Private Lessons: Tee drill to escape sand; Stare down your chips; Raise your left shoulder to beat a slice; Stop swaying to plug your power leak; Get in sync with your driver

Use this tee drill to escape sand

Your slower swing does have its advantages—it helps you keep the ball in play while others are searching in the woods. But when blasting out of the sand, especially heavy sand, you need to find a way to create more momentum than usual. The best way to do it is to transfer your weight through the ball and finish your swing. Remember: Hitting past the ball is just as important as hitting behind it.

Here's a drill to hone that technique. Tee up a ball just above the level of the sand, then push a second tee into the sand about 3 inches behind the ball and a third one the same distance in front of the ball. Now hit all three tees onto the green. Focus on swinging the clubhead from the first tee through to the third without letting up. This will give your bunker play more force, and before you know it you'll be hitting high, floating explosions.

Stare down your chips

You've probably discovered that chipping from short fairway grass is a lot easier than chipping from greenside rough.

While thats true for any player, you are still in the process of gaining confidence, and need to know all the facts about a chip from longer grass in order to have a chance. Here's your first tip: Make a five-second "stare down," looking closely at the ground your shot will cover. Make your best guess on where you should land the ball, keeping in mind that it will run more than a chip from the fairway.

Get a feel for the grass

The behavior of your chip will depend largely on how thick the rough is. Crouch down and run your hand across the grass near the ball, feeling how far down your clubhead will have to travel to contact the ball solidly. Next, take some practice swings next to the ball and feel how much resistance the grass provides. If it feels like it's grabbing the clubhead more than you expect, plan on making a longer, firmer swing.

Keep your "Y" intact

Your arms and the shaft should form an uppercase "Y" at address. In order to avoid a chili dip or a skull, you want to maintain this position through impact as you power through the grass. In fact, try to keep the "Y" intact all the way to your finish, which should be about thigh-high.

Raise your left shoulder to beat a slice

When that slice of yours rears its ugly head, you sacrifice large chunks of yards that you normally count on. Your left shoulder could be the culprit. Long hitters have active shoulders, which is a good thing, but dipping your left shoulder too far in the backswing can lead to a slice. Here's how to stop it.

Move the ball back

Sometimes a change in ball position will help you avoid the dip. Typically, you go wrong by playing the ball too far forward in your stance, around your left toe. This causes your left shoulder to start low and drop even lower early in the backswing. As a

result, your arms swing back too steeply, the club gets high, and you are forced to swing the clubhead outto- in and across the target line on the downswing, which imparts slice spin at impact. Move the ball back so it's opposite your left heel when hitting a driver. This should raise your left shoulder, so you can swing your arms back on a shallower plane.

Ride your shoulder high

Now that your ball position is improved, stand in front of a full-length mirror and check your position at the top. Ideally, you want your hands to stop just above your right shoulder, with your left arm roughly parallel to the line of your shoulders. You also should feel a larger turn in your hips and torso in this position. From here, you should have little trouble delivering the clubhead to the ball on a more powerful inside path.

Drill: Point the shaft outside the ball Here's an effective drill to stop dipping for good. Take your normal address position with a driver, holding the shaft across your chest with both hands so that the grip end points toward your target. Now hold the shaft in place and make a backswing, turning your left shoulder behind the ball. At the completion of this backswing the grip end of the club should point at the ball, indicating your left shoulder is staying high. If it points well inside the ball, you dipped your left shoulder. Make a few more backswings and try to get the grip to point well outside the ball. This exaggeration of a flatter shoulder turn will help to ingrain the correct motion.

Stop swaying to plug your power leak

As you get older, your muscles tighten up and it becomes harder to rotate your hips during your full swing. This decrease in flexibility and lack of hip rotation can generate several power leaks, the most common being a lateral sway of your lower body in the backswing. Even a limited turn is better than a sway, so if you can stem the sway you'll be able to hit the ball with more force.

Flare your foot on tee shots

You can turn your hips better, and stop your sway, by forming a more stable base with your feet. You can make this happen with a simple flare of your left foot. When hitting driver, turn your left foot out almost 45 degrees from its original position. This adjustment helps

restrict the movement of your lower body in the backswing, so you won't sway off the ball. It also helps your downswing. With your foot flared, you'll pre-set the proper rotation of your left hip toward the target on your downswing. Your left hip turns out of the way faster, creating room for your arms, hands and the club to swing down freely on a more powerful inside path into the ball.

Square your foot for short irons

With shorter clubs, you want a narrower stance and less flare in your left foot. This will encourage you to stay more centered over the ball, and therefore prevent a sway. For example, when you set up to hit a pitching wedge, set your left foot perpendicular to the target line.

With your left foot square, your hips have a harder time rotating through impact, which creates a steeper angle of descent into the ball. Steeper is better with a short iron, as it creates more backspin and a higher trajectory.

Get in sync with your driver

When you struggle to find fairways with your driver, the problem is usually with your sequencing, not the swing itself. Because the driver is so long, it has the farthest distance to travel. Therefore, it's not unusual to have your hips or arms outrace each other, which disrupts your swing's timing just enough to hit the ball off-line. To get your swing back in sync, tee up a ball and grip down on your driver until it's the length of a 5-iron. Then swing away. Repeat over and over until you're consistently hitting the ball straight, and then gradually grip farther up the shaft until your hands are in their normal position and you're pounding the ball down the middle. Shorten the shaft at first to improve your sequencing, and you'll restore your timing and get back to hitting fairways.

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