November 20 2013
By Travis Fulton, Director of Instruction, TOUR Academies
According to user stats from TOURCaddie’s database (www.pgatourcaddie.com), the average 0- to 9-handicap golfer hits 43 percent of their greens in regulation (GIR), and the 10- to 19-handicapper 28 percent. That makes what Henrik Stenson did this past week in Dubai all the more remarkable. Over four rounds at the DP World Tour Championship, the Super Swede hit 68 of 72 greens in regulation, or 94.4 percent, one short of the PGA TOUR record!
Not surprisingly, Stenson led the PGA TOUR in greens hit in regulation in 2013 at 72 percent. He has an amazing ability to squeeze and compress the ball, which makes him one of the best ball-strikers on the planet today. But part of the reason why he’s able to hit so many greens is because he’s an accurate and long driver of the ball as well. Stenson ranked seventh on TOUR in driving accuracy in 2013, hitting 70 percent of his fairways, and was third in Total Driving (a combination of accuracy and distance). He consistently puts himself in great position to attack the green.
If you want to hit more greens, it’s paramount you keep your tee shots in the fairway, as Stenson does. What makes him such an accurate driver of the ball is, in part, his setup. He takes a very aggressive stance width-wise—certainly wider than most TOUR pros—and has a significant amount of spine tilt away from the target. This positions his upper body well behind the ball and allows him to make a deep shoulder turn. As a result, he’s able to shallow out his angle of attack and has more time to square the clubface up for better accuracy.
Most amateurs don’t tilt enough—they set up with their shoulders level—nor do they turn their shoulders enough on the backswing. The left shoulder barely makes it to the ball. Consequently, when they start to transfer their weight forward on the downswing, their upper body moves ahead of the ball and their attack angle gets too steep. The resulting tendency is to leave the face open and hit some high spinners to the right, which is bad for accuracy.
Stenson really works his left shoulder down and across his chest on the backswing, so that the tip of the shoulder points behind the ball and his back points to the target at the top of his swing. Because he’s behind the ball, he can now transfer his weight left and unwind his upper body aggressively while remaining behind the ball. This is the key to accuracy—and power--with the driver, as it allows you to control your attack angle (i.e., shallow it out) and square the face up in time to hit the ball solid.
Travis Fulton is Director of Instruction for all TOURAcademy locations nationwide. For more game-improvement tips from the TOURAcademy instructors, on-the-spot club recommendations and 3D previews of each hole you play, download the TOURCaddie PRO app at www.pgatourcaddie.com.