The average 5 handicapper hits the fairway about 49% of the time with their driver. Not too shabby considering the PGA Tour average is around 59%. Distance is great, but you need to know how to hit a golf ball straight if you want to start turning in lower scores.
One of the biggest problems I’ve experienced over the last couple of years is hitting my driver straight, which has contributed greatly to a “less than desirable” handicap. I’ve been heading in the right direction however and will share what I’ve found to be helpful along the way. Not only with driver, irons too!
How do you mentally approach a shot? Do you get up to the tee and say to yourself – “Don’t slice it”? Or come up to an approach shot and say to yourself – “Don’t chunk it”.
These are toxic thoughts and will lead you to subconsciously do things in your swing to “correct” those issues. But – What usually happens is those “corrections” lead to bigger issues.
It might sound super obvious, but it’s worth saying because too many golfers have this problem at times – myself included! Instead of thinking of “what not to do” – think of your desired outcome.
What does that mean? Well, if you want to hit a shot with a slight draw right down the middle of the fairway, think about that! Imagine it, see it, feel it…all in your head of course.
Having that positive mindset is critical before you go through your pre-shot routine and setup to hit a perfectly straight ball!
The mental game in golf should not be overlooked!
The grip is the steering wheel for your golf club face. Your grip can make or break your golf swing. Even if you are an established golfer, evaluating your grip can be a valuable step if you are having problems hitting the golf ball straight.
The grip is the first and most critical aspect of hitting a golf ball straight. The grip you use will determine how well you can control the clubface.
There are two primary types of grips: the overlapping grip and the interlocking grip. The overlapping grip is when the little finger of your bottom hand overlaps the index finger of your top hand. The interlocking grip is when the little finger of your bottom hand interlocks with the index finger of your top hand.
Now that your mind is clear and you know that you are going to hit this ball straight, let’s address your setup.
Tip – You should not feel awkward in your setup! If you are setting up and going through several technical details to shift your weight, fix your hands, hips, feet, etc, you’re probably overthinking it. Be athletic!
There are certainly technical details, but if your “adjustments” make you feel like the Tin Man trying to hit a golf ball you’re doing it wrong. Get back to the basics.
No matter how long you have been golfing, or how perfect you think your current setup may be, it is worth evaluating if you struggle to hit the golf ball straight.
If you have not watched yourself on video, you might be shocked the first time you do! The golf swing is an arc, but a lot of golfers shift that arc across their body, especially slicers.
If you want a straight ball flight, your arc needs to be square to your target line.
Even if your club path is perfect, the ball position within your stance can cause you to catch it early or late in your swing. This will result in the ball going offline. Straight shots require all of this to come together.
This is why golf is such a hard game. One of the best resources I’ve found to help understand the club path is from Danny Maude.
If you are going to hit the golf ball straight, all of these things have to come together. But don’t get overwhelmed, you can focus on each of these separately and put them together on the range.
Hitting it straight can help with your distance as well, check out the best golf balls for distance!
You might find some helpful corrections in this article if you have problems topping the golf ball.
I highly recommend using an alignment rod in your setup. I also recommend taking a video of yourself. The “feeling” of what you are doing versus what you are actually doing can be night and day.
If you need to make changes in any part of your swing, be patient. It takes time and will likely take a few terrible shots before it starts to work. It will also feel really odd at first, your body will get used to it, so stick to it.
Good luck on the golf course!