Put Yourself In Position To Hit A Solid Tee Ball
Photographed by J.D. Cuban at The Concession Golf Club
If you struggle to hit a good tee ball, you're not alone. I've found that many times the easiest way to get a player to learn a skill or correct a mistake is to have them overemphasize the movement needed to execute the task—or even do the opposite of what they're doing, so they can find middle ground. I call this teaching philosophy the art of exaggeration. Here's a great example of overemphasizing a move to get you to swing with proper width, so you can hit better tee shots.
Many amateurs mistakenly bend the right arm almost as soon as they start the backswing. This pulls the club up and inside the target line way too soon, narrowing the swing arc and putting the club in poor position for the proper through-swing. Remember, your goal with a driver is to sweep the ball from the tee, not hit down on it like you would with an iron off the turf. As your club approaches the ball, it should be on a shallow path—as if it's tracing the ground—and your arms should be as long as they were at address. That's what I mean when I say proper width.
If tee shots are one of the weakest parts of your game, you need to work on your takeaway. What you really want is a relatively straight right arm during the initial part of the backswing, as this promotes width. The move to accentuate is keeping the right arm on top of the left as you take the club back for as long as you can, like I'm doing here.
As your upper body rotates away from the target, your right arm will fold under the left naturally. But the key is to focus on the right staying on top of the left during the takeaway. It sets you up to really launch your drives better than ever. —With Ron Kaspriske
David Leadbetter, a Golf Digest Teaching Professional, runs 32 academies worldwide.