Lesson In Links
Control your trajectory for better scoring
Instead, opt for a low-running shot that stays close to the ground and releases up to the green. This shot is one that target golfers probably don’t try very often because of the soft fairways and greens, which are often guarded by sand bunkers. Obviously, this type of shot isn’t appropriate in situations where the green is fronted by a hazard, but when the coast is clear, so to speak, it’s one of the highest-percentage shots in golf.
To execute this shot, select a club that has less loft, such as a 7-, 8- or 9-iron. Position the ball back in your stance, with the majority of weight on your front foot. It’s not necessary to hit down on the ball with a great deal of force, which will only add spin to the shot, making it more likely to be affected by the wind and the grass than a lower-spinning shot. Choke down slightly on the grip and take an abbreviated backswing. Then, simply concentrate on making solid contact with the ball, holding the clubface low through impact. This will help impart overspin on the ball, keeping it close to the ground and rolling hard toward the green.
The key to perfecting this shot, like any shot in golf, is practice. If you’re not accustomed to playing low runners, it can be difficult at first to pick a target and determine how hard to hit the ball. You must learn to let go of mechanical, distance-oriented thinking and allow yourself to visualize the shot as it rolls along the ground and up to the green. Feel the shot and let your body do the rest. Of course, with experience, you’ll better learn to judge the turf and wind conditions, which will make getting the ball close to the hole that much easier.
The High Shot
Although high-approach shots aren’t normally associated with links golf, there are situations when it becomes necessary to loft the ball over a hazard. When confronted with this type of situation, there are several modifications to make that differ from the usual high-spinning shot normally played on target-style courses.
First, the wind must be accounted for. It can be coming from behind, in the face, right to left, or left to right. Each situation demands a different type of alteration in aim, which will be crucial to producing a favorable result.
For shots that must be started left or right of the flag, be sure to use the entire length of the green as a target. This way, if you misjudge the wind or the shot slightly, the ball will still land on the green. For downwind shots, be aware that the wind will tend to knock the ball down, bringing it in lower and harder than you might think. Be prepared to miss these shots long, and pick a target that will leave the easiest up-and-down possible.
Finally, when the wind is directly into the shot, don’t be tempted to hit the ball harder. Always remember that an easier touch will produce less spin and help the ball bore through the wind. Although this is a high shot, it’s still possible to hit the ball with a relatively low amount of spin.
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