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August 14 2012

2:52 PM

Tip from Travis: Avoid the shaft lean

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Rory McIlroy has been hitting the ball well north of 300 and straight -- like a modern-day Greg Norman.
By Travis Fulton, Director of Instruction, PGA TOUR Academy Rory! Rory! Rory! The 23-year-old superstar from Northern Ireland is now on pace -- like Tiger was at this age -- towards Jack Nicklaus’ major championship count of 18. What else can be said? The golf that Rory McIlroy displayed on Sunday to win the PGA Championship was really special. You could simply pick any part of Rory’s game and learn from his technique and style; however, this week I think it is only fitting to talk about how he hit his new driver. As he has all year, Rory was bombing his driver all over Kiawah Island, and I would say was benefiting quite nicely from the shaft change he made coming into the PGA Championship. Although it is unrealistic for most all of us to create enough clubhead speed to even come close to the yardage that Rory hits his driver, it is possible for us to hit it as straight as he does. The driver is one of the most difficult clubs to set up. Why? It's the longest club in your bag with the least amount of loft, and it also requires a forward ball position. With the ball placed well forward in the stance adjacent to the lead shoulder, there are two things you need to watch out for at address and can learn from McIlroy: 1. The club shaft at address needs to be in-line. One of the most common errors with the driver is to lean the club shaft too far forward. This club shaft alignment promotes a steep attack angle, robbing you of power and accuracy. Rory is a great example of someone who doesn’t lean the driver forward at address, allowing him to get behind it and achieve the necessary attack angle. 2.  Shoulders need to be square to even slightly closed.  With the forward ball position, it is so easy to "face the ball".  Often times, players will need to feel closed (to the right for a right handed golfer) with the shoulders in order to get square.  From the target line view, you should be able to see a little piece of the left forearm above the right to be square. These two setup alignments with the driver at address are so important. If you can achieve this, you can improve your attack angle through impact, leading to more power and accuracy. 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.
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