Use our top tips, equipment advice, Tour examples and a few new training aids to play your best golf
By Brady Riggs, PGA, with Mike Chwasky, Photography by Warren Keating
From driving and iron play to putting, tough lies and strategy, it's all covered in the "Big 50," including easy tips to groove a foolproof swing and gear advice from the brightest minds in golf.
By Al Wagner, PGA; Illustration by Phil Franke
The keys to great putting are really pretty simple. You must hit the ball squarely with the putterface, keep the putterhead moving level to the ground and square to your target line, and swing the putter at the proper speed to roll the ball the desired distance. To accomplish this more consistently, I recommend a grip that’s a bit revolutionary, but extremely effective.
By Mel Sole, PGA, Illustration by Phil Franke
Chipping and putting are two areas of the game where everyone can improve. Improve your chipping and putting, and you’ll significantly reduce your handicap. The touring pros spend more time practicing their short games than all of their other shots combined. How many weekend golfers can say the same?
By John O'Leary III, PGA; Photography by D2 Productions
There aren’t many shots that touring professionals fear, but if you had to choose one, the buried lie bunker shot would probably take the cake. It’s a shot even more feared among amateurs who have no idea how to approach it, let alone how the ball will react off the clubface and once it hits the green. I’ve always believed that a buried lie isn’t a cause for despair, but rather an opportunity to demonstrate your short-game prowess. With some adjustments to the normal bunker setup, you can accomplish the goal of getting out of the bunker and onto the green every time.
By Lana Ortega, PGA, Photography by William Swartz
When I watch a golfer hit a 7-iron, then a driver, he or she invariably amps up the swing speed with the longer club. Surely, the clubhead of the driver moves faster because it’s longer, but it’s because of the principles of physics, not because the golfer is swinging the club with a faster tempo.
By Al Wagner, PGA, Illustration by Phil Franke
Many amateurs allow their right elbow to move too far away from their body at the top of the backswing, so that their elbow is pointing behind them, almost in the position of a baseball player in a batting stance. This “flying” right elbow at the top of the swing is a frequent cause of a nasty pull or slice.
By Kirk Nelson, PGA
Growing up in Oklahoma, my golfing buddies and I had more than our fair share of wind to deal with on the course. As a PGA professional on the island of Maui, I still rely on different techniques to cheat the breeze and set up more scoring opportunities.
By Joe Buttitta, PGA; Illustration by Phil Franke
The proper putting setup is an important ingredient in a golfer’s success. Setting the eyes in the correct position is one of the critical factors that’s often overlooked. On that subject, there are two schools of thought.
By Mike Corcoran, PGA, Photo by Warren Keating
In any sport, the feet and legs must work together in order for the rest of the body to function properly, and golf is no exception. In a fundamentally sound swing, the feet need to roll from side-to-side to provide power and control. On the backswing, the left foot should roll to the inside, and the heel should stay on or near the ground. During the downswing, the right foot should roll to the inside before the heel gets pulled up for the finish. By maintaining contact with the ground, you’ll create leverage and be better able to swing in control.
By Tom F. Stickney II, PGA, G.S.E.D, Illustration by Phil Franke
Over the years, there has been an ongoing debate regarding the proper position of the right elbow at the top of the backswing. Some players like John Daly swing with their elbow flying out, while others like Sergio Garcia keep it in, proving that it’s possible to hit great shots with either method. However, my biomechanical studies with PGA Tour pros using the K-Vest, developed by Bentley Kinetics, indicate that the flying right-elbow position favors a fade ballflight while a tucked right elbow promotes a draw.
By Dean Hedstrom, PGA, Illustration by Phil Franke
If you tend to skull your fairway woods, it’s because you’re catching the ball on the upswing, often caused by trying to scoop or lift the ball up. To fix this problem, you have to understand that solid ballstriking is sometimes a game of opposites. To hit the ball higher with a fairway wood, you actually have to hit down—as opposed to up—on the ball.
By Matt Swanson, PGA, Illustration by Phil Franke
Few shots on the golf course are more satisfying than a well-executed flop shot. Unfortunately, unless you’re Phil Mickelson, the risk is probably not worth the reward. There’s very little margin for error. With the wrong lie, you can swing the club under the ball without advancing it. And, with such a big swing, you’re liable to hit an 80-yard screamer if you catch it thin.
By Art Sellinger, Illustration by Fhil Franke
At my power clinics and exhibitions, I often recommend to audiences that they try to develop the feeling of holding a golf club long enough at the top of their backswing for someone to hang a shirt on it—the Clothesline Effect, if you will.
By Rick DePamphilis, PGA; Illustration by Phil Franke
Golfers who are confused about the amount of body action normally associated with a pitch shot can learn from the simple mental image of pitching horseshoes. During this underhanded motion, the arms and body work together in response to the target. The body parts don’t need to be consciously controlled; rather they should react naturally to the command of pitching the horseshoe based on what the eyes see as a target.
By Dr. David F. Wright, PGA, Photography by Warren Keating
The following pre-putt alignment routine is one that I developed with Patrick Burke and teach to each of my students. Its success has been so dramatic that many have adapted it to the full swing. It’s easy to learn and remember as long as you think in right angles.
Elementary tips and do-it-yourself teaching aids for keeping your swing in shape during the off-season
By Chris Johnston, with Kevin Newell, Photography by Warren Keating
When it comes to posture, the key is to establish your natural spine angle, which will allow the body to rotate freely throughout the golf swing. A good training aid to help improve your posture can be fashioned with a broomstick, sponge, six-inch ruler, scissors, pen and a belt.
By Matt Swanson, PGA; Photography by D2 Productions
Even though we all do it from time to time, there’s really no excuse for missing a relatively straight four- to six-foot putt. Here’s a visualization trick I use with my students to help take the anxiety out of these putts.
By Mike Chwasky, with Instruction by Guy Redford, Photography by Douglas MacGregor
Any golfer worth his salt dreams of trying his hand on a true links golf course. Turnberry, Kingsbarns, Royal Dornoch, even Carnoustie—they all present challenges that inland courses, protected from the elements, simply can’t muster. The soft fairways that prevent errant drives from running into the rough don’t exist. Spongy, well-watered greens that receive approaches of all kinds just aren’t there. It’s a whole different style of play that favors putting over pitching and low, authoritative punch shots over high, spinning floaters. Above all, links golf demands imagination.
By Brady Riggs, PGA, Illustration by Phil Franke
The biggest challenge for a golf student is to feel the proper mechanics. Fortunately, there’s a simple way to experience the feeling of the most important moment during the golf swing: impact.
By Heath Talbot, PGA Illustration by Phil Franke
Recreational golfers who constantly struggle to fix their swing problems would do well to fix their posture first. Rounding the back, flexing the knees too much and tucking the head down to see the ball are common setup faults that can lead to a poor swing. If your posture isn’t right, you’ll be forced to swing with mostly your arms and hands, creating very little shoulder turn.
By Tom F. Stickney II, PGA, G.S.E.D.; Illustration by Phil Franke
Take a look at 99 percent of the putters designed today and you’ll notice that if you hold the face up to a flat edge, the shaft actually leans away from the target. Manufacturers use this design to ensure that you press your hands forward at address, preserving the loft of the club and promoting more consistent impact. The key to understanding and using this fact to your advantage is to make sure you’re setting up in the correct fashion at address. To accomplish this, press your hands forward to the belt loop of your pants, just to the target side of your belt buckle.
By Craig Bunker, PGA, with Ryan M. Noll, Photography by D2 Productions
Sometimes the best way to get out of a bunker is to not hit the ball at all. Try putting it instead. Like all shots from the bunker, you must first assess the situation and determine if the putter is the right choice.
By A.J. Bonar PGA, Illustrations by Phil Franke
You’re enjoying a great day on the links, and you have an easy pitch to the last green where a par or even a bogey will give you your best score in a month. Easy pitch, easy swing, stick it close. But instead, some evil dragon maliciously guides your hosel toward your ball, and you shank it right of the greenside bunker. The shot so unnerves you that you proceed to shank a succession of shots around the perimeter of the green counterclockwise.
By Barry Goldstein, PGA, Illustration by Phil Franke
If you’re one of the millions of golfers who battles a slice, odds are you compensate for the left-to-right ballflight by aiming to the left. However, no matter how far to the left you aim, the ball still slices to the right—sometimes worse than it did before. On the occasion you do hit it straight, well, it doesn’t do you much good because you were aimed toward the trees or deep rough on the left. Hmm—you’re doing what you think will fix the problem, but it’s only making the problem worse.
By Dean Hedstrom, PGA, Illustration by Phil Franke
Undoubtedly, the most embarrassing tee shot in golf is the drive that pops straight up, barely clearing the tee box. The pop-up is an agonizing mis-hit most often caused by an excessive forward weight shift on the downswing and a club that approaches the ball on a very steep angle of attack. The steep descent de-lofts the clubface to such a degree that the topline of the club effectively becomes the leading edge. The result? Not only a humiliating pop-up, but one of the most hated marks in golf: a scuff on the crown of the clubhead. Yuck.
By Jerry Elwell, PGA; Illustration by Phil Franke
When playing golf, there are some days that no matter what you try, you can’t get your upper and lower body to work in sync. On these days, you’ll find that the hips trail too far behind the shoulders, and the shoulders trail too far behind the arms and hands. The Dead Shot is an effective drill I use with my students to promote balance, timing and synchronization from the takeaway through the finish.
By Joe Buttitta, PGA, Illustration by Phil Franke
Let’s assume you get the club to the top of the backswing, positioned somewhere above the right shoulder. You feel on balance, the swing is on-plane, but you still manage to either slice the ball or push it to the right to some degree. Frustrating as all hell, isn’t it?
By Karen Palacios-Jansen, LPGA, Photography by Sam Greenwood
The word “release” sometimes causes confusion among high-handicappers. They know they have to release the club, but they’re not sure how or when to do it. Here’s the skinny: A proper release happens naturally when the golfer allows the clubface to square through impact as a result of the proper path and clubhead speed. It’s not a position that you can just put yourself into at impact—you have to arrive at it via the proper sequence.
By Joe Thiel, PGA, Illustrations by Phil Franke
After watching thousands of swings over the past 30 years, I’ve pinpointed three mistakes that the majority of amateurs commit, each of which can diminish power and accuracy.
By Jay Golden, PGA, Illustrations by Phil Frank
In instant prior to completing his backswing, Ben Hogan initiated his downswing with his body and arms, creating a lagging action or “snap.” This move resulted in a type of torque similar to that of casting a fishing pole.