The Pull (or Pulled Shot) in Golf and What Causes It

Illustrating the pull shot in golf
Illustration by William Glessner

A "pull" or "pull shot" is a ball flight in which the golf ball:

  • Starts to the left (for a right-handed golfer) of the target line and continues traveling left in a straight line, ending up left of the intended target. The pull shot starts left and stays left, but does so traveling in a straight line. If there's a divot, it will be pointing left of your target line.
  • For a left-handed golfer, it's the opposite - a pull starts right of the target line and continues flying straight in that direction, winding up right of the intended target.

A hook shot also winds up left of the target, but a hook curves to go left. A pull goes left off the face of the club and does not curve. It's just left all the way.

A pull is the opposite of a push shot.

How Golfers Talk About the Pull

How do golfers talk about the pull? By calling it a pull, naturally, or a pull shot. Or "pulled shot" or "pulled ball." "I pulled that one," a golfer might say, or "I'm pulling a lot of shots today" or "I have a bad case of the pulls today."

Golfers might also use various synonyms for "pull," such as "I'm yanking it left" or "I'm tugging it left."

Causes and Cures for Pulled Shots

Are you hitting a lot of pulls? What causes that anyway? And what can you do about it? Start with the basics:

  • Pull shots can be caused by poor alignment. A golfer might simply be setting up aimed left of the target. Or the golfer's feet might be square but her shoulders pointing left. So check your alignment and make sure you aren't pointing left from the get-go.

Another basic cause: Having the ball too far forward in your stance can lead to pulling the ball. So make sure you have the ball positioned where you normally do. 

A more advanced cause is pushing your arms away from your body in the downswing, leading to an over-the-top swing and the club approaching impact from the outside. "The pull is caused when the club comes from outside the target line on the downswing and you pull across your body," Gary McCord says in his instructional book, Golf for Dummies (buy it on Amazon).

The grip is not normally a factor in pull shots, except that gripping too tight can encourage an over-the-top swing. (See: How Tightly Should You Hold the Club?)

McCord also recommends checking your distance from the ball in your stance:

If you're (standing) too close (to the ball), you instinctively pull inward on your forward swing, which means pulling to the left.