SAVE SHOTS TEE TO GREEN

October 13, 2015

USE THESE FEELS TO FIX YOUR WHOLE GAME

Good swing mechanics is obviously an important part of playing well, but feels are what help golfers translate technical advice into something they can execute on the practice range and golf course. As a teacher, I can tell you what I want your club to do on a variety of shots from a drive to a 10-foot putt, but you’ll pick it up faster if you can equate those moves and the underlying mechanics with an accessible feel. Try the following for your driving, iron play and putting, and you should be able to take one of the biggest steps in the game-improvement process: turning “feel” into “real.”

DRIVING

MAKE SWINGS CROSS-HANDED TO FEEL A TRUE RELEASE

 

A lot of players have the same problem when they hit the driver. They’re used to seeing a miss to the right, so they try to compensate for it in all the wrong ways. They start down hard with their arms and pull the club to the left in an effort to start the shot in that direction. But that brings the hands to impact too far in front of the ball. The shoulders are angled to the left, the shaft is leaning toward the target, and the face is wide open, which makes the ball go right even more. You can neutralize this cycle by learning to feel a real release. Take your setup, but switch your hand position so your left hand is below your right. Make cross-handed swings with your right hand feeling dominant as you go ( left ). You’ll improve your path and your speed.

PUT SAND ON THE CLUBFACE AND TRY TO FLING IT ONTO THE GREEN.

TAKEAWAY

START NEUTRAL TO KEEP IT SIMPLE

One of the big hurdles average players have to clear to get better is “extremeness” in parts of the swing. If you’re shooting in the 90s or more than 100, you’re probably doing something extreme on your takeaway-either unknowingly or to counter something that comes later.

Regardless of your ball flight, if you’re pulling the club way inside or swinging it outside on the way back, you’re forcing yourself to make an equally dramatic move to get the club back into a hitting position. The more neutral you can be starting the swing with the club parallel to the target line when it’s level with the ground and the face roughly square or “toe up” ( below )-the easier it will be to hit shots on line. Fewer moving parts means a more repeatable swing.

BUNKERS

DON’T LET THE FACE TURN DOWN

Most players know to open the clubface before hitting a greenside bunker shot, but they still make it way harder than it has to be by turning the face down on the way through. When you do that, you dig the leading edge into the sand and hit a fat shot, or you blade it because you lifted up to avoid one. You want the bounce feature on the bottom of the club to be always exposed to the sand.

Here’s a good visual: Put a small pile of sand on the face of your wedge and make short, shin-high to shin-high swings keeping the sand in place ( right ). Next, go from setup right to your finish with no backswing and fling the sand up and onto the green. If you keep the face open, you’ll avoid digging. Then this will become one of the easiest shots for you.

IRON SHOTS

RETURN THE SHAFT AT IMPACT

Another common tendency for many players is to thrust the hips toward the ball through impact to try to generate more power. When that happens, the chest rises and the hands come up, too, which causes a shallow angle of attack and poor contact.

To get more compression on the ball and consistency in your iron game, try this drill. Stick an alignment rod in the ground at the same angle as the shaft at address, in line with the ball but about 10 inches farther away from you. The rod forces you to try to match the shaft angle you had at address when you get to impact ( left ). The byproduct will be that your lower body stays back and rotates instead of thrusting and sliding. You’ll hit more solid, straight shots.

Claude Harmon III, a Golf Digest 50 Best Teacher, is based at the Butch Harmon Floridian in Palm City, Fla. He teaches Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Yani Tseng, among other tour players.

PUTTING

USE YOUR MARK FOR MORE THAN PLACE-HOLDING

You can use any coin or ball marker as a handy training aid when you’re warming up on the practice green. Place the coin just behind your ball, like you’re getting ready to mark it ( left ), and then set up so your putterhead is behind the ball and hovering over the coin. Make a stroke where you avoid hitting the coin, and keep your focus on it for an extra beat after the ball has been struck. Keying on that spot will help you keep your body still through impact. If you watch the great putters, you’ll see they stay very still even after the ball is hit. That will help you make consistently solid contact and get your putts rolling online.

David

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David

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