Hit More Fairways
What to do when you absolutely have to be in play
Just round the corner from my house in northeastern Oklahoma lies Miami CC, a course on which I grew up and learned the game. It’s a track steeped in history, having at one time Ky Laffoon as its head professional. I taught each one of my five children to play golf on Miami CC—a course where each hole seems to demand a different golfing skill.
Of course, being in the fairway helps throughout, but on no hole is accuracy off the tee more important than on the par-4 11th. With water right and OB left, you absolutely need to be in the fairway with your tee shot to score well on ’ol Number 11.
I’m sure you know of a hole like No. 11 on your home course—a hole where if you’re off the fairway, you’re in serious trouble. Indeed, there are times when accuracy off the tee is priority number one. When you approach these situations, use the following advice to ensure you’re safe and long.
Make An Impact
At the point of contact, everything should come together evenly, with your hands leading your body into the ball. From here, allow your right shoulder to turn through along with your head.
Set yourself up to swing on the desired inside-out path by dropping your right shoulder and resting your arms against your chest. If you don’t swing in-to-out, you’re in trouble.
Legs And Hands
Play the ball off your shirt logo and with a solid, shoulder-width stance. Lead with your hands, but don’t forget about your body turn—focus on rotating around your right leg.
Setup and Swing
The accurate driver swing is all about balance, control and togetherness. In no part of the swing should any part of your body dominate, whether it be the hips, legs, shoulders or arms. Balance starts at address, where your stance should be shoulder-width and with your feet flared to facilitate your turn. Your right shoulder should hang slightly lower than the left. When the right shoulder sits lower, it makes it much easier to swing from in to out.
Also, fight the urge to play the ball too far forward or too far back in your stance. Typically, if you play the ball too far forward, you’ll encourage a pull; playing it too far back will encourage a push. Favor a neutral ball position.
As far as the swing is concerned, there are only a few musts on which to focus. As you move your hands to the top and back through the ball, your upper and lower body should turn, but lag behind the hands. A critical point is your approach to the ball. At this point, I like to think of my right arm brushing against my right pocket. This lets me know I’m approaching the ball from the inside. As I make contact, I should feel my right shoulder hit my chin. Here, many golfers raise their heads. This destroys the inside path you worked so hard to create. Instead, let your head rotate toward the target with that right shoulder.
Now that you know what to do, it’s a good idea to discuss what not to do. If you can keep from making the following mistakes, you’ll have a better chance of hitting your target.
For starters, don’t try to over-control your swing by making it too compact. With your short irons, this works well. But the driver is too long for such an approach. In other words, don’t pin your right arm to your right side like you would for a delicate approach. Let the right arm float out a bit to create the wider swing arc the longer-length driver demands. All that I ask is that you keep the right elbow pointing toward the ground. Again, this makes it easier to maintain the desired inside path.