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Back to Basics

How to groove your move off the tee and into the green

September 2014

Hit the ball as far as you can, then wedge it as close as you can. That combination has proved very effective for tour pros and is one that, with a little practice, you can improve, too. Nothing gives you a better boost than driving the ball in good position, and wedge play is critical to making birdies. For help, we enlisted Charlie King, one of Golf Digest's 50 Best Teachers in America. Our model is Therese Koelbaek, a Denmark native and Symetra Tour player. Here are King's keys to the setup, backswing and finish with the driver and wedge.


Back to Basics

1. SETUP

DRIVER
When you swing up on the ball with a driver, you'll have a better launch angle and lower spin. To promote that move, get your shoulders and upper body tilted slightly back at address. Also, you're going to be swinging faster than you do with any other club, so take a wide stance for extra stability.




WEDGE
With wedges, solid contact trumps everything, because pure shots are predictable shots. You're not worried about creating power here, so narrow your stance and get your spine more centered. All that will help you compress the ball.




2. BACKSWING

Back to Basics

DRIVER
The goal here is to create a spring-like effect as you coil your body in the backswing. Turn against the resistance you're creating with your right leg. If you're flip-flopping around because you're not winding against anything, you'll lose a lot of power.



WEDGE
It's the same principle as the driver, just smaller. You're still turning against that right leg, but you're going for control over speed. You don't want to turn your shoulders as much, and your hips stay relatively square as you get to the top.




3. FINISH



DRIVER

Back to Basics
All the momentum in the world won't do anything if you don't have something to post up against, and that's what your left leg provides through impact. Shift left, and transfer all the energy you stored against your right leg on the backswing to your left leg, which gives you that nice, full finish.



WEDGE
Good players match their finish position to the length of their backswing. Lifting your arms into a big follow-through when it's unnatural makes it difficult to consistently catch the ball solid. The most important thing on these short wedges is to stay balanced and relaxed all the way through the shot.

Charlie King is the director of instruction at Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Ga.

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