Monday, August 30, 2010

General Poor Putting - No confidence on shorter putts

The common thread of good putters is they consistently have the putter face square to their intended line at the moment it impacts the ball. Although putting is certainly the most individualistic component of the game you'll find the best and most consistent putters use a pendulum type stroke. Using this method the triangle formed by their arms and shoulders at address stays intact through the stroke.
When we lose confidence in our putting we start trying to “help” the ball in the hole resulting in our head and body moving out of position. This disrupts the alignment of the putter face leading to inconsistent contact with the ball and little control over the direction or speed of the putt.
In general the fewer moving parts in our putting stroke the more consistent we are. Developing a shoulder stroke pendulum action minimizes those moving parts.
To feel this stroke take your stance then place your palms together forming a triangle with your hands, arms and shoulders. With a steady head and lower body rock your shoulders so that you move the triangle back and through. Make sure to keep your chest square to the target line rather than opening your shoulders and body to the hole.
Your left shoulder should work down on the backstroke and up on the forward stroke. Your shoulders now control the path of the putter head and keep the putter on line through impact. A good habit for shorter putts is to not look at the hole until you hear the ball fall into the cup.
If you're struggling with your putting spend some practice time with this method and you'll soon be making more putts and shooting lower scores.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Playing from Slopes

Playing from slopes

Unlike football fields and baseball diamonds golf courses are not built on level playing surfaces. Players are often faced with shots from sloped lies that make a relatively easy shot suddenly more challenging. By making a few adjustments to your stance, alignment and swing you can successfully hit these shots solid and more accurately.

Uphill lie - Hitting up the hill
When faced with an uphill lie stand perpendicular to the slope which will position your right shoulder lower than normal. This allows you to swing parallel to the slope so you won’t hit into the ground after contacting the ball. Swing down the slope on your backswing and up the slope on your forward swing. Your weight will remain on your rear side and because we tend to hook the ball from this position aim slightly right of your target. This position also creates more loft so you’ll generally want to use more club.

Downhill lie – Hitting down the hill
With a downhill lie you will also want to stand perpendicular to the slope. This stance will put more weight on your left side and your hands will be ahead of the club. Pick the club up on your backswing and swing down and through on the forward swing. Feel that you are chasing the ball down the slope with the club head. Downhill shots are easier played with more lofted clubs. Because the ball will fly lower and run farther you will want to use less club than normal.

Side hill lie – Ball above your feet
When playing a ball that is above your feet you will need to stand more erect at address and stand farther away from the ball. This posture creates a more rotary swing and a flatter swing plane. This swing path often produces hooked shots because of the added rotation of the hands and arms. This action added to the more upright lie angle of your club will cause the ball to go left so aim right of your intended target

Side hill lie – Ball below your feet
This type lie requires you to bend over more to reach the ball which also results in you standing closer to the ball. This position creates a more upright swing plane than usual. Because your body turn becomes restricted your swing will be predominantly an arms and hand movement. The steeper swing path combined with the flatter lie angle of your club will cause the ball to go right so aim left of your intended target.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Poor Long Putting

The biggest reason weekend golfers so often three putt 30 to 40 foot putts is they simply don’t practice them. Because of this they haven’t developed a feel or “touch” for putts of this length. They end up hitting the ball and hoping rather than stroking the putt with a level of confidence.
Great putters through regular practice have developed a keen sense of feel for longer putts. They also have set a more realistic goal of leaving the ball close enough to the hole to have a short second putt rather than thinking about making the first putt.
When confronted with longer putts I would first recommend visualizing a larger target. Imagine a three foot diameter circle around the hole, and then focus on leaving your first putt within the circle. If successful the longest putt you’ll be left with is 18 inches.
On longer putts stand slightly taller at address and make a longer stroke with more relaxed hands and wrists. This allows you to sense and feel the acceleration and release of the putter head. Also before each long putt make a number of practice strokes to help sense the length of stroke and pace needed for the required distance.
An excellent drill to help you develop your feel is after making your practice strokes to close your eyes just before beginning your actual stroke and keep them closed until the finish of your stroke. You'll be surprised how this enhances your feel and touch.
Make sure to include longer putts in your putting practice regiment if you’re not already doing so. With continued practice you’ll see far fewer three putts on your scorecard.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Leaving your greenside bunker shots in the sand

My first question to you would be “Are you using a sand wedge?” I say this because I often work with students who have been attempting these shots using a pitching wedge or other fairway iron. If this is the case with you then the club selection is a major part of the problem.
A sand wedge is designed differently than a fairway iron. The sole of a sand wedge angles downward from the leading edge to the trailing edge. This angled sole, also known as “bounce” prevents the club from digging too far down into the sand. In contrast the sole of pitching wedges and fairway irons angle upward from the leading edge to the trailing edge enabling the club to cut through turf.
The sole design of a pitching wedge or other fairway iron causes it to dig too deeply into the sand leaving too much sand between the club head and the ball. The result is not enough club head speed to propel the sand and ball the required distance.
If you are using a sand wedge and still digging too deep into the sand then a closed club face is to blame. When closing the face of a sand wedge the angled flange is transformed into a digging sole similar to a pitching wedge. To correct this aim the club face to the right of the target while aligning your shoulders to the left and swing along this path.
If the club is still taking too much sand make sure to clear your left hip while swinging through the sand. The club head will now enter the sand trailing behind your hands with the club face open. The open club face increases the “bounce” of the sand wedge creating a shallow path through the sand and sufficient club head speed to displace the sand and the ball. The open face also increases the loft of the wedge so the ball comes out higher and lands softer with less roll.