Friday, April 23, 2010

Playing in the Wind

Wind can certainly be a hazard when playing golf, but it also offers the opportunity to use your shot making skills and strategic thinking to produce more satisfying results. Playing in windy conditions requires patience, well thought out decisions and the ability to hit a variety of shots. As a result experienced players with more proficient ball striking skills have less difficulty playing in extreme wind than novice players. Here are some tips that will help you when playing in the wind.

1. Don't make the mistake when teeing off into a headwind of teeing the ball lower and playing the ball back in your stance. Doing this actually causes more backspin which results in the ball flying higher than normal. Instead position the ball normally at the regular tee height and sweep the club solidly through the ball at ground level.

2. When hitting into a headwind take more club (often 2 or 3 more clubs) and swing easily. You'll make more solid contact and because the ball flies lower it will be less effected by the wind.

3. Players often toss grass into the air to test the wind strength and direction. Generally the wind at ground level is not the same as the altitude you ball is flying. A better choice is to check the tree tops for wind speed and direction and adjust accordingly.

4. When hitting downwind off the tee consider a three wood rather than your driver. The additional height allows the ball to fly farther than the lower trajectory created by your driver.

5. When hitting into a headwind with wedges and short irons it is important to keep the trajectory as low as possible. To do this widen your stance slightly and swing the club in a shallow sweeping motion with minimum wrist hinging. Think of keeping the clubhead as low to the ground as possible in the backswing and follow through.

6. Most players don't realize it but when hitting with a crosswind you need to hit about a half more club than normal.

7. When hitting into a headwind backspin and sidespin are magnified while hitting with a tailwind they are minimized. That is why your ball slices and hooks more when hiting into a headwind and curves less when hitting downwind.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Get a grip on your game this Spring

As the golf season gets in full swing (no pun intended..) it is important to start with sound fundamentals. Your grip should be at the top of that list to help develop consistency and solid ball striking.
Lay the club diagonally across the fingers and palm of the left hand so the handle runs from the top joint of your forefinger across the middle of your heel pad. After closing your hand over the club you should be able to see atleast two knuckles of the left hand with your left thumb resting down the right side of the grip. The V formed by the thumb and forefinger of the left hand will point just inside your right shoulder.
In positioning the right hand on the club your fingers should be underneath the handle, then wrap the palm of your right hand over your left thumb. After closing the right hand your right thumb will rest lightly against the left side of the grip with the V formed by your right thumb and forefinger pointing just inside your right shoulder.
A ten-finger grip is often well suited for juniors and beginners because having the entire right hand on the handle promotes more hand action. As a players' priority moves from distance to accuracy they would probably benefit from either an overlapping or interlocking grip.
In regards to grip pressure use equal pressure with your fingers and hands holding the club firmly, but not the point of your arms being rigid. On a scale if holding the club as light as possible was a 1 and as tight as possible was a 10 I would start at a 5 or 6. Occassionally you will vary your grip pressure depending on the shot your trying to hit. To keep the ball low as when hitting into a headwind or trying to hit a punch shot you'll need a firmer grip. If you're trying to hit a high, soft lob shot to the green you'll want to hold the club much lighter.
If you've been holding the club differently than what I have described this new position will probably feel strange at first. Keep with it and through practice not only will it become more comfortable, but you'll hit straighter and more solid shots. I can't think of a better way to start off the golf season.