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Thoughts on Shot Shaping?


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I was curious to take other's thoughts about how they approach a hole with a slight dogleg.  Holes that obviously call for a draw or fade.  I tend to have a natural fade to my ball so I will usually play on the right side to let it go straight or fade over and generally take out the right side of the course as often as I can(remember I'm a lefty)

Below as example: If I was a Righty, I would still be aiming at tree line to let my fade to over or if I hit it straight I'm ok.  I normally wouldn't be going for the draw here.

image.png.0a53b80d999c1604512fccbde44f8e6c.png

If I have to play a draw, I usually can shape it without much difficulty, but usually have trouble knowing how much it will turn over since that's not my natural shape.

Also would be curious on straighter holes, what are you thoughts.  Play down a certain side of the fairway to play your natural shape?  Pick a spot and try to hit a straight ball?  What has worked for you?

I've heard a lot of instructors with differing thoughts that make sense to me.  If you can't break 80 by hitting it straight, you shouldn't be trying to shape it very often.  Others will say the higher percentage is to have a shape in mind (rather than straight) to take a side of the hole out of play.  Jack Nicklaus used to approach tough driving holes by aiming down the same side of OB and fading/drawing away from it dependent on what was needed.

Part of my ask on this was that I played with my boss the other day and he is probably a 36+ handicap that hardly plays and has a Wilson Box set that has "mid trajectory senior shaft" that are graphite and obviously not right for his game by any stretch (he is a 45 y/o former hockey player).  But, he did not think about these things whatsoever.  He would just aim down the middle or at the pin.  I talked a bit about course strategy and had him playing left of greens for his push fade/slice and he ended with a 102 that could have easily been a 95.

 

Edited by juspoole

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@juspoole I am a righty, but my natural shot shape is like yours, a fade. For the hole you referenced above, I’d start it over the trees closest to the fairway and let it fade back into the fairway. I’d also make sure that if I happen to hit it straighter than normal that I wouldn’t leave myself deep in the woods, but rather left rough at worst. The tough part is committing to the shot. You are basically hitting over trouble and praying the ball does what you want it to. 
 

I have not practiced enough with hitting draws when I need to. Usually when I am forced to hit a draw on the course I either block it or hit a drawing worm burner. I tend to just stick to my fade shot and work with what I got on each shot.

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This hole would be a green light for me to bomb a fade with my driver. I’d aim center fairway and let it bleed left, assuming I wouldn’t blow through the fairway if it stayed straight. If I felt driver was too long, I’d go 3w but aim at the left corner of the fairway since I tend to draw my 3w. If that was too much club, I’d play my draw off the left again but with my hybrid. Distance, shape, and how I’m playing at the time are the factors I look at.

I always have a shape in mind. I know as a 20 handicap my opinion doesn’t carry much weight but I can’t swing freely, physically or mentally, without some sort of picture in my head of shape and the triggers that go with it. I have to feel something in my swing that tells me the ball is going one way. Otherwise I make an uneasy, tight swing with no idea where the ball may go.


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What is the distance to the green? Distance to carry the trees on the left edge of the fairway? Distance through the fairway, down the middle, to the trees?
All depends on the answer to those. If the trees are “carry-able”, I’m going right over the top with a slight fade, knowing if it fades more I’m good, and if I double-cross I’m good. If the hole is less than 400 yards, and dead center of the fairway past the trees on the left is 150 or less, I’m hitting fairway metal/hybrid/4 iron to a distance I like for my wedge into the green.

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When I try to play a draw here, 8 out of 10 I'll end up overturning it and ending in the trees to the left (distances here are meters, so add 10% for yards)

I now tee off with a 4i and try to leave the ball left of the bunkers for a longer approach with my usual fade.

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When I try to play a draw here, 8 out of 10 I'll end up overturning it and ending in the trees to the left (distances here are meters, so add 10% for yards)
I now tee off with a 4i and try to leave the ball left of the bunkers for a longer approach with my usual fade.
image.png.321ddc8d5dbdfd3a832219910ce1672b.png

Yeah, I’d play my 3 hybrid, maybe 4 iron, toward the trap that would be 240 from the black tees, leaving me between 100 & 150 in.


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I grew up playing on a cornfield course. Not many trees and most of the holes were right on top of each other.

Driving accuracy didn’t matter except for 3-4 holes.

The rough was just hard pan mashed down weeds, so the lies were usually thin and easy to pick clean.

When I first started playing I hit only fades, mostly due to some poor instruction from my dads friend.

When I picked golf up again a few years back I told myself I wanted to hit only draws. Believe it or not, all of my old swing habits from hitting fades/slices all my life were still there.

I completely messed up a nice controlled fade swing to get the draw going....

Now here I am looking to forget all the draw stuff I learned.

For the example hole you have there if there was room off the tee I would aim for over top of those trees on the left side of the fairway and hit a high fade. If not, I’d probably try to scuttle a little hook 3/4 iron off the center of the fairway.

For the second hole that Kanoito has there for us, I’d just play a 2 hybrid, it usually draws a smidge.

But, whenever I get back out there I’m going Trevino style first round. Eliminate that left side of the course.

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I don't worry about it. I hit draws and bombs. I'll back off and play to the corner if a hole doesn't fit my shape.

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7 hours ago, juspoole said:

I was curious to take other's thoughts about how they approach a hole with a slight dogleg.  Holes that obviously call for a draw or fade.  I tend to have a natural fade to my ball so I will usually play on the right side to let it go straight or fade over and generally take out the right side of the course as often as I can(remember I'm a lefty)

Below as example: If I was a Righty, I would still be aiming at tree line to let my fade to over or if I hit it straight I'm ok.  I normally wouldn't be going for the draw here.

image.png.0a53b80d999c1604512fccbde44f8e6c.png

If I have to play a draw, I usually can shape it without much difficulty, but usually have trouble knowing how much it will turn over since that's not my natural shape.

Also would be curious on straighter holes, what are you thoughts.  Play down a certain side of the fairway to play your natural shape?  Pick a spot and try to hit a straight ball?  What has worked for you?

I've heard a lot of instructors with differing thoughts that make sense to me.  If you can't break 80 by hitting it straight, you shouldn't be trying to shape it very often.  Others will say the higher percentage is to have a shape in mind (rather than straight) to take a side of the hole out of play.  Jack Nicklaus used to approach tough driving holes by aiming down the same side of OB and fading/drawing away from it dependent on what was needed.

Part of my ask on this was that I played with my boss the other day and he is probably a 36+ handicap that hardly plays and has a Wilson Box set that has "mid trajectory senior shaft" that are graphite and obviously not right for his game by any stretch (he is a 45 y/o former hockey player).  But, he did not think about these things whatsoever.  He would just aim down the middle or at the pin.  I talked a bit about course strategy and had him playing left of greens for his push fade/slice and he ended with a 102 that could have easily been a 95.

 

I also have a light fade. If I come up to a draw bias hole I’m laying up. Take aim at open area and take my medicine. Not sure if I will ever have that shot in my bag (planned shot anyway)

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I have a natural draw so for the hole mentioned above I would hit whatever club needed to set myself up with the yardage I wanted. If I have to fade it, I have no problem with doing that either. I can control either shot, the only thing keeping me from shooting lower than high 70's is inconsistent wedge play and putting.

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Generally I’ll play my straight/fade shot (or whatever shot I brought to the course that day). If I need to shape one it will depend on how well I’m striking it and what club I need to use. I’m pretty comfortable moving my 5 wood left and right. But my driver I try to keep straight or fade. 

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I draw with my irons but I'm more comfortable fading with a driver. That being said, on a dog leg I always aim straight ahead or slightly with the leg because I know the curve will even out with the leg it's dogging too.

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When I’m playing well it’s a straight iron and a slight cut off the driver. Straight is good, fades work and left means I’m all out of whack. 
 

Yes, I can work the ball on command but I’ll take straight all day long. 

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7 hours ago, DaveP043 said:

 I do my best to play that pattern on every possible shot.  

This should be the goal of all golfers. Get really good at one thing! There are very few holes where you can’t get away with playing your normal shape, no matter if it is a fade or a draw. 

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I think playing for your natural shot shape is generally best for most players as shaping the ball on command can be difficult for a lot of people.

One thing you could do to handle for doglegs that don't fit your driver shape is to get a 3 wood or another tee club that you naturally shape the other way. This is what Jon Rahm does. His driver is his fade club and his 3 wood is his draw club.

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On 6/6/2020 at 3:13 PM, DaveP043 said:

I'm a decent player, at a 6 handicap.  I have a straight to gentle draw pattern naturally.  I do my best to play that pattern on every possible shot.  I'm a 6 handicap, and I'm not good enough to hit a controlled fade AND a controlled draw.  I CAN hit it straight to draw most of the time.  

I'm pretty much in the same book and a simular player as Dave. I'm not a high ball hitter so cutting doglegs over trees is a non starter. I'm also not much of a risk taker. Like Dave I can hit a sweeping cut or hook on demand - but usually it's to get out of trouble and my success rate is probably slightly better than 50/50. I like to stick with my stock shot shape 95% of the time. And that makes for a low stress round too.

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On 6/6/2020 at 7:16 AM, juspoole said:

I was curious to take other's thoughts about how they approach a hole with a slight dogleg.  Holes that obviously call for a draw or fade.  I tend to have a natural fade to my ball so I will usually play on the right side to let it go straight or fade over and generally take out the right side of the course as often as I can(remember I'm a lefty)

Below as example: If I was a Righty, I would still be aiming at tree line to let my fade to over or if I hit it straight I'm ok.  I normally wouldn't be going for the draw here.

image.png.0a53b80d999c1604512fccbde44f8e6c.png

If I have to play a draw, I usually can shape it without much difficulty, but usually have trouble knowing how much it will turn over since that's not my natural shape.

Also would be curious on straighter holes, what are you thoughts.  Play down a certain side of the fairway to play your natural shape?  Pick a spot and try to hit a straight ball?  What has worked for you?

I've heard a lot of instructors with differing thoughts that make sense to me.  If you can't break 80 by hitting it straight, you shouldn't be trying to shape it very often.  Others will say the higher percentage is to have a shape in mind (rather than straight) to take a side of the hole out of play.  Jack Nicklaus used to approach tough driving holes by aiming down the same side of OB and fading/drawing away from it dependent on what was needed.

Part of my ask on this was that I played with my boss the other day and he is probably a 36+ handicap that hardly plays and has a Wilson Box set that has "mid trajectory senior shaft" that are graphite and obviously not right for his game by any stretch (he is a 45 y/o former hockey player).  But, he did not think about these things whatsoever.  He would just aim down the middle or at the pin.  I talked a bit about course strategy and had him playing left of greens for his push fade/slice and he ended with a 102 that could have easily been a 95.

 

What I glean from your question is more about course management than shot shape. 

If you can reliably shape the ball to put it in the short grass/on the green then do it. 

However, like most golfers who can't better scores can be had my taking away big misses. Laying up, not trying to cut corners, and not trying to shape shots will a lot of times result in no worse than bogey if you keep it on the short grass. 

Breaking 80 is 6 greens in reg with 2 putt pars, 6 up and downs for par (chip and 1 putt), and 6 missed greens with a chip and 2 putts for bogey. 

All that said, I shape shots, but mostly by accident. 

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Breaking 80 is 6 greens in reg with 2 putt pars, 6 up and downs for par (chip and 1 putt), and 6 missed greens with a chip and 2 putts for bogey. 


While statistically true not sure 50% up and down rate is very sustainable over time. Probably closer to 30%.

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5 hours ago, TimoTe said:

What I glean from your question is more about course management than shot shape.

After I my post, I thought the same, but by then it was too late or I was too lazy to change the title.  It seems like the majority of us are playing our go to stock shot whenever possible as we should with a few outliers.  

I'd be curious to see how the different levels of golfers think through a round.  0 - 5, 6 - 10, 11 - 15, etc....I wonder if you'd find that there is a lot  less input from the surroundings as you get to a lower handicap.

 

Appreciate the feedback from all.  Much of this is coming from my round with my boss and really does stem from the course management conversation.

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14 minutes ago, juspoole said:

I'd be curious to see how the different levels of golfers think through a round.  0 - 5, 6 - 10, 11 - 15, etc....I wonder if you'd find that there is a lot  less input from the surroundings as you get to a lower handicap.

So I'm a 6 handicap currently, and I'm one who tries to play my stock shot unless its an emergency of some kind.  I'd say I use a lot of "input from the surroundings", I'm always evaluating where the trouble lies on a specific shot, where is the best combination of aggressive (get as close as possible) and safe (minimize "bad outcomes").  If there's OB on one side, I'm aiming at the edge of the fairway on the other side.  I'd rather be in the woods than OB.  If I'm not 75% to 80% certain I can clear a hazard, I'm looking to lay up.  I'll play away form bunkers, or pick a club that (mostly) takes them out of play.  I'm never looking for Zero Risk, that would mean hitting wedge all the way to the hole, I'm looking for closest to the hole with acceptable risk.  But to evaluate risk, you need to understand the surroundings, and you need to understand your own game, your own shot distribution.  And there's the reason to go with the "standard" shot pattern as much as possible, most people will have a tighter shot distribution with their "standard" shot.

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I can hit a fade better than a draw because I started golf with a slice.  But either one is difficult; I mostly try to hit straight.  If I have to hit one or the other because of "conditions" where I can't go straight, it's "hit and hope".  However, I will never try one of those shots with a club that would put me into more trouble than where I am.  For example, I wouldn't hit a club around a tree that if I hit it well, would go straight into the water.  

We don’t stop playing the game because we get old; we get old because we stop playing the game.”

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I always hit a cut, always!  For this shot I'd aim at the inside corner, let it cut and make sure I used a club that wouldn't go thru the fairway. 

 :wilson_staff_small: :taylormade-small: :cobra-small: :touredgeexotics: :cleveland-small: :PXG:               

Cobra SpeedZone 9*
TourEdge EXS 18* 
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3 hours ago, cnosil said:

 


While statistically true not sure 50% up and down rate is very sustainable over time. Probably closer to 30%.

 

It is more of a mental adjustment to take a look at the yardages and plan on bogey for holes that might be just outside of GIR. 

For instance, a 450 yd par 4. Instead of going for the green on your second shot and making double when you miss wildly, you lay up to a yardage you know you can get up and down at least 50% of the time. Then at worst you get bogey and best is par. 

 

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It is more of a mental adjustment to take a look at the yardages and plan on bogey for holes that might be just outside of GIR. 
For instance, a 450 yd par 4. Instead of going for the green on your second shot and making double when you miss wildly, you lay up to a yardage you know you can get up and down at least 50% of the time. Then at worst you get bogey and best is par. 
 

I understand what you are saying, but getting up and down 50% if the time isn’t a realistic expectation to have it place on yourself. You are basically hitting every chip/pitch to inside 8 feet to accoMplish that up and down percentage.

Driver:  :ping-small: G400 Max 9* w/ KBS Tour Driven
Fairway: :touredgeexotics: XCG7 Beta 15*  w/Fujikura Fuel
Hybrids:  :titelist-small: 915H 21* w/KBS Tour Graphite Hybrid Prototype
                :titelist-small: 915H  24*  w/KBS Tour Graphite Hybrid Prototype        
Irons:      :honma:TR20V 6-11 w/Vizard TR20-85 Graphite
Wedge:  :titleist-small: 54/12D, 60/8M w/Accra iWedge 90 Graphite
Putter:   Sacks Parente MC 3 Stripe

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15 minutes ago, TimoTe said:

It is more of a mental adjustment to take a look at the yardages and plan on bogey for holes that might be just outside of GIR. 

For instance, a 450 yd par 4. Instead of going for the green on your second shot and making double when you miss wildly, you lay up to a yardage you know you can get up and down at least 50% of the time. Then at worst you get bogey and best is par. 

@cnosil is correct.  Just a look at the PGA Tour statistics from last season, middle of the pack got up and down about 32% from 30 yards or more.  From between 20 and 30 yards, the mid-level PGA Tour pro was about 55%.  Laying up will NEVER get you to a 50% up and down rate, not unless you're better than most Tour pros.  And for most 15 handicappers (I know, I'm picking on you a little bit), hitting the green and 2-putting for bogey isn't sure thing after a lay-up.  I'm a 6-handicap, and I still take 4 to get down from 80 yards sometimes.  Not that laying up is always a bad choice, but a player should be realistic about his expectations.

:titleist-small: Irons Titleist T200, AMT Red stiff

:callaway-small:Rogue SubZero, GD YS-Six X

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3 minutes ago, DaveP043 said:

@cnosil is correct.  Just a look at the PGA Tour statistics from last season, middle of the pack got up and down about 32% from 30 yards or more.  From between 20 and 30 yards, the mid-level PGA Tour pro was about 55%.  Laying up will NEVER get you to a 50% up and down rate, not unless you're better than most Tour pros.  And for most 15 handicappers (I know, I'm picking on you a little bit), hitting the green and 2-putting for bogey isn't sure thing after a lay-up.  I'm a 6-handicap, and I still take 4 to get down from 80 yards sometimes.  Not that laying up is always a bad choice, but a player should be realistic about his expectations.

Pick away. I am totally fine with it. I have shot 7 over more than a handful of times and those were my best days. 

My point is just taking the pressure off of always thinking you have to go for the green to make GIR can cost you more strokes than it should. 

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1 minute ago, TimoTe said:

Pick away. I am totally fine with it. I have shot 7 over more than a handful of times and those were my best days. 

My point is just taking the pressure off of always thinking you have to go for the green to make GIR can cost you more strokes than it should. 

I agree, shot selection has to be based on something other than "This is a par-4, I have to try to hit the green".  Each shot should be evaluated based on potential risks and benefits.  And every shot should be evaluated without considering how many times you've hit the ball already.  The right shot selection is the one that produces the lowest score on average from this spot in to the hole.  And so often its not a binary choice.  Its not 3-wood in trouble vs 7-iron in the middle of the fairway.  You'll hit some great 3-woods, and hit some 7-irons in the woods, every choice is among shades of gray.

:titleist-small: Irons Titleist T200, AMT Red stiff

:callaway-small:Rogue SubZero, GD YS-Six X

:mizuno-small: T22 54 and 58 wedges

:mizuno-small: 7-wood

:Sub70: 5-wood

 B60 G5i putter

Right handed

Reston, Virginia

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I've also wondered frequently at what level do you start considering shaping your shots.  I've never thought of trying to shape until I'm like 5 handicap, but I know that is a flawed way of thinking in a lot of ways.  Others have hit the nail on the head in that it is more about course management than shaping (at least for the vast majority of us).

Driver: :callaway-small: Epic Flash Sub-Zero  Project X HZRDUS Smoke

3 Wood: image.jpeg.693c1038c87ba93f656427286d5ff6c6.jpeg M6 UST Mamiya Proforce V2

3 Hybrid: image.jpeg.693c1038c87ba93f656427286d5ff6c6.jpeg M6 UST Mamiya Proforce V2

4 Hybrid : image.jpeg.693c1038c87ba93f656427286d5ff6c6.jpeg M4 Stock Stiff Shaft

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