From tee to green, all the plays every golfer needs
The one constant in the game of golf is that each round is different. Weather conditions, course conditions, course layout and even a golfer’s physical and mental state on a given day create a unique set of challenges. That means that to play well you have to learn to adapt. Golfers who maximize their scoring potential know how to do things like shape the ball around the corner of a dogleg, handle uneven lies on a hilly course, and hit the ball back in play from under low-hanging branches.
Believe it or not, the long-held belief that the clubface must be square through the hitting zone to hit straight shots is a myth. Over the past 10 years, I’ve measured the activity of the clubface during Tour players’ swings through the impact zone, and what I’ve learned is that not a single player holds the clubface square during the hitting area. Not one! In fact, these top-level players rotate the face counterclockwise around the shaft (for right-handed players) at about 30 degrees per foot of linear motion forward.
Forget the evils you've learned and get your game on track
There are a number of reasons why the majority of recreational golfers never seem to get better. Lack of serious practice and playing time are major contributors, as are a lack of proper physical conditioning and improperly fitted clubs. But perhaps the most significant cause of most golfers’ inability to improve is poor instruction.
Fix common errors in three key areas and watch your scores plummet
Mistakes—we’re all going to make them, especially on the golf course. Luckily, this isn’t a game that demands perfection. Even on Tour, low scores can be had without being perfect on every swing. The key is to limit the mistakes that can cause the most damage and jump on scoring opportunities whenever they arise.
Summer is rapidly closing in, meaning you probably have a golf vacation or two lined up. While the unfamiliarity of a new course may be your primary concern, you should consider the ill effects of another resort golf experience: the mandatory use of carts.
Take a seat! Use a chair, a soccer ball and a trusting friend to create a smooth transition.
A common swing error from which many golfers suffer is throwing the club from the top of the swing. This fault can produce a variety of bad shots and typically an impact position in which the clubhead is too far out in front of the hands. Throwing the club from the top is a start-of-the-downswing error, but most golfers, sensing it’s their hands lagging behind the clubhead that’s producing weak slaps at the ball, will choose to focus on correcting their impact position.
Four stellar shots to save par from tough greenside situations
The ability to salvage par from a difficult situation around the green often is the difference between contending for a tournament title and missing the cut. Common scenarios require a high-lofted shot over an obstacle, such as a bunker, heavy rough or a greenside mound. There are four approaches for successfully executing a lofted wedge shot. I refer to them as the Butterfly Lob, the Explosion Pitch, the Bird’s Nest Lob and the Standard Pitch.
Maximize your distance by learning the methods of some of the Tour?s longest hitters
"How do those guys hit it so far?” has got to be the most common question asked by recreational golfers in regard to the pros. Strength training, stretching, finely tuned equipment and lots of practice are certainly part of the reason, not to mention outrageous amounts of talent. But while it’s relatively easy to understand why tall, strongly built guys like Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and Vijay Singh can crush their tee shots, it’s not clear to most golf fans why a lot of the average-sized guys on Tour can do it, too.
To say that Ernie Els is one of the greatest golfers of our generation is about as gutsy as laying up from 150 yards. Already a three-time major winner (’94 and ’97 U.S. Opens, ’02 British Open), Els has notched 42 professional victories worldwide (12 on the PGA Tour) in just over a decade. More impressive, Els has 11 second-place finishes to his credit, including four runner-up calls in the majors. Often dubbed “The Big Easy,” Els is certainly big (6’3”, 220 pounds) and his swing is ridiculously effortless. It’s a study of contrasts, as he generates power not by his obvious size, but by employing the proper sequence of downswing moves. Here’s how he does it.
It sounds crazy, but one-armed putting can improve even the worst putting strokes. Putting with your rear arm (the right arm for a right-handed golfer) helps instill a feeling of acceleration through the putt, which is absolutely critical for creating a smooth, end-over-end roll. Rear-arm putting accomplishes this largely due to the weight of the putter—with two hands, it’s easy to manipulate the club and make jabbing or decelerating strokes. But with one hand on the club, you don’t have the coordination or strength to manipulate the putter. You’ll need to rock your shoulders and control the stroke with your body, not your arm, two hallmarks of a fundamentally solid stroke.