When I was younger and more serious about golf, I quickly learned that keeping the ball in play off the tee is critical to competitive golf. The only issue is that I’ve never been very good at it. And, while I don’t spend much time creating instruction pieces, I do read them — and I’ve learned a few things along the way. From that research, I’ve produced a list of 10 techniques for straighter drives.
- Stop Curving it!
I’m expecting you to start with a groan or something along those lines for at least seven or eight of these suggestions. But perhaps, together, we can get over that and gain some insight. This is according to a research undertaken by golf analytics specialist Mark Broadie, who wanted to know whether dialing in a big-swinging ball or having it start straight and stay straight was more beneficial. The straight-ball batters were victorious. Broadie says:
“To see the connection between curve and accuracy, I computed the correlation of these values across players. What’s this? The correlation was -40%, which suggests that golfers who bend their drives less hit more fairways! (For the statisticians out there, the negative association result stays up even when drive distance is controlled for.) Andrew Putnam, Phil Mickelson, and J.B. Holmes, for example, hit 8% fewer fairways than the rest of the field.
“The least-curve group of Armour, Furyk and Reavie hit 13 percent more fairways than the field, a significant statistical difference between the two groups.”
- Take control of your ball flight
Hopefully, I’m not already contradicting myself. But just because you want to hit the ball dead-straight, as suggested in Tip No. 1, doesn’t mean that’s the reality you’re dealing with right now.
“Most players have a dominant shot shape (draw/fade) and should use that through the round,” says GOLF Top 100 Teacher Joe Plecker.
Top 100 Brian Manzella adds, “You have to go with your stock shot.” This will help you commit to the shot and select an appropriate aiming position.
- Hit driver
Players have been told for decades that they should club down off the tee to keep the ball in play. Plecker disagrees. For starters, your driver’s face is larger than any other club in your bag. You’ve probably hit the big stick on the driving range more than any other club. Make the most of that opportunity!
“Most players have hit many more drivers in their practice sessions than 3-woods off the tee, so making a tentative swing with a rarely used club is a recipe for disaster,” says Plecker.
- Make use of the line
This one appears to be mind-numbingly simple, yet that may be its beauty. To ensure that their putts are heading in the appropriate direction, many golfers use the line on the side of their ball. Why not apply the same principle to tee shots? Bryson DeChambeau thinks it’s beneficial. Maverick McNealy shares this opinion:
“I use the line on the tee to make sure my eye line is square and my alignment is good,” McNealy told GOLF.com. “A lot of tee boxes aren’t always aligned. Some are aimed left; some are aimed right; if your body alignment is off, that’s a big miss.”
- Take advantage of the tee box
Although the location of your tee may appear insignificant, you can improve your odds of keeping the ball in play by leveraging the angles of the tee to your advantage. If you prefer a right-to-left ball flight, our Luke Kerr-Dineen suggests teeing up on the left side of the tee box and shooting down the right to bring your ball flight back into play.
- Aim small
Brian Mogg, a Top 100 Teacher, believes that you should choose a highly specific objective for your tee shot, allowing the most room for error.
“When you have no choice but to hit the fairway, focus on the tiniest target or object you can find.” You have to be specific in your mind for what you’re aiming for and committing to,” Mogg says. “Fairways are usually 35-40 yards wide, and there is plenty of room for your ball to find it.”
- Don’t be too worried about fairways
Fairways alone aren’t enough. We tend to focus on whether or not we drive it in the short grass, but being just off the fairway with a shot at the green is vastly different than being in the rough behind a tree — or, much worse, in the water. Course management specialist Scott Fawcett, who often charts courses for Tour pros, says you don’t always have to aim down the middle of the fairway if it means taking on extra risk. Here’s how he views a player’s dispersion on Augusta National’s No. 3:
According to Fawcett, you shouldn’t sacrifice a lot of distance off the tee simply to hit a few more fairways.
“You simply won’t hit your 3-wood in the fairway much more than driver. Dropping back is giving up 30ish yards on 100% of tee shots to hopefully hit 5-8% more fairways; that is a bad tradeoff,” he says.
- Double-check the boring things
If you’re a competent player who’s suddenly out of sorts, there’s a significant possibility you’ve changed anything in your setup unintentionally. Examine your grip. Check the direction of your feet, hits, and shoulders. Also, double-check your ball’s position.
Lizette Salas, an LPGA veteran, advises, “Always check your fundamentals.”
- Believe in yourself – and commit!
Work on maintaining a positive outlook if you’re facing a high-pressure tee shot due to difficulties or circumstance.
“Focus on what you want to do as opposed to what you don’t want to do,” says Top 100 Teacher Kevin Sprecher. “Visualize the shot you want to hit, make it your most reliable shot. You can even visualize a shot similar to a shot you hit on a previous hole, or on the range. Get a good mental picture.”
Then commit, he says. There are no incentives for being hesitant.
- Examine your clubs
Many current drivers have adjustable loft, weight, and face angle, which might aid if you’re fighting a hook or slice.
However, as our sister company True Spec’s clubfitting experts constantly tell us, many golfers aren’t using the right equipment for their swing speed. They’re right: if you use the improper shaft in your driver, it’ll be considerably more difficult to square the clubface at impact, leaving you vulnerable to the Big Miss. Check those clubs out.
Last but not least, don’t try to think about all ten of these suggestions at the same time when standing over a tee shot. You might burst into flames.
Original Article Posted on Golf