EVERY accomplished player will tell you that you must play a reliable curve on your golf ball. The pursuit of the straight ball, as a stock shot, simply brings in a two-way miss.

Understanding the ENTIRE flight of your golf shots, and the first bounce, is imperative to getting the ball next to the flag. If you always have the ball approaching the target from the same direction, you will be on your way to becoming an accomplished player.

“Horses for courses,” is a phrase referring to players who dominate a course. It fits their eye, shot pattern and game in general. Davis Love has won five times at Harbour Town Golf Links. Mark O’Meara has won five times at Pebble Beach professionally, as well as the US Amateur and California Amateur there. Tiger Woods has won eight times at Bay Hill and eight times at Firestone.

Do you have a shot pattern? Probably you will use that stock shot 85% of the time. Other times it will be in your best interest to come up with another shot shape. Otherwise, you must choose to fit a square peg in a round hole.

Many tour pros choose to do exactly that. They play only courses that best fit their game. Yesterday, in honor of the Zurich (New Orleans) tournament, a stat about Lee Trevino was publicized. In 1974 he made 21 birdies and 0 bogies. 54/56 fairways and 69/72 greens in regulation. He won by 8 shots. Trevino once won the US Open, Canadian Open and British Open in three straight weeks.

Yet, Trevino felt like he had no chance to win the Masters because his shot shape was too low and curved softly from left to right.

I once watched Simon Hobday, Senior tour player from South Africa, shoot 64 at Brickyard Crossing in Indianapolis. He played the ugliest low hook on every shot. And I mean EVERY shot. He eventually won the Senior US Open.

Other pros like to see the shot, ask themselves what the optimum shot is and try to play that shot. Nick Faldo, Tiger Woods and Ben Hogan quickly come to mind. They curved the ball both ways without any favoritism. It is simply the way they chose to play the game.


I wrote, early in my book, that you can absolutely pick a shot pattern (draw or fade). From that point everything in your method must work toward that goal.

Our topic this month, AIM, speaks directly to controlling shot shape. I ask my students to play shots that curve both directions in their practice sessions. It keeps your aim on point and builds confidence in your golf swing.

Traditionally a fade, or shots that curve from left to right (right-handed golfer) are viewed as a weak shot. It spins more and lands softly. The end result would be a shorter distance than a draw with the same club. Your body turns left, and the ball turns right.

A draw was viewed as the result of a correctly swung golf club. The face trapped the ball upon impact and imparted a slight right to left spin that matched the rotation of our body. Body turns left and the ball turns left. This shot has less spin and therefore shows a lower, boring ball flight that rolls upon landing. It is viewed as the strong, distance ball flight of an accomplished player.

It is important to point out that Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods both have played a fade as their stock shot while dominating professional golf. With high clubhead speed comes the ability to play a power fade. This shot shape is ideal for major tournament golf.

Now, equipment has changed many things. The invention of the low-spinning fade drive has brought about the understanding that a fade can also roll down the fairway and result in huge distances. Dustin Johnson has made this his “bread and butter” tee shot. Justin Thomas is also a proponent of this shot. Now long driving can also be somewhat accurate.

Also, the high draw is readily available with the right shaft and loft.

Technology and club fitting has made it possible to tailor a club to match and optimize any golf swing. It is always in your best interest to hit the ball high as your normal shot. That doesn’t mean that you won’t need to hit the ball low sometimes, like into the wind or a heavy cross wind. But generally high shots are better for scoring. You can easily teach a high-ball player to hit it low. It is very hard to teach a low-ball hitter to create high trajectory.

 So, which is best for you?

Players who fade the ball are better aimers. Period. They benefit from getting their left leg out of the way and making use of a quickly turning torso. This acceleration keeps the release quiet through impact. This player can swing hard under pressure and generally see no decline in control.

The target is always to the right of their body and gives a clear perspective while swinging. It is much easier to “push” the ball over to the target, ala Lee Trevino

The draw gives the player added distance. If their equipment is right for them, they can enjoy high trajectory as well. If the draw player pays close attention to their mechanics and adheres to the required discipline of their release pattern, then high level golf can certainly be the result.

Many draw players have trouble keeping their aim under control. They seem to align farther and farther to the right of the target. Now the target is behind their back at address. They will be forced to close the clubface, to counteract the shaft swinging well to the right of the target. Or they must change their posture by raising up, attempting to reroute the swing path.

If, at address, you look at the target and see your left shoulder, then you might be aiming too far to the right.

In watching players at the range, beginners typically aim to the left and begin their journey through golf with a weak slice.

As a player becomes more accomplished their mis-aligned body tends to favor somewhere right of the target.

After many years of watching this example of golfing human nature, it is valuable to note that YOUR SHOULDERS ARE THE REAL INFLUENCER OF SHOT SHAPE AND THE OWNERSHIP OF SHOT PATTERN. An accomplished player can stand in any fashion and curve the ball both ways by manipulating their shoulders and using their hands to work the clubface.

I would rather see a player get their left leg out of the way (aim slightly left of target) and then close their shoulders. I believe this would allow for more accuracy, and, also, produce some great driving over time. Yet this idea is the opposite of what I see most golfers employ.

If your clubhead speed is high, then a fade might be in your best interest. If not, then a draw could give you some more distance and a shorter club into the green.

Players with lower swing speed are well advised to look at hybrids and fairway woods on any club longer than a six iron. The trajectory these clubs can produce, from different lies, is important when trying to get shots to the green to bite softly.

You ARE good enough to play shots that curve both ways. You just have to choose to work on it. It will only make your swing better and create some real, well founded confidence.

The ability to aim, for any shot that comes to your mind, will make you better at practice. You will be a player who can look at a hole, decide the best path to take and then execute your game plan.

You don’t want to be that person who just chases their ball around a golf course. We have all heard the phrase, “I can’t take my range game to the course.”

Commit to perfect aim this summer and you will have built a foundation for becoming the player you have dreamed about.


About Me

Michael Wolf, Certified Master Teaching Professional, has been playing golf for 46 years and teaching professionally for over 34 years. He has given over 30,000 golf lessons. Author of The Driven Golfer: Building Your Method For Scratch Golf. Harvey Penick Award Winner- 2016 (Top Instructor U.S./World Golf Teachers Federation)

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