Alternate Driving

When your driving goes south -- or when situations call for something other than the big dog -- ?don't forget your options

Hybrids Hybrid
They’re shorter and, therefore, easier to control. When the fairways run tight, your hybrid wood can be your best friend.

On holes that provide a lot of run and on shots hit into the wind, opt for a hybrid club and a low, hard draw. To execute a hybrid running hook, begin by setting up with the ball slightly back in your stance, which should be slightly closed.

To ensure a low, right-to-left ballflight, hood the clubface just a bit by turning the toe of the club toward the target. Once you have the setup, concentrate on taking the club away on a slightly inside path, just as you did with the 3-wood draw. Stop well short of parallel, and be sure to hit down more than you would on a typical, sweeping fairway shot. On the way through the ball, the hands need to turn over, with the right hand resting above the left, and the right wrist staying bent. These last two items are the most important because they’re what contribute most to the execution of the shot. When you practice this, be absolutely certain to focus on maintaining the bend in your right wrist all the way through impact, and try to turn your right palm toward the ground.

Hot Hybrids
The pool of top hybrids includes the Rescue MID from TaylorMade, with a double-crown design and a low CG for a combination of distance and forgiveness. The JMAX Tour Iron-Wood from Tour Edge is constructed from hyper steel and features a hollow body, a tungsten sole and minimal offset. Mizuno’s FLI-HI CLK is built with a carbon crown and three variable face thicknesses, making it the most high-tech hybrid and an excellent choice for players of all handicaps. Cleveland Golf’s HALO utility club is available in a wide range of lofts that make it an ideal long-iron replacement.

Driver's Ed Driver’s Ed
The first step to getting the ball in the fairway on a more consistent basis is accepting the fact that the driver isn’t always the best option. Drivers are the longest and lowest-lofted clubs in the bag, making them tough to hit accurately, even for the best players in the world. In addition, the distance provided by a well-struck drive simply isn’t needed on many golf holes, making it difficult to substantiate the risk associated with hitting the big stick. Instead, the best way to immediately improve your driving results is to learn to use clubs other than the driver, (i.e., the 3-wood, hybrid club and long iron) more effectively. But knowing how to hit these clubs isn’t all there is to it—you also need to know when to hit them. Follow some of my suggestions, and you’re sure to hit more fairways and shoot better scores.

Now, don’t get me wrong; the driver isn’t a club that needs to be stuck in the closet for good. But being prudent about when and where not to pull it out can have a significant effect on your overall game. Although there are no hard and set rules concerning the use of the driver, there are some guidelines that, when followed, can save you more than a few strokes over the course of a round. First, avoid hitting driver on holes that are excessively tight, particularly those that spell trouble on the side to which you generally miss (if your tendency is to hook, avoid hitting driver on a hole with water on the immediate left of the fairway). Even if you end up facing a longer approach shot, it’s much smarter to hit less club off the tee than risk an OB tee shot, which is something any golfer who plays for a score has to avoid at all costs.


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