Top 10 Golf Shots You Need to Master to Improve Your Game

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When you go out to practice your golf game, what shots do you focus on? Maybe you pick a few wedge shots to start before transitioning to a 3-iron to see if anything changed. Or, you could pull out a driver to try and improve your slice before going off to the putting green. If this sounds like you, it’s a good idea to mix it up with different shots to improve your overall game.

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Practice is the key to seeing any improvement in your golf score, and many golf pros go to the range after their rounds to address issues they noticed in play. The same could be said for you. What issues do you notice when you play? Do you spend a lot of time under trees, in bunkers, or short-sided on the green.

If so, here are ten golf shots golf career professionals recommend you master to help you improve your game.

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1. Long Bunker Shot

If you land in a greenside bunker, you typically grab a sand wedge before stabilizing your stance and hitting behind the ball to pop it out of the bunker and onto the green. A long bunker shot is slightly different. Take a look at the distance you have to get the ball and consider playing a gap wedge, nine-iron, or a pitching wedge.

Place the golf ball, so it’s back in your stance just like you would with a greenside bunker shot, but don’t move it all of the way back to your stance’s center. Stabilize yourself without transferring a lot of your weight. Give the ball a good cut to get it out and up. The more stable your stance is, the better contact you’ll get.

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2. Chip Shot

A chip shot is one that you’ll typically hit around the green. This shot doesn’t fly very far, but it rolls far. You can play this type of shot with several clubs ranging from a seven-iron to a lob wedge. Since the greens are firmer and faster than they were years ago, this makes chip shots much more difficult to master. You’re aiming to improve your accuracy levels with your distance control.

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3. Texas Wedge

This shot comes from the golf pros in Texas who want to reduce the chances of having an error on their short games. Try this shot when you’re around the green, but you notice that it’s shorter and it has tightly mowed grass. Rather than overshoot the hole with a wedge, grab a putter. Line up a target a few feet past the hole and hit it like a normal putt. This few feet of additional space allows you to have a little drag of the fringe.

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Illustration for article titled Top 10 Golf Shots You Need to Master to Improve Your Game
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4. Pitch

When you hit a pitch shot, your ball usually spends more time in the air than it does on the ground traveling. You won’t use a full swing to hit this shot, and you typically use a wedge to hit it. A pitching wedge is popular, but you can use up to a lob wedge too. This is one of the most important shots to master to lower your overall scores. It takes repetition and time over speed and strength to master it.

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5. Stinger

As a very low shot, this can help keep your ball out of the wind. When the wind is coming strong right to left, left to right, or directly at your face, playing this shot will ensure the wind has less impact on your ball’s trajectory. Your goal is to drive the shot very straight and far without letting weather conditions interfere. It’s popular in the British Open when they play on firm courses, and Tiger Woods made it famous.

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6. Fairway Bunker Shot

For an amateur golfer, this is one of the most difficult shots to master. This shot requires that you pick the ball off the surface by hitting it before you hit the sand. To do this, you should put the ball to the front of your stance and focus on your front foot’s weight. Get an extra club for the distance, and make sure you choke down on it. It can be difficult to find a range that allows you to practice this shot, but it’s worth it.

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Illustration for article titled Top 10 Golf Shots You Need to Master to Improve Your Game
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7. Hooded Iron Shot

Sometimes, you end up under low-hanging trees. Your first thought would be to chip out, but you can do this while still advancing the golf ball onto the range to give yourself a shorter approach. Any iron will do for this shot. To hood it, put your arms in a slightly forward press. Deloft your ball and club slightly back into your stance to make the ball’s trajectory lower. Your goal is to make solid contact to get out from under the trees.

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8. Draw and Fade

Draw and fade refers to shots that will curve your ball as it flies through the air in a controlled manner. If it’s to the left, it’s a draw. If the ball curves to the right, it’s a fade for right-handed golfers. You’ll see draws and fades used when golfers want to take advantage of a hole’s curvature or attack specific pin placements. You can shorten doglegs as well with these shots.

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9. Approach

The approach shot is the one you take to get the ball as close to the green as possible. You usually pull out your irons to hit these shots, but many golfers favor hybrids as well. Hybrids allow you to hit your approach shot slightly further and higher than a wedge will.

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10. Putt

Unless you’re getting Eagles each hole, you’ll have to know how to putt. This shot gives professional golfers a lot of problems, and it has a 50% success rate at eight feet from the hole. Start practicing your putts from five feet away from the hole and see how you do. Once you start sinking them, slowly start to back further and further away. The goal is to get over 10 feet away from the hole and still make the majority of your putts.

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Bottom Line

These ten golf shots are all radically different, but you can easily use them to improve your handicap and boost your scores. Take a few hours after every round you play and focus on each shot. You should see improvements as you discover what works and what doesn’t for your playing style.

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