In golf a push – or a pushed shot – is one that sees the ball starting right of the target initially and continuing on straight that line, without lateral spin. It is in effect a straight shot that misses right 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 push shots and in order to get some advice on how to stop hitting them.
What Causes a Push?
Clubface Open 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 at impact. And because the ball shoots right of the target, it most likely means the clubface was open at impact, that it was aiming right of the target.
But it also means the swing path was of the inside-to-in variety, resulting in a clubface that is square to the club path where both are pointing to the right of the target, and ultimately a pull.
Likely Reason #1:
Are You Aligned Right of the Target?
Before digging further into the causes of your pushed shots you need to make sure they do not occur simply as a result of bad alignment prior to hitting.
Quite simply, a push is a straight shot but one that misses the target to the right. But if you were not careful in aiming at the target while setting up and were instead aiming right, 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. That means the clubface should point directly at the target line and your feet must be on a line parallel to that line for a square stance.
PUSH FIX #1: Check your aim and stance
Make sure to aim properly and adopt a square stance instead of a closed 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 push shots, starting with the likely reason #2 below.
Likely Reason #2:
Inside-Out Swing and Weak 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 inside-out variety. That’s right, in contrast to the inside-square-inside or outside-in club paths, yours probably sees the club heading into impact from inside the target line, crossing that target line at impact and continuing outside before ultimately returning back as you rotate around your body during the follow through.
In combination with an inside-out club path your clubface is most likely open to the target at impact. More than any other factor, this explains why the ball shoots right 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 opening that clubface during the swing and leading up to the impact. And the likeliest reason why that would happen is that you are probably using a grip that is simply too weak.
A weak grip promotes a lazy release of the club which translates into an open clubface at impact.
PUSH FIX #2: Move to In-Square-In Club Path and Stronger Grip
In order to fundamentally fix the pushed shots in your game you will need to work on your golf swing and the club path that it produces.
The first step into fixing an inside-out swing involves the takeaway where you will want to take your club back square instead of taking it back inside. Exaggerating while practicing where you take it back outside might even be helpful in getting the right feel for a square takeaway (more on proper club positioning during the takeaway).
Now that you’ve fixed the club path you will need to move on to fixing the clubface angle at impact. Only then will you be able to get rid of your pushed shots. And the easiest way to fix an open clubface at impact is to simply modify the strength of your grip slightly.
In most scenarios you’ll simply need to strengthen your grip a little from what it was, whether it be weak or neutral.
If you were used to seeing only one knuckle on your left hand at address – typical of a weak grip – then try a few shots with a grip where you now see two. And if you were already seeing two knuckles – typical of a neutral grip – then try strengthening it further through rotating your hands on the club until you see three knuckles, a feature of a strong grip (more on grip strengths and their effects).
More on: How to grip a golf club correctly
OR PUSH FIX #3: Aim to the left of the target
If modifying your swing and club path is proving too difficult or if you’d rather not go through fundamental changes to the swing itself then you can decide to simply aim left of the target while setting up for a shot.
While doing so won’t fundamentally fix your push shot issues and rid your game of them it will help you get the ball on target.
This solution – however temporary it is – can also be helpful whenever you have specific clubs with which you tend to hit pushes.
For example, high lofted wedges can sometimes give golfers push issues and simply aiming left whenever using such a club can prove plentiful in not letting push shots ruin a golf round.
Related Golf Swing Errors
Are you blocking your shots?
It is also possible that you are pushing shots to the right because you are committing a golf swing error known as blocking shots.
Blocking – or in other words not finishing the swing or staying committed to it – leaves the body and clubface open to the target at impact.
If you suspect you might be blocking shots then you will need to focus on making sure to hit through the ball. Or in other words, you need to make sure not to view impact with the ball as the end goal of the swing but rather see the ball as being located in the way of a good complete swing.
More on: Blocking Shots – Swing Error
Are you locking your right knee at the top of the swing?
Another possible explanation for pushing shots to the right involves your right knee and how it is used at the top of the swing.
While they rotate back and bring the club up to the top of the swing some golfers tend to lock their right knee. Doing so is not necessarily a problem in itself but it can lead to an inside-out swing. And doing so modifies the angle of the hips and tends to promote and inside-out swing as the club is brought down toward impact with the ball.
If you are noticing your right knee locking up at the top of the swing and are seeing pushed shots to the right you may want to focus on that area as a possible explanation for your shot errors.
Simply focus on keeping the flex set in that knee at address constant throughout the swing, and most importantly keep it from locking up at the top of the swing.
More on: Locking the right knee at the top of the swing
Are you holding on to your club too tightly (too much grip pressure)?
A third golf swing error that could be responsible for pushing shots to the right involves the actual pressure you apply to your grips with your hands.
That’s because holding on to your club too tightly with your hands can restrict the release of the clubface at impact, leaving it open to the target and making a push a possibility.
The amount of pressure you use to hold on to your golf clubs should be moderate at most, and ideally on the light side. The famous image to use is to imagine you are holding a live bird in your hands, or that you are holding on to an open tube of toothpaste.
More on: Grip the club like you are holding a bird
Other Possible Reasons
It is still possible that none of the previous reasons are to blame for your pushing shot issues. If that’s the case, read further for other possible reasons.
Ball too much back in stance?
Another reason behind pushed shot may lie simply in balls that are placed too far back in your stance at address.
Such a ball placement can produce pushes because it combines the two elements required for such a shot; clubface pointing right of the target at impact and an inside-out club path.
By catching the ball before it was meant to – as might happen in a ball positioned back in your stance – your clubface will not have had time to fully rotate and will instead show an open face at impact.
This will explain the initial ball direction to the right of the target but it will also explain why an inside-out club path was found at impact. Indeed, in an enviable and correct inside-square-inside club path, the club will seem to travel in an inside-out path on both side of impact with the ball if it is struck too soon in the swing arc.
FIX: Move the ball forward in your stance a little
In order to determine whether your ball positioning is to blame for your pushes simply try placing your shots a little forward in your stance, or at least more forward that you are used to. And if particular clubs produce that ball flight then you’ll want to make sure to target those before any other.
Are you standing too tall? Are you clubs too flat?
Another possible explanation for pushed shots is that you are using clubs that are too flat for your posture.
Clubs whose lie angles are too low for a particular person will translate into shots made when the clubhead does not lie flatly on the ground. Rather, in these instances the heel of the club will be sticking out, which will produce shots that go to the right of the target.
Otherwise, it is also possible that you are standing too tall at address, with too little forward spine tilt and/or knee flex.
Both of these can contribute to your hitting the ball with a club crooked towards the toe.
FIX: Don’t stand as tall at address or get custom fitted and purchase clubs that are more upright
Was the ball lying below your feet?
The lie you face for a shot can also contribute to the direction the ball will take after being struck.
Golf balls that are lying below your feet which happen when you are standing on a sidehill will naturally leave the clubface open at impact and will send the ball right of the target.
FIX: Aim left of the target
More on: How to hit when the ball is below your feet
Are your grips too big?
A further explanation into why you are pushing shots to the right of the target can be found in the size of your grips.
Grip manufacturers now offer grips that come in many sizes and it is entirely possible that you may be using grips that are simply too big.
Grips that are too big tend to restrict the release of the hands – and of the club – at impact, which translates into an open clubface and ultimately to shots that see the ball go right of the target.
More on: Golf Grips