Ask the Top 100: How can I go from a 3 to scratch?

Dear Top 100 Teacher,I am an athletic, 6’4” male with a 3 handicap and good all-around game, but the distance of my drives hurts my scores on long courses. I hit an 8-iron about 150 yards, which I’m fine with, but my driving distances are very inconsistent even though my accuracy is pretty good. I hit my drives 230-290 without too much of a difference in the "feel" at impact, with more of the drives being in the shorter part of that range even when both are hit close to the "sweet spot" of the driver.Keith, Sacramento, Calif.Dear Keith,It sounds to me as if you have a good understanding of your golf game and where you can improve your game and your handicap.As you may know, the sweet spot in many of today's drivers is slightly above the center of the face and because of this you will need to tee your golf ball relatively high and be sure you are contacting the ball slightly on the upswing. In order to accomplish this flush, square contact, you must tilt your shoulders properly at address. When you position your golf ball forward of center in your stance for a tee shot, you should increase the natural tilt of your shoulders to the right. This will help you to catch the ball on the upswing and also position you powerfully behind the ball at address, increasing your distance consistency. If your shoulders are not tilted properly, your clubhead can come in too steeply, which costs you distance because you can’t create optimal spin and launch with a descending hit.Check your grip pressure, too. While you want your grip to be secure because your fingers are closed around the grip of your club, you do not want to hold so tightly that you lose leverage. If your hands and fingers are relaxed, your wrists can hinge in reaction to the clubhead and this can increase your leverage and distance.As you mentioned, improving your short game is priceless when it comes to lowering your scores, so be sure to keep your focus on that area. At your low handicap, a one-stroke decrease in handicap is a 33 percent drop. Keep up the good work and let us know when you reach scratch.Best,KellieGolf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Kellie Stenzel teaches at the Atlantic Golf Club in Bridgehampton, N.Y. Read more about Kellie here.

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