How do you hit a "stymie" shot in golf?

Today, I want to talk about a rare and often misunderstood aspect of golf: the “stymie” shot. If you’ve ever found yourself in a situation on the golf course where your ball is directly obstructed by your opponent’s ball, you know how frustrating it can be.

But fear not, because I am here to guide you through the process of successfully navigating this challenging shot. It is imperative to approach the stymie shot with caution and precision, as it can make or break your round. However, with the right technique and mindset, you can turn this seemingly insurmountable obstacle into a triumphant moment on the course.

Understanding Stymie Shots

To understand a stymie shot in golf, it’s important to first understand what a stymie is. A stymie occurs when your opponent’s ball comes to rest between your ball and the hole on the putting green, blocking your direct putting line. In historical golf rules, hitting over or around the other ball would be your only option. Today, stymies are a thing of the past, but it’s still valuable to understand the challenge they presented and how to approach them.

Historical Context and Rule Changes

In the early days of golf, stymies were a regular occurrence and were considered an integral part of the game. Players were forced to use creative and often risky putting techniques to navigate around the obstructing ball. However, in 1952, the rules of golf were changed to disallow stymies, allowing players to mark and lift their ball if an opponent’s ball interfered with their putting line. This rule change eliminated the need to confront the challenging stymie shots that were once a staple of the game.

The Challenge of Hitting a Stymie

When faced with a stymie, a player was often required to attempt a high, arcing shot over the obstructing ball or to attempt a risky bank shot off the edge of the putting surface. These shots required precision and delicacy to avoid colliding with the other ball and to reach the target hole. The pressure of navigating a stymie added an extra layer of complexity to an already challenging game, and it was a true test of a player’s skill and nerve.

Preparing for the Stymie Shot

Obviously, hitting a stymie shot requires careful preparation and planning. The first step is to analyze the lie of the ball and the course conditions to determine the best approach. Once you have a clear understanding of the situation, you can select the right club for the shot and develop a strategy for executing it successfully.

Analyzing the Lie and Course Conditions

When preparing for a stymie shot, it’s important to carefully assess the lie of the ball and the conditions of the course. Is the ball buried in deep rough, sitting on a downhill slope, or nestled against a tree? Understanding these factors will help you determine the potential obstacles and challenges you may face when attempting the shot. Additionally, take note of the wind direction and speed, as they can significantly affect the trajectory and distance of your shot.

Selecting the Right Club for a Stymie Shot

One of the most important aspects of preparing for a stymie shot is selecting the right club for the situation. Consider the distance you need to cover and any obstacles in your path. I recommend choosing a club with a higher loft to help you get the ball up and over any obstacles. Additionally, take into account the lie of the ball and the course conditions when deciding on the appropriate club. Remember that accuracy is key, so choose a club that you are confident and comfortable using for precise shots.

Execution of the Stymie Shot

Your execution of the stymie shot is critical to your success on the golf course. It requires careful planning and precise execution to navigate the obstacles involved in this challenging shot. By mastering the proper stance and alignment strategies, as well as understanding swing mechanics and ball contact points, you can increase your chances of executing a successful stymie shot.

Proper Stance and Alignment Strategies

When facing a stymie shot, proper stance and alignment are crucial. I recommend setting up with your feet shoulder-width apart and directly parallel to the ball. You want to align your body to the target, allowing for a clear path for the ball to travel. Your stance should provide a stable foundation for your swing, ensuring a clean strike on the ball.

Swing Mechanics and Ball Contact Points

Mastering the swing mechanics and ball contact points for a stymie shot is vital for success. Keep your swing smooth and controlled, focusing on making solid contact with the ball. I suggest hitting the ball with a slightly closed clubface to generate a topspin that helps the ball roll over the stymie obstacle. Practice different ball contact points to find the optimal spot for clearing the obstruction while maintaining accuracy toward the target.

Advanced Techniques and Practice Drills

Now that we have covered the basics of hitting a stymie shot, it’s time to explore some advanced techniques and practice drills that will help you improve your game. These techniques and drills will require dedication and practice, but they will ultimately help you become a more skilled and confident golfer when facing stymie situations on the course.

  1. Advanced Techniques
1. Reading the GreenUnderstanding the slopes and breaks of the green is crucial for assessing the best approach for your stymie shot. Look for subtle changes in elevation and grain direction that can affect the ball’s path.
2. Creative Shot SelectionDeveloping the ability to visualize and execute unconventional shots will give you an edge when faced with a stymie. Experiment with different clubs and shot types to navigate around obstacles and reach your target.

Overcoming Psychological Barriers

When it comes to hitting a stymie shot, mental fortitude plays a significant role in your success. The pressure of the situation can be daunting, but it’s essential to maintain composure and focus on the task at hand. Remind yourself that a stymie is just another challenge that you have the skills to overcome. Visualization and positive self-talk can help alleviate any doubts or anxiety, allowing you to approach the shot with confidence.

Practice Drills to Perfect the Stymie Shot

Perfecting your stymie shot requires dedicated practice and drills that simulate real on-course scenarios. One effective drill is to set up obstacles on the practice green and practice navigating around them to reach your target. Additionally, practicing various lie conditions and distances will sharpen your ability to adapt and execute successful stymie shots in different situations. The more you practice, the more comfortable and adept you will become at handling stymies during actual rounds.


With these considerations in mind, hitting a “stymie” shot in golf requires precision, skill, and strategy. By carefully assessing the obstacles and selecting the right club, you can increase your chances of successfully maneuvering around the obstruction and getting your ball closer to the hole. Practice and experience are essential in mastering this challenging aspect of the game, but with patience and determination, you can develop the ability to navigate stymie situations with confidence and efficiency.

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