TIPS FOR GOLFERS
Broome Park Hotel, Head of Golf, Tim Holden and East Sussex National, Golf Pro, Jack Budgen, share their golf tips to help you improve at home
The Pitch Shot
L to L Swing
A Pitch is classed as a shot played from around 20-80 yards away from the hole. This is where the ball would fly through the air more than it rolls across the green. It’s a shot that strikes fear in the mind of the amateur golfer because it is usually played over an obstacle like a bunker, water hazard or penalty area.
Mastering the technique is vital for beginners being able to get the ball in the air the first time. And for the expert player in improved their scoring ability.
Setup with your feet inside a couple of inches apart. Weight 60% - 40% in favour of your front foot.
Position the ball opposite your centre.
For the right handed golfer. Feel your left arm swing across your chest in the backswing and left thumb up to form an ‘L’ shape.
And in the follow through pivot onto your left leg and strike the ball then divot (pivot=divot).
You should then feel your right arm swing across your chest in the finish and right thumb up to form a final ‘L’ shape. With the right knee kicking in (as demonstrated in the pictures above).
Being able to execute this shot well, will knock shots off your score.
Following on from last weeks instalment of forming the capital ‘Y’ position for putting. We continue with that same theme for chipping, which is a shot where your ball has come to rest just off the green and you’re looking for the ball to roll across green more than it flies through the air.
I recommend golfers use the lower case ‘y’ shape for chipping the ball onto the green and maintain it throughout the swing. This all can be set up before you swing club;
Use a narrow stance with front foot dropped behind your back foot.
Position the ball in the centre of your stance opposite your sternum.
Lean the top half of your body towards the green. So that your hands fall ahead of the ball and the club shaft, arms form a baby ‘y’ shape.
To really gain the feel for this technique hold an alignment stick at the same time as the club (as I’m doing here). Make sure the stick doesn’t hit your left hip in the follow through, this will help you guarantee the strike and improve your distance control for those chip shots.
N.B. Please remember tips are for race horses, please book a golf lesson with us to really improve your game :)
Putting is without doubt the most crucial part of the game. Quite simply, the golf pro who putts the best usually wins the tournament.
Mastering the technique is easy, I've seen children as young as three putt really well.
All you’ve got to do is:
Stand with your feet inside shoulder width.
Place the ball inside your left (front) foot
Aim the putter face down your intended start line.
Form a capital ‘Y’ between your arms and the club.
From there it’s important that ‘Y’ shape doesn’t breakdown during the stroke and you keep the length of backswing and the follow through the same. As you’ll see here, I’m tucking a club under each armpit and holding them in my grip at the same time as the putter to ensure I’ve got the right feeling. Give it a try!
Understanding your divot patterns
With any shot you hit - and we're not just talking about your short game here - there are always invaluable clues to look out for that will tell you a lot about your swing. One important piece of evidence that should never be overlooked is your divot pattern. If you are trying to hit a straight shot (as opposed to a fade or a draw) your divot should really point directly at where you were aiming. How often do yours point left or right?
What divots can tell you
If your divots consistently point to the left of your target, this is evidence of an out-to-in swing path. In this case your common shot shapes will either be pulls, fades or slices.
Alternatively, if your divots are aiming well right of the target the club will be moving from too far inside to outside the ball-to-target line. In this instance, the family of shots that you are likely to hit will be pushes, draws and hooks (depending on the clubface angle at impact).
The photographs here illustrate how the club is likely to be travelling for out-to-in, neutral and in-to-out swing paths. If your divots are pointing right or left of the target and your shots are finishing off-line you should now be able to diagnose the fault.
Greenside Bunker Shot
- Aim of the shot is to loft the ball over the lip of the bunker with a high, soft landing trajectory, with little roll out.
- The best club to use is the most loft you have in the bag, likely to be a Sand or Lob wedge (56 degrees or more).
- Club face should be open prior to taking hold of the grip (see week 1 tips). This will have the club pointing to the right of the target for the right handed golfer and increase the loft to help get the ball out of the bunker.
- Your stance will require the feet to be about shoulder width apart, with your weight being on your lead side approximately 60/40.
- Wiggle your feet into the sand which will help you be able to get the club into the sand and under the ball. This is also a great way to test the sand within the rules.
- Align the shoulder parallel to the target, with the feet slightly open. The reason we slightly open the stance is so that it is easier for us to rotate in the through swing, creating and in to in swing path.
- The ball should be moved around 1 ball forward of the middle of our stance. This makes it easier to contact the sand first and maintain the increase in loft of the club at the time of impact.
- You will want to be striking the sand at the midway point of your stance. This will allow there to be a cushion of sand between the club and the ball creating the desired soft landing shot.
- The club should be smoothly accelerating through the sand.
- The swing itself is very similar to the pitch where we want the length of the back swing to be appropriate to the length of shot required and the through swing to be at least the same distance if not longer.
Iron Play, The Angle of Attack
With your irons in hand, the contact you are looking for is ball first, turf second. Many amateurs think the divot is created beneath the ball but this is a misconception, the divot should only start once you have struck the ball.
Here is a great drill designed to help you find the ideal angle of attack that leads to a ball first, turf second contact.
Place a tee peg in the ground just in front of your ball as shown here. Take your normal address position but instead of focusing on striking the ball, concentrate on clipping the tee. If you have been struggling with your ball striking, this drill should help you find the right angle of attack with your irons.
Hybrid Club Essentials
For many of you, your hybrids have become invaluable additions to the bag. One of their great strengths is the versatility they offer, allowing you to hit powerful shots from a range of different lies.
From the Fairway
From a good lie on the fairway, the ball should sit fairly central in your stance - just as you would have it for a longer iron. One of the big mistakes I see is when players treat their hybrids like fairway woods, setting the ball too far forward in the stance. This will often cause you to lean back on the shot through impact resulting in a range of poor strikes. Make sure that your chest is over the ball at address and that you make a solid turn from there without swaying or falling off the shot.
From the Rough
From the rough your hybrids will come into their own. Simply move the ball a fraction further back in your stance and place your hands slightly further down the grip than usual. Remember to stay down over the shot and let the loft of the club get the ball into the air for you. These adjustments will enable you to strike the ball before the grass and make the most of the technology on offer.
Driving: Create yourself a launch pad
Here’s a great drill to unleash your best drive of the day.
-Position yourself on an upslope and practice making swings from low-to-high. Feel as though, you’re playing top spin forehand in tennis.
-Then move back to the level teeing ground and recreate the same feeling. As tour pro’s say, tee it high and let it fly!
-The beauty of this drill is that it promotes a high launch to your ball flight and a low amount of spin. Great for maximising your distance off the tee! Happy Golfing
You will often hear golf professionals talk about the body as the engine of the swing but what exactly do we mean? To create effortless power, your upper body needs to turn against your lower body. This means that at the top of the backswing your back should be facing the target while your hips will have only rotated about 45 degrees. This is of course, this is just a textbook guide, the amount you are able to turn will depend on your flexibility but this should still give you an idea of the basic principle we are talking about here. The difference between the amount of turn in your upper body versus a stable lower body creates torque. This is stored energy that will add speed to your downswing.
We see a lot of players who, on the face of it complete their backswings but on closer inspection are only swinging their arms - the upper body is not turning against the lower body. This is a weak position that is doing nothing to help you hit your power potential.
Try placing the shaft of your driver across your shoulders and make your normal backswing. Depending on your level of flexibility the butt of the grip should point to the right of the ball (as you look) and not to the left. A good test to see if you are creating resistance is to hold this position for a few seconds. If it's hard to hold, you are producing and storing power for later in the swing. If you feel no tension, a lack of resistance is costing you power.
The Power Platform
To get the most from your driver, you need to be in the best possible position at address. Get the set up right and you'll be able to make a powerful, balanced swing that delivers consistently long, straight drives.
The ideal ball position with a driver is forward in your stance, just inside your left heel. This will create a small amount of shoulder tilt - your left will be higher than your right. This will help you strike the ball slightly on the upswing optimising your ball flight for maximum distance.
Posture and alignment
Now concentrate on two of golf's most important fundamentals - posture and alignment. Take care to line the clubface up with your target first. Once you have done that, set your stance - your feet, hips and shoulders should all be parallel to your ball to target line. One common mistake is to aim your feet at the target but this simple error will lead to a closed stance.
For an athletic posture, set your upper body in position by bending from the hips, keeping your back straight. Letting your back hunch over will affect both the swing path and the quality of your ball striking. Allow for some flex in your knees and set a little more weight on your left side. In the ideal position you should feel both balanced and athletic.
You should now be in the perfect position to hit a powerful, accurate drive. Any small mistakes here can have a big impact on the shots you hit.
Understanding Why Pulls and Slices Are Linked
There are a few things more demoralising in golf than hitting your iron shots left and your woods shots with a slice that finish in trouble on the right. The question is; how can you hit two completely different shots from seemingly the same swing?
The good news is that the pull and slice are very closely linked and I am going to show you why here. Let's presume you have taken a solid address position and are nicely aligned. You reach the top of the swing and then your right shoulder initiates the downswing. This causes the club to work from outside to inside the ball-to-target line through impact. As the club cuts across the ball you'll hit one of three shots.
If the clubface is square to the swing path, you'll hit a pull. If the clubface is fractionally open to the swing path you'll hit a fade. Finally, if the face is pointing at or close to the target, a big slice will drift further and further right. The reason that your irons will often go left and your driver slices out to the right is because the extra loft on the iron will deliver more backspin and less side spin.
Slices and pulls are closely linked but understanding exactly where the problem is stemming from is the tricky part.
Understanding why Pushes and Hooks are Linked
Pushes and hooks are part of the same family of shots and they stem from the way in which the club travels through impact.
Let's presume that you have taken a good set up position and are nicely aligned. As the club works through the downswing, it attacks the ball from too far inside the ball-to-target line. If the face of the club is square to the swing path, you will hit a straight push that finishes well to the right of the target. If the face is pointing at the target at impact, a low hook that swings viciously left is the likely outcome.
For any ambitious golfer, it is important to understand why you are hitting certain shots. The root cause of the problem in this instance could be a range of different things and identifying where it is coming from and putting it right is essential.
Understanding the Bounce Angle on a Wedge
Consider your wedge line-up
You only have space for 14 clubs in your bag, so choosing the right ones to carry with you is essential. The really tricky area to get right is the bottom end of the bag. Do you carry two, three or four wedges? What are the ideal lofts? What exactly is bounce angle and how will it help?
The obvious piece of advice is to carry a range of lofts that leave as few awkward pitching distances as possible. A popular option is to carry a set made up of a pitching wedge, a 52° gap wedge, a 56° sand wedge and a 60° lob wedge. However, this line-up may not be exactly right for your game and there are more than just these lofts available to make sure you can hit all the key distances when you pitch.
What is bounce?
The other main consideration is bounce. Before we get into the bounce angles you should be thinking about, first I need to explain what exactly it is. If you hold the wedge perpendicular to the ground and look at the head you'll notice how the sole angles down, below the leading edge of the face. The amount of the sole below the leading edge represents the bounce angle
The bounce angle will help the club to glide through thick grass and sand without the wedge digging, losing energy and causing a duff strike. The simple rule relating to bounce is that the harder the surface, the less you need. From tight lies on the fairway, you need the leading edge to sit as close as possible so that you can nip in behind the ball. From fluffy lies in the sand or rough, more bounce will help the club retain speed through impact for those high-flying, soft landing shots. Having a squad of wedges with different lofts and bounce angles is the key to having a solution to every on-course scenario.
Grip faults and fixes
If you think your grip might be costing you crucial clubhead control, please don't hesitate to ask for some simple advice on how to groove a better method. A poor grip can cause a host of issues in the swing so avoid the temptation to turn a blind eye and play on regardless. Here are a couple of common errors to look out for.
One of the most common grip-related faults is to set your hands on the club in a way that causes it to close through impact. This is called a 'strong' grip and you will see three to four knuckles on your left hand at address and the 'v' between thumb and forefinger of your right hand will point to the right of your right shoulder. This will cause you to take the club away on the inside which in turn makes delivering the club back to the ball on a neutral path hard to find.
The weak grip arises when the left hand starts too far underneath the club. As the right hand wraps over, the 'v' between the thumb and forefinger of your right hand points at your chin or even towards your left shoulder. This will cause you to pick the club up too much in the takeaway, sending the clubhead off the ideal swing path. In this situation, you'll usually suffer from a slice as the face will want to open at impact.
Setting the perfect grip for a right handed golfer
The grip is one of those key fundamentals that every golfer should work hard to get right. The way your hands sit on the club will have a huge affect not only on the direction of the clubface at impact but also on your swing path and power potential. Quite simply, if it's not right, it's very hard to play consistent golf. Here's a quick guide to setting your hands on the club but for more advice, don't hesitate to come and see me.
Left Hand Grip
Start by placing your left hand on the club. Let your left hand hang naturally by your side, then bring it into the club. The grip should run from the base of your forefinger up to the fleshy part of your hand, just below your wrist. Now wrap your fingers around the club. At address you should be able to see between two and three knuckles on your left hand.
The Right Hand Grip
Now place your right hand on the club so that at address, the 'v' between your right forefinger and thumb is pointing at your right shoulder.
Joining The Hands
There are three options for joining your hands to ensure they work together to help you hit consistent shots. Firstly, ideal if you have longer fingers, there is the overlapping grip (where both little fingers overlap).
Secondly, the option that Tiger woods and Jack Nicklaus have chosen is the interlocking grip (pictured here).
And finally, there is the baseball grip - suitable for those with smaller hands or alternatively a good option for those who struggle with arthritis.