It's no secret that you can learn a lot from watching the world's best golfers. They hit some amazing shots, make incredible putts and hit the ball extraordinary lengths. And while there's a lot of swing cues we should try and copy from the pros, there are four things I think most amateurs have no business trying to duplicate. (That is, unless you don't have a day job and can practice 8 hours a day!) I'm going to show you these four moves and then explain what you should be doing instead. Now don't be discouraged! These alternative methods are just as effective and are sure to help you shoot lower scores! Let's get started...
1. Lag Time
Jack Nicklaus once said that you can never release the club too soon if you're on plane. However, it seems many amateurs are wrongly fixated on retaining a wrist hinge for as long as possible and end up with serious control problems. Check out the photo of Ernie Els (below). The key to his lag isn't his wrist cock, it's his ability to turn his lower body wide open before impact while keeping his shoulders square to the ball. That's his real source of power! For better shot control and distance, release the hands sooner and concentrate more on emulating Ernie's body position, not that of his wrists.
Still fishing for more distance? Consider a shaft upgrade first before you dive into a total swing overhaul. A softer shaft will help you produce more lag naturally, thanks to improved loading and bending properties. With a proper fitting, you can find a shaft designed to release in an optimum location for maximum clubhead speed right where you need it. And if it's more control you want, try a shaft with a softer tip section. A softer tip will do two things: it'll add backspin (more backspin equals straighter shots) and more torque, which lends more forgiveness on off-center hits. Just make sure you get the right flex, length and weight for all the clubs in your bag, from driver to wedge. It'll make a huge difference in your game!
2. Left Foot Up, Left Arm Bent
Unless you're as lean and flexible as Adam Scott (left), maintaining a straight left arm and holding both feet on the ground atop the backswing is darn near impossible. If you try, you run the risk of dipping the left shoulder, or worse, developing a reverse pivot. Instead, do as I'm doing here. By allowing my forward foot to lift and by maintaining just a little flex in my left arm, I'm able to make a bigger turn than if I tried to hit it like Adam Scott. My stance is also narrower than his, allowing me to strengthen my coil away from the ball.
Flexibility Is Key
Being flexible is more than just being able to get the body into more powerful positions. It's also a preventative measure that can make the game enjoyable for years to come. Take a few minutes before your next round or practice session to get loose. Pay attention to the critical areas of your back, shoulders, legs and abs. You'll not only reduce your risk of injury, but after time, you'll find yourself more relaxed and able to make a better and more fluid golf swing._Ê
3. Wristy Strokes Can Help
We've all seen Tiger drain some tough putts. His ability to square the face while maintaining almost no wrist movement is downright uncanny and very difficult to copy. (For those of you who have tried, do you find yourself missing putts to the right?) Some wrist bend can actually help! It helps stabilize the body and secondly, by adding some wrist movement during the stroke, it becomes easier to square the clubface at impact. The putting stroke, like all golf swings, is on an arc and actually opens slightly on the backswing and closes slightly on the forward swing. Adding some wrist release helps make it easier to square the clubface!_Ê
If you haven't thought much about putter length, it's okay, most golfers haven't! Putter length is critical, since it's imperative you have the right length to match your most comfortable and natural setup position. If you have a putter that's too long or short, your stroke will suffer. Therefore, don't just take the 35-inch standard as right for you. Get your putter fitted. It is, after all, the club you use the most in the bag!
4. Bump & Run, Not Flop & Stop
They're fun to watch, eh? Those high flop shots you see PGA Tour players hit are exciting, but for most people, they're not the best option around the green. Reason being, they require a deft and trained touch that can only be refined if you play a lot of golf. Instead, if you have some green to work with, the bump and run shot with a PW or 7-9 iron is very effective. It's also more predictable, since the ball will likely roll with both good and bad contact. However, if you come to a tight spot and all you can do to get it close is flop it, make sure you accelerate and let the loft kick in by holding the clubface open like Sergio Garcia in the photo on the left. It's a tough shot, but not an impossible one if you put in the needed practice time.
The bounce angle of your irons greatly affects your ability to hit different shots. Higher bounce angles are more effective in soft conditions when digging isn't preferred. On the other hand, when some digging is needed, lower bounce models are more effective. Typically, to hit a bump and run, both high and low bounce angles can be effective. But come time to hit some quick, high flop shots, a low bounce wedge is a must to prevent unwanted thin shots.
Jeff Yurkiewicz is a teaching professional at the Kostis McCord Learning Center in Scottsdale, Ariz. For more, visit www.kostismccordlearning.com.
Bonus video Tip: Want to hear more insights from Jeff? Click here!