How to hit better tee shots
Written by: Tom Stickney, PGA
Better tee shots mean hitting the ball straight.
There’s nothing worse than standing up on the tee setting up for your “normal” shot shape, then hitting the deadly double-cross! So now you are left picking up the pieces of a shot that went left to left or right to right…not fun!
Here at Punta Mita we have a hole where this can happen quite often: No. 18 at Pacifico. The hole design bends gently left to right with out of bounds left and the ocean to the right. There’s plenty of room to move the ball left to right or right to left, depending on your “normal” shot pattern, but if you double-cross it, you’re back on the tee hitting three, or dropping the ball out of the hazard and hitting three as well. Neither situation is a great option.
Now that we understand what a double-cross is (playing for a fade and hooking it or playing for a draw and slicing it), it’s now time to figure out how and why it happens!
So, let’s set up for each shot shape.
In Photo 1 I am set up for a left to right shot where I am on the right side of the tee box and aiming down the left side of the fairway.
For the right to left shot pattern I am setting up on the left side of the tee box and aiming down the right side of the fairway (Photo 2).
These two alignments will give us the best opportunity to use the entire width of the fairway so we can hit it in the short grass. Now let’s investigate what each shot shape player tends to do when they hit a double-cross.
FOR THE LEFT TO RIGHT PLAYER
The main reason you will double-cross your fade is when you fail to get off of your back foot on the way down. When you hang back as shown in Photo 3, the body stops and the arms and hands fling by closing the club face through impact (Photo 4). As we all know, when the face angle is left of the path, the ball will start left and hook with a centered hit.
To make sure you do not allow this to happen again, you must make sure you move through the ball, allowing your weight to move into your forward foot earlier. For this I have a simple drill.
Place another tee (the same height) about three to four inches in front of your current golf ball on the same target line (Photo 5). Your goal is to hit the ball and the top of the second tee with the clubhead on the way through. This will help you to move the weight into your lead foot earlier, thus keeping the face right of the path, and you will see the ball move left to right.
FOR THE RIGHT TO LEFT PLAYER
The main reason why you will double-cross your draw is when you lose your posture through impact, standing the club shaft upwards and opening the face. When you stand up as shown in Photo 6, the hands also raise; when this occurs the face of the club will stay right of the path (Photo 7). As we all know, when the face angle is right of the path, the ball will start right and then move further right with a centered hit.
Now that we understand what is happening, how do we make sure it won’t happen again? Find an alignment stick and place it in the ground as shown in Photo 8 (which is just a touch in front of the ball.) If you stand up and raise your hands, you will be the first to know! By keeping the club shaft closer to its address angle you will find that the club has an easier time closing, which will help the face to be slightly left of the path during impact, causing the ball to gently move right to left.
Understanding the double cross is the first key to stopping it for good. The second step is to use the appropriate drill to stop you from either hanging back or standing up. Alleviating these issues will go a long way to helping you have more confidence that the ball will indeed move in the direction you want — and stop you from hitting the ball left to left or right to right, causing you headaches.