When you miss a fairway you are confronted with a number of options as to what you will do to extricate yourself from the situation. You might have to hit a golf shot with a hook or slice curve, or hit it higher or lower than usual.
If you practice hitting straight shots on the driving range most of the time you again will find yourself in a difficult position to bounce back if you cannot competently shape your shots to get you back into play or better.
Without exception top class tournament professional golfers are experts at controlling ball-flight and our students practice curving shots into small targets on the range so they are completely confident at playing these important shots when they arise.
How about you? Can you hook and slice when you need to?…
Here are a few thoughts on Rory’s bunker game and what you can learn.
1. Make a ‘normal’ swing
Many of the students I see impart far too much slice spin onto their bunker shots, often because they have been taught to do so. They aim their bodies way to the left, set the clubface quite open, then cut across the ball to excess. This makes it difficult to get the ball started on the intended line. The ball will also spin to the right once it hits the green, again reducing the chances of the ball tracking toward the hole.
I find that all this effort does not seem to add that much loft to the shot, and it also presents a challenge in controlling distance when such a glancing blow is applied. I don’t see tour players doing so except in extreme situations. The average player would do much better by setting the body and clubface only slightly open, and then making a normal-feeling swing.
2. Take dead aim
If your goal is to get the ball out of the bunker, that is likely the best you’ll do. If your goal, however, is to hole every bunker shot, you’ll likely do so quite rarely, but I guarantee you’ll hit a lot more stiff. It’s the same idea as when sport psychologist Dr. Bob Rotella asks his tour players to hole every shot within 100 yards. It doesn’t happen that often, but setting high standards and narrowing your focus can significantly tighten your shot dispersion. A great short-game practice drill is to hit a routine greenside shot until you hole it, be it a chip, pitch or bunker shot. You’ll be amazed how quickly it can happen. If you are a higher handicapper, make your goal to get the ball within a grip’s length. Before long, you’ll be holing out shots in practice and taking your increased confidence onto the golf course.
All golfers want to hit their tee shots as far and as straight as they can. For many, this is where the most enjoyment playing the game is found. There’s nothing more satisfying than crushing a drive down the middle of the fairway. I encourage you then to be aware of the following five keys
when it comes to hitting your driver farther. Practice diligently and apply it effectively in order to increase your distance off the tee. It will make the game more fun and you will likely shoot lower scores. Good luck!
Sound set-up fundamentals (grip, stance, ball position, posture and alignment) is the foundation for developing the ideal distance-garnering combination – your maximum clubhead speed through impact along with a relatively square face angle. Understand and respect this. Do your utmost to ensure that you are in an orthodox starting position before you swing. Any errors here will likely manifest themselves by slowing you down and getting the clubface away from being square at the moment of truth – when you strike the ball.
Tilt your Spine to get Behind the Ball, the Reverse “K”
Tilt your spine into the Reverse “K” position. This positioning readies the body to create speed and encourages ideal club delivery possibilities. This is a classic long driver’s set-up.
Set up a Strong Triangle
Establish a preswing set up where a pronounced triangle is evident – positioning of arms and shoulders. The triangle is the strongest geometric shape. This position enables you to be as powerful and consistent as possible when striking golf shots.
Make the Shaft “Sing” through the Hitting Zone
Practicing by swinging your driver upside down – holding onto the shaft and swinging the grip without a ball present. You’re endeavouring to make
the shaft “sing,” creating as much shaft noise or “singing” through the hitting zone as possible. This provides immediate feedback on the amount of clubhead speed being generated as well as where the “singing” is happening relative to where the ball would be during the swing. Then turn your club into the normal position and try to make the shaft sing as intensely as you can through impact when hitting a ball. This drill is designed to create clubhead speed awareness and improvement. Try it. It works!
Finish in Balance, Let the Club Pull you all the way through
I encourage players to be able to stomp on an imaginary soft drink can underneath their back foot at the completion of their swing. Check yourself to see if you are finishing your swing all the way. Can you stomp on a can at the end of your swing?
Set up 2 golf balls side by side and then walk in to your putting set up with the putter head behind both balls as if you are going to hit them both at the same time. Pick a distance it can be long or short and create a putting stroke relative to that distance. Your goal is to hit both balls at once and see if the balls travel a similar distance. Watch what happens. Does one travel further than the other, if so which one. If the ball that was closest to the heel of your putter face travelled further then your putter face was open at impact imparting side spin and backspin on the ball. If the ball closest to the toe of your putter face travelled further then your putter face was slightly closed at impact. This would be the preferred outcome. It indicates that you are creating side and top spin on the ball which will keep the ball on line and rolling more smoothly.
Ideally the balls would roll a similar distance for long and short putts confirming that your putter face is neutral to the path.
Try this drill for a variety of length putts; the outcome could be different from one length to another.
A good swing starts with a good grip. A bad swing starts with a bad grip. Because most amateurs fail to put their hands on the club properly, they’ll never be able to play as well as they should.
I use the Vardon overlapping grip. I feel it unifies the hands and promotes better wrist hinging. My left hand goes on first, and I turn it to see two knuckles. My left thumb rests just right of center on the shaft.
I like those molded practice grips for learning how to hold the club. The grooves will put your hands in the correct positions. Even though it makes the clubhead feel too light, I suggest you get one and hit balls with it to improve your grip.
The mistake I see most is a grip that’s too weak. People put their thumbs straight down the shaft, and the result is usually an open clubface at impact–and a shot that peels off to the right.
A grip that’s too strong, where you see too many knuckles, will likely cause the clubface to be closed at impact. It’s a power grip, especially if you’re a slicer. Still, I’d rather see your grip too strong than too weak.
How do you handle lies in such deep rough? First you need to understand why the clubface closes so dramatically. It’s because the tall blades of grass wrap around the club’s hosel, stopping the heel of the club from moving, but the toe keeps turning over. The result: a closed clubface. Tiger was quoted after his round that the grass was so tall on his first shot that it wrapped around the actual shaft, not just the hosel. That’s deep rough, for sure!
Lee Trevino always said the worse the lie, the tighter you should hold the club. He said to start with the clubface open, “then hold on real tight, as tight as you can.”