One of the toughest shots to hit solidly in golf is the fairway wood off the ground (especially a 3 wood). This tip will explain why you have trouble hitting your fairway woods and what you can do to make consistent contact (this can also be applied to hitting hybrids club off the ground as well).
The typical mishit with fairways woods or hybrid clubs off the ground is a topped shot or a low and thin shot that spins out to the right. Obviously, these shots can be extremely frustrating because they either end up far short of your intended target or they get you into some pretty serious trouble.
When Do You Hit Fairway Woods?
Before I teach you how to fix these these shots, it’s important to understand a little more about them. Think about when you actually hit a fairway wood or a hybrid off the ground. You usually hit these shots when you are:
1. Trying to hit a par 5 in 2 shots.
2. Trying to get it close to the green from the fairway on a Par 5.
3. You’ve hit a poor drive and now you’re trying to make up for for it.
In these instances, you’re either trying to do something you probably shouldn’t be doing or you’re trying to make up for a mistake. The problem is, if you’re not certain you’re going to hit a half decent fairway wood or hybrid club off the ground, you shouldn’t be trying to hit it at all. Also, hitting a fairway wood or hybrid may actually be the wrong club because it will get you too close to the green leaving you with a tricky pitch shot.
Now I’m not saying I want you to stop hitting your fairway woods altogether. All I’m saying is, you should be picking your opportunities to hit these clubs wisely and you should learn how to hit your them more consistently so they’re more dependable in pressure situations.
Why You Don’t Make Solid Contact
There are 3 main reasons you’re not making solid contact with your fairway woods. They
1. Buckling Arms (Chicken Wing)
If you’re trying to hit your shots too hard, your forearm muscles will contract which causes them to buckle or chicken wing through impact. This buckling of the arms makes the shaft of the club not only fall behind the clubface but it can also lift the club off the ground. The picture below shows what happens if the shaft leans backwards a mere 10 degrees.
2. Raising Up
If you’re trying to hit the ball too hard, you will probably look early to see the result. This is because human nature is saying, “the harder you hit, the more you will look.” This hitting raises your body up which lifts the club off the ground. If you couple this lifting with the buckling of your arms, you’re certain to hit topped fairway wood shots.
3. Hanging Back on Right Side
If you’re hitting the ball solely with your arms it means you’re not using your lower body. This causes you to hang back too much on you right foot (flat footed) through impact which makes the clubshaft lean backwards even more and creates a severely ascending path as the club approaches the ball. This hanging back coupled with any of the above flaws, will also guarantee a severely topped shot.
As you can see in all of the pictures above, the leading edge of the club will make contact higher up on the ball thus causing the thin or topped shots. In order to make clean contact, you have to allow the club to come through with the sole more level to the ground. Here is the what it looks like:
If the club comes through flush, the ball will ride up the face and get airborne instead of hitting it with the leading edge of the club.
How to Fix It
All you have to do to make great contact with your fairway woods is to allow your arms to stretch out as you hit the shot. As the arms get longer, the club will make a wider arc plus the shaft will not lean severely behind the ball at impact. These 2 things will lead to much better contact.
How to Work On It
Before you even get to the course, do some practice swings at home in the backyard. As you do them, allow your arms to loosen up and try to make a wide arc when you swing the club down and through. This will allow your arms to stretch out so you get used to this new feeling. HINT: If your arms are relaxed enough, the club will start to feel heavy.
Once you get to the course and are about to hit a fairway wood or hybrid off the ground, make sure you do 2 -3 easy practice swings feeling your arms and wrists relax and the club making a wide arc (especially through and past impact). Once you have this feeling in practice swings, apply it to your actual shot. If you do it right, it will feel different. In actual fact, it will feel like you are barely hitting the ball at all yet when you look for the result it will be longer and more solidly than ever before.
After you start making better contact, I know you will want to hit the ball even farther. If you get to this point DO NOT hit harder with the arms. Simply keep them relaxed and turn your body a little faster and the club will whip faster. Just read this tip to learn how to use the lower body to hit you shots: What Starts the Downswing?
Hitting solid fairway woods is easier than you think. You just have to understand that trying to swing out of your shoes is not going to allow the club to sole itself properly and get the ball airborne. So the next time you are faced with one of these shots, do a few easy practice swings feeling a wider arc. This will stop the shaft from leaning backwards and create the solid contact you’re after.
All the best,
Creator – Swing Machine Golf
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