Nepali Times
Tee Break
Sweeping through


Ever watched weekend golfers sweep their drives successfully off the tee, then fluff their fairway woods no matter how hard
they try? Well, they have the right key but don't know when to use it again.

In today's game where courses are getting longer, it's imperative to be able to hit fairway woods well. It's also a lot easier to hit a fairway wood than a long iron. Not having these shots in your armoury will inevitably leave you short of the green on any long hole, giving but a slender chance of making par. So why aren't those three and five wood fairway shots getting properly airborne?

Generally, woods are designed to hit the ball almost on the upswing. In fact, it's just the opposite of how irons have been designed (to hit the ball on the downswing). The driver is the largest and longest of the woods and is most effective if used to hit the ball on the upswing. Thus, the long tees are used to lift the ball up above the ground. Fairway woods are also designed to be used in such a manner. The action is to almost sweep the ball with a shallower or more horizontal angle of approach than the irons.

Here are some tips to get you started:

. The first step is to make sure you have the ball correctly positioned in your stance, somewhere opposite the inside of the forward heel. If the ball position is too close to the centre you tendency to hit it downward and the effectiveness of the club is reduced tremendously.

. Next, work with practice swings without a ball until you can consistently sweep the grass in the location opposite the inside of your forward heel as opposed to taking a divot or swinging in the air above the grass. Relax your arms and hands and feel the club swinging more freely, it helps rather than gripping with your hands and trying to force the club to swing faster.

With your practice swings, get to the point where you can sweep the grass for a noticeable distance (let's say three to six inches) rather than at just one small point where the club bounces off the ground. You can usually see the grass blades move when you sweep through or you might even leave a path through the grass that you can see after your swings.

Once you feel comfortable with practice swings, stay focused on this 'sweeping of the grass' when you swing through the ball. Many golfers change their focus at this point and try to hit the ball instead. This usually results in a different swing (with no sweeping) and more problems.

Stay focused on the sight, sound and feeling of sweeping the grass through the ball and the quality and consistency of your contact with fairway woods will improve. The bottom line is: with the less lofted and longer length clubs, you should not hit the ball on the downswing, sweep through it with a shallow angle of attack instead.

Practice the above drills and you'll soon find your entire range of fairway wood shots getting airborne towards the target. Once you can launch the ball further with your fairway woods, don't be surprised to find yourself scoring lower.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)