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Are you having trouble getting the ball up in the air with your long irons? If so, hit your fairway woods. Golfers tend to shy away from them just because they’re longer. Don’t let the added shaft length scare you! In fact, there’s an upside to fairway woods. They have larger heads and wider sole plates than long irons, making them much more forgiving. It’s very smart to put fairway woods in your bag. Here are a few thoughts to take with you to the range.
1. Make a Full Turn
As your body ages, flexibility diminishes. (Don’t feel bad, it happens to everyone.) So does your ability to make a full turn. If you’re serious about improving, you must stay flexible. Fairway woods require a full turn of the torso and upper body without overturning the hips, to maximize distance. There are many good stretches you can do to slow down the aging process and increase flexibility! Try sitting down and resting a wood behind your neck with your hands holding the club lightly above your shoulders. Now, slowly stretch and rotate from side-to-side, turning your shoulders as close to 90 degrees as possible in relation to your hips. (For more good stretches, see our “Golf Healthcare” section.)
2. Take a Proper Stance
Longer clubs will change your swing plane, usually making it flatter as you stand farther away from the ball. So when hitting longer clubs, particularly woods, there are several things you must focus on. Make sure you retain good posture. At address, flex your knees and feel as though your behind is sticking out. A good drill for this is to have someone hold a club along your spine. Bend forward by tilting your pelvis, and keep your back flat, not arched. This also allows your hands and arms to fall naturally from the shoulders without reaching too much for the ball. A good visual thought is to keep the spine perpendicular to the shaft at address.
3. Watch Your Ball Position
Normally, your short irons are played from the middle area of the stance. With fairway woods, it’s a different story. Move your stance so the ball is off of the left heel (right heel for left-handed players). This allows for a greater sweeping motion as you swing through. Having the ball too far back in the stance will make your approach too steep and cause you to take a divot. If you make a deep divot with awood, generally it’s because your swing is too steep.
4. “Sweep” the Ball
The proper swing arc with woods is long, wide and smooth – contrary to a short iron’s arc. When hitting woods, you should feel like you are sweeping the ball from the turf and extending through the ball. The backswing should also be deeper and the follow-through extended, meaning that the swing arc is wider. One of the best tips to encourage this movement is to imagine striking through a ball a few inches in front of the one you are hitting. Eventually, you’ll learn to hit through it – not at it!
5. Do the Waggle
A low ball flight is often caused by a closed clubface. Although this gives your shot plenty of roll, it will also hamper your ability to get the ball airborne as well as affect distance control. Often, this closed-clubface problem starts with the takeaway. Practice the waggle drill in which you fan the clubface open during the first foot or two of the backswing. This puts your hands in a good position at the top of the swing and ensures a proper wrist cock.