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Driving for Distance: Players today know that carry beats roll

Written by Butch Harmon

The old idea of hitting a low draw to get the ball running down the fairway is, well, an old idea. Launch monitors have proven that carry distance is the key to overall distance. Here are some tips for maximizing carry. —

First, check your driver specs. A little more loft—for most players, at least 10.5 degrees—will help you launch the ball higher. A lighter, more-flexible shaft means you’ll get more out of the speed potential you have.

Next comes the setup. Move your trail foot back a few inches to widen your stance. That’ll tilt your spine away from the target and put your head behind the ball. From there, you can swing into impact on a shallow, sweeping angle and produce that nice, high launch.

You can make a few tweaks to your swing, too, but don’t try these all at once. Going back, take your time setting the club at the top. You don’t want to go slow, but be deliberate. Get as much body turn behind the ball as your flexibility allows.

Coming down, let’s focus on two things: the trail shoulder and the trail foot. Keep your shoulder back and in for as long as you can. Nothing saps power faster than the upper body taking over the downswing, which causes a steep chop. Let your hands and arms drop as the lower body starts forward. But don’t overdo the lower body: Keep your trail foot down longer, and the club will stay to the inside and come in shallow.

Finally, maintain your arm speed all the way through like Dustin Johnson is doing here. Don’t just hit at the ball. Carry distance requires a level strike and as much speed as you can muster and still hit the ball flush. with Peter Morrice

Source: golfdigest.com

How to make the putts you’ve been giving yourself all season

Written by Keely Levins

Amongst your group, you’ve probably determined an acceptable distance at which putts are gimmes at least most of the time—you don’t even wait for someone to say, That’s good. Even when you’re playing alone, you probably give yourself any putts within four feet of the cup. That’s great—many of us do. It’s helpful for pace of play, and nobody wants to lose a little match over an even smaller putt.

Where it becomes an issue is when you’re suddenly in a position where you have to putt everything out.

Maybe it’s a club championship or a qualifier, but all of a sudden those unmissable short putts you haven’t attempted all season start to become missable. The scariest part: once you see one miss, there’s a tendency to start missing more of them. To help you avoid this disastrous fate, we talked to one of our Best Young Teachers, Tasha Browner of El Caballero Country Club in Tarzania, Calif.

“When finishing out those crucial putts, we want to address a common problem that begins as a mental mistake and leads to a physical one,” says Browner. “When we have those short putts, the desire to make the putt outweighs the process of making a good stroke. Golfers tend to stop rocking their shoulders, and they steer the ball in the hole with just hands. This directly leads to problems with clubface direction and speed.”

To remedy these issues, Browner has three drills and tips that will help.

1. The Push Drill

This drill is exactly what it sounds like. Set up to the ball with your putter, and your thought should be to just push the ball toward the hole. Don’t take any backswing. “This drill forces the golfer to move their body as a unit to finish the stroke and not just with your hands,” says Browner.

2. Tip: Use Visual Aids

Set up in front of a mirror (you can do this in your house). Or set up on the putting green in a spot where you can see your shadow, and start making strokes. Browner says to focus on making sure they’re complete strokes. “Watch how your shoulders and arms move together into the finish,” says Browner. “Sense what body parts are engaged, and tap into that when you play. This rehearsal can help eradicate that handsy stroke.”

3. Tip: Practice Pressure

Aimlessly putting around the practice green isn’t going to help you when you’re in a match, grinding over a four-footer for bogey to halve the hole. Instead, Browner says to simulate pressure-filled scenarios when you practice. “For example, don’t let yourself leave the green until you’ve made five consecutive four-footers in a row,” says Browner. “Any form of pressure that you can add will help you feel more at ease in those situations on the course.”

Source: golfdigest.com

How to correct your slice in golf

Written by Golfweek

Dealing with a slice can be one of the most frustrating aspects of golf for amateurs. The banana ball flight off the tee makes it difficult to keep the ball in play and can drastically reduce the ball flight.

Here are a few tips to help eliminate your pesky slice and hit it further and straighter off the tee.

The grip

This is often the first thing that goes wrong and can lead to a big slice. In order to properly grip the golf club, right-handed players should take the club first in their left hand and grip it mostly with their fingers. With the clubface on the ground, turn your left hand until two knuckles are visible and form a “V” shape with your left index finger and thumb. Place your right hand over the left and create the same “V” shape with your right index finger and thumb, pointing to your right shoulder.

The Setup

Start with the ball teed up and placed just off the inside of your front foot. Place your head a few inches behind the ball. This will help create an upward strike off the tee rather than a downward strike. When the club makes contact at a downward angle it can create a lot more spin and take away distance, leading to that big slice. Your shoulders should also have a natural tilt due to your head placement behind the ball.

The swing

Using that shoulder tilt from setup, rotate your shoulders and bring the club back until your left shoulder is underneath your chin. This will allow you to complete an inside-outside swing path. A big slice is often the result of an outside-inside swing path, which feels like it should cause the ball to go left but creates the opposite effect. For the proper inside-outside swingpath, picture hitting the ball to the opposite field in baseball or softball.

The Clubface

One of the biggest contributing factors to a slice is an open clubface. Once you’re swinging on an inside-outside path, slightly rotate the toe of the club over the heel while swinging through impact. This will square the clubface at impact and help produce the proper ball flight.

 

Source: Golfweek

Golf Top 100 Teacher: This is how your right arm should feel at the top of your backswing

Written by Martin Chuck

Good arm structure—most critically at the top—has been a hallmark of many wonderful golf swings.

Sloppy arms can lead to all kinds of problems. Among these is the flying right elbow and the torso-hugging right elbow. In fact, the right elbow is responsible for most backswing arm woes.

But don’t worry, I’ve got a drill for you that’s as easy as a Sunday drive.

Hold your arms in front of you as if you were (properly) driving a car—for those of you who skipped driver’s ed., that means hands at 10 and 2! In other words, the wheel is a clock; put your left hand on 10, now the trick, reach into the middle of the wheel and grab 2 o’clock, palm up. This funky’ opposing hold on the wheel gives your right arm the primo feeling for the top of your swing!

Source: Golf.com

The trusted secrets of a member-guest juggernaut

Written by: Guy Yocom

Tom McQueeney Jr. is 81 now, his golf in abeyance as he waits to have his right hip replaced. Tall and regal, he likes to give junior golfers lessons on the putting green, and he chips a bit, but his main pastime is keeping the grillroom at Race Brook Country Club in Orange, Conn., alive with jokes, gossip, wisecracks and tales of yesteryear. The centerpieces of his best storytelling, shared only after he has placed his drink order—(“Beefeater on the rocks with olives, please”)—has to do with the Blakeslee Memorial Cup, the club’s three-day member-guest. McQueeney and his partner, the late Clem Miner Jr., dominated this tournament. Over the course of three decades, beginning in 1960, they won it 14 times and finished runner-up another eight.

“TMac,” as he’s known around the club, is Exhibit A for the case there is much to be learned from crack amateurs. He was a school teacher his entire adult life: He taught Greek, Latin, French, U.S. history and was a high school basketball coach. Thus, a pro career was never on the table. But his zeal for practice and competition, combined with having a chunk of the summer months off, made him one of the most skilled and shrewd players around. His acquired knowledge is often fresh and always helpful to those he shares it with.

McQueeney and Miner individually were superb players. TMac at his peak was a 1-handicapper, Miner a scratch. Together they played as though conjoined at the brain stem, not speaking much but performing precisely on the same wavelength. From the order they played, to the way they read putts together, to club selection, it was a clinic, neat to watch and a little mysterious.

It being the heart of the member-guest season, I suggested to TMac he would be doing readers a favor by passing along some four-ball advice. For McQueeney, the list flowed easily. Herewith, some collected member-guest wisdom, according to TMac:

• Remember, meden agan. “That’s Greek for nothing in excess. It really applies to booze but applies to food, too. Having said that, I’ll eat a hot dog if I feel like having one. This isn’t the Olympics. You’ve got to live a little.”

• Go easy during the warm-up. “Find your rhythm and try to hit the ball solid, nothing more. Hit mainly wedges through the 7-iron. Don’t hit more than a few drivers. End by hitting a few of the harder shots you know you’re going to face.”

• Play a side game with your partner. “Clem and I always played $5 birdies between the two of us. The times we each made bunch of birdies, it didn’t work out too well for our opponents.”

• Have a secret skepticism about your opponents. “We always quietly held the other team in playful contempt. We joked about them. It lifted Clem and I up, helped us bond and play hard for each other.

• Farthest from the hole putts first. “If your partner has a three-footer for par, and you’ve got six feet for birdie, don’t ask him to ‘clean up’ the three-footer. If he misses, you’re going to lag the six-footer instead of trying to make it. Don’t get cute. Don’t overthink it.”

• Putt aggressively. “In general, be much bolder than if you were playing individually. If you hit a putt long, well, that’s why you’ve got a partner, to cover you.”

• Keep the course in front of you. “I just told you not to be short, but having said that, on almost all courses, it’s better to be short than off to the sides. That’s where the bunkers and trouble are. Always try to keep a clear route to the hole for your next shot.”

• With the irons, take one more club. “Even good amateurs tend to miss short. Coming up short puts pressure on your partner. The sweet spots on those irons are small, so give yourself the benefit of the doubt.

• Don’t talk too much. “Be friendly, but don’t get too distracted. There’s time to discuss your opponents’ family and job after the round.

• Compliment your opponents. “Maybe to a fault. I was never big on gamesmanship, but when we played against a guy who swung hard and hit it a mile, I couldn’t help but mention it. ‘I’ve played with long hitters before, but you’re very long,’ I’d say. They loved the praise. They also tried to swing even harder, and you know what happens when they do that.”

• Thin beats fat. “Always err toward hitting shots a little thin, especially under pressure. There can be a temptation to dig, especially from bad lies, which you seem to get more of in tournaments. Don’t give in. Fat shots are demoralizers.”

• Redefine the gimme putt. “It’s shocking to me how many two-footers are missed in tournament play. I’ve missed them, too. Don’t be too quick to give short putts, and expect to putt them all yourself.”

• Never change putters during a tournament. “Metal doesn’t change, you do. If you’re putting poorly, do your best to work it out. If you switch to another putter, nine times out of 10 you’ll putt even worse.”

Sated by his most recent round of tip-sharing, McQueeney takes you to the parking lot to show off his new car. He pops the trunk and points to a lone club inside. “Last thing, always keep a driver in your car. You never know when you’ll pass a driving range.”

Source: GolfDigest.com

Michael Breed: The two things you need to escape the sand

By Michael Breed

Here’s your greenside sand lesson in two words: speed and bounce. Splashing a ball out of a bunker takes more power than you might think—that’s the speed part. And to use that speed effectively, the club has to slide through the sand without getting stuck—that’s the bounce. Focus on a few keys.

First, grip the handle more in your fingers than your palms. This will help you hinge your wrists on the backswing—notice I have a full wrist set by halfway back (above). I can use that lever to generate speed quickly.

Second, lower the handle at address, feeling more bend in your wrists. When your hands are low, the heel of the club is more exposed, and that helps the clubhead glide through at a consistent depth. Setting the hands higher raises the heel and can cause the toe to dig, which stops the swing short.

Third, stay centered as you go back, and then swing to the left through impact. To maintain the club’s bounce, don’t let the shaft rotate counterclockwise as you swing through. Your trail hand should stay under the shaft, the knuckles on your lead hand pointing up. Use these keys to hit quality bunker shots.

Source:GolfDigest.com

How to improve your contact with every club

By Renee Trudeau O’Higgins

I’m going to assume you don’t need my advice to hit a putt solidly. That’s pretty easy to do. But what about the rest of your game? If you’re honestly assessing it, are you making great contact most of the time on your drives, irons, pitches, chips and bunker shots? Yep, you can hit bunker shots solidly—you’re just hitting the sand, not the ball. And the same logic applies: Better contact means better results. So instead of worrying about whether your left arm is straight during the backswing or some other swing thought, let’s get your focus back to where it should be during a swing—hitting the ball with the center of the clubface. Here I’ll give you advice on how to do that, and how to play better from the sand.

IMPROVE YOUR SEQUENCING

Golf is a lot more fun when you’re hitting your driver solidly. Players who struggle with this club typically have sequencing issues—the upper body is too involved at the start of the downswing. That forces the club into a steep, out-to-in path, and the ball is struck with a glancing blow.

I advise you to routinely check your driver’s face to see where your impact was. If it’s “toey” a lot, try to make sure your chest stays in the top-of-backswing position a beat or two longer. To get a feel for that, make swings with your driver on an upslope; no ball needed. The goal is to brush the ground then clip the tee. If your club crashes into the ground behind the tee, or the tee flies to the left, you’re upper body is still leading the downswing. Instead, hold it off for a count, and feel your lower body shift up the slope first.

STAY CONNECTED

An arms-only swing leads to fat and thin chips. You’ve got to get your body moving to chip effectively.

To train the body pivot, place a tee in your armpit closest to the target. Swing back and through trying to keep it there. You will if your arms and body move as one.

“Skilled iron play is about hitting it flush from all sorts of lies.”

RANDOMIZE PRACTICE

How often do you hit the same iron from the same lie in the same round? There’s always some variance once you’re off the tee. That’s why hitting it flush from the fairway or rough is all about adaptability.

Try this drill to assess how well you adjust. Drop three balls that come to rest in your hitting area. Now try to strike each one as solidly as you can without changing anything but the club’s position at address. You’ll soon find you have better awareness of how to swing to get the club to bottom out in front of each ball. This drill prepares you for how to adapt to get solid contact every time you swing.

CONTROL THE FACE

Many greenside sand shots get thinned into the bunker’s face. The problem often stems from trying to maintain a wide-open clubface throughout the swing. I know, I know; you were told to do that. But the thing is, if you leave the face wide open, you’ve got to make a pretty aggressive swing to get the ball out. And for many golfers, a big swing leads to inconsistency.

Instead, try hitting bunker shots with a closed clubface at address. If you keep your grip pressure medium to light, the club will open as it moves through the sand, and you’ll hit a solid shot with far less effort.

Source:GolfDigest.com