How do you really lower your scores? A change of approach can lead to a favorable change in score
Many of you scour the pages of this magazine looking for the magic answer to this question. If that’s your motivation, then this article is for you. On the following pages, I’ll show you how to drop strokes from your game by simply changing your approach on the tee box and on the putting green. After all, if you can get down the fairway regularly and hole the putts you’re supposed to make—and some of the ones you shouldn’t—you’ll be well on your way to playing your best rounds ever.
In the boxing world, the fighter who can connect his rights has a good shot of knocking out his opponent. In golf, the same holds true, but instead of crosses and uppercuts, you need to connect your right hip and shoulder, a move that augments your balance, puts greater power into your swing and otherwise facilitates a pure, on-plane motion.
What to do and where to be throughout the swing for guaranteed success
When you watch Tour pros on television, you probably notice certain similarities in their respective swings. Good tempo is common, as well as good balance. Do you remember the last time you saw a professional golfer fall down after a swing or take a hack that looked awkward or rushed? Amateur golfers also tend to notice the look and feel of effortlessness Tour pros project during the swing. Of course, the prodigious distance their shots travel and the crispness of their ballstriking are impressive as well. The problem is, most amateurs simply don’t do the things the pros do before, during and after the swing and, as a result, are unable to get the same results. To hit the ball like a pro, you have to understand the moves they make and learn to do them yourself. Then, you’ll be solid.
To fix golf's most common flaw, find out what's causing it
It's a phrase heard on driving ranges, tee boxes and fairways nationwide. “I’m coming over the top.” It’s a lament as common as “I’m lifting my head” or “I’m swinging too fast.” And as hard as golfers try to correct this fault, most endure little success.
Here’s a drill that transforms golfers into more consistent ballstrikers and longer hitters. The most remarkable aspect of this drill is that it doesn’t involve swinging a golf club at all, but I feel strongly it best teaches the athletic movements involved with swinging a club.
For most golfers a left-hand-low grip cures all setup flaws
Every golfer is built differently, but in constructing a putting posture that will yield the most successful results, you have to take into account subtle, less obvious differences in build. The most important of these “anatomical fingerprints” is shoulder lines. When standing naturally, every golfer has shoulders that are either open (left shoulder behind right), closed (right shoulder behind left) or square. Most golfers have open shoulders, and the putting setup that best accommodates this anatomical structure is one that features a cross-handed (left-hand-low) putting grip.
There’s no quicker way to establish yourself as totally clueless on the greens—and to inspire confidence in your opponent—than to set up for a right-to-left putt, make a little pull stroke that sends the ball dead left, and watch the ball meander aimlessly on a path five or six inches below the cup, totally oblivious to the hole. Ditto the left-to-right breaker that you push well right of the hole. There’s a reason they call this “missing on the amateur side”—these are the putts that haven’t got a chance.
Add to your arsenal of short-game shots and hit to tap-in range every time
Instead of taking advantage of clear scoring opportunities from less than full-wedge distances, most recreational golfers unnecessarily struggle, often needing additional strokes to get the ball into the hole following a poor approach. Not only does this situation work to balloon your scores, it robs you of the momentum you might have gained had you made par or birdie. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Shotmaking tips from the seaside links of Scotland to help you save strokes wherever you play
Regardless of how good your golf swing is or how crisply you strike the ball, you won’t post good scores if you don’t know how to think your way around a golf course. Obviously, solid technique helps, as does driving the ball long and straight. But throughout the course of a round, there are a variety of situations in which fundamentally solid golf skills simply won’t get the job done. Instead, you must be able to rely on good decision-making to put yourself in position to shoot the lowest score possible without risking double and triple bogeys.
One of the main reasons why recreational golfers can’t generate the power they’d like to is that they never fully get the club in their hands on-plane, especially the longer irons and, to an even greater extent, the driver. What recreational golfers need to understand is that the plane on which the club should travel changes from club to club—it’s a path dictated by the lie angle of the iron or wood you wish to swing. As the lie angle decreases from the short irons to the driver, the desired swing plane becomes flatter.
Golfers tend to get worked up about putting. They make it into a far more complex exercise than it has to be, which is why I often jokingly compare putting to performing brain surgery. No doubt about it, we put unnecessary pressure on ourselves as we stand over that little white ball and whisper a prayer before pulling the trigger.
A guide to finding and fixing common flaws that may be hiding in your swing
Over the years, I’ve worked with thousands of golfers, and if I had to find a common trait among them all, it would be that each and every one has his or her own unique swing. A second—albeit unfortunate—universal characteristic is that all of these swings are plagued by at least one major flaw.
Just round the corner from my house in northeastern Oklahoma lies Miami CC, a course on which I grew up and learned the game. It’s a track steeped in history, having at one time Ky Laffoon as its head professional. I taught each one of my five children to play golf on Miami CC—a course where each hole seems to demand a different golfing skill.
The majority of my new students fight a slice. That is, they tend to leave the clubface open at impact. An open clubface will impart left-to-right sidespin on the ball regardless of the path on which your club travels through the hitting zone. If you struggle with a slice, you know how frustrating the game can be. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Posture and balance in golf are extremely important if you want to be a consistent ballstriker. In fact, in all sports, balance is paramount. The next time you thumb through a sports magazine, look for a baseball player awaiting a pitch at the plate or a quarterback set in the pocket and ready to throw. In every case, you’ll immediately recognize the high level of balance all professional athletes possess.
Just like it is with the full swing, it’s easy for golfers to get sloppy while executing their putting strokes. By sloppy, I mean hitting the ball all over the putterface rather than striking the ball precisely on the sweet spot.
Over the years, much has been written about grip pressure and what this level of pressure feels like. This has been a difficult task for instructors because how can you aptly describe what something feels like?
In this article, we'll take a look at what I like to call the “get set” position, or what's more commonly referred to as the top of thebackswing. Properly achieving this position supplies the power. Most amateurs make the mistake of never “getting set,” instead shifting into a reverse pivot or simply sliding laterally away from the target. Either of these moves will result in a great loss of power. In order to unload and properly return the club back through impact with balance and rhythm, you must have a good “get set” position.
Keep that right knee flexed for more consistent golf
There are many important facets to a good golf swing, but maintaining the bend in the right knee is one that simply can't be overlooked. When a student comes to me with a common complaint (slicing, poor ballstriking or a general lack of consistency), I always take a close look at his or her body angles, and make certain that their posture and knee position are constant throughout the swing. If the student is having problems with posture or knee position, it's not worth spending a lot of time working on other aspects of the swing. Solid results just can't be achieved without correcting these problems first.
Every golfer will experience periods of inconsistent ballstriking, low confidence and a general sensation of swinging out of sync. For these times, I offer a quick fix: Quiet your lower body, and concentrate on swinging the golf club with only your hands and arms.
Maintain your spine tilt for improved ballstriking
Posture is a critical element of the golf swing, and is often overlooked by golf instructors and recreational players alike. It's not particularly dynamic or flashy, and most golfers just don't get excited about spending time developing correct posture. However, establishing the proper body angles at address—and maintaining them throughout the swing—is absolutely crucial to solid ballstriking and good shotmaking.
A major fault of both accomplished and recreational golfers alike is taking the club too far inside on the backswing. This inside position generally leads to the club getting stuck behind the right hip (for right-handed golfers) on the downswing, preventing the desired, down-the-line release. Getting stuck too far inside creates a number of problems, the most serious of which is a compensatory flipping of the hands at impact, a move that creates nothing but glancing blows and non-compressed golf shots.
In a recent poll on the Golf Tips® Website, we asked you what swing flaw you’d most like to correct. More than 5,000 readers responded, with the majority citing slicing (27%) as fault number one, with a lack of distance and poor putting following close behind.