Last week I wrote about blocking your driver to the right. I see this happen more often than any other miss with the driver. There are a number of reasons why it can happen, but chances are you probably do the same thing with all of your clubs. It’s just exacerbated because of the length of the driver.
One of the most common reasons golfers block to the right is they are not able to put their body in the correct position at impact. From the top of the backswing, the spine should rotate on a vertical plane to impact. What happens with blockers is the downswing starts with the left shoulder and left hip going up. At that point the spine is tilting backwards and the club most definitely will be coming too far from the inside. The end result is a block to the right. The only way to save it is to rip your hands through the hitting zone and pray your timing is impeccable.
So the question is why do so many people do this? I think there’s a misconception that you need to “hit up” on any club to get the ball airborne. It is true that the driver is the only club in your arsenal that you do hit 2 degrees up. Every other club is hit 1 degree down or more. Hitting 2 degrees on the upswing is accomplished by playing the ball off of your left heel. If your body is in the correct position at impact, the launch angle will be good.
Trying to explain this in an article is difficult. This drill will help you feel where your body should be throughout the golf swing.
I call this drill the windmill. Without a club, get into your address position, arms extended sideways (as an extension of your shoulders). Put a ball on the ground and one in your right hand. Turn your back to the target. Your left hand should be pointing at the ball on the ground. If it’s pointing closer to your toes or closer to the skyline, you have lost your posture. Check and make sure you still have a slight flex in your right knee.
From there, take the ball in your right hand and roll it on the ground towards the target, just like you would a bowling ball. If you get the bowling concept, your left leg will be straight at the impact position. Do this in front of a mirror. You will see where your spine is at the impact position. It’s not going backwards; it’s rotating around your body. When you finish, pat yourself on your left shoulder. You should be able to pick up your right toe without losing your balance. This all-purpose drill promotes the correct pivot, weight transfer, balance and proper finish.
Split grip teaches correct release. Using a short iron, take your grip so that there are several inches of space between your hands. Taking half swings, through impact try to feel the right hand crossing over the left. At the top of your half backswing, the toe of the club should be pointing skyward. If your hands release at impact, the toe should again be pointing skyward at the finish.
So if you have been blocking your drives to the right, try practicing these two drills every day. If you can get your body in the correct position at impact, and if you can release your hands through the hitting zone, you will be well on your way to hitting straight drives.
Don’t forget there’s nothing wrong with playing a shorter driver. I’d rather have my drive 25 yards shorter in the fairway than 25 yards longer OB any day of the week.
Betsy Larey is an LPGA Class A Teaching Professional who has taught adults and juniors for years. She is the Head Coach of the White Bear Lake girl’s golf team this season. She has taught at the PGA Tour Academy in St Augustine Florida and has coached at Carleton College and Flagler College. For lessons, you can reach her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 651-470-2297.