Shot Shaping 101

Shot Shaping 101


By: Nick Bockenfeld, PGA
⌚6 Minute Read

How to increase feel and hit better shots.


Shot shaping is one of my favorite things to do regarding golf. It's an art form that some of the best players in the world use to their distinct advantage to win tournaments. A great example is Bubba won the Masters in a playoff from jail in the trees. He hit a ridiculous hook that dang near started coming back towards him. Recently JT has begun to work the ball more, and he has looked pretty good. I love working the ball, especially off the tee; being able to work it and hit those great shots is all thanks to having a feel. Feel is somewhat subjective; players that play by taking a practice swing and thinking, okay, that feels good for this shot. I am very much a feel player. So instead of thinking about a clock and going to 9 o clock with my pitch shot to hit it 50 yards, I look at the target and visualize the ball down to the last rotation, then take practice swings for the feeling that will get me that shot I visualized. Once I have the feeling, I set up and hit the shot, trying to imitate that feeling.


Feel Shots

Hitting feel shots are very similar to what I mentioned above, but how do you get to where your feels make sense? A great start is to measure the distance to everything. Putting, chipping, driving, you name it, get a good sense of what each distance looks like, get a feel for how you might swing to get there. When you step up to a shot, if you are a feel player, you just know what feel you will get. If you aren’t a feel player, you need to add a lot of other variables. Feelings come from playing a lot of golf and learning about your body and game. There are several different ways to gain a feel.


Using CTRL Swing Master for Feel

When you set up with a CTRL Swing Master Training Aid, you get to name each baseline model you create. What I do is simply name each model that I create after a feeling I am trying to aim for. So this might be 7 iron fade, but the feeling I am looking for is pulling it back outside so that I can hit that fade. The bigger the fade I want to hit, the further outside I take the club. I name the model after how hard I want to take it outside again. This is where feel comes in, having an idea that X will create a Y outcome, so if I have more X, I should have more Y. So the further outside I take it, the further right it will fade!
I name a model taking it just outside, or taking it way outside, and get an idea of how much this fades while I build a model. I can practice that model in training mode and get my feel back quickly.


Feel Drill

All of the above is just great until you ask; well, I have no feel; how do I build that feel? I’m glad you asked; my favorite build drill is easy and fun! You just hit every club at each pin. So at the range, you pick the closest pin first, and you are trying to stop your ball as close to each pin as you can. So you use the shortest club first, then keep going up until you hit the driver at that pin. I will do 2 or 3 shots to each pin, then move to the next furthest pin. It is a fun little drill to see what you can do with each club, and it builds a lot of feels—having to hit 3 iron to pin 85 yards out forces you to be creative and feel it out much better. If you have never done this drill, it is worth a try!



Having a feel for golf is crucial to score better. That feel will allow you to hit different shots into different pins, which is why I wanted to discuss it in the first of this new shot-shaping series. The rest of the series will go over how to flight the ball low and high, how to shape the ball left and right, how to hit low spin high bombs, how to hit high spin low checkers, and how to hit different chip shots from low runners to high soft shots. We will review how to hit low fades, high draws, stingers, and fairway finders. However, you will need a certain amount of feel to hit these shots. Be on the lookout for the next installment of shot shaping 101!

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