How to Drive a Golf Ball Straight in 3 Easy Steps
Driving a golf ball straight is the one skill that had eluded me for much of my golfing experiences. I always loved hitting the ball as hard as I could and see how far it would go. Driving the ball long is the second most enjoyable shot for me. (Hitting a long putt or chipping within a couple inches is tied for first!)
Sure I hit a few straight shots but it was always a mistake. I'd always aim way left because I hit a huge slice. If I did hit it straight I'd end up in the left rough. That said, if you play enough golf, you know that hitting a straight drive is a confidence builder. Hitting the ball in the fairway means you don't have to tangle with long grass, trees or the many other assorted troubles that lie in the left and right rough.
This little info article tells you how I was able to conquer my slice and hit that straight drive that builds confidence and puts you on the path to shooting lower scores.
Basics of How to Drive a Golf Ball Straight...
To learn how to drive a golf ball straight, I broke down and took lessons. Tried doing it myself, tried tips from friends, tried the magazines, tried the tapes, tried the tv shows and more. Nothing worked very well. Lessons did the trick and it did not take many to get me fixed. Here's the basics of what I learned.
1) GAPS - Grip, Alignment, Posture, & Stance. Check them all and chill out on the Gorilla Grip
2) Smoothe and easy on the backswing then hit to 2nd base
3) Think straight thoughts... then stop thinking!
That's it...and just so you know, it works with the other clubs too! So let's get started.
First Step - GAPS
The first thing my instructor did with me is tell me to line up and take a few swings. I proceeded to tee it up and ripped off a few drives. He shook his head knowingly and stopped me.
Grip: The first change he made was my grip. I had what he said was a neutral grip. He wanted me to twist my right hand more to the left. The other problem I had was that I was holding the club too tight. I had what he called a gorilla grip. While that may work for a gorilla or a mechanic trying to break a bolt free, it does not allow for the smooth freedom in the hands and forearms required for an effective golf swing.
Alignment: Next was the alignment. Mine was not too bad. The key for me was to make sure my feet were approximately parallel to the intended line of flight of my golf ball. I did this naturally by lining up my shot from the rear. Picking a spot about 5 feet out in front of my ball and lining myself parallel to that line.
Posture: Same goes with posture. Just a good atheletic posture as if you are going to take a short jump. Knees flexed slightly. Easy flex at the hips, shoulders up not hunched and I was ready to go. The only thing I had to remember was to keep my weight back initially and keep good balance on the balls of my feet not my heels.
Stance: My stance needed work. I was not putting the ball in the right place for my stance.
He had me move the ball much more forward toward my front foot. I pretty much hit everything in the center part of my stance and back from there depending on the club. Turns out I needed to move the ball up more. I thought it was forward but apparently it was not forward enough. Made a huge difference.
Now most of this stuff I've read/heard/seen other places but was not able to implement myself for whatever reason. Having that trained set of eyes was very helpful.
Second Step - The Swing
After getting my basics right it was time to get the swing motion correct. I had the typical 'over the top' motion. Still not really sure what that means but it results in a slice or hard pull. Not predictable nor very effective.
To cure this, he had me do a couple of things, slow down my pace, swing only 75% of my full backswing and aim to swing the club out toward second base. Now I played baseball so this made sense to me. I'll explain more in a minute.
Why Golf Slices Happen: First a little bit about what happens to your ball when you slice. From what was explained to me by my instructor, here's what happens, when the path of the club head comes from outside to inside relative to the position of the ball it spins the ball from clockwise for a right handed golfer.
Another way to visualized this is to think of the golf ball as being on a stand like a globe. When you spin a globe with your hand, you take a swipe at the globe from right to left and it spins the globe clockwise looking at the globe from the top down. When you hit from outside in, it creates the same motion and voila! you have your slice!
Back to my swing path. My instructor told me the best way for someone who has played baseball is to imagine hitting the ball to the 2nd baseman. For those not familiar with Baseball, imagine a diamond oriented with one point at your golf ball and the other point aligned with your intended flight path. Your aim is to swing your club a few degrees right of the center line.
The Third Step of How to Drive a Golf Ball Straight - Think Straight The Stop Thinking
Okay, now we have a great approach to the ball. I know what to do and I have an idea of how to swing but now what.... That's the third and final step of how to hit a golf ball straight. It was also probably the hardest. I had so many new things going on that as I stood over the ball I was trying to remember them all. It tended to tense me up.
Remember what I mentioned above about the gorilla grip on the club. It would cause something of a herky jerky motion with my wrists and forearms. Same goes for the rest of the body. Every time I stood over the ball thinking about all the things I needed to do, I'd get all tense. This is what ended up working for me.
The first thing to do is to practice. One thing at at time. Practice until it becomes comfortable. That means changing only one thing on a practice swing and drill it until it gets comfortable. When you feel comfortable with most of these tips, then you can try putting it all together. Here's what I do on a real swing now.
Before you stand over the ball, review all the GAPS stuff and the idea of swing path and hitting toward 2nd baseman. This is completed before I approach the ball because I don't want to think about it when I'm standing over the ball. When it comes time to stand over the ball I have a first thought and a second thought. The first thought is relax. I try to feel the tension going out of my hands arms and shoulders. Then I move to concentrate on my target then I swing. That's it. Relax...one last thought, then clear the mind and swing.
How to Drive a Golf Ball Straight - Putting it All Together.
In case you missed my main point, you can drive the golf ball straight in 3 easy steps. I did it but I could not do it without professional help. I've tried for years to figure it out. In 45 minutes I was vastly improved. Now I still needed to go back to reinforce the ideas because with so many bad habits I needed help getting them out of my swing and replacing them with good ones.
I probably dropped about 7-10 strokes off my game. I had a high 20's handicap and even now that I only occasionally play golf I can still reasonably expect to play bogey golf. I owe that entirely to my instructor. If you live in the southern California region, I highly recommend checking him out. His name is Rick Serling.
He not only does golf instruction but he puts on tournaments, clinics and has an array of events that are both informative and fun. (Ask about night golf without lights!) For those who don't live in SoCal, He has golf instruction books and more but you also need to find someone locally who can look at your swing and get your sorted out.
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