By Sean Hogan
Illustration by Rami Niemi
It's a tight par 4, and see that you reached for the 3-wood. Good for you. The 3-wood is a prudent choice because it produces more backspin than a driver, making it easier to control ball flight. But I also see that you’re shaking your head in disgust.
Let me guess: You just hooked it into the woods. One of the worst feelings on a golf course comes when you try to do the right thing, the smart thing, and the result turns out worse than if you opted for a riskier play.
Hooking a 3-wood is a common miss, and it happens for a common reason: Players who struggle with this club tend to set up as if they’re hitting a driver. The ball is positioned off their front foot, and the upper body is well behind the ball at address. This is ideal for launching a ball off the tee with a driver, but it encourages the upper body to hang back through impact with a 3-wood, making it easy to over-rotate the clubface into a shut position at impact. That ball is going to pull or hook.
To keep a 3-wood in play, make sure you’re striking down on the ball with the center of your chest rotating over and past it through impact. If you set up to your 3-wood as if it were your 7-iron, you’ll immediately feel more centered relative to your ball position, which should be toward the middle of your stance. Maintain this centered feel as you complete your backswing, and commit to making a strong unwinding of your chest through impact.
The combination of a more centered ball position and active chest will encourage you to strike down from the inside, producing a nice, tight, piercing draw that finds the narrowest of fairways. Your swing thought: centered and go. —WITH RON KASPRISKE