If you artifically shift your weight back, you'll hit the obstacle placed behind the golf ball.
Published: Tue, 02 Apr 2013 00:00:00 -0700
1 Notice the "Y" formed by my forearms and the putter. I should hold that "Y" all through the putting stroke.
2 Because I have no backstroke, I'm forced to accelerate through the golf ball.
3 I've pushed the ball, but the putter is still moving toward the target. This proves I didn't decel during the stroke.
4 The "Y" is still present and I've made a good forwardstroke through the golf ball.
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Published: Tue, 19 Mar 2013 00:00:00 -0700
Published: Tue, 05 Mar 2013 00:00:00 -0800
Let the upper body rotate and the right knee move back on the backswing.
At impact, the body is square to slightly open. But what you can't see here is I'm continually rotating.
It's obvious my upper body is turned, but check out my right knee. Its forward position indicates some lower body movement and the proper weight shift.
Published: Tue, 29 May 2012 00:00:00 -0700
Published: Tue, 15 May 2012 00:00:00 -0700
Published: Tue, 03 Apr 2012 00:00:00 -0700
This is the trailing edge I'm talking about. Let that sweep underneath the ball.
|1 My hands are behind the ball, the clubface is open, and I play the ball toward my forward foot.||2 I've picked the club up quickly because my hands were close to my body at address.|
|3 Look at how fast that ball shot up in the air! I really flipped my wrists on that one.||4 No need for a big followthrough on such a short shot.|
Published: Tue, 06 Mar 2012 00:00:00 -0800
Published: Tue, 25 Oct 2011 00:00:00 -0700
Published: Tue, 21 Jun 2011 00:00:00 -0700
I teach my students to place 60% of their weight on their forward foot at setup and to maintain this distribution throughout the chip-shot motion. Unfortunately, many golfers fall back during the swing, which causes them to either hit behind the ball or to top it. The Right-Foot-Back drill keeps your weight forward at setup and during the motion.
Here's how to do it: Set up for a regular chip shot. Keep your stance narrow and place the ball toward the back of your stance. Then place your right foot behind you so just your toes touch the ground (above photos). This places almost all your weight on your forward foot. Now make a short chipping stroke while keeping your weight on the forward foot. It may feel a little exaggerated at first, but you'll notice that you make a more descending chipping stroke, which will lead to crisp, repeatable contact.
Once you've completed the drill, return to a normal chipping stance (photo at left) and make a chipping motion while retaining the feeling of shifting your balance to your front foot. Once you've mastered it on the chipping green, take it to the golf course.
Published: Tue, 17 May 2011 00:00:00 -0700
Published: Tue, 17 May 2011 00:00:00 -0700
Published: Tue, 03 May 2011 00:00:00 -0700
A bunker is a bunker, and always should be called a bunker. It’s not a “sand trap.” It’s a bunker. Second, knowing the rules in the bunkers is important, since there are so many different things that can go wrong. So let’s cover three key rules you need to know.
1. You can’t ground your club in the bunker. Most golfers know this. But this also applies to your hands, so no touching. The only thing that you can do is firmly plant your feet in the sand to hit your next shot. The only exception is when you’re falling over or you need to identify a ball (Rule 13-3,4).
2. Loose impediments (leaves, debris, etc.) in the sand cannot be removed. This includes dead land crabs and half-eaten pear cores (Rule 23, Decision 3, 6).
3. If the ball lands up and against the rake, you can remove the rake without a penalty. Only, the ball has to be placed in the exact same spot. If you can’t replace the ball in the exact same spot, without pushing it into the sand, then it has to be placed in the bunker where it comes to rest (Rule 20-3d).
Curious to learn more about golf rules? The USGA has a great website, with scores of rules
and decisions to keep you entertained for hours. Visit usga.org.
Published: Tue, 29 Mar 2011 00:00:00 -0700
• Use your imagination
• Incorporate this drill regularly into your practice sessions
• Ball Centered
• Slightly narrower stance
• Weight favors front foot
Published: Tue, 15 Mar 2011 00:00:00 -0700
Published: Mon, 28 Feb 2011 00:00:00 -0800
Published: Wed, 02 Feb 2011 00:00:00 -0800
One of the things I like about golf is that wind and turf conditions alter how the course plays from one day to the next. These factors influence how your ball reacts once it hits the green.
When the course is damp, play aggressively. Hit your approach shots toward the pin so they “stick.” When the course is firm, play more conservatively. Hit it lower, and play for some roll.
Also, consider switching out your wedges. On firm courses, play a wedge with less bounce so it “cuts” into the turf. On soft courses, play a higher bounce model that doesn’t get stuck in the turf. Hit low shots into the wind and higher ones with the wind at your back so you can pick up a few yards.
Published: Tue, 24 Aug 2010 00:00:00 -0700
Published: Tue, 24 Aug 2010 00:00:00 -0700
|Get Your Wedges Fitted
Wedge fitting is just as important as any other club in the bag. Reason being, the average player hits numerous shots in a given round with his or her wedges, and having a proper fit can make a huge difference in how well they perform. The first place to look is in the wedge’s loft. Typically, players use wedges with anywhere between 56 and 60 degrees of loft. The key isn’t so much in exact lofts, but in separating your wedges by no more than three or four degrees. Start by checking the loft of your pitching wedge, and move up from there in loft increments of three or four degrees. This may mean adding a 52- or 54-degree gap wedge to your arsenal of wedges (the other two being a 56-degree and a 60-degree wedge). Second, check the bounce angles. If you like to pick it and avoid hitting it fat, stick with higher bounce angles. If you want more shotmaking capabilities, try lower-bounce models. And finally, make sure the length and lie angle of your wedges are right for your swing. If your wedges are too upright or flat, you’ll have a harder time being consistent.
Published: Tue, 24 Aug 2010 00:00:00 -0700
Hinge The Wrists
Because your clubface is open, the wedge will have more bounce than usual—again, meaning it’s going to take some experimentation to discover the right amount of sand you need to catch behind the ball. The club and sand will do the work for you, so there’s no need to dig deep and/or try to scoop the ball.
Published: Tue, 18 May 2010 00:00:00 -0700
Published: Tue, 18 May 2010 00:00:00 -0700
Published: Tue, 04 May 2010 00:00:00 -0700
Published: Tue, 16 Mar 2010 00:00:00 -0700
Published: Tue, 16 Mar 2010 00:00:00 -0700
Published: Tue, 19 Jan 2010 00:00:00 -0800
Published: Tue, 19 Jan 2010 00:00:00 -0800
Published: Tue, 19 Jan 2010 00:00:00 -0800
|The key here is to hit on the lower portion of the face. As shown by the top photo, hitting lower on the face will generate more backspin, helping the ball to lift higher and quicker. If you catch the ball more in the middle (lower photo), the ball is likely to travel on a lower trajectory out of the bunker.|
Published: Thu, 12 Nov 2009 00:00:00 -0800
Published: Tue, 01 Sep 2009 00:00:00 -0700
Published: Fri, 31 Jul 2009 00:00:00 -0700
Published: Fri, 29 May 2009 07:00:00 -0700
|Kind of looks like I’m milking a cow, doesn’t it? Well, that may be what I call this drill, but what I’m really doing is creating “lag.” Keep the angle between your left arm and the shaft at 90Â°.|
|Ryan Moore now plays the Adams Insight Tech a4 driver. For more info on equipment, visit golftipsmag.com/ezlinks.|
|1 At the top of my swing, the angle between my left arm and shaft is 90Â°.||2 From there, I swing down about halfway and retain that angle.||3 Then I return the club to the top while retaining the 90Â° angle.|
|4 I pump it one more time. This really feels like “milking the cow.”||5 By now I feel the angle and, hence, lag. I’m ready to go!||6 I make a normal swing, keep the angle as long as possible, and nail it!|
Ryan Moore, PGA Tour, has earned nearly $5 million in four full seasons on the Tour.
check out the video
http://www.golftipsmag.com/video/Ryan Moore “milks the cow” on our website.
Published: Thu, 30 Apr 2009 17:00:00 -0700
High Shot: The high-pitch shot can be intimidating for the average player, simply because it’s an easy one to hit heavy or thin. Here’s my surefire technique: Place the ball forward in your stance, open the clubface and address the ball with your hands a bit behind it. Hinge your wrists fully in the backswing and then keep your hands slightly behind the ball through impact so they can rehinge in the finish.Medium Shot: For a medium-trajectory pitch, place the ball in the middle of your stance and place your hands in a neutral position (equal with the ball). Hinge your wrists a bit as you bring your arms to waist height and then try to match the same position in the finish.
Check out the video
Eric Axley just completed his third full season on the PGA Tour. So far, he has one victory and 15 top-10 finishes.
Published: Tue, 03 Mar 2009 17:00:00 -0800
If you want to control your shots more effectively around the greens, the best thing you can do is set up with a narrow stance and always remember to keep the shaft leaning toward the target. Since it’s a chip shot, you don’t have to worry about releasing the club; instead, you want to hold the face square to ensure optimal directional control. This setup position also helps to avoid flubbed chipped shots—one of the most embarrassing and avoidable shots in golf.
Use your left arm as a guide for how much lean is needed, and remember to keep the clubface square to the target. In the illustration, notice how my shaft and left arm form a straight line. That’s all the lean you need. Any more, and you might top it. Any less, and you’ll lose consistency. During the stroke, maintain this forward-shaft lean position. You’ll see how easy it is to hit straight and accurate chips more often.
To chip with consistency, remember to keep your hands ahead of the golf ball. This will help you control trajectory and spin on shots around the green.
Published: Mon, 30 Jun 2008 17:00:00 -0700
|Putting from all directions to the same cup will force you to work on right-to-left and left-to-right breaks.|
One of the absolute basics of good scoring is solid putting from short to medium range. If you’re confident from these distances, it will take pressure off all your other short-game shots and make you a better lag putter as well.
To get started, go around a hole placing tees a step apart, all at a distance that’s about four feet from the hole. Make eight stations (marked by tees) around the hole and begin anywhere you like. Try to make at least four in a row, all the while concentrating on your alignment and speed control. Every time you make four consecutive putts, start over and try to make four more. Don’t quit until you can make two sets of four at every station.
Once you’re confident with the four-footers, increase your distance one foot and repeat the game. Continue moving back until you get to the 10-foot mark, which I guarantee will be quite a challenge.
|The wrists and elbows should maintain the same angles through the entire stroke.|
|Take a look at the structure I’ve created in my setup position. My elbows are slightly bent, and my wrists are solid. Maintaining these positions will create consistency.|
Make the mistake of playing the ball too far forward in your stance, and your consistency will suffer.
|In a good golf swing, the clubhead is released freely through impact. The same should occur in a good putting stroke. Here, you can see the club moving back to the inside.|
Published: Mon, 30 Jun 2008 17:00:00 -0700
Playing well from within 100 yards is a must if you want to score well. Just look at the best players in the world. They all miss the fairway sometimes, but from within 100 yards, there isn’t a player out there who doesn’t expect to knock it close from “a hundie” and in. This is golf’s scoring zone, where the difference between a long birdie putt and a short tap-in can be made up by hitting the right kinds of shots. Yeah, that’s right. You have to know what it takes to not only hit the green from 100 yards, but what kind of shot you need to hit to stick it close. Let’s look at three basic ones: a low pitch, medium pitch and lob shot. You’ll quickly find that hitting these three shots requires different approaches to your setup mechanics. Although subtle, these differences are what you need to know to score.
Hit It Low: Get Square
It doesn’t get anymore straightforward than this. Literally. To hit the ball low with some added roll (typically for shots up a hill or with a back pin location), simply adjust your stance so everything is lined up parallel to the target and stand a little closer to the ball. That means, aim your shoulders about two to three feet left of the target, and aim your feet another foot or so to the left. By staying square, you’re more likely to hit the ball with a square clubface and get the ball airborne on a low trajectory and rolling toward the target. As for club selection, grab your 9-iron or pitching wedge, as opposed to your sand wedge. They have less bounce, making it easier to hit the ball crisp and get it moving with minimal backspin.
Choke up or choke down? Hey, do whatever feels right to you. Just make sure you play the ball back in your stance and get the clubshaft leaning toward the target. Try and keep that lean throughout the whole swing and limit your wrist rotation by holding the face square.
Opening your stance can make it tough to find the correct “middle” ball position. The way to find it is to consider the middle of your stance relative to your sternum. Play the ball directly below it, and no matter how far you open your stance, the ball still will be in the middle.
Published: Sat, 31 May 2008 17:00:00 -0700
Published: Mon, 03 Mar 2008 17:00:00 -0800
Three of the most common chipping errors are assuming the ball should be played way back in the stance, believing the hands need to flip over to get the ball airborne and thinking that your weight should be on your back foot. Wrong! These three errors, whether independent or in cahoots with one another, will produce poor results. Check your chipping style and see if you’re guilty of any of these mistakes before your next round
Ah, now that’s better. The above photo illustrates the correct impact position while chipping. You can see the shaft is still perpendicular to the ground, even after impact. This proves I had my weight and hands forward, and I’ve avoided any breakdown of the wrists through impact with the ball. Hold this position, and you’ll start seeing better results.
Published: Thu, 01 Nov 2007 10:12:39 -0700
How you make a practice swing when chipping from off the green is especially critical. First of all, you’re not just trying to calculate how far you need to hit the ball, you’re also trying to determine how high the ball should fly and how much roll you want it to have. Also, a practice stroke helps you to assess the lie, which can range from having a ball that’s sunken down in the rough to one sitting high on the collar. All these variables come into play when making a practice swing, which is why I think it’s critical that every golfer learn my “rehearsal” technique before hitting a chip or pitch shot.
To begin this shot rehearsal, first inspect the lie as best you can. Note if the ball has grass above, below or to the sides. The higher the ball sits up, the more backspin you’ll impart on the ball, and the higher and farther it will carry. The lower it sits, the more grass that will come between the ball and clubface, causing the ball to both fly lower and with more forwardspin once it hits the ground. After assessing the lie, determine how the grass will react to a downward sweeping motion through the ball. In this case, make two practice strokes, both by sweeping down through the grass. Do this as close to the ball as possible (without hitting it), and get a feel for whether the grass is catching the clubhead or if the grass allows the clubhead to slide through easily. If it’s grabbing the face, you’ll need a firmer grip for more steadiness and a slightly more downward angle of attack to prevent a flubbed shot. If the grass is loose, then a softer, more delicate grip will help you make a smooth stroke through the ball.
Finally, two practice sweeps will help you feel whether or not your ball sits on some sort of incline or sidehill, since some greenside lies aren’t as obvious as they look. Hitting successful chips and pitches always requires you to make a downward stroke into the ball, so try and avoid any scooping or lifting of the ball. That kind of shot rarely pans out!
These two sweeps, although seemingly simple, should be “rehearsed” before every chip or pitch shot to ensure you have as much information as possible about the kind of lie you have to contend with. This will also make a big difference in your ability to successfully get up and down from anywhere around the green. Do this little rehearsal, and you’ll start seeing better results with your pitches and chips around the green.
Want to learn some more quick tips to help your game? Check out the all new www.golftipsmag.com for several short game tips that are sure to help you lower your score!
Barry Goldstein is a professional golf teacher at Inverrary CC in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Published: Sun, 16 Sep 2007 17:00:00 -0700
Whether it’s your third shot on a long par-5 or your approach on a short par-4, the full-swing wedge—be it with your gap, sand or pitching iron—is a critical play. All good players accept the short-range shot as a relatively easy opportunity to get up and down for birdies and pars, and do so with the regularity average golfers get up and down from just off the green. The reason: practice. Good players know that the full-swing wedge is a very common play and plan their practice skills accordingly. To better your full-wedge skills, keep the following 10 swing keys in mind during your next range session. You’ll soon be knocking it stiff like the best wedge players in the world.
1 Open It Up
While your driver swing and wedge swing should take the same amount of time to complete (tempo, tempo), don’t fail to understand that a wedge swing is slower and, therefore, doesn’t need a ton of lower-body action to power the club into impact. Watch any good wedge player and you’ll see him or her keep everything below the knees fairly quiet. That being said, you can’t execute a sound wedge swing without opening up your hips to your target on the downswing. So how do you open up if you’re meant to keep the lower body still? At address, gently pull the front foot back so they’re a bit open to the target. With the hips preset in this open position, all that’s left to do is power the club back and through with the arms and shoulders.
2 Hug The Ball
When hitting a full wedge, keep one thing in mind: You’re not hitting your driver or 4-iron. It’s a relatively slow swing that emphasizes control over power. Furthermore, it’s mostly an upper-body-dominated motion requiring little, if any, lower-body movement. Your setup should reflect these truths.
For starters, hug the ball at address. Your wedges are the shortest clubs in your bag, so naturally you should stand closer to the ball. Also, it’s a good idea to keep your right elbow close to your right side, which further emphasizes the need to hug the ball. Allow your arms to dangle from the shoulders and grip the club from there, with your hands just in front of your zipper. At the very least, let the lie of the wedge (the steepest of any club in the bag) dictate the placement of your hands, which naturally will be closer to your body.
3 Hinge At The Ball
If there’s one thing recreational players could do to better their wedge swings, it’d be to hit down and through, taking a nice big divot after the ball just like the pros on TV. Most amateurs tend to sweep, scoop or, worse yet, lift the ball into the air, forgetting the old golf adage “You’ve got to hit down to hit up.” Yes, your clubhead must descend into the ball, break the turf, then continue into the release and followthrough. While many factors go into correctly hitting down and through, one of the most important is wrist hinge. If you fail to hinge, you’ll sweep the floor. Here’s what I tell my students: hinge at the ball. By that I mean start your wrist bend as you take the club away with your left shoulder and arms working as a single unit. If you wait until the midpoint of your backswing, you may never hinge at all. Get it going immediately and you’ll have a better chance of compressing the ball as you should.
Published: Wed, 16 May 2007 11:14:33 -0700
Published: Tue, 01 May 2007 10:23:01 -0700
When you desire a softer type of explosion shot out of the bunker from this normally “hot” lie, you need to employ an open clubface and relaxed hands. Make your angle of attack steeper by leaning your weight toward your front foot. This weight shift also accentuates the digging action of the clubhead, making soft hands and an open clubface that much more critical. Otherwise, the golf ball will come out with more velocity than desired.
Allow the club to naturally follow an outside-and-up backswing path. Don’t try to make this happen; just relax your hands and let it go. As is the case with most shots, you’d naturally assume that in order to get out of a “fried egg” lie, you’d need to follow through to your normal finish position—but not here! You want to leave the clubhead in the sand, buried an inch or so behind the ball. All your effort and momentum should transfer into the sand, not through it. This type of action will make a huge hole in the bunker and will not transmit much energy to the golf ball. If your club follows through at all, it’ll only add to the velocity of the shot and decrease the height at which the ball leaves the trap. But if you stop the club immediately at impact, and maintain soft hands and an open clubface, the ball will come out with more height and less speed. When executing this shot, remember to accelerate down, not through, and “fried eggs” will become your specialty.
PGA professional Tom Stickney is the director of instruction at the Club at Cordillera in Vail, Colo.
Published: Tue, 06 Mar 2007 11:36:08 -0800
Published: Tue, 06 Mar 2007 09:43:47 -0800
I’m sure you’re familiar with the famous Sam Snead tip, “Hear your putts.” To ensure that he didn’t come out of his putts too early, the “Slammer” held fast in his putting posture until he hopefully heard the ball rattle the bottom of the cup.
When a golfer rises out of the stance prematurely while putting, he or she invariably ruins the path of the stroke. “Hear your putts” has always been one of my favorite quick tips, and I recently discovered an additional use for this sage advice to help golfers save strokes during the chipping motion.
I see too many golfers rise up and out of the posture too early while chipping. Coming out of your posture too early while chipping will not only destroy the path of your swing, but will increase the likelihood of hitting the chip thin, sending the ball scurrying to the other side of the green.
Hear your chips. By that, I mean remain in your chipping posture until you hear the ball land on the green. If you can tune your ear into the sound of the ball hitting the putting surface, you’ll recognize the “thump” sound the ball makes as it finishes its downward arc and strikes the ground. If you wait for this sound, you’ll guarantee staying with the shot well through impact.
PGA teaching professional Barry Goldstein is the director of golf at Polar Shot Golf Center in Johnson City, N.Y. He also instructs at Inverrary Golf Club in Lauderhill, Fla.
Published: Tue, 06 Mar 2007 09:37:20 -0800
The chipping and putting motions are linear in nature. By that, I mean the face remains square to the target line throughout, never opening or closing like it does with full swings from the fairway and the tee. Moreover, the path of the stroke shouldn’t deviate from the target line. Realizing these facts can save a lot of amateur golfers a lot of headaches around the green, where the majority of less-than-skilled players chip the ball with a full-swing technique and leave themselves with a lengthy putt.
The best advice is to treat your chipping technique as a true linear motion. In other words, strive to keep the clubface square from the takeaway to the finish and to swing the club along the target line.
Create a true linear motion when chipping by holding your wedge in the same manner as you would hold your putter. Take your grip with your fingers under the handle, with your thumbs running directly down the top of the shaft. Take a few chipping strokes and notice how the putting-style grip facilitates a swing that travels linearly along the target line.
Next, position your body over the ball and assume the same stance as you do when putting, with your eyes directly over the golf ball. To execute a true linear chipping “stroke,” simply rock your shoulders and sweep the clubhead back and then through the ball. Notice how very little, if at all, the clubface opens or closes. Make a few practice swings and soon you’ll turn your chipping motion into a simple, linear movement of the club that will make those delicate pitch shots easier to control.
Debbie Steinbach is a former LPGA Tour player and creator of the Venus Golf instruction programs for women. For more information, visit www.venusgolf.com.
Published: Tue, 06 Mar 2007 09:26:58 -0800
Published: Tue, 06 Mar 2007 09:20:48 -0800
There aren’t many shots that touring professionals fear, but if you had to choose one, the buried lie bunker shot would probably take the cake. It’s a shot even more feared among amateurs who have no idea how to approach it, let alone how the ball will react off the clubface and once it hits the green. I’ve always believed that a buried lie isn’t a cause for despair, but rather an opportunity to demonstrate your short-game prowess. With some adjustments to the normal bunker setup, you can accomplish the goal of getting out of the bunker and onto the green every time.
Begin by choosing the most lofted club in your bag, which for most is a sand or lob wedge. Set up to the ball with a slightly open stance and with your feet worked into the sand an inch or so for stability. The stance should be narrow (feet shoulder width apart) and your weight should favor the front leg. This helps you hit the ball sharply with a steep blow. Play the ball slightly forward of the middle of your stance and choke down on the shaft to compensate for digging into the sand with your feet.
Sounds like a normal bunker shot so far, right? The difference with a buried lie, however, is that if you open the clubface too much, you actually can hurt your chances of getting the ball out of the sand. Here’s why: When you open the face too much, you add what’s called effective bounce to the sole, thus making it difficult to sweep underneath the ball in order to get it airborne. With an open face angle, you’ll catch the top part of the ball, essentially killing any chance at an easy recovery.
The correct way to address a buried lie in the bunker is with a square or even a slightly closed clubface (relative to the target). What this does is reduce the clubhead’s bounce angle, helping you use the sand between the clubhead and ball to lift the ball up and out. Plan on striking the sand at least two inches behind the golf ball with a steep and accelerating blow. Remember, the club doesn’t need to come into direct contact with the ball. Instead, the digging action of the clubhead as it moves underneath the ball will force the sand to push the ball up and onto the green. Since you’ll be hitting the sand well behind the ball, be sure to swing harder than you normally would if the ball was sitting up. Hold the face square for as long as possible through impact and expect an abbreviated followthrough. You’ll find that the ball will come out of the bunker lower with less backspin, causing the ball to roll forward upon impact with the green.
As you can see in the photo, I’ve not only held the clubface square through impact, I’ve clearly hit the sand before the ball. You can see this by the clump of sand that’s ahead of the ball in the air. Experiment with what face angle, either square or slightly closed, works best for you. Remember to keep the face square and hit down into the sand before the ball with more force than usual. In no time, the buried lie will be no more feared than a regular bunker shot.
PGA teaching professional John O’Leary III is the director of instruction at the Arnold Palmer Golf Academy (APGA), located at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando, Fla. At the APGA, game improvement is directly related to the fundamentals that Arnold Palmer learned from his father, which were instrumental to his success. For more information, visit www.apga.com.
Published: Fri, 02 Mar 2007 16:37:43 -0800
Few shots on the golf course are more satisfying than a well-executed flop shot. Unfortunately, unless you’re Phil Mickelson, the risk is probably not worth the reward. There’s very little margin for error. With the wrong lie, you can swing the club under the ball without advancing it. And, with such a big swing, you’re liable to hit an 80-yard screamer if you catch it thin.
Here’s an alternative technique to try the next time you need a wedge shot to fly high and land softly. Weaken your left-hand grip (for right-handers), turning your hand under the club so that your left palm faces more toward the sky. With your left hand in this weakened position, the clubface will remain open through the hitting zone and your shot will be shorter and fly higher than normal and land like a butterfly with sore feet.
Experiment with this shot on the range. You’ll quickly learn that the more you turn your left hand under the club, the higher and softer (and shorter) the resulting shot will be. This is a versatile technique that you can use on greenside chips as well as full wedges from the fairway or light rough. It’s especially effective for softening slippery downhill chips or on touchy pitch shots where you have little green to work with.
Matt Swanson is the director of instruction at Matt Swanson’s School of Golf in Houston.
Published: Fri, 02 Mar 2007 16:13:05 -0800
Golfers who are confused about the amount of body action normally associated with a pitch shot can learn from the simple mental image of pitching horseshoes. During this underhanded motion, the arms and body work together in response to the target. The body parts don’t need to be consciously controlled; rather they should react naturally to the command of pitching the horseshoe based on what the eyes see as a target.
When pitching the ball onto the front edge of the green, imagine the landing area as the stake in a game of horseshoes. To execute the shot, use an underhanded pitching motion like you would to throw a ringer around the stake. By simply allowing your body to respond naturally to the target, your distance control and accuracy are sure to improve.
Rick DePamphilis, a PGA Master professional, has published over 50 instruction articles in eight different publications in his career. He’s currently director of instruction at Sun ’N Air Golf Learning Center in Danvers, Mass.
Published: Fri, 02 Mar 2007 16:02:49 -0800
Published: Fri, 02 Mar 2007 15:37:24 -0800
Published: Fri, 02 Mar 2007 14:05:52 -0800
Whether your skills are strictly amateur or allow you to keep pace with any single-digit handicapper, you’ll never reach your true potential as a golfer unless you learn one of the game’s great tricks: turning three shots into two around the greens. In other words, you must find a way to become a scorer. Scoring is what separates the better players you know from everybody else. Taken to a higher analogy, it’s what separates the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh from the rest of the players on the PGA Tour.
Furthermore, it’s what will ultimately help you reach your potential as a golfer. Isn’t that what this great game is all about—the number in the scorecard beside your name? To go from an average golfer to a scoring machine, use the following greenside plays. Perfect these shots and you’ll be well on your way to joining the ranks of the scoring elite.
Every golfer is bound to miss a green or two (or three or nine) during the course of a round, which always presents a challenge to your scoring ability. Regardless of your driving and long-iron skills, if you can’t get the ball close to the cup (and sometimes in it) when you do miss a green, your scores are going to skyrocket like a popped-up lob wedge. However, if you can make the most of a green missed, you’ll keep bogeys at bay and maybe produce a few birdies, and that’s when scores really begin to plummet. The key to turning three shots into two is assessing the lie and selecting the right shot. For most situations, the High Softie, Mid Trickler or Low Runner should do the trick.
The High Softie
A tilt of the shoulders (so the right sits higher than the left) and a neutral shaft position help create the extra loft the High Softie requires. However, don’t make the mistake of trying to “lift” the ball into the air. Your setup and the loft of the club will take care of that. Like you should on every short shot, hit down and through.
When you’re faced with the daunting situation of having to chip to a hole cut very close to the fringe, opt for the High Softie. Unlike the other two chips we’ll discuss in this story, the High Softie presents a good amount of risk and quite a bit of challenge. But from the rough, you should be able to enjoy consistent success. (If the lie is tight, go ahead and use your putter.) The High Softie helps the ball land like a potato chip on a lake. It’s a great scoring play when there’s little room between you and the pin.
To execute the High Softie, position the ball more forward in your stance. More important, tilt your right shoulder lower than the left. This will effectively add loft to the shot and help it fly higher than normal.
As you tilt your shoulders, be careful not to lean the shaft away from the target. The clubshaft should lie perpendicular to the ground. The vertical shaft position allows you to make maximum use of the bounce of your wedge (the rear portion of the sole that helps the club to skid, rather than dig, when it hits the ground). This effectively lessens the chance of mis-hits and increases the loft on the club and shot.
Published: Thu, 01 Mar 2007 14:19:10 -0800
The game of golf is full of excuses. Whether its an excuse for a bad
shot, a bad pair of slacks or the dreaded excuse for a late or missed
tee time, golf is littered with blame. Rarely, however, does a golfer
blame himself or herself for a poorly hit shot. It could have been a
distraction, a bad lie, a miscalculated yardage or my favorite—an
unexpected 40 mph gust of wind. In any case, and despite the plethora
of excuses for what seems like everything in golf, if you want to get
better at actually playing golf, you must check your ego at the door.
Flubbed Bunker Shots
What you see on the PGA Tour doesnt work for everyone. Often, golfers exaggerate what they see on TV and open the clubface too much at address. Also, the camera plays tricks on the eye. It may look like players are aiming wide left, but in actuality, theyre aiming just slightly left. The truth is, the more you open the clubface, the smaller your window becomes for a successful result.
Use a stronger grip and move with your hands slightly ahead of the ball. Set up so the ball is in the center of your stance and aim your body slightly to the left. Do the same with the clubface in the opposite direction. The key is instead of exaggerating an open clubface, open it slightly to the right—just about as much as the body is to the left. (The left rod is my body line, and the middle rod is the direction of the clubface; my intended target is between the two.) As you swing, do so along your body line (left rod) and concentrate on hitting two inches behind the ball. The bounce of the sand wedge will determine how much sand youll catch between the ball and clubface, so remember to hold the face slightly open through impact and accelerate through the ball. Dont scoop—let the club do the work.
Golfers often err by flipping the hands over through the sand, usually resulting in a poorly hit bunker shot. Instead, trust your ability and the design of your sand wedge. The bounce is designed to allow for just the right amount of sand to lift the ball, but to take advantage of it, you have to hit down on the sand! I know, it seems counterintuitive to have to hit down and hard on the sand to lift the ball high and softly. But in the bunker, thats how to get it done.
Equipfix: Bounce Angles
By Ryan Noll
When was the last time you considered the bounce angle of your wedges? Truth is, theres a lot more to low, mid and high bounce angles than meets the eye. Bounce angle refers to the slope from the rear of the sole to the front, with respect to a flat surface and a vertical shaft angle. Typically, if youre a player who tends to hit fat wedge shots or if you have trouble getting the ball out from the bunker, a high-bounce wedge model will work far better for you than a low- or mid-bounce wedge. Reason being, more bounce means just that! The club will resist digging into the turf or sand and effectively bounce off the surface for a crisper shot due to the lower rear end of the sole and the higher leading edge.
Conversely, if youre a player who plays golf on very firm conditions or if you struggle more with thin shots and/or if youre an advanced player, a low-bounce sand wedge will likely produce better results. Low-bounce wedges have less angle between the rear and front of the sole, thus theyre beneficial for players seeking a more descending angle of attack.
For the undetermined, theres always the mid-level bounce angles that prove to be versatile options for all skill levels and all playing conditions. To help decide which wedge may be best for you, dont miss the 2007 Golf Equipment Buyers Guide, with a full round-up of todays hottest wedges and the technology that drives golfs most intricate scoring club.
Published: Thu, 01 Jun 2006 11:05:15 -0700
Editors Note: Since 1997, Golf Tips has featured one of the games great teaching personalities, Marshall Smith. The proud Oklahoman has made his instruction home on practice ranges from coast to coast and on every level of the pro circuits. Marshalls newest book, A Lifetime of Lessons (Triumph Books), spills forth over 50 years of teaching expertise and his unique take on the way the game is meant to be played.
Published: Thu, 01 Jun 2006 00:00:00 -0700
Published: Wed, 01 Jun 2005 13:18:51 -0700
If you think back to your last good round of golf, odds are you’ll envision a number of solid drives and approach shots. We bet you’ll also remember making a few excellent par saves or maybe draining a birdie putt or two you normally would have no business making. And if you recount your last poor round of golf, it’s likely you’ll conjure images of errant drives and sloppy iron shots, combined with recovery attempts that failed to get you on the green and into the hole. For low scores, the short game is key. Deft pitching, chipping, bunker play and putting are necessary ingredients to not only besting par, but also keeping your score level when wayward shots do arise. To help you become more of a short-game artist, we combed past issues of Golf Tips and pulled what we feel are our best greenside tips ever from our top short-game instructors. So read on and watch your scores magically drop.
1. Make Error Room
Bunker shots should be right-hand dominated. Make swings with your left hand in your pocket to ingrain proper feel. Also be aware that sand shots don’t need to be perfectly struck—you only have to hit near the ball. For any bunker blast, let the club do the work. A sand wedge’s sole is designed to guide the club under the golf ball, which will send the ball up and on its way. If you aim two to three inches behind the ball, you’ll give yourself plenty of room for error.
2. Thud The Sand
There’s a certain sound to a good sand shot—a “thud,” if you will. Compare that with a “dig” or a “skim,” which sound nothing like a good, healthy bunker blast. The “thud” sound is achieved only by allowing the sole portion of the clubhead to bounce aggressively into the sand and accelerate through. You can’t make a “thud” if you try to sweep or pick the ball.
3. Pop It In
For improved putting, combine the features of the classic pop stroke and the modern shoulder stroke. Grip the putter with your left index finger resting atop the fingers of your right hand. Use your left index finger to begin the stroke, allowing your right wrist to hinge (pop stroke). Move the whole system forward using your right palm as the push force (as in the piston stroke). The pop-piston stroke makes it easy to square the putterface through impact and works well on slower greens.
4. Swing Upright For Height
For all bunker shots, swing away from the ball on an upright plane. This will create the leverage needed to bounce the sole into the sand and help you hit the ball higher and land softer.
5. Fold The Left Elbow On The Followthrough
This may be one of the most overlooked secrets to great sand play. The left elbow must fold immediately following impact. By folding the left elbow, the clubhead will release easily through the ball and send it on a higher-than-normal trajectory, exactly what you want from tricky greenside bunkers.
Also be aware that, unlike most shots in golf, the clubface shouldn’t close on the followthrough in the sand. The feel is that you’re hitting a slice, with the clubface purposely held open for as long as possible. This helps to slide the clubface under the ball, as well as to get the ball airborne quickly.
Published: Mon, 01 Nov 2004 10:04:28 -0800
Bunkers elicit a common reaction from most recreational golfers. That reaction is fear—fear of leaving the ball in the bunker, fear of blasting it over the green, fear of looking foolish, etc.—and it stems from misunderstanding how a sand wedge is designed to function.
Look at your sand wedge. Notice how the trailing or back edge of the club is lower than the leading edge. That angle is called bounce and it’s what allows a sand wedge to slide through the sand. To create this sliding action, the back edge must enter the sand before the leading edge, which is designed to dig into the ground.
In order for the trailing edge of your wedge to strike the sand first, your bunker swing must include four essential components. To discover if you’re using the proper technique, try to hit 15- to 20-yard shots from a greenside bunker with a 7-iron. To pull off this shot, your technique will require the critical features of a successful bunker swing, which are as follows.
1. The clubface must be open at address Opening the face effectively exposes the all-important bounce of your sand wedge, which allows it to easily slide under the golf ball. With the 7-iron shot, you’ll need to open the face a good deal in order to create enough height to carry the lip.
2. You must sit down in your stance Get set with most of your weight in your heels, with your stance open to the target line by five to 10 yards.
3. Swing the club on a shallow plane—or more around your body This flatter (compared to steep) swing is what allows the trailing edge of the club to enter the sand first. Your divot should point left of the intended target.
4. Hold the clubface open through impact Don’t release the club—you’ll risk burying the wedge into the side instead of sliding through it. To keep the clubface open through impact, your body must continue to turn. In fact, you must turn until, at the finish, your weight is over your forward foot and the clubface points toward the sky.
Practice shots with your 7-iron until you can successfully blast out of the bunker three of every four shots. Then, try the same shot with your sand wedge, using the same principles. With the sand wedge, you won’t need to open your stance or clubface as much and your swing plane won’t be nearly as flat, since you’ll be standing closer to the golf ball. The best part of the 7-iron drill is that it instills confidence. After all, if you can hit a 7-iron out of a greenside bunker, how easy will it be with a sand wedge?
Rob Stock is an assistant golf professional at Farmington Country Club in Charlottesville, Va., and is a former Dave Pelz Short Game instructor
Published: Sun, 01 Aug 2004 10:43:52 -0700
It’s been well documented that a solid short game is the key to consistently shooting lower scores. A vital part of the short-game mix is the “finesse shot,” typically from within 100 yards of the green. On a finesse shot, your mindset must be quite different from that applied to the full swing. For example, when hitting a shot with a full swing, your goal is to hit the ball as hard and far as possible. When playing a finesse shot, however, your goal is to hit the ball short and soft. You can see this difference in attitude and approach when a player like Tiger Woods blasts a tee shot over 300 yards, then proceeds to float a soft, delicate pitch to within inches of the cup. Here are the five basic fundamentals that make up the common thread behind a player’s ability to consistently get the ball up and down.
A key to any well-executed golf shot is a golf club that smoothly accelerates through the impact area. Most recreational golfers, when trying to hit the ball a short distance, have the fear of hitting the ball too far. This results in the player quitting on the shot with an abbreviated followthrough. The key to acceleration, as well as maintaining a consistent rhythm, is matching the length of the swing on both sides of the ball. It’s important when learning finesse shots to experience and understand that the length of the backswing dictates how far the ball will travel. A shorter backswing results in a short shot, whereas a longer swing results in a higher, longer shot. It’s very difficult to hit short shots with long swings and long shots with short swings. Lastly, make sure the followthrough is at least of equal length, and you’ll be in perfect balance.
Small muscles are considered those of the hands, wrists and arms. Far too often, players tense up these muscle groups in finesse situations. Tension causes the hands and arms to become overactive, creating a “hitting” sensation through contact. Hitting, rather than swinging, creates all kinds of problems in the form of poor contact and distance control. When playing finesse shots, make it a point to focus on keeping your small muscles relaxed and passive. This will allow the club to swing naturally in a smooth, rhythmic fashion. Imagine a scale running from zero to 10, where 10 is the tightest. Find a hand and arm pressure of 3 to build small-muscle relaxation.
Many people feel if they don’t have to hit the ball a long way, then they shouldn’t use their body. As a result, I see a lot of people hitting only with their hands and arms. Wrong. The body plays a vital role in finesse shots. Getting the body involved provides power for the swing, allowing the hands and arms to remain relaxed and passive. Allow your body to pivot in response to the swinging golf club. To feel some body motion, toss a ball to a target 30 feet away. Notice how the body pivots in response to the tossing motion. Apply that same feel to your chips and pitches to build necessary harmony between your club and body.
Rhythm, rhythm, rhythm, I can’t say it enough—it’s the glue that holds your mechanics together. Your rhythm should match your goals. If you’re looking for soft, controllable contact, then you should swing in a soft, even rhythm. Picture the rhythm of a swinging pendulum on a grandfather clock. One, two, tick-tock, back, through! Count out your rhythm as you swing to build a smooth repeatable pace.
In the finesse game, creating different contacts and different trajectories requires different ball positions. When faced with a finesse situation, visualize the kind of flight you want to create, then select the appropriate shot, club and corresponding ball position. As a general rule, play the ball more toward your back foot on all short-range chips. This helps produce a lower trajectory and get the ball rolling on the green as soon as possible. For medium- and high-trajectory pitches, favor a centered ball position. And to facilitate sand-first contact when attempting a bunker blast, play the ball forward in your stance.
Regardless of the finess shot you’re playing, keep in mind these four principles and you’ll execute consistently to the best of your ability.
PGA professional Jeff Ritter is the director of instruction at the ASU Karsten Academy, and also teaches at Nike Junior Golf Camps nationwide.
Published: Tue, 01 Jun 2004 13:47:52 -0700
The plethora of multiple wedge offerings is fantastic. They’ve made extinct the old saying “a sand wedge is the only wedge a good player needs.” That adage came from Greg Norman, who I bet has added a lob wedge to his set since. Nevertheless, despite owning the tools for hitting any number of specific yardages from 125 yards and in, most short shots you’ll face will require something much different than a full swing from one of the two or three wedges in your bag.
Say you have a 45-yard shot to the green. They don’t make a 70-degree utility wedge for that scenario. Instead, you’ll have to choke down and make partial swings with either your pitching wedge, sand wedge, gap wedge or lob wedge. Now, throw a bunker between you and the pin. Your shot options narrow a bit. But do you make a 75-percent swing with your lob wedge or a 50-percent swing with your sand wedge? Confusing, huh? Not only are you torn between two clubs, but you’re also stuck between two swings.
What if I was to tell you that it’s possible to handle any short yardage situation from 85 yards and in with a single swing? Wouldn’t that be nice? Well, that’s certainly a reality. You can create different trajectories and distances from a single swing by simply learning to open and close the face of your sand wedge. Maybe The Shark was right; a sand wedge is the only wedge a good player really needs. The key is to control the face. Here’s how.
First Things First
Most recreational players have a difficult time with short shots when, in fact, those should be the easiest to execute. Wedge shots feature less speed with a shorter shaft and don’t require the turn, coil and weight shift as do full-swing shots. The number-one mistake amateurs make with a short shot is failing to set the club. By that I mean they rush it from the top, using way too much lower body action and creating sudden bursts of power that either destroy contact or make consistently hitting specific distances next to impossible.
The setup is key. For starters, create an open stance. The short-game swing is too short to effectively transfer weight from the rear foot to the front foot. So, preset it. Flare your front foot open and plant your weight on your left side (for right-handed golfers). Since you’re not looking for power, go ahead and pin your right elbow to your right side—this will help keep your club on plane. As for the takeaway, move the club away with your hands and maintain a steady head. Shoulder high is about as far back you’d want to take your hands.
If you can get to this position, you’re set. From here, the worst thing you can do is panic. With a short swing, many golfers feel they don’t have enough energy stored to hit the ball the desired distance. Trust me, you do. With a wedge shot, centered contact is more important than speed. So, at the top, be patient. Don’t rush the downswing. In fact, during your practice, take the club to the end of the backswing and pause. Then begin your downswing, which, like the backswing, is fueled by the arms and hands. Remember, your lower body and left side are already turned out of the way. If you’d like, focus on moving your hands along the same route they took away from the ball. Once you reach impact, fight the urge to raise the hands into a high finish. I’m sure you’ve heard me say this before, but it bears repeating: “In golf, you shake hands like a gentleman; you don’t high-five.” In other words, postimpact, extend your right hand as if you were going to shake with a person standing immediately to your left along your target line. See how your right shoulder turns underneath your chin as you do so? That’s a forgotten key that pays big dividends.
Notice how I’ve failed to mention the head. That’s done purposefully, for in a good wedge swing, the head remains back and relatively still and always remains between your two shoulders. If you’re prone to shanking your short shots, the culprit might be your head. In a shank, the club at impact is closer to the ball than it was at address. If you move your head down, your body, arms and shaft will follow. Now, the hosel is in the way. Same goes if you typically strike short shots thinly. This time, your head is moving up. Keep your head steady and allow your right shoulder to move fluidly underneath it.
Published: Tue, 01 Jun 2004 11:01:31 -0700
Controlling your wedge distances is more difficult than you think. The key is to benchmark your yardages with a “three-swing system.” Since we can no longer make a full swing, we must create a simple method of defining swing length as it relates to ball carry distance. First, I make a quarter-length swing, where my hands finish about waist high. Second, the half-swing, where I gauge my left arm position as being level to the ground. Finally, my three-quarter-length swing, where my hands reach shoulder high.
Common among all three swings is that the wrists hinge fully and the followthrough mirrors the backswing in terms of length.
The critical element to building a simple repeatable system is linking the swings together with a soft, even rhythm. Think of creating a pendulum swing, where your rhythm moves in a soft yet upbeat fashion, much like a swinging pendulum on a grandfather clock. Make some rehearsal swings saying the rhythm out loud (“One, two”). It’s this type of rhythm that will create a soft, controllable contact and build distance control.
Hit a few shots with each swing (1⁄4, 1⁄2, 3⁄4). Once you get the balls to carry a predictable distance, locate a mark for your three basic wedge yardages. For example, the distance progressions with my sand wedge are 30, 50 and 70 yards. Focus on each target and make the appropriate-length swing. Work on gauging your swing length and rhythm needed to hit each target.
When getting started, focus on developing a solid feel for your distances with your sand wedge. Once you feel confident, try to benchmark your yardages with a pitching wedge and lob wedge. In the end, you’ll have a total of nine solid distances inside of 100 yards.
Incorporating these simple techniques into your game is sure to improve your wedge game.
PGA professional Jeff Ritter is the director of instruction at the ASU Karsten Academy and also teaches at Nike Junior Golf Camps nationwide.
Published: Sat, 01 May 2004 00:00:00 -0700
Like any aspect of the game, improving your bunker play takes practice. But practicing the wrong technique will do little but further ingrain whatever mistakes you’re already making. As a result, instead of getting better, you’ll probably just get worse. The good news is, the fundamentals of solid sand play are actually pretty simple, and can be learned quickly provided you take the time to make certain your setup and execution are correct.
The key to becoming confident in the sand is to make your goals realistic. Pulling off miracle shots that stop within gimme range takes a tremendous amount of talent and expertise. Don’t get greedy trying to get the ball close to the pin every time, at least initially. Start by learning to get the ball on the green consistently, with a chance to make a par-saving putt.
To assume the proper position at address, be certain the ball is located toward the front of your stance, near the left heel. The face of the club should be open slightly, depending on the depth of the bunker. The more height you want on the shot, the more open the clubface must be. Position your feet fairly wide apart to promote balance, and point them to the left of the target with at least 75% of your body weight on the front foot.
Finally, grip down slightly on the shaft for enhanced clubhead control, and work your feet into the sand until you feel your footing is stable and secure.
For the best results, take the club up quickly in the backswing, which will promote a steep angle of attack. A wide stance with the majority of weight on the front foot and a swing with minimal rotation will promote this type of backswing. Be certain to take the club up to the top with your arms, not by cocking your wrists or turning your body. The length of the swing should always be relatively full, even on short shots.
At impact, your weight should move even farther toward the front foot while your knees continue to remain flexed. Contrary to what most recreational golfers believe, the club shouldn’t strike the ball from an outside-in swing path, but should instead come straight down the target line and then move left immediately after impact. The clubhead should enter the sand approximately two inches behind the ball and should pass through the sand on a flat trajectory. This will displace enough sand to throw the ball out of the bunker and onto the green. Any attempt to scoop the ball out of the sand will most likely result in a poor shot.
The length of the followthrough should be shorter than a full shot due to the lack of body rotation and the lack of release of the club through impact. The clubface should remain fairly open into the finish to allow the ball to come out softly and on the intended target line. Your arms should stay close to your body, with the speed of the swing, not its length, determining the distance the shot travels.
Published: Sat, 01 Nov 2003 15:47:35 -0800
Published: Sat, 01 Nov 2003 08:53:21 -0800
Published: Thu, 01 May 2003 13:59:38 -0700