Why Rory McIlroy has a new go-to shot shape off the tee

rory mcilroy swings

Rory McIlroy used his new go-ball flight to win the Wells Fargo Championship.

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Welcome to Teachable Moments, GOLF’s weekly instruction column that will help you improve your game through the excellence and expertise of the Tour stars of the week. Class is now in session.

Rory’s new go-to ball flight

Rory McIlroy’s bread and butter off the tee has been the towering draw for much of his career, but since teaming up with instructor Pete Cowen, he has been transitioning to relying more on the fade.

As he explained at last week’s Wells Fargo Championship, new driver technology has made it more difficult for him to turn the ball over the way he used to. So, he’s committing to hitting a cut off the tee.

“[The cut] is the most consistent shot that I hit with the driver,” McIlroy said. “I’ve definitely noticed that the ball flight with the driver’s more neutral and I just can’t turn it over quite as much. So, I just have to commit to going down the left side and trusting that it’s going to come back.”

His reliance on the fade is paying off. McIlroy won at Quail Hallow last week, his first win on the PGA Tour since November of 2019. And he did it while ranking 18th in the field in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee.

Warm up like a pro

One of the biggest differences between pros and amateurs is how they prepare prior to a round. Many ams use their warm-up time to attempt a swing fix, but that’s a recipe for disaster. Range time before the round should be used to get loose and to mimic shots you will need on the course.

Patty Tavatanakit demonstrated this concept in a video this week from the Honda Thailand LPGA. Their social team captured every shot of her warm-up routine and made a one-minute cut that you can view below.

You’ll notice that she hits a number of seemingly unconventional shots, but they all serve a distinct purpose. One-armed pitches give the proper feel of the clubhead releasing through the impact zone, while swinging off one foot helps engage her core and gets her body ready to compete.

Next time you head to the range prior to a round, keep Tavatanakit’s warm up in mind. Every shot should be hit with the purpose of benefitting your game once you get on the course.

How to putt on fast greens

The U.S. took down Great Britain and Ireland in the Walker Cup at Seminole Golf Club last weekend and one of the biggest stories was how lightning quick the greens were. Early in the week the speeds were rumored to be around 13 on the stimp, but by Sunday they had sped up considerably. NBC’s Jim “Bones” Mackay even went so far as to call them some of the quickest greens he’d ever seen.

With the surfaces so slick throughout competition, players had to be extra cognizant of every little detail of the diabolical Donald Ross greens. While most recreational players will never have to deal with speeds like the Walker Cup stars did, it’s important to know the strategy on fast greens.

Willam Mouw of the United States said positioning is key. “[The most important thing is] leaving yourself into-the-wind putts or into-the-wind chips,” he said.

And according to his counterparts from GB&I, biggest key is getting as much practice in as possible. “I think personally there’s no substitute for just spending as much time as possible that you have on the greens,” Matty Lamb said. “Just hitting putts, constantly adjusting from uphill to downhill.”

Added GB&I captain Stuart Wilson: “You can’t spend enough time on the putting green. It’s always going to be the one that holes the most putts wins the event.”

Keep these things in mind next time you find yourself on a course with quick greens.


Zephyr Melton

Golf.com Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at zephyr_melton@golf.com.