Davis Love III is that rare breed of golfer who enters every tournament with a great chance to win. One of the reasons for this is his prowess with the driver. Last year, Love averaged 299 yards off the tee and notched a Total Driving ranking (accuracy plus distance) of 26, which fueled four wins and paychecks totaling $6 million. With such length off the tee, hitting greens in regulation—the most important scoring indicator—becomes a less daunting task.
Flexibility is a critical element in the golf swing and should play a significant role in determining what type of setup you adopt. In particular, the position of the left foot is strongly impacted by flexibility level. This is key, because left-foot positioning can affect several swing characteristics, including backswing length, hip turn and subsequent torso rotation through the ball.
It’s been well documented that a solid short game is the key to consistently shooting lower scores. A vital part of the short-game mix is the “finesse shot,” typically from within 100 yards of the green. On a finesse shot, your mindset must be quite different from that applied to the full swing. For example, when hitting a shot with a full swing, your goal is to hit the ball as hard and far as possible.
Skilled golfers know that true power results from the upper body coiling over the resistance of the lower body, and that the key to this is establishing good footwork. Typical modern-day pros are flexible enough to get the upper body behind the ball without having to lift the left foot off the ground. Instead, they shift their weight to the inside of the right foot as the left foot rolls slightly inward, allowing the left knee to rotate behind the ball. From this position, they shift weight laterally on the downswing, pushing off the ground with the right foot.
Add closed and open-faced shots to your short-game arsenal
The plethora of multiple wedge offerings is fantastic. They’ve made extinct the old saying “a sand wedge is the only wedge a good player needs.” That adage came from Greg Norman, who I bet has added a lob wedge to his set since. Nevertheless, despite owning the tools for hitting any number of specific yardages from 125 yards and in, most short shots you’ll face will require something much different than a full swing from one of the two or three wedges in your bag.
Cure the majority of your flaws by adopting a rock-solid setup
If there’s one thing a seasoned golf instructor can do, it’s spot a solid setup, even from 50 yards away. One look is all it takes for an experienced teacher to recognize athleticism and balance. The reason why? Any instructor worth his or her salt will stress the fundamentals of a solid setup if solid results are what the student seeks.
Just how important are the feet, legs and hips? Well, some argue that they are the heart and soul of the golf swing. In fact, it was Byron Nelson who brought us the idea of “flexing the shaft with the lower body.” Jack Nicklaus also has repeatedly said that the swing begins from the ground up. Then why, despite advice from two of the best golfers who ever played, does the average golfer try to “muscle” the ball with his or her upper body?
Simple tips and drills for finding the fairway more often
The higher the handicap, the more pivotal the tee ball becomes. Driving the ball into water, rough, bunkers, trees and other hazards is what causes high-handicappers to rack up strokes. As players become more proficient, they develop skills to execute trouble shots and hit pitches from the rough and sand, putting less pressure on hitting fairways. It’s almost as if good players expect to miss every now and then, feeling confident in knowing that they have the tools to recover from an errant drive. High-handicappers, unfortunately, don’t have that luxury.
In order to deliver the golf club powerfully into the back of the golf ball, you must maintain a firm base with your lower body and create a powerful backswing coil. This coil results by turning the upper body against the resistance of the lower body. Good players facilitate the creation of coil by maintaining the gap between the knees on the backswing (right). They unleash the energy stored in the coil by closing the gap on the downswing.
My standard response to a question I frequently field at clinics and exhibitions about the proper feeling at address is: “It’s like cement and spaghetti.” That strange combination of metaphors raises a few eyebrows until I explain what I mean.