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Here’s one of golf’s many small ironies: The harder you try to drive the ball accurately on a tight hole, the worse your chances of hitting the fairway.

Why? Because narrowing your focus to a small area causes you to tense up and steer or guide the ball, rather than making a free-flowing swing in which your parts work in unison. Golfers anxious over the shot’s result will often pull up and out with their left (lead) side, yanking the club across the line and producing a weak, thin slice.

Does that mean you should grip it and rip it no matter how slender the fairway? Not exactly. That mentality rarely delivers great accuracy. You do, however, want to make a full, forceful swing. Here’s how:

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  1. Set up to play your natural shot shape (fade or draw). This will boost your comfort level and confidence.
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  3. Position the ball 1-2 inches closer to the center of your stance than usual.
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  5. Grip down an inch or so on the club.
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  7. Make your normal full swing.

By playing the ball back and choking up, you’ll automatically shorten your swing and add control. That frees you up to give it 100% power, which keeps the upper and lower body working together.