In golf a pull – or a pulled shot – is one that sees the ball starting left of the target initially and continuing on straight that line, without lateral spin. It is in effect a straight shot that misses left of the target. Because it ultimately misses the target it constitutes a golf shot error and should be avoided.
Continue reading to find out what causes pull shots and in order to get some advice on how to stop hitting them.
What Causes a Pull?
Clubface Closed at Impact, But Square to the Club Path
For a shot to produce no side spin, the clubface must hit the ball with an angle that is square to the club path.
In effect, the path the club takes must match the direction of the clubface. And because the ball shoots left of the target, it means the clubface was closed at impact and was also aiming left of the target.
But it also means the swing path was outside-to-in, resulting in a clubface that is square to the club path and ultimately a pulled shot.
Likely Reason #1:
Are You Aligned Left of the Target?
Before digging further into the causes of your pulled shots you need to make sure they do not happen simply as a result of bad alignment prior to hitting.
A pull is a straight shot but one that misses left of the target. But if you were not aiming at the target to begin with but were instead aiming left of the target, solving your issues becomes very easy.
In this case, you simply need to make sure you are aiming straight at the target while setting up for you shot.
PULL FIX #1: Check your aim and stance
Make sure to aim properly and adopt a square stance instead of an open stance.
More on: How to correctly align your stance
If misalignment is not the issue then you’ll need to dig deeper into the causes for your pull shots.
Likely Reason #2:
Outside-In Swing and Strong Grip?
If you are correctly aiming at the target and are using a square stance to the target yet are still producing pull shots then your club path is most likely of the outside-in variety.
In contrast to the inside-square-inside or inside-out club path, yours probably sees the club heading into impact from outside of the target line, crossing that target line and finally finishing inside of it during the follow through.
In combination with an outside-in club path your clubface is most likely closed to the target at impact.
More than anything, this explains why the ball starts left of the target initially. And again, if you were aligned properly at address with both your stance and clubface square to the target then it means you are closing that clubface during the swing and leading up to the impact. And the most likely scenario is that you are using a grip that is too strong. Indeed, a strong grip promotes and active release of the club and a closed clubface at impact.
PULL FIX #2: Move to In-Square-In Club Path and Weaker Grip
In order to fundamentally fix the causes that produce pulled shots in your game you will need to work on your golf swing and the club path that it produces.
Fixing an outside-in swing starts at the takeaway where you will want to take your club back square instead of back outside. Performing a few drills where you take it back inside might be helpful in getting the right feel for a square takeaway (more on takeaway club positions).
At the top of the swing and during the downswing you will need to be careful not to come over the top as your body will likely try to position the club outside of the target line that it knows best as it heads toward impact (more on that below).
The previous part helped fix the club path but you’ll still need to fix the clubface angle at impact in order to fix your pull shot issues. And the easiest way to go about doing this is to simply modify the strength of your grip slightly. In most scenarios you’ll simply need to weaken your grip a little from what it was, be it strong or neutral.
If you were used to seeing three knuckles on your left hand – in a strong grip – then try a few shots with a grip where you only see two. And if you were already seeing only two knuckles – in a neutral grip – then try weakening it further and rotating your hands until you only see one knuckle for a weak grip (more on grip strengths and their effects).
More on: How to correctly grip a golf club
OR PULL FIX #3: Aim to the right of the target
If you find it too difficult to alter your swing and club path – or if you’d rather keep it as is – then you can opt to simply aim right of the target when setting up for a shot.
While this doesn’t fundamentally fix your golf swing it will help you get the ball on target.
This solution can also be helpful whenever you have specific clubs with which you tend to hit pulls. Aiming right with those particular clubs will help your shots reach the target without changing your whole swing.
Related Golf Swing Errors
Are you coming over the top?
The reason your club path might be of the outside-in variety may have something to do with an infamous golf swing error. Yes, it is quite possible that you are “coming over the top”, or that your swing is “over the top”.
This swing error features a clubhead brought outside of the target line and only crossing it on the way to impact with the ball, or in other words, an outside-in club path.
In order to avoid an over the top swing path you will need to focus on the downswing. Rather than pushing the club outside of the target line as you begin the downswing you will need to focus on bringing the club down from inside of the target line as it should, rotating around your body in the process.
More on: Over the Top – Swing Error
Do you lock your left knee at impact?
Another swing error you might be doing which could cause pulled shot has something to do with your left knee and how it is used at impact.
Some golfers lock their left – forward – knee at impact and while it is not necessarily a problem in itself it can lead to balls that shoots straight left. This is explained by the fact locking that knee will change the angle in your hips, closing them towards the left side and in doing so promoting an outside-in swing path.
If you are locking your left knee at impact and are pulling shots to the left, try maintaining the knee flex constant instead. Or in other words, try to keep the knee flex that was set at address constant throughout the swing, up to and including impact with the ball.
More on: Locking your Left Knee – Swing Error
Other Possible Reasons
It is still possible that none of the previous sets of causes are to blame for your pulling shot issues. If that’s the case, read further for other possible reasons.
Ball too much forward in stance?
It is also possible that the ball was simply placed too much forward in your stance at address.
That’s right, a ball too far forward for the shot at hand can produce pulls because it can combine the two impact components previously discussed: clubface pointing left of the target and square with the path.
As the name suggests, in an inside-square-inside club path the club will travel towards the inside after the normal impact point, which will match that of an outside-in path. And as the hands naturally release, the club can become closed if the ball is placed too much forward.
FIX: Move the ball back in your stance a little
In order to diagnose if this is the problem with your swing simply move the ball back in your stance a little at address. Specifically, do this for individual clubs if you are only having issues with some in your bag.
Are you standing too low? Are you clubs too upright?
It is also possible that the clubs you are using are not right for your body height or your swing pattern.
If the lies of your clubs – the angle between your shaft and ground at address – are too high then your club will not be flat as it will penetrate the ground. Instead, the toes will stay off the ground, which may ultimately contribute to sending the ball to the left.
Otherwise, it is possible that you are bent too low at address, either through excessive forward spine angle tilt or knee flex.
FIX: Stand taller at address or get custom fitted and purchase flatter clubs
Was the ball lying above your feet?
Golf balls lying above your feet, on a sidehill, have a tendency to shoot left of the target.
The reason they do is because the sidehill will promote a flatter swing that will leads to a more aggressive release of the hands.
This will naturally close the clubface and send the ball to the left of the target.
FIX: Aim right of the target.
More on: How to hit when the ball is above your feet
Are your grips too small?
Another possible explanation for balls that shoot left lies with the size of your grips.
Generally speaking, small grips promote an active release of the hands ahead of impact, which can cause the clubface to close.
More on: Golf Grips