When a golfer decides to devote time to practice, it is important to have a plan for the session. I have three rules for my students: (Jun 13, 2008)
"The chip and run should be the backbone of your short game. It is the most reliable shot around the green. The average golfer attempts to pitch the ball in the air, but the uncontrollable nature of the pitch makes it a poor choice. (Jun 12, 2008)
"To improve, a golfer must first understand the non-negotiable, cause-and-effect relationship between the club and the ball (i.e., how ball flight is created, good or bad), then understand the negotiable elements - grip, posture, stance, alignment, backswing - and how they influence the movement of the club, which affects the flight of the ball. (May 25, 2008)
"Start with the finish. There are many aspects of your game to work on. Try to copy the common denominators of the best players. (May 15, 2008)
"A.W. Tillinghast was a brilliant golf course architect who often purposely misaligned his tees with relation to the center of the fairway. To ensure that you are properly aligned to every fairway, try starting from behind the ball to accurately establish your target. That is what some of the best amateur players in the section will be doing this week when they compete in the Havemeyer Invitational Tournament at the Tillinghast-designed Southward Ho course in Bay Shore." (May 9, 2008)
"Many competitive rounds are ruined by an inability to start off with a good first shot. Stepping to the first tee with composure can create good swings for the rest of the round. Take some extra slow practice swings, focusing on soft grip pressure and keeping your transition simple. Doing this helps make that first swing stay smooth, since most early-round pressure swings tend to be quick." (May 2, 2008)
"Most amateurs realize the fundamentals of a good setup are critical for a full swing. But those fundamentals are important for putting, too. To make more putts, you must start with the proper alignment. Use the label on the ball for guidance. To do this, mark the ball and reposition it so the label is aligned with your intended path. Next, once you are set up over the ball, match the line on your putter to the label on the ball. Trust your alignment and make a good, confident stroke." (Apr 24, 2008)
"Watching the Masters last week, we saw several uphill and downhill lies that are common to many Long Island courses. The first step to successfully hitting a ball from an uphill lie is get into the correct setup position. Get a feel for the severity of the slope, take your stance and try to align your shoulders and hips with the terrain. (Apr 22, 2008)
"Watching the Masters, you may hear swing analysts talk about how long hitters create lag or have a late release to maximize club head speed and increase distance. (Apr 14, 2008)
"Tempo is the most under-taught fundamental in golf today. True tempo needs to be something tangible, something that the student can work on during practice time. That means an audio stimulus has to be used. I use a music CD in a lot of my lessons that gives three beats. (Apr 11, 2008)
"An essential part of playing good golf is making sure you are going in the right direction. As I am setting up to hit a shot, I make sure to first align the club head with the target. I then carefully step into the set- up, aligning my body parallel to the club's target line. Think of these two lines as railroad tracks, with the last stop being the target."
"To hit pitch and chip shots you must learn to hinge your wrists correctly. The days of stiff arms and wrists on short shots are over. What is 'hinge?' Put your hands together, palms facing, and point your thumbs up. Now point your thumbs toward yourself. You have just hinged your wrists. (Jul 19, 2007)
"Golf is a two-handed game, so why not use both hands to set the grip for a shot? For a righthanded golfer, the easiest way is to hold the club at waist level in your right hand as you take your grip with your left hand. Grip the shaft at mid-point with your right hand and position the butt end of the grip in your left hand so the back of the left hand is square with the leading edge of the club-face. With the left hand in place, the right hand will fit naturally into a complementary position in the grip. I find it much easier and safer to assume the grip alignment at waist level. This is where the start of your setup routine should begin."
"After a long, cold, wet winter, your short game might need a wake-up call. If you are looking to start your season off with good scores, start to practice with your wedges. (Apr 19, 2007)
Start the season off by concentrating on your short game. With a 'chip shot,' the ball generally travels 70-80 percent of its total distance on the ground. With a 'pitch shot,' the ball generally travels 70-80 percent of its total distance in the air. (Apr 12, 2007)
"I have played and observed golf for over 40 years. All of the best players in the world hit it great. On average, though, they only hit between 12 and 14 greens in regulation, but they still manage to post great scores. This is because they can pitch, chip and putt. Great putting erases a lot of mistakes. (Sep 21, 2006)
"When playing with amateurs, the most common mistake I see is that they often under-club themselves and come up short of the green or the flagstick. (Sep 14, 2006)
"When you go to the range for a pre-round warm-up or for a long practice session, make sure you practice with a purpose. Always set up a club for alignment. The club should be placed parallel left of your target for proper body alignment [if you are a righthanded player]. Start off with small shots, 50 to 70 yards. Then move to your pitching wedge, 8 iron, 6 iron, 4 iron, utility club, fairway wood, and, finally, your driver. When you are finished, hit four or five wedge shots for tempo. Make sure you practice on the chipping and putting green. Knowing the green speeds will help lower your score on the course." (Sep 7, 2006)
"The natural tendency for golfers is to start the backswing by lifting the club with their hands and arms, rather than with their bigger muscles; the shoulders, hips, and legs. (Sep 1, 2006)
"Sometimes it is difficult to figure out which wedge to hit from 50 yards and in. With the lack of rain this past month, the ground has become very hard, creating a lot of tight lies, which means there isn't much grass under your ball. I see a lot of my students struggling as they attempt to use a sand wedge or lob wedge. Unless you are going over a bunker, try using a pitching wedge. Choke down on the club and play the ball back in your stance. It will be easier to lift the ball off the ground. Remember the ball will roll more, once it hits the green. (Aug 24, 2006)
Most amateur golfers have a favorite chipping club, no matter what the circumstances. In fact, you should analyze the upcoming shot in two parts. (Aug 17, 2006)
"All good rounds of golf are achieved through good putting. If you are having trouble, try the approach that helped me qualify for the 2006 PGA Championship and has taken my game to the next level. I am an advocate of Bob Rotella's book 'Putting Out of Your Mind'." (Aug 10, 2006)
Pace of play is one of the main topics of conversation when it comes to the enjoyment of the game. I'd like to offer a few ideas to help you manage your time efficiently and effectively. (Aug 3, 2006)
"The biggest problem that I see with my students when they are chipping is the inability to keep their weight favoring the left side [for a right-handed golfer]. (Jul 20, 2006)
"No other club offers you a bigger head start than your driver. With the ball positioned just inside the left foot and the body 90 percent behind the ball, the natural match of high left hand and high left shoulder should make you feel as if you are tilted slightly to the right. This tilt is a mirror image of what you should look like at impact, only higher! Your arms must have room to expand by the swinging action in order to get the proportionate speed you need to hit your longest club. You should never be lower than where you were at address." (Jul 6, 2006)
"One of the most common tips you'll hear is 'slow down your swing.' (Jun 29, 2006)
"To be a great putter one needs perfect distance control. A common denominator in all great putters is great rhythm to their stroke. They have calm acceleration to the appropriate amount. (Jun 22, 2006)
"Spending time with LPGA Tour star Natalie Gulbis this week helped me realize you do not have to achieve 'perfect' backswing positions to hit very good shots. She combines great strength, balance and natural rhythm to overcome some blatant backswing flaws and consistently hits world class shots. (Jun 15, 2006)
"How many of you stand on the tee and tell yourself you want to hit on the right side of the fairway? How many of you then hit the right side of the fairway? Tour professionals do not aim at a side of the fairway or a portion of a green. They aim at very specific spots on the green or the fairway. Before each shot, stand behind the ball and pick out a specific spot in the distance (i.e. a specific leaf on a tree or a certain branch). At address, look at your spot one more time. You will be surprised how many fairways and greens you will hit. Remember if you aim small, you miss small. Unfortunately, if you aim big, you will miss big." (Apr 21, 2005)
"Tom Kite survived on Tour with stellar wedge play. Great players know the exact distance the short shots will travel when a certain swing is applied. Take your sand, pitching or other wedge, get 25 good balls - not range balls - find a field, and spend time measuring how far each shot travels. Make half swings, full swings and pitch motions, each time walking the distance off. What you'll find is you're your own distance marker for each shot. Remember, you can't guess short shot distances and be a good wedge player." (Apr 14, 2005)
"You can control the trajectory of your shots simply by adjusting your eyes at address. To hit it high, look up into the sky where you want the ball to reach its maximum height, then hold that posture and return your eyes to the ball. Looking high will lower your right shoulder, set most of your weight on your right side and encourage a shallow swing path. You'll hit the ball with the club's full loft, directing the shot toward the spot you picked out. (May 27, 2004)
"Consistency in chipping can be boiled down to one element: the club's downward angle of attack. For best contact, the club must be on its downward arc when it meets the ball. Key on your right arm to get this downward arc every time. Focus on keeping your right arm 'long', or fully extended, at address. This results in the shoulders being fairly level. Now at impact, straighten your right arm again, creating a steeper angle of attack and solid contact." (May 20, 2004)
"It's learning that must be at the heart of a lesson, not just accurate information. Research shows that doing drills, trying to copy expert models, or following 'how to' directions are not as useful as we once believed. 'Here's my money, tell me what to do,' is not the most efficient approach to progress. Studies reveal that many approaches to instruction are often just a reaction to poor habits and are not using proactive steps that help people's ability to learn. By improving someone's learning potential, you improve performance potential."
Many players have difficulty judging the speed on medium to long putts. Speed and distance control are keys to good lag putting. Before your stroke, pick a target. Then, while behind the ball and looking at the target, do a few practice strokes. This will allow the mind's eye to feel the required effort. Repeat that feel during the actual stroke, and your ball should end up close to the hole.
When playing on wet grass, there are a few simple tips to keep in mind. Play the ball back in your stance and keep your stance slightly open. Take an extra club or two and keep the lower body "quiet" during the swing. When the ground is wet, excessive leg movements can cause many types of mis-hits, such as catching the ball fat or connecting too close to the club hozzle. Remember, open stance, extra club and quiet legs.
If you're hitting a lot of fat or thin shots, an inconsistent spine angle is probably the culprit. Keeping the angle of tilt in your spine throughout your swing is crucial to hitting the ball solid. This is established at address. To keep a proper posture or "spine angle" throughout your swing, think of moving your sternum around your spine from takeaway to finish, like the Earth spinning on its axis. This will produce straighter and more consistent shots