Play Better Golf From Tee To Green!
To play your best golf you need to develop solid proficiency on a variety of shots. Here’s a road map to help you get more dialed in from tee to green to shoot lower golf scores.
DRIVING: CRUSH THE CAN
Remember those awesome “old school” images of players like Jack Nicklaus lifting their heel at the top of the backswing? Believe it or not, after decades of being coached to do otherwise, more top players are allowing for a little lift in that heel again. A lifted heel promotes greater turn in the backswing, along with a proper and more powerful sequence back to the ball that works from the ground up. The next time you go out to hit a few tee balls, experiment with this idea to incorporate more freedom into your swing. To start the downswing, imagine a pop can beneath your heel. Drive the heel firmly into the ground as if you were to “crush the can.” A bigger turn and more aggressive move through the ball from the ground up will surely add yards to your game.
PITCHING: STAY IN SYNCH
The “power game” and “finesse game” require different fundamentals. Whereas hitting long shots requires a large disassociation between the shoulders and hips to generate power, short shots need the upper and lower halves of the body to move more in unison. When you reach a wedge yardage that requires less than a full swing, focus on moving back and through more in synch. A great idea to consider is imagining throwing a weighted ball with a controlled toss. As you swing the ball back, move your chest and belt line together. Into the follow-through feel the upper and lower body again working as one as you toss the ball toward the target. I find that counting out a nice, even 1-2 along with this exercise is really helpful for understanding and developing basic finesse swing fundamentals.
Remember those awesome ‘old school’ images of players like Jack Nicklaus lifting their heel at the top of the backswing?
SAND: LOFT AND LEFT
Poor bunker players hit too far behind the ball with too much “dig” of the leading edge on the club face. A great remedy for this problem is to consider the proper movement of the club into the finish. Your golf swing is an arc that swings away from the target line in the backswing, back to the ball at impact and then back away again into the follow through. This swing shape helps create a consistent bottom to the golf swing allowing for clean contact on all shots. Golfers who swing too much toward the flag often strike the ground early or too far behind the ball from the sand. In addition, many players allow the club face to close through contact putting the club’s leading edge into the sand causing too much dig. Thinking “loft and left” is a reminder to swing the club left of the target (if you’re a right-handed golfer) into the finish, while keeping the club face “open” to the swing arc as a means of using the club’s loft and bounce to effortlessly get the ball up and out.
CHIPPING: CLOSE & TALL
To create an accurate, online hit, good chippers stand closer and taller to the ball. This position minimizes the swing arc, providing the directional precision of a putt. In addition, the club will naturally sit more on its “toe,” reducing the chance of the heel of the club head or leading edge getting stuck in the grass. With your favorite chipping club, assume your setup and inch a little closer to the ball. Raise your chest and lift the handle of the club until the heel of the club is a little higher than the toe. Relax your arms and make a rhythmic, even-sided swing, allowing for a little turn of your body to the target. When I’m chipping well, it simply feels like I’m making a free-flowing putting stroke with loft.
PUTTING: ACT AS IF
Every player has missed a short putt and then casually back-handed the same length putt right into the cup. “Acting as if” is a mindset that takes away the tension and pressure of short putting. Try this exercise. Surround the hole with eight balls from about three feet. Without getting into your normal setup, quickly walk up to each ball and pop it into the cup like you don’t care or there’s no way you can miss. Regardless of the outcome, quickly move to the next putt and continue. You’ll likely be surprised by how effortlessly you make what are normally stressful putts. When you “act as if” you behave as if success were inevitable. As a result you stay relaxed, rhythmic and cool as a cucumber over even dicey short putts.
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