Big Play: Yani Tseng’s accurate drives at the LPGA Championship

June 28, 2011

WHO: Yani Tseng
WHAT: Drives into the fairway
WHERE: 509-yard par-5 11th and 387-yard par-4 18th holes at Locust Hill Country Club
WHEN: Final round of the Wegman’s LPGA Championship

When fairways are tight, like they were at Locust Hill, Yani uses a special shot that still goes a long way but is especially accurate. We call it the driver stinger. That’s what Yani used to hit into the short stuff in the final round at 11 and 18, two holes where she’d struggled to find the fairway earlier in the tournament. In the stinger, Yani makes three adjustments from her normal driver swing: she grips down 1.5 inches, positions the ball a bit further back in her stance and takes a three-quarters length swing.

Hitting shots like the driver stinger with power and accuracy, as Yani does so well, require excellent stability in the lower body. You must create a low center of gravity by bending your knees and bending your upper body forward from the hips. Most people stand too erect with their feet too close together. That makes it hard to swing around yourself, which is necessary for power and control. Stability and balance allow Yani to utilize her tremendous swing speed, which she’s had since a very young age.

Hit drivers flatfooted. Yani likes to do this on the practice range. Doing that calms down the lower body so it feels like the knees are quiet, while the upper body and arms swing and rotate freely, powerfully and in balance. The right side should stay down and quiet until just after impact, when the right side might come up ever so slightly. After impact and in the through swing, you should feel resistance from the right side trying to stay down and back.

Gary Gilchrist, who is Yani Tseng’s instructor, runs the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy at the Mission Inn Resort and Club in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla.