How to Hit a Golf Ball Straight
[5 Takeaways for More Fairways]
Who wants to hit the golf ball straight? Most golfers. Who doesn’t hit the golf ball straight? Most golfers. So how do you hit a golf ball straight? It’s a difficult answer and one that is answered easiest by talking about things to avoid.
Everybody swings the golf club differently, and that’s okay. There is no perfect swing, though if you watch the Golf Channel on the weekends you’ll get a good idea of what one would be. Knowing how to hit a golf ball straight is hardly simple, and in many cases isn’t even what you’re looking for.
In our eyes, hitting a golf ball straight means minimal hooking and slicing. A draw or fade of 5 yards is just as good as a perfectly straight ball. If you know will happen after you hit it, that’s better than knowing how to hit a golf ball perfectly straight. When ball flight is predictable, that’s when you’re at your best.
Mastering how to hit a golf ball straight
Mastering how to hit a golf ball straight is all about getting your swing on the right plane. A swing that looks pretty but that comes down over the top or too shallow spells disaster. Knowing how to hit a golf ball straight is important, but executing is essential.
When golfers dig a little deeper and try to add a few yards, they often lose their form. The easiest correction for hitting the ball straight is to slow down your backswing. When you have good form, but all of a sudden begin hitting left or right, slowing your backswing will put you back on track. Even when trying to increase swing speed on the way down, a slow backswing helps you maintain form.
For golfers whose form is not perfect, slowing it down on the backswing and follow through can right the ship. Faster club speeds lead to longer distances. When you are not making solid contact, this does not matter. Off-center hits are the number one reason for golf shots not going straight. Keep the swing slow and focus on making contact at the center of the clubface. You won’t be swinging as hard, but you will make better contact and maintain your distance—while keeping the ball straight.
Studying your swing
Lessons are expensive, but there are other ways to work on hitting the ball straight. Film your swing from a couple different angles while on the range and study them later. Beside showing what’s happening, you can do this periodically and see where you have made changes, for better or worse.
Before you put all stock into your swing on the range, it’s important to remember that it is the driving range, not the course. On the driving range, conditions are perfect. Flat lie, no obstructions, nothing to worry about. Always remember that you need to analyze what you’re doing on the course to make the ball not go straight. We can’t set up cameras for large sample sizes on the course however, so film from the range will have to do.
Fixing your takeaway
Immediately on takeaway, your bottom hand should lead the way. This movement sets you up for an even takeback and ensuing follow through. Most golfers make the mistake of immediately breaking their wrists and allowing their club to twist early.
A drill for making sure your takeaway is good is placing a ball directly behind your clubface. If the ball goes straight back, the back of your bottom hand is leading. If it does not go straight back, you will not be able to consistently hit the ball straight.
As you continue your takeaway, make every effort possible to keep your left arm straight (for righties, or right arm for lefties). Only at the very top of your swing should there be any bend. By allowing your elbow to sag, it creates an unpredictable follow through, most often associated with slices.
Keep your backswing slow, with the club going back straight and maintain a straight arm with your top hand. A proper backswing is underappreciated and often the cause of golf balls that aren’t hit straight. Even if you sacrifice some speed by slowing this down, it will pay off with accuracy.
Fixing your follow through
The biggest mistake a golfer can make on a follow through is coming up or pulling out. When you come up, you lose launch angle and in extreme cases get a ball that never comes off the ground. These might go straight, but does that even matter when the ball only went 30 yards? Stay down and allow your back shoulder to bring your head up for high, straight shots.
An easy way to slice or hook the ball is allowing your front shoulder to pull away. This often happens when players try to lift the ball. Instead, they are unable to make square contact that would do the lifting for them. Stay down on the ball and keep your head from moving as best you can.
At the very end of your backswing and beginning of your follow through, some golfers make a loop. The goal is to be able to go straight back and straight down. There are outliers such as Matt Wolff and Jim Furyk, but their swings should not be emulated. A “loop” at the top of your swing is almost always a sign of a golfer who cannot hit the ball straight. Work to eliminate this by tracing your swing backwards from impact and pinpoint a high spot. Use this point to match where your backswing goes and you will develop a smoother, more consistent swing.
Understanding the problem
Suppose you always hit the ball (relatively) straight. All of a sudden you being slicing or hooking the ball with the same consistent shape. There is not an immediate need to redesign your swing. Instead we head to the range with some club spray or stickers. Club spray or stickers help you to visually identify where your club is connecting with the ball. These tools are essential when learning how to hit a golf ball straight.
If you are consistently hooking the ball and making contact off the toe, move an inch closer to the ball with each swing to make center contact. The same goes for a slice. If you are slicing and making contact off the heel of the club, moving away an inch will help regain that solid contact and straight ball flight.
For a skilled player, this is an opportunity. A controlled draw or small fade can add another dimension to their game. Most golfers want to know how to hit a golf ball straight. Other golfers see shaping the ball as a necessity. When a curved flight happens naturally it can mean even more accuracy. When the fades and draws become hooks and slices again, go back to the drawing board and get to straight shots again.
Learning how to hit the golf ball straight is more than half the battle. Being able to consistently strike the ball straight will give us the best chance to improve our score. This will mostly be done on the driving range where we can study our swing. If you liked this article please check out our Driving Range Routine article that will help you become a better golfer!
-GOLF MAMBA OUT