Golf Tips

Distant Control vs Direction

Working on distant control is best when there is no expectation of making the putt. First, maintain grip pressure throughout the entire putt. As a warm up or practice drill putt to the fringe instead of a hole so there is no expectation of making a putt which aids in a relaxed grip. Practice strokes should be done while looking at the target so you are mimicking the length of the stroke required to roll the ball the proper distance. For putts inside 6 feet, look as deep inside the cup as possible.

Reading putts is important to getting the distance right. Determine the grain and slope by visualizing pouring a bucket of water and see what direction the water would flow. Learn to feel your feet to sense the slope as well. Once you are standing over the putt, committ to the target and putt with confidence. Control your misses by putting to the highest spot around the target. Misses on the low side tend to gather speed and break more. Remember, a shorter back stroke promotes the putterhead releasing down the target line.

Great warm up drill is practice from 6 feet by putting to the back of the cup, then the front of the cup and finish by making a normal putt stroke to the middle of the cup.

By the way, right eye dominant golfers should stand taller to get your eyes just inside the target line while left eye dominant golfers should be more over the ball so you are looking right down the target line.

There has been a lot of talk about tempo. Your tempo should match every part of your game. No slower, no faster. Doesn't matter whether you are making a short putt or a long putt. Let the length of the stroke to determine the distance the ball will roll. Use a bench mark formula of a 1 inch back stroke will roll the ball 1 foot up to 12 feet. Outside of 12 feet, the length of the forward stroke determines the length the ball will roll. For example, a 25 inch forward stroke will roll the ball 25 feet. Adjust the length of the stroke based upon factors such as slope and stimpmeter. Every inch the hole is above the ball add an inch to the stroke. Every inch the hole is below the ball subtract an inch from the stroke.

Pitch Shot Basics

The first thing to decide is whether you are going to hit a low, mid, high or flop shot using L3 (lie, landing spot and length the ball needs to roll). This helps choose the proper club for the shot as well.

Ball position for a low pitch is one ball behind the middle of your stance. Ball position for a mid pitch is center of your stance. Ball position for a high pitch or flop shot is one ball in front of the middle of your stance.

Feet should be at least 6 inches a part and open approximately 45 degrees. Common mistake is putting your feet to close together. This makes it near impossible to get your weight to the front foot. For a low shot, front foot should remain flat on the ground on the back stroke. Many people may find it helpful to rotate your hips by allowing the heel of the front foot to come up. This will also help keep the club low and slow on the backstroke. Using this technique for a mid pitch, high pitch or flop shot is especially helpful because you are rotating further on the back stroke.

For a low pitch, the club head should go back to the height between your ankle and calf. For a mid pitch, take the club head back to the height between your calf and knee. For a high pitch or flop shot, take the club head back to the height between your knee and waist. Hint, the shorter the back stroke the easier to make good ball contact.

Consistent ball contact comes from a lower shaft angle coming in to the ball on the forward stroke. The bottom of the club face should brush the grass 3 to 6 inches behind the ball thru to at least 3 to 6 inches in front of the ball.

Allow the heel of the rear foot to come up on the forward stroke. This will promote the hips turning and allow the chest to turn toward the target. Arms and hands will follow.

On a low or mid pitch, the arms and hands should roll over which points the toe of the club up or toward the target. Hint, thumb on the top hand should point at the target to control distance and direction. If you need more spin, leave the palm of rear hand facing up. This also assists in the club face pointing upward. Both will invoke more spin on the ball, preventing the ball to rollout. Golfers call this getting the ball to check up. However, on a high pitch or a flop shot, always leave the palm up allowing the ball to land softly. Imagine tossing a ball high in the air. The motions are very similar.

On the forward stroke of a low pitch, the club head shouldn't get above your knees. The height of the forward stroke of a mid pitch should match the height of the back stroke. For example, knee to knee. On a high pitch or flop shot the club head should  point up toward the sky. This is accomplished by stopping the forward motion of the lead arm at your hip and allow the trail arm to continue to move forward and up.

The only difference between a high pitch and a flop shot is an open club face at address and the forward stroke of a flop shot travels down the toe line not the target line. In other words, for a flop shot aim the club face at the target but swing down your toe line. For higher shots, open your club face and your stance more. Hint, the club face and stance always open the same amount. The more you open the club face the more you open your stance.

Remember, regardless of the pitch shot you choose, always take a few practice swings because you play the way you practice. The only difference between a practice swing and your actual swing is the golf ball gets in the way.

Chip-Putt Technique

Setting up with the shaft of the club verticle will allow the rounded toe of the clubface to get to the bottom of the ball. This is not only where the bulk of the weight of the club is, it also has twice the amount of groves. The combination of these two promotes more spin for control and gets the ball up quicker.

Use a strong grip. This means you should be able to see 3 knuckles on your forward hand. Only the thumb and forefinger of the rear hand should pinch the club. Get out on the end of the club. This will force you to stand tall. The ball should be no more than 10 inches from your toes and between the middle and rear of your stance.

Using a putt stroke, keep the club low and slow on the backstroke, brushing the grass. The length of the back stroke and forward stroke should be no higher than your ankles. On the follow thru allow the thumb on the rear hand to rotate to the top of the club shaft resulting in the toe of the club pointing toward the sky. This will release the clubface, transferring the maximum amount of built up kinetic energy from the club head to the ball and force a low trajectory which promotes the ball rolling further.

Allow the heel of the rear foot to come up, promoting the hips, stomach and chest to turn toward the target. The arms and hands will follow.

Find a spot 4-6 inches in front of the ball along the target line to throw the clubhead over. Hold the finish until the ball stops rolling.

Never Surrender Control of the Ball

I was at a dinner party the other night listening to the host talk about an amazing golf shot he made. He was playing a course in Napa Valley and the wind was whirling. The hole was a par 3 with an island green. He made a common mistake among recreational golfers. The wind was blowing left to right so he chose to aim over the water to the left and hit a fade. His strategy was to let the wind carry his ball back to the right and drop it on the green. High risk, low reward. Fortunately for him, his shot was high so the wind grabbed the ball, blew it back to the right and dropped it on the green. It was a great golf story.

However, I didn't have the heart to tell him that his strategy was all wrong. What if the wind suddenly died? My friends golf ball would have landed in the water and he probably would't be telling that story. Or what if the wind suddenly had a gust. His ball would have been in the water on the other side of the green. Not a good story to tell.

The proper strategy would have been to aim for the right side of the green and hit a draw in to the wind. You never aim at a hazard because you just might hit it straight and you never surrender control of your golf ball.

Short Game Basics - L3

Before choosing which club you plan to use, remember L3. L3 stands for lie, landing and length.

Look at what kind of lie you have. Is the ball sitting up, buried or resting on a hard surface with little or no grass? Then decide on a spot on the green that you want to land the ball. Finally, determine the length you want the ball to roll to the hole. Lie, landing, length!

Determining your L3 will help you pick the right club for the job.