Tips For Sticks

If you’re a low-handicapper, here’s how to fix your most common faults

Good golfers often struggle with very different problems than average golfers. They often hit the ball too far with their short irons and overdraw or block shots to the right because they get stuck on their downswings. Sometimes their hands are too overactive through release. It's kind of ironic that the very things that make golfers more powerful players also give them consistency problems. If this sounds like you, and you want to fix your game, read on.

A lot of good players tend to blow their hips out to start the downswing, which leaves their arms lagging too far behind them. This leads to either blocked shots or "rescuing" the shot by flipping their hands to square up the club. Either way, there's too much emphasis placed on timing, and unfortunately you can't always time your swings perfectly.

To remedy this, slip an alignment stick through a couple of your front belt loops so that it's parallel to your target line. Then start to hit some balls. This instant-feedback drill will teach you how your hips should move throughout the swing. Feel the synchronization between your arms and hips and recognize that while your hips may lead the downswing, it's only slightly. If you blow them out too much, as you see in the black-and-white photos above, your hands will get caught behind the stick. On the other hand, a well-synchronized swing will leave your hands in front of the stick so that you can make a swing that's free of impediments.

Under intense tournament pressure, it's easy for good players to tighten their grip. Their larger muscles (shoulders, arms) tighten, and their short muscles (wrists, hands) take over. With so much pressure in the grip, the clubhead feels lighter. This leads to a putterface that opens up and blocks short putts to the right. To remedy this, it's important to keep your body relaxed so you can feel the weight of your putterhead and use it so it releases naturally.

Try this simple drill to ingrain a light grip pressure: Grip the butt end of your club with your left forefinger and thumb while placing your right hand normally. Keep your grip pressure soft and swing back and forth, letting the head's weight naturally release to the finish. Don't "hit" the ball, just let it get in the way.

Once you've stroked a number of putts this way and developed a good feeling, return to a normal grip and make some putts. Recall that feeling of soft grip pressure and use your large muscles to control the stroke.


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