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Want to shape shots like the pros? Here’s how to do it on command   Leave a comment

Tour players don’t like to discuss how they shape shots. They simply shape them, whether it’s by "thinking" fade or, maybe, "feeling" a draw. Their mechanics are that refined. But they had to start somewhere, and for intrepid shotmakers there’s no better place to begin than the setup. By altering your ball position, body tilt and alignment, you can hit the ball through nine different shotmaking windows: fades, draws and straight balls on a low, mid and high trajectory. That’s plenty of options.

This part’s easy. Set up with your feet and body closed to your target line to invite a draw. Do the opposite for a fade. And if you want to hit the ball straight, set your lines parallel to the target. Now, check the grid at right to see how it all matches up.

For high shots, tilt your torso away from the target, so that your left shoulder sits above your right (and even with your left hip). Just as it does when you play the ball forward in your stance, tilting away from the target shallows out your path and adds loft. The opposite is true if you lean your torso toward the target. Setting your right shoulder above your left at address decreases loft and launches the ball on a lower trajectory.


Positioning the ball back in your stance tends to produce less-lofted shots, since you’ve forced the club to come into impact on a steeper angle of attack. As you move the ball forward in your stance, your swing gets shallower and the face tends to remain open. The result? Higher-than-normal shots that stop on a dime (Ball position also effects direction)

Your clubhead travels on an arc around your body through the hitting zone. The farther back you put the ball in your stance, the earlier you’ll strike it on this arc, giving you more of an inside-out, draw delivery. As you move the ball toward the target, the swing path straightens out until it transforms into a outside-in fade delivery.



Posted 5 June, 2018 by E. Marino in, Tips

Hit darts your fairway woods   Leave a comment

You’ve made high-lofted fairway woods and hybrids your primary tools for approach shots, and why not: They’re easier to hit longer and higher — from all kinds of lies — than low and midirons are. But this advantage is for naught if you end up buried in the long grass to the side of the green. For lower scores, you also need to hit your fairway woods and hybrids straight — and with longer shafts and more flexible faces, control is not a lofted wood’s No. 1 quality. A few adjustments in your thought process will keep you on the straight and narrow.


Distance on approach shots only matters to the extent that you need to be able to reach your target. So there’s no need to overextend yourself. Choose the club that you can swing at 80 percent effort and still reach the green. Keeping the swing smooth and contained not only gives you more control, it increases your chances of making pure, solid contact.

There’s no need to force the issue with a fairway wood or hybrid—swing at 80 percent and let the club’s length and loft do the work for you.


Don’t be general when it comes to choosing your target. Pick a specific spot or area on the green as the destination for your approach. Being precise about your target not only encourages you to be more mindful of your alignment, but it creates a more vivid picture of a successful shot in your mind, which will carry over when it’s time to actually execute the shot.


You can emphasize accuracy in your next practice session by laying down two clubs parallel to each other on either side of the ball, about six inches apart. The idea is to create a channel—as you might on the putting green— that points down the target line and defines the ideal path for the clubhead. The channel serves two purposes: It gives you a reference for alignment, and it encourages you to focus on swinging the club straight down the target line through impact. Align the channel at a specific target, such as a distance marker, to get a feel for playing for accuracy.

Posted 22 May, 2018 by E. Marino in, Tips

For regaining distance, the left knee is key   Leave a comment

If you’re like most older players, you’ve gradually lost some flexibility over the years, and that can often show up in an inability to make a full turn behind the ball. Needless to say, it’s a good bet that your distance has suffered because of this common problem. To get some of that old turning ability back, try releasing your left knee during your backswing. Let the momentum of your takeaway pull the left knee back so that if you were standing on a clockface, your kneecap would point at 1:00 at the top of your swing. This prevents the knee from dipping and frees your upper body to make a full turn.

imageOn the downswing, start with your knee at 1:00, but allow it to gradually open to roughly 12:00 as you come down to impact. But don’t rush this move—if you open the knee too quickly, your entire left side may spin out and ruin the proper sequence of body movements down to the ball.

During your backswing, release your left knee and allow it to move back until it’s pointing to roughly 1:00 on an imaginary clockface. This move will allow your upper body to make a more complete—and more powerful—turn

image As you start down, keep your left knee pointed toward 1:00, but allow it to naturally and gradually move to 12:00 as the club nears impact. "Gradually" is the key, however—if you open the left knee too quickly, your left side may spin out and ruin your sequence.

Posted 29 April, 2018 by E. Marino in

Swinging past parallel could be just what your game needs   Leave a comment

You'll feel the club dip behind your back, and that's okay if you want to create more distance.You want more distance. You need more speed. Here’s how the math works: for every mile-per-hour you add to your driver swing, you can tack on three extra yards off the tee. You can gain 10 mph simply by swinging past parallel. That’s 30 extra yards!

Getting past parallel (as I’m doing here) isn’t about extending your arms back higher or farther, or forcing a shoulder turn your body isn’t capable of making. Your key: Become "softer" at the top of your backswing. Allow your wrists to hinge fully and your elbows to bend a bit more than normal.

It should feel like the clubhead is "dipping" a few inches at the top. That little dip means your driver has to travel just that much farther to get back to the ball, giving you extra time to build speed. The idea is to reach max velocity when the clubhead meets ball. Now go hit it like you mean it!

Posted 2 March, 2018 by E. Marino in

Want to hit it longer? For more power, break the speed limit   Leave a comment

According to TrackMan statistics, the average 7-iron clubhead speed on the PGA Tour is 90 mph. The average male recreational golfer, on the other hand, swings the same club at closer to 75 mph, which is why he hits his 7-iron about 140 yards, compared with 170 to 180 yards for the Tour guys.

One reason amateurs generate so much less clubhead speed is that they try to hit "to" the ball rather than "through" it. The fastest part of your swing should occur after impact, not before. If this sounds like your problem, here are two drills that can help get your speed in the right place and create faster clubhead and ball speeds.


 Straight Hitter Find a chair that’s about as wide as your stance and straddle it so you feel some pressure on the insides of your legs. Take your normal address position with a 7-iron and turn your shoulders slowly to the top until you can’t turn them anymore. The chair will keep you from turning your hips, which will allow you to feel the sensation of coiling your upper body against your lower half.

The more tension and resistance you create this way, the more potential energy and clubhead speed you’ll create in your downswing. Practice this drill several times a day for a few weeks, and you’ll soon find yourself wielding a powerful slingshot motion through impact.

Do you gasp a little every time you hear that a Tour player has pulled a 7-iron to hit a ball that’s 180 yards from the green? The pros achieve that kind of distance by hitting through the ball, not to it. Straddling a chair to keep your hips stationary as your shoulders turn back is a good way to get a feel for the proper power-generating resistance you need in your swing.


 Straight Hitter Hold a 7-iron across your shoulders and make a full shoulder turn to the top. As you start down, picture the spot on the ground where the butt end of the shaft is pointing as you reach the top, then bump your left hip forward without moving the grip.

This will help get your hips, rather than your shoulders, started first, and this will allow you to create greater separation between your hips and shoulders and retain more of the coil created in your backswing as you swing down. That’s how you generate maximum speed after the ball. You want to lead with your hips and turn them as fast as you can from the top while leaving your shoulders in place.

Once you reach the top, bump your left hip toward the target, which will help give your hips a head start over your shoulders in the race to impact. More separation between your hips and shoulders in the downswing means more power transferred to the ball.

Posted 23 December, 2017 by E. Marino in

Don’t fan your face to stop your slice before it starts   Leave a comment

imageMany of you chronic slicers get too handsy with your takeaway. When your first move is to whip the club back from address, your forearms and wrists rotate immediately out of the chute. Here’s a check: If your right palm is facing skyward halfway through your backswing, so is your clubface. This means that the clubhead is outracing your upper body, and you’re going to end up slapping weakly at the ball. Fore, right!

Quick-whipping your hands is the fastest way to weak shots and more sidespin.

imageInstead of rolling your wrists right off the bat, focus on using your chest and arms to start the swing. You’ve got it right if, when you stop your swing halfway through your backswing, your right palm faces toward the ground, just like the clubface (and your spine!). This rock-solid position helps you control the clubface better while also giving you time to rotate your upper body even farther back into a power-charged coil.

When you do it right, your club-face and right-wrist angles should be very close to the angle of your spine.

Posted 15 December, 2017 by E. Marino in

Swing shorter for more yards   Leave a comment

Today’s longest hitters tend to swing the club past parallel at the top of the backswing. But that doesn’t mean it’s the best technique for a weekend golfer, who tends to be far less flexible than a pro. Nor is it the path to power. In fact, you would probably hit it farther if you shortened your arm swing—overswinging only leads to weaker drives and fewer fairways hit.

The problem with overswinging is that it can force a golfer out of his address posture, leading to an early release of the hands; this saps power and creates a poor impact position. So think “short” to go long. Here’s how.


STRAIGHT HITTER Your backswing is done once your left shoulder passes the ball and your weight has loaded into your right thigh and right foot. That’s plenty of turn! Your arms should be extended, with the shaft short of parallel and pointing left of your target (viewed from behind). Hit these checkpoints for an on-plane swing that’s primed to deliver the clubhead on a powerful, inside-out swing path.

STRAIGHT HITTER Swinging past parallel at the top (above, left) is okay for the pros, but it can hurt the posture of weekend golfers—the hands release too soon robbing you of power.





Hold your driver with your right hand on the hosel and your left hand on the grip (above). With arms extended, turn as far as you comfortably can while maintaining your address posture and spine angle (below left), then stop. Slide your right hand down to take your normal grip (below right). That’s the perfect-length backswing for you!

Posted 19 October, 2017 by E. Marino in, Tips