Cut Shot In Golf Explained – How to Hit A Cut Shot?

Playing cut shots for getting around a tree. Hitting a cut shot so you can avoid that right-side bunker when approaching the green. Cutting the golf ball to the right from the left is also common when you want to stay away from hazards or obstacles that guard the right greenside. So what really is a “cut shot” in golf?

During your game on the course, each hole requires you to hit a different type of shot, right?

On top of that, turf and weather conditions just make it all even more challenging. That’s why it’s so important to know how to control ball flight. Being able to work the golf ball for your benefit, both ways, is a very useful skill to have as an avid or serious golfer.

So let’s find out what cut shots do and how they fly, so you can learn how to avoid them and also play them whenever the need arises.

What Is A Cut Shot In Golf?

Cut shots are those that take on a fade-type flight, where the golf ball curves from the left side to the right. A cut shot is a controlled i.e. well-intended fade shot that moves from left to right if you’re right-handed or right to left if you’re left-handed.

But then wouldn’t cut and fade shots be the same? Actually, there are the same. In fact, it’s not that uncommon to use both terms interchangeably. The difference, however,  lies in the aim or intention of the player.

So What Is the Difference Between A Cut and A Fade In Golf?

If you know how to hit a fade on the golf course, you obviously know that this involves curving the shot purposely, moderately, and with more control from the left to the right when the ball is in flight. However, when this curved golf ball flight is too severe i.e. uncontrolled, then you’ve hit a slice, and so you should know what’s causing it and how to fix it.

Hence, in a way, cut and fade golf shots are one and the same thing. The terms can indeed be used interchangeably, but just keep in mind that the only thing that differentiates a cut/fade and a slice is the intention of the golfer.

Meaning cut and fade shots are deliberately produced, with control. Even when the left-to-right curve of the ball is generated accidentally, it’s counted as a fade. Whereas slices have a more extreme, unchecked curve that’s certainly helping no one. So that settles the golf cut shot vs fade confusion – both are the same.

Causes of Cut Shots In the Game of Golf

Two reasons why cut shots are produced:

  1. Either an open stance.
  2. Or an open clubface.

When your stance or the clubface is open at the point of impact, what happens is you strike the golf ball in a way that results in the ball spinning and curving in flight. Therefore, how much curve is created depends on how open the clubface or your stance is. Drastic cut shots are produced as an outcome of both.

When Is the Perfect Time to Play A Cut Shot?

Why curve the ball flight from left to right? Or right to left if you’re a leftie?

It’s so simple, you intentionally hit a cut or fade during your round of golf to get your shot, when in flight, to go around or avoid an obstruction, such as tree branches. That means the ball starts out toward the left, flies around whatever obstacle is in its way, and then curves back to the right.

So the best time would be when you want to sidestep greenside hazards or when playing approach shots to the green.

Inducing a left-to-right ball flight is also necessary when the weather is extremely windy. For example, when the direction of the wind is also left-to-right, you can hit a cut shot where the golf ball starts left, gains spin, and rides those hefty winds to acquire additional distance.

Or if the winds are blowing from right to left. That would mean putting a little bit of that cut spin into the flight path, so the ball flies straight. Like I said before, perfect for approach shots.

Now, How About How to Hit A Cut Shot?

Right-hand golfers, in this case, have to send their shots flying toward the right from the left, or right to left if you’re a left-handed player. Either direction, working the golf ball this way certainly lowers your scores in every round. So here’s how to play a cut shot successfully…

  • Literally, aim a little toward the left of the target, not more than 10-15 yards left (or right if you’re a leftie).

You know you’re doing it right if your aim is toward the green’s left side when the pin’s in the middle of that green.

  • You also have to check your body alignment in the sense that your body should be aligned for a straight shot, but facing the side of your target.

The placement of the golf ball, at this point, is supposed to be normal in your stance. Here’s all you need to know about golf setup basics to get not just ball positioning right, but also your stance, weight distribution, posture, grip, and more.

  • Speaking of stance, remember I mentioned earlier that one of the two causes of cut shots is an open stance? Thus, keep the stance open by simply pulling back (around 8-9 inches) the dominant or lead foot.

Drop or pull that foot straight back, without pointing the toes toward the left. This, no doubt, should open up your hips too.

  • Now, square your shoulders to the target. Turn your grip on the golf club to the right for right-hand orientation or left for left-hand orientation, which opens the clubface (cause #2 of a cut or fade shot in the game of golf).
  • Moving on to your backswing, this ought to be normal. Meaning refrain from manipulating your swing path. The open hips and stance are more than enough for creating the much-needed out-to-in swing path.

And finally, also keep the downswing normal.

How to Fix A Cut Shot When Playing Golf?

This just means trying to fix a slice because, after all, slices are shots that veer off to the right (from the left), even though they’re not intentionally hit like cut shots. Nonetheless, the ball flight is the same, right? So here’s how to fix cuts shots in the game of golf…

1. Adjust Golf Ball Placement

Just move the golf ball a little behind in the stance, which has proven to significantly reduce the chances of hitting a slice.  When the ball is positioned further back this way, your swing takes on a more natural form.

2. Don’t Aim Left

If you don’t aim, literally face to the left, your drives and shots will not go left, pick up that cut spin, and then finish to the right. Instead, why not simply aim straight!

More often than not, you end up playing shots the way you set them up, so set up straight and not left.

3. Strengthen Your Grip

A stronger, meaning less neutral, grip is sure to keep that clubface correctly angled at impact.

A stronger grip means rotating the left hand clockwise till you see three knuckles. With such a grip, the clubface will not open through impact, hence eliminating the possibility of hitting a slice, fade, or cut shot.

4. Don’t Forget to Transfer Your Weight

Are you transferring your weight properly during the golf swing?

You know you are when your thigh touches the golf bag, which you place standing up straight against the left thigh and next to the front foot. When the thigh comes into contact with the bag during the start of your downswing, you are indeed transferring your weight properly.

On the other hand, if your left thigh doesn’t touch the object, you’ve left the weight on the back foot, thus the golf ball flies out toward the right. And there’s your huge slice or cut shot!

5. Keep Your Elbow From Flaring out

I’m talking about that right-hand elbow of yours during the backswing. Make sure this elbow doesn’t flare out and away from the body. Because if it does, it’s not following the ideal golf swing path. Rather it’s forcing your club to swing away from you, and also too high. As a result, adding that unwanted left-to-right spin.

At the same time, this makes way for a very, very steep downswing, and that’s how you lose both control as well as distance by sending your shot higher than is necessary.

6. Release Your Club Before Impact

Release means rotate here, so keep in mind to rotate the forearms on impact. The forearm release bit during your golf swing is tricky business since you can’t complete the follow-through motion without that right hand/wrist/arm rotation. So how do you develop a perfectly-timed release?

You can do so with the help of a worn-out, old, or damaged club you may have lying around. Practice your regular swing with it. Just when you think the right hand and forearm are rotating over to the left, release the golf club as in actually let it go.

If that club goes flying into the air toward the left (over the left shoulder), you’ve released too late. But when it flies or is thrown in line with the target without messing with your swing, then hold on to that and keep practicing.

What Is the Difference Between A Cut and A Draw In Golf?

A cut or fade shot takes the form of a left-to-right ball flight, whereas a draw is when the golf ball curves from the right to the left.

An overdone or uncontrolled fade is a slice, while a too severe draw is a hook.

What Is the Opposite of A Cut In Golf?

A cut takes on a left-to-right flight path, so its opposite is a right-to-left ball flight i.e. hook.

But for left-handed golfers, a cut shot will travel from right to left and a hook shot from left to right.


Hopefully, the confusion concerning the definition of a cut shot, how it comes about, how to play one, and also how to avoid it – all of this has been discussed clearly and in detail. What I have also explained is the difference between cut shots and fade shots, cuts and draws, etc.

They’re all shots you can learn to hit and prevent irrespective of your golf handicap value. Just keep practicing and you should be able to control golf ball flight like a pro! Getting to master such skills in golf definitely helps when it comes to lowering your scores at the end of every round.

Photo of author

Jim Furyk

One of the PGA TOUR’s most recognizable and talented golfers, Jim Furyk was born on May 12, 1970 in West Chester, Pennsylvania. It seems like Furyk was born to play golf; his father Mike as an assistant pro at Edgmont Country club, and young Jim was raised into the game. Jim Furyk’s only golf instruction came from his father; and many note that might account for his unusual—yet effective—swing. In addition to Edgmont Country Club, Mike Furyk also served as head pro at Uniontown Country Club.

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