Instruction: Shallow out your angle of attack for longer drives
April 22, 2014
By Travis Fulton, PGATOUR.COM
- Matt Kuchar is known for having a shallow swing, but it helps maximize distance. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
The attack angle, a measurement of how steep or shallow the clubhead is moving relative to the ground through impact, plays a vital role in how much distance you’re able to generate off the tee. Most amateurs fall somewhere between a -4 and -6 degrees down with the driver, which is entirely too steep. The closer you can get to 0 (the average TOUR pro is closer to -1 degree, according to TrackMan), the more true loft (on the clubface) you’ll present to the ball and the better your combination of launch and spin will be to maximize distance. Here are three common faults I see with the driver along with three easy fixes that will help you shallow out your angle of attack and carry the ball farther than ever before.
FAULT #1: UPPER BODY FACES THE BALL: The most common error I see with the driver is open shoulders at address. The farther forward the golfer plays the ball in his or her stance, the more their upper body turns to face the ball (photo, above). This sets up a steeper angle of attack and a swing direction (path of the clubhead relative to the target line) that is to the left—a bad combination.
FIX #1: CHEST LOOKS AWAY FROM THE BALL: Have the feeling that your chest is looking well to the right of the ball at address. This may feel very awkward at first--as if your shoulders are extremely closed to the target—but the reality is they’ll be more square (i.e., parallel left of the target), promoting a swing direction to the right. Viewed from behind, you should see a sliver of your left forearm above your right (photo, above) and maybe even some of your left knee.
FAULT #2: FORWARD LEANING SHAFT: Too much forward lean in the shaft (toward the target) promotes more downward movement in the clubhead through impact, which is ideal for an iron but bad news for the driver. Note the ball position here, too, several inches behind the tip of the left shoulder, or low point of the swing (photo, above). This also causes you to hit down on the ball, which generates too much distance-robbing backspin.
FIX #2: NEUTRALIZE THE SHAFT: Set up with the shaft more up and down (i.e., neutral) to slightly back, so that your hands are relatively in line with the clubhead (photo, above). Coupled with the correct ball position, opposite the tip of your left shoulder, you should make contact closer to the low point of the swing. This way, the clubhead should be fairly level to the ground or slightly ascending through impact.
FAULT #3: NO DIFFERENTIATION BETWEEN HIPS, SHOULDERS: Both address faults promote an impact position in which the shoulders and hips are moving at the same rate, and are open to the target line at impact (photo, above). This causes you to hang back and lift the clubhead into the ball to increase launch angle. The lack of differentiation between the shoulders and hips is a big speed killer, as the clubhead is more or less dragged through impact, across your body.
FIX #3: SLING THE CLUBHEAD PAST YOUR CHEST: During the transition, you want to delay the movement of your shoulders just long enough so that there’s a clear differentiation between the shoulders and hips as they unwind toward the target. At impact, you should have the feeling that your hips are forward and opening but the shoulders are closed to the target line. Your upper body should be stabilizing, which allows you to propel your hands and arms past your chest (photo, above), delivering maximum speed and energy to the ball.
Travis Fulton is Director of Instruction for all TOURAcademy locations nationwide. To learn more about Travis--voted one of “America’s Best Young Teachers” by Golf Digest--and to book a lesson, click here.