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Six ways to hit better 'long' clubs

Karen Palacios-JansenBy Karen Palacios-Jansen,
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For many players, the 'long' clubs - driver, fairway woods, long irons - are the most difficult clubs to hit. (Jeffrey White/GolfPublisher.com)

For women and probably for the majority of high-handicappers, the long clubs are the most difficult clubs to hit. A lot of people lack confidence with the driver and fairway clubs. They are more difficult to hit because they have less loft. They slice more often than not. Here's some tips on how to hit them.

1. Learn the difference between hitting an iron and wood. When you hit an iron, you want to have a steep angle of decent to get the ball up in the air. When you use a driver, the ball is teed up, so you want to sweep the ball off the tee, not hit down. If you hit down, the ball will pop up in the air. Ball position is critical. Play the ball opposite your front foot which will encourage a sweeping blow. Since you play the ball more forward in your stance your back shoulder and hip will be lower at address. This tilt is critical for you to sweep the ball.

2. To be a good driver, you need to have clubhead speed. You need at least 80 miles per hour of clubhead speed to hit a 15-degree lofted club or less. To help speed up your clubhead speed, you need to have light grip pressure. Tight grip pressure kills speed. Hold the club above the ground and feel the weight of the clubhead. If the clubhead feels light, you are holding it too tightly. Adjust your grip pressure until you can feel the weight of the clubhead.

3. To hit a driver and your fairway woods, it is important to shift your weight on the downswing. This move will help create clubhead speed and attack the ball at the correct angle. If you have a reverse pivot at the top of the swing, you will never be able to shift your weight on the downswing. A reverse pivot will cause your weight to hang back at the moment of impact. This robs you of power. At the top of your swing, the majority of your weight should be on the inside of your back leg. This position braces you to push off on the downswing. If your weight stays on the front leg at the top of the swing, then you have a reverse pivot.

4. If you slice your driver, consider using a 3-metal off the tee instead. The 3-metal has more loft and it is easier to control than a driver. You will get more distance from a straight ball with a 3-metal than a sliced driver.

5. If you top your driver or fairway clubs, you may be losing your spine angle at the top of your swing. To correct this, work on your body motion and keep the same level throughout your swing. Avoid bobbing up and down. Do not lift the club up in the air with your arms; try to keep the clubhead low to the ground at least until it has passed your right foot (if you are right-handed) so that at the top of your swing you have made a full turn with your shoulders and your weight is predominantly on your back leg. When you make a turn you will stay at the same level, so that you will not top the ball.

6. Good drivers of the ball never take a divot with a driver. If you are striking the ball correctly, you will be sweeping the ball off a tee. Never hit down with a driver and take a divot. Hover the clubhead above the ground before you hit your drive, which will help alleviate tension and encourage more of a sweeping blow. Take practice swings brushing the ground with the driver, but never taking any turf.

 
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