Tiger Woods once said the hardest shot to hit in golf is a straight shot. I don’t think he’s wrong either.
But if you’re like most golfers, chances are you ask “How do you hit the ball straight in golf?”
Let’s just say it’s easier said than done. Because let’s face it, if Tiger struggles to hit the ball straight, that means the everyday golfer can really struggle.
Both shots are nearly impossible to play consistently and can lead to a lot of missed fairways and greens. Today, we’ll help you get rid of the problem shots and learn the art of a straight ball flight.
How to Hit the Golf Ball Straight (Fly Straight Tutorial)
Is there anything better in golf than seeing the ball launch and high straight off the club head? It’s so rewarding as you don’t have to worry about where it’ll end up because you know you hit a great shot. It’s a great feeling that doesn’t seem to happen enough.
But should you try to hit a straight shot consistently? Or try to hit a fade or draw most times?
According to Brian Manzella, a top 50 Golf Digest teacher, maybe not. Here’s what he said in Golf Digest.
“”Driving accuracy does not mean you have to hit the ball straight. Some of the straightest drivers in the history of the PGA Tour have predominantly played one shot shape.
One thing curving the ball lets you do is play down one side of the fairway. The curved shot then has a lot more than half the fairway to work with.”
Something to consider before we dive into the art of a straight shot in golf.
- New equipment makes it easier to hit straight shots in golf.
- To hit a straight ball you need a neutral-strong grip (in most cases).
- Hitting the ball straight happens from a neutral path and straight clubface at impact.
- There are several training aids that make it much easier to hit it straight by improving practice sessions.
Keep reading to learn how to hit the ball straighter than ever.
How to Hit a Straight Shot in Golf
There are nine main shots in golf; straight, draw, and fade at three trajectories (high, low, and normal). Tiger made the 9-ball drill famous as he would attempt to hit all nine shots in a row with the same club. If you can do it, it’s a ball striking feat that not a lot of golfers can do consistently.
But the normal ball flight with the straight trajectory is definitely the hardest.
Let’s think about it in terms of ball flight laws.
Two things affect the shape and direction of a shot; the clubface position and path at impact. Here are a few examples of these two factor into every shot in case you didn’t read our full article on ball flight laws:
- Neutral path, open face = This will produce a fade ball flight (if the face is really open it’s a slice). The ball will start straight at the target and then move left to right in the air.
- Left path, closed face = This will produce a pull draw ball flight. The left path will contribute to a pull while the closed face will make the ball go right to left in the air.
- Right path, square face = This will produce push but straight ball flight. The path will start right of your target but since the face is square, it won’t turn more right like an open clubface would.
To hit a straight shot in golf you need a neutral swing path with a square clubface at impact. So how can you make that happen?
Let’s dive in…
Neutral Swing Path
There are three swing paths in the golf swing; neutral, right, or left. If you swing over the top (like most everyday golfers) this leads to a lot of pulled shots. This is known as an out to in swing.
While the opposite shot is an in to out swing where you shallow the club too much on the downswing. This leads to a push swing path and a lot of blocked shots to the right of the target.
The final path is a neutral swing path where you’re much more likely to hit a straight shot. So, how do you get into this position?
By mastering your takeaway and backswing so you can drop the club in the slot on the downswing. Don’t forget, the golf swing is one big loop… if you watch the best golfers in the world they reroute the club on the downswing to shallow the club slightly.
Unfortunately, most everyday golfers tend to get steep and swing from over the top on the downswing. Here are a few things to check in your swing to create a neutral swing path.
- Alignment: Getting your body square to the target is one of the most important steps in creating a neutral swing path. Click here to nail your alignment.
- Takeaway: The first part of the backswing sets up the rest of the swing. An ideal backswing position is to have the club just outside of your hands when the shaft is parallel to the ground. Most amateur golfers tend to suck the club too far back on an inside path which leads to a steep downswing.
- Wrist hinge: Lastly, you want to hinge the wrists on the backswing so you can rotate around your body. This will help keep your left arm straight and in a powerful position at the top of your swing.
These are some of the most important golf swing fundamentals when it comes to creating a neutral swing path.
Square Club Face
The second component to consistently hit straight balls is the path of the face which has the biggest impact on shot shape. A face can be square, open, or closed at impact position. The more open or closed the face, the more it will move right or left.
Most amateur golfers suffer from a clubface that is open at impact (aka a fade or slice). While some golfers roll their hands too much and close the face (which leads to a draw or hook). This is what a lot of players refer to as a “baseball swing.”
While some golfers can get the face square at impact which leads to a straight ball flight. Arguably the biggest factor to a square face at impact is your grip.
Most golfers have a weak grip which leads to an open face at impact. While a strong grip can lead to closing the face and hitting a draw or hook shot.
Ideally, to hit a straight shot you want a neutral to slightly strong grip.
Use Training Aids and the Correct Equipment
Now that you know what is required at impact to hit straight shots, we can’t forget to mention equipment. Newer golf clubs have so much technology that it’s never been easier to hit a ball straighter. They are much more forgiving and make the game easier!
Older clubs were smaller and much harder to hit consistently well. So if you’re playing an old driver, you’re making the game harder on yourself.
Here’s a general rule, the larger a club, the easier it is to hit the ball straight. This is why more advanced golfers tend to opt for smaller clubhead designs so they’re more workable. While less consistent golfers will benefit more from a larger head that is more forgiving and leads to straighter shots.
Also, when it comes to adjustable woods and drivers, don’t forget about the club head settings too. Since most clubs have adjustable hosels and/or sliding weight features, it’s important to test out different settings for ball flight.
The Divot Board is a cool training aid that can give you instant feedback on your swing path. You don’t even need to hit a golf ball either. Simply address the board with an iron and make a swing.
The device will then show you if your divot is right, left, or square to your path. Then, wipe away the device in the other direction to reset it and swing again. With instant feedback you can test out different moves in your swing to see how it impacts your divot.
Don’t forget, a divot never lies! This training aid works for right and left-handers and provides visual feedback on every swing.
EyeLine Speed Trap 2.0
Another training aid that is helpful to hit straight shots is the EyeLine Golf Speed Trap 2.0. The board has four speed rods which you can change to hit it straight, a draw, or fade ball flight. What’s great about this training aid is that you can hit balls with it on the driving range or inside on a simulator.
It makes it easy to feel the proper swing path and hopefully eliminate that slice. Plus, the new wider base allows you to hit driver shots too. Not to mention it works for right and left-handed golfers.
Other Ways to Hit Straight Golf Shots
Want even more strategies to hit shots straighter? Follow the tips below.
- Buy a magnetic alignment stick. This device attaches to the face to make sure the club is square at impact. A lot of golfers have a face that is open or closed at impact and never even realize it. Set yourself up for success with a square face at address position.
- Create a 3:1 tempo. One of the most important fundamentals of golf is swinging with the correct tempo. So many golfers rush their swing or swing too slowly and it makes it nearly impossible to time the impact position correctly. Click here to learn more about mastering your golf swing tempo.
- Adjust your lie angles. As mentioned earlier, the right equipment makes a big difference in hitting straight shots. If your lie angle is too upright or too flat, it’ll lead to right or left shots. Make sure to do a fitting appointment to ensure your irons are right for your unique swing.
- Tee it lower. If you want to hit the ball straighter, tee the golf ball lower. This will minimize spin and lead to a straighter ball flight.
FAQs About Different Golf Shots
Do you have more questions about hitting the ball with different trajectories or shot shapes? Keep reading to learn more now.
Should you hit the ball straight in golf?
I don’t know if should is the right word but you can hit it straight with a neutral path and square face. But it’s not easy for the everyday or even low handicap golfer to do consistently.
Why is it so hard to hit a golf ball straight?
Because a straight shot requires perfect timing and fundamentals.
How do you hit irons straight for beginners?
To hit your irons straight you want to focus on the fundamentals including grip, ball position, and takeaway. If your grip is too weak it leads to a lot of fades or slices; while a strong grip leads to a lot of draws. (Learn about a strong vs. weak grip here.)
Ball position also plays a big role too. If the ball is too far off your front foot it leads to a lot of pulled shots. If the ball is too far toward your back foot, it leads to a lot of pushed shots.
Make sure to spend a lot of time in your pre-shot routine getting the ball in the right position based on the iron you’re hitting.
Why am I not hitting my irons straight?
There are a ton of things to consider including grip, ball position, divot patterns, swing path, and more.
Is it better to hit straight or draw in golf?
Both shots are highly sought after by golfers as most players suffer from a slice. A straight shot is almost never penalized while a draw is usually pretty consistent. But sometimes it can turn into a hook so if you had to choose one shot, straight would be best (in a perfect world).
Final Thoughts on Straight Shots in Golf
If you can hit golf balls straight even semi-consistently you’re well on your way to becoming a scratch golfer. To hit the ball straight at your target line you need two things; a square club face angle plus a neutral swing path.
The biggest things to focus on include:
- Neutral grip.
- Correct ball position.
- Creating lag in the downswing.
- Good left arm position at the top of the backswing.
If you can pair this with fast swing speed, you’ll hit the golf ball long and straight. Center contact with the golf club isn’t easy but with enough work on the driving range alongside these fundamentals, you can do it.
Also, make sure to read our post about slice vs. hook and how to fix both shots.