Using fairway woods during the winter to get to the greens

As the winter months approach, as the ground conditions soften, and as the carry reduces you are going to find that over these cold winter months that your irons might not be able to get you to the greens and you might have to resort to your good old friend the fairway wood.

I wanted to just give you a few tips on how to execute these shots correctly and deliver the club as the manufacturer designed it.

Now there is a myth that with a fairway wood you sweep it off the deck, now the impact is a lot more sweepy (let’s say for want of a better term) than an iron however track man data, launch monitor data and all of the assessments of tour professionals with show you that there is actually a slight downward blow with these clubs.

What you must do is get that 14, 15, 16, 17 degrees of loft to the underside of that golf ball and if you’re sweeping that golf club through impact you’re going to find it very difficult to deliver the loft to the back edge of the ball correctly.

So there has to be a little bit of a squeeze on the ball, a little bit of a downward blow and I’m just going to highlight a few things that allow that to happen.

So if we just take Els for example; look at where the back edge of the ball is aligned. I’ve drawn a line up vertically here and you can see this sits below the logo on his polo shirt. Just to his sternum side of his body of his armpit.

So it’s slightly back of where a driver would be but nonetheless you can see that it’s not quite as far forward as I’m sure you thought it was.

If you look at Tiger’s shaft here you can see the shaft is coming out of the ground vertically, there is no reward lean of the shaft and no forward lean.

So the shaft is set as the manufacturers designed it and if you were to just let the club sit on the ground naturally and open your hand out while you just support the club you’ll see that when you square the club face the shaft on a driver and a fairway wood wants to come out of the club very vertically. As you can even see with Ernie Els here, so let that happen don’t get any lean forward on the shaft as you’ll promote too much of a dig and don’t get any lean away from the target as you’ll promote too sharp a rise angle through impact.

So really you can see from simple terms that the ball is below the logo and the shaft is just leaning or coming out of the ground very vertically and you’ll see in both these instances the hands just directly on top of the back edge of the golf ball.

So very simple set up here. You can see in both cases as well there is the most subtle of spine angled away from the target.

Ball below the little logo on the polo shirt, hands on top of the back edge of the ball and then just a slight tilt away with the spine from the target.

That’s the set up taken care of, I just now want to show you impact. Now if I just take away all these lines and just get you to highlight or just concentrate on this little area just past the golf ball here just watch what happens when Els strikes the ball.

So he doesn’t just clip the ball off the turf, you can see there; the hands get back over the ball quite early. Now watch here; shaft re-aligns in a nice vertical line, watch the dust come out of the ground in the most subtle of divots.

So divots aren’t absolutely paramount but they do tell us a lot and we do want to promote people to take divots but not big gauges out of the turf.

You can see here imagining the golf ball is sat on a pound coin the club has struck the ball and taken the pound coin as well and then that in turn has also left the slight dust that you can see coming out of the ground.

Let’s have a little look at Woods doing and you’ll see here as the club gets up to the top of the backswing he just winds up on top of the golf ball. As he moves down he shifts into his left side, look how the left hip moves over the left foot. So he moving his body weight into his lead side very early, so that now allows him to get on top of the ball, his body weight set and now he can (you can see there a little bit of a downward blow), now he can squeeze the golf ball of the turf.

So it’s not a huge chunk of divot, it is as though the club is just brushing the grass and creating a disturbance there but in both cases (if I just put Els and Woods both side by side) you’ll notice there is a bunt into the left leg to start the downswing.

So there’s a shift of body weight over that lead leg that then allows the right contact point with the ground and if your hanging your weight back you’re going to find it very easy to hit the ground before the ball. If you’re shifting on top of the golf ball you’ll find it easier to get this strike that we’re discussing.

So from that there’s a lateral bunt over the left side as the club comes down, makes that nice smooth contact with the turf, not that big deep divot and the body continues to rotate to face the target.

You can see how early his chest and his tummy turn to face where that ball is going and even with Tiger here (riddled with injuries at this point) you can see belt buckle and chest turning through and his weight finishes nicely in that left leg.

Now watch this image as we bring this up, camera angle is not quite as square on as it was with Tiger in the other images but just watch the shift into the left side and the divot. Now he’s playing out the semi here but still nonetheless there is a little squeeze on the ground.

And that is exactly what I want you to think of through these winter months in order to get these additional carries that you need, those extra yards. Just try and feel that you take a little bit of care at set up, making sure you get the most subtle of spine angle away from the target, then as you move into impact you shift your weight into your front leg and you allow the club to take a divot.

I hope this makes sense, hope this helps you through these cold wet winter months and even into the summer next year when you’ve got that fairway wood and you need to get the carry remember there is the most subtle of divots imagine that ball sat on top of a pound coin and you’re taking the ball and the pound coin which will then in turn give a little bit of bruising of the ground.

That’s a great bit of technique for you to take away and think about on the golf course