Hunter Mahan wins for the second time this year with another great performance at the Shell Houston Open. There is a lot to like about Mahan’s game, and he is hitting on all cylinders heading into the game’s first major championship of the year at Augusta National.
One of the things that we can all learn from Hunter is how he drives the ball so well. What’s important to understand when hitting the driver is learning to control the attack angle through impact. The most common error with the driver is an attack angle that is too steep, robbing so many amateurs of distance and accuracy. Mahan is another good example of a player that controls his attack angle, maximizing his ability to deliver the energy of the driver to head to the back of the ball efficiently.
The first step to achieving a favorable attack angle where the clubhead is travelling more level to the ground at impact is the setup. At address, make sure the driver is sitting more in-line and not leaning towards the target. This shaft angle at address is critical, because a driver is not built to lean too far forward. This promotes a descending blow and an open clubface at impact.
Secondly, it’s highly recommended to have the shoulders square to slightly closed. With such a forward ball position adjacent to the lead shoulder, a very common error is this: Amateurs will turn the upper body and face the ball, allowing the shoulders to open up relative to the target line. As a result, many amateurs need to feel as if the shoulders are actually closed.
After a perfect setup, Mahan does a great job of getting his arm swing and club working around the right hip during the backswing. This creates the depth needed to swing the clubhead from the inside on the downswing. Depth is the ability to get the arms and club behind you. At the top of the swing, you will see Hunter’s lead arm cover his right shoulder. This is a great checkpoint to see the steepness of your lead arm at the top of the swing.
With a good setup and a swing shape working more around (versus up-and-down) the stage is set to create a more favorable attack angle like Hunter Mahan's.
Travis Fulton is the Director of Instruction at the TOUR Academies at TPC Sawgrass and the World Golf Village. For more information on the TOUR Academy, click here.