Corey Pavin is well known as one of the best shotmakers in the history of the game of golf. Corey has 14 PGA Tour victories and 12 International victories on his professional resume. Included in that total is his unforgettable win at the 1995 US Open at Shinnecock Hills.
In many ways, the drive is the most important shot in the game. A good drive doesn’t necessarily guarantee a par or a birdie, but a poor drive can insure a bogey or worse. From a shotmaking standpoint, the ability to work the ball off the tee can help you pull off what would other wise be considered a low-percentage shot. Some amateurs spend their whole lives trying to hit the ball straight. I’ve always considered the straight ball the hardest shot to hit and one of the most foolish to try to master.
If you learn to work the ball instead of trying to hit the straight ball, you give yourself more margin for error. The idea is simple really. If you are playing a fade, you should tee the ball up on the right side of the tee box and aim down the left side of the fairway. If you hit the slight fade like you planned, you’ll be right in the middle. If you hit the ball straight, you’ll be down the left side of the fairway. If you over-cut it a bit, you’ll be down the right side. The reverse is true if you’re trying to hit a draw off the tee.
I believe in working the ball on approach shots too. But it’s especially important with the driver. Always try to work the ball off the tee, if only by a few yards. Every golfer has a natural shot shape. For 90 percent of the amateurs, that shot is a fade (or a slice as the case may be). Now what does this amateur do to hit a draw? He thinks he has to change his entire swing and do everything opposite than he usually does. This doesn’t make for good results. I am a natural fader of the ball. But when I was struggling to learn to draw the ball on command, I discovered something very important. You can curve the ball either way without changing your swing!
You need to formulate a sound golf swing to start with, but it is not hard to produce a draw with a natural fade swing, provided you make a few refinements in your setup and clubface position at address.How to draw the ball:
To draw the ball, you only need to make two adjustments. The first is with your alignment. At address, set your feet and upper body so they are aimed to the right of your target. Second, I aim the clubface at the target, the spot where I want the ball to end up. Now I just take my normal swing. The amount of draw is determined by how drastically I align my body to the right of the target at address. The key here is to swing naturally as though you are swinging like you want the ball to end up where your feet are aimed. The tendency is to swing your arms like your trying to hit the ball at your target. That would make you swing outside-to-inside relative to your bodylines and produce a big ol’ slice.How to fade the ball:
The fade isn’t complicated at all because it’s just the opposite of the draw. The fade has less sidespin than the draw thus will curve less (we’re not trying to hit a slice!). Have you ever heard of a duck hook? That’s the shot that dives sharply left right after impact. There is no such thing as a duck slice because the fade simply doesn’t have that much sidespin. That’s why it’s a control shot. It’s no accident that some of the best drivers in the game have used the fade as their bread-and-butter shot. Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, and Lee Trevino come to mind.
To fade the ball, I set up with my feet and shoulders aligned to the left of the target. Then I set the clubface open in relation to my body but square to the target. The gripping procedure is critical. I make sure that I open my clubface first, then complete my grip. Many amateurs will take their normal grip and then twist the clubface open. That isn’t an open clubface at all. At impact you’ll return the clubface to square and hit a pull instead of a fade. When I’ve finished setting up, I take my normal swing, thinking only of swinging the club through the ball along the line established by my feet and shoulders.
I know this sounds too simple, but it’s the most effective method I’ve found to work the ball left or right. Hit a few buckets on the range and get comfortable, and start working the ball!