Golf Basics: Know Your Clubs

By: Jimmy Cox

If you have a good grip and a fundamental understanding of the basic swing, wood shots should not give you too much trouble. The full swing is employed in hitting both the fairway woods and the driver, but there is a distinct difference and, as a result, a different feeling between hitting a ball off a grassy lie and hitting off a tee.

Difference Between Fairway Woods And Driver

The best way that I can describe the difference is this: When playing your fairway woods, you must have the feeling that you are hitting slightly down on the ball, just as you do iron shots, whereas in driving a ball from a tee, where you are striving for as much distance as possible, you must feel that you are hitting slightly up on the ball at impact.

Tests have shown that, to hit a ball with maximum distance and carry, the ball must fly on a 45-degree trajectory. Since most drivers are constructed with 10 to 12 degrees loft, this would mean that the driver must be slightly inclined upward at impact in order to achieve this 45-degree trajectory.

This does not mean that you must perform a lifting action with your hands and arms in the hitting area in order to get the ball into the air. On the contrary, the arms are merely extended fully in the hitting area, thus forcing the hands into a whipping action which creates a wide, low arc with the clubhead as it smashes into and through the ball.

Assuming that you have positioned yourself over the ball correctly (it should be slightly inside your left heel) at the address and that you are in correct position coming into the hitting area, the clubhead will automatically be coming slightly up as it contacts the ball.

I do not believe you should consciously strive to hit up on the ball; rather, you should create the feeling of sweeping the ball off the tee with the clubhead.

Driving For Distance And Accuracy

THE DRIVER. Driving with controlled power is one of the greatest achievements in golf. If you have the physical ability to swing hard and can still control the ball, the game can be infinitely easier for you. However, distance doesn't mean a thing if you do not have control to go with it. It is far better to hit the ball 225 yards down the middle of the fairway than 250 yards and be in the trees or rough off the fairway.

Professional players Palmer and Player employ the "power swing," in which they hit the ball as hard as they can on all of their full shots. Yet, they still have full command of their swing and of their shots. How do they do it? They both learned one very important thing early in their careers which has given them controlled power. It is simply this: you learn to swing hard first, and then you learn control by practicing and playing under the heat of competition.

In the address for a wood shot, the stance is slightly closed, and the feet are as far apart as the width of the shoulders. The knees are flexed, and weight is evenly distributed. The ball is about an inch inside the left heel.

Says Palmer, "My father [a professional himself] taught me to swing hard, and sometimes I would even fly off my feet trying to hit the ball. I was often criticized for this, but I figured I could learn control and balance as I became more experienced. The success I have had in winning tournaments, particularly ones of major importance, has proven that I was correct in learning the way I did."

Palmer's advice is not only sound but highly recommended. Remember, distance is directly related to the speed with which you swing the clubhead. Clubhead speed is achieved through a combination of movements involving the muscles of the body, arms, and hands. It all starts, however, with a good address.

With some practice and patience you should improve your golf game using these techniques.

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