The Golf Swing

This blog is dedicated to the golf swing. Please feel free to discuss any tips, techniques and methods that you use to improve your swing.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Putting Tip - Don't Break Your Wrists

One of the fundamentals of the putt is to not break your wrists. The back of your left hand must remain square to the hole throughout the stroke. The head of the putter should not beat your hands to the ball. If they did you broke your wrists and the odds of you hitting the putt online are next to nothing.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Putting Tip - Keep Your Head and Body Still

Concentrate on keeping your head and body still before, during and after impact with the ball. The only part of your body that should be moving is your arms and shoulders. If you move your head your body will also move which can cause you to hit the ball off your target line. There will be plenty of time to look at the ball after you make your putt. Practice keeping your head still. In practice try to not look at your putt at all. Take your swing and don't look, listen for the sound of the ball falling into the hole. You'll be amazed at how often it will go in.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Putting Tip - Take a Deep Breath and Relax

Before you putt the ball it's extrememly important that you relax. While you're standing over the ball take a deep breath and let it go. This will release the tension that tends to build up. This release of tension will then transfer to your stroke. It's difficult to hit a putt when your body is all tense. Get into the habit of relieving the tension prior to every putt and watch them start falling into the hole.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Putting Tips - Practice Drills

Do you have problems with short putts? Do you get a case of the yips when you need to sink a putt? Here are a couple of drills you can try that will get you sinking those putts consistently.

1) Put a coin about 8 inches behind your ball on the line that you want the ball to go. Concentrate on bringing the putter back along the line so that the center of your putter passes over the coin going back and forward.

2) Start this drill 1 foot from the hole. Take 5 balls and sink all 5 from 1 foot. Then move to 2 feet from the hole and sink 5 putts, then 3 feet, 4 feet etc. Miss one putt and you have to start all over again from 1 foot.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Sand Play - The Fried Egg

Your ball lands in a green side bunker which is bad enough but when you get to the ball you find that you have a buried lie or as it is commonly called "The Fried Egg". How do you play this shot?

The first thing you need to do is not let it bother you and don't let the situation beat you. You might have trouble getting the ball close to the pin but unless the ball is completely buried you can get it out and on the green.

Here's how I would play the shot.Normally from a green side bunker you would hit the sand wedge, however, in this situation with the buried lie the sand wedge won't work. The large flange on the sand wedge won't allow you to dig deep enough into the sand to get under the ball and pop it out. So I use the pitching wedge instead. The pitching wedge has a much smaller flange which will allow the leading edge of the club to dig into the sand deeper.

The Setup - Keep your stance square to your target line. Don't open your stance as you would on other sand shots. The ball should be centered between your feet. The face of your club should be square to the target line or closed depending on how deeply the ball is buried. Dig in to the sand and get a good firm stance. Your weight should be slightly more towards your front foot.

The Swing - You want to club to enter the sand about 2 inches behind the ball. Your swing back and through the ball should be steeper than normal and your weight should be kept more towards your front foot through the swing. You should feel that the left arm and side are pulling the club down through the sand.

The only variables are that the deeper your ball is buried the more you should close your clubface and the harder you swing. The ball will fly out in a burst of sand and it will roll a long way after it lands because you can't put any backspin on the ball with a buried lie. Therefore, if the pin is cut close to the bunker forget about getting it close. Just be thankful you got the ball out of the bunker and concentrate on sinking the putt. If the pin however is towards the back of the green you stand a good chance of getting the ball close.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Sand Play - The Fairway Bunker Shot

You crack off a great drive only to find yourself in a fairway bunker. It always seem like the people who design golf courses always put those things in wrong place. Anyway, you still have 150 yards to the hole what do you do?

The swing is a little different in this situation. Let me explain. First of all you want to use a club that is 2 clubs more than the club you would typically hit for the distance you want to hit the ball. For 150 yards if you would typically hit a 6 iron you should use a 4 iron.

The Setup - Dig into the sand and keep the weight evenly distributed between right and left but more towards the insides of your feet. Choke down slightly on the club (about an inch). Play the ball in the middle of your stance.

The Swing - Here is the key to the swing. Keep the lower body as still as possible. Because you're in the sand your stance is not as stable as it would be on solid ground. If you try to take a big swing at the ball with a lot of leg action your swing plane will shift and you'll need to make adjustments. Trying to make adjustments during the swing is bad and you don't want to do that. Concentrate on keeping your legs and hips quiet during the swing while still acheiving a full shoulder turn. Use your normal swing speed and try to clip the ball off the sand taking as little sand as possible.

Tip - For longer shots out of fairway bunkers you'll be better off using a lofted wood than an iron. A 7 wood often is an ideal club to clip the ball off the sand and send it a good distance down the fairway or onto the green. Depending on the distance I want the ball to go and my lie in the sand and whether or not there is a lip I need to clear I've even hit my driver out of the sand.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Sand Play - Hitting Out of Wet Sand

What do you do when you've hit hit your ball into wet sand? Here's how I handle this situation. I'll set up to the ball just as I would for a normal sand shot except for a couple of very important differences. First, instead of opening up the clubface I'll keep my clubface square to my target line. Second, since the clubface is square to the target line I'll be a little less aggressive with my swing by taking a shorter backswing.
If you keep your clubface open in wet sand the flange of the club will tend to bounce off the wet sand rather than digging into it and we don't want that to happen. By squaring the clubface you'll eliminate this bouncing off the sand. Hit behind the ball about an inch or two but remember to be a little less aggressive. The club will dig in and the ball will pop out.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Sand Play - The Long Sand Shot

You're in the sand with a decent lie. However you have 40 yards to the pin and have to get up over the lip of the trap. What do you do?

Here's what I do. I hit an 8 iron instead of the sand wedge. 40 yards with a sand wedge from the trap is a long way and would require a real good hard swing at the ball. I like to keep my swing consistent so I'll grab the 8 iron and take a normal swing at the ball but I'll let the club enter the sand a little farther back than I would if I was hitting the sand wedge.

Hitting further back behind the ball will allow you some leeway if you make a mistake because your ball won't travel as far and you'll be less likely to hit it over the green. Give this method a try you'll be surprised with the results. Vary the club you use as the distance from the pin increases and as your lie dictates.

Friday, February 11, 2005

The Short Game - The Birds Nest

Your ball is lying in heavy grass making it look like an egg in a nest. There is a bunker between you and the flag. What do you do?

You need to get a
lofted clubface under the ball. At the same time you need to make sure that the the club doesn't get caught up in the grass causing the ball to land in the sand. So here's the answer. Choose the sand wedge. The sand wedge is the most lofted club in your bag. The heavy flange will cut through the grass allowing you to get under the ball.

Open the clubface to increase the loft of the club. To accommodate for the opening of the clubface, adjust your stance to the left. This will make it easier to get the club under the ball. Here's the key to the shot. You don't want to hit the ball onto the green you want to hit the entire birds nest onto the green. You'll need to take a good swing because the birds nest is much heavier then the ball. On the downswing hit behind the ball focusing on sliding the the club under the entire birds nest, be aggressive and follow through and the ball will pop up and onto the green.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Short Game - The Sand Wedge Putt

We've all come across this problem. Your just off the green and your ball is in light rough or leaning against the fringe. You want to get the ball rolling as fast as possible. If you use your putter the blade will have trouble gliding through the grass. What do you do? Next time try the sand wedge.

The sharp, heavy leading edge of the sand wedge will cut smoothly through the grass. The flange also adds more weight and will put extra power into the shot. Therefore you need to practice this shot to get the feel for the distance the ball will travel. You should play this shot exactly as you would a putt, right down to your putting grip. Make the leading edge of the wedge strike the back of the ball. Don't hit under the ball you don't want to pop it up you just want to get it rolling. don't be afraid to try this shot because once you're comfortable with it you'll find it's much easier to hit than the putter.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The Short Game - Use Different Clubs

A lot of golfers use the same club every time they have a have a shot around the green. While this method may work for some players I personally don't recommend it. Why try to adapt one club to every situation when you have a bag full of clubs that will do the job for you.

When you are greenside your goal should be to get the ball rolling like a putt as soon as possible. By getting the ball rolling as soon as possible you stand a better chance of getting the ball close to the hole. Therefore, you should select the club with the least loft possible, given the situation at hand. If you have to play over a hazard you wouldn't do this but if you have a clear run at the flag get the ball rolling ASAP. For short shots use a wedge or 9 iron. As the distance increases move down to your middle irons. On long chips I'll often move down to a 4 or 5 iron. Regardless of which club you use always use the same swing. By keeping your swing consistent, you remove the doubts from the shot. A firm, confident swing will put the ball close to the pin consistantly.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The Short Game - Hit Your Short Shots Hard

Have you ever watched the pros hit their chips and pitch shots when they're close to the green? One thing you'll quickly realize is that although the shots are short ones, they hit em hard.

Accelerating the clubhead through impact is as vital to the short game. It's the only way you'll consistantly put the ball close to hole. If you practice this you'll also find that by hitting em hard you'll impart a backspin on the ball. This backspin will give you control over the shot. So don't baby the short chips and pitches, be aggressive. The hands must lead the club through impact and you must make a descending hit on the ball and whatever you do don't forget to follow through.

Monday, February 07, 2005

The Short Game - Chipping and the Grip

Chipping is very similar to putting. You have to develop a feel for it and build a method that works for you. Once you've discovered a method that works you should stick with it no matter how unorthodox it is. The method I teach is a little different than most but it works well for most people that try it. If you would like to learn more about my method visit my web site

The Biomechanics of the Golf Swing

Regardless of the method you use there is one rule of chipping that is universal. Grip down on the club. Once I'm within about 50 yards of the hole I begin to choke down on my grip. The closer to the hole the more I choke down. Sometimes I even choke down all the way to the metal. There are 2 reasons why you should do this also.

1) It improves your touch. When you choke down on the club you move your hands closer to the clubhead and the ball which in turn increases your feel for the shot.

2) By lessening the distance between your hands and the clubhead you cut back on the arc of the swing. This smaller arc automatically shortens the shot without you having to make big adjustments in your swing length or pace and it allows you to take a good, crisp, authoritative swing without worrying about hitting the ball past the pin.

Go down to your local practice range and give it a try. You'll soon discover how much to choke down on the club from various distances and you'll be knocking the ball close to the pin consistently.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

The Practice Swing - Why doesn't the swing that counts look like my practice swing?

Here's a question I get all the time. Why does it seem like I'm hitting them great at the range but as soon as go to hit the ball at the 1st tee that beautiful swing disappears?

There are fewer obstacles to overcome when you're on the practice range. You don't have people watching you. You have a positive attitude. You're relaxed and hitting some balls just to warm up. If you hit a bad shot on the range you just shrug it off because, hey it's not a big deal.

As soon as you step up to the first tee however, the dreaded 1st tee jitters strike. Now the shot counts and if you hit it poorly it's a big deal. Suddenly everything you were doing right on the range you do wrong. Here's what you need to do. Relax, just try to remember why you're on the course. To have fun. You're not doing it for a living. Just relax and remember your fundamentals. Remember how your swing felt on the practice range and make the same swing on the first tee.

Don't allow tension to creep into your game. Tension is #1 difference between your practice swing and course swing. If you allow it to play a role in your game it will kill your swing. You can't step up to the tee and be thinking about hitting the ball into the woods or not being able to clear the water hazard. Keep the negative thoughts out of your mind. Think positive, pick out a spot where you want the ball to land, take aim, and swing just like you did on the practice range. You'll be amazed at how often you'll hit the target.

Friday, February 04, 2005

The Long Game - Don't Try to Kill the Ball

The one area of the game that separates a good golfer from a high handicappers is the ability to hit a long iron shot.

Most high handicappers find the long irons the most difficult clubs to hit. However, the truth is they are not as difficult as they appear. The best thing to remember on long iron shots is not to try to hit the ball any harder than a short iron shot. The key to make this happen is to try to not make it happen but let it happen. Don't try to hit the ball hard to get more distance. In fact, don't try to hit the ball at all. Just swing naturally at the ball. Take an easy swing just like you would with a short iron and think of the ball as merely a point on the path of your swing. You most likely won't be able to hit a 3 iron 260 yards like the pros do but you can achieve good distance with your long irons. Master this and you'll soon be smacking your long irons better than ever.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

The Long Game - My Swing Stays Consistent

If you want to play good golf you have to build 2 very important qualities into your swing

1) consistency and 2) simplicity. Once I'm settled into my stanse I make no conscious swing adjustments. I make the same swing for every club in the bag. I have the same back swing on every shot. It doesn't matter if I'm hitting the driver or a wedge (except if the shot is a pitch or chip).

As the club shortens, your clubhead arc will decrease automatically. There's no need to increase or decrease your swing speed or the distance you bring the club back. If you keep your swing length consistent you'll build the confidence that the length of your shots can be controlled solely through your club selection.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The Set Up - Same Ball Position for Every Shot

Consistency is the key in golf. The biggest problem most amateur golfers face is the lack of consistency. If you can learn to repeat the same swing over and over, you'll make the game a lot easier.

That's one of the reasons why I teach that the mid to high handicap golfer should use one ball position for all shots. To make the setup comfortable and the stance stable, I move my right foot closer to my left as the loft of the club increases. Most of you have probably been taught that you should move the ball progressively back in your stance as your club shortens. The problem with this method is that you're changing the loft on the clubs. For example, if you play the 5-iron a bit farther back in your stance than the 4-iron, all you've done is to deloft that 5-iron so that it's now effectively a short 4-iron. In addition, you've also just changed your contact point with the ball (the point in your swing where the club makes contact with the ball). I don't know about you but I have enough trouble maintaining one impact point - I don't want to have to deal with a dozen of them.

Unless I'm trying to play a special shot of some sort, I position the ball in the center of my stance. Your own position may be a bit farther forward or back. Regardless of where you feel the most comfortable doesn't matter. The point is to determine exactly where the point is and then stick with it for every club in your bag.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The Long Game - How to Hit the Ball High

One of the hardest things to do is to hit the ball high into the air. Here's how I do it. First of all don't change your swing. Just make two minor adjustments to your stance.

First, play the ball slightly forward of where you would normally play it. If you usually position it off your left instep, move it about a ball-width forward. Wherever your normal ball position is, that is the position that allows you to hit the ball at the bottom of your downswing, moving the ball forward in your stance from this position will get yo tol hit it at the beginning of your upswing.

Second, redistribute your weight slightly at address, so that you feel a bit more weight on your right side. This will shift your center of gravity, and your swing center, behind the ball a bit. This is where your center of gravity needs to be at impact if you want to hit the ball on a high trajectory.

Then just make a normal swing and follow all the way through the shot. Above all, don't try to hit up on the ball. With the changes you've made at address, you'll do that naturally.