There are so many things that can go wrong with the golf swing, and it can be tough for the average amateur to figure out the problem. Most amateur golfers tend to hit the ball left to right. Very few would go the other way, right to left. The problem starts when the left to right shot either stays left or even starts going further left. It is important to learn how to stop a pulled golf shot.
When the above happens, it means you are missing the target, or you could even be missing the fairway, normally with a degree of extra distance. The net result is some big numbers on your scorecard.
We are all human, and even professionals can miss to the left or hit a bad shot into the trees or rough. What we don’t want to see is our shots consistently going off target, causing frustration and spoiling the enjoyment of this fabulous game.
This then is a question that so many of us ask, “why are my shots going left so often?” It seems as if everything is right with the shot, it felt good the distance was there, the ball traveled straight, only in the wrong direction.
There is no need to panic as the problem can be easily corrected, and in the following, we will try to examine the causes and corrections to illuminate this shot and straighten you out.
How to Stop a Pulled Golf Shot
What Is a Pulled Golf Shot?
The term “pulled golf shot”, is used to describe a shot that starts left of the target and continues in a straight line, without any lateral spin, missing the target to the left. As opposed to a draw or a hook, both of which involve a fair amount of lateral spine, the pulled shot is hit straight, it doesn’t curve, and is considered an error because it misses the target.
There are two other types of pulled shots:
- The pull fade/slice, where the ball starts left and then curves back to the right. This is a very common swing fault with beginners, and the problem with this shot is a huge loss in distance.
- The pull draw/hook will see your ball start left and then draw further left or dramatically left as in a hook. This shot will produce more distance and roll out but could also end up deep in trouble.
What Causes a Pulled Golf Shot?
There could be any number of causes and we will look at each one in detail below:
The position of the clubface mostly determines the direction of the ball flight. If the angle of the clubface is square to the swing path of the club, the ball flight will be straight with no spin.
Therefore, if the clubface was closed and aimed left of the target, the ball flight would be left. It also probably means that the swing path was outside-to-in ensuring the clubface is square to the swing path at impact, the result is a pull shot.
The first thing we must always check is our alignment, often we think we are aligned to the target, but if we check the position of the feet. they are not straight.
Using alignment sticks or just laying another club along the line of your setup will indicate if there is a problem.
It may be that you are not pulling the ball at all but merely aiming left. In this case, your problem is easily solved by merely ensuring that your alignment and aim are correct to the target.
If you are consistently hitting the ball left, check your aim.
Then check your divot, the divot never lies. If alignment and aim are correct work back from the message the divot gives you to check for other possible problems.
The grip could be another factor affecting the pull shot. If your grip is too strong, the tendency is for an active release of the golf club, which turns the clubface to a closed position at impact. It may be that the strong grip is a hangover from Baseball, but we need to remember that we are holding a golf club, not a bat.
Ease up on the grip to a neutral or even a weak strength and see if you notice a difference in the flight of your ball. If you are used to seeing three knuckles on your left hand, try turning that hand in so that you see only two knuckles. This can also help to soften your grip and prevent the overactive release.
Incorrect ball position can have a disastrous effect on the ball flight. If you tend to pull to the left consistently, your ball most probably is too far forward in your stance. With the ball too far forward it makes the release of the club difficult and causes the clubface to close.
The correct ball position for the driver is off your left ear, fairway woods at the logo on your shirt, and dial back the irons ending with the wedge in line with your shirt buttons.
Over The Top Swing Action
The over the top swing motion is another big reason for pulling the ball left. By starting the downswing with your upper body or bringing the club from an out-to-in swing plane you will produce this over the top result. This swing action will cause you to wipe across the ball and produce a pull shot.
To correct this problem, you need to get your swing plane from in-to-out, or in-to-in, to get the clubface square to the target as opposed to closed. Remember the position of the clubface will determine the direction of flight of the golf ball.
A common mistake is taking the club too far outside on the backswing and getting the club off plane. Try taking the club back straight and low initially as opposed to up, in other words, bring the club back square. By bringing the club up too soon, you tend to go out and onto the wrong swing plane.
Once you have the backswing and the swing plane correct you need to see what your upper body is doing. If you are starting the downswing with your arms or shoulders, a pull shot will be the likely result. The downswing sequence should be hips, shoulders, arms, hands.
Power comes from the ground up, not from a strong grip. You uncoil the body by starting with the hips and the legs resulting in a smooth and efficient swing setting the ball on the right path to the target.
The Locked Left Knee
Locking the left knee at impact may or may not be a problem, remember Tiger locks that left knee when he plays the stinger.
Where it can cause a problem is when the locked left knee causes a change in the angle of your hips closing them to the left side.
This in turn could result in an out-to-in action and close the clubface and send the ball off to the left.
If you find that you are hitting full shots with a locked leading knee, try relaxing and keeping a degree of flex in your knees. As your knees are flexed at address, try keeping the same flex through the shot up to impact.
Standing Too Low
You might be crowding the ball by bending too low at address because of excessive knee flex or spine tilt. This may be a result of a bad habit, or it could be that your clubs are not suited to your body and swing style.
If the angle between your club shaft and the ground is too high, the club will not rest flat but be toe up. You need to stand tall with a comfortable stance at address and have someone check your posture. You also may find great benefit in having your clubs custom fitted.
Lastly, this is a shot that has little to do with your swing, but more to do with the topography of the course. Many golf courses are built on undulating ground, and you are going to find the ball either above or below the level of your feet.
If you play the ball above your feet, you will find it tends to shoot left. As the swing path is flatter, the release of the hands tends to be more aggressive, this closes the clubface and sends your ball off to the left.
To overcome this problem, aim to the right of the target and open the clubface slightly.
We have looked at many factors that could be the cause of you pulling your golf shots and the possible remedies for correcting this error. What you don’t want to do is to try to correct these errors on the golf course. Go to the range and try to determine which error has crept into your game and practice the corrections there.
If you find that you are uncomfortable tampering too much with your swing, and if your pull shots don’t result in dramatic draws or hooks, then simply aim right of the target. This way your pull shot will be more on target, and your stress factor will be cured.