Tuesday, July 1, 2003
Become A Shotmaking Artist
From tee to green, all the plays every golfer needs
To keep the ball low, you’re going to use a partial swing, so you’ll want to use more club than you would normally for the same distance. In other words, if your standard 150-yard club is a 7-iron, but you’re playing a low-trajectory shot, drop down to a 6-iron or even a 5-iron. Start by gripping down one or two inches on the handle—you’ll need this for the control this shot demands. Stand an inch or two closer to the ball to compensate for the shorter length of the club, and be sure to grip with firm pressure in both hands. A tighter grip pressure will help delay the release of the clubhead and produce a lower trajectory. As you address the ball, position your upper body directly on top of your lower with your shoulders almost level and move the ball back to the center of your stance to ensure that you’ll strike the ball first with a descending blow. Set your hands slightly ahead of the ball. A forward hand position will naturally de-loft the clubface, helping to start the ball on a low trajectory. As with any golf shot, the length of the backswing is relative to the overall length of the shot. Concentrate on making a smooth swing with a slightly slower tempo on the forwardswing. A slower tempo will produce less spin, helping to keep the ball on a low trajectory. Stay level with your hips as you swing through the hitting area. Feel as though the handle of the club leads the clubhead through the hitting area to prevent adding loft to the shot.
Here’s a great swing key to keep in mind: A low shot means a low finish. The lower you want to hit it, the lower you want to finish, not only with the hands and arms, but with the clubhead as well. With a low finish, the backswing will always be slightly longer than the forwardswing. It’s important to remember that even though you have a low finish with the arms and club, you still must fully rotate your body toward the target.
If you plan to hit a high shot, you’ll need at least one extra club to cover the necessary distance. For example, if you’re at your 8-iron distance, use a 7-iron to produce the same yardage, but with a high trajectory. If you’re preparing to hit a high shot to negotiate a tree or other obstacle, however, keep in mind that you’ll need a club with enough loft to get the ball in the air quickly. Circumstances may require you to simply take a wedge and hit your ball back in the fairway and in position for the next shot.
Play the ball about an inch forward of your normal ball position to add effective loft to the club you’ve selected. The key to hitting the ball high is staying behind it from start to finish. To help you stay behind the shot, increase your spine tilt at address by lowering your right shoulder. Increasing your spine tilt will position more weight on your right side and will help you add loft. Remember, the finish position matches the shot trajectory. A high shot requires a high finish.
As you begin the forwardswing, make a conscious effort to stay behind the ball with your upper body and swing along the shoulder tilt you established at address. It should feel as though your weight is lagging back on the right side. Increase your tempo on the forwardswing slightly to squeeze an extra five to 10 yards out of the shot.
The World Isn’t Flat
Though golf courses aren’t flat, most golfers hone their fundamentals on the even, manicured surfaces of a driving range. In order to successfully take your skills to the course, however, you need to adapt to many different types of playing conditions—including hilly, sloping terrain.
Ball Above Feet
When playing a shot with the ball above your feet, the club will naturally approach impact from the inside and close down as you swing through the hitting area. When the clubface closes through the hitting area, it effectively de-lofts the club, sending the ball lower and more to the left.
You should be able to use one club less because the lie creates a lower, hooking shot that will roll more once it hits the ground. Start by gripping down on the club to accommodate the severity of the slope. Position the ball just as you would for a normal shot. Be sure to allow for the potential right-to-left movement of this shot when you aim your clubface and body. Distribute your weight evenly between your heels and toes and stand taller to accommodate the slope.
Make a three-quarters backswing, keeping your upper body level going back. It’s best to think of sweeping the ball. In fact, a baseball swing is a great image to have for this shot to make sure your body stays nice and level.
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