|THE SWEET SPOT
Today’s drivers have the biggest clubfaces ever. No really, they’ve never been this big, making it easier for more types of players to hit longer and straighter drives. But what’s really going on with big faces? Does the sweet spot actually get bigger?
The answer is no. A driver (or any other club for the matter) has a sweet spot located at the precise intersection of the vertical center of gravity and the horizontal center of gravity. What’s referred to as a sweet spot should more appropriately be called a “sweet point,” since it’s actually a mere intersection point of two axes of gravity.
When equipment manufacturers refer to a driver as having a “bigger” or “enlarged” sweet spot, what they’re really saying is the area around the sweet spot has become more forgiving, which in some cases, produces little to no loss of distance or accuracy when contact with the ball is slightly off the sweet spot.
That’s not to say missing the sweet spot is always a bad thing. Some better players intentionally make contact above the sweet spot, which not only increases the launch angle and lessens ball speed a bit, but also reduces spin for a more bor-ing ballflight. On the other hand, hitting below the sweet spot will produce drives with added backspin, which helps when hitting drives off the ground.
Published: Tue, 12 Apr 2011 00:00:00 -0700
|Hybrid Iron Or Wood?
What is a hybrid, exactly? Most hybrids are designed to be replacement clubs for those hard-to-hit long irons, but that's not true with all models. The easiest way to determine if your hybrids require more of a wood-like swing or an iron-like swing is to check the design of the face. If the face looks like an iron, then it’s meant to be swung more like an iron. If it has a more rounded profile and looks more like a wood, the club might perform better for you if you have a slightly shallower angle of attack. Now be careful, no matter what, a hybrid is not a fairway wood, and in most cases, your steeper iron swing will prevail. But if you have hybrids that look more like woods, don’t be afraid to make a lower and longer golf swing.
Published: Tue, 04 May 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
|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
The greenside bunker shot is one of the most intimidating shots for the amateur player, while at the same time being one of the easier shots for touring pros. Why? The reason is simply because professionals understand how to manage sand properly and actually use the sand to their advantage. As for amateurs? For some reason, most amateurs make matters more confusing than they ought to be.
When hitting from a bunker, there are two things that you should try to do above all else. First, strike the sand with the bottom of the clubhead (the sole) about two inches behind the ball. Second, create a divot from one to one and a half inches in depth. Too often, I see amateurs either afraid to make a sand divot or, on the other hand, take too much of a divot. In actuality, the right amount of sand to dig is generally only an inch deep!
The main job of the clubhead is to create a pocket of sand between the ball and clubhead. As the clubhead digs, you can see the sand between the clubhead and ball actually start lifting the ball upward. There’s no need to try to lift the ball from the sand; instead, you should simply let the sand do it for you. If you dig too much, the clubhead will lose momentum, making it hard to get the ball out. Any less sand will prevent a soft landing, often resulting in skulled shots.
Practice taking divots in the bunker using the guidelines I’ve provided and you’ll soon see that hitting great bunker shots isn’t as hard as you once thought.
John Stahlschmidt, PGA, is the Head Instructor at the TOUR Academy at the TPC of Scottsdale in Arizona. To book a lesson or for more information, visit www.pgatourexperiences.com.
Published: Mon, 01 Sep 2008 00:00:00 -0700
Published: Wed, 18 Jul 2007 14:04:59 -0700
Okay, so you’ve missed the green by a few feet and are left with a fluffy, unpredictable lie. Situations like this aren’t uncommon here at Poipu Bay in Kauai (and probably your home course too), but with a quick pointer on greenside chipping, I think I can help you get up and down more often than not from this tricky position. How? With the most versatile and forgiving club in your bag.
When you miss the green and find yourself with a tight, fluffy or unpredictable lie near the green, ditch the wedge for a hybrid club (if you’re one of the few not using a hybrid club, try a high-lofted fairway wood). The hybrid, which has become known for its remarkable versatility, can help you hit a shot that produces the same result, no matter what the lie. A wedge, however, may pop the ball up high, promote roll or cause the ball to check up. (Or worse yet, in a fluffy lie like I have here, the wedge can slip completely under the ball, causing an embarrassing flubbed shot.) With the hybrid, you can almost always guarantee the ball will get airborne a few inches and immediately start rolling toward the target.
To hit this shot—no matter what the lie—simply adopt your putting stance. Choke down on the shaft to a comfortable position, place the ball and your weight slightly forward of center in your stance and glide the clubhead across the grass as you would with a putter. The thick sole and low weighting of the hybrid will help brush through the turf with the needed momentum to prevent a flubbed shot, and the enlarged sweet spot will minimize twisting and distance loss should you hit the ball slightly on the heel or toe.
When you’re ready, make a putting stroke and be sure to play for plenty of roll, as the ball will get airborne momentarily and begin rolling in a hurry. (This shot tends to be more effective with at least 10 yards of green between you and the hole.) Remember to read the green as you would a putt, and play the break. With some practice and experimentation, you’ll soon find using the hybrid to be one of the most effective ways to get the ball close from off the green. Mahalo!
Craig Sasada, PGA, is Director of Golf at the beautiful Poipu Bay Golf Resort on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. For more on the resort, as well as all of Kauai, visit www.kauaidiscovery.com and www.poipubay.com.
Published: Thu, 17 May 2007 15:21:22 -0700
Published: Wed, 07 Mar 2007 08:52:04 -0800
Published: Tue, 06 Mar 2007 11:45:02 -0800
Published: Mon, 05 Mar 2007 16:06:22 -0800
Published: Mon, 05 Mar 2007 15:54:07 -0800
Published: Mon, 05 Mar 2007 09:32:36 -0800
Any golfer worth his salt dreams of trying his hand on a true links golf course. Turnberry, Kingsbarns, Royal Dornoch, even Carnoustie—they all present challenges that inland courses, protected from the elements, simply can’t muster. The soft fairways that prevent errant drives from running into the rough don’t exist. Spongy, well-watered greens that receive approaches of all kinds just aren’t there. It’s a whole different style of play that favors putting over pitching and low, authoritative punch shots over high, spinning floaters. Above all, links golf demands imagination.
To understand how native players of links-style golf feel, one only has to listen to PGA professional David Thomson, who teaches at the Carnegie Club at Skibo Castle in Dornoch, Scotland. “American-style golf doesn’t take anything up here,” he says, pointing to his head. “All you have to do is hit it on the fairway and hit it on the green. There’s not much to it.”
Now, many of us would scoff at Thomson’s assertion that target golf is as easy as that, but in reality, he’s more correct than many would like to admit. Simply tee it up on a seaside track with 30 mph winds, firm, tightly mown fairways and rock-hard greens, and you’ll find out. Iron shots that aren’t hit cleanly will struggle to get airborne, and drives that balloon will wind up a good 40 or 50 yards shorter than expected.
Because the conditions are so much more challenging than those on most target golf courses, scoring on a links course demands a wider variety of shots. Trajectory control is key, particularly in scoring situations inside 100 yards.
In light of this fact, we retained the help of Guy Redford, who currently teaches at Dundonald, the newest course affiliated with the fantastic Loch Lomond Golf Club (designed by Kyle Phillips and located near the town of Troon). Redford is particularly well suited to provide links instruction, not only because he grew up playing in the brisk Scottish winds, but because he has been privy to many of the best traditional tips for scoring. Of course, these same techniques can be utilized anywhere the wind blows and where conditions are less than ideal.
The Low Runner
On target-style golf courses, approaches from 100 yards and closer generally demand a high, spinning sand- or lob-wedge shot. When it comes to windswept links courses, however, this type of shot can be extremely difficult to execute, if not impossible. Not only does the wind interfere with both trajectory and accuracy, but the tightly mown or dormant fairways (depending on the time of year) make nipping clean wedge shots a difficult task.
Published: Mon, 05 Mar 2007 09:11:21 -0800
Published: Mon, 05 Mar 2007 09:03:34 -0800
Using a putter (the good ol’ Texas wedge) to escape a greenside bunker should only be attempted if the sand in the bunker is firm, the lie is decent (not buried) and the bunker itself doesn’t feature a lip, or if it does, a very small lip with a rounded edge. If you try this shot without each of these conditions being met, be ready to hit two shots from the same place.
From your clean lie, address the ball as you normally would with a putter on the green, with your weight centered over both feet and with your standard putting grip. Play the ball back in your stance, which will help prevent touching the sand through impact. In this situation, unlike other bunker shots, the key is to catch all ball and no sand, so plan on striking the upper hemisphere of the golf ball with the putterface. Expect the ball to roll much like it would on the green and then pop over the lip. Because you’ll be hitting all ball and no sand, and the ball may pop up when it hits the lip, don’t be afraid to hit this shot harder than you would a normal putt from this distance. The off-center strike and spin from the hop will reduce the speed of the ball, so give it a good hit. With a little practice, you’ll find that this shot reigns supreme and nearly takes out all the guesswork from low-lipped bunker shots.
Craig Bunker, PGA, is director of instruction for the John Jacobs’ Golf Schools (www.jacobsgolf.com).
Published: Mon, 05 Mar 2007 08:54:51 -0800
Published: Fri, 02 Mar 2007 08:39:48 -0800
Published: Fri, 16 Feb 2007 16:45:46 -0800
Published: Fri, 16 Feb 2007 16:11:24 -0800
PGA professional Mike McGetrick is considered one of the top 100 teachers in America. His academy is located in Denver, Colo.
Published: Fri, 16 Feb 2007 15:29:41 -0800
Published: Fri, 16 Feb 2007 15:20:35 -0800
Golf isn’t a game of who hits it the best, it’s a game of who misses it the least. Even the best players in the world routinely mis-hit shots. In fact, the average Tour player hits only about 12 greens per round! How do they miss one out of every three greens and still manage to routinely shoot under par? Two reasons: steely determination and a red-hot short game. While we may not all be wired with Tiger Woods’ killer instinct or have as much time to dedicate to our game as Tour players do, we can find the time to practice the most important shots in the game: those from within 100 yards. They’re the ones that require touch, imagination and radar-like precision—three skills that can easily escape us, especially when our games have been dormant for awhile.
So, this spring, before you start swinging for the fence with your driver, spend some time working on your short game—especially if your goal is to knock a few strokes off your index. After working on these shots, you’ll amaze your friends, get up and down from everywhere and start playing like a pro.
1. Distance: Sand Wedge
A great drill for buddies (and something that’s lots of fun to practice) is to have a friend stand with a baseball mitt at intervals of 30, 60 and 90 yards away from you, then hit balls to him as if the two of you were “playing catch.” By hitting the ball different distances, you’ll gauge the size and rhythm of your swing so that you can consistently hit your target. Practicing this drill is also a great way to learn how to hit soft, high shots.
Once you’ve successfully hit the ball those three distances, try to fill the gaps. Just like throwing a ball to a friend, you’ll learn how to hit it the proper distance without thinking about it.
2. Greenside Hybrid
Use the newest club in your bag for guaranteed greenside accuracy. Hitting a hybrid is great for when your ball is snug against the collar or if you have a bad lie in some gnarly grass. Because the hybrid glides through the turf without any twisting or grabbing, the result will be a safer, more predictable outcome on some of your toughest shots.
Stand tall with a narrow stance. Place the ball a little back of center, and lean your weight slightly toward the target. From here, it’s just a putting stroke. A little pivot toward the target on your followthrough is a good idea as well. Now that’s a versatile club!
3. Texas Turndown
This is a great shot to play in Scotland or on those hardpan Texas fairways, when you have to land the ball short and run it out. It’s perfect for an approach with no bunkers and lots of fairway leading up to the green.
Using a 7- or 8-iron, place the ball in the center of your stance, and set your weight slightly toward the target. Adopt a shallow, arcing swing where the clubface closes significantly through impact.
The result will be a low, over-spinning type of trajectory that hits and runs to the green like a rabbit.
Published: Thu, 01 Feb 2007 00:00:00 -0800
Its a how-to world these days. Everywhere you look, youll find someone, somewhere or something dedicated to what I like to call, HTH (How-To Hysteria). How to bake a cake, how to wire a motorcycle, how to build an arboretum, how to fix a car—we as a culture have become so fascinated by the how-to genre that dozens of magazines, Websites and even television channels have been developed to help you help yourself. Luckily, Golf Tips is no exception, as the authors in every instructional story provide you with the scoop on how to become a better player. In this particular feature, were going to follow suit and get into the nitty-gritty of how to become the ultimate shotmaker. Brace yourself—this is the stuff youve been waiting for. Weve outlined eight different shots that you need to know to play your best, as well as the formulas for what kind of setup, grip, stance and magic move it takes to make them happen. But before we get started, heres a bit of insider info: Im a left-handed golfer! Even though I play from the other side of the ball (forgive me, my fellow southpaws), Ive been able to prove the following formulas work by implementing them into right-handed swings for you to see. (Hey, if they work for me, theyre definitely going to work for you.)
Caution! These pages are full of powerful golf shot formulas and may result in exceptional shotmaking on the golf course. This may cause serious damage to the scorecard and/or your opponent, requiring him/her to pay more nassaus and skins in your favor. Use with care and consideration of others.High Draw: How to hit a high draw for a few extra yards off the tee.
Published: Wed, 01 Nov 2006 10:03:26 -0800
Published: Sat, 01 Jul 2006 11:00:29 -0700
Published: Mon, 01 May 2006 00:00:00 -0700
Published: Fri, 01 Jul 2005 13:24:06 -0700
Shotmaking is a broad term and one that’s typically reserved for highly skilled players. Yet all golfers, even those who have a tough time breaking 90, should consider themselves shotmakers. Face it, the game of golf constantly demands a degree of creativity, and unless you play on a perfectly flat course with no rough, no hazards and no undulations on the greens, you have to be ready with a variety of plays—just to get through a single round. So stop thinking that shotmaking is a term reserved strictly for the best players and embrace the notion that you, too, are capable of hitting more than one shot with every club in your bag. In the end, you’ll shoot better scores and have a lot more fun playing the game.
1. How To Alter Trajectory
It may sound simple, but adjusting your tee height is the easiest way to alter tee shot trajectory. As expected, raising your tee height will promote a higher trajectory shot with more carry, while lowering your tee height will promote a more boring shot with more roll. Another key is adjusting your weight placement at address—if you put more weight on the rear foot, the ball will tend to fly on a higher trajectory; if you place your weight on your forward foot, you’ll hit the ball lower. Finally, you change ballflight by moving the ball in your stance. Playing the ball forward will cause you to hit the ball higher; playing back hits it lower.
2. Power Fade
At address, aim your body slightly left of the target while keeping your club pointing at the target, and swing along your body line. Because you’re aimed left, making a regular swing in this alignment will produce a slightly out-to-in path and promote a left-to-right ballflight. Adding slightly more pressure in the last three fingers of your leading hand through impact also is a good way to prevent the clubhead from closing, which further promotes a fade. The secret to this shot is to follow the line of your body and “hold” on to the club through impact. Swinging aggressively after you’ve perfected this move will only cause you to hit it further!
3. How To Get It In Play
When you must get the ball in play, try these tips: 1) Tee the ball lower to the ground (you’ll have to experiment with your brand of driver), which will tend to produce a lower and flatter trajectory and more control; 2) Make a connected and full weight shift into your forward foot, allowing the arms and hands to be controlled by the pivot of your body; remember to stay relaxed and try to minimize any extra acceleration; 3) Don’t be afraid to choke down on your driver or 3-wood—the idea is to get it in play, not hit it far.
4. How To Play Alternative Clubs Off The Tee
Once you’ve selected a hybrid club to hit from the tee, take at least four practice swings to adjust to the different weight and feel of the club—particularly when you’ve been hitting woods for several consecutive holes. Next, tee up the ball slightly higher than you would a normal iron, which will make it easier to achieve square contact. Finally, focus on swinging with a moderate tempo, and don’t be overly concerned with hitting the shot with a lot of power.
Published: Thu, 01 Jul 2004 14:39:55 -0700
In the late 1970s, the greatest player in the world came to the realization that he had to change his swing in order to better control his golf ball in the wind. That golfer, Jack Nicklaus, spent the better part of a year re-learning the golf swing in heavy Florida winds. A few years later, Nick Faldo re-tooled his leggy, high-ball hitting motion by inserting mechanisms that helped him lower his trajectory in order to produce a more penetrating ballflight. The move led him to six majors.
Now, you may not be gearing up for a run at this year’s British Open, but if you want to take your scores as low as they can go on a consistent basis, you have to be able to play your best no matter how hard the wind blows. And that means knowing how to keep the ball low when you need to.
Where The Pros Can’t Help You
When you’re playing a shot into the wind, the last thing you want is a rising ball with a lot of spin—you’ll lose distance and the ball won’t hold its line. Professional golfers suggest that to better control trajectory, modify your setup and your swing. They’ll tell you: “Play the ball in the center of your stance in order to reduce the effective loft on the club and keep your weight on your left side while you punch down on the ball with a three-quarter swing that features a hands-under-the-shoulder followthrough.” This tip offers the correct advice, but it’s applicable to a pro’s game. Not yours. For most golfers, the best adjustments are the least adjustments. Judging the effect of wind on your regular ballflight is tough; figuring out how it will influence a shot struck with a newly concocted swing is next to impossible.
The Simple Way To Keep It Low
Here’s how to keep the ball low without changing your swing or your ball position. Group your irons in pairs: 5-iron/7-iron, 6-iron/8-iron, 7-iron/9-iron, 8-iron/PW, and 9-iron/SW. Now you’re set to control trajectory like a pro. To produce the distance of a 9-iron with the height of a 7-iron, grip down on the handle of the 7 until your right index finger (for right-handers) touches the shaft itself. All you have to do is make exactly the same swing with the 7-iron as you would if you were hitting a full 9.
Published: Sat, 01 May 2004 00:00:00 -0700
Published: Sat, 01 Nov 2003 00:00:00 -0800
The one constant in the game of golf is that each round is different. Weather conditions, course conditions, course layout and even a golfer’s physical and mental state on a given day create a unique set of challenges. That means that to play well you have to learn to adapt. Golfers who maximize their scoring potential know how to do things like shape the ball around the corner of a dogleg, handle uneven lies on a hilly course, and hit the ball back in play from under low-hanging branches. Being able to change your strategy and technique to execute shots under conditions like these qualifies you as a shotmaker—and that’s when you’re really playing golf.
Put A New Spin On Your Game
One of the basics of shotmaking is understanding the art of applying spin to the golf ball in special ways. If you understand the way in which spin influences the flight of the ball, you’ll have a better chance at intentionally applying that spin when you need it. Because the shortest route between your ball and the target isn’t always a straight line, being able to curve the ball at will is a must for maximizing your scoring potential.
Fading The Ball
Clockwise sidespin makes the ball move from left to right. You impart this type of spin when the ball is struck with an open clubface relative to your swing path. As such, the easiest way to intentionally produce a shot that fades from left to right is to preset the appropriate clubface angle and swing path at address.
To fade the ball, aim your body (feet, knees, hips and shoulders) slightly left of your target or where you want the ball to start out. Now, open the clubface slightly and grip the golf club so that the clubface is aimed directly at the target—or where you want the ball to end up.
Because you swing along the path established by your body alignments, the club travels on an out-to-in path relative to the target line, starting the ball left of the target. However, because the clubface is open relative to the swing path, left-to-right sidespin is produced, curving the ball gently back to the target. Because the bottom of the swing is more forward than normal due to the “open” stance, position the ball slightly ahead of normal. Also, firm up the grip pressure in both hands slightly to prevent the clubface from closing too soon through the hitting area. A fade produces a shot that flies higher and stops faster with little roll once it hits the ground, so consider taking one more club than normal. It’s as simple as that.
Drawing The Ball
A shot that curves from right to left naturally demands a setup position that’s opposite of that for one that curves left-to-right. First, align your body slightly right of your target or in the direction you want the ball to start out. Now, grip the club so the clubface is slightly closed and aimed at the target or where you want the ball to finish. This “closed” body alignment promotes a takeaway that will be more to the inside than usual, resulting in a swing path that travels from inside-to-out and imparts counterclockwise spin. The path and counterclockwise spin will cause the ball to start out right, then draw back in toward the target. The more curve you want, the more you aim to the right, keeping the clubface aimed at your intended target. Because a closed stance effectively moves the bottom of the swing behind where it is normally, the ball position should be slightly back in your stance. Grip pressure should be a little lighter than normal in both hands, encouraging the clubface to close sooner through the hitting area. Since the clubface closes down at impact when you play a draw, you’ll get a lower ballflight with more overspin than a straight shot. The trajectory will be lower and the ball won’t fly as far in the air, but it will roll farther once it hits the ground.
Play The Over-Under
Trajectory control is just as important to playing great golf as being able to curve the ball left or right. Mastering the high and low shots will help you escape trouble, hit the ball low on a windy day or hit a high shot over an obstacle or into an elevated green.
Published: Tue, 01 Jul 2003 09:40:12 -0700
Published: Sun, 01 Jun 2003 15:32:28 -0700
PGA professional, top-100 instructor and Golf Tips® Senior Instruction Editor Glenn Deck operates the Glenn Deck Golf Academy at Pelican Hill Golf Club and Resort in Newport Coast, Calif. (www.pelicanhill.com).
Published: Thu, 01 May 2003 10:36:51 -0700
Published: Tue, 01 Apr 2003 14:22:16 -0800
Published: Tue, 01 Apr 2003 11:28:02 -0800
Instead of taking advantage of clear scoring opportunities from less than full-wedge distances, most recreational golfers unnecessarily struggle, often needing additional strokes to get the ball into the hole following a poor approach. Not only does this situation work to balloon your scores, it robs you of the momentum you might have gained had you made par or birdie. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. Over the next several pages, you’ll find an easy-to-follow guide to hitting crisp and accurate approaches from short distances with varying wedges. If you can learn these techniques and put them into play when the situations present themselves on the course, you’ll be in position to shave a good three to five strokes off your score and keep positive momentum active throughout your round.
The key to mastering short approaches is to learn how to hit the ball different distances with different clubs. Shots hit with a shorter or longer backswing and with more or less clubhead loft will exhibit trajectory characteristics that are better suited for some situations than others. For example, the 65-yard shot with a full lob wedge may not be the best play into a wind or if there’s plenty of green with which to work. Instead, the 65-yard play with half-pitching wedge will give you more control and likely a greater chance at getting close to the hole.
With your stance narrowed to a quarter of its normal width and your hands placed 1.5 inches from the top of the grip, swing the club back to a point where your left arm crosses your right pants pocket. Allow your wrists to naturally hinge. From here, swing the club to impact with an accelerating move.
Address a half-wedge shot by cutting your stance in half and by gripping down on the club a full inch. Swing the club back until your left arm is parallel to the ground. Don’t forget to coil onto your rear leg on the backswing, and to allow your body to uncoil as you bring the club back to the ball and into the finish.
With a slightly narrowed stance and your hands placed a half-inch from the top of the grip, make a three-quarters backswing. From the top, execute a normal turn back toward the golf ball, making sure to line up everything at impact. Your swing should finish at three-quarters without the need to consciously halt its motion.
A solid wedge full swing exhibits the elements of any full swing, including a full turn of the shoulders against the lower body, a shift in weight rearward on the backswing and toward the front leg on the downswing, and a natural release of the clubhead. Keep your hands ahead of the face to keep shots from ballooning.
Published: Mon, 01 Jul 2002 14:07:14 -0700
Published: Mon, 01 Jul 2002 10:58:29 -0700