By now, you’ve probably seen footage of Tiger Woods snapping his 4-iron against a tree in the 2007 Masters. If you haven’t, it happened on the 11th hole when he found his ball at the base of a tree. Tiger had three choices: hit it backward or backhanded (two choices that would have probably led to a bogey) or advance it down the fairway. Of course, Tiger chose the latter, but to pull it off, he had to sacrifice his 4-iron.
If you want to control your shots more effectively around the greens, the best thing you can do is set up with a narrow stance and always remember to keep the shaft leaning toward the target. Since it’s a chip shot, you don’t have to worry about releasing the club; instead, you want to hold the face square to ensure optimal directional control. This setup position also helps to avoid flubbed chipped shots—one of the most embarrassing and avoidable shots in golf.
If you’ve been told the key to better ballstriking is to keep your head down, odds are you’re a golfer who puts a slice on the ball. Also, you’re a victim of bad advice, since keeping your head down can cause a variety of swing (and back) problems. Keeping your head down on your backswing actually will cause your head to get in the way and restrict your body turn. This means your arms and upper body will lift upward instead of around, and you’ll swing with an upright, outside-in swing path.
One of the best indicators of a good golf swing is the finish. If there’s balance when the swing is over, it means there was probably balance during the swing. Often, players who slice do so because they don’t finish correctly. See the photo of the finish below?
Get your irons in check by observing one of the best ballstrikers in golf
Since his early days playing for England on two Walker Cup teams and making noise as an NCAA star at Northwestern, Luke Donald has had PGA Tour success in his sights. Having already cracked the top-60 in career earnings with more than $12 million to his credit, you’d have to say he’s right on track.
The perpetuation of the many myths in traditional golf instruction has led to countless injuries, inconsistent results and a world of frustration. Simply swinging the golf club in the way that the body is designed to move will lead to greater consistency and greater enjoyment for a significantly longer time.
Sean O'Hair's coach helps you hit it long (and down the middle) every time
In early March, one of my students, Sean O’Hair, put on a master class in Total Driving at the PODS Championship. (The Tour computes Total Driving by “totaling a player’s rank in both driving distance and driving accuracy.”) For the week, Sean finished T15 in driving accuracy and 8th in driving distance, averaging 282.6 yards. Sean won that week—his second Tour victory—and earned a trip to the Masters. I couldn’t have been more proud.
Better pitching is a matter of perfecting your address positions
Playing well from within 100 yards is a must if you want to score well. Just look at the best players in the world. They all miss the fairway sometimes, but from within 100 yards, there isn’t a player out there who doesn’t expect to knock it close from “a hundie” and in. This is golf’s scoring zone, where the difference between a long birdie putt and a short tap-in can be made up by hitting the right kinds of shots.
Putting really shouldn't be any more complicated than this
In my many years of teaching, I’ve read, heard, seen and been told a number of putting tips that, I feel, only serve to overcomplicate what should be a simple motion. I think putting is just rolling the ball, so I like to keep things simple. Here, I’m practicing a drill that helps me keep the ball on the right path. All I do is place two golf balls about six inches apart, and a foot in front of my ball, and then make a stroke.
Talking about your swing plane is one thing, but seeing it on video is a whole lot better. Here at the TOUR Academy, we make an effort to film golfers from face on and down the target line so they can see for themselves whether their swing is on plane or not. The benefits my students get from seeing their swing plane on camera has greatly helped them improve.
Here’s another easy tip to apply the next time you’re on the putting green. Simply place a golf ball about six inches behind your ball and make a stroke. If you miss the ball (swinging either above it or to the side), then your backswing path is offline or too steep. Take a look at the illustration, and you’ll see that I actually knock the second ball as my putter swings back.
How to hit draws and fades by making simple adjustments to the downswing
The hardest shot in golf is the one that flies in a straight line. It’s so difficult that even the best players in the world rarely try to hit it, mainly since this shot requires the utmost in timing and precision. Draws and fades are a lot easier to repeat, however, considering each has varying degrees from which one can produce a good result. Some fades and draws are more pronounced than others, but with the proper mechanics, any type of fade or draw can work to your benefit and can be much more repeatable than a shot that flies straight.
Swing with a tempo like the pros and you'll learn to make solid contact every time
The main difference between good iron play and poor iron play is quality of contact. Everyone that plays golf knows the difference. We all can hear the difference and we certainly can feel the difference. And while we all know that striking the ball with a descending blow is a must, most of us just can’t get it done consistently.
Add distance with long drive secrets, featuring Sean "The Beast" Fister, 5-time winner Jason Zuback and 11 more of the world's longest hitters
One element I found all long hitters have in common is that they swing around a central axis. It’s okay to move a bit off the ball in the backswing, but if you want to transfer the maximum amount of power into the ball, you can’t sway too far back or forward. Also, you must get your right side all the way through the shot. Notice how my right shoulder and hip are shooting toward the target. This is a must!
Find out what Charles Howell III thinks about iron play and his new Bridgestone irons
Arguably one of the best American-born players in his 20s on the PGA Tour, Augusta native Charles Howell III had a great year in 2007. His second win came at the famed Riviera CC—a victory that kick-started his best year as far as PGA Tour earnings are concerned, having amassed more than $2.8 million on the golf course. For ’08, Howell’s game looks even better, thanks to a newfound confidence in his swing, putting and, most of all, in his new golf clubs.
The top 5 mistakes you should avoid in your putting game
If you look at any great player, he or she has a routine for every shot. And when it comes to putting, better players know that sticking to a routine is necessary for making consistent strokes. Now, what kind of routine should you have? That’s up to you. Just try and incorporate what I’m doing here, which is looking at the putt from behind the ball, about halfway down the putting line and one more look from behind the hole. This helps to get a clear picture of the slope and speed. All that’s left here is for me to make a couple practice strokes and hit the ball. Just remember, this is my routine because it happens to work well for me.
I call it The New Math, but you can think of it as a simple way to cut strokes from your scorecard quickly and easily. As an instructor, I like to teach my students the basic premise that by adding to their technical repertoire and eliminating incorrect moves, they can effectively lower their handicaps. In other words, I believe that a good instructor subtracts as much, if not more, than they add. By eliminating inefficient and wasted motion and streamlining your technique, you’ll be making a giant first step toward improving your swing and your scores.
A 10-foot piece of string is all you need to get your pitching on target.
One of the keys to accurate pitching is getting the clubhead moving consistently down the target line. A great way to practice this is to take a 10-foot piece of string and stretch it out directly on the target line of a pitch shot.
Six ways to improve your game without ever swinging the club
Golf, at its core, is a game that can be learned and practiced without ever swinging a club. By learning what we call the fundamentals (mind-set, grip, posture, ball position and aim/alignment), you’ll train your body and mind so they’re in all the right positions before you swing the club.
Check out these top 50 tips from one of our best pros.
A good backswing creates torque and is achieved by rotating the body away from the ground using the feet as an anchor. Except for unusually flexible players, the knees, hips, core, back and shoulders should all be used to create torque. Once you get the feel of creating leverage against the ground, your power will increase significantly.