Backswing RoundUp

How to Shape a Shot in Golf

How to Shape a Shot in Golf
For an amateur golfer to 'shape a shot' is it better to change your set up or your swing? Does it differ between longer clubs versus wedges? See what our golf professionals have to say.

16 Professionals Contributed

I do try to steer amateurs into a general direction, but we always go with what's most comfortable to them

Change setup or swing to shape shots? I think the EXTREMELY short answer is that either way is a viable way to accurately shape shots: Whatever it takes to help you get the proper difference between club face and club path, and do it repeatedly! I do try to steer amateurs into a general direction, but we always go with what’s most comfortable to them. Watch my YouTube video to see specifics!

"I do try to steer amateurs into a general direction, but we always go with what's most comfortable to them" Click to Tweet

Set Up Adjustments to Shape Your Shots

Most amateurs have a hard enough time making the same swing twice. So why ask yourself to change your swing to shape a shot?

With driver, you can shape your shot by adjusting your tee height. Check out this video about how a lower tee height can create a fade and a higher tee height can create a draw.

With shots you are hitting from off the ground, you can make simple ball position adjustments to create a shot shape. With the ball further back than normal, there’s a high likelihood you’ll hit a fade. While ball positions that are further forward in your stance can assist with hitting draws.

John Hughes Golf

"Set Up Adjustments to Shape Your Shots" @johnhughesgolf Click to Tweet

Open face, closed face

Change your set up for each shot. If you are trying to fade a ball (for a right handed golfer) aim left and make sure that the club face stays open at impact. This will allow the ball to cut. And if you are trying to draw the ball then aim right and make sure the club face is closed at impact.

I suggest that you hit big cuts and big draws to get the feeling down then try to limit the amount of curve once you have the proper flight in control.

You can definitely curve the longer clubs easier than the wedges as the less loft on the club will allow you to curve the ball more.

Remember big curves to start and as you get more control of the club face you can calm the curve down.

I hope this helps! Good golfing everyone!!

GlenArbor Golf Club

"Open face, closed face" @roblabritzgolf Click to Tweet

Face to Path Relationship

Students should learn to hit short game shots with the face held open through impact or the face closing down through impact (hinging action). This will give the student a foundation for trajectory and side spin. This foundation is then applied to full iron swings to help the player understand how the face at impact produces the desire ball flight.

The feeling of right palm to the sky should keep the toe from closing too much during impact producing a nice high pitch that should be straight or fall slightly to the right (fade). This is due to the more open face at impact.

When the right palm feels like it is more downward through impact the flight of the ball should be lower and if there is side spin it would be leftward spin as the toe may close through impact (opposite of above). This produces draws or hooks due to the face closing more through impact.

In a normal strike a stock push draw will have the face 50% closed to the path—path is 4 degrees right ward and face is 2 degrees right ward—produces a shot that starts right of target and draws to the target line.

So when a player wants to manipulate the side spin to produce various ball flights they must change that face to path relationship to produce the desired outcome. They are swinging the club back the same every time just modifying the feeling through impact to produce more leftward or rightward spin.

Working this with your wedge first will give a more exaggerated feeling in the hands as higher lofted clubs put more backspin on the ball and that helps override the side spin. Subtle fades and draws with your pitch shots will lead to mastering the face to path relationship.

When you put a 5 iron in your hands and try this expect a great deal more side spin!

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Shape your Shot

In order to shape a golf shot, simply adjust the golf club face angle at address. To hit a fade, set the club face open at address and to hit a draw, simply close the club face at address. Swing the same way you swing to produce a straight shot, just adjust the club face angle at the start. And remember, keep it simple! Golf is really quite easy, until we make it complicated. Have fun and visit your local PGA Professional for more game improvement advice.

The Country Club of Virginia

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Shape your stance to shape your shot

The tried and true method of angling your body to shape your shot is easier for most higher handicappers. For right-handed players to hit a draw, a ball that curves to the left. The player should aim your body slightly to the right of the target, aim the clubface directly at the target and play the ball slightly back in your stance, the clubface should look slightly closed to the player. Keeping the club closed on the downswing- the club should be moving parallel to the line of your feet or inside to outside or to the right of the target. This should start the ball to the right and make it curve to the left. For a right-handed player to fade the ball do just the opposite of the draw. Aim your feet and body left of the target, aim the clubface at the target and play the ball slightly more forward in your stance. As you swing down, swing the club on your foot line or toward the left. This should start the ball left of your target and curve to the right.

More advance players, may choose to manipulate the clubface with their hands producing the same results. Longer clubs are easier to fade and shorter clubs are easier to draw, this has to do with the amount of loft on the clubs.

Big Sticks Golf

"Shape your stance to shape your shot" @bigsticksgolf Click to Tweet

Set up for the shape you want.

It’s easier for the amateur to change their set up to shape a shot. This will influence the swing, for example by opening up to hit a fade this is going to make you swing a little more upright and swing across the ball for the fade you want. At address firm up your last three fingers of your lead hand and make sure to aim a little left of your target but right of your swing path. Do the reverse for a draw. Longer clubs, 4 irons and longer are easier to fade, mid irons 7, 6 and are 5 easier to draw, and for the average player short irons and wedges just hit them straight.

Links at Mariners Point

"Set up for the shape you want." Click to Tweet

Learning how to shape shots will tell you which shot is best for you

It’s also a great way to see your strength side, the shape that is consistent and feels easy to repeat. Learning how to shape the ball gives you a library of shots so that if swing A goes away Swing B can be brought in, have C D And E swings if necessary!

Sam Snead when asked how do you draw the ball said “aim right” for a fade aim left.

It is better to change the alignment to make yourself do what’s needed, there is no rerouting or Manipulation of the swing. Toe the club in and aim right open the face and aim left, always swing along your foot line. LEDs clubface manipulation, keep it simple.

Try to find which is the easiest to do by trial and error, practice to discover!

"Learning how to shape shots will tell you which shot is best for you" Click to Tweet

If an amateur wants to shape their shot drastically I have them change their set up

I believe and teach that if an amateur wants to shape their shot drastically I have them change their set up. For example for a hook- set your feet closed to where you want the ball to start and then hood the face closed at where you want the ball to end up. Then swing along your feet line. This technique is used for drastic shot shaping. For smaller more precision shot shaping I like to teach amateurs how to shot shape the correct way with changing their swing. This is a great way for players to improve their directional control as well.

"If an amateur wants to shape their shot drastically I have them change their set up" Click to Tweet

Play YOUR OWN Game

Unless you are a very low single digit handicap (3-below) amateurs have ZERO business shaping a shot! Everyone has a shot they normally hit–straight, fade, slice, draw, etc. HIT YOUR SHOT. If you’re a right handed drawer and there’s a back right hole location–instead of trying to be Mr. Hero and hit a cut–go ahead and hit YOUR shot into the middle of the green and try to make a long putt. About 95% of the time that attempted cut will be worse off than the draw 20-25′ left of the hole. You’ll miss the green right, short siding yourself and have no chance to get it up and down.

The golf ball doesn’t spin as much as it used to–therefore its harder to maneuver than the old wound balls and amateurs swings are not good enough to be able to hit a “shot” on command.

Play your game, hit your shot and be satisfied with a putt from the middle of the green.

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Shot Shaping

I’m sure there will be multiple ways this will be described, but I will tell you how I was taught. To keep this simple we will describe a right handed golfer.

To intentionally play a fade, a left to right shot, set up with your stance aiming slightly to the left of your target and aim your clubface at your target. Making the big assumption that the golfer can bring the clubface back to it’s address position, swing the club down your stance line which should impart some left to right spin on the ball.

To intentionally draw the ball, a right to left shot, set up with your stance aiming slightly to the right of your target and aim your clubface at your target. Swing the club down your stance line which should impart some right to left spin on the ball, if the clubface comes back to the square/proper position.

Another way to say the same thing is to visualize a clock. The right handed golfer would be at 9:00 o’clock.

To fade the ball set the clubface at 6:00 o’clock and then have your stance set up from 5:00 o’clock to 11:00 o’clock. Swing the club down your stance line which should be from 5:00 to 11:00. Return the face back to 6:00 at impact and this should impart left to right fade spin.

To draw the ball set the clubface at 6:00 o’clock and then have your stance set up from 7:00 o’clock to 1:00 o’clock. Swing the club down your stance line which should be from 7:00 to 1:00. Return the face back to 6:00 at impact and this should impart right to left draw spin.

This should apply to all clubs.

Flagler Golf Academy

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DO NOT even try to shape shots!

DO NOT even try to shape shots! Hit your shot…if it’s a fade fade it.. if it’s a draw draw it! You will shoot better scores I promise.

PGA Golf Professional

"DO NOT even try to shape shots!" Click to Tweet

Simple and with a Purpose

Shot shaping should always be an exercise practiced with simplicity by amateurs. I prefer to alter the setup including face angle position at address to create the spin required. Even professionals and experts (along with ams) should never be left in a bad position on course if the curve desired does not happen. Shape all shots with a purpose and a high level of certainty of the desired result and low risk for error. I warn against players shaping shots just because they THINK that is what the pros do.

Arsenal Island Golf Course

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Shaping Shots

Beginners and higher handicap golfers are almost always better to adjust their set-up if they need to curve the ball in a different shape than their normal ball flight. The oversimplified method is to aim where you want the ball to start, adjust the club in your hands so the face points where you want to finish and swing where you are aimed. It all comes down to path and clubface and there are a few tricky issues. You actually need to close or open a lofted club more than a straight-faced club.

DragonRidge Country Club

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Shape with your swing...

Shaping the ball comes from shaping your swing…Inside out…Outside in…Hit it straight and you don’t have to worry about shaping the ball…

"Shape with your swing..." Click to Tweet

Changing the setup

If you want to play a cut shot open your stance and open the club face slightly. For a baby draw close your stance and close the club face slightly.

"Changing the setup" @CRgolf Click to Tweet

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