Big Play: Nick Watney's long and accurate drives at Aronimink

Big Play: Nick Watney’s long and accurate drives at Aronimink

Watney's accurate drives at Aronimink began with his set-up.
Darren Carroll/SI

WHO: Nick Watney
WHAT: 346-yard drive into the fairway
WHERE: 605-yard par-5 9th hole at Aronimink Golf Club
WHEN: Final round of the AT&T National

Watney works with Butch Harmon, who is a fundamentalist and has helped Watney develop an impeccable set-up. That set-up gives Watney the ability to drive the ball as well as anybody on Tour. Last week, he ranked 4th in driving distance (320.8 yards) and 10th in driving accuracy (69.6%). His perfectly straight bomb into the fairway at the ninth hole led to an easy birdie that proved to be the winning margin of victory.

Most amateurs focus so much on swing mechanics that they have poor set-ups and thus have little chance of hitting good shots. Remember, it’s the things you do before you hit the ball that largely determine the quality of the shot.

THE DRILL: My Set-up Routine
When I walk up to a ball, I always start with my feet together and the ball in the center point (i.e. the middle) of my feet. I do this with every club — irons and woods. Then I extend my arms and the club down to the ball, and from there I spread my feet shoulder-width apart. Depending on the club, I spread my feet in different ways. For example, with a driver I want the ball by the lead foot, so I’ll mostly spread my right foot and the left foot will move just a little bit. Now that I have the correct ball position, stance and width, I’ll finalize my body tilt by tilting forward a bit more at the hips so my back is nice and straight and leaning forward at about a 45-degree angle. Building my stance and address position from the feet up puts me in a perfect position to pivot back and through and stay in balance.

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Dana Rader runs the Dana Rader Golf School in Charlotte, N.C.

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