The thing about hitting fairway woods off the turf is, most golfers feel like they have to help them into the air. They look down and don’t see much loft on the clubface, and they know they want to launch the ball high, so what do they do? The classic mistakes are playing the ball off the toe of the front foot and hanging back on the downswing to try to lift the ball. Both are killers. — with Peter Morrice
Let’s get you a clear plan for using these clubs. It starts with ball position. Yes, you’ve got a long club in your hands, so you want to play the ball forward—but not too far forward. Make sure it’s at least a couple of inches inside your front foot.
Next, to make a good strike, we have to look at your backswing. Resist the urge to just lift your arms straight up. You need some width to your swing arc, so focus on extending your hands away from the target. And not just your lead arm; feel your trail arm stretching back. This width will help you later.
Finally, you have to trust that you have enough loft to produce the trajectory you want—and you do! Keep your chest pointing down toward the ball through impact (above). Don’t pull your chest up or tilt it away from the target, or you won’t hit the ball solidly. With your chest down and the club coming in nice and shallow, you’ll catch the ball and brush the ground after impact. That’s how you flush a fairway wood.
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MICHAEL BREED is Golf Digest’s Chief Digital Instructor.