Trouble Shots

Don't Let Some Bad Breaks Ruin Your Round

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3 First-Tee Jitters

The best way to conquer first-tee jitters is to turn your nervous energy into excitement.

Most golfers think this shot makes or breaks their entire round, but that’s not the case. To put the shot in perspective, I tell my students that it’s just one of many shots they’ll hit during their round.

Too often I see golfers walk up to the first tee thinking today’s their day to shoot the lights out, only to fear that that won’t happen if they hit a poor drive. Rather than fixating on results, I tell them, play to your strengths and focus on the type of shot you want to hit. Start preparing for that first tee shot on the practice range. Rehearse the shot several times so you gain confidence.

When you get up on the tee box, choose a specific target and make a good swing. If it helps, think back to a time when you hit a great first tee shot in front of a lot of people. Then use that feeling to conquer your jitters.

4 Avoid Trouble

It’s important to know what kind of trouble you can get into on the course and how best to avoid it. Consider the situation pictured here. There’s trouble to the right and left of the green, so I’ve broken this shot into quadrants.

First I consider where the most trouble is located—in the back-left portion of the green. I’m definitely not going to hit it there. Next, I look at the other three quadrants and determine which of them is the safest place to land. I take into account my lie, how far I am to the landing area and which quadrant is the easiest for me to hit. After committing to a quadrant, I narrow my focus to a spot where I want the ball to land.

Being as clear as possible helps you commit to the shot. It’s important to think of what you want to execute, and not shift back to what the negative consequences might be. Take in the information, develop a plan, execute it and you’ll begin to see lower numbers on your scorecard.

1. Keep it simple
5 Three Ways To Escape The Stymie

1. The easiest and most conservative play here is to chip the ball out about 10 yards back into the fairway. Since my stance and followthrough are restricted, I try to be stable and just swing my arms like a chip shot to advance the ball onto the fairway. When you do this, make sure you don’t follow through too much and hit the tree!

2. Play the reverse shot
2. The second way to advance the ball is to use just your right arm to swing the club. By doing this backwards shot, you can generate a little more power than just advancing the ball back into the fairway. The key here is to keep your arm and club in one line to make solid contact. Don’t just use your wrists. You won’t create much power, and your contact will be inconsistent.

3. Hit it left-handed
3. The third way is the riskiest, and most difficult: a left-handed shot. To pull this off, I turn over a 9-iron and follow these three key steps:

• I keep my head steady through the shot.
• I take only a 3/4 swing.
• And I keep my eyes on the ball at impact.

Make sure you first practice this shot on the range to get past the awkward feeling of swinging from the other side.

6 Handle The Wind

Playing golf in the wind can wreak havoc with your ballflight. For the best success, you have to control your shot’s trajec-tory, and the best way to do that is to play a punch shot. Hitting the ball low (and solid) minimizes the impact the wind has on your ballflight. The key to this shot is how you set up and finish. First, play the ball back in your stance, placing a majority of your weight on your forward foot and keeping your weight on that foot during your swing. As you swing through the impact position, it’s important to keep your hands in front of the club and your right shoulder lower than your left one. Feel your swing moving down through impact and keep your weight on your forward foot.

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