When you should hit a driver off the tee, according to Julia Engström
Julia Engström from Sweden is a two-time winner on the LET, having won the Women’s New South Wales Open and the Lacoste Ladies Open de France, in 2020. Prior to that, she won twice on the LET Access Series, in 2018, the same year that she scooped the LET’s Rookie of the Year Award, aged just 17. Julia is one of the longest hitters on Tour, with an average drive of more than 275 yards. Here, she shares her mindset when it comes to aggression versus strategy.
My approach is that you should be aggressive off the tee and that applies whether you drive the ball longer or shorter. I always try to hit the greens on par 5s in two shots, to give myself the best chance of an eagle and if not, a birdie.
The only time that you should dial it back is when there’s a carry or a water hazard around your landing zone that your ball might accidentally roll into. However, there are a few other situations when I might take a wood or a hybrid club off the tee instead of a driver.
I always want to hit my approach shot to the green from the fairway, but if there’s a fairway bunker around the landing zone that’s quite flat and hard, more like a waste area, then I’m not too worried. You can practise these shots to become quite proficient. If there’s a deep pot bunker with a lot of sand, then I don’t mind if I have one extra club into the green in order to avoid the trouble, so I would take my 3-wood.
You need to keep the ball in play, but you can’t be afraid to miss! You have to dare to hit the ball! You need to accept that sometimes it may go left or right. You may hit a wide shot with a driver, but you could also have hit the same bad shot with an iron and have much further into the green. In general, if I’m feeling confident in my game, I would usually still favour my driver to give myself a chance of a birdie. However, I will take a 3-wood off the tee if it’s really narrow and I need to place the ball carefully.
I may have two or more strategies for playing certain holes, depending on the wind strength and direction and how I’m feeling on the day. Golf is a mental game, too, so you need to be confident in the shot you are going to hit. That may depend on the curve I have on my driver that day. Is it a draw swing or a fade swing? I try to hit it straight and place it with a standard swing, but sometimes I hit a curved shot to make sure I don’t short side myself behind the trees. For example, if the hole is a dogleg right, I could either hit my drive straight and have a slightly longer shot into the green from the left, or I hit over the bunkers on the right to cut the dogleg a bit and have a shorter shot into the green.
I always try to get at least one 18-hole practise round in, or maybe two nines, when I get to a tournament course. Part of our preparation is to look at the positions of where you want to hit the shots and the distances and angles into the greens. You look at the greens to see where the flattest areas are and where is it sloping. You guess where you think the rules officials will locate the pin positions for each tournament round and sometimes you get it right, sometimes you don’t. You practise hitting shots to those spots to see what shots you can hit and how receptive the green is.
You can then calculate whether to go for the pin positions or not. I’m quite an offensive player in my long game, but I like to give myself some birdie opportunities. If it’s a pin with a large slope down to the left, then I will I aim more to the right, to stay out of trouble.
I try to write in my yardage book where I want to aim and where the perfect position will be from the tee and where it is good to be on the greens.
My favourite club is my 9-iron, which I hit 125 metres. If I decide to go for a 125-metre lay-up, then depending on the length of the hole, that would be another factor in my club decision off the tee.June 15, 2022 1:43 pm