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My main problem, aside from distance, is that I tend to push the ball to the right-- it doesn't really slice, it's more that it just goes to the right of where I think I'm aiming. This happens particularly with a driver and 3 wood, but not so much with irons. I played with a friend the other day who shoots in the 80s, and he thought my swing looks pretty good-- he suggested that I just line up so that I'm pointed more to the left. This seems odd to me, though it did work. But why would the wood shots need to be aimed so differently than an iron shot?

Getting set up properly before the swing is ever made will improve the chance of success - even if the swing is somewhat faulty. Grip is the most important as well as the most often overlooked set up item. If it's a faulty grip, then a chain reaction of other problems will ensue no matter what we do. Posture, spine angle, weight balance, ball position and alignment being the other important items. Get all of those right - and the fact that the ball is not a moving target - any swing will launch it out there in pretty decent fashion. The driver and 3 wood are the most difficult because they are the longest clubs in the bag. The longer the club, the more our visual perspective gets skewed and the more we tinker with trying to line up. Irons hide a variety of flaws in our swing, but the big sticks hide absolutely nothing as they are the equivalent of standing stark naked in front of your playing partners and showing everything to everyone once you hit the ball. How's that for an image? The swings we make with the driver and 3 wood are the longest swings we make. No wonder grip gets too tense and the hands fail to release properly as a 'naked' golfer rushes a quick lash at the ball with long clubs to get back to the safety of their golf bag and clothing (irons).... <gg> So we have to get as comfortable with the driver and 3 wood in our hands as we are with our 9 iron so we can make a decent pass at the ball. Proper set up allows that to happen on a more successful basis.

If you stand behind your ball and imagine two lines - one being the ball to target and the other being a parallel line to the left of it so that you are looking at a set of railroad tracks - then your feet, shoulders, hips, knees line up with the left rail and the ball and clubface are the right rail of the train track. In such a set up - especially with the longer clubs - it appears we are aiming our body too far left of the target, but that's the way the visual perspective should be. Maybe your friend was having you set up so that what you thought was pointed to the left was your body simply lining up to the left rail of the track. Lining up too much to the right is the most common mistake in alignment for we hackers. Another drill on the range is to lay two clubs on the ground, one behind the ball to point to the target and the other on your toe line to point to where your body should be aiming. That's the same routine as the above railroad track image. A block can happen from a variety of factors - hands not releasing (faulty grip, too much tension, etc...), coming too much from the inside on the downswing, hands getting too far ahead of the clubhead, etc... . If you aim too much to the left, that can set up the dreaded disease of open shoulders, open club face, ball too far forward in your stance and an outside to in swing path that has banana split written all over it. The more left one aims and tries to compensate, the worse the slice becomes. On the range, to get the alignment worked out with the longer woods, choke down on the grip/shaft so the length of the club is reduced to something like a 5 iron in length. Hit a few shots at this length and gradually increase the length of the club until you are back up to full length with the club and everything is in proper aligment.

BTW, I'm still looking into clubs. The pings Bruce mentioned seem like something worth checking into. I notice that there many ping sets on ebay and the golf swap sites.

I mainly mentioned the Pings because they are notorious for their custom fitting stations where you can actually feel and swing the different lie angles and grip sizes. There are plenty of other brands that you might be happy with as well. I saw a demo yesterday at the driving range from Mizuno. Their 'team' was doing custom fitting for every golfer that wanted to demo the clubs. They set up a special white board on the ground and were having people hit irons off of the board to see where the sole was contacting the ground. Then they would keep changing the irons with different lie angle until they got the proper angle for each golfer. After that, each golfer hit a variety of club shaft flexes to find the most appropriate ball flight. That's the exercise most pros would do for you when custom fitting a set of clubs. By the way, I tried the new Mizuno super size head driver just for the fun of it. I've never hit a driver with such a large head before, so I thought I would try. It made my Great Big Bertha head size seem tiny in comparison. It was a nice a club, but I think I can do without a club that has a head size larger than a Big Mac... <gg>
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