Tom Tucker is a teaching professional at Plum Creek driving range in Batavia. He provides instruction for BuffaloGolfer.Com twice a month. For simplicity, all advice on actual swings or drills is provided from a right handed perspective.
I recently had a driver swing lesson with a student that I work with on a regular basis.
His issue was one that creeps into his driver every now and then: he starts to lose his powerful draw and starts slipping into a weak fade.
That can happen for a lot of reasons, but for him it’s usually one of two things: his swing path getting a little off, or “necking” his strikes.
“Necking” his strikes means that his ball to face contact on his driver is too much towards the neck of the club, way inside the sweet spot. We found that out through the process of elimination (golf is a game of discovery). First we eliminated the path issue, his swing radius and swing path were fine.
Next we sprayed Dr. Scholl’s Foot Powder on the face of his club and saw the ball imprints were mostly falling way towards the shaft side of center, near the neck of the club so to speak.
Then we worked on two solutions.
One was to take practice swings with his toes elevated on a pad. This drill keeps you from shifting your weight too much onto your toes in your downswing, too much towards the ball. This was modestly successful, but solution two worked better.
The better solution for this student was the placement of his club head at address. He likes to rest the club head on the ground behind the ball at address, as do I. His problem was that he was resting the club head behind the ball in line with the sweet spot of the club. If you set up that way, when the club elevates in the swing the position of the sweet spot moves towards the neck of the club.
Try it yourself – rest the club head behind the ball (left photo below), then lift it to where it will be at the strike (right photo below). The ball moves inward on the face.
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So, one solution is to hover the club behind the ball at address like Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman did. They started out with the club head in the position where it would end up.
If that doesn’t feel natural to you (I personally don’t like the feel of hovering) then set up with the club hovered behind the ball on the sweet spot (left photo below) , then lower it to rest gently on the ground behind the ball (right photo below). You’ll see that it will now look like you have the ball positioned more towards the toe of the club face, more outward from center.
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That’s where it should be at setup for center face strikes, everything else being in line – swing radius and swing path.
If your driver has been leaking right with a slight fade, ball position in relation to your clubface at address may be the reason. Give this setup a try, I think you’ll like it.
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