Golf - Techniques - Brand New!
Here is a recap of the e-course schedule:
Part 1: Equipment
Part 2: The Mental Game Of Golf
Part 3: Driving The Ball
Part 4: Fairway Shots
Part 5: Chipping
Part 6: Putting
Part 7: Common Problems With A Swing
Part 1: Believe it or not, the equipment you use in your golf game can truly make a difference in how well you strike the ball. With new technologies in club designs and materials used to make the clubs, you can get overwhelmed at the various choices you will have when buying golf equipment. Weíll look at this section from the perspective of your skill level.
Beginner Ė Average scores over 100
Because you are just learning the game, you will want to have clubs that are more forgiving when you make bad shots Ė and those bad shots will come. The beginning golfer should be looking for clubs that are the most forgiving when the ball is struck off-center. Perimeter-weighted clubs place the most weight of the club around the edges, which prevents the club head from turning with a poorly hit shot.
If you would like something that makes it very easy to get the ball in the air, you should look for irons that have more sole weighting. Sole weighting lowers the center of gravity by putting the weight under the ball, helping to get it in the air quicker.
Titanium is stronger, denser and lighter than steel, thus the club head can be made larger with the same amount of material. A larger head also means the size of the sweet spot will be larger. Since off-center shots will make you lose distance, a larger sweet spot will be the most forgiving.
Some heads feature an offset design to prevent your shots spinning left-to-right and giving a straighter ball flight.
The offset means the face is slightly behind the hostel of the club head. This gives you an extra split second in the swing to get the face back to the square position.
For your driver, the larger the head the more forgiving it will be. These are all going to have the largest face, producing the largest sweet spot. This is very important, since a beginner doesnt always hit the ball right in the middle of the clubface. (Studies have shown you lose 10 yards for every 1/8 of an inch you miss the sweet spot!!!)
For fairway woods, the lower profile woods make it easier to get the ball airborne, as the weight is mostly below the center of the ball.
Graphite shafts are the most forgiving shafts for poorly hit shots. They absorb the vibration like a shock absorber, allowing for a much better feeling shot. Graphite shafts are lighter weight, so you will pick up some swing speed which will give you more distance. For this reason graphite shafts are more popular than steel shafts in the metal woods when distance is your primary goal.
Steel shafts dont feel as soft, and they are heavier, but they are more accurate than graphite. For this reason, they are usually better for the irons, since you are less concerned with distance and more concerned with accuracy since you are hitting into greens and at the pin.
Part 2: The Mental Game Of Golf
When you begin to address the golf ball and prepare for your swing, itís essential that you have a sense of relaxation.
If you are tense when you swing your club, the chances of you hitting a bad shot are increased by leaps and bounds. However, you donít want to be TOO relaxed lest your grip isnít tight enough to hit the ball solidly.
Without relaxation, it is more difficult to maintain your tempo or rhythm from swing to swing and stay in good balance from start to finish. Because it is essential for the golf swing to function properly, relaxation of the mind and body should be our first priority. Please keep in mind that this also applies to the short game, even though I will be referring to the full swing.
Tension restricts movement. A quiet, relaxed mind and body allows you to swing more freely. Simply stated, muscle groups respond more easily to a natural, balanced swing motion.
If your mind is tense, your muscles will be too. If you have had a hectic day at work or at home, chances are you will take that tension and anxiety to the first tee. This tension not only causes tight muscles, but can also increase the speed of your swing.
When that happens, the little muscles (hands and arms) take over the big muscles (shoulders, hips, and legs) throughout the golf swing. The big muscle groups cannot move as fast as the little muscles. All body parts must be given time to do their jobs efficiently and in harmony.
First, clear your mind. Picture your mind as a blackboard, and written on it are all the thoughts and happenings of the day. The key is that youve got the eraser! Erase your mind of everything and take a moment to put yourself in an environment that makes you relaxed, quiet and happy.
Envision yourself listening to soft music, reading a good book, relaxing in your favorite chair, strolling in the park, hiking, fishing, walking on the beach, or simply being in the mountains.
Basically, pick whatever image that helps you relax, and then put your mind and senses in that personal place. Be explicit.
Actually hear the music or the waves. Feel the warm breeze or the water flowing around your body. See the mountains in all their glory. Smell the flowers. Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Allow your mind and body to come down so that you can be up and ready to play a good round of golf. Now your mind and body can focus more clearly on one shot, one hole at a time.
Part 3: Driving The Ball
While driving the golf ball might seem like a simple process, it really isnít. Some seasoned golfers just look at driving the ball as a simple process. ďGrip it and rip itĒ is a common phrase you can hear on many tee boxes. However, there are some things you can do to get more distance on your drives.
First and foremost, you need to be relaxed when you begin addressing the ball. You must be loose before pulling back the club. Do not tighten up over the golf ball. It is important to waggle the club back and forth a few times in order to create some flow to start the golf swing. This action will promote proper rhythm and tempo.
Teeing the ball higher will aid in hitting the ball farther. By teeing the ball higher, it will help achieve better launch angle and reduce backspin at impact. This will allow the ball to be hit on the up-swing - producing more carry and distance.
One of the most valuable pieces of advice this recreational golfer ever received was to look at the back of the ball. Itís easy to take your gaze off of that little white orb, but if you are not looking at the ball before you hit it, you will be more likely to miss it.
You will want to have a wider stance in order to gain more stability in your backswing. Approximately sixty percent of your body weight on the left side to gain a more powerful coil. If youíre right handed, point your left toe more inline to the target. Youíll need to swing harder and put more of your right hand into hitting the ball, and take advantage of all of the elements Ė especially the wind, if there is any.
When youre at the top of your backswing, be sure to turn your shoulders a full 90 degrees. Your back should actually be facing the target. Look at John Daly when he drives the golf ball. He has a massive shoulder turn. Many players ask him all the time how he does it. He says its due to having a sound technique and a wide swing arc. He always has a rhythm to his golf swing and is never out of sync on his swing.
Part 4: Fairway Shots
Once you have driven off the tee box, you will probably be faced with a second shot, hopefully from the fairway. Of course, we hope that youíve been able to make it to the green, but on longer par 5 holes, thatís just not realistic for most golfers.
The lie of the ball in a fairway shot will dictate how you hit your next shot. In some friendly games, your opponents may allow you to put the ball up on some grass. This will emulate, in a way, a tee since you cannot use a tee with a fairway shot. In tournaments or serious money games, you will probably have to play the ball as it lies, so itís a good idea to know how to hit an effective fairway shot.
Many inexperienced golfers are intimidated by the fairway shot. They will often baby their swing and not hit the ball fully. This is a huge mistake. Golf clubs are designed to work with a full golf swing and do a specific job, so choose a club that matches your distance from the hole and then take a full swing. Donít be afraid that youíll overshoot the hole. If youíve picked the right club, youíll get to the green.
Aim your left shoulder (the right one if youíre a southpaw) at your target Ė the flag. Your hands should be in front of the ball at impact. Keep the same swing motions as if you are driving the ball. To help square your clubface, try to touch your left forearm with your right forearm at impact.
If you are in deep grass, the main idea is to get the ball up in the air. That means you will want a club that has a lot of loft. That means an 8 or 9 iron ideally. However, remember that you will most likely not get a lot of distance with these smaller clubs.
When you swing, be sure and follow through after impact. The laws of physics dictate that when you strike the ball, it will be carried through and into the air as your arms bring the club back up.
Your technique on deep grass shots should be geared toward minimizing the intervention of the grass. In other words, you want to hit the ball as cleanly as possible. To do that, you need to move the ball back in your stance.
If, for instance, on a 5-iron shot from the fairway you position the ball off your left heel, move it back to a spot an inch to the right of your heel for a shot from the rough.
This ball position should leave your hands slightly ahead of the clubface at address. From that setup youll tend to swing the club up a bit more vertically on the backswing and return it a bit more steeply to the ball. With this steeper attack the clubface will come down on the ball rather than brush through the grass.
For really deep grass, again, the idea is to minimize the presence of the grass and how it will affect your shot. Once again, play the ball back in your stance, but this time, play it two inches back instead of one, because youre going to have to go down after the ball.
Part 5: Chipping
This is the part of golf that many golfers have the most trouble with. Because chipping requires a bit of finesse, itís much easier to flub a shot or overshoot the hole. There are some good techniques you can use when chipping the ball up onto the green.
There are two parts to a successful short game: the plan and the execution. The plan is simply defining your shot before you play it. You should determine where you plan to land the ball and how far it will roll. The plan should include landing the ball on the green whenever possible and playing the best percentage shot. The best percentage shot is usually the one that is simplest to execute.
Since you are hitting the ball a shorter distance than with a full swing, you should choke up on the club, narrow your stance, and stand closer to the ball. Picture the shot youre about to play and make a practice swing to approximate the swing youll need. The club should be swung with arms and shoulders, with some wrist break. The key to shots around the green is to keep the arms moving.
As with other golf shots, picking the right club is essential to an effective chip. First of all, chip shots are essentially those played from right off the green. Most are otherwise known as bump and runs. Dont confuse them with pitches, which are lofted shots with a sand-wedge.
Many of us have been taught over the years to get the ball on the green as soon as possible and let it roll to the hole. There is nothing wrong with this. This is fine.
The issue of concern, however, is when golfers go about playing different length of chips with an assortment of clubs. They hit a 9-iron if the flag is 20 feet away, 8-iron thirty feet, 7-iron forty feet, etc. You should really just choose ONE club to hit all of your bump and runs with, and adjust for the distance with the force of your swing.
It can be a 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, wedge, or sand wedge. It doesnt matter that much. A great player, Phil Mickelson, likes to use his sand wedge in just about every case. He will play it far back in his stance, with his hands way ahead to bump it. On the other hand, Corey Pavin often uses a 5-iron around the green. He just taps it and the ball goes scurrying across the green with a lot of topspin.
These are extremes, however. You should pick a 7, 8, or 9-iron. I, personally, like to use a 9-iron for chipping. I know how the ball is going to come off of the club because thats the one I practice with all the time. I have tried using a 7-iron on longer chips, but the ball seems to explode off the club face because I am not sure the proper force that I need to use.
The art of chipping is hard enough without having to master four or five clubs. Practice with a couple at first. You should hit short bump and runs from the fringe and then longer bump and runs from in front of the green.
Part 6: Putting
Again, many golfers have trouble with their putting. I know of one experienced golfer who can consistently drive the ball 250 to 300 yards only to get on the green and three putt.
Nothing frustrates him more, but putting is an important part of your golf game Ė possibly THE most important part.
Stroking the ball is only one part of putting. To putt effectively, you first need to know how to read a green. That means looking at the trajectory your ball will travel and compensate for any dips, hills, or anything else that could cause your ball to move a specific way.
Good green reading comes with experience. After hitting enough putts over enough different types of terrain and grass, you develop a sixth sense of how the ball will roll. As you walk onto a green, whether you realize it or not, you take in all sorts of subtle information.
If the green appears light, you know youre putting against the grain; if its dark youre down grain. If the green is set on a high area of the course and you feel a breeze as you step onto it, you sense that the putt will be fast. Even if you dont look closely at the surrounding terrain, you are aware of any major slope in the land.
Without having to tell yourself, you know which the low side of the green is and which the high is. If the putting surface is hard and crusty under foot, you receive one message; if its soft and spongy you get another. Experience with many, many putts allows you to run this data through your computer before you even mark your ball.
The most elusive aspect of green reading has to do with the grain. Grain refers to the direction in which the blades of grass grow. The light/dark appearance is one way to read it.
Another method you can use is to take your putter blade and scrape it across a patch of fringe. If the blades of grass brush up, youre scraping against the grain. If they mat down, youre scraping with it. (Incidentally, be sure to do this scraping on the fringe. On the greens, its against Rule 35-1f.)
A third method is to take a look at the cup. Often, the blades of grass will grow over the edge of the cup in the direction in which the grain moves. Incidentally, grain usually grows toward water, especially toward the ocean, and in the East its apt to lean toward the mountains. If youre not near any such topography, figure on the grain growing in the direction of the setting sun.
Part 7: Common Problems With A Swing
Many golfers have worked for years and years trying to perfect their swing and improve their game. However, problems do arise. They come about mostly because golfers tend to forget the basic mechanics of the game and start playing sloppy.
A slice is a specific left-to-right trajectory shape for a golf ball created by a significant tilt of the spin-axis of the golf ball to the right, or a clockwise spin. This is opposite for lefties. A slice usually ends up right of the target line, and the term is often used when the curve in the trajectory is extreme and unintentional. The less extreme version of a slice is called a fade.
In understanding the basics of the golf swing, in order to hit the ball squarely and straight every time, you must return to the original spot at impact. A slice is caused by the club face being slightly open at the point of impact, thus causing the ball to spin in a clockwise motion, (opposite for lefties). In most cases the swing path is correct, but the golf ball is not being hit squarely at the point of impact, commonly caused by what is known as a weak grip.
A second factor that causes a golf slice may be swing speed and shaft stiffness. If you use a stiff shaft driver try a regular flex or mid flex shaft and that may correct your problem.
The simplest fix for a slice is in the grip. By having a weak grip, a grip that is turned more counter-clockwise, (opposite for lefties), can cause the club face to open at the time of impact.
You should start by turning your grip slightly to the right, (left for lefties), thus giving you a stronger grip, not holding the club more tightly. Remember the basics and only hold the club tight enough to keep control. You should not have any tension on your wrist and forearms.
You may want to try increasing your swing speed by pulling the club farther back before swinging to fix your golf slice. When you increase your swing speed you can gain yardage and will hit the fairways more often.