Home :
  • Print
  • Email

Golf Instruction

Master the most difficult shots and learn long drive secrets with our golf instruction articles. Our online golf lessons will help you transform your game.



Conquer Hardpan

Conquer HardpanRegardless of where you play, you’ll eventually face a tough pitch off hardpan. This is a dicey situation, as ultra-tight lies such as hardpan make it easy for the clubhead to bounce off the turf and into the top half of the golf ball, skulling it over the green. The key for pitches off hardpan is to make sure the clubhead does anything but bounce off the turf. Knowing how to accomplish this will save you strokes not only in this situation, but in dozens of others that involve tight lies.

No-Frills Putting Drills

Nine easy ways to lower your score

No-Frills Putting DrillsA quiet body, a ball at rest, a short back-and-forth motion—how could something so simple cause so many headaches? It’s a question that occupies the minds of touring professionals and weekend warriors alike. Wouldn’t it be great if putting was as simple as it sounds, where every round was as automatic as the clinic Aaron Baddeley put on at Harbour Town this year (97 putts over 72 holes)? Jeff Ritter, director of instruction at the ASU Karsten Golf Academy in Tempe, Ariz., believes putting isn’t complicated. And to help solve your putting woes, he has put together his No-Frills Putting Drills—nine straightforward, no-nonsense exercises intended to be practiced on your own, without the aid of an instructor. Practice these drills and, before you know it, you’ll actually look forward to working with the flatstick.

Hinge For Power

Hinge For PowerAmateurs have problems hitting crisp iron shots due to two fatal flaws. First, the takeaway tends to be too low to the ground, which delays the proper hinging of the wrists until too late in the backswing. Second, in a misguided effort to create power, the arms tend to swing too far in the backswing. This causes a breakdown in posture and usually leads to a reverse pivot. These flaws cause mis-hits and a lack of distance and control.

Dial In The Distance

Dial In The DistanceTo get the clubhead traveling a little faster (a necessary requirement for hitting longer shots), you need to create a longer backswing with an increase in the amount of arm swing and body turn. Not only must the swing be a little longer, but you need to pick up the pace of your swing to increase clubhead speed as well. The pace of the forwardswing should be slightly faster than normal.

Align The Easy Way

Align The Easy WayMost of my students struggle with the slice. Many of these golfers have serious swing issues, but the majority certainly possess enough talent and an understanding of the golf swing to keep slices at bay. The problem is they’re trapped into hitting slices because their setup facilitates swinging on the out-in path to which all slices owe their existence.

Hill Rides

Uphill and downhill lies are a challenge as they demand balance and control of the clubface throughout the swing

Hill RidesSet up with your spine perpendicular to the slope and shoulders parallel to the ground so you can swing up the slope on the backswing and down the slope on the forwardswing. The arrangement of your body will favor the creation of an upright swing and make it more difficult to square the face through the hitting area—that’s why a shot from a downhill lie tends to curve a little to the right. To help shallow the plane and encourage a swing that’s a little more around your body, drop your right foot back to close your stance slightly and match up the ball position to your stance by putting it about two inches back of normal.

Swing Barefoot For Balance

Swing Barefoot For BalanceThe majority of recreational golfers fail to achieve the balance needed to excel at golf or any athletic activity. One of the reasons why most golfers don’t swing in balance is that they swing too hard. A rule I like to impose on my students is “Swing as hard as you want to as long as you finish the swing in balance.”

Keep It Level

Keep It LevelOne of the keys to a solid golf swing is a level turn of the shoulders and hips during the backswing. A solid rotation not only promotes consistent ballstriking, but lays the foundation for achieving maximum distance as well.

Preload The Power

Preload The PowerI’m frequently approached at my power clinics and exhibitions by senior golfers who claim they’ve lost strength and suppleness, which translates into shorter tee shots. My advice to them for regaining lost distance is simple and direct: pre-load your power. By that I mean seniors should make a few swing adjustments to compensate for advancing age and a diminished ability to turn their shoulders and torque their torso.

Clear The Way

Clear The WayYou can’t hit big drives if your body gets stuck. That’s why I make a point of rotating my hips completely open on the downswing. This allows my arms to fully extend through the hitting area. Not only do my hips clear, but they remain level, which is key. By rotating through on a level plane, my right shoulder, arm and hip are able to continue adding power through impact. This prevents my body from getting stuck, which would limit the potential for clubhead speed by forcing me to hit only with my hands.

Alter Your Focus

Alter Your FocusOne of the first lessons most golfers learn is to “keep your eye on the ball.” I’m here to offer a better suggestion: Move your eyes behind the ball. Heresy, you say? I don’t think so. That’s because when a golfer makes his or her backswing with a full turn of the shoulders and a proper shift of weight, the center of his or her chest, or sternum, will be well behind the ball. (Exactly how far behind the ball depends on an individual’s suppleness and flexibility.)

Coil And Load

Coil And LoadThere are many keys to a powerful swing, and my number-one focus is to establish a powerful backswing coil. Notice how my left arm is parallel to the ground while the shaft is perpendicular to it. This position indicates a massive turn away from the ball and not a simple lifting of the club to the top (you can see my entire body stretching and straining to get turned). The coil is further enhanced by my left foot, which is firmly on the ground. This limits the amount I can turn my hips while still allowing me to rotate my shoulders as much as possible.

Focus On The Finish

Focus On The FinishMany amateurs are so consumed with anxiety about the incremental parts of the golf swing (grip, alignment, posture, setup, etc.) that they lose sight of the overall objective, which is to strike the ball squarely and forcefully. Let me suggest a method to alleviate this anxiety: Focus on the finish.

Wake Up Your Game!

Wake Up Your Game!

Sometimes golf just isn’t fair. Professional baseball has Spring Training. The NFL and NBA have training camps and a handful of preseason scrimmages. But golf? Well, it’s up to each and every professional to get their game on track on their own and show up ready to compete at the highest level. There’s no organized stretching sessions (Can you see Tim Herron or Phil Mickelson showing up?), no group mental conditioning, no preseason practice tournaments. Professionals are left to prepare by themselves.

Under 100

Five lessons that will lower your handicap in '07

Under 100

Golf isn’t a game of who hits it the best, it’s a game of who misses it the least. Even the best players in the world routinely mis-hit shots. In fact, the average Tour player hits only about 12 greens per round! How do they miss one out of every three greens and still manage to routinely shoot under par? Two reasons: steely determination and a red-hot short game.

Squat For Power

Squat For PowerTo begin the downswing, I squat to create leverage. The squat disappears as my left leg straightens, however. This move creates tremendous power and speed.

Shotshaping Formulas

How to make the shots you need to play your best

Shotshaping FormulasIt's a “how-to” world these days. Everywhere you look, you'll find someone, somewhere or something dedicated to what I like to call, “HTH” (How-To Hysteria). “How to bake a cake, how to wire a motorcycle, how to build an arboretum, how to fix a car—we as a culture have become so fascinated by the “how-to” genre that dozens of magazines, Websites and even television channels have been developed to help you help yourself. Luckily, Golf Tips is no exception, as the authors in every instructional story provide you with the scoop on how to become a better player.

Caddy Knows Best

Five key tips learned from a PGA Tour caddy

Caddy Knows BestAs a golf instructor and PGA Tour caddy, I’ve seen my fair share of golf swings, ranging from the sweet rhythms of the best players in the world to the herky-jerky moves of the frustrated first-timer. Yet despite the huge gap in natural ability between the novice and the professional, I’ve learned it’s not uncommon for the world’s elite players to struggle with a few of the same mechanics and course-management issues that a casual 18-handicapper might face during a round. The swings of touring professionals may be more advanced, but nobody is ever really immune to the occasional swing flaw or mental mistake. We’re all human after all.

Slice No More!

Destroy the banana ball in 4 easy steps

Slice No More!Beating the slice once and for all is a goal that can be accomplished by almost any golfer, provided the right approach is taken. In my four-step system, there are no quick fixes—just sound instruction that focuses on key slice-causing elements and methods for eliminating them from the golf swing. In step one, you'll learn to analyze your divots and figure out if your slice is the result of a bad path or a faulty clubface angle, or both. Step two will tell you how to determine what type of downswing you have and what powers it. In step three, the question of proper grip and how to match it to your downswing type is addressed, and in step four, you'll learn to match your position at the top with the right transitional move toward the ball and impact.

Glove Secrets

Slicing

Glove SecretsThe first fundamental I teach every new student is how to properly hold the club because good golf swings start with good grips. Your hands are your only connection to the club, thus making them the primary mover of the shaft and controller of the clubface. If you hold the club incorrectly, you’re immediately at a disadvantage and more likely to make compensations in your swing.

L.A.W.S. Revisited

Match your swing to your body type for maximum performance

L.A.W.S. RevisitedNot all athletes or golfers have an extreme body type. Instead, a great number of players fall into the “in-between” category, meaning they have a relatively “average” build with a solid combination of flexibility and strength. If you have this type of body, you need to develop a swing that takes advantage of both attributes, not just one or the other. This body type is best suited to a Leverage swing.

Tips From The Tour

Study the best in the world and improve your game

Tips From The TourIt goes without saying that the players who compete on the PGA Tour are the best in the world. Not only do they have impressive natural talent, but every guy out there spends a tremendous amount of time and effort working on his technique, strategy and fitness. For those of us not fortunate enough to be able to spend all day, every day improving our all-around game, this opportunity seems like a dream come true. For the players on Tour, however, it's a job that they take seriously, and one that's both extremely competitive and tough.

It's Not Your Fault!

Never make the same mistake twice and start shooting lower scores by fixing your swing faults

It's Not Your Fault!The game of golf is full of excuses. Whether it's an excuse for a bad shot, a bad pair of slacks or the dreaded excuse for a late or missed tee time, golf is littered with blame. Rarely, however, does a golfer blame himself or herself for a poorly hit shot. It could have been a distraction, a bad lie, a miscalculated yardage or my favorite—an unexpected 40 mph gust of wind. In any case, and despite the plethora of excuses for what seems like everything in golf, if you want to get better at actually playing golf, you must check your ego at the door.

A Lifetime Of Lessons: Lesson 2 Chip Shots

An excerpt from Marshall Smith's latest instruction book focuses on the 50-year teaching veteran's favorite tips.

A Lifetime Of Lessons: Lesson 2 Chip ShotsThe most important thing you can do to improve your chipping game is to know your distances precisely. Here’s a drill that can help. Find an area where you can pace off 30, 60 and 90 yards. Then place a small builder’s brick at each distance. Hit pitch shots at the 30-yard brick until you land one on it. You’ll get a great thrill from seeing the ball bounce way up in the air, and you should start to develop confidence and an aggressive attitude when you begin to hit such a small target with regularity. After you hit the brick from 30 yards, go for 60 then 90 yards.

The Secret To Speed

For more clubhead MPH and more yards, turn to your hips

The Secret To SpeedIf there’s an absolute truth in golf, it’s that the faster you can move the clubhead, the greater the potential for extra distance. Granted, you still need to make solid contact in the center of the face and with the club moving on the proper plane, but all other things being equal, more speed definitely means more yards. The big question is: Where does speed come from? Your hands can move fairly quickly, and there’s no faster part of your body than your fingers. But where the golf swing is concerned, a fast clubhead almost always results from fast hips moving correctly and in the proper direction.

 
 
 
  • International residents, click here.