Most Embarrassing Golf Shots and How to Avoid Them

When you’re at the course, you’ll see all kinds of players with all kinds of skill levels and backgrounds. Some of them are exceptionally good for not being a professional while the others are trying to have a good time irrespective of their skills.

Amidst all of these, you’ll see some embarrassing shots from time to time. While hooks and shanks are more common, there are plenty of other embarrassing shots that may ruin your day at the course.

In this post today, we’re going to take a step back and look at these shots. We’re going to cover why they happen and what you can do to prevent them.

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The Most Embarrassing Shots in Golf

In this section, we’re going to dive deep into different mishaps that might happen to the best of players. Keep an open mind because you never know when one of these shots might cross your path.

The Whiff

It’s more common among rookie players. A whiff is when you swing the club like a baseball bat and miss the ball completely. It’s one of those things that makes you look around quickly to ensure no one saw what happened.

The main reason behind a whiff is the lack of balance. When you first start out, it takes substantial practice and understanding of your own body before you figure out how everything works. The natural instinct is not to hit the ground too hard to damage your shiny new club. In the process, you sometimes swing too high and hit a whiff.

To avoid this, you need to put in more practice at the driving range. The key is to perfect the divot after you hit the ball. There’s nothing wrong with taking a few ounces of extra turf when you’re first starting out. Remember, practice makes a man perfect.

You can record yourself while swinging and evaluate the shot, later on, to see what caused the whiff. You can then make the adjustments to your address, backswing, downswing, and follow through to avoid it completely.

The Banana Slice

A slice, in general, is when the ball curves to the right of the target for right-handed players. When you hit a banana slice, the ball is actually going away from your dominant hand. The problem with this shot is that you don’t realize what you’ve done until the ball flies away from the target.

It happens when you open the club face too much at impact. And we all know that it’s good practice to square up the club face at address. So, the fact that you’re opening the club face during impact means it’s happening somewhere along with the swing.

To address this issue, we want you to take a look at your grip first. Are your hands in the correct position? Are you keeping the wrist angle throughout the swing? Are you shallowing the club enough?

Finding answers to all of these questions will help you diagnose the issue with your swing. And when you fix the swing, you’ll fix the banana slice.

The Shank

If you’ve been playing golf for quite some time now, it’s safe to assume that you’ve hit shanks quite a few times. It’s the classic dreaded shot where the ball flies off almost 90 degrees to the right. Or left, if you’re a left-handed player. It happens when you hit the ball with the toe of the club instead of the sweet spot on the face.

Another reason shanks are quite common among new golfers is the tension. If you hit a shank, there is a good chance that you’re going to hit a few in a row. It’s the natural reaction of our body to tension building up.

When you seek out to find the root of the problems, there might be a few things at fault. Your posture, your swing, your grip, etc. might be the cause of the shank. The bottom line is, everything that makes you hit the ball with the toe of the club is the culprit.

The easiest way to fix a shank is to fix your posture. Even if you’re confident that your posture is good, getting it validated by an instructor will check off one thing from the list of potential problems.

Another thing to keep in mind is the position of your trailing hand. The trailing hand should always be in front of the club head and not the other way around. In golf terms, your club needs to lag. If you manage to check off these issues during your swing, we’re certain you won’t hit a shank in the future.

Resource: How to Score in the 70’s Golf Training Plan

Popping the Driver

Another common shot mostly by rookie players, usually seen at the tee box. A driver pop-up is when the ball shoots straight toward the sky at impact and comes down straight, covering little to no distance. It’s quite embarrassing for anyone because the tee shot is supposed to be the coolest-looking shot of a hole.

Pop-ups mostly happen due to incorrect ball positions. For a driver shot, the ball should be right on the inside edge of your front foot. If you mistakenly put the ball a little behind, it might be causing the pop-up.

Another common reason is incorrect tee height. If you shove the tee too much into the ground, it’ll change the effective height of the ball. As you come down, you’ll hit the ball with the club’s top edge instead of the sweet spot.

The safest approach for you would be to ensure the ball position and height first. You can place the ball on the inside of your lead foot before you take the stance. After the ball has been placed, don’t move your front foot and only widen the gap by lifting your back foot.

Topping the Ball

There are very few shots in golf that look as bad as this one. Topping the ball is when you come down so high that you just touch the top of the ball to roll it a few meters at best. It looks bad because you’re aiming for a high flying and high carry shot which will reflect on your posture. You complete your swing and look in the distance to find the ball, only to find it a few feet away from you.

The most common cause of topping the ball is either incorrect tee height or incorrect posture if you’re not at the tee box. If you have a tendency to top the ball often, you can practice a quick drill to mitigate it.

For this drill, you’ll need an extra tee. You’re going to put the tee a few inches from the ball on the target side. As you swing your driver or fairway wood, your target is to sweep the tee as you go for follow through.

This drill will compel you to keep the club head nice and low through and after the impact. As a result, you will hit the ball dead center instead of the top.

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Missing a Two Footer Putt

This has happened to the best of us. We’re so close to a bogey and we’re too excited. And ultimately we botch the shot. It’s actually hard to diagnose the issue that caused you to miss such a close shot.

Your best is to practice putting drills more consistently. When you’re at the driving range, work your short game more than the explosive shots. Alignment aids come in handy for putting practices very well. Also, try to use the same putter for your practice and actual rounds to keep things consistent.

Another important thing is to relax and stabilize your body. In the majority of the cases, too much excitement is the only cause of a missed putt. If you’re not very good at standing still at the putting posture, maybe you should practice it as well.

Skulling the Pitch Shot

This is somewhat similar to topping the ball but in the opposite direction. Skulling is when you hit the pitch shot right on the edge of the ball and it flies over the green. In reality, it was supposed to land softly on the green with little to no roll.

Incorrect club selection is often the cause behind this shot. When you’re pitching, select a wedge that has a bounce. Wedge bounce is a rounded off bottom so that the club scrapes off the ground instead of digging in.

Also, you might want to feel the scraping before you actually hit the ball. Just go into your regular address, square up the club face, and get into the right posture. Now, instead of doing your regular backswing, scrape the wedge on the ground in a circular motion to get the feel. Once you’re confident, hit the ball.

Final Words

Every golf player has a shot that they dread. And almost always, there is an embarrassment associated with the dread. If you happen to be one of them and one of these shots is your dread shot, now you know what caused it and how you can avoid it.

So, go out into the driving range and practice what you fear the most.

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Thanks for reading today’s article!

Nick Foy – Golf Instructor

nick foy golf academy
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