Win? Lose? Sometimes Surviving a Bad Shot Requires a Draw
Hitting a draw — such as the one Ricky Fowler needed to clinch the PGA Championship — requires a golfer to lean away from the target and bring the club head around the body.
Did you see Ricky Fowler hit that crazy high draw on the 16th hole during the final round of the PGA Championship on Sunday?
His shot was incredible and reminded me of missing an exit on the highway. Do you recover by banking a left-hand turn across the median and getting in trouble or, if done properly, heading to the next exit and making enough lefties until you’re back on the interstate?
A quick recap: Fowler hit his drive on the 16th hole well to the right, over the trees, landing in the rough on the adjacent 15th hole. He missed it big, just like you and me! He was faced with a super-long shot that required him to hit the ball high over trees and curve significantly right to left to find the green of the hole he was supposed to be playing.
The television announcers gave him no chance, which added to the drama. Still, he pulled it off and put the ball on the green, two-putting for a ho-hum par and keeping himself in the tournament.
Fowler’s ability to hit a recovery shot is one reason why he is on TV and we get to watch. So how did he hit a crazy draw over the trees?
The first thing he did was adjust his posture to help hit the ball higher than normal. Easy. He tilted his upper body away from the target, allowing for a shallower angle of attack and higher launch angle of the golf ball.
Next, he had to make sure his shot would hook or curve from right to left. A ball will curve that way when the club face is closed or aimed left to the path of the club.
Here’s another important fact: Wherever the clubface is aimed is where the ball will first fly. Fowler had to make sure his ball’s initial line of flight would miss the trees, so he aimed the face right of the treeline.
To ensure he would deliver his club on a path that was well inside the aim of the club face, he closed his stance or aimed his feet and shoulders well right of the actual target. Wow, all of that and he hadn’t swung the club yet.
Basically, when it came time to execute the shot, the shape of his swing was more around his body with less lifting of the club head, and as he delivered the club through impact, he allowed his hands and forearms to rotate, like a topspin forehand in tennis, to close the face even more to his path, creating the crazy hook.
Well done, Ricky, quite an exciting shot.
You can improve your recovery shots by taking your time and setting yourself up properly, too. Do so, and you’ll find yourself back on the highway in no time.
Peter Harris is director of golf at the Fore-U Golf Center in West Lebanon.