How to Stop Hitting Pulled Golf Shots

Say Goodbye to Pulled Golf Shots

While you can play a pulled shot no one loves to see a weak pull cut over and over again throughout the round. The pulled shot, often referred to as the yank or tug, can lead to some big numbers.  

Each time you hit the ball you can either pull it left, hit it straight, or push it right. While you want to hit it as straight as possible, most players elect to play a fade or draw.  

But for some amateur golfers, the most consistent miss is left. The “pulled” shot that starts left of your aiming point. This isn’t the worst miss if your pull is a pull-cut.  

Otherwise, a dead pull or dreaded double cross, left going left, can kill momentum and make your score go up quickly.  

The hardest part of the pulled shot is addressing why the ball is starting left

Once you figure that out you can make some of the necessary changes to get the ball started off straight. 

If you’re struggling from pulled golf shots keep reading so you can take action and mix one of the most common misses in golf.  

What is a Pulled Golf Shot? 

If you suffer from a consistent pulled shot don’t worry, you’re not alone. Outside of a slice or hitting it fat, this is one of the most common shots for amateur players for a variety of reasons.

A pulled shot starts off left of the target and can do three things:  

  • Stay left.  (The ball usually goes 5-15 yards longer than normal as the club face is shut at impact) 
  • Start left and cut back right toward the target.  (The ball usually goes about the same distance as intended or slightly shorter)
  • Start left and keep going left from a pull hook.  (This is the worst miss possible as the ball is going longer than intended and has a draw to roll farther as well)  

A majority of amateur golfers primary miss is the pull cut. The golf ball starts left of your target and cuts back right. While it’s not the worst shot, it kills distance off the tee by turning into a monster slice. The pulled shot that does not cut can lead to missing greens in tough places by going long.  

What Causes a Pulled Shot?

The new ball flight laws tell us that on the most basic level, the only reason you hit pulled shots is because the clubface is shut at impact. The problem is addressing why the clubface is coming into impact at a closed position. 

This can happen for a variety of reasons.

Alignment (Are You Actually Hitting it Straight?)  

Before you make any swing adjustments the first thing to evaluate is your alignment. While it’s easy to think you are coming over the top, sometimes you might just be aimed left of the target. Instead of pulling the golf ball you’re actually hitting it dead straight.  

To check alignment, use two alignment rods or clubs to make sure you are setting up square to the target. While you could be aiming left, sometimes you might be aiming 10-30 yards right and pulling the ball back toward the target. 

Anytime you are consistently starting the ball off right or left always check your aim first. Look at your divot and work your way backwards to figure out what is causing it to go left. 

Remember, the divot never lies! 

Too Strong of a Grip   

Once you’ve checked your alignment, the next piece of your setup to evaluate is your grip. A strong grip promotes an active release of the golf club which turns the clubface closed at impact. Dial back your grip to a neutral or even weak position to see how it affects your ball flight. 

Incorrect Ball Position 

Another reason your swing is producing pulled shots might be that the ball is too far forward in your stance. A ball that is too far forward makes it hard to release the club as it’s happening to far up in your swing. 

Move the ball slightly back in your stance but make sure that it is positioned properly for each club. A good rule of thumb is to put driver off the left ear, fairway woods at the logo on your shirt, and wedges at your shirt buttons. 

Over The Top Swing Motion

Another big reason you are pulling the golf ball is the classic over the top swing motion. This swing is produced by taking the club outside orstarting the downswing with your upper body.  

Here’s how to fix both those issues:  

How to Stop Pulling The Golf Ball 

Once you have addressed your alignment, ball position, and grip, you can start adjusting your swing. If you are still pulling the ball something in your swing is causing you to wipe across the golf ball to create the pulled shot. 

To get the ball toward your intended target you need to hit the ball with a square clubface. To do this your club must be coming in from the inside of the ball, not over the top. Think of Sergio Garcia’s huge lag as a great example of coming from the inside the ball at impact. 

Backswing or Downswing? 

To produce this inside to outside swing path you need to check your backswing and downswing. On your backswing, are you taking the club back to far outside and getting the club off plane? This is one of the most common amateur errors that leads to the pulled shot.

If your backswing is on plane then the last thing to evaluate is how you start your downswing. It’s entirely possible to have a perfect, on plane backswing but still pull it from an overly active upper body to start your downswing.

The correct motion for the downswing is hips, shoulders, arms, and hands. But if you are hitting pulled shots it’s often starting with the shoulders or arms instead of letting your hips uncoil and begin the downswing.

Remember, your legs and hips start the downswing, not your arms. Power comes from the ground up. Use your hips to uncoil the rest of your body. This will maximize efficiency in your swing and get the ball started out down the line. 

Pulled Golf Shot Drills 

Here are two simple drills that you can do at the range to help you stop hitting pulled shots: 

Pool Noodle Over the Top Drill  

As Michael Breed from the Golf Channel shows in this video below, a shortened pool noodle from the dollar store can help cure your pulled golf shots. 

If you’re pulling the golf ball you’re coming across it at impact. To fix this motion, you need to promote an in to out swing path. 

  1. With a modified pool noodle (or weightlifting neck strap) align the device next to the golf ball. As shown in the video, it should align to the right of the target. 
  2. You want to feel your hips slide to the same angle of the device to start the club on the inside to outside swing path.
  3. Using a 7 or 8 iron, swing easy and hit at least three shots in a row trying to start the ball to the right of the target as in the video.
  4. Once you’ve hit at least three in a row, remove the device to attempt the shot without the swing aid. 

Back Foot Drop Back for Pulled Shots 

This is another great swing drill for your pulled shots as it makes it nearly impossible to come over the top on your downswing. 

  1. Begin with an 8 or 9 iron and tee the ball up to normal height.
  2. At address, drop your back foot 4-6 inches. Your back toes are aligned with the middle of your front foot. This automatically creates an in to out swing path.
  3. Swing the club back on your toe lines (inside to out) and hit practice balls at 60-70% swing speed and ¾ length. This will create the feeling of taking the club back inside and swinging out on the way down.  

The Bottom Line

Some amateurs can play the pulled shot if it consistently fades back right to the target. But if you want to get really good and eventually break 80, chances are you’ll need to address this issue sooner rather than later. 

The key element is to make sure you properly diagnose WHY you are hitting pulled golf shots and then make the necessary corrections. Don’t just assume it’s a swing problem when often times it can be alignment, grip or setup issue.

I’m confident if you figure out why you are hitting pulled shots that you can make the necessary changes to get it corrected. Once you hit the ball with a square clubface you’ll almost instantly notice an increase to ball striking and distance. 

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