Myrtle Beach Golf Tip: Mastering Your Fairway Woods

In his May 2015 tip, Mel Sole of the Mel Sole Golf School at Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club in Pawleys Island, S.C. and Grande Dunes Resort Club in Myrtle Beach, S.C. shows us how to avoid “topping” our fairway woods.

A high percentage of students tell me they don’t seem to have a problem with their driver or irons, but they really have a problem getting their fairway woods airborne, particularly women golfers.

The fairway wood is a very exact club – that’s why sometimes it’s very difficult to hit. In order to hit a fairway wood perfectly, you have to catch the ball right at the bottom of the arc of your swing exactly. If the bottom of the arc is slightly up, you’re going to top the ball and hit it along the ground.

The key here with a fairway wood is the forward arm. We’ve spoken many times about the “chicken wing,” and in my teaching aid segment I spoke about wearing the elbow (apparatus) to work on the arm because if I keep my arm straight, then the bottom of my swing arc is going to happen at the same place every single time. If I bend this arm, I’m changing where the bottom of my arc is.

So when I stand in front of the ball, I am “x” number of inches from the ball. I can change “x” two ways: if I lift my head, I’m further away from the ball and I’ll top it; or, if I keep my head nice and steady but let that forward arm bend, notice what’s happening – I’m changing. So even if I move it just a little bit, the bottom of my arc is going to be that much higher.

Remember, the golf ball is 1.68 inches. So if I move my arm or head a half inch, it’s more than 50 percent of the ball so I’ve topped it. So a drill that I’d like you to work on for your fairway woods is what I call the extension drill.

If I go back to about 9 o’clock on my backswing, and then swing through to 3 o’clock and get my arms extended out in front of me as much as I can, I try to really keep this forward arm straight. My goal is to hit little shots, 9 o’clock to 3 o’clock, with no breakdown on that forward arm. My goal is to finish with both arms fully extended.

Don’t swing too hard – that’s not the point. The point here is to just swing 9 o’clock to 3 o’clock to teach myself to keep this forward arm straight. So I’m not hitting this very far, and I’m not trying to put power into this drill. I’m trying to teach myself to keep that forward arm straight, in order to catch those fairway woods right at the bottom of the arc. If I can’t do that in this drill, then I definitely can’t do that in a full swing.

Once I’ve practiced that with enough repetitions, then when I go into my full swing I know what it’s supposed to feel like to keep my arms straight. Then I can catch that ball right at the bottom of the arc, and you’ll have success with those fairway woods once again!