Archive for the ‘GolfDigest’ Category

5 Common golf injuries and how to avoid them   Leave a comment

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A lot of golfers are playing hurt. Not broken-bones hurt, but with things like tendinitis, sore muscles and arthritis. These aren’t flashy injuries, but they still can keep you off the course.

THE LEAD WRIST

fitness-avoid-injuriesWHAT HAPPENS: Hold your lead hand (left hand for righties) in front of you, thumb up, and make a fist. Notice there’s a little cup or angle in the back of the wrist; this is the natural power position. Most amateurs don’t have the strength to lead the club into impact with the back of the left wrist, as they’ve been told to, and that creates overload. Sometimes hitting the ground flattens the wrist angle, stressing the extensor tendons on the top of the wrist and causing tendinitis.

HOW TO AVOID INJURY: If you grip the club with your left hand in a weak position, the thumb down the top of the handle (above, 1), you risk having a flat or even bowed left wrist at impact. Instead, rotate your left hand away from the target about 30 degrees from that weak position. This will put the thumb at about 1:30 on an imaginary clock face, more down the right side of the grip, and create the slight cup you want in the wrist (2).

THE LEAD ELBOW

lead elbowWHAT HAPPENS: The problem here is similar to that in the wrist: The extensor tendons on the outside of the elbow are overloaded by the jarring of impact and begin to tear away from the bone. It’s called lateral epicondylitis, or tennis elbow. Golfer’s elbow affects the inside of the trail arm and is caused by the repeated straining and rotation of that arm through impact, but it’s less common.

HOW TO AVOID INJURY: Many golfers confuse keeping the left arm straight with locking it (below, 1). Consider this: If you let your arm hang at your side, it’s straight but relaxed. That’s the straight you want. Think of the arm as staying "soft" from start to finish (2). The momentum of the downswing will pull your left arm straight without you thinking about it.

THE LEAD SHOULDER

lead shoulderWHAT HAPPENS: There are several parts of the shoulder at risk, and the rotator cuff is the granddaddy of them all. But labral tears (torn cartilage) are becoming common and often can be traced to the backswing. When golfers keep the left arm tight to the chest as they swing back, they can tear the labrum that stabilizes the shoulder joint. This is called a posterior labral tear, and the golfer feels pain in the back of the shoulder.

HOW TO AVOID INJURY: Players who don’t turn well in the backswing tend to pin the left arm across the chest (1). Turning the upper body can be physically challenging for some golfers; others find it just plain scary, because they feel as if they won’t get back to hit the ball. A good swing thought is, Turn more, swing less (2). When your body stops turning back, your arms should stop swinging. Think of swinging your arms with your turn, not with the muscles in your shoulders.

THE LEAD KNEE

lead kneeWHAT HAPPENS: We’re really picking on the lead side, and rightfully so—it takes a real beating when you shift forward to swing through. This results in the inner side of the left knee absorbing a tremendous amount of torque and compression. Many golfers square the left foot and lock the knee in an internally rotated position (1), which leads to an increased shearing force on the knee joint. The typical injury is to the medial meniscus and can lead to degeneration of the articular cartilage and arthritis.

HOW TO AVOID INJURY: For the left leg to function properly, the knee has to shift in front of the hip very early in the downswing. Excessive shifting of the hips toward the target prevents this. The line of the left thigh should be vertical or leaning away from the target on the downswing, not leaning toward the target. To promote more turning and less sliding of the hips, rotate your left foot 20 or 30 degrees toward the target at address (2).

THE LOWER BACK

lower backWHAT HAPPENS: A strained lower back is the most common golf injury, and the one most likely to shorten a career. The modern power swing is all about the rotation of the pelvis through the shot. The torque this creates between the pelvis and the lumbar spine pulls the ligaments, tendons and muscles in that area. Also, the shearing effect can wear away the discs between the vertebrae in the lumbar spine, leading to disc disease; that’s the real career-ender.

HOW TO AVOID INJURY: Teaching today says to create separation between the rotation of the pelvis and the rotation of the trunk, especially on the downswing, where more separation means more speed (1). The problem is, many golfers can’t do that without a lower-back injury. Instead, try to turn everything in unison; the hips and shoulders should rotate back together and through together (2). You might sacrifice some power, but you’ll save your back and stay in the game.

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Posted 17 July, 2018 by E. Marino in GolfDigest, Notes

Escape any bunker: How to get over a high lip   Leave a comment

hitting-out-of-bunkerThis might go against your instinct when you’re in a bunker with a high lip, but the last thing you want to do is try to help the ball over the lip. When you try to force it up and over, it almost always comes out lower and slams into the face. Instead, do what I do.

First, try this drill. The biggest difference between hitting out of a normal bunker and one with a high lip is the amount of sand you need to take. To get the ball up quickly, your club should strike a lot more sand, and this drill will help teach you how much.

Draw a circle in the bunker about four inches in diameter around your ball. Now get in your address position, playing the ball off your front foot. Before swinging, pick the ball up so all that’s left is the circle. You’ll get back to that, but first, two more things about address: Dig your feet in so you have a solid base, and open the face of your wedge before gripping the club. You know opening the face can freak out some amateurs, but don’t be scared. In a bunker, your wedge is designed to work when it’s open like this. In fact, you should keep the face open throughout the shot.

“DON’T BE SHY: TAKE PLENTY OF SAND TO GET OVER A HIGH LIP.”

Now here’s a key thought: When you swing, think about putting your hands into your left pocket as you come through. You can see swinging toward left pocket here. This forces the club to exit low, left and open, and cutting across the ball like this helps get it up quickly.

Posted 16 July, 2018 by E. Marino in GolfDigest

Every good short game starts here   Leave a comment

Solid-impact-chip-shotsThe best short-game players always find a way to figure out the right play and get the ball close. You walk away thinking they have some magical gift. But the ability to pull off those little shots is rooted in one simple skill: making solid contact.

That’s the first fundamental of the short game, and whether those players know it or not, learning to strike the ball consistently set them on the fast track to success.

Most golfers get caught up in all the details of the shot—the carry, the roll, trouble over the green—and they forget that hitting the ball solid is the first requirement.

For a basic chip, which works for most greenside situations, good contact comes mostly from getting into a proper setup. Take a narrow stance, with the ball in the middle and your spine vertical—not tilted away from the hole. Set more weight on your front foot, and then lean the handle just ahead of your pants zipper. Also, open the clubface a touch. These positions will pre-set a swing where you catch the ball first, then brush the grass.

The swing flows naturally from the setup. It’s an arc back and through with a slight descent into the ball. With the face open, the club will slide through impact. Remember, it’s about ball-first contact.

Posted 12 July, 2018 by E. Marino in Chip, GolfDigest

Learn putting distance control to eliminate three-putts   Leave a comment

DF_1171If you can get your putting in a position where you don’t have to grind over four- or five-footers for par, you’ll start to score better. That means leaving yourself shorter second putts, and that means learning better distance control.

This drill requires three tees. Put one in the ground at the ball, one about 8 inches behind and one about 8 inches ahead. Try to swing your putter with an even rhythm, not going back past the back tee and not going through beyond the front tee. If you’re steady with your tempo and the length of your takeaway and follow-through, you’ll immediately start to see a lot of consistency in the length of your putts.

The amount of space from tee to tee will depend on the length of the putt—it’ll take a little bit of trial and error to figure out the correct tee spacing for different length putts.

Set up a few different stations on the green: a medium-distance putt, a long putt, a really long putt. This will require you to use varying lengths of strokes. Move around and practice at these areas, drilling in the feeling of how long your stroke should be for each type of putt. Next time you play, you’ll be able to confidently get your longer putts close to the hole. Maybe a few will even fall in.

Posted 9 July, 2018 by E. Marino in GolfDigest

How to hit 2 basic pitches and chips   Leave a comment

LOW PITCH
SWING SHORT

instruction-2009-12-inar01-phil-mickelson-chip-pitchPlaying a 40-yard pitch shot to a flagstick located just onto a top tier. To hit a low shot that lands short of the slope and runs to the hole, align your sand wedge squarely at the target, and position the ball in the middle of your stance.

Take a short, crisp backswing, hinging your wrists but limiting your arm swing.

Then make the downswing firm and aggressive, keeping your hands well ahead of the ball through impact so you trap the ball with the clubface. Keep your follow-through short, your hands staying low.

HIGH PITCk
ADD SPEED!

instruction-2009-12-inar02-phil-mickelson-chip-pitchThe flagstick for this shot is farther back on that top tier, and you should consider flying the ball almost all the way to the hole.

Start by opening the face of your 60-degree wedge, with the ball off the instep of your front foot.

Because you need additional clubhead speed to hit this shot, swing your arms back farther, and hinge your wrists more.

Then swing down aggressively, making sure you accelerate through the ball. The longer swing combined with the forward ball position means a higher, fuller follow-through. Expect extra loft and more backspin.

LOW RUNNER
USE LESS CLUB

instruction-2009-12-inar03-phil-mickelson-chip-pitchIf you’re chipping uphill or have plenty of green to work with, you want a low, running chip that rolls farther than it flies. Using your 9-iron, position the ball forward in your stance.

On the takeaway, keep your arm swing to a minimum, and hinge your wrists only slightly.

On the forward swing, simply move your hands deliberately toward the target, delivering the clubhead into the ball on a level, shallow angle and keeping the clubhead low into the follow-through. The ball will come off low without much backspin and will roll like a putt.

BITING CHIP
PLAY IT BACK

instruction-2009-12-inar04-phil-mickelson-chip-pitchIf the green is firm or you’re chipping downhill, you need the ball to check up quickly.

Choose your 60-degree wedge, and position the ball opposite the big toe of your back foot.

Make a steep backswing, the clubhead rising abruptly as you hinge your wrists. The downswing will be just as steep, your hands leading the way as the clubhead comes down sharply into the back of the ball.

Feel free to take a small divot. Because you delofted the clubface at impact, the ball will come out low–but should bite quickly.

Posted 8 July, 2018 by E. Marino in GolfDigest, Phil Mickelson

Pick up driver speed: Think pull instead of push   Leave a comment

When it comes to power, there’s an epidemic of misapplied force that is ruining thousands of swings every day. It’s a basic piece of instruction you’ve probably heard a lot—usually as a seemingly innocent part of correcting a wristy, flippy motion in a swing. But the problem with that advice is, it ruins your ability to produce good swing speed.

Mike JacobsTry this exercise: Hold your driver in front of you with your right arm only and, from a standstill, push the handle as quickly as you can toward the target. When you do that, what happens to the head? It stays behind. Do this during a swing, and you’re essentially trying to force the club to swing backward, and it will take a dramatic adjustment by your hands, arms or body to force the head into a decent striking position.

Instead of obsessing about getting your hands forward at impact, concentrate on pulling the handle instead of pushing it. As you swing through impact, feel like you’re pulling up toward the middle of your chest. That will make the club rotate and pick up the exponential speed at the head end—the signature of the biggest hitters.

Posted 25 June, 2018 by E. Marino in GolfDigest, Tips

Why "Keeping your head down" Is killing your swing   Leave a comment

The head rotates in a tour-pro follow-through

Well, maybe, but that isn’t why most shots are topped. In fact, a lot of times it’s the opposite problem.

If you want to learn a skill that will keep you from topping it—and get you closer to hitting the same kinds of consistently good shots the professionals do—develop a tour-pro follow-through that involves a rotation of the head. Here’s how.

GolfTEC-correct-head-positionPose like you see here legs straightened, shoulders and hips facing the target, head rotated in that direction, too, and the grip extended as far away from the body as possible—that’s key.

You’ll notice this is a significantly different look to the follow-through you see from many amateurs—especially if you’re trying to keep your head down through impact. When you’re scrunched up like that, you don’t have room to extend your arms, and that lack of extension puts you in poor position to make solid contact.

Once you’ve burned the feel of it into your memory, hit some soft, slow shots while getting into that same position after impact. The closer you come to copying it, the easier it will be for your swing to bottom out in a predictable place every time.

Then you’ll no longer worry about having to make an excuse for your bad shot before the ball stops rolling.

Posted 24 June, 2018 by E. Marino in GolfDigest, Tips