The greenside bunker shot is one of the most intimidating shots for the amateur player, while at the same time being one of the easier shots for touring pros. Why? The reason is simply because professionals understand how to manage sand properly and actually use the sand to their advantage. As for amateurs? For some reason, most amateurs make matters more confusing than they ought to be.
All of us who love the game of golf have, at least once in our lives, dreamed of playing at the highest level against the pros. Of course, it’s a dream that very few get to actually live out, but it’s also a dream that drives us all to try and improve. In reality, golf is one of the few sports that actually allows amateur participants to use the same tools and play on the same tracks as the world’s best, and as a result, we all probably feel more kinship with the elite than enthusiasts in other disciplines. Even neophyte players have brushes with greatness when they strike one solid iron shot or hole a long putt, an experience that tends to get them hooked on the game for good.
Okay, so you’ve missed the green by a few feet and are left with a fluffy, unpredictable lie. Situations like this aren’t uncommon here at Poipu Bay in Kauai (and probably your home course too), but with a quick pointer on greenside chipping, I think I can help you get up and down more often than not from this tricky position. How? With the most versatile and forgiving club in your bag.
Part of being a skillful player is “reading” the situation, choosing the right shot and then being able to execute that particular play. Taking into account all your options is important, but most golfers never consider the versatility the game allows. For example, when faced with a bunker shot, most golfers think “blast.” But in some situations, thinking “chip” may produce the better result.
Bad lies are one thing, but there’s nothing worse than a situation where your backswing is completely restricted. The feeling of helplessness can be pretty disheartening. For most golfers, the only play is to chip back into the fairway—a momentum-breaker that’s not going to help you if your goal is to shoot low numbers. But take a closer look—you may be able to knock it near or even on the green if you know this savvy technique.
A key element to becoming a better player is learning to create different ballflight trajectories on command. It’s this aspect of your play that will allow you to effectively tackle a variety of situations ranging from lob pitches to knockdowns to recovery shots. Here are six “factors of flight” to help you learn to throw it high or keep it low.
If you want to take your scores even lower, you’ve got to be able to control the spin on your golf ball, and that means being able to curve it when you want to. This skill is called “working” the ball, and it takes practice. But most low-handicappers don’t rehearse this part of their game correctly—they’ll hit 20 draws in a row, then hit a bunch of fades. This practice sequence doesn’t realistically represent what you’ll face on the course. In golf, you only get one chance, not 20. That’s why I recommend the Diamond Drill. The Diamond teaches you how to work the ball “on demand” using the geometry of the setup.
Growing up in Oklahoma, my golfing buddies and I had more than our fair share of wind to deal with on the course. As a PGA professional on the island of Maui, I still rely on different techniques to cheat the breeze and set up more scoring opportunities.
Any golfer worth his salt dreams of trying his hand on a true links golf course. Turnberry, Kingsbarns, Royal Dornoch, even Carnoustie—they all present challenges that inland courses, protected from the elements, simply can’t muster. The soft fairways that prevent errant drives from running into the rough don’t exist. Spongy, well-watered greens that receive approaches of all kinds just aren’t there. It’s a whole different style of play that favors putting over pitching and low, authoritative punch shots over high, spinning floaters. Above all, links golf demands imagination.
When playing golf, there are some days that no matter what you try, you can’t get your upper and lower body to work in sync. On these days, you’ll find that the hips trail too far behind the shoulders, and the shoulders trail too far behind the arms and hands. The Dead Shot is an effective drill I use with my students to promote balance, timing and synchronization from the takeaway through the finish.
Sometimes the best way to get out of a bunker is to not hit the ball at all. Try putting it instead. Like all shots from the bunker, you must first assess the situation and determine if the putter is the right choice.
You’ll discover the need to hit over an obstacle—tree, fence, even a scoreboard—during the course of an everyday round. And while amateurs fear the shot, pros know that only a few setup adjustments can fuel success.
Take the high route over what?s between you and your target
Many golfers have difficulty in hitting a high-trajectory shot when they have to. A reason for this inability is a ball position that’s too far back in the stance. This makes varying the trajectory of your shots nearly impossible.
Regardless of where you play, youll eventually face a tough pitch off
hardpan. This is a dicey situation, as ultra-tight lies such as hardpan
make it easy for the clubhead to bounce off the turf and into the top
half of the golf ball, skulling it over the green. The key for pitches
off hardpan is to make sure the clubhead does anything but bounce off
the turf. Knowing how to accomplish this will save you strokes
not only in this situation, but in dozens of others that involve tight lies.
To get the clubhead traveling a little faster (a necessary requirement
for hitting longer shots), you need to create a longer backswing with
an increase in the amount of arm swing and body turn. Not only must the
swing be a little longer, but you need to pick up the pace of your
swing to increase clubhead speed as well. The pace of the forwardswing
should be slightly faster than normal.
Uphill and downhill lies are a challenge as they demand balance and control of the clubface throughout the swing
Set up with your spine perpendicular to the slope and shoulders
parallel to the ground so you can swing up the slope on the backswing
and down the slope on the forwardswing. The arrangement of your body
will favor the creation of an upright swing and make it more difficult
to square the face through the hitting area—thats why a shot from a
downhill lie tends to curve a little to the right. To help shallow the
plane and encourage a swing thats a little more around your body, drop
your right foot back to close your stance slightly and match up the
ball position to your stance by putting it about two inches back of
Golf isn’t a game of who hits it the best, it’s a game of who misses it the least. Even the best players in the world routinely mis-hit shots. In fact, the average Tour player hits only about 12 greens per round! How do they miss one out of every three greens and still manage to routinely shoot under par? Two reasons: steely determination and a red-hot short game.
It's a how-to world these days. Everywhere you look, you'll find someone, somewhere or something dedicated to what I like to call, HTH (How-To Hysteria). How to bake a cake, how to wire a motorcycle, how to build an arboretum, how to fix a car—we as a culture have become so fascinated by the how-to genre that dozens of magazines, Websites and even television channels have been developed to help you help yourself. Luckily, Golf Tips is no exception, as the authors in every instructional story provide you with the scoop on how to become a better player.
It goes without saying that the players who compete on the PGA Tour are
the best in the world. Not only do they have impressive natural talent,
but every guy out there spends a tremendous amount of time and effort
working on his technique, strategy and fitness. For those of us not
fortunate enough to be able to spend all day, every day improving our
all-around game, this opportunity seems like a dream come true. For the
players on Tour, however, it's a job that they take seriously, and one
that's both extremely competitive and tough.
Every round requires at least one money-shot situation to win a few skins or to stay competitive when the chips are down
It doesnt matter how great or poor youre playing, any given round
requires at least one spectacular shot to win a skin, save a
much-needed stroke or, in some cases, avert a disaster. We like to call
these money shots, as opposed to miracle shots, because we believe
that with practice, these types of shots will be your go-to plays when
the game is on the line. Better yet, learning a few money shots will
not only help you lower scores, but your overall game is likely to
improve, thanks to a newfound confidence in knowing you can face
anything that comes your way.
Fueled by the legend?and memory?of Moe Norman, the single-axis swing continues to intrigue with its simplicity
Moe Norman was considered by many to be the best ballstriker of all
time. Even Ben Hogan was once quoted as saying that Moe was the only
guy that I would walk across the street to watch hit balls. But anyone
whos familiar with Moe Norman knows that his golf swing was a bit
unconventional. Compared to todays popular techniques, Normans golf
swing adhered to a single axis, not the two planes normally associated
with the modern dynamic. Taking away and returning the club on a single
plane fueled Normans consistency and correctness at impact by
de-complexing the swing. Is a single-axis motion the best way to
swing a golf club? The debate has raged for decades. At the very least,
it effectively simplifies and helps improve the most important part of
the swing—impact. A comparison of the single-axis technique and the
modern swing shows how.
Shotmaking is a broad term and one that’s typically reserved for highly skilled players. Yet all golfers, even those who have a tough time breaking 90, should consider themselves shotmakers. Face it, the game of golf constantly demands a degree of creativity, and unless you play on a perfectly flat course with no rough, no hazards and no undulations on the greens, you have to be ready with a variety of plays—just to get through a single round.
In the late 1970s, the greatest player in the world came to the realization that he had to change his swing in order to better control his golf ball in the wind. That golfer, Jack Nicklaus, spent the better part of a year relearning the golf swing in heavy Florida winds. A few years later, Nick Faldo retooled his leggy, high-ball hitting motion by inserting mechanisms that helped him lower his trajectory in order to produce a more penetrating ballflight. The move led him to six majors.