Can You Shape Your Golf Shot at Will?

I was watching some golf clips yesterday and notice that most professionals have fantastic control on how they shape the ball. It seems that most focus on using a draw, but the real great players have control of how far and how much shape they put on the ball. Personally, I hit the ball straight most of the time and rarely try to shape the ball. It is a skill I have, but not something I rely on because it is not as effective as I need to score well. Having said that, can you shape your golf shot at will?

Being able to shape the ball opens many shot opportunities. Everyone knows that a strong fade or draw at the right time provides a player with the chance to save or gain strokes. At Osprey Links, having this ability is very important, especially on the back nine. There is a stretch of 3 – short par 4 – holes where all three shots are needed if I expect to have a chance at birdie.

Straight Shot 12th Tee – Osprey Links Golf Course

The first tee shot is a straight 3 hybrid or 4 iron. The landing area looks bigger than it is because if your ball lands on the left center, it either goes into the woods on the left or your shot to the green is blocked. Land right of center and your ball will likely go in the rough or woods. This shot looks simple, but let me tell you that hitting the ball straight is very important. Additionally, you will be fights a wind (usually left to right) because it is the highest point on the course. The target area is the person in the red shirt in the picture.

13th Tee Shot – Osprey Links Golf Course

Off the 13th tee, the aggressive shot is a baby draw around the corner. There is room to bail out to the right, but it will leave about 140 shot into an elevated green. A small fade will set this shot up perfectly by leaving about 100 yards in. A 3 wood is the smart play, but most players hit driver to be close to the green. One has to be careful because anything short left (125 yards from the green or more) and you will be blocked out by the trees. Hitting a driver straight and long will put you in the woods at the end of the fairway. the aim point with a draw is the left side of the cart path beside the rock.

Sorry, no picture. However, this is a challenging hole that requires a fade shot if you are going to hit driver. I generally use a 3 wood and hit to 140 yards out at the corner. However, I have it driver to be aggressive. Hitting the fade will allow your ball to go around the corner and finish on a flat lie about 75 yards from the green. For me, I can only hit my driver if the wind is blowing from left to right and that is rare. Overall, a fade is the best shot of you can hit the ball far enough with a strong fade.

As you can see, that in three holes at Osprey Links Golf Course, the best play is to work the ball. If you can, then scoring low on these holes is very possible. However, if you cannot work the ball, I suggest thinking about where you want to leave the ball using your course management strategy. Again, I am not able to work the ball at a high percentage, but I am willing to try.

Can you work the ball at will?

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

12 thoughts on “Can You Shape Your Golf Shot at Will?

  1. Jim, I work the ball both ways and I feel that it does help in scoring. I think the problem is that there are many ways to do this and some instruction articles on working the ball don’t recommend methods that I think are fine to try. You can change your grip, or stance or ball position which can help you work the ball. There are many other things you can do to work the ball. I use grip changes which is something most articles say not to do but I find this is a very easy way to hit my draws and fades. Again it comes down to experimenting on the practice tee and find a method that works. Then work on it and eventually take it to the course.

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  2. Jim, I too play a straight ball. When I have to shape it, a draw is more comfortable than a fade. I don’t have enough time or energy to work on shaping it during practice. What I have found very beneficial is to practice low, medium, and high shots. I just rotate the three with all my irons during regular practice.

    Thanks,

    Brian

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    • Brian,

      Trying to improve on shot making is challenging and time consuming. Working on your goals, flight of your ball with your irons, sometimes takes up all your practice time. At least you are moving forward. Besides, you spent two years changing your game and now is the time to enjoy the fruits of your labours.

      Cheers Jim

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      • Jim, it’s not even a drill any more. With every practice bucket or warm-up before play, I’ll typically hit three shots with each iron before changing clubs. Low, medium, and high traj for each works great and doesn’t add any time to the session. I found that when I hit the course, calling on a shot with a different traj is much easier now.

        Curving it is a whole other ballgame 🙂

        Thanks,

        Brian

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  3. Hi Jim, I’m working at a golf shop at the moment and have access to virtual golf. The system gives swing plane and face strike information amongst other things. It’s been great instant feedback for each shot and has helped me work on drawing the ball. For fades I already had a method, which was stand a bit closer to the ball. That forced me to come outside in. The shots I particularly look to shape are my drives on holes like the ones you showed on your blog. Its fun! Doesn’t always work of course, as even if i get the swing plane I want i might mess up my hands at impact. Nevertheless, this shot making is part of the fun of the game for me! I do it with irons too, but only when needed to get around something. For irons I prefer to hit it straight as I can and accept some movement one way or the other. If theres a nasty hazard I’ll just aim away from it a bit, rather than try to shape it away. Some of my funnest golf shots have been shaped shots – even the funny ones that end in disaster!

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  4. I’m taking a much needed break from packing up right now and thought I’d check in. Your article hits home. This is exactly what I was working on before I hurt my wrist back in November. There is nothing I wanted more than to be able to shape my shots on demand and I was making good progress.

    Hopefully, I’ll remember how to create those shots when I get back on the course. I think my wrist is ready now, but I have to get through the move first and though the bid was accepted I still don’t have a date for the closing on the new property yet and have to go through an approval process with the association that manages the place so it may be a few more weeks. But once there, golf is free so I’m sure I’ll get in plenty of practice rounds and get back up to speed quickly. The two courses there are pretty short so I’ll want to play other courses in the area too, but the course length really doesn’t matter for practicing your game and being able to double or triple the amount of golf you can get in in a week never hurts.

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