Look up, not down, to hit it high   Leave a comment

b psgecIf you don’t hit the ball very high, you’re going to have a tough time landing it softly and holding the green, especially on longer approach shots. Fortunately, the solution is simple: Look up! This simple setup adjustment will have you flighting your irons and hybrids higher than ever.

Take your normal setup, with the ball slightly ahead of center in your stance, then lift your head and pick out a cloud or other spot high in the sky along your target line. This forces you to drop your right shoulder and increase your spine tilt away from the target, presetting the perfect position for a high launch. When you look down at the ball again, make sure to keep your spine and shoulder tilt in place, then swing away. Setting your shoulders on a steeper angle adds loft to the club at impact, making it easy to hit sky-scraping long-irons that land—and stick—like a wedge shot.

Posted 22 April, 2017 by E. Marino in Golf.com, Tips

How far behind the ball should I hit a bunker shot?   Leave a comment

golf-bunker-shot

This two-step drill will fix your bunker shots for good

Most golfers understand that when playing a short bunker shot, you normally want to hit the sand behind the ball. Unfortunately, many try to achieve this and help achieve loft by striking down into the sand very steeply. This steep angle of attack is doomed to fail.

You need the back edge of the sole of the club to strike the sand first. This allows the bounce of the clubhead to assist the club forwards through the sand, controlling the amount of sand between the ball and the clubface.

This only works when the angle of attack is shallow. When it gets too steep, the sharper, leading edge of the sole hits the sand and the club digs down. This will rob the club of momentum, cause a poor contact, and likely leave your ball sat in the bunker staring back at you.

golf-sand

 Make a footprint in the sand

Make a footprint in the sand. Your goal with the bunker shot should be to remove the entire footprint. You can only achieve this with a shallow angle of attack. If your angle of attack is too steep, you won’t be able to keep the club moving behind halfway through the footprint.

golf-bunker-shot-ball

Now add a ball

Add the ball to the middle of the footprint and do the same thing. You’ll be amazed how nicely the ball floats out of the sand. On the course, simply imagine the footprint around the ball and do the same thing.

Posted 17 March, 2017 by E. Marino in Bunker, Today´s Golfer

Take control of your tee shots   Leave a comment

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1. Visualize it

It doesn’t matter whether you’re hitting your driver on a long par 5 or hitting your 9-iron on a short par 3. Wherever you are, you need to visualize the shot before you take it.

2. Ask yourself these questions

Does this tee shot require a draw, a fade, or does it need to be sent straight down the fairway? Do I need to keep the ball low because of wind, or can I play with some height? Are there hazards or obstacles that I need to avoid?

3. Select the right club

You must see it and be it, and until you visualize your success, you can’t make the right club choice. That’s why asking the questions above of yourself are instrumental to your success.

4. Understand the limitations of your clubs

Only the experts can smash a ball successfully. For amateur golfers though, that doesn’t work. For more distance, focus on swinging the club faster, not harder. By increasing your clubhead speed, you’ll be impressed with how many more yards you can add.

5. Use the right tee height

Don’t tee your ball up too high or too low. Too low, and you’ll hit the ground or even give the ball too vertical a bias. Too high, and your clubhead will go underneath the ball which results in bad shots.

6. Quiet your mind

Learn to turn off the mental din in your head and focus. Staying calm and quiet is essential to playing a good game of golf. Before each game, go through a routine that calms and quiets your mind. It could be 4 or 5 very simple things you do every time before you step up to your ball. By doing them each time, it will become a ritual and will help you hone in your focus.

Posted 8 February, 2017 by E. Marino in Notes, Tips

Perfect your putting with these five mini games   Leave a comment

 

Make putting practice less of a chore by turning it into a personal competition.

Make putting practice less of a chore by turning it into a personal competition.

Does putting practice feel like a chore? Make it fun — and banish three-jacks for good — with these five easy moves.

1. Throw down a challenge
Grab a buddy and head to the practice green. Your assignment? Challenge him to a nine-hole putting match. The stakes: a dollar, or a beer in the clubhouse—whatever gets your competitive juices flowing.

2. Vary the distances
Start with a "makeable" putt, but no gimme—perhaps a 9- to 15-footer. Give the putt full focus, as you would in a match, and follow your routine as you take turns, depending on who’s away. After both players hole out, select a longer putt—say, from 10 to 22 feet. Then alternate between short and long putts until you complete all nine "holes." Low score wins.

3. Switch between birdie and par modes
The key to winning this game is placing each putt in its proper on-course context. View the short ones as birdie opportunities ("I’ve gotta drain this!"), and the longer rolls as par saves ("I’d take a two-putt from here"). The trick? Favor line over speed on short putts and speed over line on the longer ones.

Make putting practice less of a chore by turning it into a personal competition.

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4. Match your focus to length
Focusing on speed on long putts helps you assure an easy two-putt. And with better speed, you’re more apt to pick the right line, so you’ll hole more longer ones. From short range, prioritize read and aim. If you start the ball on the right line from "birdie" distance, odds are you’ll find the cup, even with imperfect speed.

5. Learn the power of patience
Alternating between birdie and par situations teaches patience; you take your pars in stride until a birdie chance arises. If you’re patient, you’re less likely to "force" a tough putt to drop, which will help you cut way down on three-putts. You’re armed with a smart, actionable strategy. Now, enjoy that cold one in the clubhouse. You’ve earned it.

Posted 4 February, 2017 by E. Marino in Golf.com, Notes

Fix your slice   Leave a comment

Fixing your slice is cause for celebration—it means less frustration, more fairways hit, and lower scores. Of course, banana balls have different causes. True, all slices result from the clubface pointing to the right of the clubhead’s path through impact, but the true blame might lie with your path, with your clubface, or perhaps a combination of both.

Three causes of the common slice and how to "straighten" out each one. With a little range time, your swing will be slice-proof—and golf will be a piece of cake.

Slices come in all shapes and sizes. No matter how big your banana ball is, you’re about to fix it for good. These aren’t Band-Aids to get you through your next round—each of these three remedies corrects the face or path error that causes your left-to-right misery (assuming you make contact on or near the sweet spot). In just a few swings, you’ll close the gap between the path of the club and the angle of the face at impact—the key to producing solid, straight shots. It’s time to take a bite out of your slice.

A square face at the top means nothing if it isn

A square face at the top means nothing if it isn’t square at impact. Finish the job by curling the last three fingers on your left hand toward the ground as you start your downswing.

1. IF YOUR SLICE IS SEVERE … you have path and clubface problems. Even if you improve your path, the face is too open at impact to lead to lasting change. Let’s square it up. Your goal: Begin closing the face early in your transition. Follow the steps below.

DD 5

 

2. IF YOUR SLICE STARTS STRAIGHT, THEN CURVES SLIGHTLY … you’re close. You simply need to move your path to the right, closer to the direction the face is pointing. It’s easy. Note where your hands sit at the top of your backswing. Now, match this position in your finish (photos, bottom).

Don’t think, just match! This automatically creates symmetry in your swing path, making it more in-to-out (draw) than out-to-in (slice).

DD 4Put your hands in the same location on both sides of your swing to turn a slice into a draw. Match up the triangle created by your arms in both positions. Don’t think—just match!

3. IF YOU HIT PULL-SLICES … the clubface is pointing left at impact—but not as far left as the direction of your path. Realign your face to the target and move your path more down the line.

This setup tweak accomplishes both adjustments.

Posted 4 February, 2017 by E. Marino in Golf.com, Tips

Hit It High & Soft Like The Best Sand Player   Leave a comment

image

If you’re like a lot of the amateurs, you take too much sand on greenside bunker shots. People say you need to hit the sand first, but most golfers overdo it—and end up leaving the ball in the bunker.

The philosophy is that you don’t need to chunk it out with a lot of sand. You can control the shot better if you take less sand. You’ve probably done this by accident and hit a great shot that popped out with spin and checked up by the hole. The big chunk tends to roll out too much, so it’s hard to control.

To try this technique, there are a few things you need to do in your setup. Take a wider stance than usual, and dig in your feet a bit for stability, with your weight about 50/50. To find that balanced body position, close your eyes and shift your weight a little left and right until you feel neutral.

Play the ball just forward of center in your stance, and open the clubface by rotating it to the right. Then drop your hands back a touch, away from the target. When you move your hands back, the open face, which was pointed to the right, is square to the target again.

Go ahead and make a big arm swing, but maintain the angles in your wrists that you set at address. Make sure you turn your lower body, too. Your goal is to hold the clubface open during the backswing, so keep those wrist angles intact.

imageComing down, don’t think about hitting two inches behind it—that’s too much sand and too unpredictable. Instead, focus on letting the bounce on the bottom of the club slide through the sand. You want the clubhead to bottom out directly under the ball, not behind it.

Finally, keep the swing going through the sand. A lot of people forget to follow through, and they just dump the ball in front of them. Swing to a nice, full finish. When you do it right, it doesn’t feel like the sand is grabbing your clubhead. It feels crisp and clean. Give it a try.

Posted 13 January, 2017 by E. Marino in GolfDigest, Tips

Anti-fundamental   Leave a comment

ANTI-FUNDAMENTAL 1: BALL BACK AND LEAN FORWARD

Golfers mistakenly believe that hitting sharply down on the ball with a lot of forward shaft lean, as in the photo at left below, helps to ensure they catch the ball first and get clean contact. In fact, the exact opposite is most likely to happen. When you de-loft the club that much you remove any bounce from the bottom of the sole and use too much of the leading edge. That effectively turns the club into a small shovel and greatly reduces your margin for error.

Anti-Fundamentals: Ball Back and Lean Forward

If you’re going to lean left you’d be far better off moving the ball closer to the middle, or slightly forward, in your stance and using a more neutral (standing straight up-and-down) shaft lean, as in the right photo above. It makes the club much more functional because you’re utilizing the bounce properly.

ANTI-FUNDAMENTAL NO. 2: OPEN STANCE AND SWING LEFT

Anti-Fundamentals: Open Stance and Swing Left

you are not really sure where this one came from but it’s probably the most prevalent — the idea that if you’re going to hit a chip or pitch you should open your stance and swing the club left through impact, as in the photos above. If you swing the club left of your target line then you have to open the face to get the ball to actually fly toward the target. That discrepancy between the path and face makes it much more challenging to gauge starting direction and puts wicked sidespin on the ball. Neither of which makes it any less challenging to get it close with a wedge!

Stand Square and Swing Along Target Line

Instead of aiming and swinging left, just set your body up square to your intended target and swing naturally along your foot line like you would with any other club, as in the photos above. If you need to open the face on your wedge to add some loft go ahead and do so. Because of the significant loft on your sand wedge or lob wedge, a face angle change will not affect the direction the ball flies like it would with an iron or wood.

ANTI-FUNDAMENTAL NO. 3: ONE CLUB FOR ALL SHOTS

Imagine a carpenter showing up at your house to do repair work and the only tool he brought with him was a screwdriver. That’s exactly what happens when you try to use only one wedge — a 60-degree, for instance — to hit all different shots around the green.

Anti-Fundamentals: Different Wedges For Different Shots

Statistics tell  that whether you shoot 68 or 108, over 70 percent of your shots will be hit with less than a full swing. Just like the carpenter needs a multitude of different tools to suit the task at hand, so do you when faced with an endless possibility of short game shots during a round. Instead of carrying only wedge to hit every shot, consider making room in your bag for three or four wedges, as in the photo above; your 5-wood won’t mind taking a break this season.

ANTI-FUNDAMENTAL NO. 4: CHIP WITH STRAIGHT ARMS

This is an old one. “A chip is just a putt with a lofted club,” or “keep your arms straight so you don’t flip the club” are comments you hear every day as you walk around the practice green. Here’s the thing: a chip shot is NOT the same as a putting stroke, and you’ve never seen any other athletic endeavor using a stick and ball that is performed with “stiff” arms, as in the photos below.

Anti-Fundamentals: Chipping With Stiff Arms

If you were to hand you a ball and ask you to stand in a golf posture and lob it underhanded onto the green, you most certainly would not do so with stiff arms. Your trail arm would gently fold on the backswing and the wrists would hinge the club up slightly, and the same would happen on the other side of the swing in the follow-through, as in the photos below. The motion comes from the softness and lack of tension in the arms as the swing begins. It provides you with the same feel for distance control as if you were simply tossing the ball.

Chip With Soft Arms

ANTI-FUNDAMENTAL NO. 5: LEAN FORWARD AND HIT DOWN IN A BUNKER

This has the potential to be one of the most damaging anti-fundamentals of them all. Because we don’t actually strike the ball (we should hit the sand 1-2 inches behind the ball), being a good bunker player requires total control over where the club enters the sand and depends heavily on being able to regulate the amount of sand between the clubface and ball. Both are extremely difficult it you’re taking a large, deep divot of sand…which is exactly what will happen if you have too much weight on your forward foot and you swing down steeply into the bunker, as in the photo below.

Anti-Fundamentals: Bunker Wrong and Right

You’ll find it much easier to play shots out of the bunker if you make a longer, shallower divot that minimizes the amount of sand you take (see inset photo above). In order to do so you must make a swing with a flatter bottom that barely “skims” the sand as it hits the ball. This is accomplished with a set-up that has the ball forward and the weight 50/50 and NOT favoring the lead leg. The photo above shows this proper set-up. From that position you simply make a normal swing like any other shot out of the fairway and the loft and bounce on the club will do the work for you.

Posted 13 January, 2017 by E. Marino in GolfDigest, Notes