Driving to Success
A well-rehearsed routine is your greatest ally when it comes to taking care of the fundamentals in the set-up that enable you to make a solid swing. With a driver in your hands, that involves building both a stance and ball position that enables you to make a strong move and sweep the ball away powerfully from the tee.
Among amateurs, probably the biggest single problem that I see in the long game is a tendency to play the ball too far back in the stance, a fault that leads to the right shoulder being set a little too high.
Avoid this at all costs. The result is a weak pivot and a choppy swing -hardly what you're looking for with the driver in your hands.
I guarantee that routine will get you in better shape on the tee.
Tips for a Big Set Up
Everything about your address position with a driver is designed to promote a powerful sweeping action along a natural inside path. The key is to build a routine which not only puts the ball in the right place every single time you step up to hit a tee shot but also positions your upper body correctly, enabling you to make a full and powerful turn behind the ball in the course of your backswing.
Finish the job by putting a light flex in the knees. That gives you a terrific sense of feeling supported and in balance.
One final word on the set-up. With your spine angled gently away from the target, it is important that you also tilt your head in that same direction. As you do this, focus your eyes on the back of the ball - right where you want the club to arrive at speed as you sweep it clean off the peg.
When it comes to building a solid swing, I have always believed that one good thing
leads to another - hence the importance of a good platform at the set-up. That's the first rule of good golf. With the driver - the most demanding of all clubs - you want to enjoy a sense of real extension here as you stand up tall and let your arms hang in front of your body. From here, good positioning - along with a sense of balance within motion -leads to good dynamic movement.
Right from the start we can appreciate the benefits of creating good angles at the set-up. Tilting your spine gently away from the target (i.e. having the right side relaxed and set a little lower than the left) positively assists you in drawing the clubhead away low and on a natural inside path. The 'sequencing' of events is the key: the chest, arms, hands and club are moving together as a unit through the early stages, and the swing immediately assumes width and rhythm.
If the arms are relaxed and your grip pressure is sympathetic to making a full, flowing swing, then the club should feel 'heavy' as it brushes away from the ball. This feeling will encourage the wrists to hinge and work correctly, setting the club with a full wrist-cock all the way into the backswing. The key is not to hurry the backswing. There should be a feeling of building up your momentum gradually. Remember, the ball will still be there when you get back to it.
Winding your upper body over a stable lower half rewards you with a fully loaded 'athletic' position at the top of the swing. As a cue that will help you to get here, remind yourself to turn your left shoulder fully behind the ball. Trust the move and this full pivot will promote the correct weight shift into your right side as you coil all the way to the top. You should now be balanced, ready to unwind with a burst of acceleration through impact.
Having loaded up your swing, negotiating the change of direction is the key to enjoying maximum acceleration and club-head speed through impact. As ever, the key is to 'sequence' your moves correctly, blending the two halves of your swing into one continuous flowing motion.
To make sense of this chain reaction, rehearse this transition drill. The idea is to make your backswing move, then get a real sense of 'squatting' and 'settling' in the lower body as you fuse the two halves together by reversing momentum from the ground up. Your weight shifts back across to the left foot, left knee working towards the target while left hip and left shoulder pull in that same direction. The result is a natural shallowing of the swing plane as the right arm and shoulder drop, setting up the desired inside attack on the ball.
'Swish' the clubhead through impact and let it fly
At this moment, there is really not much you can (or should) be thinking about -other than letting the clubhead swing and accelerate freely so that the ball is literally 'collected' from the tee. Make a fully committed motion and simply allow the ball to get in the way of the clubhead as you release all of that built-up speed. Such is the momentum that you should freewheel all the way to a full and composed finish.
Although my weight has flowed naturally across to the left side, notice that my head and upper body are still nicely | behind the ball as I sweep it away. You want to have this feeling of hitting past . your body. Notice how the tee-peg is still in the ground - a sure sign of a shallow, sweeping blow.
Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine