Golf Tips

All tips are described as a right-handed golfer

Managing Uphill Lies (right-handed golfer)

Many players have difficulty with this shot. Tendencies are pulling shots left, poor impact, and under clubbing. Here are the steps to playing solid and consistent shots when faced with an uphill lie.

When preparing for all shots you should have a consistent pre-shot routine!

Set-Up

  • Place your feet approximately shoulder width apart. Adjust them slightly if you need to for balance.
  • Set your hips and shoulders relatively parallel to the slope of the terrain.
  • Slide your hips laterally to the left to establish more weight on the left side.
  • Play your ball position 1 to 2 inches farther back from normal. The best way to determine ball position is to make a few practice swings near the ball and see where the bottom of your swing occurs. Then play the ball just behind the bottom of your swing, we always want to "hit down on the ball".
  • Choose an appropriate club. If 7 iron is your 150 yard club and you are on an uphill slope, you will need a 6 or 5 iron (based on how severe the slope is) because the balls flight is going to be higher than normal and not travel as far in the air or roll as much when it lands.

Backswing

  • As you make your backswing try to keep your weight from shifting to the right. At the top of your backswing you should feel balanced and smooth.

Forward Swing

  • Swing with the slope not into it. The goal is to take a normal divot.
  • Swing smooth. Another reason you should take that extra club.
  • Depending on the severity of the slope you might not be able to transfer additional weight into your left side. That is why you play the ball a little farther back in your stance.
  • Swing your arms and club well past impact to a normal finish position.

Finish Position

  • Try to maintain your balance.
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Managing Downhill Lies (right-handed golfer)

For many this is the most difficult shot in all of golf. Tendencies are to push, push slice, and top shots from downhill lies. The keys to executing this shot well are largely in your set-up and understanding impact. Here are the steps to playing solid and consistent shots when facing a downhill lie.

When preparing for all shots you should have a consistent pre-shot routine!

Set-Up

  • Place your feet about shoulder width apart.
  • Tilt your shoulders to match the slope of the hill (lower your left shoulder).
  • Adjust your knee flex in both legs until you feel balance.
  • Aim to the left. The more severe the slope the more you should aim left.
  • Play the ball position slightly back of center. The best way to determine ball position is to make a few practice swings near the ball and see where the bottom of your swing occurs. Then play the ball just behind the bottom of your swing, we always want to "hit down on the ball".
  • Choose an appropriate club. If 7 iron is your 150 yard club and you are on a downhill slope, you will need an 8 or 9 iron (based on how severe the slope is) because the balls flight is going to be lower than normal and it will roll more when it lands. Backswing
  • Control the size of your backswing. If you are on a steep slope, try to only take the club back half way.
  • Do not shift weight into your right leg.
  • Keep your knees flexed. Your goal should be to maintain your balance!!!

Forward Swing

  • Swing with the slope. Don’t try to lift the ball or get under it. We still want to take a divot after the ball. Taking proper divots when faced with a downhill lie is difficult but possible.
  • Stay in your shot. Having soft knees can help you swing with the slope.
  • Swing through impact. Hitting at the ball is never the answer.

Finish Position

  • If you swing with the slope, your finish position will feel lower than normal.
  • You should still have some flex in you knees. The steeper the slope, the more flex you should have in your knees.
  • Try to maintain your balance.
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When the Ball is Above Your Feet (right-handed golfer)

When the ball is above your feet, the distance between the ball and your swing center is shortened. If you know how to adjust your set up and swing, it only takes a little practice to handle this shot. Here are the steps to playing solid and consistent shots when the ball is above your feet.

When preparing for all shots you should have a consistent pre-shot routine!

Set-Up

  • Make your stance comfortable, approximately shoulder width apart with your weight balanced on your toes.
  • Stand a little taller by not bending from the hips as much as normal.
  • Grip down on the club. The more the ball is above your feet, the farther down the club you should grip. Your hands should stay on the grip except in extreme cases where you might have to actually partially grip the shaft.
  • Play your ball position 1 to 2 inches farther back from normal. The best way to determine ball position is to make a few practice swings near the ball and see where the bottom of your swing occurs. Then play the ball just behind the bottom of your swing, we always want to "hit down on the ball".
  • Aim to the right. The more the ball is above your feet the more you should aim to the right. The ball will go left because of the effective lie angle of the club.
  • You may choose to start with an open clubface to offset some of the affect of the lie. The open clubface will produce a higher ball flight with less curve to the left. In this case, still aim to the right, just not as far.
  • To determine the proper distance from the ball place the club at an angle which allows the sole of the club to be grounded as if on a flat surface.

Backswing

  • Swing your arms and the club on a flatter plane or more around your body than normal. The more the ball is above your feet the flatter your swing should be.
  • Only swing back as far as you can while maintaining your balance. Minimize your leg action and focus on your head staying the same distance from the ball.

Forward Swing

  • Swing smooth and in balance.
  • You may choose to hold off releasing the club through impact. This decision has to be made before you address the ball. Holding off the release will produce a higher ball flight with less curve to the left.

Finish Position

  • It’s simple…try to hold your balance.
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Ball Position (right-handed golfer)

Ball position has been a long debated topic among golfers, everyone has an opinion. Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus played all of their standard full swing shots with a constant ball position. Hogan played his ball position about 1 inch inside his left heel for every club. Nicklaus played the ball off of his left heel for every club. Other great players have talked about playing your longer clubs forward in your stance and the shorter clubs more in the middle. Who’s wrong? Nobody. You have to play a ball position which allows you to be you’re most consistent.

You have to consider the club you are going to swing. Is it a long or short club? You should set the width of your stance based on the lengthof the club. The longer the club, the wider the stance, and the shorter the club, the closer your feet should be together. Longer clubs naturally swing on a wider arc than shorter clubs; therefore you need a wider base to support the arc when swinging the longer club. Naturally, the arc made by a shorter club is not as wide and you can get the proper swing arc support from a narrower base. The width of stance adjustment effectively changes the ball position.

Here is an example: Tee-up your driver with your feet together. Now the ball position is off your left heel and in the middle of your stance, you are centered over the ball. As you widen your stance by spreading your right foot out, the ball position is effectively moved forward because your center hasmoves back. That’s how Hogan and Nicklaus did it.

The bottom line, you need a ball position which allows each club to pass through impact with the proper angle of approach. Here are some margins to consider when making a standard full swing from a level surface:

Driver – This is your longest club and should be your widest stance with your heels just outside your shoulders. Your ball position should be forward, near your left heel. Slight adjustments are fine, but, no father than an inch away from your left heel forward or back.

Fairway Woods – The width of your stance should be approximately the same as with driver, heels just outside your shoulders. Narrowingyour stance slightly 1-2 inches might work better for your. The ball position should be forward, near your left heel. An adjustment option couldbe moving the ball no more than 1-2 inches inside your left heel.

Hybrids and Long Irons – Your stance should be approximately shoulder width apart, your heels under your shoulders. The ball position should be forward, near your left heel. An adjustment option could be moving the ball no more than 1-2 inches inside your left heel.

Mid Irons (5,6,7) – Your stance should be approximately shoulder width apart, your heels under your shoulders. The ball position should be about2 inches inside your left heel. Any adjustments from here should be minor.

Short Irons (8,9&wedges) – Your stance should be relatively narrow, your heels just inside your shoulders. The ball position should beabout 2-3 inches inside your left heel. Any adjustments from here should be minor.

All of this boils down to: Change the width of your stance based on the length of the club you are going to swing.

Driver is off the left heel

Fairway Woods, Long Irons, Hybrids, and Mid Irons are within 2 inches of your left heel.

Short Irons are within 2-3 inches of your left heel.

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When the Ball is Below Your Feet (right-handed golfer)

When the ball is below your feet, the distance between the ball and your swing center is farther apart than normal as you prepare to take your stance. If you know how to adjust your set up and swing, it only takes a little practice to handle this shot. Here are the steps to playing solid and consistent shots when the ball is below your feet.

When preparing for all shots you should have a consistent pre-shot routine!

Set-Up

  • Place your feet farther apart than normal. This will lower your center slightly and help you maintain your balance throughout the swing.
  • Feel like you are in a seated position with your weight in your heels.
  • Bend from the waist as you would for a normal shot on a flat surface. Then bend your knees more than normal to lower yourself enough so youcan comfortably reach the ball.
  • Utilize the full length of the club.
  • The best way to determine ball position is to make a few practice swings near the ball and see where the bottom of your swing occurs. Then play the ball just behind the bottom of your swing, we always want to "hit down on the ball". In this instance your ball position should be pretty close to normal.
  • Aim to the left. The more the ball is below your feet the more you should aim to the left. The ball will go right because the swing plane has to be very vertical to ensure solid contact with the ball.

Backswing

  • Swing your arms and the club on a more upright plane or more vertically than normal. The more the ball is below your feet the more upright your swing should be.
  • Remain seated. Keep your knees flexed. Focus on keeping your head the same distance from the ball.
  • Only swing back as far as you can while maintaining your balance. Minimize your leg action and focus on your head staying the same distance from the ball.

Forward Swing

  • Remain seated.
  • Stay in your shot.
  • Keep a lot of flex in your knees through impact and do not change your spine angle, stay bent over.

Finish Position

  • It’s simple…try to hold your balance.
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Pitching (right-handed golfer)

A pitch is a shot which emphasizes loft and allows for roll. Pitches fly higher and farther than a chip shot, but, lower and shorter than a full swing shot. Here are the steps to playing solid and consistent pitch shots.

When preparing for all shots you should have a consistent pre-shot routine!

Set-Up

  • Open your stance
  • Place your feet close together, about 6-8" apart.
  • Play the ball position in the middle of your stance. To play a high pitch shot, play the ball a little more forward.
  • Your grip pressure should be based on the lie of the ball. With a clean lie you should have a soft pressure to increase feel. If the ball is in thick, heavy, or long rough you will need firmer grip pressure to resist the clubs desire to twist as it swings through impact. When you havea firmer grip pressure you will have less feel.

Backswing

  • Similar to the "Feet Together Drill", make your backswing by turning your body and using your arms and hands normally.
  • Controlling the amount of wrist hinge and size of your backswing will help you control the speed of the swing and therefore the distance of the shot. Make a bigger backswing with more wrist hinge for longer pitches and a shorter backswing with less wrist hinge for shorter pitches.
  • Focus on the feeling the weight of the club by keeping your arms and hands as relaxed as the lie allows.
  • Because this is not a shot where we are trying to maximize distance but rather be precise with our distance there is no need to transfer weight during the backswing.

Forward Swing

  • Continue to feel the weight of the club by keeping your arms and hands as relaxed as the lie allows.
  • Rotate your torso through impact as your arms and hands swing smoothly to strike the ball first and then the ground.
  • The club must accelerate through impact. This does not mean swing as fast as you can. The rate of acceleration is a choice you need to make prior to swinging. The ability to control the rate of acceleration allows you to control the distance the ball will travel.
  • Let your weight shift slightly into your left side.

Finish Position

  • Your follow through should be approximately the size of your backswing favoring a longer finish which helps ensure acceleration through impact.
  • Your arms, hands, and body should be soft and relaxed and your torso should be facing the target.
  • Finish in balance with a majority of your weight on your left side.
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Green Side Bunker Shots (right-handed golfer)

The two most common mistakes when playing greenside bunker shots are, an improper set up, and a lack of acceleration through impact. Here are the steps to playing solid and consistent green side bunker shots.

When preparing for all shots you should have a consistent pre-shot routine!

Set-Up

  • Open your stance (see open stance)
  • Place your feet approximately shoulder width apart and wiggle them securely down into the sand.
  • Play the ball forward in your stance, somewhere between your left instep and heel.
  • Lean some weight into your left leg.
  • Open the clubface (see open clubface).

Backswing

  • Make a normal full backswing. There is no weight shift. Stay on your left side.

Forward Swing

  • You must hit the sand!!! Try to enter the sand 2-3" behind the ball. ake hitting the sand your primary goal!
  • You must accelerate through impact!!! Contact with the sand slows the club speed. The farther behind the ball you enter the sand, the faster you should be swinging!

Finish Position

  • You should have almost all of your weight on your left leg now and the clubhead should have traveled as much as it did in your backswing.
  • If faced with an uphill or downhill lie set your hips and shoulders with the slope (see uphill & downhill lies).
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Chipping (right-handed golfer)

The chip is a short, low trajectory shot played to the green or from trouble back into play. Here are the steps to playing solid and consistent chip shots.

When preparing for all shots you should have a consistent pre-shot routine!

Set-Up

  • Place your feet close together, about 4-6" apart.
  • Open your stance slightly (see open stance)
  • Stand closer to the ball than normal.
  • Lean some weight into your left leg.
  • Play the ball position slightly back of center in your stance.
  • Your arms and hands should be very close to you.
  • Lean the shaft toward the target generally pointing to your left thigh. This will de-loft the club slightly.
  • Your grip pressure should be based on the lie of the ball. With a clean lie you should have a soft pressure to increase feel. If the ball is in thick, heavy, or long rough you will need firmer grip pressure to resist the clubs desire to twist as it swings through impact. When you have a firmer grip pressure you will have less feel.

Backswing

  • With soft grip pressure move the club back with a combination of arm-swing and a little body rotation. There is no weight-shift to the right side when chipping. Keep your weight on your left leg.

Forward Swing

  • Keep your arms and hands close to you and your grip pressure constant as you rotate everything through impact. Consistency comes from using the bigger muscles and taking the hands out of play as much as possible.

Finish Position

  • All of your weight should be on your left leg.
  • Your wrist angles should resemble the same position created when you starting positions which were formed in the Set-Up should remain the same.
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Drive it Farther (right-handed golfer)

The keys to distance are simple. Apply the 4 Impact Conditions (Face Angle, Path, and Angle of Approach, Centeredness of Contact) and add speed. Speed is attained through the proper sequencing of body parts. Here are the keys to gaining more speed in your swing.

When preparing for all shots you should have a consistent pre-shot routine!

Set-Up

  • Take a slightly wider stance than normal.
  • If you want to hit a draw, close your stance slightly.
  • Relax your grip pressure.

Backswing

  • Make a full shoulder turn, at least 90 degrees and allow some weight to shift into your right leg.
  • Keep your left arm extended. Some of the best players in the world have a little bend in their left arm so clearly it’s ok but I prefer fewer moving parts for more consistent solid contact.
  • Maintain a relaxed grip pressure.

Forward Swing

  • Shift your weight into your left leg and rotate your body as your arms pull into your body.
  • The most important factor is the Conservation of Angular Momentum or the delayed hit. This results when you are able to maintain the angle between your left arm and the shaft for as long as possible and still square the clubface at impact. Your left arm and club should form a straight line at, and just past impact.

Finish Position

  • This position should reflect a full unwinding of your body. It all depends on your flexibility.
  • Hold your balance, it’s critical to contact.
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Fairway Bunker Shots (right-handed golfer)

Most players have a lot of difficulty with fairway bunker shots. Usually the shot is topped or hit fat (the clubhead contacts the sand first then the ball) neither of which goes very well. The main reason for struggling is an improper Angle of Approach. A better set-up and understanding go a long way to helping ensure contact with the ball first. Here are the steps to playing solid and consistent fairway bunker shots.

When preparing for all shots you should have a consistent pre-shot routine!

Set-Up

  • Use a club with enough loft to ensure the ball will rise over any lip in front of you.
  • Place your feet shoulder width apart and wiggle them down into the sand until they are secure.
  • Distribute your weight evenly on both feet.
  • Grip down slightly, about an inch, on the club.
  • Play the ball position about an inch farther back than normal.
  • Look at the front of the ball.

Backswing

  • There is no weight shift to the right. Stay centered over the ball with a steady head.
  • Keep your lower body stable. Think of keeping your knees still as you swing your arms and the club back. This will restrict how far back you can swing so take an extra club.

Forward Swing

  • The swing has to be smooth, remember you are to take an extra club.
  • Balance is critical. Limit you leg drive by thinking about swinging with your upper body and arms. Driving your legs can cause your feet to slip and result in poor contact.
  • Contact the ball first and then the sand. Picking the ball clean can also get the job done but results in a lower trajectory, watch out for that lip.
  • Let your arms swing well past impact and again, your leg action should be minimal.

Finish Position

  • Maintain your balance.
  • A majority of your weight should be on your left leg.
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The Intentional Hook (right-handed golfer)

Having the ability to curve your ball flight intentionally allows you to maneuver around obstacles and recover from trouble areas without having to play safely to the fairway. This shot must be practiced so you can predict how much the balls flight will curve. Here are the steps to playing consistent, solid and intentional "hook" shots.

When preparing for all shots you should have a consistent pre-shot routine!

Set-Up

  • Align your stance in the direction where you want to see the ball flight begin. This should be well to the right of any obstacle you are trying to fly your ball around.
  • Place the ball position slightly farther back in your stance than normal.
  • Close the clubface. A general rule is to aim your clubface at the target (where you want the ball to end).

Backswing

  • Make your normal back swing.
  • If you would like the ball to slice severely make your backswing a little more upright than normal.

Forward Swing

  • Make your normal forward swing.
  • Keep your focus on the line you would like to initially see the ball fly. Often the mind wants to swing to the target. You must fight this instinct, start the ball far enough to the left, and trust the ball will curve to the target.
  • If you want the ball to slice severely, swing with an exaggerated outside path and hold off the release the clubhead through impact.

Finish Position

  • Hold your balance.
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Fewer Putts = Lower Scores (right-handed golfer)

There is reality in numbers – over the course of a full season, the average PGA Tour player doesn’t make as many putts as most people think. Here are some actual statistics for the average PGA Tour player. The numbers are shocking, but true.

With these statistics in mind, understand, speed is more important than line until we reach a length of putt where you have a realistic chance of making at least 50% of your attempts. Then line becomes equally as important as the speed.

  • How close do you have to be to make 50% of your putts?
  • How many times do you putt in an average round.
  • On the PGA Tour well over 100 players average lower than 30 putts per round.
  • In 2007, three players on the LPGA Tour averaged 26 putts per round!!!

Read my putting speed and line drills. They are designed to help you have better distance/speed control and increase the distance at which you make 50% of your putts.

Instead of focusing primarily on whether or not the ball has a chance to go in the hole, focus on your mechanics and feel.

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Putting Mechanics (right-handed golfer)

Stance – Start with your feet shoulder width apart. From here you can narrow or widen your feet until you feel balanced. Bend from the hips and let your arms hang comfortably. You should not feel jammed, crowded, or overly extended. There should be a slight bend in your elbows. Your feet, knees, hips, and shoulders should be parallel to your initial intended line of play.

Ball Position – The ball forward in your stance under your left eye. Here’s a quick check: put one ball in your pocket and set up over another ball getting ready to make a putt. Without moving anything but your left arm, reach into your pocket, pull the ball out and hold it about 1 inch under your left eye. Now drop the ball. If your eyes are in the proper position, the ball you dropped will strike the ball you intended to putt. If the ball you dropped missed the ball you were going to putt, try it again until you repeatedly have success.

Loft and Lie Angle – In your set-up, you should have your hands in a position where the putter is soled with neither the toe nor heel noticeably off the ground. The shaft should be straight up and down or slightly leaning forward toward the target.

Grip Pressure – Hold the putter gently. Soft hands help you feel the weight of the putter-head during the stroke. If your grip is too firm, you will lose feel and struggle with controlling the speed of your putts.

Symmetry – Practice your putting and pay close attention to the length of your stroke. The distance the putter moves past impact should be the same as the distance it moved in away from the ball in the back-stroke. The length of the stroke should be relative to the length of the putt. Shorter putts should have a shorter stroke back and through. Longer putts the putter should travel father back and farther through. If the putter moves farther past impact than on the back-stroke, you are using excessive motion. If the putter travels 8 inches on the back-stroke and only 5 inches past impact, you are decelerating the putter, introducing too much tension to the stroke and you will struggle with both speed control and line.

Putter Path – You want the path of your putter to swing slightly inside to slightly inside. Practice your path by placing the toe of your putter very close to a 2" X 4" board or a baseboard in your house or office and make symmetrical strokes. You don’t need a ball to practice the path.On the back and forward strokes the putter should move slightly away from the board. Think of the path as an arc where the pinnacle of the arc is where the ball would be. Practice your path for 3-5 minutes a day and you will engrain a good habit and improve your stroke. On small or short strokes the path might appear to be straight back and straight through and on larger or longer strokes that arc should be more noticeable.

Putter Face – Your putter face should start square to your intended line of play. During the stroke, the face of the putter should stay square to the arc your putter is following. On small or short strokes the face will appear to remain square to the line because the arc is minimal. On larger or longer strokes, the face will appear to open a little on the back stroke and close a little during the follow through.

Holding the Finish – Watch the tour players and notice how steady their head and body are when they putt. Also notice how long they hold their putter in the finished position of their stroke. You want to hold your finish because it keeps you steady and allows you the time to take in the information you are seeing as the ball rolls. This will take concentration and discipline. See if you can hold your finish until the ball stops rolling. In longer putts, 20 feet or more, hold your finish (your putter and your head) until the ball is at least half way to the hole.

Trust and Commitment – Putting is all about confidence. The more you practice your mechanics and feel, the more confidence you will have on the course. Through practice you learn to trust your feel and imagination and therefore you will be more likely to commit to your decisions and be more relaxed on the course and better able to execute. Still, we can struggle to read any given putt. When this happens, trust your initial read and commit to your stroke. We all make mistakes on the golf course. We make more mistakes when we have doubt or we are not fully committed to our decisions.

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Putting Speed Drills (right-handed golfer)

  1. Ladder Drill – Begin by placing 10 balls at one edge of the green. Aiming in the general direction of the fringe on the opposite side of the green putt the first ball any distance between 5 to 10 feet. Now putt the remaining balls trying to roll each one past the previous by not so far as to reach the fringe on the other side. This drill is excellent for feeling the different length strokes used to putt the ball different distances. Notice the length of your stroke on the first and last putts and you’ll see the difference. The better you are at this drill, the better your speed control will be.
  2. Three Tee Drill – Push 3 tees into the green at different distances. Putt with 3 balls trying to make the first ball go to the farthest tee then the middle tee and finally the closest tee. Try again going for the middle tee first then the far and near. Finish by putting to the 1st, 2nd, and then 3rd tees. Try this drill 2 or 3 times.
  3. 4 Slopes Drill – Start by standing in the center of the green with 8 balls. Looking at the fringe as a target, pick four different directions and putt one ball in each direction without reaching the fringe. Now putt the four remaining balls trying to pass the first ball but not reach the fringe and see if you can get closer in each direction. If your first ball reached the fringe, try to roll the second close to the edge without going off the green. Try this drill at least twice. This drill will help you learn to remember break and feel.
  4. 3 Foot Drill – Great for the 5 minutes you have before you tee off. Take 3 balls and find easy/straight 3 foot putts. Make as many as you can without rushing yourself. Hearing a lot of putts go in helps build confidence just before a round.
  5. Roll and Read Drill – Stand on the fringe and with your hand roll a ball onto the green trying to start the ball in the direction of a hole. Don’t try to make it, just get the ball started going straight at the hole. Observe the speed and break. Did the ball finish short, long, left, or right. After you roll 4 or 5 balls, pick them up and return to the spot from where you rolled them and read the green carefully. Trust what you saw when you rolled the ball. Notice why the ball turned right or left. You will have to figure out the adjustments necessary to putt the balls into the hole. After you determine the speed and line, make your best stroke and try to make each putt. This drill will help you make adjustments based on previous information and is very similar to seeing your playing partner putt first from a similar area on the green.
  6. Hand Toss Drill – Stand in the center of the green and roll 6 balls in different directions to the edge of the green. Walk to each ball, pick it up, and walk three steps into the rough. From there, you want to toss the ball onto the green having it land about 4 – 5 feet onto the green and then rolling back to the center where you started. You will have to remember/see the break and imagine the trajectory and speed of your toss. Uphill tosses will be lower and firmer than downhill tosses.
  7. 2 Ball Game – Use 2 balls, one with an even number and one with an odd number. Play a match play 9 or 18 hole match of odd vs. even. Putt the odd numbered ball first on the odd number holes and the even numbered ball first on the even number holes. See who wins. This drill can be fun if you can keep track of the score in your head. Don’t try harder with one ball than the other; you’ll only be cheating yourself. It will help you realize how in match play, you’re never really out of it until it’s over. If you don’t know how to score in match play, I am always glad to help.
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Putting Line Drills (right-handed golfer)

These drills should only be worked on when you have a high energy level. These drills require a highly tuned focus to be productive.

  1. Circle Drill – Lay your putter on the ground and place the head of your putter in the hole. Imagine the shaft is an hour hand on the face of a clock. Place 6 balls around the hole at different times on the imaginary clock. Each should be a putter’s length away. Try to make all the putts without missing. Continue this drill until you make all 6 putts in 2 different rounds.
  2. Drill It in the Hole – From 2 – 3 feet, take any break out by firmly putting the ball into the back of the cup. See how firm you can putt the ball before it goes over the hole. Most people are surprised how much speed it takes to make the ball roll over the hole from this distance. Then go back to making putts firmly and you will build your confidence. On the course, when faced with a short putt where you are not sure of the break, you will able to aim directly at the back of the cup and take any potential break out by drilling the ball into the hole.
  3. Push Drill – Start with your putter directly behind the ball. Without making a backstroke, push your putter forward and propel the ball to the hole. This drill should be attempted from a distance of 3 – 6 feet. It will help you feel the proper acceleration of the putter on the forward stroke and make more short putts.
  4. Toe Drill – Find a 2 – 3 foot straight putt. Take 10 balls and using the toe of your putter, see how many you can make. After you make 10 in a row, try again from a little farther away. This drill will help you keep your backstroke from going too far and force you to focus on the centeredness of impact improving your ability to hit the sweet spot on your putter.
  5. 4 Foot Drill – Use this drill when you have energy and time. Find a straight 4 foot putt and see how many in a row you can make. Take your time and grind out each putt. After 25 putts, you will have a percentage to improve on. If you make 25 in a row, next time try this drill from 5 feet. Always pay attention to your mechanics.
  6. Head Steady Drill – With 10 balls, find a straight 6 foot putt. Your goal is to putt each ball and not move your head or eyes until the ball comes to rest. Listen if the ball went in the hole or not. This will take a lot of discipline. If you are missing 5 or more, your mechanics are poor and you should pay close attention to the path and club face to improve. Do the Head Steady Drill 3 times and you will make more short putts when you play.

Practice these drills and you will increase the distance where you make 50% or your putt, lower your average putts per round, and lower your scores. One final thought. If you are not satisfied with your results after practicing these drills, you probably stand over the putt too long before starting your stroke. Good Luck!

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Alignment (right-handed golfer)

Part of your pre-shot routine should include a fundamental way to assure proper alignment for every shot. Here are the steps to ensuring proper alignment for every shot.

  • Prior to addressing the ball, you should stand, a few paces behind the ball, straddling your intended line of play.
  • From here, visualize your initial intended line of play.
  • Next, pick out an intermediate target, a spot on your line, or very close to it, which is within a few feet of your ball. This spot, or very close to it, is your intermediate target.
  • With your intermediate target in mind, address the ball and set your clubface square to your intended line of play.
  • Next, set your feet parallel to the line and prepare to execute.
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Putting - Speed is Critical (right-handed golfer)

Each week on the PGA and LPGA Tours we see the "Hot Putters". These are the men and women who are leading the tournament. We never see the players that miss or barely make the cut. The fact is; tour players on average only make 50-55% of their putts from 6 feet, 25% from 10 feet, and 10% from 15 feet. So realistically, what are your percentages? At what distance do you make 50% of your putts?

With this in mind, you should really focus on the speed of every putt more than the line. Sure you need a good line to make the putt, but it is critical you don’t give away strokes by three putting from 10 or 15 feet because you are so locked on the line and you don’t pay enough attention to the speed. Set a goal for the number of putts you think you should have for a round and if you focus on your speed, you should be able to obtain your goal. In 2007, three players on the LPGA Tour averaged only 26 putts per round!

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Seeing Your Way to Better Shots (right-handed golfer)

Visualization and imagery are keys to improving your game. Training your mind to see pictures or images of positive results frees the body of tension allowing for a smoother and more confident swing. Try closing your eyes and seeing different things like, the beach, a sunset, or any other pleasing picture. Now picture a good golf shot you have played recently. For now, it doesn’t matter what type of shot, just remember your good result.

Let’s say you hit a nice drive at the range before you go to play. You can use that visual when you are standing on the first tee. Stand a few paces behind the teed ball, standing on and looking down your intended line of play. Use imagery to place a picture of positive ball flight in your mind. After you are able to clearly visualize a positive image, you are ready to continue your pre-shot routine and make a successful swing.

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Gripping the Club (right-handed golfer)

There are 3 basic terms used when talking about the grip, Strong, Weak, and Neutral. These terms do not refer to the amount of pressure with which you hold the club. Strong, weak, and neutral refer to the positioning of the hands in either a clockwise or counterclockwise manner. The way you grip your club determines how you have to swing to produce straight shots.

With a Strong Grip you have to move your body laterally though impact and hold off the release of the club-head or you will hit hooks.

A strong grip describes an exaggerated rotation of the hands in a clockwise position when placed on the club.

With a Weak Grip you have to rotate (release) the clubface a tremendous amount through impact and timing is near impossible to repeat. Most shots probably feel weak, travel only a short distance, and fade or slice.

A weak grip describes an exaggerated rotation of the hands in a counterclockwise position when placed on the club.

With a Neutral Grip a free release of the clubhead through impact produces long and straight shots.

A neutral grip describes a placement of the hands on the club where neither hand is rotated clockwise or counterclockwise in an exaggerated manner.

All that said, I teach and play with a Neutral grip. But there are margins (see margins) and often I will encourage or allow student to use a slightly strong grip to produce their best results. This margin allows you to swing within your body type and general swing shape. Finally, any time I change a students grip, it is with the purpose of improving their game! Changing your grip always, always, always feels uncomfortable and even wrong at first. Some students claim they feel like they don’t have a really good grip on the club. They are only talking about what they feel. After a few swings, some straighter shots, and positive results, the new grip starts to feel more comfortable.

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Understanding Margins (right-handed golfer)

By studying the best players over the past 30 years I have come to at least one very clear understanding. PGA, European, and LPGA Tour players use a variety of swing shapes, equipment, philosophy’s, and grip styles, and no 2 golfers are the same. Some players swing on a more vertical plane and other swing on a flatter plane. Some play with a neutral grip and others play with a strong grip. Some use their hands a lot through impact and others use their body rotation. Some take big divots while others pick the ball or only take divots with shorter clubs. One thing is for sure...they are all incredible through impact! You don’t have to swing like Tiger Woods to play well. You have to swing your club through positions with a tempo, rhythm, sequence, and balance which produces square and solid contact. This comes much more easily when you swing within the margins set by the variances found in the games of the best players in the world. There are world class players with very unique swings, not many of them though. These swings are not said to be fundamentally aesthetic and should be left only to the most talented of athletes. If you are a good player and you swing outside the margins...you have talent and a great short game!

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Understanding Impact (right-handed golfer)

There are 4 key factors to producing solid and straight shots.

  1. Have a near square clubface (square to your intended line of play) at impact. If your clubface is closed to your line of play, the ball will go to the left every time. If your clubface is open to your line of play, the ball will go to the right every time. The clubface angle is the number one factor in determining the direction the ball will fly.
  2. The path your clubhead travels through impact needs to be nearly straight down your line-of-play. You can swing from the inside or from the outside (over the top); just make sure not to go to extremes. A swing where the clubhead travels down the line-of-play through impact, with a square clubface at impact, produces no side-spin and results in perfectly straight shots.
  3. Centeredness of contact. Making contact on the sweet spot results in the best transfer of kinetic energy and displaces no torque on the club.
  4. Here is the most difficult factor to incorporate into most amateurs swings. The Angle of Approach. You may know the phrases "Hit down on the ball", or "Let the club do the work." Here is what they mean. When the ball is on the ground, the clubhead should swing through impact striking the ball first and then striking the ground. Your divot should come after the ball!!! The center of the divot is where the clubhead bottomed-out. On a tour level the bottom of the swing is about 4-5" after the ball. That is the way golf clubs are designed to work and it is a major factor in creating spin.
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Swing Drills (right-handed golfer)

Feel More Release

If you have trouble squaring the clubface through impact, here is a great drill to help develop the feel of releasing, the "¼ Release Drill".

Set-Up

  • Stand as you would to make a normal shot.
  • Now turn your feet and body to the right, about 45 degrees or a ¼ turn. Your back should now face more of the target.
  • Play the ball position off your right heel.
  • Set the clubface square to the line of play.

Backswing

  • Make your normal backswing.

Forward Swing

  • Swing smoothly.
  • Allow or cause the clubface to release through impact. If the ball goes straight or left, you released.
  • The goal is to "feel" the clubface squaring through impact (release).

Finish Position

  • Complete your swing normally.
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Preventing Lateral Movement - Swaying or Sliding (right-handed golfer)

The lower body is supposed to support the upper body during the swing. However, many golfers swing with too much lateral movement. Here are the steps to prevent too much lateral movement in your swing, the "feet together drill."

Set-Up

  • Prepare normally with one exception.
  • Place your feet together so touch each other or are within about 4 inches from each other.

Backswing

  • Make your backswing by turning your body and using your arms and hands normally.
  • Focus on the feeling your weight between your feet while you swing to the top.
  • If you sway or slide, you will lose your balance and have to start over.

Forward Swing

  • Make your normal forward swing.
  • Focus on the feeling of your legs as supports for your rotating torso and arm swing.

Finish Position

  • Hold your finish and maintain your balance.
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