Shot-shaping is one of golf’s true dark arts. Most high-handicappers spend their lives trying with great chagrin to achieve the perfect, arcing, straight shot. Then, once we’ve achieved some level of consistency in hitting the ball in one direction, we’re told the best thing for our game is to learn how to intentionally hit those fades and pulls we spent years eradicating. It’s a baffling transition, especially if you’ve spent years struggling to iron out the kinks in your game.
“When I’m driving the golf ball, I never try to hit a straight shot,” Nicklaus says. “Everybody has a bread and butter shot. For me, it’s been left-to-right through the years.”
The reason why having a signature shot-shape is important is because it provides you a strategic advantage on different hole designs, allowing you to maximize distance and minimize the potential for harm.
“If I’m going to try and fade it, I’ve got 30 or 40 yards of fairway to fade the ball in,” he says. “It gives me more room for error.”
But how do you take the right thought (wanting to hit a fade or draw), and turn it into the right result? Nicklaus says the key is to open the club face at address, but keep your stance aimed toward the portion of the fairway you want your shot to *start off* in. From there, focus on your hip turn and keeping your swing steady, you’ll be shot-shaping like a pro in no time.
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