Play Like A Player!

Quick tips and advice to make you look, feel and perform like a star

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INSIDE THE ROPES: BILL HAAS

Bill Haas isn't hitting a flop shot here, but he's hitting his sand wedge about 120 yards, straight up into the air. How does he do it? Check out that hinge on his backswing. The longer you hold that hinge (also known as "lag"), the more power you store up to release into the golf ball.

Also, check out that extension, post-impact. That's a sure sign Haas didn't try and flip the wrists and attempt to hit the ball higher (like Tom instructs you to do when hitting a flop shot). Haas also doesn't restrict his leg action, even with shorter wedge shots. Copy these two positions with your swing, and you'll hit higher and longer wedge shots.

STICK IN THE SAND

Who said you need to follow through? Following through in the bunkers isn't always necessary. In particular, when faced with sunken or fried egg lies, Tour players know that you need to get the club deep and underneath the ball. To do that, you need to hit down on the sand and create a hill of sand that pushes the ball up and out of the bunker. This requires a steep, sharp angle of attack into the sand anywhere from 1 to 3 inches behind the ball. The deeper the lie, the harder you need to hit the sand. (The softer the sand, the farther behind the ball you want to hit the sand.) I like to hinge my wrists and fire into my left side with a steep swing that plows into the sand and stays there. Some players actually hit the sand and recoil the club back, helping to add some extra "stab" to the shot. But that's not always necessary. Sometimes sticking the wedge deep into the sand is all you need to extricate the ball and get out of that gnarly lie.

INSIDE THE ROPES: CHARLIE HOFFMAN

When hitting more traditional bunker shots, like Charlie Hoffman is demonstrating here, things can take shape in a more symmetrical manner. Check out how well Hoffman mirrors his swing from backswing to followthrough. It's as though his arms are exact opposites, right? Now check out his lower body. Quite a difference.

Try this technique yourself. Think of mirroring your upper body while the lower body continues to rotate through the shot. Think L to Y (impact) and back to L again. Just be sure to keep that lower body turning through the shot. You need that forward momentum to get the ball out.


HIGH BOMB, LOW CUTTER

Shotmaking isn't limited to the fairway. Tour players often shape their tee shots as often as they do their approach shots. There are two shots that I think any real player needs to know how to hit. The first is the high, bombing draw. To do that, tee the ball higher and play it forward in the stance, add some shoulder tilt away from the target, and keep your head behind the ball through impact. The other shot is the low cutter, which is a drive with a mid-low trajectory and some fade-spin to hold the fairway. (It's a great shot for tight fairways and when you want to control your driving distances.) Play the ball a little farther back in your stance with a lower tee height and less shoulder tilt, and try to keep your head above the ball at impact. Do that, and you'll see the effect: a low, cutting fade that's easy to control.




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