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Getting off the tee well is a guaranteed route to lower scores. In the video below, Neil Tappin is joined by renowned tour coach Liam James to look at the biggest driving mistakes and how to fix them - starting with power and swing speed.
Power & swing speed
1. In trying to hit it further, many golfers start moving too much laterally – off the ball on the driver backswing and then towards the target through impact causing them to hit down on the ball more and slice it. In a bid to hit it harder and further, they end up hitting it shorter.
2. There are a few things you can do at set-up to help generate a little more speed without losing control of your striking. You need a nice wide base with the ball just inside your left heel and your toes fractionally turned out to help you rotate your hips and make a full turn.
3. The key is to make sure you’re winding up behind the golf ball rather than moving off it. The body should stay centred around. Turning your toes out gives you the bigger range of movement needed in the hips and shoulders for the big wind-up.
4. It’s all about more rotation rather than necessarily more effort. The biggest driving mistake here is feeling like you’re doing things faster. All you’re doing by turning your toes out is freeing up your knees and hips to complete a full turn and, as result of that, you will then produce more speed through impact.
Slices & hooks
1. Creating the perfect golf grip gives you a far better chance of returning the clubface to the ball correctly at impact. Many golfers have their left-hand grip too much in the palm whereas in a neutral golf grip it is more in the fingers so that you can see two knuckles as you look down at address. To keep your grip consistent, place your left hand on the club first and check it is neutral. This will really help you to keep the clubface square throughout the swing.
2. Those who have the club too much in the palm in the left hand have a weak golf grip and will tend to slice the ball. The first problem is that it gets you leaning a little too much towards the target at set-up causing you to cut across the golf ball. It also causes the clubface to open up too much on the way back, so you approach the ball from outside the line with the face wide open – the perfect recipe for a slice.
3. Those who have an excessively strong golf grip tend to hook the ball. Strong doesn’t mean gripping too hard but having your left hand too much on top so all four knuckles are showing. As a result of this, there won’t be much loft on the club at the top of the swing, with the clubface too closed. The compensations required on the downswing to get the ball up in the air typically lead to a lot of leaning back, which is going to cause a hook.
There are many reasons for slices and hooks, but the grip is often the root cause. Get this right and other issues you’re having may fall into place automatically.
In his current role, Neil is responsible for testing drivers and golf balls. Having been a part of the Golf Monthly team for over 15 years and playing off a handicap of 3, he has the experience to compare performance between models, brands and generations. For 2022 he thinks the main trend in drivers is: "In a word, consistency. Whilst all the brands are talking about ball speed (and the new drivers are certainly long), my biggest finding has been how much more consistent the ball flights are. Mishits don't seem to be causing the same level of drop-off or increase in the spin numbers. This means that more shots seem to be flying the way you want them to!" As far as golf balls are concerned the biggest development is in the, "three piece, non-Tour, urethane-covered section. For regular golfers, these models offer superb performance at both ends of the bag without denting your wallet quite as much as the premium Tour-played options."
Originally working with the best coaches in the UK to produce instruction content, he is now the brand's Digital Editor and covers everything from Tour player interviews to gear reviews. In his time at Golf Monthly, he has covered equipment launches that date back well over a decade. He clearly remembers the launch of the Callaway and Nike square drivers as well as the white TaylorMade driver families, such as the RocketBallz! If you take a look at the Golf Monthly YouTube channel, you'll see his equipment videos dating back over a decade! He has also conducted 'What's In The Bag' interviews with many of the game's best players like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm. Over the years, Neil has tested a vast array of products in each category and at drastically different price-points.
Neil is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade Stealth Plus Fairway Wood: Titleist TSi2 Hybrid: Titleist TS3 Irons (4-9): Mizuno JPX 919 Forged Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 46˚, 50˚, 54˚, 60˚ Putter: Odyssey Triple Track Ten Ball: Titleist Pro V1X
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