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Golf lesson: Overcoming fairway wood phobia is easy with practice

Kellie Stenzel, PGABy Kellie Stenzel, PGA,
Special Contributor

Have you ever noticed that the most demanding shot, the fairway wood, is generally the most commonly used in women’s golf? This means that to score well, you will need to be relatively proficient with your fairway woods. To make these shots even harder, many of the finer golf courses cut the fairway grass very short, also requiring more a more precise golf swing.

Here are some suggestions to improving your fairway woods:

Check you ball position

Your ball position for a fairway wood should be just left of the center of your stance, or in line with the left logo on your shirt. Notice this is not as far left as your ball position would be if you were hitting a wood from a tee. This places the ball in the flatter part of the golf swing and should make it easier to sweep the ball off of the turf.

Use a more lofted fairway wood

Do you remember when Callaway came out with the Heavenwood? It was basically a 7 wood with a longer shaft. The 7 wood is a very friendly fairway wood that should still provide you with respectable distance, but the club’s added loft and not overly long shaft make it easier to experience more success. Choose a fairway wood that you can actually have success and for the little bit of distance you might sacrifice; you will probably gain right back in your increased consistency.

Be sure that your practice swings sweep the grass

Your practice swing should sweep the grass. If your practice swing does not sweep the grass, you are in essence practicing topping the ball, and you should take another until you do brush the turf. My preference is that if you do take a practice swing, you only take one. So if missing the turf and re-swinging becomes a constant occurrence, actually practice your practice swings. A great goal is to be able to take 10 practice swings in a row that sweep the grass.

Try the scrape drill

A great drill to help improve contact for fairway woods is the scrape drill. You will do this without a golf ball. Start in your address position and take no backswing. Practice scraping the grass toward the target on a slight semi-circle to the left for about 12 to 18 inches. The club head should be low to the ground like on a normal fairway wood shot, so this will help you to feel the proper motion.

- Kellie Stenzel, PGA, has been named by Golf Magazine as one of the Top 100 Teachers in America, and has been a Golf For Women Top 50 teacher since 1999. She has published three books: "The Women's Guide to Golf: A Handbook for Beginners," "The Women's Guide to Consistent Golf," and "The Women's Guide to Lower Scores." She is also rated by Golf Digest as one of the top teachers in New York.

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