In a recent poll on the Golf Tips_¨ Website, we asked you what swing flaw you’d most like to correct. More than 5,000 readers responded, with the majority citing slicing (27%) as fault number one, with a lack of distance and poor putting following close behind. To the question of why golfers can’t beat that one flaw that keeps them from their scoring potential, we asked teaching professional Brady Riggs to develop simple answers and provide key drills to eradicate your most common flaws once and for all. Whether your golfing Waterloo is bunker play, chipping or navigating obstacles, our Why Factors have the answers you need.
Why Can’t I Hit Longer? You dont achieve full extension.
The surprisingly simple answer: lack of extension. That’s right, you don’t have to be built like Tiger to hit the ball long, but you do need to avoid the dreaded chicken wing.
This bent front-arm position can sap power from even the strongest golfers.
Believe it or not, lack of extension is without a doubt the biggest power-related mistake in golf. To remedy this problem, try my headcover drill. Simply place a headcover under your left arm (for right-handed golfers) and begin taking full swings. The goal is to hold the headcover in place until the weight of the swinging club pulls your arms off your body through impact. If you shorten your front arm (chicken wing), the headcover will fall out prematurely. By practicing this drill, you’ll learn to achieve full extension and create maximum power.
Though I don’t believe there are a lot of shortcuts to a solid golf swing, a good quick fix for the chicken wing is the palm to the sky drill. By ingraining the feeling of getting the palm of your left hand to the sky past impact, you’ll learn to properly rotate your forearms and quickly improve your extension and distance._Ê
Why Can’t I Cure My Slice? Your body is too open at impact.
To eradicate the banana ball, try my parallel foot drill. Assume your address position, then turn your front toe back, so it’s pointing away from the target. Place the ball in line with the middle of your front foot and begin swinging slowly. Your body will feel closed, and it will be almost impossible to open it too quickly. You’ll most likely begin hooking the ball, due to your closed shoulder position. With regular practice, your slice should disappear for good.
For a quick slice fix, try strengthening your grip by rotating your hands clockwise, or to your right. Most golfers have a tough time squaring the clubface through the hitting zone, and a strong grip can help achieve a square or even slightly closed clubface at impact. This will both fight the slice and promote crisper contact.
Why Can’t I Be More Accurate? Your clubface isn’t square at the top of the swing.
1. A square clubface angle at the top of the swing is a key for straight shots. Notice how the toe of the club points toward the target–this promotes the desired square clubface angle at impact.
2. Closing the clubface at the top of the swing is a common cause of smother hooks and fat shots. This position can also cause a lack of rotation in the arms and hands._Ê_Ê
3. This laid-off or open clubface position at the top of the swing will, for the majority of recreational golfers, be a surefire way to create severe slices and thin shots.
The wrist hinge drill is an excellent way to learn the feeling of a proper, square clubface position at the top. At setup, simply hinge the club up in front of you, then turn your shoulders and lift your arms. Eventually, your body will learn to create this position on its own, without conscious effort. Practice this often enough, and your accuracy will improve.
If you want a quick method for improving your clubface angle at the top of the swing, try concentrating on feeling the majority of the club’s weight in your left thumb at the top. When the clubface is too open or closed, it’s usually because the hands are rotated is the wrong direction. When the left thumb is under the club, you know the clubface is square.
Overly stiff shafts can have a negative effect on your accuracy. Instead, try shafts with a softer flex that you can swing smoothly. Your tempo will quickly improve, and so will your accuracy.
Why Can’t I Make Solid Contact? You’re not pivoting correctly.
An improper pivot is a common cause for poor ballstriking because it causes the low point in the swing to be too far behind the ball. To improve your pivot, try the heel up drill. Start by assuming the proper impact position, with your left hip kicked slightly toward the target, but lift your right heel off the ground. Hit short shots at first and then gradually add some power to your swing. This will help move the low point of your swing forward and induce a proper, descending hit on the ball.
If you’re having trouble with your ballstriking, try this simple trick and you should see some immediate results. At setup, place the majority of your weight on your left leg. This will help pre-set your impact position and get your body weight forward. By placing your weight in this way, you should be able to compress the ball more effectively.
Also known as game improvement, GI designs include offset hosels, wide soles and large cavities. The offset hosel, in particular, can be a huge help to anyone who struggles with ballstriking.
Why Can’t I Play Around Obstacles? You have the ball too far back in your stance.
A ball position that is too far back in the stance will make varying the trajectory of your shots very difficult. To improve, find a spot on the range that has an upslope and practice hitting shots with the ball forward in your stance. Concentrate on keeping your body behind the ball throughout the swing, and you should see your trajectory improve right away.
The 60-degree wedge is one of the best tools ever invented for hitting utility shots around the course. Though improving your faulty ball position should be your goal, putting a lofted wedge in your bag is a quick and easy way to make hitting the ball over obstacles a reality.
Why Can’t I Get It Out Of The Bunker? You don’t understand the technique.
Although the bunker shot is one of the easiest plays in golf, many golfers still struggle with it. The reason is because they don’t understand that, for solid bunker shots, you have to strike the sand, not the ball. A good drill is to simply draw a line two inches behind the ball (while it lies in the sand) and repeatedly practice slapping the line with the sole of your club. Once you can do this consistently, you’ll see the ball flying out of the bunker on a wave of sand every time._Ê
A wedge with more bounce displaces more sand at impact. Get a wedge with plenty of bounce, and your bunker shots will get easier.
Why Can’t I Pitch It Close? You’re scooping under the ball instead of hitting down on it.
Crisp pitching requires an abrupt takeaway and relatively steep downswing. To learn this technique, try laying a headcover down a couple of feet behind the ball at setup. Practice taking your backswing without making contact with the headcover. This will force the desired, abrupt takeaway and steep downswing, leading to better contact and increased spin.
One of the reasons so many amateur golfers are unable to spin their shots around the green is a ball position that’s too far forward. This generally leads to scoopy pitches and thin contact. Instead, try moving the ball back in your stance, just off your right heel (for a right-handed golfer). By moving the ball to this position, you’ll help promote a downward hit on the golf ball, which is the only effective way to create spin. Keep in mind that moving the ball back will create a lower trajectory, so adjust your club selection accordingly.
If you want Tour-like spin, get yourself a box of urethane-covered golf balls. The pros swear by them.
Why Can’t I Control My Distance On Long Putts? You’re focusing too much on the ball instead of on the target–the hole.
Inconsistent lag putting is a common problem that has a simple cause: Most golfers spend too much time looking at the golf ball and not enough time looking at the hole. If you’re having trouble with your lag putting, try this drill: Set up to the ball and begin concentrating on the hole while making practice strokes, all the while trying to feel the stroke. Then hit the putt without taking your eyes off the hole (don’t look at the ball). You’ll be amazed at the results._Ê
Putters with a high MOI, or Moment Of Inertia, provide added forgiveness due to extreme perimeter weighting and an enlarged sweet spot.
Why Do I Miss So Many Short Putts? You’re taking the club too far inside or outside.
Short putts are typically missed due to a putting stroke that travels inside or outside the target line. To straighten out your faulty stroke, construct a track with string that runs from the ball to the hole, no longer than five or six feet in length. Take your stroke and concentrate on keeping the putterhead within the track on the backstroke and throughstroke.
Teaching professional Brady Riggs instructs at Woodley Lakes G.C. in Van Nuys, Calif.