How To Control Your Game From The Tee

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With the west coast swing in the books, PGA National will play host to The Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. The Champion course at PGA National includes the infamous Bear Trap, holes 15-17, commonly regarded as the most daunting three hole stretch on the PGA Tour. These holes demand a well thought out game plan to successfully survive, and a game plan always starts with the tee shot. Here’s the basics to control your game from the tee.

Keys to Course Management

  1. How is the green set up? Where is the hole location? Where can I miss with my approach shot?
  2. Based on the green setup, where do I want my drive to be positioned on the fairway? What type of shot do I want to hit into the green, fade/draw, low/high?
  3. Where is the trouble off the tee, how do I want to shape my shot? What is the architect giving me?

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Play the Hole Backwards

The 16th hole at PGA National demands your attention from the moment you step off of the 15th green. With water running along the right side of the hole, from tee to green, it is imperative that you position yourself for success using a well thought out game plan.

  1. With the green well bunkered on the right side along with a sharp fall off to the hazard, the obvious approach shot to this green is a fade that starts on the left side of the green and works its way back to the middle of the green just right of the flag. With this hole, Nicklaus gives you the opportunity to miss left, if you hit a pull you still have an opportunity to get up and down.  If your ball fades to the middle of the green you have a chance at a birdie or a two putt for par.  Conversely, a draw would not be the ideal shot approaching this green as you would have to start the ball over the water and run the risk of it not turning over.
  1. With that in mind, the ideal position in the fairway is left-center. This would give you the best angle into the green taking the majority of water out of play.
  1. As with the approach shot, you should try to hit a fade of the tee by starting the ball at the fairway bunker on the left. If the ball fades as planned you will be sitting in the middle of the fairway. If the ball goes straight you will either be dealing with a fairway bunker or rough, which beats the alternative of being in the hazard.

Quick Recap

1. Think Backwards Before You Tee Off – Where is the hole location and how can I position myself to get there minimizing risk?

2. Take What The Architect Gives You – Determine if the risk if worth the reward.  If it is not, play to the area that the course designer gives you.  Position yourself for success!

Follow these tips and you will find yourself in better position to score! Looking for more great instructional tips from our staff of PGA Professionals? Visit our instructional articles.

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Callaway Serves Up Speed in Their XR Driver

A new year arrives with yet another advancement in club head technology for Callaway drivers that promises to give you the elusive added distance you have been seeking. The Callaway XR driver has pushed the limits of aerodynamics and face technology to a whole new level, surpassing what was already a highly successful XHot and X2 Hot generation that has served the golfing public for the past two years. This year’s slogan is “built for outrageous speed,” and the R&D team at Callaway has certainly accomplished its goal with the XR. And, who doesn’t like more speed? As I have gotten older, I certainly can’t swing it as hard as I used to, so finding a stick that puts the punch back in my swing makes complete sense.

The inspiration behind the Callaway XR driver comes from the automotive industry, but more specifically the racing side, and the “R” portion of the product line name reflects that newly adopted philosophy. These elements can be seen all the way up from the club face to the shape and graphics of the club head and finally to the technology used in the debut of the stock shaft offering, the Project X LZ.

callaway-xr-driver-speed-stepTypically, the driver is the one club in your bag that can suffer the most from energy loss as air moves across the crown of the club head, specifically as the club reaches the bottom of your swing arc before impact. As a response to this, Callaway has created a new crown design called Speed Step that is designed to keep air flow closer to the head, thereby reducing the amount of drag against your downswing and maintaining speed throughout the full swing. In conjunction with the Speed Step crown pattern, the head shape is more aerodynamic than ever before. Callaway has adopted a more aggressive downward sloping crown in order to maximize the air efficiency distribution as the club head approaches the ball.

callaway-xr-driver-r-moto-faceAlso new for this year is a brand new face technology called R-Moto. It’s thinner and lighter than the previous Hyper Speed Face in the X-2 Hot and as a direct result, is more flexible and produces higher ball speeds, especially for amateurs who don’t hit the center of the clubface the majority of the time. The lighter face also helped Callaway maneuver weight away from the face and towards the perimeter of the club for more stability on off-center hits, increasing that ever-popular term MOI (moment of inertia), and lowering the club’s center of gravity to produce lower spin rates and more distance.

callaway-xr-driver-project-x-lz-shaftThe final piece of the puzzle for the new Callaway XR driver is the Project X LZ shaft. The shaft’s graphics flow perfectly with the overall design of the club and reinforce the racing speed inspired theme. This new shaft from Project X launched last year to rave reviews from tour players and amateurs alike, and Callaway used those positive reinforcements to make the XR woods the first line of clubs to offer the LZ as its stock shaft offering. The LZ stands for loading zone, known as the middle portion of the shaft about half way between the grip and hosel.  This loading zone in the LZ shaft is a slightly more flexible section that transfers more energy through your downswing and works perfectly in combination with the R-Moto Face and Speed Step crown to produce optimal energy transfer to impact.

callaway-xr-driverCallaway has two standard offerings like most years, the normal XR and an XR Pro. The Callaway XR driver is an all-titanium 460cc clubhead that will be targeted to the largest majority of golfers, from single digit players to your once-a-week higher handicappers. It is the more forgiving of the two club heads. The XR driver will have a mid-50 gram LZ shaft with a mid to mid-high kick point in light, regular, and stiff offerings with standard loft choices of 9, 10.5, 12, and 13.5 degrees. The ladies Callaway XR driver will feature a 47-gram LZ low-kick shaft and standard loft choices of 10.5, 12, and 13.5 degrees.

callaway-xr-pro-driver

In comparison, the Callaway XR Pro driver will have a 440cc clubhead and a Forged Composite crown to lower the center of gravity by more than 50% and lower spin rates, around 400 rpm’s compared to last year’s X2 Hot Pro driver. The XR Pro driver is designed with the better player in mind, but these new technologies give this driver a forgiveness advantage over previous Pro model drivers by Callaway. The XR Pro driver will have a slightly heavier gram weight (mid 60’s) and higher kick point LZ shaft, available in 5.5 Regular, 6.0 Stiff, and 6.5 X-stiff flexes with either a 9 or 10.5 degree standard head.

callaway-xr-driver-optifit-technologyBoth clubs will have Callaway’s patented Opti-Fit adjustable hosel that offers eight different loft and lie settings so you can find your best combination of launch and ball flight pattern.

Do you have technical questions about the Callaway XR Driver, or any other clubs? Contact our PGA Professionals today!

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Posted in Drivers, Fairway Woods & Hybrids, Equipment

What It Takes to Hit a Perfect Fade

tips-from-our-pros-kingThis week’s PGA Tour event is the Northern Trust Open at famed Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles, California. With Riviera playing a par 71, over 7,200 yards, it is imperative that you have the necessary skills to drive the golf ball accurately. Most holes at Riviera shape from left to right and require players to predominately hit a fade, which brings us to our tip of the week. There are three things to master when hitting a fade: set up, swing path and club face position.

Set Up

The proper set up for hitting a fade is aiming your club face toward the left side of the fairway, or left side of the green, to allow your shot to start left and drift back to the right. Similar to the club face; you should also alter the set up with your body, aiming towards the left side of the fairway or green. Setting up your body to the left can be done very simply, refer to your normal stance and move your shoulders and feet slightly left.

Please note that aiming to the left for a fade will be examples for a right-handed golfer. Left-handed golfers should aim to the right.

Club Path

Now that you know the proper set up, you’ll need to understand the proper club path to hit a fade. The fade could also be referred to as a “pull cut” when talking about swing direction. The proper club path for a fade (Outside-to-In) will be to begin your takeaway by routing the club outside of the ball,  and to come across and inside the golf ball on your way back down.

Club Face Position

Now that you know the set up and basic club path to hit a fade, you’ll need to have the correct club face position to make it work. As discussed in the club path, using an Outside-to-In swing path will make the golf ball start to the left of your target (for right-handed golfers), and having an open club face will allow the golf ball to work to the right. The easiest and most efficient way to have an open club face at impact is to begin with one at your set up. Right before you begin your swing, adjust the club face into an open position. This will ensure an open clubface through the impact zone.

Quick Recap

1. Set Up – Aim Left of Where You Want the Ball to Finish

2. Club Path - Swing Out-to-In

3. Club Face Position - Open Your Clubface

Follow these tips, and you will be more successful when you’re required to hit a fade.

Want to learn more? Check out our previous tips on Distance, Putting, Uneven Lies, and Playing in the Wind.

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Posted in Distance & Control, Instruction
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