Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches

PGA National (Champion Course)


Making your first swings of the season? Step away from the driver

March 02, 2021
Golf balls in basket on green grass for practice

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The weather is flirting with spring-like temperatures here in the Northeast, so obviously it's time to get the clubs out. A bit premature? Maybe. There's still a little snow on the ground, but we're ready to start swinging, and we know you are, too.

We love the energy around early season golf, but being overeager can have its consequences. We spoke to top teacher Erika Larkin about ways to get the most out of your first few swings of the season.

For starters, although it's tempting, Larkin advises you stay away from your driver the first time you hit balls. If It's your first time making swings since October, you need to give yourself a chance. Instead, she says the first club you should touch is your sand wedge.

"Start around the green and hit some short chip shots, focusing on making some no-wrist swings and getting solid contact," she said.

As she said, it's not about hitting it far or swinging hard. The purpose of this drill is to remind yourself what it's like to make solid contact.


Gregory Shamus

Once you've got your feet under you around the green, Larkin says to work a little further back from the green.

"Move back to 15-20 yards and work on half swings. Take practice swings thumping the ground correctly in the middle of your stance each time before you hit the next shot."

Shots like this are ideal for building rhythm. Larkin says that you should pay attention to your grip pressure and make sure you're not getting fast or handsy. Larkin believes that these wedge shots will ultimately show you if your swing is on plane or not.

"With these wedge shots, you will not achieve good controlled results if your swing is off plane, so it's a great place to start the season and test yourself to see how your swing is feeling and performing before you take it up to a full swing on the range."

We all want to hit driver. But do yourself a favor and work your way up to it this season. Fix the kinks in your swing with more forgiving clubs like wedges, and those driver swings will feel better, and function better, in the long run.