Tom Tucker teaches all aspects of the golf game at The Plum Creek Driving Range & Practice Facility in Batavia. Tom may be found online at

As much as I like Ernie Els, and dislike Stevie Williams, it was hard to watch a
class act like Adam Scott close out with four bogeys to lose the tournament. Full
congratulations to Ernie, but I can’t help wonder what would have happened if Tiger’s
approach to number 6 had been one yard to the right.

There were quite a few interesting quotes by commentators, and another major rules gaffe.

David Feherty had the best quote while they were dissecting Tigers “overzealous” pursuit
of another major. He mentioned this Zen quote: “Sometimes to catch a butterfly,
you just have to let it land”.  That’s food for thought.

Points to Paul Azinger who said: “Golf is a lifelong experiment”, which has a lot of
truth in it when you consider that players we think are at the top of their game are nonetheless
going through swing changes fairly late in their careers – Tiger, Padraig Harrington, etc.

Points deducted from Paul Azinger for not knowing the Unplayable Lie Rule (Rule 28).
He incorrectly stated that Tiger could have taken relief outside the bunker at hole
6 if he declared an unplayable lie.  As a professional commentator he has to know that
Tiger had to keep his drop in the bunker if he declared the lie unplayable.  No mulligan
there, as a former playing professional he has to know that rule inside out.  Heck,
when I coached college golf, if any of my players didn’t know that rule they would have
been doing pushups until they fell flat on their face.

Points to Curtis Strange who provided me with a thought for this week’s newsletter when
he said: “Great players fight missing it to the left” (he was referring to right handed
players although he didn’t say so).

What Curtis was alluding to was that good players work to develop a stock swing
that accounts for a “one sided miss”. This means that they can they can look at a
target and essentially eliminate one side of the course or the other.

With most of my good players that take regular lessons, we work on getting to the point
where they are consistently starting the ball in a direction to draw it back to the target line,
and not left of it.

For a right handed player, this means that they can look down a fairway from the tee and
eliminate the left side of the hole, tee to green. That’s a big advantage over someone
who’s miss may be either left or right.

I teach a draw first, then if the player decides that a fade best suits their game, we
develop that kind of swing. To be able to play a fade with effectiveness, one needs
a very fast swing speed – so that’s always a consideration if the player is competing
or playing from tees at courses that are generally long.

This winter I’ll be using the simulator to train my students to groove a swing that produces
the correct amount of draw. That’s possible when information on vertical angle of
attack, swingpath, and clubface orientation is available.

The Evolution Of A Full Swing

I generally teach the evolution of a full swing along this progression:

1) first and foremost, good fundamental ball striking swing habits are developed

2) fundamental swing shots are then aimed at the center of the target
until solid contact is being made about 75% of the time

3) during this phase, straight misses and misses that curve right to left
(draws or hooks) are generally acceptable, misses that curve left to right
(fades and slices) are not acceptable

4) training continues, to develop a consistent trajectory and draw curvature
with a stock swing, and when the student can curve the ball consistently 75% of the
time – with no fades or slices – the swing has evolved beyond the fundamental
swing level

5) the stock swing aimpoint then changes to allow for a gentle draw
(or fade if that’s the stock swing curvature), and training continues on other
nuances to reinforce trajectory and curvature

It takes commitment and work to go beyond fundamentals, and maybe that’s what
Azinger meant when he said that “Golf is a lifelong experiment”.

Training For A Consistent Initial Shot Direction

If you consistently play a draw or fade, here’s a tip you can use with a simple training aid
that you can easily make yourself.

One way you can train yourself to start your shots to one side or another is to
get an old golf shaft and a piece of pipe insulation or a swimming pool noodle ($1 at
the dollar store). When you are at the range, stick the shaft vertically in the ground
about 8 to 10 feet in front of you, in line with your target. Slip the pipe insulation or the
noodle over the shaft, and make sure that for a draw, every shot starts to the right of
the shaft.

If you play a straight shot (can anyone do that?) you could set up two of these
like mini goal posts and practice hitting straight shots between them, but personally
I favor the draw to insure a consistent “one sided miss”.

Obviously, if you miss you get feedback because you’ll hit the noodle. This will
really help you get your shots started where you want them to go. BTW, if you
hit the noodle more than you miss it and are bouncing range balls all over
the place, take it down and keep working on your curvature without it until
you become more consistent with your shot curvature.

Safety always comes first at the range.

If the concept of a “one sided miss” is new to you, try it on for size and watch
your scores improve.

Enjoy, Tom


BuffaloGolfer.Com Disclaimer: Before undertaking any physical activity, please consult your physician to determine if the activity is appropriate and safe for you. BuffaloGolfer.Com presents this information as a public service and does not pretend to be, nor promote itself as, a medical expert or qualified medical personnel.