A key element to becoming a better player is learning to create different ballflight trajectories on command. It's this aspect of your play that will allow you to effectively tackle a variety of situations ranging from lob pitches to knockdowns to recovery shots. Here are six factors of flight to help you learn to throw it high or keep it low.
Keep It Low
1. Ball Back
Position the ball anywhere from dead center of your stance to your rear foot.
2. Weight Forward
This helps de-loft the clubface and ensures a steep, descending blow.
3. Shoulders Level
The shoulders need to be leveled out. Focus your eyes on the ground to get your shoulders to match the horizon.
4. Hands Forward
Leaning the hands and shaft toward the target also helps de-loft the face.
5. Swing Slow
A softer swing pace will lower the ball's spin rate and prevent an up-shooting flight. Swing with an even, pendulum-like rhythm to accomplish this goal.
6. Finish Low
No full finish here! Try to hold the clubhead below your waistline after impact.
Throw It High
1. Ball Forward
Position the ball toward your left heel to facilitate catching the ball on a slightly ascending arc.
2. Weight Back
Position your weight to favor your right side at address.
3. Right Shoulder Low
Be sure that your right shoulder is tilted lower than your left at address. To get a feel for this, rotate your head to the left. This will drop the right shoulder the proper amount.
4. Hands Neutral
Maintain a neutral hand and shaft position as a means to maintain the loft built into the face at impact. Keeping your hands in the center of your stance works well here.
5. Be Aggressive
Speed creates lift. Don't be afraid to give this one a little extra pop!
6. Finish High
A high ball needs a high finish. Finish in balance with your hands and arms back over your front shoulder.
In addition to these setup and swing cues, designed to control the loft of the face at the point of impact, one of the easiest ways to dictate flight is to choose the appropriate club. For low shots, select one more club than needed, choke down on the handle a few inches and execute a smooth, abbreviated swing. For higher shots, take less club and get even more aggressive.
Practice these setup and swing techniques on the range. In no time, you'll effectively increase your arsenal of shots and be better equipped to tackle whatever the course presents during play.
PGA professional Jeff Ritter is the director of instruction at the ASU Karsten Academy, and also teaches at Nike Junior Golf Camps nationwide.