One of the quintessential elements of a good golf game is your tee shot. While it’s such a simple concept, your first shot will make or break your score for that hole, so you’d better get it right.
Obviously, distance is crucial, but once that ball starts to hook more than a few degrees, you quickly become less concerned with how far it went, worrying more about where it went and whether you’ll ever find it again.
Knowing how to drive a golf ball with the right technique is a fundamental starting point for each and every golfer.
There’s tons of fine-tuning to be done with every component of your drive; ask any golfer, and every single one of them will swear by slightly different things. However, you’ll notice that there are some general rules of thumb you can follow that’ll bring you early success off the tee.
It’s called the tee shot for a reason; on the vast majority of drives, you’ll want to hit the ball off of a tee.
Decide where you’d like to aim from, and place your tee. The height of the tee is an entire conversation of its own.
But we’ll have that conversation another day.
Rule of thumb: When you rest your club head on the ground next to your ball, the tee should be at least high enough so that part of the ball is higher than the top of the club head. However, it shouldn’t be so high that more than half of the ball is higher up than your club head.
A high tee shot will be lofty but with a little less distance, while a low tee shot will have more distance, but is prone to more spin on the ball.
Once you’ve teed up your ball, it’s time to line up.
Your stance should be about shoulder width, with the ball slightly ahead of center (towards your front foot).
Think of lining up the ball with the brand logo on your shirt; it shouldn’t align with your sternum in the center, but it shouldn’t be as far forward as your shoulder.
Your arms should rest comfortably in front of you; you shouldn’t be reaching out ahead of you, nor should your elbows be tucked in far enough to touch any part of your body.
Keep your back as straight as possible, though it’s OK to bend over at the waist a little bit if that helps you comfortably dangle your arms in front of you.
Rest your eyes on the ball, and if you find yourself straining your neck to do so, adjust your waist and back until your neck is also relaxed as you look down. This may mean adjusting your distance from the ball, too.
Finally, your feet should be parallel with one another; this is crucial to keeping your body aligned for a well-aimed shot.
Now it’s time to crush that ball! Or, more accurately, it’s time to practice great technique so that you can exert as little effort as possible to knock that ball way out onto the fairway.
The big not-so-secret to driving a golf ball is that you don’t want to smack the hell out of the ball. You should feel relaxed and in-control from the backswing to the follow through.
Your entire upper body is involved in a good swing motion; if you find that your shoulders are twisting while your torso is staying in place, you’re tensing up too much! Take some deep breaths, stretch, and try to loosen up.
Gently pull your hands up towards your back shoulder, turning your waist in the same direction, followed by your rib cage, and then your shoulders.
Before taking a whack at the ball, try doing this motion yourself, even without a club in your hand.
It’s important to be able to isolate your muscle groups and observe where your body twists around; your sternum should never turn a full 90 degrees towards the back foot, but your shoulders should turn 90 degrees to be perpendicular to your feet by the top of your backswing.
Lots to think about, right?
That’s why it’s important to practice these movements and get attuned to how your body feels making these motions!
Once you’ve pulled your club all the way back, take note of your wrists in relation to the position of the club. If your wrists are snapping far back, you can look towards your front foot… and you’ll see your club head looking you back in the eye.
That’s way too far!
The head of your club shouldn’t wrap back around you really any farther than the back of your head.
Keep your wrists firm (but relaxed!) so your club doesn’t droop down, weighing down your swing and killing your accuracy.
Finally, after you’ve practiced this motion and gotten comfortable repeating it, it’s time to practice your foreswing.
Practicing Your Foreswing
Firstly, keep your eye on the ball! No matter how much you practice your swing and perfect your technique, your shots will never go where you want them if you’re not looking at the ball.
Do not pick up your head until you’ve begun to follow through after making contact. Fix your eyes on the ball from the time you line up to the time you actually strike it.
Let your front hand guide your grip and pull your upper body back the other direction; in fast motion, the way you twist forward should follow the same path as the way your body twisted for your backswing. If you’re not overpowering your shots, the club head should feel almost like a light pendulum guiding your grip, arms, and upper body along a wide, comfortable arc.
Follow through with the centrifugal force of the club head in a nice, natural motion, and watch your shot sail.
If you feel the club pulling you forward, or if you even stumble, then you put far too much power behind your shot, and didn’t let your technique do the work for you.
Now, wash, rinse, and repeat one hundred thousand times. Then, you’re on your way to golfing like a PGA champion!