You don’t have to pound the ball off the tee to break 80 or shrink your golf handicap. But you do have to hit the fairway a lot. Better to be short in the fairway than long in the woods, as I’ve often said in my golf tips newsletter. Hitting the fairway consistently sets you up for better approach shots. It also makes the game easier and more fun.
If you struggle off the tee, you’re not alone. Many golfers do. But don’t give up. The golf tips below, gleaned from an article by from Zach Johnson, can help. Johnson is among the most accurate drivers on Tour. He averages about 280 yards per drive and hits the fairway 70 percent of the time or better. There’s nothing shabby about those numbers. So when Zach talks about achieving accuracy off the tee, we probably should listen.
Move Hands Forward
Many golfers set up with their hands behind the ball and the club shaft pointing away from the target. But Zach addresses the ball with his hands just ahead of the ball. Moving his hands forward, he says, positions him right where he strikes the ball at impact. His goal is to re-create this position at the bottom of his swing. When he does, the ball comes off the club a little hotter and with a more penetrating trajectory.
Stay In Sync
If you watch new golfers swing a club during golf lessons, you’ll see they’re all out of sync with their swings. Their hands, arms, and bodies work individually and their upper bodies are out of sync with their lower bodies. When you’re in sync, your arms, hands, body, and clubhead all move through impact at the same pace. If your swing is out of sync, try this golf tip from Zach. He breaks his swing into two parts—the backswing and the downswing. He counts “one” as he takes the club back. Then, he counts “two” as he makes his downswing. Counting mentally keeps him in sync.
Point Your Back At Target
A weak turn short-circuits power and curbs accuracy. To add power to his swing, Zach points his back at the target during his pivot. This move builds power in his swing effi-ciently, keeps the club on plane, and creates a solid foundation for his downswing. Zach also keeps his back leg flexed slightly. This helps him transfer his weight to his back hip and thigh smoothly—a key golf tip not often emphasize in golf instructions sessions.
Maintaining tempo during your swing is critical. The slower you can swing while gener-ating solid impact, the better. But some golfers overswing trying to increase clubhead speed and distance, disrupting their tempo. To maintain tempo, Zach works on hitting drives in practice about 50 to 75 yards shorter than normal while trying to achieve the shot shape he wants. This is hard to do consistently. But it creates awareness of good swing tempo.
Improve Aim And Control
A fifth key for Zach is aim and control off the tee. To improve aim and control, Zach draws a line mentally down the center of the fairway. He then tees his ball on that line. If he is trying to hit a draw, he aims to the right of the line. His goal is to keep the ball from crossing over the line. If it crosses over, he considers it a miss. He does the opposite when trying to hit a fade. Working the ball this way helps Zach develop razor sharp con-trol off the tee.
You don’t have to pound the ball off the tee to break 80 consistently. If your drive doesn’t find the fairway, it can be wasted, despite its distance. Finding the fairway with consistency is a great way to start every hole. Find the fairway often enough and you’ll not only break 80, you’ll also whittle down your golf handicap.