Golf InstructionMarch 3, 2013

How To Hit The Short Grass

I don't pay too much attention to stats, but my 12-year-old son, Carter, does. He fills me in on everything. For example, I know my driving-accuracy stats improved a bunch last year, and they had to. Golf courses are getting longer and longer, and at 43 I'm not getting any younger. If I'm going to be 200 yards out half the time, I can't be hacking it out of the rough. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. And I'm sure your scores, like mine, are a lot better when you're driving it well and playing from the fairway. So I've made a commitment to try not to overswing and to focus on hitting the ball in the center of the clubface. So my first tip to you is to slow down. A center-face hit at 90 miles an hour is far better than a shot way off the toe at 110, even with today's giant drivers. Read on for my advice on how to improve your driving accuracy.



IF YOU SOFTEN your left arm a little, you can still make a full turn, and you'll stay in control.__

Tee It For Control

To improve my control over the years, I've tried to make my backswing simple and relaxed. I have a tendency to keep my left arm too straight when I swing to the top and to lift up a little (above, left), which can really get my swing out of sequence. If you rise up and don't go back down before you reach impact, you probably won't hit the ball flush.

To keep from lifting on the backswing, I try to make a more controlled move and focus on turning. The key for me is to soften my left arm a little (above, right). You might have trouble seeing the difference in the photos above, but believe me, my left arm is more relaxed. Now with the arm softer, I'm turning instead of lifting, and my backswing ends in a more natural position. From there, I feel I can swing down with good tempo and not try to kill it.

When you turn back and feel your body resist, that's when you know your backswing is done. If you do this, the feeling you'll probably get is that you have more control of the clubface and can hit the ball solidly.



TO HIT A DRAW, keep your upper body back and let the clubhead pass your hands through impact.__

Seeing Is Believing

Ever have one of those days where you can't seem to find your normal shot shape? Don't fight it. If you normally hit draws but are fading it on the range before the round or on the first few holes, go with the fade that day. The important thing is that you commit to it. I can tell on the range what it's going to be for me that day. And each week is a little different. You should also consider switching up from a draw to a fade, or vice versa, if the hole demands a particular shot. But again, the most important thing is committing to that shot shape.

To hit a left-to-right drive, I start by opening my stance so I'm aligned slightly left. Then I make my normal backswing and try to feel as if my hands are dragging the club low through the hitting area (above, left). It's like my body turn beats the club back to the ball.

To hit a drive right to left, I set up down the right side of the fairway, swing back normally, and then keep my upper body back through impact. The goal is to let the clubhead pass the hands through the shot (above, right). This helps shut the face for a draw.

DAVID TOMS is a Golf Digest Playing Editor. On the PGA Tour, he ranks 1st in total fairways hit (959), 4th in driving accuracy (73.26%), 8th in avg. distance from center (23' 8"), and 11th in consecutive fairways hit (25).*

*2009 Final PGA Tour stats