Sometimes we need a brief reminder of how to play this game! Jack Nicklaus would begin every tour spring with his teacher, Jack Grout, and ask how to play golf. The pair would work through the grip, set up, alignment and all the variables of the swing. Tom Tucker gives us a brief reminder in this post on basic golf technique.
1) Ball Position – For good golfers (you’re in that category) very often problems
are solved by simply adjusting your ball position. Try moving the ball forward in your
stance a little at a time and see if that helps. I recall you saying that you pinch the ball
with your irons, which means that you are approaching at a nice delivery angle – sometimes called “hitting down” on the ball. For the driver you need to position the ball so that your delivery angle does not change, but so that you are catching the ball on the upswing portion of your swing. Teeing the ball a bit higher also falls in line with moving it forward to promote hitting a bit on the upswing.
2) Club head position at address – I like to see the club face about 1 or 2 degrees open at address for a normal shot, because that’s how it should be at impact as it is closing and rotating through the ball. Square at impact causes a low shot with a high speed driver swing. I like to see irons 1 degree open at address. Be aware that having the clubface open can cause you to take the club inside too quickly on the takeaway, so work on your takeaway technique to make sure that doesn’t happen.
3) Hands position – If you set up with your hands too far ahead of the ball or if you start your swing with a pronounced forward press, that can also cause the clubface to be de-lofted at impact. For your driver, your hands should be just behind the ball at address. It helps to either videotape your swing or have a friend watch to make sure that your hands are not moving too far ahead of the ball prior to impact.
4) Grip – Your grip could be too strong. If you have a strong grip you will tend to be in a closed position at the top of the backswing and you will usually have a pronounced crossover release through impact. These tendencies de-loft your clubface, and they should also typically produce a hook. In your case, your hands are probably coming into impact in a strong position but apparently you’ve added a lateral slide with your body in the downswing to counteract the ball hooking too far left. So you’ve got to fix your grip and kill the slide.
Fix your grip by rotating your hands counterclockwise a little at a time. This will cause you to hit the ball higher, however – if you keep sliding you’ll either block the ball right or slice it.
5) Do Turn, Don’t Slide – To fix the slide, practice turning into your backswing with a minimum of sliding, feel the weight shifting into your right heel, and do not let the weight get onto the outside of your back foot. Start the downswing by shifting weight into your left heel to get your weight onto your left side, not sliding forward towards the target, and your downswing will follow automatically. Keep turning through the shot. If your weight gets way onto the outside of your left foot during your follow through, it’s an indication that you had a pronounced slide forward during the downswing. If you turn more and slide less, less weight will be end up on the outside of the front foot at the finish. It will be flatter.
Look for vertical alignment of your hip joint and knee joint of your left foot at impact. If your left hip is way past your left knee – in the direction of the target – you’re sliding not turning. You can check that in a mirror.
Try to keep your hands in front of your body at impact. If yours are way ahead of the ball at impact, it indicates that your arms are outracing your turn. Keep your body turning through impact. It should feel like your hands are leading the shaft and clubhead through impact, but not as much as you describe in your swing.
Keep turning your core, it may feel like you’re open at impact – but as long as your spine angle is correct, and your swing path is correct, and your R elbow is in the slot with proper shaft lag, the result will be fine.
Because you mentioned that you have a steep delivery angle with your irons, I’m thinking that you might actually be leaving too much of your weight on your left side during the backswing. Feel the weight shift right during the takeway and backswing, then back left just prior to the downswing. Note that
I’m saying shift, not sway. It’s more shift and turn than shift and slide. Practice in front of a mirror and observe that your head does not lean towards the target during the takeaway. Practice without a club, just watch your body shift and turn. Your head may move towards your rear foot a bit, that’s ok, but on the downswing don’t let it move past the ball position at impact. The FEELING of weight distribution at impact with your driver would be a little less pronounced on the left side than that FEELING at impact with a short iron.