The pulled golf shot: one which starts left, and continues left…
For me, pulling the driver left is one of the most frustrating shots in golf.
Why? Simply because a pull will often feel great off the clubface! It’s different from an outright slice, in that the ball is actually struck fairly clean off the tee.
Essentially, the main cause of a pull is when you strike the ball with the clubface slightly closed. Therefore, it flies in a straight line to the left of your target.
Today, I’ll help you diagnose the main causes of pulling your driver left. Also, I’ll give you an actionable list of fixes to help prevent it from happening again!
Ready? Let’s get into it.
Why Am I Pulling My Driver Left?
In short, you’re pulling your driver to the left because the clubface is slightly closed at impact. For most golfers, this happens as a result of an incorrect setup, playing the wrong equipment, a swing path error, issues with weight distribution, or a timing problem in the swing.
Let’s dive into the solutions, so you can start splitting more fairways!
How to Hit Your Driver Straight
If you’re tired of pulling the driver left and want to start hitting straight shots, you essentially need to work on delivering the clubface square to the target.
To achieve this, there are 4 simple tips to consider:
- The role of equipment
- Grip & setup corrections
- Ball position & alignment
- Swing path adjustment
Let’s cover all of these, along with the fix for each one.
1. The Role of Equipment
Before we start, let’s address the elephant in the room.
You have to play with golf equipment that suits the needs of your golf game.
In other words, if the driver shaft is not the right fit for your swing speed or playing ability, you’ll probably struggle to hit the golf ball straight.
The Fix: Take a professional club fitting to ensure the shaft is right for you.
2. Grip & Setup Corrections
Typically, golfers that pull the ball sometimes have a grip that is a bit too strong.
Effectively, having a strong grip can make the hands more active in the swing. This causes an over-the-top motion, resulting in a more closed face at important.
Instead, shoot for a neutral grip. One where the V created by the thumb and index finger on your lead hand is pointing towards your lead shoulder.
Also, make sure your weight is evenly distributed in your setup. This will help you deliver the clubface square at impact, resulting in a straighter shot.
The Fix: Adopt a neutral grip, and keep your weight evenly distributed in the setup.
3. Ball Position & Alignment
Another important factor in a straight tee shot is the ball position in your stance, along with the proper alignment to the target line.
Some golfers make the mistake of playing the ball too far forward, ahead of their left foot. Likewise, others have the ball too close to the middle of their stance.
In both cases, this can result in the clubface meeting the ball at a closed angle.
The ideal ball position for the driver is just inside your left heel (for right-handed golfers). This encourages an upward strike, without reaching too far ahead.
Similarly, incorrect alignment can encourage a pull. Often, golfers will aim too far right in an attempt to counter the pull — but this can accentuate it.
In addition, align your body parallel to your target line. In short, your feet, hips, and shoulders should all be parallel to your target line.
The Fix: Keep the ball position inside your left heel, and align your body parallel to the target.
4. Swing Path Adjustment
Generally, those who pull the ball have an “over-the-top” swing motion.
In short, that’s when the club head travels away from the body at the top of the downswing, before sharply returning to the ball at impact.
9 times out of 10, an over-the-top motion results in a closed clubface at impact.
Instead, focus on leading with the hips before the upper body.
This will encourage you to keep the club head on plane during the downswing, allowing the clubface to meet the ball square to the target.
The Fix: Lead with the hips rather than the upper body, to encourage an in-to-out swing path.
Check out the video below from Mark Crossfield, where he addresses the main causes of pulling the driver left and how to fix it:
Practice Drills for Correcting a Pull
A great way to work on correcting pulled tee shots is to adopt practice drills. These can help you build a repeatable action, before applying it on the golf course.
Here are three of my favorites!
1. The Tempo Drill
First up, the tempo drill is designed to refine the tempo of your swing.
The tempo drill is two counts back, and on the third count, you swing forward.
Golfers who get a little quick will hit a pull shot with the driver. Complete your entire backswing and have that little pause at the top to hit it straighter.
2. The Alignment Stick Drill
Next, the simple alignment stick drill will work on the alignment of your setup.
Place two alignment sticks parallel to the target line, with the ball in between.
By practicing your tee shots with alignment sticks in place, you can work on maintaining parallel alignment while avoiding an over-the-top motion.
3. The Pool Noodle Drill
Finally, one of my favorite drills is to use a pool noodle.
Position a pool noodle just outside the line of the ball, parallel to your setup.
When you swing, avoid making contact with the pool noodle. Essentially, it helps you see and feel the importance of swinging the club head on the optimal path, and deliver the clubface square at the point of impact.
Check out the pool noodle drill in the Golf Channel video below:
In summary, pulling the driver left occurs when the clubface meets the ball at a closed angle at the point of impact.
To fix the pull, focus on these tips:
- Use the correct driver setup for your swing
- Adopt a neutral grip with weight evenly distributed
- Ball position inside your left heel, align parallel to the target
- Lead with the hips to encourage an in-to-out swing path
Finally, it’s important to understand the mental challenges of overcoming a pull.
I recommend you have a mental image of what a pull looks like, and why it’s happening. That way, you can work through the diagnosis using the tips.
Picture a straight shot, deliver a square clubface, and split the fairway!