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How to hit better tee shots

How to hit better tee shots

Written by: Tom Stickney, PGA

 

Better tee shots mean hitting the ball straight.

There’s nothing worse than standing up on the tee setting up for your “normal” shot shape, then hitting the deadly double-cross! So now you are left picking up the pieces of a shot that went left to left or right to right…not fun!

Here at Punta Mita we have a hole where this can happen quite often: No. 18 at Pacifico. The hole design bends gently left to right with out of bounds left and the ocean to the right. There’s plenty of room to move the ball left to right or right to left, depending on your “normal” shot pattern, but if you double-cross it, you’re back on the tee hitting three, or dropping the ball out of the hazard and hitting three as well. Neither situation is a great option.

Now that we understand what a double-cross is (playing for a fade and hooking it or playing for a draw and slicing it), it’s now time to figure out how and why it happens!

So, let’s set up for each shot shape.

better tee shots photo 1

In Photo 1 I am set up for a left to right shot where I am on the right side of the tee box and aiming down the left side of the fairway.

For the right to left shot pattern I am setting up on the left side of the tee box and aiming down the right side of the fairway (Photo 2).

better tee shots photo 2

These two alignments will give us the best opportunity to use the entire width of the fairway so we can hit it in the short grass. Now let’s investigate what each shot shape player tends to do when they hit a double-cross.

better tee shots photos 3-4

FOR THE LEFT TO RIGHT PLAYER

The main reason you will double-cross your fade is when you fail to get off of your back foot on the way down. When you hang back as shown in Photo 3, the body stops and the arms and hands fling by closing the club face through impact (Photo 4). As we all know, when the face angle is left of the path, the ball will start left and hook with a centered hit.

To make sure you do not allow this to happen again, you must make sure you move through the ball, allowing your weight to move into your forward foot earlier. For this I have a simple drill.

Place another tee (the same height) about three to four inches in front of your current golf ball on the same target line (Photo 5). Your goal is to hit the ball and the top of the second tee with the clubhead on the way through.  This will help you to move the weight into your lead foot earlier, thus keeping the face right of the path, and you will see the ball move left to right.

better tee shots photos 5-7

FOR THE RIGHT TO LEFT PLAYER

The main reason why you will double-cross your draw is when you lose your posture through impact, standing the club shaft upwards and opening the face.  When you stand up as shown in Photo 6, the hands also raise; when this occurs the face of the club will stay right of the path (Photo 7). As we all know, when the face angle is right of the path, the ball will start right and then move further right with a centered hit.

better tee shots photo 8

Now that we understand what is happening, how do we make sure it won’t happen again? Find an alignment stick and place it in the ground as shown in Photo 8 (which is just a touch in front of the ball.)  If you stand up and raise your hands, you will be the first to know! By keeping the club shaft closer to its address angle you will find that the club has an easier time closing, which will help the face to be slightly left of the path during impact, causing the ball to gently move right to left.

Understanding the double cross is the first key to stopping it for good. The second step is to use the appropriate drill to stop you from either hanging back or standing up. Alleviating these issues will go a long way to helping you have more confidence that the ball will indeed move in the direction you want — and stop you from hitting the ball left to left or right to right, causing you headaches.

 

Source: golftipsmag.com

Senior golf: Let's tackle the back nine!

Lee Trevino once said: “The older I get, the better I used to be!” Even though golf is our game, most all of us have our fisherman tales as well! How good we were is no longer relevant; how good we are is a function of our conditioning.  When we’re young, exercise can be an option, as we age it is a necessity!

So first, we take a good look at where the swing and game is right now. You may get with an instructor to diagnose the current state of the swing and game. I think video is the best way to take a good, close look at what is actually happening (as opposed to what he/she feels might be happening). When the problem has been identified, we need to decide if the issue is physical, that is a limitation due to aging or injury OR, if the swing flaw is an old poor habit (not necessarily related to age).  If we are dealing with a poor habit, we make suggestions for improvement. If the problem is physical, we can address the restrictions with the aid of a fitness professional. I make this distinction because too many of my senior students are too quick to blame age for the problem. Age might be the problem, but poor swing habits are likely involved as well.

Senior golf is the time when we begin to attempt to compensate!  No one, regardless of how good of condition they are in, for their age, can do at 70 what they could at 30. The arc of the swing becomes shorter, the swing speed decreases, we cannot transfer weight as well as we once could, and as we are now learning, we certainly cannot push off the ground as a younger person might. As a result, it is not unusual to throw the clubhead at the ball from the top in an attempt to get back the lost distance; it is not unusual to “hang back” on the rear leg in an attempt to get back lost trajectory, the list goes on and on.

Case in point: I have chronic back issues, as many near my age do. Arthritis and a severely herniated disc create a fair amount of discomfort much of the time. These do not allow me to turnor move as freely as once I did. These issues have forced me to find ways to swing as pain-free as possible, which is a problem. One thing I noticed clearly on my video was a loss of posture in the backswing. It is difficult for me to maintain my posture as I turn, so I raise my torso to make the turn easier.  I could not feel that and was surprised to see it on video. I was a good couple of inches taller at the top of my swing, creating all kinds of issues particularly in my iron play. I now do yoga, stretching and work with Darin Hovis to stay as flexible as my aging body will allow. We can play better and feel better about it, if

  • We know the problem.
  • Are willing to change.
  • Have realistic expectations.
  • Are willing to improve physical fitness.

Returning to the focus of this series: Let’s start at the beginning. Turning is a critical component is any golf swing. It is critical to approach the ball from inside, and a very often a good turn away with the torso allows one the opportunity to get there. Hitting from inside is difficult, if not impossible, without a good backswing turn. Same goes for turning in the downswing.  Again the path is an arc, from inside and back to inside. The hip turn in the downswing swings the club back to the inside. I have asked Darin Hovis, of Par 4 Fitness to demonstrate a few drills that can increase one’s ability to turn at any age.

Let’s get started. Watch the video here and get to work on your swing issues, and your body as well. Remember, the alternative is to put the clubs in a garage sale, but if this game is in your blood like it’s in mine, I’ll take the exercise alternative!

Source: golfwrx.com