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Friday, December 30, 2016

How Bobby Jones Hit a Controlled Fade Off the Tee

This comes from John Andrisani's book The Bobby Jones Way, published way back in 2002. I think this might be a shot many of you will like, perhaps because you already struggle with slicing off the tee. This technique could help you get it down to a more controllable fade. But because equipment has changed since the book came out, I have a couple of suggestions for slight adjustments to the technique..

The Jones technique incorporates four basic adjustments:
  • Tee the ball so its top is roughly even with the top of the club.
  • Open your stance slightly (take a normal square setup, then move your lead foot back a little bit so it's farther from your target line).
  • Weaken your lead hand grip (that is, turn your hand so your lead thumb is a bit more on the target side of your grip).
  • Address the ball so it's a bit more forward in your stance. (Andrisani doesn't mention this, but Jones wrote in one of his books that he liked to play the ball about even with his lead heel.)
Let me explain why Jones did some of these things.

If you tee the ball a bit lower and put it more forward in your stance, it encourages you to shift your weight instead of falling backward at impact (that's a reverse pivot).

Opening your stance helps with weight shift as well, but it also gives you a slight out-to-in swing path that helps create that fade. (I know, many of you come over-the-top and don't want that swing path, but stick with me. We'll come back to that in a minute.)

And weakening your grip lets you relax your hand pressure and still keep the clubface a little bit open. Remember, Jones used his hands a lot -- as I've talked about recently -- and this allows you to swing more normally when you do. And you WILL, if you pay attention to the next bits.

First, equipment has changed since 2002, let alone since the 1920s. Instead of your driver, use your 3-wood for this shot. It will be easier to pick the ball off that lower tee height while still getting the ball up in the air. (If you get good with the 3-wood, feel free to try the driver. But the 3-wood is a much easier club to hit.)

Then I want you to practice this shot with the L-to-L drill from this post. The L-to-L drill teaches you to use your hands more easily as well as shift your weight more smoothly and create more clubhead speed. The combination of the drill and the 3-wood should get your downswing more on plane, and that will help cut that slice down to a much more controllable fade.

Look, Bobby Jones set some records that still stand today. Anything we can learn from him is probably worth learning!

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