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Friday, September 13, 2013

How to Hit a Draw for Lefties 1

A few days back I did a post about shaping shots and Peter left a few questions in the comments. They were good questions -- good enough that I couldn't do them justice with quick replies. Therefore today I begin an instructional series on how to hit draws.

Today's post is an orientation class. I'm going to let you know what to expect and answer a few questions about what we're doing and why I'm approaching the subject the way I'm going to.

First of all, each day will have 2 posts, one for righties and one for lefties. These posts will be identical except for the diagrams and some instructions that will be clearer if I specifically write them for each type of player. The posts will be scheduled one minute apart so both posts will show up at almost the same time. Any of you who have questions can leave them in the comments of the appropriate "handedness post," which should eliminate a lot of confusion. This one, in case you missed it, is the one for left-handers. Are you with me so far?

Great. Let's get on with our orientation!

Peter's original question concerned how you set up to hit a draw. There are actually THREE possible ways to set up for a draw, but I feel that one of them offers more advantages than the other two to weekend players. To kick off this "class," I want you to understand what those 3 options are and why I've chosen to use the one I'm using. Use the following diagrams to help you follow what I'm saying.

Option 1

The first option is the one Peter mentions: Open the club face slightly, align your body to the aim line, and swing from in to out. Although this one makes sense, based on what was in the video, it's actually the worst choice of the three. Why? Because if you want to hit the ball straight, your arms have to swing straight down the line; and if you want to fade the ball, you have to swing out to in. Since your body would logically be aligned to the aim line in all 3 cases, you have to learn 3 different arm swings! (I've noted these swing paths in the first diagram using different colors for each path.) This is not only harder to do well, it's just plain more work than necessary. Scratch Option 1.

Option 2

The second option is to close your club face, align your body to the aim line, and swing along your body line. This option is much simpler because all you have to do is change the aim of the club face for each shot -- open it to hit a fade, square it to hit the ball straight, and close it to hit a draw. (Bear in mind that, in order to hit a draw, the face is ALWAYS closed relative to the swing path -- even when we aim the face slightly right of the aim line as mentioned in that video from the other post.)

This option is certainly workable and it's often taught as the easiest way to hit a draw... but there's a mental problem with this option. You see, your setup is based on the swing path and your swing path is never aimed at either your target or your aim point! In the case of a draw, the face is actually aimed at a point that's slightly behind you if you use this setup. Not the most natural way to aim, is it? Scratch Option 2.

Option 3

Which leaves us with the third option: Since the ball will start out on essentially the same line the club face is aimed along, we'll aim the club face first then adjust our body line so our swing path is closed to that aim line. This is probably the least natural way to think about hitting a draw, but it's the easiest way to aim! (If you want to hit the ball straight, you line up so your body line matches your aim line; and if you want to hit a fade, you set up so your body line is open to your aim line. You'll be able to swing along your body line in each case, making this physically easier as well.) Since getting the ball to land where we want it is at least as important as getting the draw in the first place, it's the way I've chosen to teach you. Option 3 is the way to go!

So how do we learn this in the easiest possible way? Here's the plan for the rest of the posts in this series:
  • In Post 2 I'll teach you what I'm going to call a "practice swing" although it's much more than that. Peter asked about drills. This practice swing is based on a time-tested drill that will eliminate some of the extra thoughts that often complicate the process of learning to shape shots. You can learn this drill in your backyard without hitting any balls... but it will make learning to hit a draw much easier.
  • In Post 3 we'll take the practice swing to the range and learn to hit a draw with it. Some of Peter's questions concerned the finer points of aiming a draw... but you've got to be able to hit a draw before you can aim it! This post will teach you how to hit a consistent and predictable draw. Once you've mastered the lesson in this post, you'll KNOW you can draw that ball when you stand over it!
  • In Post 4 we'll take the draw you can now hit with your practice swing and turn it into a draw you can hit with your full swing. When you've mastered the lessons in this post, you'll be able to hit a draw and know pretty much where it's going to land.
  • And in Post 5 (I suspect we'll need the fifth one) we'll finetune the aiming process a little. For many of you, Post 4 will give you all you need to play well. But this post will help you understand exactly what was going on in that video in the post I mentioned earlier. If you really want to understand "the new ball flight laws," this is the post that will show you how to use them.
Alright, orientation is over. I'll see you students tomorrow. Class dismissed!

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