So I’ve been experimenting with a number of different setup positions for the driver. It’s time to choose one and stick with it, but which one? All seem to work pretty well on the practice tee, and all seem pretty lame at times on the REAL tee. What’s a duffer to do? Played 6 holes before it got too dark last night. One drive down the middle at 235 and one down the left side of the fairway at 260. And 3 crappy ones – off the toe. Funny how that never happens on the practice tee. So it’s time to re-group.
Let’s start by summarizing the various parts of the setup that I need to make a decision on. First and foremost is ball position. The candidates are: 1) Extremely forward, like 3″ to 5″ closer to the target then my left big toe. 2) Off the Left Toe, and 3) Just off the instep of the Left Foot. All three have worked well at times.
The extreme forward position promotes an aggresive swing to a full finish as I have to really go after the ball or “chase it” as they say. On the downside, it just seems so pronounced and weird and requires a pretty radical lateral shift towards the target, from what I sense. Just off the left toe has been my position of choice lately, and though it has worked OK on the practice tee, it has failed to work consistently enough on the course. The instep position seems to work well with a little weaker grip and is about the same postion I use for my 3wood. This latter position would be more in line with the “place the ball in roughly the same position for all full shots – metals and irons” as advocated by George Knudson, the great Canadian ball striker. The former would be the more standard “there is only about a 2 ball difference between the position of the ball from Driver to 9-iron” as advocated by Ben Hogan and many others.
I have been alternating between choice 2 and 3 with out a whole lot of success on the course. So, let’s choose door number 1 and go for the 3″ in front of the target foot and see how that works. Let’s also use my coach Len’s advice to set up with the swing center more forward to help prevent a sway on the back swing. I am going back to postion number 1 because I feel the forward position forces me to shift my weight and helps get the momentum going on the downswing. This type of swing seems to make the mental issue of “what to use to trigger the downswing” moot, as having to chase after the ball pretty much forces the weight shift to the front foot. It is also where the ball should probably be based on my good practice swings.
Also, settle on ball height. They say “tee it high and let it fly”. I don’t know. Think I will stick with half the ball above the top of the driver face and see how that works. As for stance width, I’ll keep the feet just outside the shoulders and continue to brace the right knee inward to help prevent an overswing or sway. Stand tall. Slight knee bend. Natural bend from the hips. (Aside: I have always had trouble discerning between bending at the waiste or the hips. They seem to be about the same place to me?)
As always, the key for me is to get that lower body moving first and let the weight shift to the front foot, along with the unwinding of the hips, pulling the relaxed arms along the correct inside arc. I need to feel the right elbow pass in close to the front of my thigh as I just let the club drop as the trunk turns. If I end up with all my weight on the target foot then all went well. If I hit behind the ball, I didn’t get enough momentum going (shift and turn) or I dropped the club into the slot too soon. If I top the ball, I didn’t drop the club soon enough – or more than likely – my arms and upper body were too stiff and tight and I ended up short-arming it.
OK. Now you go ahead and write down or type up exactly how you need to setup and what you need to do or feel to get a good swing out of your driver. We can’t be consistent if we don’t have a very clear idea of what we want to do and feel. But we can’t find the right setup without doing some experimentation. When you get it right, write it down. Man, I envy those low handicappers that don’t seem to have to think about any of this.
Hit ’em straight.