By Tom Stickney II, G.S.E.D., PGA, Illustration by Phil Franke
When you desire a softer type of explosion shot out of the bunker from this normally “hot” lie, you need to employ an open clubface and relaxed hands. Make your angle of attack steeper by leaning your weight toward your front foot. This weight shift also accentuates the digging action of the clubhead, making soft hands and an open clubface that much more critical. Otherwise, the golf ball will come out with more velocity than desired.
By T.J. Tomasi, PH.D.; PGA Photography by L.C. Lambrecht
Part of being a skillful player is “reading” the situation, choosing the right shot and then being able to execute that particular play. Taking into account all your options is important, but most golfers never consider the versatility the game allows. For example, when faced with a bunker shot, most golfers think “blast.” But in some situations, thinking “chip” may produce the better result.
By Jeff Ritter, PGA; Photography by D2 Productions
A key element to becoming a better player is learning to create different ballflight trajectories on command. It’s this aspect of your play that will allow you to effectively tackle a variety of situations ranging from lob pitches to knockdowns to recovery shots. Here are six “factors of flight” to help you learn to throw it high or keep it low.
By T.J. Tomasi, Ph.D., PGA; Photography by D2 Productions
If you want to take your scores even lower, you’ve got to be able to control the spin on your golf ball, and that means being able to curve it when you want to. This skill is called “working” the ball, and it takes practice. But most low-handicappers don’t rehearse this part of their game correctly—they’ll hit 20 draws in a row, then hit a bunch of fades. This practice sequence doesn’t realistically represent what you’ll face on the course. In golf, you only get one chance, not 20. That’s why I recommend the Diamond Drill. The Diamond teaches you how to work the ball “on demand” using the geometry of the setup.
By Barry Goldstein, PGA, Illustration by Phil Franke
I’m sure you’re familiar with the famous Sam Snead tip, “Hear your putts.” To ensure that he didn’t come out of his putts too early, the “Slammer” held fast in his putting posture until he hopefully heard the ball rattle the bottom of the cup.
By Mike Groton, Illustration by Phil Franke
When you want to get some extra distance out of your drives, it’s natural to think that your right or dominant hand (for right-handed golfers) should supply the power. In reality, however, maximum power is a result of a left-hand lead.
By T.J. Tomasi, Ph.D., PGA, Photography by D2 Productions
They don’t keep stats for it on the PGA Tour, but all pros excel at hitting the mid-range lob. It’s played with your highest-lofted club (usually a lob wedge) from around 30 yards, and it’s one of those shots that, if you pull it off to save par or make birdie, can energize the rest of your round.
By T.J. Tomasi, PH.D.; PGA Photography by Larry Lambrecht
Bad lies are one thing, but there’s nothing worse than a situation where your backswing is completely restricted. The feeling of helplessness can be pretty disheartening. For most golfers, the only play is to chip back into the fairway—a momentum-breaker that’s not going to help you if your goal is to shoot low numbers. But take a closer look—you may be able to knock it near or even on the green if you know this savvy technique.
By Dr. Craig Farnsworth, Illustration by Phil Franke
In everyday life, we rarely use both hands to accomplish a motor task. This is one of the reasons why putting with just one hand on the handle can yield positive results.
By Scott Schneider, PGA; Illustration by Phil Franke
Of course, only dedicated practice can help you become a better short-game player, but if you master the key elements of pitching and chipping, you’ll discover an immediate improvement in your scores.
By Brady Riggs, PGA; Illustration by Phil Franke
A square putterface and a straight-back, straight-through path are crucial fundamentals for a solid stroke. These two elements control direction, which is undeniably one of the two most important aspects of good putting. However, perhaps the most important fundamental, rhythm, is often overlooked. Rhythm establishes the steadiness of the putting stroke and is the main factor in controlling distance and speed. Rhythm is the heartbeat of a good stroke, and is at least as important, if not more so, than any other aspect of successful putting.
By Steve Atherton, PGA; Illustration by Phil Franke
If you want to increase your ballstriking ability, you need to understand how to rotate your hips properly in the golf swing. Most amateur golfers rotate their hips too far during the backswing, which makes it difficult for them to get their hips to open up to the target at impact, a key component of a successful swing.
By Todd Sones, PGA; Photography by Warren Keating
Unlike the golf swing, there are almost no centrifugal forces at work in the putting stroke. Therefore, whatever you do at address pretty much determines what you’ll do with the putter during the stroke. In studying the best players on Tour, it’s easy to find common denominators in both their setup positions and strokes. Obviously, there are exceptions to every rule, but for the most part, common traits run rampant in the setup positions of great putters. Specifically, they establish four key setup lines.
By Dr. T.J. Tomasi, PH. D.; PGA Photography by D2 Productions
Even good golfers with sound, grooved swings come untracked now and then, especially if they lose the flex in the back leg trying for distance. If you stiffen your back leg during the backswing, your body will likely tilt out of balance, making it tough to re-flex the knee just the right amount in time for impact. If you can play some great golf, but consistency is your problem, it might be that you need a dose of Special K. Here’s how it works.
By Debbie Steinbach, LPGA, Photography by Warren Keating
The chipping and putting motions are linear in nature. By that, I mean the face remains square to the target line throughout, never opening or closing like it does with full swings from the fairway and the tee. Moreover, the path of the stroke shouldn’t deviate from the target line. Realizing these facts can save a lot of amateur golfers a lot of headaches around the green, where the majority of less-than-skilled players chip the ball with a full-swing technique and leave themselves with a lengthy putt.
By Dan Pasquariello, PGA; Photography by Warren Keating
The putting grip best represents the individuality of golf. On Tour, if there are 160 golfers playing in an event, you’ll find no less than 160 different putting grips.