Turn Your Left Shoulder Behind The Ball
Nerves typically make the backswing fast and short. It's tough to recover from a snatchy move like that. If you're feeling tense—like on the first tee or a tough driving hole—focus on making a full, rhythmic motion to the top. The best thought, even if you don't have the flexibility to do it, is to turn your lead shoulder behind the ball (right). You'll load into your right side so you can shift forward coming down. Remember, the ball's not going anywhere, so take your time swinging back.
Under pressure, the tendency is to freeze over the ball and put a death grip on the club. To combat this, keep some motion in your fingers and feet (right inset). Waggle the club back and forth. If you lock up, your nerves will get you.
Keep Your Back To The Target Starting Down
The slicer usually starts the downswing by forcing the right shoulder out toward the ball. This makes the swing path steep and across the ball from out to in. You need to make sure your right shoulder stays back, allowing the club to drop to the inside as you start down. Your best swing thought is to keep your back facing the target longer in the downswing (above). Make a full turn behind the ball, and then keep that right shoulder passive so your upper body doesn't spin out. With the club dropping to the inside, you can swing out to the ball, which lets your arms release and square the clubface.
If you slice, I'll bet your ball position is too far forward. This opens the shoulders, which limits how far back you turn. An abbreviated turn sets up that early move with the right shoulder coming down. Play the ball in line with the logo on your shirt (above inset).
Don't Let Your Body Stop Turning
Tell a player who hooks the ball to turn harder to the left through impact, and you'll have some explaining to do. But the fact is, most big hooks come from the body slowing down through the hitting area, which causes the momentum of the swing to flip the club over and snap the face closed. The way to avoid that is to keep turning your whole body toward the target (above). Shift to your left side to start down, feeling like your chest points to the ball, then turn hard to the left. The club won't flip, and you'll fix those hooks.
Most hookers aim way out to the right.
It makes sense, but the club gets to the inside too quickly on the takeaway. It's easy to hook it from there. Set your body lines—shoulders, hips, knees, feet—parallel to the target line, and you'll swing back straighter (above inset).
Maintain Your Arm Speed To The Finish
If you're feeling totally lost on the tee, you need a swing key that combats a lot of potential problems. Try keeping your arms swinging at a constant speed through the ball and all the way to the finish (above). Many golfers swing to the ball and stop; they "throw" the club at the ball. This can lead to misses of all kinds, so picking the proper correction can be confusing. If you keep up your arm speed, you'll create good rhythm and flow through impact. You might be amazed at how things fall into place. Making an aggressive pass through the ball is always better than trying to steer it down the fairway. Remember, you're making a golf swing, so keep those arms swinging.
Players who are struggling inevitably start to feel awkward at address. Check your distance from the ball. Set up and drop your right hand off the club, letting it hang (above inset). Make sure you can move it straight back to the grip without having to reach.