By Tom Clarke
Golf Monthly Top 25 coach Paul Foston shares his knowledge to create a beginners guide to driving offering some simple advice on how to hit the fairway
Driving the golf ball well requires some basics at address that are well worth setting and should play an important role in any beginners golf guide. Your feet should be a fraction wider than shoulder width apart and your spine should lean a fraction away from the target. This will set your shoulders on an upward angle - ideal for creating the upward strike you are looking for with a driver.
At address ensure that whilst your core muscles (abs, glutes and thighs) are engaged, your grip pressure is light and that your forearms are not tense. You need your hands and arms to be relaxed into to make a free-flowing swing.
Finally, set the ball forwards in your stance - just inside your left heel. Again, this will help you find the upward strike you are looking for with the driver without requiring you to lean back through impact.
Preset the impact position
The first thing to think about when practicing your driving is how you setup to the ball. You are looking for a solid base that helps you to maintain balance.
At address you should have 55% of your weight on your right side (if you are right handed). The perfect impact position with the driver should be preset at impact.
Notice how my shoulders are tilted exactly how I would like them to be at impact. This is a great starting point for a solid swing. A good address wil help you avoid a slice - perhaps the most common fault in golf.
The basic rule here is that the ball should be teed up so the equator sits in line with the top of the driver at address.
If you are faced with a particularly tight drive you should think about sacrificing distance in order to find the fairway. By teeing the ball lower than you normally do you will impart extra backspin on the ball, helping to keep it travelling in a straight line.
Experiment on the range with tee height to see the added accuracy you can find, until it becomes difficult to get the ball up in the air.
When you are faced with a wide open fairway you can tee the ball up higher. However, when you are trying to hit the fairway under pressure teeing the ball down is a good idea.
Any beginners guide to driving needs a piece on rhythm. This is the number one thing to focus on in order to hit the ball straight because trying to hit the ball too hard (which often happens from the tee) results in a loss of balance and therefore control.
It’s easy to lose your normal rhythm when the pressure builds on a particularly tight tee shot. Players also tend to lose their rhythm when working on their driving at the range as they get loose and start lashing at the ball.
Much of this rhythm is controlled by the transition from the backswing to the downswing. It should be initiated by the lower body, and a drive down starting with the front foot.
The last thing to move should be the shoulders. Get the body moving in the right sequence, without rushing things, and you will producer more drives on the fairway.
Load the backswing
You won’t improve accuracy or distance if you can’t load the backswing properly so that you attack the ball in the right way.
The picture above perfectly demonstrates how the shoulders have made a 90° turn while the hips are resisting.
This combination will mean that the whole body works together to create consistently long and accurate drives.
Putting a tour stick through your front belt loops and one over your shoulders (like the picture) is a great way of getting a feeling for what it’s like to create this position.
You can also introduce a club and leave the tour stick in your belt loops to get a feeling of a full shoulder turn while the hips resist.
Watch the ball
By trying to watch the ball off the face you will help to make sure that you maintain your spine angle and allow your arms to release fully through impact.
This will help you to deliver the ball onto the face of the club as intended will greatly improve you fairways hit in regulation.
As you swing through to your finish ensure that you have swung through onto the toe of your right foot and that your belt buckle is facing the target.
Shot on location at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal, Turkey by Paul Severn
Take Paul's Straight Driving Test
After each round take a note pad and draw a H in it. Mark down whenter you hit the fairway (middle of the H) or missed it right or left (outside the H on the right side.
After about 5 rounds take a look at the number of fairways hit and the side you missed them on most. This will really help to focus your practice.
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