Golf terms: What does it mean to push or pull a ball in golf?
Golf Culture

Golf terms: What does it mean to push or pull a ball in golf?

Zac Blair, professional golfer and avid golf traveler


In golf, hitting the ball straight is difficult. For some golfers, it's downright impossible. That means golfers, more often than not, are hitting their ball to the left or to the right of their intended target -- and often with a corresponding shape to it.

Golfers have terms for the shape of golf shots, and some of the most common are push, pull, slice, hook, draw and fade. Let's explain what it means in golf to push and pull the golf ball.

What does it mean to push or pull a ball in golf?

In golf, a push means to hit the ball slightly to the right off target, and a pull means to hit a ball slightly to the left off target. That's for a right-handed golfer. The directions are flipped for a lefty, meaning a pull goes right and a push goes left.

A push happens for a golfer when the club face opens relative to the intended target line, forcing the ball away from the target and the golfer.

A pull happens for a golfer when the club face closes relative to the intended target line, forcing the ball away from the target line and toward the golfer.

More often than not, we talk about a push and a pull relative to putting, but the terms can be used for any type of shot on the golf course.

How does a push compare to a slice?

The terms push, fade and slice all refer to shots that go to the right for a right-handed golfer. However, of the three terms, "fade" is the one most likely to be used in a positive context. Golfers can hit a fade on purpose, starting their ball to the left of the intended target and making it move to the right toward the intended target. That's a good thing. Even a slice -- or the kinder term "power fade" -- can have a positive result if controlled and accounted for properly. However, "slice" and "push" are generally used with a negative meaning.

In the grand scheme, a push is a mild fade. A fade is typically controlled but can mean significant left-to-right movement. A slice means a whole lot of left-to-right movement, often wildly so.

How does a pull compare to a hook?

The terms pull, draw and hook all refer to shots that go to the left for a right-handed golfer. However, of the three terms, "draw" is the one most likely to be used in a positive context. Golfers can hit a draw on purpose, starting their ball to the right of the intended target and making it move to the left toward the intended target. That's a good thing. Even a hook can have a positive result if controlled and accounted for properly. However, "hook" and "pull" are generally used with a negative meaning.

In the grand scheme, a pull is a mild draw. A draw is typically controlled but can mean significant right-to-left movement. A hook means a whole lot of right-to-left movement, often wildly so.

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