What We Can Learn from Rory: Commit to the Driver
By Keith Stewart, PGA
There’s an old saying in golf, “Drive for show and putt for dough.” In 2022, I believe that phrase can be reversed. Though many other touring professionals make their cash with the flatstick, Rory McIlroy pretty much drives his way there.
In Rory’s last 186 starts on the PGA Tour, he’s gained over three strokes on the field off the tee. It is no wonder why Rory has been such a dominant player over the last 13 years – he brings a decided advantage to every tournament. As amateurs, we can learn a lot from watching Rory hit the driver.
Let’s look at 3 ways that every golfer can look to mirror Rory’s proficiency from the tee.
- Stop reaching for the ball with your driver. Too many players take the longest club in their bag and then move away from the ball. Your arms should hang naturally below your shoulders at address with the driver. Don’t reach, let the length of the shaft allow you to get close. The forward ball position is another reason players extend their arms. Whether you are setting up with a seven iron, pitching wedge or driver, your arms should all hang the same way.
- Create some width in your backswing. Drop a headcover on the ground in a straight line about five feet behind the ball. During your takeaway, extend the clubhead out and around the headcover. Don’t bring the club head around you, rather feel as if it is traveling out and away as you see it go around that cover. Then on the approach back to the ball see it coming from inside that cover back to the ball. Too many amateurs follow this path in reverse, change the path and you’ll change the contact you make on the ball.
- Control the swing with your core. Take that driver and stick the grip end into your belly button. Then grip the shaft about halfway down with your arms extended. Now take the club back by turning your torso, rather than with your wrists and hands. Keep the end in your belly as you turn. You’ll see that clubhead travel out and away again just like the drill above. Once you turn all the way back, stop and turn through. Don’t take the grip out of your navel. Feel the full turn through impact and toward your follow through.
Being a great driver of the golf ball takes a solid setup, tremendous width in your swing and a committed follow through. None of those items are outside any of our abilities. We may not hit it as far as Rory, but we can make driving a strength. Impress your playing partners and increase your strokes gained off the tee by committing to the big stick.
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