hardest golf shots

6 of the Toughest Golf Shots to Master

In today’s article we will visit 6 of the hardest, toughest shots in golf. Mastering these types of golf shots can reduce your golf score and lower your golf handicap index. They are also worth practicing if you love a new challenge and want to see how good your golf skills really are.

In addition to the 6 toughest golf shots to master, you can learn more skill building golf practice routines and drills in our series of practice plans we designed:

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Tough Golf Shot #1: The 75 foot putt

The Problem: You missed your target on the green by a mile and now need two good putts to save par. Because it’s such a long putt it will magnify any errors you make in regards to the speed and line of the putt.

The Fix: You’ll want to really analyze this putt so take your time and walk the length of the putt from your marker to the hole. Your putt will be hit fairly hard and have a lot of speed at first but as it slows down slope will begin really affecting it so focus on the second half of the putt as you do your walkthrough.

When you attempt the putt, move the ball slightly back in your stance so that you promote a more solid strike. It’s easier to hit the putt thin from far away.

Take a longer stroke to add power to the ball, NOT a fast stroke tempo. In other words, maintain your normal putting tempo you should always be using and lengthen the stroke to increase power and distance.

One last thing: A smooth rolling putt is best so work on these long distance putts in practice making sure the ball doesn’t hop off the face, bouncing the first several feet. Moving it back in your stance as mentioned should help with the solid strike that gets the ball rolling properly.

Tough Golf Shot #2: The Double Breaking Putt

I refer to this putt often as the “S” putt because it breaks in one direction at first and then switches and breaks back the opposite direction.

This can be a very difficult putt because you don’t know which break is bigger of the two.

The Fix: Walk the putt and try to find the point where you think the break changes direction. Now that you’ve broken up the putt into two putts try to read the 2nd putt so that you get a good feeling for how it will break and how the slope affects the ball as it approaches the hole.

Walk back to your ball and read the first putt while imaging the change of direction spot you found as the hole. Finally, determine the speed you need to hit the putt with so that it can get to the hole after going through both breaks.

One last thing: Sometimes putts really break at first and then when they change direction they flatten out and the ball barely breaks the opposite direction despite having a lower speed.

Tough Golf Shot #3: Ball Below Your Feet

The Issue: When the ball is below your feet in the fairway you’ll struggle to reach the ball with your normal address. You’ll also tend to hit the ball from left to right.

The Fix: Move closer to the ball so that your club becomes longer and ensures that you hit the ball. You’ll also want to aim further left than normal of the target to account for the left to right movement the slope will likely cause on the ball.

Tough Golf Shot #4: Ball Above Your Feet

The Issue: Your ball has found the side of a slope and it rests above your feet making your normal set up difficult to achieve.

The Fix: When the ball is below your feet we had you stand closer to it so that your club becomes longer and can reach the ball. If the ball is above your feet then you need to choke down on the club to make it shorter so that it can bottom out in line with the slope.

When the ball is above your feet the slope will affect the ball with a right to left spin causing a hook or draw ball flight. To fix this, simply aim further to the right of your target. Adjust how far you aim right based on the severity of the slope and the lie (severity of tall rough vs short grass).

Please Note: The steeper the slope the more you need to choke up.

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Tough Golf Shot #5: The Flop Shot

The Situation: The flop shot is great for when you have a tight pin with little green and need the ball to bite quickly upon landing. Other times you may have an object in the way that you need to fly the ball over and then stop quickly upon landing on the green.

The Fix: First, I would select your most lofted wedge from your bag. I personally use a 60 degree wedge but I know others who only have a pitching wedge (46 degrees usually) or sand wedge (50 degrees usually) in their bags.

Next you’ll want to open up your stance to the target and open up your club face to give it even more loft. My club face is fully open to where it faces the sky and points way right of my target. By opening your stance up to the left of the target (for right hand golfers) you bring the face back square to the target and no longer aiming right of the target.

On the back swing, you can hinge your wrists and then just as a normal chip, hold the hinge through the shot so that the face stays open and you don’t release it shut like you would during a golf swing. Strike down into the ball letting the ball run off the grooves of the open club face, popping it up into the air with a high rate of back spin.

Important: You need to swing the club in line with your stance. This means your club face needs to travel left of the target, cutting across the ball, which creates the back spin and keeps the ball traveling at the target instead of right of the target.

In case you didn’t realize it, this is what slicers do with normal iron and tee shots. They swing across the ball from right to left or outside to in as some refer to it as, and this causes the left to right back spin that sends the ball slicing down the fairway.

So to hit a flop shot, cut across the ball with an open face. For normal iron shots, do not cut across the ball unless you are purposely trying to hit a fade or slice shot due to the course layout and obstacles.

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Tough Golf Shot #6: Blast from a bunker upslope

The Problem: You’ve found the upslope in the bunker just under the lip. The club will likely dig due to the sand being higher in front of the ball than the sand behind the ball.

The Fix: Getting the proper set up here is key. First you’ll want to plant your back leg firmly in the sand to act as an anchor for your swing. Square the face up and trust and trust that the slope will give the ball plenty of lift without needing to open the club face.

Finally, level your shoulders with the slope so that they are the same angle just as they would be level to the ground for a normal golf shot. You don’t set up to a normal flat golf shot with un-level-tilted shoulders, so this final step will be important.

Pick out a spot an inch and a half to two inches behind the ball in the sand. Swing up the slope, in-line with the level of the slope. This won’t be too difficult if you keep your weight back on your anchor leg/foot.

Try this out at the course someday in the near future. Attempt 25 to 50 of these if you have a practice bunker and if not, drop a few balls in different bunkers throughout your 18 hole practice round so that you’re getting 5-10 quality reps. The more exposure to this shot in practice, the more confident you’ll become.

Before you go check out these practice plans to follow with proven drills and routines to improve your short game and golf swing.

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Nick Foy, Instructor

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