We often hear these two terms used to describe a given golfer’s particular skills, and sometimes they are used interchangeably. Today I would like to discuss the difference and then pose a question to all of you to weigh in on, if you would please.
Reading through the dialog out there, here’s how I would define each and explain the difference:
“Ball striking” refers to a golfer’s ability to make extremely solid contact with the ball shot after shot, club to club, with remarkable consistency. It is the core essence of the game, actually, because until you get reasonably consistent in making solid contact in the center of the face of the club, you really don’t know what the ball is going to do.
“Shot making” on the other hand, is the golfer’s ability to make the ball do what he or she wants. Shaping shots to move the ball around – fades and draws, high and low, take a little off of it, amp it up a bit, etc. – these are the skills that define the highly accomplished player.
In discussions of “ball striking”, the same names come up time and again, obviously most of them successful tour professionals – Hogan, Nelson, Tommy Bolt, Lee Trevino are maybe the most noted. One of the more common is also the legendary Moe Norman. It was said by those who had the opportunity to see him that he almost never mishit a shot, and every one took off on the same trajectory and flight. It was said that Mr. Norman never achieved financial fame on the golf course, and I have read it was because of his nerves and quirky nature. Nevertheless, he is the subject of countless legends.
Moving on to “shot making”, again we see many of the same names, with the addition of Tiger Woods, of course, who has shown us some remarkable imagination and execution of shots most wouldn’t even have the ability to see. It was said about Ben Hogan that he was one of the very few that combined both skills. Ben Hogan was noted for this insightful piece of advice about how to approach a pin location:
”You work the ball toward the flag. If it is in the right side of the green, you hit a fade, and hit a draw to any left flag location. Pins in the front require a high shot with spin, and those toward the back of the green require a lower shot with less spin. You always work the ball flight from the center of the green toward the edges.”
Now that’s serious insight into how the game can be played . . . at least if you have complete control over the ball flight. Or at least want to. And that brings me to my question today, to which I would like for all of you to weigh in;
I would like for as many of you as possible to chime with your answer to this question:
Do you ever try to hit various shots – draws, fades, high, low, “carve it”, etc. – and how often? Only when necessary, frequently, often. Please also indicate your handicap with your answer, OK?
Let’s have some fun with this.