Jake was a competitive golfer for over a decade dating back to the days of being the Captain of his high school golf team. He has played more than 200 courses across 32 different states in the US. Now semi-retired, Jake continues to golf 3-4 days a week with a current 2 handicap, gives golf lessons to his friends and family, and provides a wealth of knowledge to Golf Circuit from his competitive playing days. Jake combines practical expertise with technical knowledge to create golfing strategies and training techniques for both beginners and scratch golfers.
A pulled shot isn’t necessarily the end of the world, and it doesn’t always result in big numbers.
But if you’re consistently pulling golf shots to the left or hitting double-crosses regularly, you’ll definitely be wanting to fix this as soon as possible.
We’ve taken an in-depth look at the most common reasons that you’ll be pulling your shots and give you some tips and advice on how best to address them.
With this information, we’re certain you’ll be shooting straight in no time.
What Defines A Pulled Shot?
A pulled shot is when the golf ball is left of the target after leaving your club.
When a shot is pulled, the golf ball will usually behave in three ways, which negatively affect the shot.
Often, the ball will stay to the target’s left and travel between 5 and 15 yards further than usual.
The ball may also start off to the left of the intended target but then cut back in right, and in this instance, it will usually travel around the same distance as usual.
The third possibility is a pull hook in which the golf ball starts off left of the target and then keeps going further left.
This is the worst of the three pulled shots as it will travel further than you intended it to and will most likely roll for much longer as well.
The Reasons You’re Pulling Golf Shots
Swinging over the top
If you’re coming from over the top, it means that your swing path is outside of the target line. This will result in your club face making contact with the outside cover of the ball.
This is often caused by your shoulders incorrectly rotating when you’re at the top of your backswing resulting in a looping downswing that is outside of the target line.
Coming over the top during your golf swing can also be because your dominant wrist is straightening out too soon, causing you to yank the ball.
Incorrect ball position
A common mistake that many golfers make on tee shots is placing the ball too far up in their stance. Where you place the golf ball in your stance is super important.
If the golf ball is too far forward, then releasing the golf club becomes more difficult as it will happen further up in your swing than it should.
Sometimes, a pulled shot may simply be the result of the fact that you’re not properly aligned for the shot and are actually aiming to the left.
This means that you’re hitting a straight shot rather than a pulled shot, but as you’re aiming left of the target, you guessed it, your shot is going to go to the left.
If you’re hitting a lot of pulled iron shots, it may also be because you’re gripping the club too tightly. This often means that your club face will be closed during your downswing and at impact.
Your club face will then roll forward slightly, meaning that you will hit the ball on the outside cover, pulling your golf shot left of your intended target.
5 Ways To Stop Pulling Your Iron Shots
Adjust your swing shape
If you are coming over the top regularly and pulling a lot of shots. As a result, it may well be because you have what’s known as a ‘loud’ upper body at the start of your downswing.
You can address this by making sure that you turn your lead hip first to begin your downswing, which means your club will be in a far better position when you hit the ball.
Your golf swing will also be affected if you tend to throw your shoulders outside of the swing plane.
If you took your dominant shoulder in whilst dropping your hands through impact, this should help to keep your club face square at impact.
Correct your ball position
One of the most frequent causes of pulled golf shots is having the ball placed too far forward, as this results in the club face being closed at impact.
Placing the golf ball too far forward may also result in a fat shot where you hit the ground before the ball. Or, you may hit the ball first and have a shot where the ball flight is too high.
If you ask a golf instructor about this issue, the quick fix they would probably recommend would be to try placing the ball one or two inches further back than you usually would, even if this feels strange at first.
Change your alignment
It could well be the case that your pulled shots are not actually down to any swing issues but are just being caused by bad alignment.
To correct this, you should try using alignment sticks for golf when practicing your swing at the driving range, as this will give you immediate feedback on how you’re aligning yourself before you swing.
Using alignment sticks will help you to make sure that your hips, feet, shoulders, and torso are in line with your target and parallel to the golf ball before you take your swing.
Remember to leave enough room between the golf ball and the sticks so that you can stand at the right distance from the ball.
If you consistently work this into your practice sessions, then over time, you should be able to stop worrying about your alignment and start working solely on improving your swing.
Adjust your club angle
Consistent pulled shots can often be the result of the toe of your club face pointing upwards when addressing the ball. This means that you’re more likely to connect with the outer cover of the ball and pull the shot.
Make sure that your club’s heel is flat on the grass when you address the ball, as it should prevent you from holding the club in too much of an upright position and reduce the chances of hitting pulled iron shots.
If you’re lucky enough to have a set of irons fitted for your stance and swing, then adjusting your club angle shouldn’t ever be much of an issue for you.
If not, then you should focus on adjusting your club shaft to the proper angle each time that you address the ball.
Hit the inside of the ball
One of the best ways to stop pulling your iron shots is to make sure you consistently connect with the ball’s inside part. You’ll most likely be doing this because the club face isn’t square at impact.
To correct this, practice hitting shots with your dominant palm behind the shaft of the golf club open and pointing towards the inside of the golf ball.
This practice method is a great way for your wrists and hands to get a good feel for what a successful impact with the ball is like and will get you used to making swings that keep the ball on target.
These shots won’t go as far as a full shot would, but they are just for practicing and will help you improve your swing for when you’re out on the golf course.
2 Drills To Help You Prevent Pulled Iron Shots
Drop your back foot drill
This drill is perfect if you’re consistently coming over the top during your downswing and pulling shots because of it.
To begin the drill, choose either an eight iron or a nine iron and tee the ball up at the height you normally would.
As you address the ball, move your back foot between 4 to 6 inches backward from where you would normally place it.
The toes on your back foot should be level with the middle of your front foot, which will naturally create a swing path that goes from in to out.
Once you’re in the correct stance, swing the club inside to out and back on your toe lines.
You should lower the tempo of your swings by about 70% and should only aim to hit the shots about three-quarters of the usual distance.
This drill will help you to become familiar with the feeling of swinging from inside to out on the downswing.
Pool noodle drill
This is a good drill that you can use to help you correct your swing if you don’t have any alignment sticks.
Take a shortened pool noodle and align it to the side of the golf ball and to the right of your target.
Use a seven iron or an eight iron and practice hitting shots where your hips slide along the angle of the pool noodle in an inside to outside swing path. Picking up a trainer like the Lag Shot 7 Iron may also be beneficial.
When you’ve hit a few practice shots with the pool noodle, try hitting shots in the same way but without the pool noodle.
Although pulled shots can still be played, especially if they fade back right, to have a good chance of breaking 80, you’ll need to make them as rare an occurrence as possible.
Before you start making lots of changes to your swing, make sure that you identify why you’re pulling shots first, as it could simply be a case of misalignment rather than a problem with your actual swing.
Once you know what the issue is, you should be able to address it with the advice and drills we’ve detailed above and make consistent pulls a thing of the past.