John Rahm: Low Scores Start with Maxing Out Your Drives

By John Rahm

There might be some par 4s where it makes sense to tee off with a 3-wood or an iron, but it’s rare to see me using anything but driver. I’m more comfortable with it. When it comes to scoring, I’d rather hit it as far down the fairway as I can and have a wedge in my hands for the next shot—even from the rough—versus a middle iron from the fairway. My strategy seems to work. I’m second on the PGA Tour in birdie average (4.5 per round) and third in strokes gained/off the tee. My goal with the driver is pretty simple.

I want to load up in the backswing and then use the ground in the downswing to generate as much power as possible. It’s a short-and-fast swing, with my legs and torso doing most of the work, so there’s not a lot that can go wrong. If you’re like me and would rather hit driver every chance you get—I bet you do!—here are some tips to help simplify your swing and make it your most effective scoring club. —With Ron Kaspriske


GET YOUR HANDS OUT OF THE SWING
This backswing position you see (below) is a checkpoint for me. I want to make sure I haven’t whipped the clubhead inside the target line with my hands. Taking the club back like that is a real power-and-accuracy killer, and if I think about what my hands are doing, I assure you my driving won’t be good. Instead, I want my torso, arms and club moving back together. You’ll know you made a good backswing if you feel it in your right hip. That’s the main thing for me. I want to load into that hip. If I don’t, it feels more like a stack-and-tilt swing where your weight stays on the left foot. You can’t hit it far from that position. Instead, I want to feel my weight on the inside of my right foot and thigh. When it gets there, I’m ready to swing down.

Jon Rahm
Photo by Giovanni Reda“If I think about what my hands are doing, I assure you my driving won’t be good.”

PUSH DOWN AND TURN HARD
To start the downswing, I want to push into the ground with my legs, which lets me turn hard and left with my hips and then the upper body. When I do this, it feels like the club is just being pulled into a great impact position. Again, I’m not trying to hit the ball with my hands. One thing to remember: You’ve got to keep turning—even after impact (below). I feel like I’m powering the club through the ball with my body rotation. In other words, don’t stop until you can’t turn anymore. For me, this produces a fade that feels really solid coming off the clubface. I guess you could say I just think aim left and swing hard left. Do that, and the ball gets out there a good way. Then just grab your wedge and go make birdie.

Jon Rahm
Photos by Giovanni Reda‘My advice for amateurs? Play the ball farther forward and tee it higher. Take advantage of that driver.’

Source: GolfDigest.com

5 quick tips to conquering the downhill chip

By David Leadbetter

Usually the area around a green is level with or lower than the putting surface. But sometimes you’ll find your ball on a mound near the green, leaving you with a downhill chip. Sure, it was a lucky break that the hill kept your ball within chipping distance. But now what? This atypical lie presents a challenge for a lot of golfers, because it drastically reduces the chance of popping the ball up and landing it softly on the green—especially if you have a tendency to try to help the ball in the air with a scooping, wristy action. You need to make some adjustments to pull off this shot.

“KEEP YOUR KNEE FLEX IF YOU WANT TO POP THE BALL UP.”

First, you can’t afford to make contact with the ground behind the ball, or you’ll blade it across the green. So play the ball slightly back of center in your stance. Another thing that will help you make ball-first contact is to lean the handle a little toward the green, so your hands are closer to the flag than the clubhead. I also recommend gripping down on the club—your most lofted wedge—for more control.

Next, the way you swing is important, too. Maintain flex in your knees throughout the swing (above). Remember to keep the shaft leaning forward through impact and abbreviate the follow-through. A time-honored swing thought for this shot is to swing down the slope with the clubhead.

All of this might seem like a lot to remember, so boil it down like this: Ball back, hands ahead, and swing down the slope. Do that, and you’ll get just enough loft on the ball to stop it near the hole. — with Ron Kaspriske

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The first step in fairway-bunker play: Clearing the lip

By Scott Chisholm

You’ve run down the fairway-bunker checklist in your head—take an extra club, dig into the sand with your feet, grip down on the handleaim a little right of the target—all the things you’ve been told that will help execute this shot. You’re confident this is going to work out, and you make a swing that reflects that self-assurance.

What happens next? Thud. Your ball smacks into the lip of the bunker and rolls back into the sand. So much for best-laid plans. Though I applaud the analytical approach to escaping fairway bunkers, you can’t ignore the first step—which is to clear the lip!

If you find it difficult to get out of fairway bunkers in one shot, I’ve got two options for you, and you’re not going to like the first one. You can simply take your sand wedge or lob wedge and play back into the fairway like it’s a greenside-bunker shot. (See? I knew you wouldn’t like that option.)

Your other choice is to take a longer club and try to reach the green, but you need to adjust your swing. The reason you’re hitting the lip is probably because you’re swinging down into the ball on too steep an angle. The steeper the downswing, the lower the ball will fly. I’m guessing you’re doing this because you’ve been told that ball-first contact is crucial to this shot—especially if you hope to reach the green in regulation. But to clear the lip, you have to come into the ball on a shallower approach. Ball-first contact still applies, but try to swing into the ball from inside the target line. That will take some steepness out of your downswing and deliver the original loft of the club as it strikes the ball. Unlike a shot from the fairway, you don’t want your golf shaft leaning toward the target at impact. Too much shaft lean is going to make the ball fly lower.

So here comes the part where I tell you how to clear the lip and reach the green. You know, the “gimme one thing” tip. I want you to think about your lead leg (left for right-handers) matching the position of the club’s shaft at impact. And that position should be as straight up and down as possible.

Essentially, you’re trying to post up on that lead leg during the downswing, which will let the club’s shaft return to the ball in that ideal upright position. This is crucial to striking the ball with enough loft so it doesn’t carom off the lip, and with enough force to reach the green.

Think, leg straight, shaft vertical—and you’ll stripe it.—with Ron Kaspriske

SCOTT CHISHOLM is a Golf Digest Best Young Teacher based at Rolling Green Golf Club in Springfield, Pa.

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Jack Nicklaus: Why You Lose Your Grip

By Jack Nicklaus and Roger Schiffman; Illustrations by Jim McQueen

WHAT I WROTE IN 1973

Loosening the hands at the top of the swing is a major fault of weekend golfers and a sure shot-wrecker. The answer lies not in putting a stranglehold on the club, but in maintaining a consistent firmness in the hands. If you haven’t swung the club back adequately by turning your body, loosening your grip will be instinct’s way of getting it there.

TODAY

It’s never a good thing to let go at the top. If I do it a little today, it’s because my body won’t turn like it used to. But I never, ever tried to turn. Never consciously made a shoulder turn. I let the club turn me. I let my body coil through inertia, with the momentum of the club pulling me back.

It should be a flow back, but only go as far back as your body will allow. If your swing is a little shorter as you grow older, that’s fine. When you try to force a bigger turn, you move off your plane; you lift your hips, your shoulders, your head; and yes, you loosen your grip.

When I was playing really well, I might have let go a little with my right hand, but never my left. Keep that left-hand pressure constant, and you’ll be much more consistent.

Jack Nicklaus writes only for Golf Digest. In this series he looks back at his classic lessons published in the magazine.

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Some of the best chippers in history do these two things for extra-crisp chips

By Luke Kerr-Dineen
Top Teacher Andrew Rice has two thoughts to help your improve your chipping strike: Rotate and Rise.
You probably think “staying down” is a good idea when hitting chip shots. It’s not. Staying down limits rotation and alters the radius of your swing, which has an adverse effect on strike quality. When it comes to short shots, strike is king.
Study the best chippers in history—players like Seve Ballesteros and José María Olazábal—and you’ll notice they shift pressure forward onto their front foot during the backswing. This positions the body for the proper descending strike. In the downswing, they elevate or stand up slightly through impact.
This might go against the grain, but getting “taller” in your downswing will encourage your chest to rotate through impact—an important element of a crisp chip strike. During practice, work to coordinate a subtle shift forward followed by a gentle rise through impact. Your swing thought: Rotate and Rise. Do that, and you’ll lift to your up-and-down percentage. — Andrew Rice
Source: https://www.golf.com/instruction/2019/02/20/two-keys-to-improving-your-chipping-strike-golf-tip-chunking-shots?fbclid=IwAR2KLdsV9bQTuX16HG5EAjd5P-RXdW01fWEWdubhF097IrCAC1ba3k5efGc

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