Golf Strategy: Use the Whole Tee Box for your Tee Shot Like Jason Day

Symptom: You hit your tee shot from the middle of the tee box on every hole.  But you have far too many missed fairways, especially on doglegs.

You say, “But I hit a good shot, it just rolled too far…” And so once again you are hacking it out of the thick stuff instead of playing from the short grass…

Description:  Tee up your ball within the tee box strategically, depending on the shot you intend, or are likely, to hit.  Don’t just tee it up in the middle of the tee box.  Straighten out the hole as much as you can by teeing up on one side or the other of the tee box.

Why it works:  You can alter the angle of a dogleg-right hole in your favor by teeing the ball up on the left side of the tee box (vice versa for a dogleg-left hole). You should always take advantage of this rule of golf.

Tee Box Angles

Jason Day Left side of tee box for his tee shot
Jason day straightens the dogleg right hole by teeing up on the left side of the tee box.

Think of it like in billiards, when you place the cue ball to your best advantage after your opponent scratches.  So give this matter some attention.  Sometimes the tee box isn’t level everywhere.  You surely don’t want to be standing in a hole for your tee shot.  Or sometimes you want to favor the right or left side of the fairway due to the wind, or because you are playing a fade or a draw, or because you are not using your driver, or because out-of-bounds runs along one side of the fairway**, or whatever.

No matter what the particulars, pick your teeing spot and your aiming point carefully and deliberately.  You will get better results, more often.

Let’s have Jason Day demonstrate this for us, on the 18th hole at Augusta National.  The ideal tee shot starts out at the bunkers in the distance and fades around the trees on the right.  So where does he tee the ball?  On the left side of the tee box, of course, because that straightens out the dogleg for him a bit.  Have a look:

A Money Maker

**It can be very effective when playing for money, to helpfully point out to your playing partners that you teed up your ball on the left side of the box, to avoid the OB on the left side of the fairway.  Do this just after you hit a successful drive and just before your buddy is about to tee up his ball.  He won’t be able to deny the wisdom of your strategy, and you have just snuck a negative thought into his head before his tee shot.  (Note:  Not responsible for any damages resulting from this tactic!)

Did you like this article?  Promise not to just set up in the middle of the tee box next time out?  Will you give the tee box strategy a bit of thought?  Then tell your friends!  Like, Share, Tweet, Email, or “+1” below!

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Golf Swing Drill: Stop Topping the Golf Ball by Hitting the Sunken Tee

Symptom: You are topping, thinning, and scooping the golf ball despite all your best efforts to stop.  You try to stop topping the golf ball but can’t seem to get it done.

Your send another thin golf shot low and fast over the green.  Why can’t you stop topping and hit the ball in the graceful arc you had hoped for?

Overview: At the range, or on the tee box at a par 3, put the ball on a tee and push the tee all the way into the ground.  It should be as if the ball is not teed up at all.  Now, focus on hitting the tee with the blade of your iron, not the ball, on the downswing.

Why it works: If you are topping the ball it means you are not hitting down on the ball, with a descending blow.  You are certainly not taking a divot either.  You simply cannot hit a good iron shot without a descending blow.  Aiming at the tee instead of the ball gives you the descending blow you seek.

Stop Topping

Phil Mickelson hitting down on an iron shot off the tee
Phil Mickelson hitting down on an iron shot, and taking a divot, off the tee.

Fortunately, it is very easy to get the feel of the descending blow and the solid contact that comes with it.  Just make yourself hit the tee that you know lies beneath the ball.

This is not a strange or esoteric situation, of course.  You have several par threes per round where you get to hit the sunken tee.  And on the short par threes you will be teeing your ball low.

Have a look at Phil Mickelson’s iron shot below, taking note of the descending blow he puts on the ball.  The ball is struck first, then the ground in front of the ball.  You can see the turf flying in the picture at the right. Note also how the clubhead is pointed skyward on the follow through, indicating a full release down the line.  This was a well-struck iron, not a thin golf shot.

Have a look:


End the Thin Golf Shot

The “ball on sunken tee” trick works because you know that there is a tee underneath the ball (you just put it there, after all), and your mission is to hit the tee, not the ball!  In order to hit the tee, you will naturally hit the ball with a descending blow, which is the very thing you are after.  Do this, and you will have no trouble taking your divot in front of the ball, where it belongs.

Once you get the hang of this, test yourself with a ball on the ground.  It should look exactly the same as the ball you just hit off the (embedded) tee.  Just imagine the tee is there even though it is not.  No problem!  You will no longer be hitting thin golf shots if you can clip that imaginary tee beneath the ball.

Did you like this article? Think you can stop sculling those expensive ProV1x balls and start landing them on the green now?  Then tell your friends!  Like, Tweet, Email, or +1 below!

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Golf Swing Drill: Learn the Golf Swing Release by Throwing a Stick Underhand

Symptom: Poor golf swing release on full shots, leading to weak shots that slice or tail off.

You know you ought to “get through the ball” and release the golf club better but just can’t figure out what golf release really means or how to actually do it…

Overview: Learn the proper golf swing release by throwing a stick.  Here’s how:

  • Find a stick about a yard long.
  • Pick a target about 30 yards away.
  • Set up as if you hitting a golf shot at your target.
  • Hold the stick in your right hand, as if it were a golf club.
  • Make a turn and throw the stick underhand to your target.

Why it works:  It is remarkably simple to get the feel of a proper golf swing release using this drill.  But the particulars or the drill are quite important:

  • The stick needs to be about a yard long, because that is about the length of a golf club.  Any longer, and you won’t be able to throw it underhand without scraping the ground.
  • You must throw it underhand (with your right hand) because the golf swing is basically an underhand motion with your right arm (for a right-handed player).
  • Throw it at specific target because this makes you focus on your aim, and will cause you to step and release towards your target, not just on throwing a stick a certain distance.
  • Aim it at a target about 30 yards away, because you need to throw the stick hard to get the feel of a proper golf release.  Any closer, and you won’t develop the necessary lag to fling the stick to the target.  Without the lag, you won’t execute the release and follow through properly.
Freddie Couples golf swing release golf release release golf club
Fred Couples beautifully releases his driver down the target line.

Golf Swing Release Made Easy

All it takes is a few throws of your stick to get the idea.  You will naturally stay down and centered over the (pretend) ball, and you will naturally generate a lot of lag.  Without having to worry about hitting a ball, your body will naturally do what is necessary to get your stick to your target. After throwing a few sticks, take some practice swings.  You will be amazed at how much more powerful and smooth your swing has become.  This is how it feels to release the golf club properly!

To see what a world-class release looks like, let’s call on Fred Couples.  Freddie’s release has been one of the best in the game for decades.  Have a look at the way he fires down the target line:

Run the video to 0:30, so it looks like the picture at the right.  Can you imagine if Freddie let go of the club at this point?  It would fly straight down the target line!  That’s the feel of the golf release you are looking for with this drill.

What other golf drill have you read that can improve your game, clean up your yard, or entertain your dog all at the same time?

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Golf Chipping Drill: Chip to a Spot for Golf Chipping Success

Symptom: Inability to hit your chosen landing spot when chipping.

So you have too few up-and-downs, too many big numbers, and lose too much money on the golf course.

Description: Use about five balls for the Backyard Chipping Drill, and find a grassy, open area for your practice.  Pick a spot to land your first chip, only a few feet away (a short chip is actually one of the toughest to execute) and hit the chip.  Next, try and land ball two on top of your first ball, which, of course, has rolled a few feet further away than your initial aiming point.  Then try to land ball three on top of ball two. And so on.  If all goes well, you will end up with five balls in a nice straight line.

Why it works: Chipping is a two step process — picking a landing spot and executing the chip so that you land where you are aiming.  This drill teaches you how to hit the ball different, unpredictable distances and directions, much like you will need to do on the golf course.  This drill will help improve your feel for chipping.

Backyard Chipping Drill

Give yourself a good lie for each chip at first.  Once you are good at this drill, however, you should play every ball where it lies, even if (or especially if) it nestles down in the grass.  You will find that your lie has a huge influence over the type and strength of chip you need to hit in order to land on your chosen target.

With each successive chip, you will need to land the ball further and further away.  Fairly rapidly, you will begin to develop a “feel” for what sort of strike is necessary to carry the ball different distances.

Tiger Woods picks a spot to land his chip shot
Tiger Woods picks a spot to land his chip shot at the 16th hole on Augusta National.

Your scoring and confidence will improve dramatically with The Backyard Chipping Drill.  The ability to land the ball on your aiming point is a skill that will serve you well on every golf course, no matter how hard or easy, fast or slow. (Where to land the ball, by contrast, could vary greatly from course to course.  For example, a high-end course might have very fast greens, and so you would pick a different landing spot than you might at the local public course, for the same length of chip.)

Tiger Picks His Spot

Certainly, Tiger’s chip in at the 2005 Masters is an example of this.  He probably did not practice this particular shot, with the collar in back of his ball and the lightning-fast Augusta National greens to navigate.  But he picked out a landing point (noted by Vern Lundquist at 0:57 in the video) that made sense, and executed his chip by trying to land on his chosen spot.  Of course the rest is history — have a look:

The Backyard Chipping Drill is the most realistic golf practice most Occasional Golfers can get without heading off to the driving range!  A few minutes a day will bring rapid reduction in your handicap!

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Golf Chipping Tip: Your Putter is Often Your Best Chipping Club

Symptom:  You pull out your sand wedge from the fringe, thinking its your best chipping club, but the results are no good.  You seldom converting up-and-downs from just off the green.  The best golf chipping tip you’ve heard so far doesn’t seem to help.  Expletives are uttered…

Description: If you can putt the ball, you should putt the ball.  Put away your wedge and use the putter for more consistency and better scores.

Ryo Ishikawa putting through the fringe instea of chipping best golf chipping club beset golf chipping tip
Ryo Ishikawa elects to putt from the fringe instead of chip.

Why it works: Around the green, and especially from the fringe, most Occasional Golfers will get the ball closer to the hole with their putter than a wedge.  If the ball is on the fairway in front of the green, or the fringe around the green, or anywhere where the golf ball can travel across the grass without too much impediment, PUTT IT!  It will save you strokes on the golf course.

The Best Golf Chipping Tip is — Putt!

After all, you can hit the ball with any club, no matter where you happen to be.  You can hit putter off the tee if you want.  Or you can hit driver on the green.  There is no rule preventing this!

Ryo Ishikawa knows this — even though his ball is in the fringe, he knows a putt is the best percentage play since there’s not much rough to go through — have a look:

Ignore the Well-Meaning Best Golf Chipping Tip

Often, well-meaning golf teachers and tour pros and golf commentators talk about chipping with a seven iron and such, to carry just on to the green and “get the ball rolling on the green as quickly as possible”.  This sounds reasonable, and I often hear this advice regurgitated from my playing companions.

However, my experience is that this doesn’t work very well unless you practice this a lot.  It is good advice for tour pros who are trying to hole out such shots.  But, you and I are not tour pros.  We are mostly worried about getting up and down, and if the ball goes in the hole, that is a bonus.

You will do better by either a) putting the ball if you possibly can, or b) chipping the ball with the club you usually use to chip with and landing the ball on your chosen spot. Again, putt the ball whenever you can!

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