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To Shot Shape or Not to Shot Shape?


ZANDER1994
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On 7/7/2021 at 4:18 AM, ChetlovesMer said:

I'm not the greatest golfer in the world. But I think I'm qualified to give you an answer here. 

When I first started playing golf, I didn't get any lessons. Just jumped right in. After a couple years I was a 28 handicap. (I know). 
...

I moved away from that pro and over the years my draw started to become a snap-hook. It was awful. Golf started to be no fun at all. I can say from experience that snap-hook golf is the least amount of fun of any golf out there.

 

I know this thread is a bit old. Similar experience here to @ChetlovesMer. When I was trying to "Shape Shots" my handicap was slowly improving. When better golfers convinced me to focus on one shape, my handicap improved for a couple of months until I also developed a snap hook that I couldn't figure out how to correct and then handicap plummeted. Maybe there are even less fun things that can happen, but taking 10 penalties a round is not fun. My game went completely off the rails.

What is helping me get my swing back is working on both fade and draw at the range again. Maybe I am not good enough to "shape shots" on the course, but by regularly working on shaping shots at the range, my misses seem smaller and the snap hook shows up far less often. I may just play one shape on the course, but working on both at the range is getting my swing back to being somewhat predictable and penalties are coming down. 

And yes, I have seen a pro. Funny how I can stripe them when he tells me exactly what to change in my swing. Hard to reprogram over bad habits and self diagnose when coach isn't there. 

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14 hours ago, NotThatRobLowe said:

When better golfers convinced me to focus on one shape, my handicap improved for a couple of months until I also developed a snap hook that I couldn't figure out how to correct and then handicap plummeted. 

Correlation does not equal causation. Nearly every tour pro focuses on one primary shot shape and they aren't hitting snap hooks everywhere. There was probably something in your swing that caused the snap hooks, and good chances are it was there both when you were hitting both shot shapes, and when you were just focused on one shape, it was just easier to notice when you were focused on one specific shape.

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but by regularly working on shaping shots at the range, my misses seem smaller and the snap hook shows up far less often

It might be because you are practicing with a specific purpose/goal, which requires you to be more aware of and have better face and path control. Sounds like its a good thing to practice, but I still think there is A LOT of value in having one primary shot shape.

I know I'm only a sample size of one, but I've managed to get my handicap fairly low and break par multiple times with one single shot shape, a slight fade. The only time I ever hit a draw is if I am behind a tree and have not a single other option. Tucked left pin with a hard left to right wind? I'm still hitting a fade. Probably starting the ball at the pin and letting it fall towards the center of the green. Dogleg left off the tee? I'm hitting as far as I can out to the corner of the dog leg. I'm not trying to sling a draw around there just because the hole is shaped that way.

Every once in a while at the range I'll practice hitting little punch draws of varying curve amounts just to make sure I can still do it for when I absolutely need it, but when I'm on the course every shot I see is fairly straight with a slight fall to the right

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I see a number of replies mentioning swing changes to shape shots. I don't see the need for swing changes if ones primary ball flight is relatively straight. I have shown a number of people how to work a ball by simply taking their normal stance, squaring up to where they want the ball to start out., aim the clubface so it aims approximately half way  between the start line and where they want it to end up, and regrip the club with your normal grip, the back of the hand aiming down the start line. They then take their normal swing down the start line. It works fine unless the person already has a chronic hook or slice.

My preferred shot is a fade, and with the shorter irons I will often open up my stance a little bit and keep the clubface moving down the line almost Trevino like (Yea, I wish. LOL). That method is more of a feel shot, but I have been doing it since the late 70's and it works for me. I find it easier to flight the ball lower like that, but if I want it higher, I square up and fan the blade open. Never seen any video of me doing these, but they work for me, even if I can't properly explain why.

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Along the lines of what others have been saying, I like to try to have a "standard" shot shape that I use for 95-99% of my shots out on the course unless there's a specific tee shot or recovery shot that really requires a different shape to it. Over the years I've hit both a draw and a fade as my "standard" shot shape depending mostly on whatever course I played the most at the time. 

That said, I don't attempt to change my swing to hit differently shaped shots (at least not for hitting a draw versus a fade). I try to make the same basic swing for the most part, but change the shape by changing my setup. If I setup to the ball with a more open stance relative to the starting line of the ball, face square to the intended start line, that sets me up for a fade with the same swing relative to my body's alignment. If I setup to the ball with more of a square or closed stance relative to the starting line of the ball, face square to the intended start line, that sets me up for a draw. When I switch between a fade or a draw as my "standard" shot I'm really just trying to change the way I usually set up to the ball more than trying to change the way that I swing. I know swing changes are bound to occur, but I try to keep them to a minimum if possible.

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I don't really attempt to move a ball right to left unless I absolutely have to. I play a fade 99% of the time because it's my natural shot shape, and I spent a long time and hit a lot of golf balls to be able to do it. Years ago I fought a hook so I overhauled everything to learn to fade it. 

I think for anyone other than the absolute best ball strikers, trying to move the ball both ways is an exercise in futility. 

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26 minutes ago, NM Golf said:

I don't really attempt to move a ball right to left unless I absolutely have to. I play a fade 99% of the time because it's my natural shot shape, and I spent a long time and hit a lot of golf balls to be able to do it. Years ago I fought a hook so I overhauled everything to learn to fade it. 

I think for anyone other than the absolute best ball strikers, trying to move the ball both ways is an exercise in futility. 

This is the heart of the issue. Pick a shot shape, and then use that shot shape for every swing you possibly can. Golf is a tough sport and it's already hard enough only trying to hit one shot every time, no need to complicate it more than you have to.

Curving the ball the other direction is only for recovery shots or holes where your standard shot shape simply cannot work, such as a narrow, tree-lined hole with a sharp dogleg opposite your natural shape that you HAVE to get past on your tee shot. Even then, hitting your standard shot shape higher or lower is often easier to control for most golfers than hitting a shot that curves the opposite direction and is usually the better choice if available. For recovery shots you have to know when to take your medicine instead of trying to be the hero. For holes that don't fit well with your shot shape you have to evaluate the risk/reward of larger shot cones/shot zones for a non-standard shot shape compared to the potential disadvantages of using your normal shot shape with tighter shot cones/shot zones. 

There are strategies to make it easier to shape the ball one direction or the other, but they still require a consistent swing that is not so far biased towards a fade or draw as to make it near impossible to hit the other shot shape. To be brutally honest, most golfers cannot shape the ball both directions with any kind of consistency or reliability. When playing the best golf of my life I was a +2.4 while playing a draw as my primary shot shape, and even then I didn't trust myself to hit a fade that would 100% of the time move left to right in the air unless I was trying to curve it far enough to be what most would call a slice. I could trust that attempting to hit a draw the worst-case misses were that I would hang one out there with no curve or end up with a big hook, but the ball would not move left to right in the air. Trying to hit a fade the double-cross was always a possibility that couldn't be entirely eliminated.

While nowadays I hit a fade as my primary shot shape, I still don't try to hit anything but my primary shot shape unless it's absolutely necessary. It's an extra risk that in the long run doesn't pay off unless there isn't much of an alternative.

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...but by regularly working on shaping shots at the range

...practicing with a specific purpose/goal, which requires you to be more aware of and have better face and path control. Sounds like its a good thing to practice, but I still think there is A LOT of value in having one primary shot shape.

This is really the point I was making in my post. I had lost the feel to fix my draw when it becomes a hook or snap hook. If I could just practice one shape and have consistent success on the course, I would stick with it and probably wouldn't bother practicing both. For others struggling with their one shape getting exaggerated, practicing both shapes may help them develop better feel for that face to path and help them to make corrections. Not saying to do both shapes on the course, but it may be a drill that helps get your swing get back on track if struggling with your fade turning to slice or draw to hook. A simplified Johnny Miller nine box drill. I've been using a three box version which is helping me regain some feel of how to get back to my draw when it turns into a hook. 

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