Golf Strategy: Recognize and Don’t Aim at the Sucker Pin Placement!

Symptom: You aim at the pin, even the sucker pin, no matter where it is on the green. You aren’t thinking about the pin placement, just about knocking it close like the guys on TV.

But, alas, often a well-struck shot ends up in the rough or the bunker, challenging your short game and costing you strokes.  “But I hit a good shot,” you mutter as you go see if the ball held up on the bank or rolled into the water.

Overview: Do not fire at the golf pin, especially a sucker pin.  Aim for the middle of the green instead.  Do this always.

Why it works:  The essence of this tip is to manage your mistakes.  If you take an aggressive line, and hit something other than a perfect shot (which happens a lot to Occasional Golfers), you put yourself in a very tough position around the green.

Almost Every Pin Placement is Actually a Sucker Pin

Aim away from the sucker pin in the back left of this green. pin placement golf pin sucker pin
Aim away from the sucker pin in the back left of this green.

What are the odds of you sticking that ball within a few feet for a tap-in birdie like the highlight shows on TV?  Don’t you realize that the pros usually aim for the middle of the green too, and that a shot right next to the pin is often a mis-hit?  Why not aim for the middle of the green, or the fat part of the green, or whatever line gives you the best chance making sure your next shot is a putt and not a bunker shot or chip shot?

Often, I see Occasional Golfers who don’t give the matter much thought.  They see the flag, they aim at the flag, they fire at the flag.  Indeed, that is what you do on the driving range, right?  You aim at the flag.  But that is the driving range, not the golf course.  On the golf course you need to aim at a point that allows a less-than-perfect shot to avoid a major disaster.  Pick a tree in back of the green, or a chimney of a roof, or something else to aim at.  Don’t allow this mental lapse to sabotage your game!

To hit the green with high probability, then, you will often need to play left or right of the flag.  Be sure to pick something to aim at, and align your clubface to a spot on your target line.  Then don’t look at the flag again, look only at your intended target and your aiming point.

No matter how good you are at chipping and bunker shots, you are better off on the green!  So stop firing at sucker pins!  You’ll be on the green more often, and you’ll avoid those big, ugly numbers on your scorecard!

Peter Kostis has the same message in this short clip, have a look:

Remember — most every pin is actually a sucker pin.  Aim at the middle of the green instead.

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Golf Swing Drill: The Five-Iron Backoff Drill

Symptom: Erratic full shots — some are good, but some are very bad.  You are left wondering if you’ll ever develop a consistent enough game to lower your handicap and finally win some money on the course…

Overview: On the range, tee up the ball slightly, and use your five iron to hit the ball the distance you would normally hit your eight iron.

Why it works: This drill is not as simple as it sounds!  You will need to make a three-quarter swing with your five iron to hit it an eight iron distance. This forces you to focus on solid contact and timing. You will find very quickly that you need to have a high finish and good acceleration through the ball to hit solid shots.  This, in turn will come from a restricted backswing, not a decelerating downswing.  And this is the key point of the drill–to refocus your mind on the basics of what you are trying to accomplish with your swing.  After you have hit five solid shots in a row, try hitting a full five iron again. You will find that you have regained your consistency.

Another benefit of the drill is that it reinforces for you that you are in control of how far the ball goes, not the club, or the lie (since you teed up the ball).  In other words, this drill helps you (re)gain mastery and confidence in your ability to place the ball where you want to.  This is the feeling of control you seek on the golf course.  Believe me, it’s way more fun to play the game with this mindset than the “hit and hope” approach taken by most Occasional Golfers!

So give the five-iron backoff drill a try!  If it works for you, tell your friends!  And don’t miss the next tip, sign up for free updates below!

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Golf Swing Tip: Get Proper Golf Stance Setup With A Waggle

Symptom:  Your golf stance setup doesn’t provide the solid base and connection to the ground that you need.

A proper golf stance would have let you turn against a solid lower half, rather than swaying back and forth like a dancer.

Description:  The start of the swing isn’t the takeaway, it is the golf stance setup, including the waggle and the starter move that precede the takeaway.  Don’t omit the waggle and starter move, or think that they don’t matter.  If done right, they are the keys to proper golf stance setup in your golf swing.  They can give you the elusive commodity known as “Smooth Power”, where the ball flies off the clubface even though your swing looks slow and unhurried.

Graeme McDowell setting up with a waggle proper golf stance setup
Graeme McDowell’s setup includes some waggle before addressing the ball.

Why it works:  The waggle is meant to help you feel club in your hands, build a good solid stance, get a rhythm, and sort of sense that the club is just an extension of your body.  It’s mental preparation for the shot you are about to hit.  And, perhaps most importantly, it is meant to keep your muscles loose and flowing, with a light grip on the club.  You are trying to feel anchored to the ground, so your big muscles can power the swing while your hands and arms come along for the ride.

Graeme McDowell’s Proper Golf Stance Setup

Have a look at Graeme McDowell at this golf clinic.  The words of wisdom he imparts are very good and its worth watching the whole video.  But notice, before every shot he hits, he has a little waggle going on. He is shifting his weight back and forth, he is wiggling his wrists a bit, and so on.  This is his waggle.

Graeme has a slight starter move to initiate his swing too, a very good thing to emulate.

Have a look (click the play button, the video works):

After taking a proper golf stance setup,

the Waggle and Starter Move help get you relax, initiate, and execute your swing without too much tension in your arms and shoulders.  This lack of tension is the key to getting into that swingin’ rhythm.  And it makes people wonder how you hit it so far with such an easy-lookin’ swing.

Take a tip from Graeme McDowell and give the Waggle and Starter Move a try next time you are on the range or the course, and see if you don’t start hitting ’em straighter and farther, with a smooth easy swing!

Did you like this golf tip?  Have a try with the waggle and starter move next time out and see how it goes!  Let your friends know too, Like, Tweet, Email, or +1 below!

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