Golf Tips: Let the big dog eat!

By: Shawn Kelly
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This week we’ll begin a series of golf tips “From Tee to Green.” We’ll start with the first shot and then discuss many of the subsequent shots you’ll need to play any given hole on the course. Therefore the first tip in the series is for the tee box, and I call it letting the “big dog eat!” Many golfers feel that the most fun club in the bag is the driver, aka the “Big Dog.” Boo yah! What a kick it is to really nail that tee ball waaaay down the fairway! New drivers these days look like a VW on a stick. They’re mostly about 460 cubic centimeters of titanium and other exotic materials along with sophisticated engineering designed to maximize performance. Also, with the new balls that seem to have wings, golfers are hitting drives that seem to have the potential to achieve low Earth orbit. If you’re looking to get longer off the tee, with control, and haven’t test driven any of the new drivers out there, we’re going to talk about how to find the best driver for your game and how to successfully hit it into the center of the fairway. It’s a good idea to first contact your local PGA professional club fitter to find out which driver specifications would best suit your game. The most important thing you’ll be seeking is an appropriate loft to match your swing. Driver lofts from manufactures average in a range from six degrees for long drive competition to16 degrees for women and seniors. Finding your correct loft will affect both launch angle and roll. Shaft fitting is the next important concern in finding the correct driver. Hoo boy, if you are befuddled about loft angle then wait until you try to get settled on a shaft! High kick, low kick, high torque, low torque, gram weight, tip stiff or soft, flex, length, material, color. Yep, believe it or not, even color can help you hit the ball farther. Choosing the correct shaft can be a challenge. Let your PGA professional help with the decision and find the correct “tuning fork” for your swing. One of the most overlooked parts of getting any club fit is proper grip size and material. Size does matter! If the grip size is too big or too small for your hands, it will not allow your hands and wrist to work efficiently with the club. Get your grip size correct and you’ll be on your way to hitting great drives. The most important aspect of hitting long drives is grip pressure, keeping it light at the start of your swing and you will allow for max potential. Now that you have your fitted driver, it’s time to let that big dog eat! These are my keys to hitting it high and deep. Take dead aim into the center of the fattest part of the fairway. This allows for a miss either way to land in the short grass. Keep your grip pressure as light as possible. Remember the farther you want to hit any shot, the lighter you’ll have to grip the club at the start of your swing. Don’t try to overpower your swing. You have spent a lot of money on this driver, so swing at 90 percent and let this expensive driver do some of the work. You’ll be amazed how far it can go. Swing to balance. The tee ball is your longest shot so if you’re not in balance, chances are you will not hit the ball solidly and it could find the rough. Next week we’ll talk about the fairway shot and how to set up to advance the ball down the fairway and help you post some low numbers. Junior Camps Three-day junior camps coming up July 19-21 from 9 a.m. to noon for ages 8 to 17, no clubs or experience needed. FUNdamentals of the swing, short game and putting will be covered, and the kids will play 5 to 9 holes on the last day. There’ll be games and skills contests to enrich attendees’ experience. Cost is $60. To sign up call the golf shop at (530) 888-7888.