The confidence to hit the ball towards the green
OKAY, so you remembered the stance, the grip and the swing, kept your head down and didn’t try to hit the skin off the ball.
Your drive has flown down the fairway right in the centre. After the initial shock, you realise your next shot has to be with the smaller brothers of the driver and panic once again sets in.
Many a player, me included, has seen their near-perfect drive spoilt by not following the simple steps for using the fairway woods.
What should have been a 150m-plus shot dribbles just a few metres, or flies off into the rough and out of bounds, with the player resorting to using words that shouldn’t be used in polite company.
It’s a phenomenon of golf: usually staid and upright people of the community suddenly become quite animated and verbal, and the other players seem to accept this as common practice, as they themselves often rely on those same antics to describe their failures with the club and ball.
Hopefully this will give you some idea of how the professionals do it and give you the confidence hit the ball towards the green, straight and long.
Although in our mind’s eye we all see ourselves as the next Greg Norman or Karrie Webb, don’t try to emulate the distances the pros hit, as they practice every day with coaches to fix every problem, whereas the weekend hitter plays once or twice a week and maybe sometimes goes to the driving range and hit purlers each and every time, only to see them evaporate once on the course.
A decent hit down the middle is better than a hit using all your force that careens off into the unknown of the rough, or worse.
Have a look at the lie, take the appropriate fairway wood and address the ball – and by that I don’t mean writing on it “In the Hole” – but take your stance as though you were about to hit the ball, but a step back from the normal distance from the ball. Have a few practice swings and allow the club to just sweep the grass. Now this is where it differs from the driver. The object is not to hit the ball on the up, as you did with the driver. or on the down as you would with the irons, but a level hit. When you are ready, step closer and remember the following:
The stance is almost the same as a driver but the grip should be chocked down about an inch. You don’t want to hit the skin off the ball, but let the club head do the work and this includes allowing the loft of the club to get the ball in the air, not relying on keeping your weight on the back foot to achieve this action.
Keep your weight even on both feet and place the ball about two to three inches inside the line of the left heel for right-handers and right foot for left-handers. This will ensure that the club strikes the ball level with the ground, giving the optimum distance.
Start your swing by allowing the club to sweep across the fairway grass – the practice swings will make this a bit easier.
The basic swing is the same as for the driver and the weight distribution on follow-through the same, using the non-leading shoulder to do the work as you come forward. Keep your swing path shallow. Downward force that’s too steep will cause your swing to lose acceleration and the ball yardage.
If you try to hit the ball on ascension, you’ll end up topping the ball and dribbling it down the fairway.
The best way to get it right is, of course, to practice and the Isis Golf Course on Goodwood Rd at Doolbi has a practice fairway just for this purpose situated between the 5th and 6th holes.
Members and guests should take advantage before the game or after work to hit a few balls and not only practice their fairway woods but get the kinks out of the body and warm up – a key component that is sadly missed by many players.
Have a great game this week and hopefully these steps will improve you game. Next week: The irons.