The Fundamentals of Push vs. Pull in the Golf Swing

All golfers, from beginners to professionals, struggle with inconsistent ball-striking and wayward shots. Two of the most common flaws amateurs encounter are the “push” and the “pull” – shots that veer the ball off the intended target line, either out to the right or hooking left. Mastering the ability to compress the golf ball and launch it on your desired line is pivotal for improvement. Understanding the differences between a push and a pull, along with their underlying swing causes, paves the pathway toward straighter, more controlled shot-making.

What Causes a Push Shot?

A pushed golf shot refers to a ball that flies out to the right of your target line (for a right-handed golfer – to the left for a lefty). Sometimes called a “push-slice”, this shot shape frequently leaks right and also has a left-to-right sidespin that causes a slicing movement in the air. Generally, a push happens when:

  • Your swing path approaches impact from too far outside or “over-the-top”. This out-to-in move through the ball shifts impact to the heel and hosel.
  • Your clubface aims right of the target at impact. An open face angles the initial launch right. Combine this with an out-to-in path and the ball pushes further right.
  • Weight favours the back foot at impact. Hanging back causes the club to steepen and strike the ball on a descending blow with an open face.

In short, a push mostly stems from an overly outside-in swing plane and an open clubface directing the ball right of your target line.

What Causes a Pull Shot?

Conversely, a pulled golf shot rockets sharply left of your intended line (right for lefties). Also known as a “pull-hook”, this curveball links back quickly with substantial left-to-right sidespin. Typically, a pull happens when:

  • Your swing path races too far from inside-out through impact. This in-to-out move shifts contact to the toe and imparts counter-clockwise spin.
  • Your clubface points left of target at impact. A closed face gives the ball that initial leftward launch angle. Match this with an inside-out swing path and the ball pulls harder left.
  • Weight creeps towards the front foot during downswing. Allowing the body to release too early makes the club come very much from the inside and strike a hooking blow.

Essentially, a pull occurs due to an excessively inside-out swing plane and a closed clubface angle directing the ball left of the target line.

Swing Fixes for the Push Shot

If you find yourself pushing shots repeatedly right of your aim, several adjustments can get you back on plane:

  • Soften the hands – maintaining some wrist hinge approaching impact allows the clubface to square.
  • Don’t sway laterally on backswing – keeps swing direction more on plane.
  • Delay upper body rotation – stops the slice-producing over-the-top move.
  • Check alignment aims left – set up to hit a small push-draw initially.
  • Visualize swinging slightly left of target – promotes an in-to-out path.
  • Weaken right hand grip – eases the clubface into a square position.

Many right-miss issues relate to the upper body pulling the swing outside-in. Focus on keeping the backswing and downswing centered while resisting any lateral sway. Let the arms and club drop more from the inside on the downswing to negate an over-the-top approach.

Swing Fixes for the Pull Shot

To get your pull shot back on your desired line, integrate these adjustments:

  • Strengthen hand grip – reduces the likelihood of shutting the face.
  • Widen backswing arc – creates room to swing more around the body.
  • Maintain spine tilt away from target – avoids releasing too early.
  • Check alignment aims slightly right – set up to hit a small push initially.
  • Feel like you brush the ground out towards right field – enhances out-to-in path.
  • Fire lower body through impact first – stops the flip-hook motion.

Many left-miss troubles link to the lower body firing prematurely to begin downswing. Think about keeping the upper body back while grounding your right foot during the transition. This move promotes dropping into the inside while keeping the clubface square across the ball.

Importance of Low Point Control

An essential key for consistent ball-striking is properly managing the low point of your swing arc. Your low point refers to where the club reaches the bottom depth of its arc in relation to your body. Golfers who battle push-slice and pull-hook tendencies frequently have a low point beyond the golf ball at impact. This leads to hitting either on the upswing or the downswing descent. Learning to keep your swing arc low point just prior to ball contact is imperative for crisp compression.

Some keys for dialing in consistent low point control include:

  • Keeping tension-free arms during transition
  • Maintaining spine angle and tilt
  • Limiting lateral hip slide in downswing
  • Letting the club shallow naturally

When you feel centered with the body in control during the downswing, it gives your arms and club the clearance to shallow out at just the right moment. That is when pure ball-striking happens.

The Takeaway

Whether you struggle with shots flying off target right or left, identifying the specific causes is half the battle. A push links to an overly outside-in swing direction combined with an open face. A pull associates to an excessively inside-out path and closed clubface. Often, improving weight transference, spine angles, grip, and alignment can markedly straighten those wayward shots. Dialing in consistent low point control also proves extremely useful. Mastering these push vs. pull fundamentals gives all golfers the keys to flushing accurate shots that land their intended targets.

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