The driver is the main weapon in your bag

Isis Town and Country - - Sport -

WHEN Ge­orge W Bush searched for WMDs, he named Sad­dam as the main cul­prit, but ask any golfer and he should have named Co­bra, Ti­tlist, Tay­lor Made, Call­away and the many other brands of driv­ers that have the ca­pac­ity to de­stroy a golfer in just one shot.

The abil­ity to make a golfer scream to the heav­ens in agony as his or her shot ca­reens off into the dis­tance to land in the next fair­way, the road or the wa­ter, the abil­ity to make grown peo­ple cry as they swear to never ever use that club again and it either lan­guishes in their golf bag or joins the nu­mer­ous put­ters col­lect­ing dust in their garages.

There is an old adage in golf that you drive for show and putt for dough, but in re­al­ity the driver is the main weapon in any golfer’s ar­moury.

With­out a good, strong down-the-mid­dle drive, you have to scram­ble out of trees and places that no ball is sup­posed to go, adding shots to your to­tal score.

Look at driv­ers over the years and we see that they have be­come more so­phis­ti­cated, larger and lighter, some even have ad­justable shafts to ap­par­ently al­low the mod­ern golfer to have the per­fect shot time and time again. But with­out the ba­sics be­ing fol­lowed, that too is a pipe dream.

To ac­com­plish this, it’s just not a mat­ter of tee­ing up the ball and hit­ting with all your might, hop­ing the ball knows what it is do­ing, be­cause it doesn’t.

The stance:

All-im­por­tant and over­looked by a lot of golfers. It’s not rocket sci­ence but a mat­ter of re­mem­ber­ing some sim­ple steps:

Step 1: Tee­ing the ball. Tee the ball up so that half the ball is above the height of the face of the driver when it is on the ground. This is the rec­om­mended height of the ball to give max­i­mum con­tact with the ball.

Step 2: The feet . Ap­proach the ball and stand with your feet about shoul­der width apart, mak­ing sure that your feet are par­al­lel to the di­rec­tion you want the ball to go. To make sure, take an­other club and place it on the ground in front of the toes and point it at the tar­get (this will help align the feet), but not dur­ing a com­pe­ti­tion game where just hold­ing the driver in both hands and point­ing to the tar­get at arm’s length and look­ing down one can see where your feet are point­ing.

Align your feet to play the ball off the in­side of your left heel for right-han­ders and the right heel for left-han­ders. This will en­sure that you hit the ball slightly on the up­swing. The po­si­tion may vary for some play­ers but prac­tice mov­ing the ball an inch for­ward or an inch back­wards at the driv­ing range to get the op­ti­mum po­si­tion that suits you. Re­mem­ber, back straight and knees slightly bent with the ball in front of the head as this al­lows for most of the weight to be placed on the back foot. This is the op­ti­mum stance and we all know it but it’s the eas­i­est thing to for­get.

Step 3: The grip. Hold the club in a re­laxed grip that al­lows the club to turn in your hands. A hard grip usu­ally means that you are in­clined to hit the ball too hard, caus­ing it to lose dis­tance and go off at un­usual tan­gents into the dreaded rough. It’s like hold­ing a tube of open tooth­paste – hold it just so the tooth­paste is at the noz­zle, not so that it squirts out every­where.

Step 4: The swing. It’s seen on ev­ery golf course, play­ers try­ing to hit the cover off the ball, re­sult­ing in trips to the rough and be­yond in most cases or see­ing the ball pound into the ground inches in front of the tee and trickle down the fair­way be­cause they knocked the head off the ball, or in ex­treme cases go un­der the ball and watch as the tee flies grace­fully through the air in the de­sired di­rec­tion whilst the ball goes straight up in the air and straight down with a gain of maybe an inch. The trick is in the swing and the smooth­ness of it.

Start your swing by ro­tat­ing your hips to­ward the back of the tee box. As your hips turn, bring your hands back un­til they are at about head height. Once you have gone as far as you can with your hips, ro­tate them in the op­po­site di­rec­tion as you bring your hands to the ball.

Snap your right wrist with author­ity as you come through the ball. Most peo­ple let their left side do all the work and bring their right hand along for the ride. By snap­ping your right wrist force­fully at im­pact, you will get max­i­mum dis­tance and keep the ball on track.

Im­por­tantly, don’t try to hit the cover off the ball but just ca­ress the ball, al­low­ing the club-head to do the work it was de­signed for. And most im­por­tantly, keep your head down.

In­deed, the proper stance and swing when us­ing a 1-wood is one of your se­cret weapons in play­ing bet­ter games of golf! As you learn more you will be able to mod­ify the way you stand and swing to suit your body type, any in­juries or what­ever, but the ba­sics still re­main – some­thing com­pletely for­got­ten by yours truly on Sun­day when a Se­nior Mo­ment hap­pened and the dreaded air swing be­came the talk­ing point of the So­cial Club.

Next week: The irons and the three and five woods. Good golf­ing un­til then.

PHOTO: SCOTT POWICK

TRY GOLF: Tee off at your lo­cal course and be­come a mem­ber and en­joy a day on the fair­ways.

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