One of the most exciting things you can do as a golfer is absolutely crush a ball right down the middle and brag to your buddies about how you bombed it past their ball in the air. You “let the big dog eat” and you’re having a ton of fun on the course.
What’s not quite as fun is when you hit it out of bounds. You can have all the distance in the world, but if you hit the ball long, you go out long as well. The question is, how do you stay aggressive off the tee while keeping your ball in play?
What makes golf such a unique sport is the courses you play on. Most sports play on standard fields with the same dimensions and measurements no matter where you play. Golf doesn’t have a standard field.
Description: Find out how to keep your driver in play in the video above
No course is the same and they pose their own unique challenges. It’s the golfers job to adjust to those changes and play with the game they have. A challenge you may face is needing to hit the driver (even though you don’t want to) down a narrow fairway.
It can be nerve racking when you’re on the tee and the voice in your mind is yelling “PLEASE DON’T HIT IT OUT…”.
When this happens, your body tends to try and guide the golf ball to keep it in play. That right there will get you in trouble more often than not. There are certain things you can do that can take some of that pressure off and allow you to play the game your way.
TEE THE BALL LOWER
One key to hitting straighter drives is to tee the ball lower. You know that you want to make an ascending blow with your driver. This allows you to get the ball airborne to create a good launch angle that allows you to maximize your distance. Your goal is to still make an ascending blow no matter what the tee height is.
With the ball teed lower you won’t be making the same ascending blow as the attack angle will be slightly lower. This leads to slightly less distance but a lower ball flight. A lower ball flight doesn’t allow the ball to curve as much as it would if you launched one high into the air.
When teeing the ball lower than normal it may seem weird as you’re looking down. You’re not looking to tee the ball extremely low, but just low enough to where it is lower than your standard tee height. We prefer around ¾ of an inch. What exactly will your tee height influence?
Different tee heights affect a couple different things in your swing. Those being: Ball speed, attack angle, launch angle, spin rate, and total distance. Compared to hitting a ball at a normal tee height, these numbers will be slightly different.
Starting with ball speed. Your ball speed will more than likely come out slightly slower. The reason being you are hitting in closer to the bottom of the clubface rather than the complete center.
On a lower tee, you are not hitting up on the ball as much as you would at a normal height, causing your angle of attack to be slightly lower as well. When your angle of attack is lower, so is your launch angle. The ball comes off the club face with a flatter launch, creating a flatter ball flight as well. Your spin rate will make a slight increase. Hitting the ball lower on the face will cause the ball to spin more causing you to lose out on distance. With the extra spin your ball will not roll out like you’re used to seeing. The ball may even stop for you instead of rolling into those trouble areas.
Although teeing the ball lower will give you some help, tee height alone won’t completely keep your ball in play. As you may have figured out…golf is hard. Many other factors play a role in keeping your ball in play.
COMMIT TO YOUR SHOT SHAPE
The next step you should take is to commit to your shot shape. This is where many of us get ourselves into trouble. We try to play shots that we are just not 100% comfortable with.
It’s not just tough for us but the pros as well. You may have watched 2022 Masters Champion Scottie Scheffler on 13 at Augusta and noticed him struggling. His natural shot shape plays a fade and that is not what the hole calls for. As the number one golfer in the world, he can pull it off, but for the rest of us it can be challenging.
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On those narrow holes where you want nothing more than to put it right out in the middle, you have to trust your shot shape while staying aggressive. You more than likely have a consistent shot that tends to happen when you play.
Description: Check out the video above to improve your setup with the driver
Tiger Woods for example, tends to play a fade and that is his go-to shape. Dustin Johnson used to favor a draw, but in recent years, decided to adjust and play a fade as well. This isn’t to say that you have to play a fade to keep it in play. If you step up to the tee and right to left is your preference, stick with the draw. Take one side of the course out of play and commit to your shape.
We all have our misses and our tendencies, but do you have your own shot shape? Even the best golfers in the world don’t hit it straight. They all have their go-to shapes and shots that they prefer to hit. So if you think you need to be hitting the ball straight the majority of the time, you better think again! Your natural swing will be the indicator of what your shot shape will be.
From your set-up to your swing path, it will tell you what your ball will do once it leaves the face. A good quote from Jack Nicklaus “to shape a shot, better to change your setup than your swing.” If you want to find out why your shot shape is the way it is, check out and understand the way you set up.
When you need a shot to stay in bounds the hero shot is not the answer. Most amateur golfers cannot shape the ball like you see the pros do on t.v. day in and day out. If something doesn’t fit your eye, now is not the best time to try it. Course strategy and having confidence in yourself will take you farther than trying to make an uncomfortable shot.
You can practice shaping the ball on the range but if you know you can’t pull the shot off on a frequent basis, it’s better to leave that shot on the range for now. Once you step up to that intimidating hole, this is when the real fun starts.
When the nerves kick in, you don’t want to be doing something you are not comfortable with. Using your strengths and natural shot shape gives you some predictability on where your ball will end up. When you know where the ball is going, you can become more confident in your swing and build trust in yourself.
You may have other things in work or life that you can do confidently. Those things come naturally and you almost go into autopilot when you’re doing them. Why is that? You know exactly what you’re doing and know what the outcome will be if you do it correctly.
The same applies in your swing. Commit to your shot shape and stay aggressive by being confident with your natural swing.
When you think of being aggressive on the golf course, you might think of playing dangerously.
Should you go for this sucker pin?
Should you try and cut the corner off the tee?
This is not the aggressiveness we are talking about.
When you have a challenging shot off the tee, it can be easy to get into the mindset of wanting to just put in play. When that thought trickles into your mind, you tend to lay off, reduce your swing speed, and ultimately make a different swing than what you have been doing all day.
This is when you start trying to guide the ball around the golf course.
DON’T GUIDE THE BALL
Guiding the ball will get you into trouble all around the course. Your swing changes, throwing off your timing and speed. Instead of being out in the middle of the fairway, you’re now sitting on the tee box ready to hit your third shot. The thought is if you hold back on power, you now have more control in your swing. Which is not the case.
You will lose distance on your drives since you are reducing your swing speed. When you guide the ball you also have a tendency to adjust the clubface as you’re making your swing. When your clubface is manipulated, you will see wayward shots.
There are a few things you can do to help prevent yourself from guiding the ball. Building a good routine that you can go to each and every time is a must. First, understand how the hole is playing. If it’s a dog leg right and you play a fade; GREAT! If it’s a dog leg left and you still play a fade, stick with the fade. Trust and commit to your shot shape.
You also want to pick a target to aim at. The goal is to stay out of trouble and put the ball in the fairway. Your eyes and mind take you to the center of the fairway and the next thing you know, you end up in the water on the right after what felt like a good shot. Pick a target where you plan on starting your ball and let it work back toward the fairway.
When you commit to a target along with your swing, you’d be surprised how many more fairways you will hit.
One thing you might not have thought about is your tee box strategy. Many amateur golfers will step up to the tee box and stick their tee right in between the two markers and swing away. If you’re looking to hit an accurate tee ball, choosing where to line up on the tee box will make a difference. Amateur golfers tend to make similar mistakes, but most of those can be fixed with a few slight adjustments. If you want to learn how to make those adjustments, we have a few coaches who can help you out. Check out our 300+ archived daily video tips by becoming an ELITE Member.
For a right handed player hitting a draw, you will want to line up on the left hand side of the tee box. If you’re hitting a fade, you want to line up on the right hand side. The purpose behind this is that it will give you more room to work with off the tee. For example, if you play a fade and line up on the left hand side, you’re taking away half of your landing zone.
When you line up on the right hand side and play our fade, you have plenty of room to start the ball left and let your shot shape work.
You can also use your tee box strategy to help take the danger out of play. Different holes have different dangers that come into play. Whether that be out of bounds, water hazards, bunkers, or anything else on the course that may make your next shot more difficult than it needs to be.
If you can take those hazards out of play, you will be better off in the long run. This is one of those times you need your driver to come through. One way to avoid these hazards is a simple one. Just a simple idea of aiming away from the danger can allow you to make a confident swing and trust your shot shape.
When you trust your shot shape you create a predictability in your swing and begin to understand where your ball will end up.
Description: Watch the video above to learn about what your swing plane should feel like with your driver
Golf is one of the most challenging games there is. There are so many different factors that come into play and influence your game. When it comes down to it, your goal is to get the ball in the hole with the least amount of strokes possible. As some players may say “It’s not how…it’s how many.”
We all want to keep the ball in play at all times but with every course, comes the challenges that await. When you walk up and see the intimidating tee shot, you don’t have to be afraid. You can utilize the tools you have in your toolbox to help you get the ball down the middle of the fairway and set yourself up for success on the next shot.
When you can walk up confidently to the tee and know that if you put this strategy into place, your ball will be sitting pretty, that is one of the best feelings you can have going into your swing. This exudes confidence.
With a confident swing, you can produce great results. You will see challenging tee shots on every course you play. If you go into these obstacles with a game plan you can take a lot of bad shots out of play and be ready to hit the shots you are looking for.
If you want to find your ball in the fairway in the moments you really need them, use this strategy to create a fairway finder. Remember to tee your ball slightly lower than you normally would. Teeing the ball lower will affect your swing and cause a different reaction off of the clubface than teeing the ball up at a normal height. You also need to remember to commit to your shot shape.
This can be one of the harder tasks to accomplish. Trusting yourself and getting rid of the inner monologue before you swing is a challenge in and of its own. If you have a certain shot shape, PLAY IT. Don’t be afraid to play your game.
Just because someone else is able to hit the shot that fits the hole, doesn’t mean you can’t put yours out in the fairway. Line up appropriately and take your natural swing and let the club do the work. Be aggressive and trust your true swing.
Once you’re able to trust yourself and your swing, you can finally stop guiding the ball. There are always things you can do to help yourself out before you even think about swinging the club. If you align yourself properly off the tee you can set your tee ball up for success. This will help you keep the trouble out of play initially and allow your swing to do what it is supposed to do.
Remember that the pros go through these same challenges and no one is perfect. If you put in the time and effort you will begin to start finding more fairways and shoot lower scores.
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