One of the frustrating things about hitting an errant tee shot is you're not always sure why. One swing puts the ball down the middle. The next drive feels the same, but you find the rough or worse. If you hit the ball solidly, your swing probably isn't all that bad. Your problems more likely stem from poor alignment and address. The following setup keys can help you stay in play more often.
Alignment: Work from Open to Square
A common error of golfers of all levels is lining up too far to the right of the target. This forces you to come over the top on the downswing to reroute the club on line, then release the hands quickly to prevent a slice and send the ball toward the target. These corrections put too much pressure on the small muscles of the hands to release the club at precisely the right time. You may be powerful, but you'll find yourself missing the target in every direction.
If you're going to make mistakes in alignment, make them to the left of the target. An open stance presets your hips in a cleared position, as they begin slightly rotated toward the target. You don't need a quick release of the hands; instead, you can square the club with the big muscles of the shoulders and back and approach the ball from an inside path. Keep your stance square to slightly open to develop a repeating swing. Don't let yourself drift to the right.
Position the Ball for a Level Path
Do you tee the ball opposite your left instep on a normal drive? It's great advice if you want more power because you'll approach the ball on a slightly upward path, producing higher drives that carry farther. However, with the ball that far forward in your stance, your hands, again, are called upon to keep the clubface square past the bottom of the swing arc. A slight error will result in an early (hook) or late (push) release. Sacrifice a bit of carry for a lot of accuracy by approaching the ball on a level path.
A level path means teeing the ball slightly back in your stance. Try opposite your left armpit: If you take short practice swings with only your left arm, you'll see that's the lowest point of your arc, the natural point for the clubface to square if it's controlled by the rotation of the hips and shoulders. You'll get a lower, more boring ball flight and less tendency to stray from the short grass.
Private Lessons 1999 Times Mirror Magazines, Inc., used under license by GolfServ Online, Inc. Instructional information provided by Golf Magazine.