Poor driving performance kills your confidence, but chances are you just need a small tweak to get yourself back on track. Rob Labritz, one of the top teachers in New York, shares six of the most common swing faults that plague amateurs off the tee and how to fix them.
Find out if you’re making any of these driving ‘death moves’ and the simple fixes you need to get your driving performance back on track.
RELATED: 16 things I learned from watching the pros
The biggest mistake golf parents can make
1. Aiming too far right of the target
Improper alignment can impact more than just the direction your ball goes. According to Labritz, aiming too far to the right also causes golfers to come over the top, producing a big slice and a loss of power.
Practising with an alignment rod is one of the easiest ways to train your aim and reduce your chances of coming over the top. To do this, place an alignment stick in line with your target, just outside of your ball position. When you get over the ball, make sure your feet, knees and hips are square to the alignment rod.
If you’re someone that needs a last look before you pull the trigger, Labritz says to remember to swivel your head, not your entire upper torso. Players that align too far to the right, you have a tendency of moving your entire upper torso when peeking at the target.
2. Playing the ball too far forward
Many golfers play the ball too far forward in their stance. A few inches may not seem like a big deal, but when the ball gets way up in the stance the shoulders have a tendency to lean on it. This means that the lead shoulder drops down, while the trail shoulder remains really high.
Labritz says this forces the club to naturally want to move straight up and straight down, and across the ball. Leading to nasty slices and big hooks.
To reinforce proper ball position, Labritz says to practise with your alignment rods. Place one stick on the target line and one in line with your ball position. Your ball and the alignment rod should be in line with your lead armpit.
“When you first set-up to the ball like this, it’s going to feel like the ball is really far back in your stance. That’s OK. You know it’s not because your stick is there,” Labritz says.
Your ball flight will straighten out the more you practise with your alignment rod in position, Labritz says.
3. Widening your stance
Golfers often make their stance wider because they want to swing harder and crush their drives, Labritz says. However, he explains that this will actually cause you to sway back and through in your swing. Which we all know results in inconsistent ball flights and shot patterns.
Again, Labritz’s key to fixing this fault is utilising your alignment rods. Place the sticks on your target line and ball position, then take a shoulder-width stance. Focus on maintaining a stable base as you make a few swings, feeling balanced through the finish, Labritz says. “This will keep your body rotating properly, it will improve your balance and stop you from moving off the golf ball,” Labritz says.
4. No spine tilt
Do your drives fly too low? That’s probably because you’re lacking spine tilt in your set-up. Amateurs commonly make the mistake of setting up to drives like an iron shot, with their spine too straight up and down, Labritz says. But because the ball is on a tee, this hinders it from being able to get up in the air.
To add a bit of height to your drives, slightly tilt your spine away from the target at set-up. The ball will fly higher and straighter and you might even get some extra distance out of it!
5. Swinging short and fast
A big mistake golfers make when trying to kill the ball is making a shorter, faster swing. This usually results in an erratic and inconsistent ball flight. Labritz’s “1-2, 3-4” drill will help you smooth out your swing and rein in your shots.
Set-up to the ball normally and count to four as you hit your shot. Think: one, two in the backswing and three, four in the through-swing.
According to Labritz, this simple trick will slow down your swing and help you hit more fairways.
6. Overhooking the ball
Losing shots to the left is a common problem that players make. It’s usually a result of the club coming too far from the inside and the face closing severely at impact, Labritz says. The best way to combat this is to aim left.
Yep, you read that right.
Labritz says that opening your feet and aiming left helps your club to naturally work up and from the outside. The final piece is to feel like you’re holding the face open at impact. This will take the hook right out of your game and help you find the fairway more often.