Quick Tips To Play Better

Get better, fast!

SWING WITH YOUR BODY, NOT YOUR ARMS If you want to dial in your chips and pitch shots, you have to learn to swing with the bigger muscles, not the smaller ones. This means making more of a body rotation through the shot, as opposed to a handsy, flippy style that can lead to all sorts of inaccuracies such as thin, fat or even shanked shots. Also, don't be afraid to use more of the surface area between you and the hole. Hit the shot that's right for your distance, lie and situation from off the green.

GET A GOOD GRIP A great grip is critical to hitting better shots, especially with your gloved hand. And it's also one of the parts of the swing that's easy to get right. Try this: Hold the club as I'm doing in Photo 1. Then, allow the club to fall behind you and catch it in your fingers, as seen in Photo 2. From there, grasp the club, as seen in Photo 3. This simple sequence will automatically get your gloved hand in the proper position. As for the right hand, cradle it around the grip in a similar fashion with the V formed by the finger and thumb, pointing at your right shoulder.

SET UP RIGHT You've probably heard of "spine tilt" by now, meaning the spine tilts forward at address. But there's actually a second angle that many amateurs forget. In a proper address position, the spine tilts forward, and also slightly away from the target. This helps you not only swing more from the inside of the target line, but also make a more effective rotation away from the ball. So remember, when you set up, first bend the knees, tilt the upper body forward and tilt the shoulders slightly away from the target. This will make a huge difference in your ability to hit solid shots.

BACKSWING DRILL A quick and easy way to get your backswing back on track is to use this simple drill. Grab a middle iron, and instead of gripping the handle, choke all the way down until the grip is pressing up against your stomach. From here, make a backswing, only keep the grip touching your stomach for as long as possible. This will help in two ways: First, you'll be forced to make a bigger, fuller rotation with the arms in front of your chest. Second, this will prevent you from making a backswing that's too steep, which, coincidentally is a problem for many folks who slice and hit a lot of pop-ups.

DOWNSWING DRILL A quick and easy way to get your backswing back on track is to use this simple drill. Grab a middle iron, and instead of gripping the handle, choke all the way down until the grip is pressing up against your stomach. From here, make a backswing, only keep the grip touching your stomach for as long as possible. This will help in two ways: First, you'll be forced to make a bigger, fuller rotation with the arms in front of your chest. Second, this will prevent you from making a backswing that's too steep, which, coincidentally is a problem for many folks who slice and hit a lot of pop-ups.

WORK THAT KNEE CORRECTLY How your legs work during the swing can affect the path you swing on. In particular, let's look at how the right knee works. In the case of some of my higher-handicap students, I see a lot of straight, or nearly straight, knees at the top of the swing. When this happens, I see a lot of clubs laid off and in a position like the one you see here.

NO How your legs work during the swing can affect the path you swing on. In particular, let's look at how the right knee works. In the case of some of my higher-handicap students, I see a lot of straight, or nearly straight, knees at the top of the swing. When this happens, I see a lot of clubs laid off and in a position like the one you see here.

Midway through the downswing, check out my right knee. It's actually protruding out toward the golf ball. When this happens, I'm in real danger of swinging over the top of the golf ball. Not to mention it makes me swing really steep.

Oh no! As a result of my knee bending and protruding out toward the golf ball, I've created a vicious, outside-in swing path. In addition, the hosel of the iron is closer to the ball, and I'm in real danger of shanking the golf ball. Why? All because my knee didn't do what it's supposed to do.

YES Here we are at the top of a good golf swing. My right knee has retained some flex, and I'm poised to make a swing without coming over the top. The key, shown in the next couple photos, is in how the right knee moves in the downswing.

As I transition my weight from my right side to my left side, I begin the necessary move of the right knee toward my left knee. You can see that happening here as I drop the club on the downswing and rotate my hips open. As the right knee gets closer to the left knee, the left knee straightens out.

Here we go. At impact, you can clearly see that my knee didn't protrude toward the target. Instead, it bent toward the left knee. This is indicative of a solid rotation of the body, and a weight shift to my forward (left) side. Practice this sequence here and get your right knee moving correctly. You'll see more consistent shots right away.

WATCH YOUR EAR This article is meant to be quick and easy, right? Here's another tip that's a real no-brainer for better, longer tee shots with the driver. Instead of focusing on hitting up on the ball (the driver is the only club where that's okay), think of something else. In this case, make sure you keep your left ear behind the ball through the hit. By doing that, you'll not only swivel your body around your head better, but also retain the needed ascending angle into the back of the golf ball. It's a simple tip to learn, and a valuable thing to remember while out on the course.

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STAY ABOVE THE BALL A quick and easy way to get your backswing back on track is to use this simple drill. Grab a middle iron, and instead of gripping the handle, choke all the way down until the grip is pressing up against your stomach. From here, make a backswing, only keep the grip touching your stomach for as long as possible. This will help in two ways: First, you'll be forced to make a bigger, fuller rotation with the arms in front of your chest. Second, this will prevent you from making a backswing that's too steep, which, coincidentally is a problem for many folks who slice and hit a lot of pop-ups.

Let's get one thing straight. Hitting out of a bunker should not be as difficult as many amateurs make it out to be. The biggest fault I see when it comes to bunker play is that they try to lift the ball out of the sand by hanging back and hitting up on the ball. Or, I see golfers try to scoop the ball upward by flipping the hands upward. In both cases, it's unlikely anyone will see good, consistent results from the bunker. In the photos above, check out how my head starts and finishes well behind the golf ball. It's no wonder I flubbed this shot!

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Now I'm on the ball. Literally. Hitting good bunker shots requires you to hit down into the sand behind the ball. In doing so, sand will accumulate under the ball and lift it out of the sand. There's no lifting or scooping necessary, instead let the club and sand do their work. To do this right, set up with your eyes directly over the golf ball. As you swing, keep your weight on your forward leg and strike down behind the ball with a steep swing. By staying "above the ball," you'll be able to swing more aggressively, hit the sand with authority and watch the ball escape the bunker with ease.

PUTTING ALLEY DRILL I love this quick drill. Simply use two alignment sticks, (you can use two irons, too) and make an alley toward a hole on a flat putt. Make sure you don't make it too long of a putt; keep the sticks along the whole length of the putt and up to the hole (as you see here). Now, as you putt, I want you to concentrate on those two lines. This can be used not so much as a guide for your stroke, but to build some visual memory cues as you putt.

When you practice this, not only will you start making more short putts, but you'll ingrain a better idea of where the cup is relative to your stance and eyes. Again, don't worry about matching your path to the lines (even though it's okay to go straight-back and straight-through on short putts); rather use the lines as a confidence builder to help you remember that short putts can be easy as long as you set up and align correctly.

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KEEP YOUR HEAD STATIONED Finally, becoming a better putter is really about finding a style that suits you best. Even so, that doesn't mean there aren't a few basic mechanics that you should ignore. Of those, holding your head in a stationed position as you putt is critical. By being stationed (not necessarily rigid), you both see the line better and swing the putter on the intended line more effectively. To practice this, try what I'm doing here. Grab a basketball and place it between your knees. It may seem as though your lower-body stability isn't related to whether or not your head moves, but in reality, it is! A firm and steady lower body helps the upper body to rock the putter back without having to sway or slide away from the golf ball. So, give this great drill a try and work on keeping that head stationed. I bet you'll start making a lot more putts.

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2 thoughts on “Quick Tips To Play Better

  1. in this article you say its better to stay above the ball in a bunker so you can avoid hitting the sand too early, yetin the pictures you advocate the same top of backswing position on a full shot (as the ‘wrong’ position in the bunker), where hitting the ground at all before the shot should be avoided (I think), I am interested to know why that is? I need to play better 😉

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