Golf Shots Explained

Most shots in golf can be categorised into the following types of shot:


This is a long distance shot usually taken from the tee, but can also be taken from the fairway if necessary. The purpose of this type of shot is to move the ball the greatest distance possible towards the green. An amateur golfer can expect to drive a ball about 200 - 260 yards with drives of over 300 yards achievable by some of the best golfers.


This usually refers to the second or any subsequent shot that has the intention of delivering the ball on the green. Usually, this is taken with an appropriate iron for the distance required.


This is a short distance shot intended to roll the ball along the ground and is usually performed on the green. When putting, a golfer must consider the line to the hole with great care, taking into consideration the slope, both left and right as well as up and down, to ensure they aim correctly and strike the ball with the perfect amount of power. Accurate putting can often make or break a round of golf.


The purpose of a layup is to leave the ball in a favourable position to make the current shot safer or the following shot easier to take. An example would be if there was a water hazard between the fairway and the green, a player might lay-up on the fairway near the water hazard to avoid incurring a penalty by landing in the water, and take a second shot from there to land on green.


A chip shot is a very short shot taken without using a full swing. They are typically employed as short approach shots, as a short distance lay-up shot or to get the ball out of a hazard.


A punch shot keeps the ball close to the ground, usually to avoid hitting tree canopies or other low hanging hazards. A punch shot may also be used when hitting into strong winds to stop the ball climbing higher than wanted.


A flop shot is the opposite of a punch and is designed to take the ball over objects. The ball takes a very high arched trajectory compared to the distance it travels forwards. Flop shots are also used when the player wants the ball to stop quickly upon hitting the ground.

A player may also choose to adjust a shot by discreetly changing how it is taken, resulting in differing types of spin being applied to the ball:


This occurs when a right-handed player shapes the ball to travel from right to left. A left-handed player draws a ball from left to right. When a shot has too much draw or draws unintentionally it is referred to as a hook.


This is the opposite of a draw where a right-handed player shapes the ball to travel from left to right. A left-handed player fades a ball from right to left. Too much fade or unintentional fade is known as a slice.

A ball can also be hit badly during a swing, resulting in a poor and often embarrassing shot:


This occurs when the player miss-hits the ball. The club strikes the ball too near the joint between the club face and the shaft causing the ball to dramatically veer off to the right for a right-handed player or the left for a left-handed player.


The occurs when the club hits the ball above its horizontal centre. A lot of top spin is added and the ball usually rolls along the ground a very short distance.


The occurs when the club hits the ground too much before the ball. This takes a lot of the power out of the shot while digging a large amount of material from the ground, meaning the ball doesn't travel very far. Golfers will often take a 'divot' (a small piece of the turf) when they take a shot from the fairway or rough, this is intended and is not the result of a bad shot.