Saturday, July 1, 2006
Tips From The Tour
Study the best in the world and improve your game
Any golfer who regularly watches PGA Tour events knows that pros rarely make mistakes when they find themselves in trouble. In contrast, recreational golfers often go from bad to worse in these situations and wind up making big numbers. To avoid these blow-ups in your game, make sure you first analyze the trouble and pick a club that you know can clear whatever hazard youre facing. If you have to go over a tree limb, dont get greedy and take a club thats too strong, and if you have to go under an obstacle, be certain you choose a club that you can hit low. In addition, take the time to plan where around the green or fairway you want your recovery shot to land. Theres no point hitting a solid shot only to find youre facing another difficult situation that will cost you strokes.
The Lies Have It
Greenside pitches are shots that recreational golfers tend to struggle with largely because they deal with them all the same way instead adapting to the specific conditions of each shot. On the other hand, Tour players are experienced enough to know that the lie dictates the type of shot they can play, as well as with what club they can play it. When the ball is in a tight lie, allow your hands to be slightly ahead of the club and choose a wedge with less bounce. Dont open the clubface too much, and concentrate on letting the leading edge of the club contact the ground. When faced with a fluffy lie, keep your hands back a bit further and open the clubface. Also, use a wedge with more bounce, as youll need it to repel the long grass. Note: Dont always automatically choose your lob wedge for these shots—sometimes a less-lofted club is actually easier to control.
It sounds simple, but choosing the right side of the tee box to hit from can be a critical decision that significantly affects driving success. Pros are well aware of this fact, and pay close attention to the shape of the hole and the type of shot they feel comfortable playing. When you walk up to the tee, consider these factors and be realistic about what type of shot you can execute and where your misses tend to go. If you tend to miss to the right, as many amateurs do, make sure you account for that fact in your planning, and aim accordingly.
One of the most common, and costly, mistakes recreational golfers tend to make is leaving themselves in bad positions on the green. If youve ever hit a chip or lag putt in the basic direction of the hole, only to find youre facing a tricky downhill or sidehill putt, you know what Im talking about. Instead of doing this to yourself, follow the pros lead and take the time to figure out where on the green will provide a relatively flat or uphill putt and concentrate on getting the ball to that spot. Remember that the faster and more severe the green, the more important it is to plan ahead.
Drive It Low
If you ever watch professional golfers in person (not on TV), one of the first things you notice is how low they hit their scoring shots. The simple reason for this is that a low wedge shot is much more controllable and accurate than one that floats in the air, and is much easier to execute on a consistent basis. If you want to add this shot to your repertoire, try moving the ball slightly back in your stance and place your hands slightly ahead of the clubhead at address. During the swing, you should feel youre covering the ball with your right side, which effectively takes loft off the shot and forces the ball to come out low. Keep your body ahead of the club all the way, and you should find it relatively easy to compress the ball and get it going toward the target. Dont make the mistake of swinging too hard at these shots, and let the loft of the club do the work.
Play Your Shot
Though todays Tour players benefit from improved technology and hit the ball straighter than ever before, few players actually play for a straight shot. Fred Couples is a classic fader of the golf ball, and he doesnt try to fight it. He knows a left-to-right shot is his natural shot shape and he embraces it. From his setup position, which has his feet aiming well to the left of the target, to his delivery position seen here, Couples not only plays for a fade, but he actually encourages it. If a fade is your shot, too, dont fight it—set up for it and let it rip.
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