What does “hitting down on the ball” mean? Does one think of bringing the butt of the club down towards the ball and to the left of the body (i.e., “low and left”)?

      — Donna

I like your mantra for hitting down on the ball: “low and left.” I usually tell my students “down and left.” Either one works great. However, remember at the end of the day you want educated hands and wrists, that naturally do all of this, with no conscious though. However, this is exactly how you train them.

Where should one feel lag in the right hand? If I do punch shots, I feel it in the heel of the hand — not the trigger finger.

      — Donna

Excellent! Very perceptive. I can tell you are a student of the game.

The heel of the right hand should definitely lead the trigger finger/index finger into the impact area. Be sure to remain soft in the hands and arms as this is happening — so centrifugal force and angular momentum will naturally unhinge the right wrist and club.

How do you transition from two balls to one ball in the shank drill?

      — Aaron

Great question.  First of all, this can be a difficult transition, because you are going from lots of feedback to no feedback.  So ensure you can hit at least 6 consecutive solid shots with the two-ball drill.  Once you eliminate the second ball: (1) address the remaining ball slightly off the toe, and (2) envision that second ball just outside of the ball you are hitting.  Be very conscious of keeping the hands arms and club close to your body through the hitting area.  And if you shank 2 or more balls in a row at any time, go back to the two-ball drill.

See Two-Ball Drill and Never Shank Again lesson.

I want to buy a new driver. I’m 54 and have an 85 mph swing speed. Any recommendations?

      — Rocky

I’m reluctant to recommend equipment — particularly without evaluating the swing. It’s akin to an optometrist prescribing glasses before conducting an eye exam. But (as my wife will attest) common sense never stopped me before.

I recommend several drivers, including the:

  • Titleist 915D2. Titleist makes fantastic drivers. I particularly like the 915’s configuration mechanism. The 915D2 appears a nice compromise between forgivability and a traditional player club. It looks great, too.
  • TaylorMade R15. There’s a reason why TaylorMade makes the world’s most popular drivers — constant innovation. It’s always worth testing the latest TaylorMade driver, if only to compare the latest trend with the other manufacturers.
  • Srixon Z545. I play the Srixon Z545 driver. It’s excellent. Full disclosure: Srixon’s a sponsor. But the titanium cup face is hot and low spinning — adding penetration, roll, and reducing side spin. And the Quick Tune System is intuitive and easy-to-use.

You might also consider one of last year’s models. Most changes in golf equipment are evolutionary — not revolutionary. Last year’s models usually offer great technology with deep discounts.

We live in a golden age of golf equipment. Today’s technology, materials, and engineering are better than ever. The market’s flush with great drivers. You can’t go wrong with any of the major brands.

But be sure to get fitted for the shaft as well as the head. Shafts are frequently overlooked but easily as important as the club head.

Are you supposed to look away when you make a ball drop?

      — Henry, Orlando

No.

The USGA Rules of Golf require 3 things of the player when dropping. The golfer must:

1. stand erect;

2. hold the ball at shoulder height and arms length; and

3. then drop.

It does not matter whether the arm is forward or sideways or whether the golfer faces the hole — so long as the golfer’s posture is correct and the ball strikes the appropriate part of the course. If the drop is conducted improperly, or if the ball is dropped by the wrong person and the ball is played, the player incurs a one-stroke penalty.

What do you think of Inbee Park’s swing?

      — Kristine, Irvine

Inbee’s swing perfectly reflects her demeanor and personality — authentic.

Her swing is idiosyncratic because of the abbreviated backswing, slight lifting action of her body, and head rotation towards the target during follow through. But she incorporates perfect rhythm, balance, and confidence. Her swing is not as mechanically perfect as Adam Scott’s or as athletic and dynamic as Rory McIlroy’s. But her rhythm, timing, and patience is something we should all emulate.

Inbee’s swing reminds me a lot of this great champion:

What do you think of actor Oliver Hudson’s golf swing?

      — Dotty, Walnut Creek

He has a great swing. He reminds me of PGA tour player Steve Flesch — great rhythm and balance, with very good mechanics and fundamentals.

Why did Tiger Woods switch from a draw to a fade?

      — Robert, Madison

Tiger always struggled with getting stuck (some call it early extension) — hips outracing the upper body with the club trapped behind him and approaching too much from the inside. This led to blocks and big hooks.

Why does Matt Kuchar rock back on his heels just before swinging?

      — Steve, Oceanside

This is how he triggers the golf swing. A trigger is an automatic cue, to begin the motion, without any thought or tension. Some forward press their hands. Some kick the right knee in. Kuchar moves away from the ball, putting his weight into the heels.

Golf is a tough game because there is nothing to react to — like a pass or serve or catch in other sports. We initiate motion from a stand still, which is why I believe it is the toughest sport mentally. But all good players have some sort of a trigger.

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      — Carter, Ontario

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