For the sake of simplicity, all advice on swings and drills is provided from a right handed perspective; lefties …. well, you know what to do!
I received a question from Steve T. in last week’s email. Steve T. took a Four Lesson Fundamentals Couples package over the winter with me at Plum Creek, and he related the following problem to me.
Q: “Hi Tom,
I’m hoping you can help with a fix for my driver. On the plus side I have been killing the ball off the tee, the problem is that my misses are always 25 to 30 yards left of where I’m aiming. My shot has a 5 to 10 yard draw or is arrow straight, but seems to be left of target 80% of the time. Any suggestions would be much appreciated and tried immediately.
You will be interested to know that my iron play is the best it’s ever been. I am extremely happy with the swing changes you got me started on. Thanks!
I corresponded with Steve a couple more times and he supplied some more information:
“I’ve had this driver for about 5 years. I hit it very well last night in league, but had one of the drives that starts left and draws more left again and it cost me breaking 40. In analyzing when this shot happens, it is when I strengthen my grip and try for a little extra distance or try to shorten a dogleg left. Feel free to use whatever seems pertinent to helping other golfers. Thanks in advance!” Cobra Speed LD 10.5 degree Aldila Stiff Flex Mid Kick shaft 55 gram 4.0 Torque Ball speed 125-150 A: It sounds like your driver specs are appropriate for your swing Steve, so we’ll rule out equipment EXCEPT for face angle. Most drivers are manufactured with a one or two degree closed face angle, and that relates to direction as well as curvature.
I know Steve’s swing, and his right hand always tries to get in the act too much at impact. This can cause the face to be closed too much to swing path at impact, and impart too much right to left spin axis on the ball.
Here’s a real quick review of ball flight laws:
The initial direction of your ball flight is 85% to 90% due to the clubface direction angle at impact, the other 10% to 15% may be attributed to swing path. For all intents and purposes, consider the clubface direction angle as the prime consideration for initial ball flight direction. we swing on an angled circle (swing plane) from a “face on” view, the bottom (center) of your downswing arc is generally located in line with your front shoulder socket. This also the point of tangency of the downswing arc with the ball – target line. any ball struck behind the bottom (or center) of the circle is struck with a downward strike and outward swingpath any ball struck at the bottom (or center) of the circle is struck with a flat strike and straight swingpath any ball struck in front of the bottom (or center) of the circle is struck with an upward strike and an inward swingpath the ball curves due friction created by the differential between the angle of the clubface in relation to the horizontal angle of the swing path. Here are some things to check and perhaps adjust. Note that when making adjustments, only make one at a time to check cause and effect. Changing two aspects at once will only cause – or add to – confusion. Hit at least ten to fifteen balls with any adjustment to give it an honest test.
First of all, try simply starting your downswing transition with a very deliberate lateral hip slide towards the target. This will start the ball more to the right, and should help your swing path consistency. To be precise, the lateral hip slide commences just as the club is reaching the end of your backswing.
Next, check your ball position. For your driver, it should be forward of the bottom of your downward swing arc. According to ball flight laws, when it’s positioned there, if you are swinging true to your swing arc with no hand or path manipulation, you will be swinging up and to the left at impact.
This also means that you need to close your stance a little to get the ball travelling straight down your aimline, not starting left.
Experiment on the practice tee by adjusting your ball position and stance until you get it right for your swing.
Your club is probably one of those that was manufactured with some degree of closed face, so you need to see your clubface as slightly open at address. You also need to set the club about 7 inches away from the ball, along your takeaway path – not straight back from the ball. This clubhead location will plant that spot in your brain as the bottom of your downswing arc, and in fact it should be in front of your left shoulder socket when considered from a “face on” square stance perspective (even though your stance is actually closed to your aimline). Experiment with this distance to insure that your downswing arc is reaching its low point behind the ball, not at the ball, and that you are swinging up and left at impact.
You should also consider a slight forward press of your hands before your takeaway (slight forward shaft lean) to help you present the shaft in the correct position at impact, and to help the ball start more to the right.
Keep practicing swinging with an angled hinge to avoid over-rotation of your hands through impact. It should feel like your clubface is staying square to your swing path, not closing through impact. Weakening your right hand grip position very slightly may also be helpful. For me, recommending a grip change is the last option – because it can change your comfort level with your swing significantly. If you think your grip is way too strong, change it. Otherwise, if it’s not harmful, try other changes first.
Last but not least, remember to work changes in individually and gradually. Don’t combine any changes until each is proved or disproved on it’s own merit, so that you can make an accurate cause and effect assessment.
Love your practice, enjoy your golf,