Golf 101 from the PGA:
How to Bomb it Past Your Buddies
November 20, 2020
Written by Casey Bourque, PGA originally published at about-golf.org
Who doesn’t want to hit the ball longer and straighter than everyone else?…and win the resulting bragging rights (not to mention lower scores) that go along with it.
Let’s talk about how to hit your driver as best you can…right now.
No practice needed. Okay, maybe a little.
How high should I tee the ball up?
The first thing a lot of folks, especially beginners get concerned with is the height of their tee. With today’s modern large headed drivers, particularly deep faced drivers, we want to see the ball up a little bit higher than we used to.
A good starting point is for the top edge of the club head to be about even with the equator of the golf ball.
Some people like to take it lower, some people higher. That’s fine. Personal preferences is certainly appropriate.
Two devastating tendencies…
There are some things we know about hitting hitting the driver. We want to get the ball forward in our stance to launch your drives at the right angle.
The driver is the only club in the bag that we actually want to strike on the UPSWING – just after the club has bottomed out. Easiest way to do this it to move the ball forward in our stance.
Some no-so-great things tend happen for people when we move the ball forward in our stance if we’re not aware.
1. Weight shift
When we put the ball in the middle of the stance, it is very easy to keep body weight 50/50, and to stay square as far as body lines go – shoulders, hips, knees and ankles.
When we move the ball forward, a lot of beginners tend to lean their body weight forward. That defeats the purpose of moving the ball forward.
Keep your weight roughly centered regardless of where we move the ball in your stance.
When we move the ball forward, what we’re allowing the club to bottom out before impact. We strike the ball just after the club has bottomed out in an ascending motion.
If we move our body weight forward “with” the ball, then where we’re simply hitting it on the way down as we would have if it was in the middle of our stance. Stay centered.
2. Watch your shoulders
With the ball in the middle of our stance, it’s easy to keep your shoulders square. By square, we mean if you draw a line across your shoulders, it would be parallel to the direction you want the ball to travel.
When we move the ball forward in our stance, we want to keep our weight centered and our shoulders square to our target line – always.
The mistake we see players making is to “open” the shoulders when we move the ball position forward. The tendency is to “face the ball”. Open shoulders means that you’ll cut across the ball and probably hit a big old slice.
As you move the ball forward in your stance, keep your shoulders square to your target line.
It’s okay to let your left shoulder rise up a little bit, but don’t let it open up to the left (for right-handed players).
What to take to the practice tee…
So, beginners normally have a hard time with ball position with the driver. We have to move it to the left in our stance so that we can launch the ball higher.
If they get the ball position part right, there are two tendencies that seem to sabotage their results:
- Make sure your body weight stays roughly 50/50 at setup…no matter where we put the ball. This feels strange…like your nose is well “behind the ball”. That’s how it’s supposed to be.
- Keep your shoulders square. They’ll want to open up when we move the ball forward. Don’t let it happen…keep them parallel to the target line so that the path of the club isn’t going to “cut across” the ball.
Check both of these two points and I promise you’ll improve your driving game…and make your buddies super jealous.
Casey Bourque, PGA
NOTE: Casey has competed in several PGA Tour events, including playing in the 2004 US Open Championship at Shinnecock Hills.