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Hit It Big And Hit The Fairway

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TOO MUCH SPINE TILT, as you can see above, where my shoulders angle far away from the target (and my left shoulder goes up too much), creates far too great an ascending angle into the ball. This results in a high launch or “balloon ball” that shoots high in the air and loses major distance. (It’s also really hard to control if you’re playing into the wind!)

To keep your shoulders in a more advantageous position, do the “Gary Player” drill. What’s that? Simply finish your swing by literally walking through your shot, taking a forward step with your back foot on your followthrough. Doing this gets you moving to your left side, so you don’t hang back with your lower and upper body.

THE POSITION I'M IN here is perfect...for an iron shot. Unfortunately, I’m not hitting an iron, I’m hitting my driver.

Notice how level my shoulders are? They’re practically parallel to the ground. That’s not what you want to do when hitting a ball that’s teed up. Instead, you want to tilt slightly away from your target, so you hit the ball with a slightly ascending blow. (Notice how my clubface is descending here? This shot will be low at best and a pop-up at worst.)

To find just the right balance, address the ball with 60 percent of your weight on your back foot and 40 percent of your weight on your front foot. By setting up with your weight distributed, your shoulders will tilt away from the target, and if your downswing sequence is good, you’ll return to a similar position at impact.

As you swing, clear your hips first (see photo below), and your shoulders will con-tinue to tilt slightly away from the target. You’ll make contact with the ball on the top portion of the clubface, the perfect area from which to launch the ball on the right trajectory.

THE DEBATE ENDS HERE. Distance trumps accuracy—big time. At least when you look at the current PGA Tour stats. As of publication, the Tour’s top five Distance Leaders finished in the top three nine times (Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson have both notched victories) and have earned a combined $7.7 million. As for the Tour’s Driving Accuracy leaders, the top five players earned a combined $5 million and only managed three top-three finishes (Tim Clark captured The Players).

So what does this mean for you? Well, not a whole lot unless you’ve got the strength to muscle your approach shots out of the rough like the pros. Most amateurs would still be served best by driving more accurately. It’s also important to remember that when Tour pros miss the fairway, they don’t miss it as often or as wide as many weekend warriors.

In the quest for a better golf game, get your shots traveling in a straight line first (Omar Uresti, 75.76 percent of fairways hit), and worry about becoming the next Robert Garrigus (318.2 yards off the tee) later.

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