Hitting a golf ball


To hit the ball, the club is swung at the motionless ball wherever it has come to rest from a side stance. Many golf shots make the ball travel through the air (carry) and roll out for some more distance (roll).

Putts and short chips are ideally played without much movement of the body, but most other golf shots are played using variants of the full golf swing. The full golf swing itself is used in tee and fairway shots.

A full swing is a coiling and uncoiling of the body aimed at accelerating the club head to a great speed. For a right-handed golfer, it consists of a backswing to the right, a downswing to the left (during which the ball is hit), and a follow through. The fastest recorded golf club head speed is 217 miles per hour (349 km/h).

The full golf swing is a complex motion that is often difficult to learn. It is common for beginners to spend some time practicing the very basics before playing their first ball on a course. Generally, even once a golfer has attained professional status, a coach is still necessary in order for the player to maintain good fundamentals. Every shot is a compromise between length and precision, and long shots are often less precise than short ones. A longer shot may result in a better score if it helps reduce the total number of strokes for a given hole, but the benefit may be more than outweighed by additional strokes or penalties if a ball is lost, out of bounds, or comes to rest on difficult ground. Therefore, a skilled golfer must assess the quality of his or her shots in a particular situation in order to judge whether the possible benefits of aggressive play are worth the risks.

Types of shots

Strictly speaking, every shot made in a round of golf will be subtly different, because the conditions of the ball’s lie and desired travel path and distance will virtually never be exactly the same. However, most shots fall into one of the following categories depending on the purpose and desired distance:

  • A putt is a shot designed to roll the ball along the ground. It is normally made on the putting green using a putter, though other clubs may be used to achieve the same effect in different situations. A lag is a long putt designed less to try to place the ball in the cup than simply to move the ball a long distance across the putting green for an easier short putt into the cup.
  • A chip shot is a very short lofted shot, generally made with an abbreviated swing motion. Chip shots are used as very short approach shots (generally within 35 yards/32 meters), as a “lay-up” shot to reposition the ball on the fairway, or to get the ball out of a hazard such as a sand trap. This requires a lofted club, usually a wedge.
  • A pitch or bump and run is a variation of a chip shot, which involves pitching the ball a short distance and allowing the ball to run along the ground with a medium- or high-lofted club using a motion simliar to putting.
  • Punch or knock-down shots are very low-loft shots of varying distance. They are used to avoid hitting the ball into overhead obstructions, or when hitting into the wind.
  • A Flop Shot is when a player opens the club face on a chip shot to get the ball to fly over an obstacle and stop quickly when it hits the ground.
  • A drive is a long-distance shot played from the tee or fairway, intended to move the ball a great distance down the fairway towards the green. The driver or 1-wood is used for this shot which is the longest and largest golf club.
  • An approach shot is made with the intention of placing the ball on the green. The term “approach” typically refers to a second or subsequent shot with a shorter-range iron depending on the distance required.
  • Lay-up shots are made from the fairway after a drive or from the rough, but intended to travel a shorter distance than might normally be expected and/or with a higher degree of accuracy, due to intervening circumstances. Most often, a lay-up shot is made to avoid hitting the ball into a hazard placed in the fairway, or to position the ball in a more favorable position on the fairway for the next shot. They are “safe” shots; the player is choosing not to try to make a very long or oddly placed shot correctly, therefore avoiding the risk that they will make it incorrectly and incur penalty strokes, at the cost of requiring one or more additional strokes to place the ball on the green.
  • A draw is when a player shapes a shot from right to left in a curving motion (or left to right for a left-handed player). This occurs when the clubface is closed relative to the swingpath.
  • A hook is a shot which moves severely from right to left (or left to right for a left-handed player). More skilled players can hook the ball at will, but most commonly a hook is a badly misplayed shot that often has negative consequences as a result.
  • A fade is when a player shapes a shot from left to right in a curving motion (or right to left for a left-handed player). This occurs when the clubface is open relative to the swingpath.
  • A slice is a shot which moves severely from the left to right (or right to left for a left-handed player). Similarly to the hook, skillful players can slice the ball when necessary. The slice, however is the most common fault of the average golfer’s swing, and it is quite common to see golfer’s adjusting to play for it. The loss of distance from playing the slice is usually the extent of the penalty, but slices, especially unexpected ones can get the player into trouble as well.
  • A shank occurs when the club strikes the ball close to the joint between the shaft of the club and the club head, called the hosel, and thus flies at a sharp angle to the right of the intended direction (or to the left, for a left-handed player). It is often called a “lateral” describing the path of the shot. Shanking can become difficult to stop when started.
  • A topped or bladed shot occurs when the forward edge of the club head strikes the ball too high, ie at the center of the ball instead of underneath as intended, and the ball thus flies very low or rolls along the ground.
  • A fat shot, known as a chunk on chips, occurs when the club head strikes the ground behind the ball, making a large divot instead of striking the ball cleanly, causing the shot to come up short of the target.

Rare Football Programmes – Program covering all events in the Xth Olympiad in Los Angeles, July 30th – 14th August 14 1932. Includes timetable, map and ticket information.



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