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.