fairway woods off the ground

fairway wood setup and swingThe goal with fairway woods and hybrid clubs is normally to advance the ball a long distance from the fairway toward the green, or to position the ball accurately off the tee. In either case, we are hitting the ball a significant distance and need to set up accordingly.

Your stance will be perhaps shoulder width or just a bit wider, but perhaps not as wide as with the driver. The rule of thumb with fairway woods and hybrids is to position the ball an inch or two inside of your left heel, or under your left armpit.

When hitting the ball off the turf, the first thing we need to do is assess the lie. As experience will tell you, some lies are much easier to deal with than others. If the ball is sitting down, has grass around the ball, or is not in an ideal situation, I would suggest switching to a shorter, more lofted club. At minimum, we will want to choke down on the club slightly and push the ball an inch or two back in our stance to help make clean contact and get the ball up in the air. Choking down will give us a little more control of the club head, and adjusting ball position will allow for a slightly more descending blow into the ball. Conversely, if the ball is sitting up perfectly and you have no problem accessing the back of the ball, you may position the ball more forward in your stance and perhaps play the shot more aggressively.

Whenever ball position moves to the left, recognize that a tendency exists for many players to incorrectly setup with their weight shifted left, and allow their shoulders to rotate open.  Be doubly sure that your weight remains centered and you are aligned squarely to the target line. We of course want to make sure that the club face is square and our posture is athletic and balanced.

Our swing with fairway woods and hybrids is largely the same as with any other club. It’s important to swing with good rhythm and balance, as these clubs have longer shafts and reduced margin for error, especially off the turf. We turn our body away from the ball in one piece and load onto the inside of our right leg with back facing the target. From here, starting from the ground up we shift targetward, approach impact from the inside, strike the ball in a sweeping motion, or perhaps just prior to the bottom of our swing in a slightly descending motion. We finish in good balance on our left side, with belt buckle facing the target and right heel completely off the ground.

In summary, with fairway woods and hybrids, we want a sufficiently wide and athletic stance. The ball is positioned an inch or two inside of our left heel. When hitting the ball off the ground, we need to assess the quality of our lie and make necessary adjustments in our setup. With a poor lie, we may consider switching to a more lofted club, or at minimum, choking down on the club we are using and moving the ball an inch or two back from normal. Be sure that your body weight remains centered and your shoulders remain square in setup, as a tendency exists in many players to lean left  and to open their shoulders to the left. Make a smooth, rhythmic swing striking the ball with a sweeping motion or, especially with hybrid clubs, perhaps a slightly descending angle of attack.