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Friday, October 11, 2019

Tom Stickney on Hitting Fairway Woods

Golf Tips Magazine posted an article by Tom Stickney on several shots you never practice but should, and they devoted a single page to each. Today I want to focus on his advice for hitting fairway woods, simply because Stickney's instruction is so clear and the drill so easy.

Fairway wood and ball

First, Stickney says that most players don't play fairway woods well and should consider playing nothing longer than a 5-wood. That may sound condescending but there's actually some good logic behind this. The 5-wood has more loft and a shorter shaft than a 3-wood -- two characteristics that make it much easier to hit. It's the same reason that a wedge is easier to hit than a 5-iron.

He says the most important part of hitting a fairway wood is understanding how the lie affects the shot. You need to choose the club AFTER you study the lie because the worse your lie is, the more loft you'll need. (Not to harp on it, but you'll hit a good 5- or 7-wood more often than a good 3-wood for that very reason. By eliminating the 3-wood off the fairway, you're less likely to mismatch the lie.)

Finally he stresses the need for a smooth change of direction at the top of your backswing. Too many players jerk the club from the top because they want to hit the ball hard. When you jerk the club from the top, you change your swing plane, change your swing path and just generally make it harder to return the club to squarely contact the ball.

And that's where the drill comes in. Swing your fairway wood like you swing your wedge. Practice that smooth change of direction by making full swings at half speed, then slowly speed up your downswing until you can make that change of direction smoothly while swinging fast.

Why was I so happy to see this? Because there is nothing in these instructions that an average player can't do! There's no rerouting the club or changing your motion, just paying attention to your lie and swinging within yourself.

And once you get good with your 5-wood, that 3-wood won't be so difficult after all.

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