Editor's note: Every Monday, PGA professional Kevin Hinton examines the game of a recent tour winner and tells you what you can learn. A Golf Digest Best Young Teacher, Kevin is the Director of Instruction at Piping Rock Golf Club, Locust Valley, N.Y., and is a Lead Master Instructor for the Jim McLean Golf School at Doral Resort & Spa. He also teaches at Drive 495 in New York. He has seen thousands of swings, and has helped golfers of all abilities, from rank beginners to tour players. This week, he looks at the driving consistency of Fredrik Jacobson, who turned in an unbelievable driving performance over the weekend at the Travelers Championship at the TPC of Connecticut.
Kevin Hinton:__ Fredrik Jacobson won his first PGA Tour event this week at the Travelers Championship in Hartford, Conn. He hit 28 of 28 fairways over the weekend, and made only a single bogey over the course of 72 holes. Take a look at the clip below of Fredrik doing a drill on the range to see what you can learn about his swing, as well as an interesting insight as to how PGA Tour players practice. I will also give you a few keys to improve your driving accuracy. Tour players often use drills and training aids when working on their swings. It can help give them a "feel," as well as speed up the time needed to make a change. The average player should be doing more of the same.
By placing the ball between his forearms, Fredrik can work on several good things in his backswing. First, it helps promote a smooth takeaway. If you make any quick or unnecessary movements to begin your swing, you will likely drop the ball. As he approaches the top of his swing, it prevents his elbows from separating, which helps to keep his left wrist flat and ensure a square clubface. This is something many amateurs could benefit from. It is very common to see a player's right elbow "fly" at the top, instead of pointing relatively downward and staying close to the body. This causes the left wrist to cup and the clubface to open...a move you can recover from, but is probably not the simplest way to swing. Finally, if you tend to overswing, this can be an excellent drill to help shorten your backswing. It's pretty difficult to make a long swing if you keep the ball between your forearms.
Jacobson hit more than 85 percent of his fairways for the week, and going 28 for 28 on the weekend is almost unheard of. Here are a handful of tips to help you improve your accuracy:
1. You don't have to hit driver. Don't be afraid to hit a hybrid, long iron or fairway wood off the tee. If the hole isn't too long or you're just not that confident with your driver on a given day, err on the conservative side, and hit an easier club. Higher-lofted clubs impart less sidespin on the ball. This make hitting the fairways a lot easier.
__2. "You gotta dance with who you brung." __If your ball is consistently fading or drawing in your warm-up session, that should be the shape you hit on the course for the day (whether you like it or not). If your ball is fading, you better aim left...if everything is hooking, simply aim
down the right-hand side. The course is not the place to be working on your swing. Fix it after the round; you'll likely have a better outcome.
3. Here's a trio of tips that should help: If I had to hit a ball in the fairway to save my life, I'd do three things (1) tee it lower, (2) grip down, (3) swing at 80 percent. No way you don't hit it straighter with these adjustments.
4. "Aim small, miss small." Some people have more success by picking a very small, specific target like a mower stripe in the middle of the fairway. This helps narrow their focus. Are you likely to hit that exact spot? No. But are you less likely to hit the ball off the planet when you focus on a small target and are not looking at all the trouble? Probably. There are a lot of really good players who prescribe to the "Aim small, miss small theory."
5. "Think "BIG." __ This is the opposite camp. The average country cub fairway is probably 35 yards wide...there is likely 10 yards of rough on both sides before you get to the tree line or the fescue. Most of us aren't playing in U.S. Open conditions on a regular basis (i.e, six-inch rough), so hitting it into the rough isn't that great of a penalty. You now have about a 60-yard window you can drive the ball into before you get into serious trouble. This can help free up your swing. If you get the math, but still don't feel confident...you should probably be hitting a hybrid.
- Practice with purpose. __In every practice session, imagine a fairway on the driving range and hit 14 drives. Track your results. Alternate between three clubs you might hit off a tee during a round. This should help you make better club selection and keep you focused during practice.