Never Lay Up!

Make Solid Contact With Your Hybrids And Fairway Woods

This Article Features Photo Zoom

TEEING YOUR BALL the right height with your metal woods and hybrids determines what kind of contact you make.

With drivers, you want to tee the ball up so you catch it high on the clubface and take advantage of the clubface’s trampoline effect. However, with a fairway wood or hybrid, teeing it low is the way to go.

Consider the two photos you see at left. The top photo shows the correct height. The ball barely sits above the ground, because when struck, you want to take advantage of the club’s natural loft. (Note how angled my clubface is.) Now look at the bottom photo. If my club were to bottom out, I’d barely catch the top of the face. At best, I’d hit a knuckle ball, which wouldn’t go very far; at worst, I’d “sky it” and damage my club’s crown.

TECHNOLOGY ADVANCES have made fairway woods and hybrids not only more forgiving, but longer too. Unfortunately for some folks, this distance and forgiveness gain has also created a distance gap between their metal woods and irons.

Consider the clubs that are in my bag. I don’t carry a 3-iron anymore (I’ve replaced it with a hybrid), but I hit my 4-iron 20 yards shorter than my hybrid. Typically the difference between my irons is 10 yards, so I’m literally missing a club (given that we can carry only 14 clubs, I’m stuck with what I’ve got).

If my predicament sounds familiar, and you find that the yardage difference between your hybrid and your longest iron is too great, take a cue from what I’m doing in the photos at right, and choke down. The bottom photo demonstrates my standard grip, while the top photo shows my hands about an inch down the rubber. Shortening the club shortens your swing arc and reduces distance. To figure out how far you hit the ball when choking down, vary your lengths on the range and “add” some clubs to your bag.

WHILE NEW GOLFERS typically slice the ball, better golfers shape shots of all lengths. If this sounds hard to do, I’ve got good news for you. All you have to do is change how you set up to the ball.

Consider these two photos at left. In the large photo, I’m set-ting up for a cut shot, and in the smaller photo, I’m aligning for a draw. Let me run through both.

For the slice, notice the different lines I’ve aligned to. I’ve got my body lines, my clubface line and the target line. Whereas my body and swing path aim left, the clubface points to where I want the ball to end up. From here, I just swing along my body lines and let the path and clubface do the rest.

Now take a look at the smaller photo above. Notice how the target line points left, but my body and swing lines are angled to the right? I’ve just angled my body to the right while keeping my clubface aimed at where I want the ball to finish. That’s how you hit a draw! The same rules apply to both shot shapes. Don’t overthink it. Keep it simple, alter your body lines compared to your target lines and make a good swing.


IT'S TEMPTING! to try to mimic what the Tour pros do every week. After all, they can make impossible-looking shots look really easy. But for golfers who play only once or twice a week, it’s best to try to be as consistent as possible.

Now and then, when I play with my students, I might see them hit a few bad shots in a row. That’s okay, I tell them, golf’s a hard sport. But if they’ve been chunking or hooking the ball a lot and are all of a sudden faced with a slice shot, they have to play within themselves and not try to overcompensate. Confidence is also key. If you haven’t been hitting your 3-wood or hybrid particularly well and have a forced carry that you’ve cleared in the past, then lay up! Once you’ve regained your confidence and have been hitting it well, you should go for it again.

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