Approach Shots

The Secret To Hitting Your 3-Wood

September 30, 2013

FACILITY: Core Golf Junior Academy, Winter Garden, Fla.
TEACHES: Tiger Woods, Justin Rose, Hunter Mahan, Lee Westwood, Sean O'Hair, Edoardo Molinari
2011 RANK: 35

Golf instructors will tell you that teaching a top-ranked player can be both invigorating and frustrating. But imagine working with a handful at the same time—at the same event. That's Sean Foley. You might know him as Tiger Woods' instructor, but he also coaches three other players in the top 30 in the world, including U.S. Open champion Justin Rose. Born in Canada but living outside of Orlando, Foley, 39, has quickly become one of the game's most respected—and most identified—teachers by consistently delivering the right messages to the game's leading players. With a teaching style that blends kinesiology, physics and Eastern philosophies, Foley is versatile. And his devotion to his craft is hard to miss. Just go out to the range at a PGA Tour event: He'll be there.

If I asked what your carry distance is with a 9-iron, you'd probably give me a specific yardage. But what about your 3-wood? Not really sure? That's because if you're trying to chase a 3-wood up the fairway on a long par 4 or par 5, you're going to be tempted to swing it harder than if, say, you're hitting it on a par 3. I'll bet there's no consistency to your tempo with this club.

My advice is to swing your 3-wood with the same amount of effort every time. In fact, swing it with the same tempo as you do your 9-iron. Remember, it's not necessarily your swing speed that makes a 3-wood shot go a long way—it's the design of the club: the longer shaft, the lower loft, the hotter clubface.

To hone a smooth, consistent action with your 3-wood, go to the practice tee and alternate shots with your 9-iron and 3-wood. Your goal is to feel like you have the 9-iron in your hands when you're hitting the longer club. Then, take that feeling to the course.