Golf tips: Keys to finding the fairway

 
By Michael Wenzel
Sportsman’s Country Club
Updated 9/11/2018 6:56 PM
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  • Michael Wenzel

    Michael Wenzel Courtesy of Illinois PGA

Are you tired of struggling to get off the tee? It's no fun to spend all your time on the course searching for golf balls under trees, in lakes and other players' fairways.

Hitting a playable tee ball is imperative to starting the round off well because it helps establish rhythm and confidence for the round. Here are some tips to help address issues off the tee:

We first have to gain a better understanding of the direction our golf ball is flying in relation to the target. If your ball is flying away from you, you'll want to first try to strengthen your grip. For a right-handed player turn both hands to the right, and if you're left handed turn your hands to the left.

Second, if your ball continues to fly away and slices, you will want to check the pressure in your bottom hand. Keeping the pressure tighter in your top hand and lighter in your bottom hand helps you release the club through the ball and square up the face. After you release the club on the downswing it's important to squeeze the handle to brace for impact. Be prepared to watch in amazement how far and straight you are able to make the ball fly.

When your ball is taking off across your body and slicing back, the ball is telling us that the club face is closed and your path and swing direction is out to in. This means your club is approaching the ball from the outside of the target line, and you are pulling it in back across your body.

To fix this ball flight for the long term, it will require more effort on your part to get your swing direction, and path approaching the ball from inside the target line. But there is a simple fix that involves teeing the ball up on the right side of the tee box and aiming down the left side of the fairway. If you square everything up you will hit a pull shot that will fly nice and straight.

Another key to ensuring the ball takes off on the correct line is to swing the club back like a pendulum: Slow and low to the ground keeping the club in front of your body as you turn. Players often will swing the club back inside to quickly cause them to over rotate their hips and shoulders. Initiating the swing with the upper body like this causes the club to swing on an out to in path. Reverse the order from the ground up and you will hit longer, straighter shots.

It's also important to keep expectations in check as we all dream of hitting perfect drives every time. In reality we may hit one or two perfect shots in a round, and most likely the rest of our drives will be good to average. The key is to eliminate the drives that are costly to us advancing the ball forward, and allowing us a chance to either hit the green in regulation or at least give ourselves a chance to put our short game to the test to shoot lower scores.

• Wenzel is director of instruction at Sportsman's Country Club in Northbrook. Contact him at michaelwenzel@pga.com or (847) 291-2351.

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