Shots struck off the ground need to be hit with a descending blow and shots struck off an elevated tee are better when hit with an upward blow- fact! While TrackMan stats for the PGA Tour may show that on average Tour players hit down on their driver (1.3 degrees), as mere mortal golfers, we need to make sure we are efficient and get the most distance we can out of the driver by hitting up on the ball. If you need some more convincing how about this: Golfer A swings at 90mph and hits 5 degrees down on the ball (-5 attack angle). Their average well struck tee ball goes 234 yards. Now, golfer B swings at 90mph and hits 5 degrees up on the ball (+5 attack angle). Their average well struck tee shot travels 256 yards- a gain of 22 yards while swinging the same speed! Ready to listen now….?
I have recently started noticing that many golfers actually set up to hit their irons in the same manner as their woods or vice versa. Ever wondered why so many of your playing partners are either good with the woods and not the irons or no good off the turf and solid with the driver? The answer is, is that there are two different types of swings. One that suits shots hit off the ground or close proximity to it and a swing that suits the upward, efficient hit of a driver off a high tee.
The picture above is an excellent illustration of what I have been seeing. Here, I have a student setting up to a driver and an iron. Notice any similarities? In case you’re wondering the seven iron stance is on the right. They look decidedly alike don’t they? The good news is that this was taken at the beginning of the lesson, she made the necessary changes and gained 14 yards with her driver while maintaining a solid descending impact with the irons.
It should stand to reason that if there are two swings then there should be two different set up positions. Here are the important differences…
Setting up for shots off the ground:
As in the picture at the top of the page the weight should be anywhere from a 50/50 split to favoring the front foot slightly
Your head should be centered between the heels
There should be very little spine tilt away from the target and as a result the shoulders will be fairly level
Setting up for shots off a high tee:
As in the picture below the feet are fairly far apart and there should actually be a little more weight on the back foot than the front foot
The ball is positioned inside the left heel and teed high
The spine should be tilting away from the target a little as you prepare to “swing uphill”
Set Up for an Upward Strike
The best teacher you have available to you to help with this is a mirror. You are now aware as to what it should look like, but you don’t quite have the feel yet. Get in front of a mirror, set up so that it looks correct (your feel might have something else to say about it!) and take that with you to practice or play.