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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.



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.

Money Shots

Every round requires at least one money-shot situation to win a few skins or to stay competitive when the chips are down

Money ShotsIt doesn’t matter how great or poor you’re playing, any given round requires at least one spectacular shot to win a skin, save a much-needed stroke or, in some cases, avert a disaster. We like to call these “money shots,” as opposed to “miracle shots,” because we believe that with practice, these types of shots will be your go-to plays when the game is on the line. Better yet, learning a few money shots will not only help you lower scores, but your overall game is likely to improve, thanks to a newfound confidence in knowing you can face anything that comes your way.

Five Fundamentals Of Iron Play

Improve your scoring by refreshing yourself with the must-know components of the iron swing

Five Fundamentals Of Iron PlayWe admit, blasting a huge drive is a ton of fun. Nothing beats splitting the fairway with every ounce of swing speed you have, watching the ball soar for what seems like miles in the air and basking in the success of the result. But what’s a 300-yard drive if you can’t hit the green on your second shot? Worthless!

Swing Thoughts That Really Work

Think your way to a better golf swing now

Swing Thoughts That Really WorkOld-school golf instruction is full of imagery that was originally created to help players make what were perceived as the the proper moves in the swing. In those days, many of the technical aspects of the golf swing weren’t completely understood, largely due to the lack of video technology that exists today. Instead, players mostly relied on feel, natural talent and repetition to hone their technique and overall game. Not surprisingly, the average scores of recreational golfers barely ever improved significantly, other than what was delivered by technological advances in equipment and golf course conditioning.

Finishing School

Look at the end of your swing to find and fix hidden flaws

Finishing SchoolBasically, there are only two positions in the golf swing: the address and the finish. Everything else is a motion and, as such, difficult to analyze. But the finish is static and allows for serious self-analysis. If you know what to look for, then how you end your swing can give you some good ideas of what’s going on in your motion.

Two Wrongs Make A Right

Don't fear flaws, use them to correct any type of ballflight

Two Wrongs Make A Right

No matter how fundamentally superior the swings of the world’s best players are to those belonging to the rest of us, there has never been, nor is it likely will there ever be, a golf swing without at least one flaw.

Its Your Turn

Its Your Turn

Most recreational golfers think the pros are playing a completely different game and that they struggle with totally different mistakes. Of course, touring pros are more advanced than weekend golfers in terms of technique and ability level, but believe it or not, there are some problems that almost all golfers struggle with from time to time. 

An Easier Way?

Fueled by the legend?and memory?of Moe Norman, the single-axis swing continues to intrigue with its simplicity

An Easier Way?Moe Norman was considered by many to be the best ballstriker of all time. Even Ben Hogan was once quoted as saying that “Moe was the only guy that I would walk across the street to watch hit balls.” But anyone who’s familiar with Moe Norman knows that his golf swing was a bit unconventional. Compared to today’s popular techniques, Norman’s golf swing adhered to a single axis, not the two planes normally associated with the modern dynamic. Taking away and returning the club on a single plane fueled Norman’s consistency and correctness at impact by “de-complexing” the swing. Is a single-axis motion the best way to swing a golf club? The debate has raged for decades. At the very least, it effectively simplifies and helps improve the most important part of the swing—impact. A comparison of the single-axis technique and the modern swing shows how.

Bunker Magic

4 different shots with four different clubs from greenside sand

Bunker MagicBunkers are the only place on the golf course where you’re not always required to hit it perfectly. It’s okay—even encouraged—that you sometimes hit it fat, hold the face open through impact and minimize your weight shift and rotation. So why, then, are golfers terrified of what seemingly should be one of golf’s easier shots? Astonishingly, the top player on the PGA Tour through 20 rounds of golf this year—Luke Donald—has nearly a 90 percent success rate from the sand. There’s no reason you can’t be at least half that good.

Hip Work

Hip Work

The three components for proper hip movement—a critical component of a fundamentally solid downswing—are weight shift, a slight lateral slide and hip whip (the explosive rotation just before impact that generates power). Good players know how to mix these components in the proper proportion to achieve both maximum power and outstanding accuracy.

Drive With Control & Power

Serious advice and drills for big, big hits

Drive With Control & PowerEach of my students completes a pre-instruction questionnaire, indicating wants, needs and goals. I’ve used this questionnaire for 20 years, and easily the most oft-noted goal is “more distance with more control.” Many of these golfers own sound fundamentals, solid iron swings and good short games, but nonetheless lack the skill to consistently produce pure and powerful drives. In your own attempts to improve, does it seem like the harder you try to gain distance, the worse it gets? Trust me, you’re not alone. I’m confident that learning from four typical driving faults and comparing those to the moves of golfers who hit it forever with a seemingly effortless flow of motion will help you do the same.

Five Strategies For Lower Scores

Change your game without changing your swing

Five Strategies For Lower ScoresThere’s little doubt that proper swing fundamentals and short-game techniques are important parts of a consistent golf game. Good golf, however, isn’t purely about perfect mechanics; it’s also largely about strategy. Fortunately, there are several key strategies anyone can easily utilize to produce lower scores. Better yet, using your smarts is a lot easier than trying to create a fundamentally perfect backswing or impact position. In this regard, the title of this story holds true—you can score better without changing your swing.

Red-Letter Days

Use the alphabet to groove a solid, power-rich, accurate swing

Red-Letter Days

Good days and not-so-good days on the course are part of golf, creating the personal challenge avid players crave. For most golfers, good rounds are those defined by solid ballstriking with ideal direction, distance and trajectory. It’s these special red-letter days—the days when golf seems effortless—that every golfer wants more often.

Bermuda Blues

Bermuda Blues

If you’re planning a golf vacation this winter, be prepared to face a course element common to most tracks in Hawaii, Arizona and Florida: Bermuda grass. If you’re not accustomed to playing on this type of turf, you may be surprised at how it can affect your game, both on the fairway and the putting surface.

Three Needs For Speed

Three Needs For Speed

Like a high-performance engine that stalls when it leaks oil, water or fuel, a golf swing comes to an idling stop when the potential energy created in the backswing is emptied well before impact. Here are three tips to help keep power from leaking out of your game and also add horsepower to your motion.

Straight Arms After Impact

Straight Arms After Impact

There’s only one time during the swing when both arms are straight, and that’s just after impact. It’s a key checkpoint that you can use to determine the quality of your swing, since fully extended arms following contact signify that your arms and body are in sync.

Three Speeds For Less Three-Putts

Three Speeds For Less Three-Putts

Most recreational golfers don’t spend as much time on the practice putting green as they should, and when they do make the effort to roll a few balls for improvement’s sake, it’s usually done without purpose. Practice is most effective when you have a specific focus or goal and it’s the only method to truly improve your putting technique—and to easily drop a few strokes per round. The following Three-Speed Drill is a purposeful method for doing just that by involving four key areas of successful putting: green reading, concentration, speed control and accuracy.

Greenside Magic

25 Best Short-Game Tips Ever!

Greenside Magic

If you think back to your last good round of golf, odds are you’ll envision a number of solid drives and approach shots. We bet you’ll also remember making a few excellent par saves or maybe draining a birdie putt or two you normally would have no business making. And if you recount your last poor round of golf, it’s likely you’ll conjure images of errant drives and sloppy iron shots, combined with recovery attempts that failed to get you on the green and into the hole. For low scores, the short game is key.

Swing Extremes: Impact Position

Swing Extremes: Impact Position

All good players have one position in the golf swing that’s similar despite their very different-looking swings. This position is impact. Good players retain their wrist-cock through the hitting area so that their left wrist is bowed and the right wrist is flexed (for right-handed golfers), and both hands are slightly in front of the golf ball at the strike.

Pull The Trigger

Great swings begin with great starts

Pull The Trigger

Many of my new students ask me about how to correctly initiate the golf swing. They want to know what trigger will allow them to start their motions smoothly and on the correct path. This common question comes from those who suffer from a condition that plagues everyone, from novices to touring professionals. I like to call it “paralysis by analysis.”

Right Vs. Right On!

Is your swing a slice swing or a solid swing?

Right Vs. Right On!

Here we go again. Yes, another “fix your slice” feature, which says a lot about the banana ball—it’s not going away. For some golfers, that left-to-right ballflight never seems to disappear, and for those new to the game, it represents the first true taste of golf-related frustration. While I’m sure you’ve heard your fair share of anti-slice tips, this story approaches fixing a slice in unique fashion. Position by position, I’ll compare the components of a solid swing to those typically associated with a slice, plus a corresponding fix.

Match The Circles

Match The CirclesGood golfers give the impression that their forearms suddenly cross over through impact, but the swing is so fast that it fools the eye. What little forearm roll there is begins in the backswing with a gentle clockwise rotation of both forearms, a motion that reverses itself as the club swings back to the golf ball.

Sweet Spot: Jerry Kelly

Sweet Spot: Jerry Kelly

Solid short-game performance is key for any competitive golfer, and an absolute must for those fortunate enough to play on the PGA Tour. Jerry Kelly, who ranked 16th in scoring average with nearly $1.5 million in earnings after 15 events (as of mid-July) knows this fact well, as illustrated by his proficiency at saving par after missing a green in regulation (he currently is second on Tour in scrambling).

 
 
 
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