How To Rip Your 3-Wood
January 05, 2014
MY KEY MOVE
LET THE ARMS DROPHere's the thought that ties my whole swing together: When I start the downswing, I let my arms drop halfway down as my shoulders stay closed to the target. I often rehearse this move as part of my pre-shot routine. It counteracts a tendency I've had of unwinding my shoulders too early, which forces me to slow down so the club can catch up at impact. The harder I try to rip a shot, the more this problem shows up.By dropping my arms to start down, my wrists naturally hold their angle with the shaft, and it's easier to approach the ball from the inside. As you can see here, my back is still facing the target. From this point, my hips will whip through in unison with my arms. It's an incredibly powerful and stable feeling.
CHASE THE SHOULDERSWhen I'm swinging my best, I hit a high draw that feels like a cut. I say this because I sense the clubhead exiting left after impact. I know this sounds odd if you've always been told to "swing out to first base," but hear me out.To hit my draw, I move the ball back so it's closer to the middle of my stance. I still swing down from the inside, but my main thought is to chase the ball with my right shoulder after impact. This keeps my torso rotating aggressively through the shot.Contrary to popular opinion, I think the shot that lands softest is a high draw. Most golfers who fade a fairway wood do so by hitting down on the ball, which produces a hard, running shot.
QUADS 'N SCAPSThanks to my teacher, Sean Foley, this is the phrase in my head every time I address the ball. As I settle into position, I bend my knees until I feel the tops of my thighs, or quadriceps, engage. Once I feel this strong connection to the ground, I lightly pinch my shoulder blades, or scapulae, together, then relax. This makes my shoulders feel wide and strong, not rounded and weak.Focusing on good posture really helps my consistency day to day. In the gym I do a lot of deadlifts, and I'm feeling the difference when I get over the ball. My legs are heavy and sturdy, which gives me confidence that I can put some speed in the swing without losing my balance.
STAY DOWN ON THE BALLWhen a ball is sitting down in the grass, it's easier to make solid contact using a swing that cuts across from out to in. This is the natural swing shape of most golfers anyway.Because my preferred flight is a draw, producing a left-to-right trajectory is a slightly mechanical process for me. I set the club first, aiming the face 25 to 30 yards left of the target. Then I aim my feet even farther left. Ball position is off my front foot. I want to swing along my stance line, truly committing to starting the ball left.The tendency is to lose your nerve, and stand up and lift the handle in a last-second attempt to start the ball straight. Here, I've stayed down. The clubface hasn't rotated closed—my right forearm hasn't rolled over my left—which tells me this ball is going to cut.