Learning to control trajectory is a powerful, stroke-saving skill. It can get you out of many trouble spots when you need to the most, like when you need to punch out from a clump of trees. It even leaves you with an easily makeable putt when pitching to the green. Controlling trajectory can turn two, or even three, strokes into one. More importantly, it can help cut strokes from your golf handicap.
Your club has two lofts—as students often learn in golf lessons. One is the “built-in” loft. It’s created by the clubface’s angle when the shaft is perpendicular to the ground. This is the loft the club was designed with. The other loft is the club’s “effective” loft. This is the loft created at impact. Thus, you can use the same club to generate high or low shots—but only if you can control the loft. If you hit the ball consistently high or low, take a golf tip from me: Learn to change directories. Sooner or later, you’ll need one of those shots.
Here’s how to change shot trajectories:
Every golfer should learn to hit a shot with low trajectory. It’s ideal on tight lies or bare dirt. It’s also ideal when buried in rough, punching out from the trees, or in a strong wind. It offers minimal risk. Even bad shots can turn out okay because the ball keeps rolling. With this shot, the ball has more backspin than normal, so you can learn to make it stop short on some shots. This type of shot is often taught in golf instruction sessions.
Start by positioning the ball back, in line with your back ear. Your hands should be close to your front thigh. If right-handed, that’s your left thigh. If left-handed, that’s your right thigh. Your hands should be in front of the ball not only at set-up but also at impact. Your weight should be leaning forward. This set-up insures a downward blow, causing the club to pinch the ball against the dirt.
This is the least used trajectory. It’s ideal for medium to light rough, normal fairway conditions, and if there’s no obstacle to go over. It offers minimal to moderate risk. It’s not nearly as easy to make solid contact with this shot as it is when hitting a low trajectory shot. The swing is more like a sweeping motion.
Position the ball in the middle of your stance, in line with your belt buckle. Keep your hands under your belt buckle, but leaning slightly forward. Lean the shaft forward a bit, which helps promote solid contact. Distribute your weight evenly over booth feet, instead of favoring your front foot. With this swing, you’ll still hit down on the ball but take less divot, unlike the trapping feel of the low trajectory shot.
Often taught in golf lessons, this shot requires a lot of practice. But it’s a great tool. Use it when the ball is resting on a cushion of grass, when you need altitude quickly. The risk here is high. There’s not much room for error here. It’s not always easy to slide the club under the ball while leaning the shaft back.
Position the ball forward, in line with the left ear. Place the hands slightly back of center. Be careful. If the hands are too far back, you risk hitting a low, skulled shot.. Your weight should be slightly open. Aim left of the target, if you’re right-handed. Aim right of target, if you’re left-handed. Open the clubface as well. The lie is critical with this shot. Don’t fall in love with this shot. It can cost you strokes, as I tell students in my golf instruction sessions, if you mis hit it too often.
Confidence in hitting shots with different trajectories is crucial. So practice the shots described above until you’ve mastered them. The effort will pay off. Learning to control the trajectory of your shots leaves you in good position to hit your next shot and saves strokes. If you’re serious about whittling strokes from your golf handicap, learn to control trajectory. Knowing how to control shot trajectory is a powerful weapon.
Jack Moorehouse is the author of the best-selling book “How To Break 80 And Shoot Like The Pros.” He is NOT a golf pro, rather a working man that has helped thousands of golfers from all seven continents lower their handicap immediately. He has a free weekly newsletter with the latest golf tips, golf lessons and golf instruction.