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Loft it high from a bunker with ease   Leave a comment

loft-from-bunker-leadFor most weekend golfers, the typical greenside bunker shot is already an ordeal to be avoided. Toss in a towering bunker face and an overhanging lip, and that sand shot can make you feel like you’re in a remake of Escape From Alcatraz. Good news: Freeing yourself is easier than you think. Just copy the following setup and swing adjustments, and you’ll loft the ball higher, making the most penal hazards look easy.





 SENIOR PLAYER Take an extra-wide stance, with your feet outside your shoulders. Dial the clubface slightly open and hold your hands as low as they can comfortably go. Then angle the shaft back so that the grip end of the club is clearly behind the ball, pointing just to the right of your belly button. This will make it easier to throw the clubhead under the ball, which will add much-needed loft to the shot.

Take a wide stance (as you might use with your driver), open the clubface and tilt the shaft back. This position will allow you to get maximum loft out of the clubhead


 SENIOR PLAYER As you start back, pick the club up steeply with your arms, quickly pointing the clubhead to the sky. Don’t worry about a big shoulder turn or getting your arms to a certain position—this shot is all about the angle of attack. From the top, swing down steeply along your stance line, throwing the clubhead under the ball with nice speed. As the club exits the sand, pull your hands and the club in tight to your body. This will ensure that the clubhead travels upward through impact, adding loft to the face and extra height to your shot.

This shot requires a steep angle of attack on both sides of the ball. Take the club straight up to the top in the backswing, follow that same path down to the ball, and then pull the club in tight and finish with a steep follow-through.

Posted 12 July, 2017 by E. Marino in

The power backswing: 3 musts for longer drives   Leave a comment

The game’s longest hitters do a tremendous job loading and storing energy in the backswing, which they then unleash into the ball. The result? Mammoth blasts. The modern power player doesn’t hurry on the way back—it’s a smooth, gradual accumulation of power. Here are three power backswing moves you can make to help you launch your biggest drives ever.


 STRAIGHT HITTER  As you swing back, try to keep your left arm as straight as possible without locking it in place. The goal is to get your hands as far away from your right ear as possible at the top of the backswing. This creates width—and the wider your swing arc, the more time the clubhead has to travel and accumulate power-generating speed.

Make your backswing arc as wide as you can, for more stored energy in the downswing. A simple way to do this is to focus on keeping your hands as far from your right ear as possible without locking your left elbow.


 STRAIGHT HITTER  Few backswings are longer than John Daly’s, yet he never loses his balance or posture. That’s because he keeps the flex in his right knee. This creates a stable platform for your hips to turn around, and it shifts your weight onto the inside of your right foot, making it easier to rotate your hips and shift your weight forward on the downswing.

Don’t lock your right knee in the backswing. Maintaining some flex here helps you load a max amount of energy into your right leg, fueling bigger hits.


 STRAIGHT HITTER  Make the biggest shoulder turn you can in your backswing while still maintaining your posture. This creates more energy and perfectly positions you to swing down on a powerful "inside-out" path. To promote a full shoulder turn, place a shaft on the ground just inside your right foot, and, with a driver lodged across your chest, turn until the butt end of the grip points behind the shaft on the ground.

To get a feel for a full shoulder turn, hold a driver across your chest and swing back until the butt end points at a clubshaft on the ground near your back foot

Posted 9 July, 2017 by E. Marino in

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, 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.


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, 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, Tips

How to escape a bunker from your knees   Leave a comment

When it’s useful: The ball sits in a steep-sided bunker. It’s so steep, in fact, that you’d have to squat like a sumo wrestler in order to get the clubhead near the ball, or bend so far forward that you’d be in danger of toppling into the hazard.

How to hit it: Drop to a knee. Even from this awkward stance, you’re in better position to maintain posture and balance than if you create extreme angles in your knees and spine tilt.

1. Avoid the Tilt

There’s a problem with bending your knees to the max to reach the ball: At some point in the swing, one of your knees may interfere with your swing path. Test the waters first. Take a practice swing. If your club misses both knees, stay on your feet. Otherwise…

2. Take a Knee

Maintaining posture and balance is important in this dicey situation.

Rest your left knee on the turf above the hazard while securing your right foot in the bunker. Tilt forward until the club hovers above the sand behind the ball. This stance lets you generate speed with your arms and hands only, but that’s fine—it’s what you want to do on a bunker swing anyway. Funky stance, same motion. Easier than you think!

Maintaining posture and balance is important in this dicey situation.

Posted 18 October, 2016 by E. Marino in, Tips

A quick fix for long and straight drives   Leave a comment

Straight Hitter: You keep the ball in play, but a lack of distance puts pressure on your game.

 Straight Hitter Yes, a big shoulder turn is one key to hitting longer drives. But if there’s no resistance between your upper and lower body on the backswing, you’ll have a hard time generating the type of distance you crave—no matter what your shoulders do.

Instead of worrying about how many degrees you turn your shoulders or hips in the backswing, simply turn your shoulders until your back faces the target. As you do this, feel as though you’re pushing your right leg down into the ground. This is key—it keeps the right knee flexed and also limits your hip turn, thus creating the resistance and stored-up energy you need to deliver the clubhead to the ball with maximum speed and power. As you start your downswing, retain the coil for as long as you can while unwinding your legs and hips to the left. Get coiled, and you’ll see a big improvement in your tee shots.

Plant your right leg firmly in the ground. To create powerful resistance, simply turn your back until it faces the target. Your upper and lower body are now fully coiled, ready to release all that stored power into the ball.

Posted 31 August, 2016 by E. Marino in, Tips