DrivingMay 29, 2018

David Leadbetter says use your hips to eliminate popping up tee shots

“Constantly borrowing tees? You need a new downswing.”
David Leadbetter
Photograph by J.D. Cuban at the Concession Golf Club

If you're regularly popping up tee shots or the ball isn't rolling very far once it lands in the fairway, you're hitting down on the ball too much. That's OK for an iron shot off the turf, but not if you're swinging a driver. A telltale sign your downswing is too steep is if you're constantly breaking tees in half like you're splitting firewood.

If you want to maximize distance with your driver, you've got to hit up on the ball, and a simple fix is to literally stand up during the downswing. Let's practice this move.

As your start the club down, I want you to thrust your hips forward like I'm doing here. I recommend doing this without a ball at first to get comfortable with this move, because it will feel quite different than your usually steep downswing. But once you get the hang of it, you can start hitting tee shots this way. And I'm sure you'll be pleased with the results.

What this stand-up/hip-thrust move does is shallow the club's path into the ball and gets it moving upward just before impact. That, in turn, launches the ball high—but not pop-up high—and with far less backspin than if you hit down on it. That's really important to increase your carry distance and get the ball to roll more.

How do you know you've changed your angle of attack? Well, you might dislodge the tee swinging this way, but it should live to see another swing. — With Ron Kaspriske

David Leadbetter, a Golf Digest Teaching Professional, runs 32 academies worldwide.


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