Golf School: Dominate with your Driver

Yes, we preach that the short game can shave strokes and shave-it-can. But, anyone who’s struggled off the tee for 18 holes can attest that a series of bad drives can make for a long day! Fighting with your putter sucks… but fighting with your driver leads to embarrassment, long walks in the cabbage and losing that crisp $5 ball we just un-sleeved.

Distance has been a conversation piece in club houses for decades but accuracy and consistency is where you can set yourself up for pars and birdies.

In a Golf Digest interview, Patrick Reed discusses how dominating with your driver can beat your opponents down mentally and can make the game more enjoyable on your weekend outings.

Here are a few shot-shapes that can make you stronger off the tee.

 

THE HIGH BOMB
Grab 20 Extra Yards When You Need It

If there’s a bunker to carry, a dogleg to drive across or a par 5 to reach in two, I call on the High Bomb. It’s a towering shot designed to stay in the air as long as possible. I start by teeing the ball half an inch higher than normal and playing it a couple inches farther forward in my stance. I make a big, deliberate turn, being sure to set the club solidly at the top. Through impact, I swing up on the ball slightly, keeping my upper body back. Go ahead, swing as hard as you can while staying in balance. This is no time to wimp out!

THE SLINGER
Control Ball Flight With A Piercing Draw

When I need a control shot, like in strong winds, I want to keep the ball low and let it run out hard. The Slinger is a drawing shot that’s sneaky long and a lot of fun to hit. I start by aligning my feet and shoulders well to the right—sometimes 30 yards—and gripping the club softly to free up my hands. After swinging back with plenty of wrist hinge, I sling the club down along my stance line, rotating my hands and the club-face aggressively . This closes the face, sending the ball on a low trajectory with a roundhouse draw.

THE BUTTER CUT
Fit The Right Shot Into The Fairway

My natural shot is a draw, but when the fairway bends to the right and calls for a fade, I’ll go with the Butter Cut. I set up with my feet aligned well to the left but the club-face aimed at the target. My backswing is normal, but on the way down and through, I make sure the club-face doesn’t rotate closed. I try to hold off my finish so the face stays pointing toward the sky for as long as possible. Compare my position right after impact to the same frame for the Slinger, and you’ll see a big difference in my release.

THE MENTAL SIDE
4 Driving Secrets To Win Your Matches

▶ Strategically and psychologically, match play is different from stroke play, especially with the driver. Here are my four keys to driving in matches:

1.) PUT IT IN THE FAIRWAY.
Even if it means sacrificing distance, you want the ball in play. Don’t try to keep up with longer opponents. If you’re first to hit from the fairway and find the green, you’ll add pressure.

2.) DON’T GET DISCOURAGED.
Paired with Jordan Spieth at the 2014 Ryder Cup, I opened our first four-ball match with a popped-up tee shot that barely reached the fairway. But I hit a 3-iron onto the green, made par, and drove it well the rest of the way. Everyone hits a poor drive now and then, so hang in there.

3. FAVOR YOUR GO-TO SHOT.
Although I like the Butter Cut, it’s not my normal shot. When the match is close, opt for the ball flight you can trust most.

4. MONITOR YOUR TEMPO.
I’m sure you have a good idea of the swing tempo that works best for you. Keep it steady, and pay attention to it. That’ll help your swing hold up under the pressure of a tough match.

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