A so-called “shotmaker” is a golfer who can control the ball’s flight at will, hitting shots that curve left or right and fly low or high – whatever the situation calls for.
An often overlooked aspect of shotmaking, however, is the ability to start the ball in precisely the right direction.
The true shotmaker doesn’t always achieve this through pinpoint alignment. He’s able to manipulate his swing path in relation to the target, creating an inside-to-outside (draw) or outside-to-inside (fade) swing as needed. That’s the essence of playing by feel – altering one’s technique ever so slightly to produce a very specific result.
Here’s a drill that will train your body to hit the ball right or left of the target on command. The drill is best performed using alignment rods, but you can get by without them:
- On the range, choose a target such as a yardage marker or distant tree.
- If you’ve got an alignment rod, stick it in the ground 5-8 yards from your ball and directly in line with the target. Otherwise, place an object (golf ball, headcover) directly on the line.
- Place a second rod or a club parallel to the target line next to your ball; you’ll use this to align your feet.
- With a short iron, line up to hit the ball straight at the target object – feet, hips and shoulders square to the line.
- Without changing your body alignment and swinging at about 75% power, try to start the first shot just right of the target. Try to hit the next one just left.
- After hitting five right and five left, go to full swings and repeat.
The key is to make sure your body stays lined up square to the target. That forces you to alter the swing path in order to start each shot on the desired line. In time, your hips, shoulders and arms will “figure out” how to produce the correct sequences.