If you want to take your scores even lower, you've got to be able to control the spin on your golf ball, and that means being able to curve it when you want to. This skill is called working the ball, and it takes practice. But most low-handicappers don't rehearse this part of their game correctly–they'll hit 20 draws in a row, then hit a bunch of fades. This practice sequence doesn't realistically represent what you'll face on the course. In golf, you only get one chance, not 20. That's why I recommend the Diamond Drill. The Diamond teaches you how to work the ball on demand using the geometry of the setup.
Geometry At Address Draw: 1. Aim your clubface at the target. 2. Align your body to the right of the target on the line you want the ball to start. 3. Swing your arms along your body line. 4. Finish the swing with the butt of the club angling toward the target line (for a hook, finish with the shaft lying horizontal to the ground).
Fade: 1. Aim your clubface at the target. 2. Align your body to the left of the target on the line you want your shot to start. 3. Swing the club on your body line. 4. Finish the swing with the butt of the club pointing straight down toward the ground (for a slice, point the butt of the shaft to the left of the target line).
Straight Shot: 1. Aim your clubface at the target. 2. Align your body parallel left of the target line. 3. Swing the club on your body line. 4. Finish with the shaft parallel left of the target line.
Now, use the Diamond Drill and simply rotate your setup to change the curve of the shot. For example, hit a fade, then a draw, then a straight shot. Should you fail to produce the correct spin on the shot, continue the rotation–don't take a mulligan.The Diamond Drill_Ê Arrange four balls in a diamond with two feet between each ball. The top ball of the diamond should be on the target line. Tee up the rear ball–this is the one you'll hit._Ê Your task is to hit three balls per series: one that starts over the right ball and curves back to the target; the second goes directly to the target over the front ball; and the third shot starts over the left ball of the diamond and fades back to the target._Ê Use a 5-iron on a tee, and once you're successful, off the ground. Then change to a driver._Ê If you can do three series in a row perfectly with both clubs, head for the Tour.
Here are some key concepts that will help you:_Ê Make sure you imagine the shot by seeing, feeling and actually describing it to yourself._Ê Program in the curve you want with your practice swing followthrough. For the draw, finish with the back of your right hand (for right-handed golfers) looking at the sky and the handle of your club tilted toward the target line. It's the opposite for a fade._Ê Match your grip pressure to the shot. For a fade, tighten your hold on the club in both hands, but increase it the most in your left hand so the face stays open. To draw the ball, decrease your grip pressure. This will activate your wrists, giving them the flexibility to work the clubface into a slightly closed position through the hitting zone.
Dr. T.J. Tomasi is one of the most widely published authorities on the golf swing. He's the director of instruction at Lyman Orchards GC in Middlefield, Conn.