1. DRILL: TURN YOUR BACK TO THE TARGET
Here's a drill that will help you hit a big sweeping hook. First aim the clubface down the target line. From there, make sure your upper body is parallel to the target line. Now turn your lower body 45_¡ closed. The reason you do this is to stop your left side from turning through the shot. That will force you to release the golf club.
Another key factor to consider is ball position. Place it just in front of your left toe, so it's actually in the center of your body, opposite your shirt buttons. The result from such an extreme setup? A big, sweeping hook that'll teach you how to release the clubhead! Now, take that feeling and apply it to less extreme shots.
2. SLIGHT DRAW/SLIGHT FADE
In the left and right photos, I'm demonstrating how to hit a slight fade and draw. (In the middle, I'm demonstrating how to hit a straight shot.) Basically, the same rules apply whether you want to hit a draw or a fade–all you have to do is the opposite to produce the desired result. First notice how my clubface is aiming straight down the line at the target and how my body lines (feet, waist, shoulders) are aiming either slightly to the left or right. From there, I swing along my body lines. I keep my clubface where it is but swing as if I'm hitting the ball to the left or right. This starts the ball out to the left or right and then, because the clubface is aiming straight, brings the ball back on that line. Nothing fancy here, just a sound setup that produces a curving ballflight.
3. COMPLETE YOUR BACKSWING
Notice, in the three black-and-white photos, how inefficient my backswing is? In each example, I haven't rotated my body completely. In the color photo, however, my shoulders are 90_¡ to my target line, and I'm creating major torque. And the greater my torque, the better chance I'll have of hitting the ball far. Practice as I'm doing here and then retain that feeling when you swing a club. The better you can turn in the backswing, the more separation you can get between your hips and shoulders in the downswing, creating the torque you need for greater speed. Make a full, complete backswing while resisting with your lower body, then unwind first with your lower body and let the club whip through impact.
4. BALL POSITION CAN HELP DETERMINE SHOT SHAPE
Note the differences in my ball position and how high I've teed it. In the photo at left, I've teed it up slightly forward of center and slightly higher than in the photo at right. This is the kind of placement you want if you're going to hit a draw. When it's back in my stance, it'll help me release the club earlier and create more of a right-to-left ballflight and close the clubface, putting draw spin on the ball. With the ball teed a little bit farther ahead in my stance and lower, I'll have to hold off my release which will keep the face open so I hit a little cut. Try this on the range and notice how it impacts your shot shape.
5. DON'T STAND SO CLOSE TO ME
The distance you stand away from the ball determines how upright or flat your swing is. The closer you stand, the more upright your swing will be; the farther away you are, the flatter it'll be. These differences in swing plane change your swing's shape and the way your clubface rotates (or doesn't) through the shot.
Check out, in the photos, how that distance impacts my swing plane. Note also, in the "closer" photo, how I've choked down on the club, too, because I don't need the extra grip when I stand closer. You won't hit the ball as far when you choke down and stand close, so factor that difference into your shots. Standing closer also will help lower the ball's trajectory because the shaft will be farther ahead at impact. The opposite applies when standing farther from the ball.
Jeff Yurkiewicz, PGA, is the head golf instructor at the Grayhawk Learning Center in Scottsdale, Ariz. Visit grayhawkgolf.com.