If you're fairly new to the game, one of the greatest golfing pleasures is launching a drive towards your desired target. In this episode of our Game.Improved Series, TeeTimeTips founder Nick Dougherty (opens in new tab) shares some simple advice that will help improving golfers like Amanda Rowley on their journey to longer drives...
Amanda took up golf five or so years ago and plays off a handicap of 18. She harbours ambitions of hitting the magical single-figure mark and has the natural ability to get there, especially off the tee.
However, there were some minor inefficiencies that were holding her back. To help, we first gave her the new TaylorMade Kalea Premier Women's Golf Set, a range that offers forgiveness in abundance, distance in droves, and bags of confidence thanks to the premium aesthetics on offer.
From there, Nick's job was easy. Here is his advice to all golfers looking for more distance off the tee.
It sounds so simple but it's amazing how many golfers tee the ball up too low. Without knowing it, Amanda fell into this category, and Nick was quick to identify it as an easy win and a way in which she could learn how to make swing changes without getting technical.
"These are the sweetest things to work on with people because it’s a gift that gives immediately," Dougherty said. "Whenever there’s things to amend that are pre-movements, they’re always going to bear fruit quickly because it’s happening over the ball.
"Breaking it down into little independent movements when the whole body is moving… no thanks. But for Amanda it was really easy. When I went and checked how she stood to it, I could see she’s got plenty of power, she’s strong in the way she moves the club, but it was flatter. I thought the tee was a little low for starters.
"It puts pressure on her as well having a small tee. You’ve got to be spot on. I could see a big improvement could be made with the ball flight when we got to the 11th on the West Course at Wentworth. Then when we got to the 12th she had to improve the ball flight because of the trees in the way.
"I’m a big fan of, if anything, giving it too much air, so I got her tee it up higher to find that upstrike. And also for her, she’s ever so slightly over the top, so a little tilt away helped her come more from the inside, and it wasn’t a lot, but immediately she picked it up and the drives she hit were the best we saw all day."
The next area of improvement was in Amanda's driver address position. In particular, her ball position was a little too far back, meaning her angle of attack wasn't as optimal as it could have been. It highlighted an often spoken about phenomenon in golf coaching.
"The interesting thing and this showed the difference between feel and real again, was where she thought the ball was in her stance actually wasn’t where it was," Nick added. "I literally made a slight adjustment - as much as it might feel a little bit different but it’s not drastic - and the rest took care of itself.
"So we simply moved the ball forward in her stance, in line with her left heel, which to Amanda felt way forward. But when I took a picture and showed her, it looked great. And that’s where it should be all the time.
"The ball flight was great. It was strong and it was long and that was using the TaylorMade Kalea Premier women's driver. You wouldn’t change anything about that, it was as good as it gets."
Hovering the driver
Finally, one of the things prevalent in the pro ranks but seldom seen among amateurs is hovering the driver at address. It wasn't something Nick mentioned to Amanda on the day, but he would recommend it to golfers in the market for improvements off the tee. Here's why.
"I do like hovering the club. It allows for a smoother takeaway in the golf swing because when the club is on the ground it’s easy for everything to switch off and then you can end up with that staccato start.
"When I get you to take it off the turf, you’re priming everything because you’re supporting the club in your arms and hands and it’s travelling through your whole body. Whereas as soon as I put it down I just sort of turn off.
"And it means you can tee it up nice and high so you can meet it in the air at address. Whereas if it’s at a perfect level when your club is on the ground, you don’t want to be touching the ground at impact so you’re going to be hitting it low on the face.
"It’s going to come out flatter with too much spin, which means you’re losing distance. We want high launch, low spin."
A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he went on to enjoy a spell freelancing for Stats Perform producing football reports, and then for RacingNews365 covering Formula 1. However, he couldn't turn down the opportunity to get back into the sport he grew up watching and playing and now covers a mixture of equipment, instruction and news for Golf Monthly's website and print title.
Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.
As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as goal.com, dailyrecord.co.uk, and theopen.com.
What's in Andy's bag?
Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)
3-wood: TaylorMade M1 (15°)
Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)
Irons: Callaway Apex Pro '19 (4-PW)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)
Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2.5
Ball: Titleist Pro V1
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