Shot Patterns:
Where does your ball go?



“I sliced it!”

The slice is the most cursed one of all shot patterns. The term is often used for any kind of off-target shot. While a real slice is sometimes tough to cure, other shots are easier to deal with.

Understanding what different shot patterns look like – and recognizing your own natural ball flight – has several advantages:

  • It makes it easier to “fix” stray shots.
  • It lets you use them “on purpose” to fit the lay-out of the hole.
  • It helps you fend off confusion by “tips” from your well-meaning fellow players.
The straight shot is the most desirable, but also the least common. Being a short hitter with a slower swing speed can be an advantage in this case. With a lower clubhead speed, the spin effect on the ball will not be as severe, giving you a straighter shot.


How shot patterns are formed

The swing path, or the direction the clubhead travels on during the downswing, combined with the position of the clubface at impact determines the ball flight.

There are 3 swing paths:

Outside-Inside Swing Path Outside-inside:
the downswing starts outside (to the right) of the target line, crossing it at impact and continuing on the inside (to the left) of the target line.
Inside-Outside Swing Path Inside-outside:
the downswing starts inside of the target line, crossing it at impact and continuing on the outside of the target line.
Inside-Inside Swing Path Inside-inside or square:
the downswing travels along the target line.



Different shot patterns

On an outside-inside swing path:

Slice Swing path Slice
  • Club face open (facing to the right) at impact.
  • Ball flight starts to the left of the target and then curves to the right.
Pull Swing path Pull
  • Club face square to path at impact.
  • Ball flight goes in a straight line to the left of the target.
Pull-Hook Swing path Pull-Hook
  • Club face closed (facing to the left) to path at impact.
  • Ball flight starts to the left of the target line and keeps curving to the left.



On an inside-outside swing path:

Push-Slice Swing path Push-Slice
  • Club face open to path at impact.
  • Ball flight starts to the right of the target and keeps curving to the right.
Push Swing path Push
  • Club face square to path at impact.
  • Ball flight goes in a straight line to the right of the target.
Hook Swing path Hook
  • Club face closed to path at impact.
  • Ball flight starts to the right of the target line and then curves to the left.



On an inside-inside or square swing path:

Fade Swing path Fade
  • Club face open to path at impact.
  • Ball flight starts on the target line and then slightly curves to the right.
Straight Swing path Straight
  • Club face square to path at impact.
  • Ball flight stays on the target line.
Draw Swing path Draw
  • Club face closed to path at impact.
  • Ball flight starts on the target line and then curves slightly to the left.



How to set up for specific shot patterns

Sometimes the lay-out of a hole may favor a draw or a fade. Or you find yourself behind a tree and only playing a hook will advance your ball down the fairway.

To find out how to set up for specific shot patterns, read our sections on How To Set Up For…

  • A fade
  • A draw
  • A hook
  • A slice
  • A push
  • A pull



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