The driver is the main weapon in your bag
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.
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.
TRY GOLF: Tee off at your local course and become a member and enjoy a day on the fairways.