Trouble Shots

Don't Let Some Bad Breaks Ruin Your Round

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Golf is a lot like life. Some days everything comes easily; other days nothing seems to go your way. But just like life, there are ways to deal with the ups and downs. Helping people figure this out is just one of the many reasons why I love to teach the game.

One challenge is how to deal with bad breaks. In my experience, golfers who can handle them the best usually come out on top. Read on to learn how you can best escape from these tough situations and get your game back on track.

Learning how to chip the ball well will help you save strokes, but it also has side benefits. After all, the motion you use to chip is really just a small version of your full swing. Once you learn to chip well, simply lengthen your swing into a pitch-shot length and then, with a little more motion, you have a full swing. Here are a few variations of the chip shot that will help you save shots around the greens, and maybe even help your full swing, too!

1 Hit A Low Hook Around A Tree

When I was a kid, I loved trying to make my shots hook and slice on purpose. It was fun seeing my ball curve around trees, and it helped me get out of a few tough situations, too. To hit your shot around a tree so it ends up back in a safe place, you first have to have a proper setup.

I start by aligning my body (feet, hips and shoulders) on the path I want the ball to start on (to the right of the tree). Then I align my clubface to where I want the ball to finish (in this case, the flagstick). Once that’s established, I swing my club along my body line. The ball will start out on that line and curve around the tree toward the end target.

The final key to curving the ball is to finish properly. If I want to hook the ball more, I swing the club into a flatter finish; if I want to slice it, I finish into a steeper finish.

2 The Tee Shot That Doesn’t Set Up For You

We’ve all played a hole that just doesn’t set up for our normal shot pattern. Take me: I usually hit a draw, so this hole, a dogleg right par-4, doesn’t fit my eye. Still, I can play this shot a number of different ways.

1. The most conservative play is to choose a long iron, aim to the left side of the fairway and play for a safe position. It may leave me with a longer second shot, but it takes the trees on the right and the water on the left out of play and eliminates the chance that I’ll hit my shot through the fairway.

2. The second approach is a little bit more aggressive. I choose a 3-wood and aim along the left side. This takes the trees on the right side out of play, however, there’s the chance of hitting the ball through the fairway on the left side. That can present some challenges.

3. The third way is for advanced players only: to fade your driver. But you have to practice it!
Pick a target on the fairway’s left side and fade it back to the center. If you hit the shot successfully, you’ll have a much easier approach shot; if the shot doesn’t fade, however, you’ll be in trouble through the fairway on the left.

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