I’ve seen enough draws turn into hooks, and fades turn into slices, during my career in teaching to know that I’d rather try to aim for a straight ball flight. It may not always turn out that way, but if you’re ok missing a little bit each way, aiming for straight is often your best bet. Here’s a few things that can help.
1. Match your grip to your body
The most important fundamental to producing a straight ball flight is a good grip. If your grip matches your unique body, your clubface will be square and eliminate most if not all curvature of your ball flight.
Grip the club so it’s in the fingers, not the palm, and so the hands fall naturally on the club when you let your arms hang down from your shoulders. You want the club secure in your hands and your wrists supple, but not squeezing so hard that you begin to lock up.
2. Check your ball position
Ball position is one of the most important fundamentals, and it does not get due respect. Your ball position can affect all your other fundamentals. I generally like to see a very neutral ball position when the ball is on the ground, where the ball is centered in the body for most clubs and the trail shoulder is slightly lower than the lead. If you ball position is too far forward your shoulders will tend to be open and produce pulls and slices. If your ball position is too far back, your shoulders tend to be closed producing pushes and hooks.
3. Aim correctly
Often golfers will hit a perfectly solid shot straight into trouble and not understand why. Often, they’ll think there’s a problem with their swing when, in reality, they were aimed in the wrong place.
Aiming can be a challenge because your clubface aims to the target while all the rest of your body aims parallel but not directly to the target, including your eye line. Using an alignment aid to help you learn to aim while you practice can be extremely helpful in training your eye what it looks like when you aim correctly.
4. Set your club
Setting your club on the ground, so it’s aiming at the correct place, sounds easier than it is.
You want your clubface pointing at the target, with the leading edge perpendicular to where you’re aiming. I always recommend using the markings on your grip to make sure you’re setting the club in the right spot.
5. Stay in balance
Nothing ruins a great swing faster than being off balance.
One of my favorite practice techniques is to take practice swings with your feet together. If you make unnecessary or inefficient motion you likely won’t be able to stay in balance and need to step to catch your balance.
6. Smooth tempo
An athletic golf swing will gather speed as it goes. It’s a smooth build up of speed; the feeling of even rhythm will help you avoid jerky or forced movements, and prevent one area of the body outracing the other. Keeping the sequence of your golf swing in-sync will help you hit straighter shots.
7. Find clubs that fit
The right clubs that fit you and maximize consistency and distance can make a world of difference, especially when it comes to hitting the ball straight. The lie angle of the club directly affects where the club face looks at impact — up to 10 yards for even the smallest misfitting clubs. If you want to hit the ball straight, you need clubs that fit.
8. Good pivot
As you swing through, you want to rotate so much, and transfer your weight fully to your front foot, so that your trail foot comes off the ground. When you don’t transfer your weight forward on your through-swing, your body will hang back and you’ll roll your hands, which will send the ball in every direction.
9. Body still when putting
Rolling your putts on-line is just as important as hitting the golf ball straight. The key to doing this is keeping your head and body still as you stroke.
A good general rule is to complete your stroke, pause for a second and then turn your head. While this can be difficult at first, it will result in a lot more putts that start on your intended line.
10. Hold your finish
Good golfers tend to be very good at holding their finish until the ball lands, besides the fact that it looks good and can help you to look like a golfer. If you have to step to catch yourself, it can be very difficult to hit the ball straight. If you haven’t pivoted off of your back foot, you would certainly have time to notice and correct it the moment you get to finish and take it to your next shot. I’m a big believer in good balance in your swing, and if you can hold your finish, that’s the best sign you can get.
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