. When playing any shot where a miss left would put your ball in trouble, give yourself some margin for error by aiming slightly out to the right. Of course, you have to also consider the possibility that you won't wind up pulling the shot, so don't aim in a direction where a straight shot will be a problem. Each situation is unique but do your best to select a target that will properly reward a good shot while letting you get away with a bit of a pull.
  • Be smart with club selection. Let's picture a hole with water all the way down the left side of the fairway, from tee to green. If you know that your tendency to pull the ball is worst when you use a driver, consider clubbing down to a three wood or even a hybrid. You won't get the same kind of distance off the tee, but you should reduce the odds that you will hit the ball in the water. Proper decision making in golf comes down to knowing your strengths and weaknesses, and then responding accordingly.
  • Give yourself a break. It might be hard to do, but let go of your frustration and anger when you do hit a badly pulled shot from time to time. Poor shots happen in golf, and they happen to players of all skill levels. Just because you hit one pull does not mean you are destined to pull every shot for the remainder of the round. Forgive yourself for the error, try to figure out what caused you to go wrong, and get back on track as soon as possible.

It's never fun to deal with a persistent mistake in your golf game. When you continue to hit pulled shots on a regular basis, it can feel like there is no end in sight to the frustrating pattern. However, you can always work toward improvement in golf, so don't give up on yourself. We hope the ideas in this article will help you take some big steps closer to avoiding pulled shots in the future. With this swing issue ironed out, you can move on to tackle other problems which may be ailing you on the course. Good luck!