23 Types of Golf Shots: Fundamentals of the Game

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Types of Golf Shots

From chips to putts, drives and beyond, there are plenty of different golf shots names.  The best golfers are capable of hitting every type of shot.  Though you can certainly complete a round of golf by simply driving, chipping and putting, you won’t meet your true golfing potential unless you diversify your shot selection.  

There will be some situations where you have to hit a fade, a draw, a punch shot and a flop shot.  In fact, this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of golf shot names.  If you are not prepared to execute every type of golf shot, you won’t shoot a low score and you will eventually become frustrated with the game of golf. 

Whether you are a golfing newbie, an intermediate player or have had your fair share of success on the links, you can benefit from practicing and perfecting the many different types of golf shots.  Continue to perfect the shots described below and you will be able to shoot your lowest possible score, maximize your golfing potential and get the most out of the time and effort you dedicate to golfing.  

Here are the many different golf shots explained

Types of Golf Shots: Putt

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duVpMgaWHdI

Putts are the most basic of golf shots.  Golfers putt when their ball reaches the green.  However, some instances arise when it makes sense to putt from the fairway or even short rough rather than chipping from these surfaces.  Putting is performed with a golf putter which can be held utilizing multiple different grip styles.  Unless a golfer sinks a chip shot, an iron shot or his or her tee shot, the putt is the last shot a golfer hits on a hole.  

Everyday golfers can putt with a traditional putter or a belly putter.  Belly putters are different from conventional putters in that the shaft is anchored against the belly, providing additional stability to enhance the accuracy and speed of the putt.  However, it must be noted professional golfers playing in the United States are no longer allowed to use belly putters as these comparably long putters provide an unfair competitive advantage.  It is also worth noting the hole’s flagstick can be removed by the caddy or the player prior to the point at which the golf ball is putted.

Types of Golf Shots: Chip

Golf chip shots are those hit with a wedge or high-numbered iron, typically from the rough, fairway or other surface away from the green.  Chip shots are meant to hit golf balls toward the cup where they can be putted in to complete the hole.  The flagstick typically remains in the hole during the chip shot, meaning there is the potential for the golf ball to clank against the flagstick and bounce away from the whole or directly into the hole.  

The primary difference between chip shots and other shots is the loft of the club used to execute the shot.  Clubs with particularly high lofts, such as wedges, are used to execute chip shots with the overarching goal of the golf ball bouncing onto the green and rolling toward or even into the hole.  Another part of what distinguishes chip shots from other shots is chips require a comparably short motion.  The abbreviated swing is more compact in an attempt to control the resulting shot that much better.  In fact, some chip shot motions are quite similar to putting motions.

Types of Golf Shots: Pitch

A pitch shot is best described as a type of approach shot performed with a golf club that has a comparably high loft.  Pitch shots are hit high in the air in order for the golf ball to land softly on the surface of the green and hopefully roll toward the hole.  Pitch shots are typically executed with a pitching wedge though other wedges and clubs with high loft can also be used to hit pitch shots.  

The logic in hitting a pitch shot as opposed to a traditional chip is it elevates the ball over objects and also minimizes the resulting roll along the green due to the shot’s high elevation.  Pitch shots are strictly performed around the green though there is the potential for rare situations to arise when it makes sense to hit a pitch shot over other objects on the course in an attempt to set up the next shot.

Types of Golf Shots: Hook

Hook shots are exactly as they sound.  Hook shots curve the golf ball to the left when the golfer is right-handed.  Alternatively, left-handed golfers hit hook shots to the right.  

This type of shot is executed when the golfer closes the clubface while applying a low grip to the club and/or rotates the upper portion of the body faster than he or she normally does.  Hook shots are usually the result of golfer err.  However, there are some situations in which it makes sense to intentionally hit a hook shot.  As an example, professional golfers often hook tee shots and fairway iron shots in an attempt to hit their ball around trees and other objects on the course. 

Types of Golf Shots: Draw

Draw shots are similar to hook shots.  Draw shots begin with the ball going straight only to transition to a curving motion from the target to the left or right, depending on whether the golfer is left or right-handed.  Draws are typically unintentional yet there are some situations that will inevitably arise on the course where it makes sense to hit a draw shot.  Right-handed golfers sometimes hit draw shots to move their ball left, away from objects such as trees or water.  Left-handed golfers hit draw shots to steer their ball to the right, away from objects on the course.  

Unfortunately, there is the potential for the golf ball to curve too much to one side, resulting in a hook.  It is also worth mentioning some professional golfers rely on draw shots to better position their golf ball for putts on the green based on the slope and position of the flagstick.

Types of Golf Shots: Slice

Slice shots are typically mistakes made by beginner and amateur golfers.  Slice shots result in the ball curving to the right of a right-handed golfer, moving away from the target line.  Left-handed golfers hit slices to the left of their intended target.  Slices commonly result from an open clubface and/or failing to properly rotate the upper body.  

However, some professionals intentionally hit slice shots to set up their next shot, be it a fairway iron shot or a putt. Some professionals hit slice shots to avoid objects that would otherwise be in the way of the ball’s flight path.  As an example, some professional golfers intentionally slice golf shots to avoid bodies of water, large sand traps, trees and other objects on the course.

Types of Golf Shots: Blind Shots

Blind shots are those in which the golfer strikes his or her ball without being able to see the intended target from the location on the course where the ball is struck.  Golfers tasked with hitting a blind shot often walk away from the ball’s lie to a part of the course where they can see where their shot is likely to land.  This strategy also gives the golfer a chance to isolate a specific object with a high elevation that can be seen with ease from any point on the course.  

This object serves as a visual reference that the golfer can see when hitting the blind shot.  Some particularly challenging golf courses are designed to create situations in which golfers are required to hit blind shots.  When this is the case, the course designers sometimes add a tall stick in the ground to serve as a guide as to where the golf ball should head in order to reach the green.

Having a simple GPS unit, can be a helpful tool when you are hitting a blind shot.  Giving you the accurate distance even when you can’t see your target.

Types of Golf Shots: Three-quarter Shot

Three-quarter shots are those in which the golfer restricts his backswing’s length to 75% of the swing amplitude.  Three-quarter golf shots are used when golfers are close enough to the flagstick or other target, necessitating a swing with 75% power.  In short, this is an alteration of the full swing shot that improves the chances of the golf ball landing in the intended area rather than flying well beyond the target and rolling away from the green.  Three-quarter shots are used when the golfer is stuck between clubs and has to reduce the power of his or her swing so the ball lands and rolls to the target without moving beyond it.  Executing the perfect three-quarter shot is challenging as it takes superior body control and mental focus to minimize swing power and speed so the golf ball lands in front of the target and rolls toward it instead of bouncing beyond the target as would occur had the swing been full as opposed to three-quarters.

Types of Golf Shots: Fade

Fades are golf shots in which right-handed golfers hit the ball from the left to the right. Alternatively, a left-handed golfer executes a fade shot when hitting the ball from the right to left.  If the fade is excessive, it qualifies as a slice as detailed above.  Fade shots begin straight yet curve to one side as they move toward the hole.  Fades result from a clubface that slightly points to the side or an outside-in style golf swing.  Though fade shots are often a mistake made by beginning and intermediate level players, the golf experts use fade shots in a strategic manner.  Fade shots help talented golfers avoid objects in the flight path of their golf ball, ultimately making it that much easier to hit the intended target landing area.

Types of Golf Shots: Punch

Punch shots, also referred to as knockdown shots, are a type of golf shot in which the golf ball does not move as high in the air as would otherwise occur with the golf club’s loft.  Punch shots are executed for several different reasons.  Chief amongst those reasons is the lifting of the golf ball to a specific height that ensures the ball does not hit a tree branch or another object.  The professionals often use punch shots to offset the impact of strong winds.  A well-executed punch shot during strong winds keeps the golf ball that much closer to the fairway, ensuring the powerful winds do not send the ball to the side of the target, in front of it or behind it.  Punch shots have the potential to travel a considerable amount of distance once they fall out of the air and hit the fairway or green.  While most golf shots cover the majority of the intended distance in the air, punch shots often bounce several times and continue rolling, potentially twice the distance covered in the air, all the way up until they reach the green.

Types of Golf Shots: Flop

Flop shots, also referred to as lob shots, are hit when golfers need to elevate their golf ball while covering a short amount of space.  Flop shots are executed with golf clubs that have a high loft, such as a lob wedge.  The primary goal of a flop shot is to ensure the golf ball comes to a stop close to its landing position on the green.  The objective is to stop the golf ball from rolling a considerable distance after landing on the green.  Flop shots are especially helpful when the player is standing by the green yet tasked with hitting the ball between an obstacle and the green.  However, other situations might arise where flop shots are the best option.  As an example, if the green speeds are especially fast and golf balls are likely to roll far after landing, hitting a flop shot makes sense as it will prevent the ball from rolling across the green and potentially all the way off the green into the rough.

Types of Golf Shots: Drive

Drives are shots hit from the tee in the tee box.  This is the initial shot a golfer hits on a golf hole.  The majority of these initial tee shots are hit with a driver.  However, some tee shots are hit with low-numbered irons.  There are some situations, such as par-3 holes, in which tee shots are hit with high-numbered irons and wedges.  As an example, hitting an 8-iron from the tee box on a par-3 hole qualifies as a drive shot.  Drive shots are typically favored by golfers of all experience levels as they provide an opportunity to go all out and swing with a considerable amount of power.  A properly hit drive will send the golf ball flying through the air 250-350 or more yards so it lands in the fairway or on the green.  Drives are almost always hit off a wooden or plastic tee so the clubhead of the driver has space between the ball and the ground.  Though it is certainly possible to hit a drive shot directly off the grass or a mat, such a strategy will not elevate the ball high off the ground.

Types of Golf Shots: Lay Up

Lay up shots are conservative golf shots in which the golfer hits his or her ball out of the rough or another challenging surface into an open space, setting up a comparably easy shot to the fairway or green.  Lay up shots are optimal when the golf ball’s lie is bad and also when golfers are attempting to escape a difficult situation on the course.  As an example, golfers often lay up when their ball is hit into the deep rough, into the woods or in an area behind an obstruction.  

It simply does not make sense to attempt to lift a ball off the fairway or rough and over tall objects such as trees if there is a low likelihood the ball will clear those impediments.  Instead, the better option is to lay up into a safe space with a better lie and fewer (or no) objects in between the ball and the tee.  When successfully executed, lay up shots provide the golfer with a direct line to the green, making the next shot that much easier.  

Though lay up shots make it difficult to birdie holes, this conservative approach often makes sense as it helps golfers shoot at or around par rather than running the risk of putting up a crooked number that ruins their score for the entire round.

GPS devices are very helpful when hitting a layup shot as they help you find the right club to get the next shot where you want it.

Types of Golf Shots: Full Swing

Full swings involve pulling the golf club all the way back so that it is parallel to the ground, swinging through the ball with near maximum effort and finishing with the golf club once again parallel to the ground or slightly pointing down toward the ground.  Full swings are typically performed with drivers and irons while comparably abbreviated swings are used for chip shots, putts and other shots.

Types of Golf Shots: Approach

Approach shots are those executed when striking the golf ball from a distance shorter than that from the tee yet longer than a chip shot around the green.  There are several different types of approach shots such as chip shots, pitch shots and flop shots.  You can find descriptions of these unique approach shots above.  The purpose of an approach shot is to hit the golf ball so that it comes to a full stop on the green, ideally by the flagstick.  Approach shots are optimal when the distance separating the golf ball and the green can be covered in a single shot.  One of the best ways to calculate that exact distance, and thus giving yourself the best opportunity for success, is the use of a golf rangefinder.  As an example, when playing a par-5 hole, an approach shot is typically hit on the third shot, setting up a birdie putt with the fourth shot.  On par-4 holes, an approach shot is commonly hit on the second shot, setting up a birdie attempt on the third shot. 

Types of Golf Shots: Shank

Shanks are mishits. However, shanks are not any old mishit. A shank is an egregiously bad mishit that proves quite embarrassing. If you hit your golf ball with the inner part of the clubface by the heel, the rounded hosel will make contact with the ball and send the it to the side, nowhere near the intended target. Sadly, shank shots in which the hosel contacts the ball can end up going in nearly any direction with quite the funky spin. In most situations, shank shots cause golf balls to fly to the right for right-handed golfers and to the left for left-handed golfers. In short, shanks are dreaded golf shots in that they fly at an odd angle, typically far to one side of the course, possibly ending up out of play.

Though shanks are disappointing, they have a latent benefit in that they bring levity to the game of golf, providing your foursome with a good laugh. Try to mentally focus on your swing physics and keep your head as still as possible while swinging to minimize the potential for a shank shot. Don’t’ stand too close to the ball while setting up for your shot. Furthermore, standing too tall over the golf ball or leaning back on your heels while setting up can also lead to shanks. Even pushing your arms out from the body while pulling the club back or pulling it during the downswing can lead to a shank. However, it must be noted that from time to time even the best of golfers will hit a shank.

Types of Golf Shots: Top

A top shot is exactly as it sounds, meaning the bottom of the golf club comes into contact with the top of the golf ball as opposed to its midsection or bottom portion. Ideally, your clubface will strike the sweet spot of the golf ball rather than the top. If you top your golf ball, it will likely move a few feet forward yet you won’t cover much distance between your position and the hole unless you are hitting a chip shot by the green. Top shots also stay low to the ground so there is a chance they will roll at least a couple after landing. If you find yourself topping the ball, aim your swing lower down toward the bottom of the golf ball. Try to straighten out your legs and back as you begin your downswing so the club makes contact with the golf ball on a more parallel plane as opposed to when the club is rapidly moving downward. Keep your head down and still all the way through your swing. Top shots are also referred to as thinning or skulling shots.

Types of Golf Shots: Fat

A fat shot, also known as a heavy shot, a chunk shot and a dip shot, occurs when the clubface bottoms out, hitting the ground behind the golf ball rather than striking the ball’s back during the downswing. Fat shots are the result of poor timing as the upper portion of the body hits prior to the shifting of weight along the lower body from the back foot to the front foot. If you are striking the ball fat, consider capturing video of your swing with your smartphone and a tripod or let a friend film your swing so you can break it down together. Analyze your swing for any signs of sway. Sway is a term that means you are moving too far from the target when executing your backswing. The goal is to create torque with the backswing. The lower body should resist the upper body’s tension. Make an attempt to plant the inside section of your back foot as your back turns similar to a pitcher delivering a pitch. Flex the back knee and you will have done your part to create torque and prevent a fat shot.

Types of Golf Shots: Greenside bunker shot

Greenside bunker shots are the lone golf shot in which the golf ball is not struck in a direct manner. Rather, the golf club moves through the sand before hitting the ball, sending sand and the ball flying out of the bunker. When properly executed, the greenside bunker shot results in the golf ball flying out of the bunker with a sand cushion below it. In other words, this type of shot requires that you hit behind the golf ball rather than strike it head-on. Your swing dynamic along with your preparation set the stage for success. Try to set up so you can play the golf ball slightly forward of center. Dig in with your feet but resist the temptation to choke down. This setup maximizes the chances of your club striking the sand ahead of the golf ball. The best golfers zero in on the area that is a couple inches behind the ball and follow through after making contact with this section of sand.

Types of Golf Shots: Fairway bunker shot

This type of shot is exactly as it sounds in that it is hit from a fairway bunker. Making solid contact is the key to a successful fairway bunker shot that emerges from the sand and lands either on the fairway or the green. Try to play the golf ball toward the back of your stance, pushing your swing’s low point back so you contact the golf ball as opposed to the sand on the downswing. Dig in with your feet for added stability that creates a base for a successful swing. Choke up on the iron and you will reduce the chances of chunking the ball. Keep your weight balanced 50% on the left foot and 50% on the right foot. Practice this challenging shot over and over and you will get the hang of it in due time.

Types of Golf Shots: Bump and run

Bump and run shots involve hitting the golf ball to the fringe or slope then having it run toward the hole. Hitting the perfect bump and run is not easy. The ideal set up for a bump and run has the golf ball toward the back of the stance, by the right foot for right-handed golfers and vice versa for left-handed golfers. Your hands should be positioned in front of the ball. Your stance must be slightly open with more weight on the front foot. The other key component of a bump and run shot is to swing the arms as though you are putting, meaning there will not be any wrist movement as you swing and move through the point of impact. If everything goes as planned, the golf ball will come off the club quite low and bump off the fairway/green before running toward the hole. If properly struck, a bump and run shot will cover one-third of the distance to the hole in the air then cover the remaining two-thirds of the distance by bouncing and rolling along the fairway or green, all the way into the hole.

Types of Golf Shots: Lag putt

Lag means different things to different people. Some think of jet lag when the word “lag” is used. Others think of time delays in the context of computers and online video games. Lag means something completely different in the world of golf. A lag putt is a comparably long putt in which there is no expectation that the golf ball will go into the cup or even roll into it. The primary objective of this lengthy putt is to get the golf ball as close to the hole as possible. Maintain a good grip, perfect posture and be hyper-aware of your alignment to hit just the right lag putt.

Try to envision a two-foot circle around the flagstick. This is the “target circle” you should aim for when hitting your lag putt. The overarching aim of the lag putt is to get your golf ball within a couple feet of the hole so you can sink your next putt or at the very least end up three-putting the hole for a par or bogey. However, if your lag putt lands within a foot or two of the hole, you will likely birdie the hole.

Keep in mind, some golfers use the term “lag” in the context of golf to refer to the lag of the clubhead. Spend time on the golf course or the golf range and you might overhear someone state a fellow golfer has fantastic lag in his or her swing. You also might hear someone state another golfer should focus on boosting clubhead lag. This type of lag is not the same as a lag putt. Clubhead lag is a reference to the golfer’s hands moving behind the clubhead to the point of impact.

Types of Golf Shots: Up and down

Watch golf on TV or swing the sticks with some friends at the local course and you will likely hear a reference to an up and down. This phrase has nothing to do with the bipolar nature of golf. Rather, up and down refers to making par on a hole after missing the green in regulation. As an example, consider a situation in which a golfer hits his or her initial approach shot into a short cut of rough by the fairway. The golfer then pitches the golf ball out of the rough onto the green. He or she then proceeds to sink the first putt. This feat, known as an up and down, is quite challenging yet certainly possible for those who practice golf with any sort of regularity. So be sure to point out your successful up and down to your golfing buddies the next time you miss a green in regulation yet end up making par in spite of the fairly long odds of doing so.

Check out the video below for some tips from Phil Mickelson on how to utilize some of these types of golf shots during your next round.

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