Symptom: You are not sure which golf club to use on approach shots. You usually don’t choose enough golf club, and so are more often short than long.
You often say, “must be more uphill than I thought” or “I guess there’s some wind up there” or similar lame utterances.
Overview: If in doubt about which golf club to use, take one more club. If debating between a seven and eight iron, for example, choose the seven iron.
Why it works: The vast majority of high handicappers leave their approach shots short of the hole. Pay attention to this the next time you play with your buddies — I’ll bet it’s true in your foursome too. Ideally, half your shots would finish past the hole, and half short of the hole, so that on average you end up pin-high. By choosing a golf club that will get you to the hole, you will end up closer to the pin on average. This will leave you shorter putts, which will lead to lower scores.
Choose the Correct Club for Approach Shots
Think this applies to everybody else, but not you? I challenge you to keep track of this the next time you play. I’ll bet you are mostly short of the pin on your approach shots!
By taking one more club, you also protect yourself against a slight mis-hit. A longer club will carry the ball further, and allow you to still end up fairly close to the pin despite your less-than perfect shot. This takes a lot of the sting out of your bad swing, because your result is still decent, which helps you forget that bad shot and keep your round going. Finally, if you happen to flush the ball such that it goes over the green, at least you can have the satisfaction of saying, “wow, I really hit that one flush”, which is a positive thought that will help you get up and down from wherever you end up.
Let’s have Jon Rahm demonstrate for us. He came from behind to win this tournament. You can bet he chose golf clubs that would get the ball all the way back to the hole! Have a look:
Combine this strategy with aiming for the center of the green instead of the flag and you can help mistake-proof your game. As your mistakes disappear, so will the strokes, and you’ll find your handicap getting smaller by the round!
One final thought: Many Occasional Golfers wish they could get backspin on their ball, like the pros they see on TV. (Hint: You must have a descending blow.) But unless the ball lands past the hole, that would just take the ball further away from the cup!
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Symptom: Your golf aiming is poor, because you have well struck shots that are straight but off target. Your misses are very repeatable, indicating a consistent aim point. Its just not the aim point you thought you were targeting.
Overview: Before you address the ball, stand in back of your ball and look at your distant, intended target. Pick a spot on the ground about two feet in front of your ball on your intended line. Keep your eye on this spot as you walk up the the ball to take your stance. At address, aim the clubface at your chosen spot, not the target in the distance. You might look at your distant target one more time, but before you execute your backswing, check one last time that your clubface is still aimed at the spot two feet in front of you.
Why it works: It’s hard to aim at a target 200 yards away with any certainty. When your target is far away, it is easy to get off line without you knowing, which causes you to compensate during your swing, leading to shots that either “feel good” but are off line, or are off target “just like the last time”. How annoying!
A Near-in Aim Point helps your Golf Aiming
It’s much easier to aim at something that is close to you. And, since you can’t put a club on the ground like you do on the driving range, it’s doubly important that you use this method to ensure proper alignment.
Have a look at Justin Rose use this close-in aimpoint technique and take it a step further. Justin uses his golf club to help sight his line, by holding the club up in front of him. By glancing from the clubhead, down the shaft, to the ground in front of him (0:00 to 0:03), he rapidly identifies his proper line. Justin also takes advantage of the way the tee box grass is cut, by teeing his ball on the boundary between “dark” and “light” grass that just happens to be parallel to his intended target line. Very clever, and very smart! Have a look:
Now have a look at this distinguished threesome — Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, and Rory McIlroy. All of them line up their shots from behind, in order to have some sort of intermediate aiming point to help them stay aligned as they set up to the ball. Have a look:
A Close Aim Point Calms Your Nerves
There is another, less obvious reason to keep your focus “close in” instead of “out there”. If you think about what is “out there”, your mind may start to focus on the bunker, or the water, or the tree, or whatever. Don’t let your mind wander down those negative paths! Pick your intended target by looking “out there”, but then line up and execute your swing “close in”. This is how you should always practice anyway. A close-in aiming point can help you stay calmer and more focused on the course.
Watch the pros on TV — how many of them pick a close-in aiming point? Most of them! So why do you think you don’t have to? Do you practice more than they do? Not likely.
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Copyright 2014-present, GolfTipReviews.com, All Rights Reserved.
Symptom: Your fairway wood distance is almost as good as your driver distance. Plus your fairway wood goes a whole lot straighter.
Erratic drives are costing you strokes and causing you to venture far from the short grass. What’s worse, in order to “keep it in play”, you find yourself being tentative with your driver, leading to drives that are both short and erratic. And so the round gets less and less fun by the hole…
Overview: Put away your driver. Hit a fairway wood off the tee instead. You fairway wood distance won’t hurt you too much. Ignore any taunts hurled in your direction.
Why it works: Most people’s fairway wood distance is not too different than their driver distance. And, they swing their fairway woods with much more confidence, and hence the shots go much straighter. So if your driver isn’t working, why not just use your fairway wood?
The Fairway Wood is Easier to Hit
The driver is a very difficult club to hit, because it has the longest shaft and least loft of all the clubs in your bag. The newer drivers are much more forgiving, of course. Still, many Occasional Golfers will tend to slice their driver, because they have insufficient lag on the downswing, possibly caused by gripping the club too tightly, a poor setup, or any number of swing faults.
We all know that it’s more fun and much easier to play from the fairway. Personally, I would trade 30 yards of distance to be in the fairway. Of course I’d rather be long and straight, but if a choice must be made, straight is better.
Even if your driver works pretty well for you, you might consider hitting three wood off the tee, like Justin Rose does here:
I love Justin Rose’s wide arc and aggressive move through the ball. Maybe you should give this a try too the next time you play!
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Copyright 2017-present, GolfTipReviews.com, All Rights Reserved.
Symptom: You lack confidence in your putting stroke. There’s almost no distance of putt where you can confidently say, “I can easily make this one”.
For you, every putt, no matter how short, is another knee-knocking adventure. So you push some, pull some, leave some short, and so on. Maybe you compulsively purchase putter after putter, thinking that the problem is your equipment…
Overview: On the putting green, find a level, straight, slightly uphill putt. Put several balls in a straight line, starting one foot from the cup, with each successive ball two feet further away. Putt the nearest ball in the hole, then the next nearest, and so on. This will give you confidence. Repeat until you are making the longest putt most of the time.
Why it works: This drill is all about confidence, about walking before you run. It’s a great drill to do before every round of golf you play. Indeed, if you have limited warm up time, and only two minutes on the putting green before your foursome has to tee off, I suggest you do this drill. It’s your best use of time.
Putting Confidence From the Balls in a Line Drill
By sinking the close putts, you gain confidence in your putting. Each successive putt is only a few feet further away than the previous putt, and on the same line, and straight, so you maximize your chances of sinking the putt. You will find that you need to make ever-more purer putting strokes to sink the longer putts. And in so doing your confidence in your short putting will grow, which will help reduce the number of dreaded three putts during your round.
Andy North demonstrates the drill for us. Have a look:
You must not let the line on your golf ball wobble to have a consistent roll, especially at longer range. And, of course, even straight putts need an aiming point. Once your stroke is pure, you should combine this drill with the surround the cup putting drill, to get a feel for the break in the greens, in all your putting practice sessions (if there is time, of course!). Over time you will build confidence in your short and intermediate range putting through this drill. And with confidence comes better scores, more fun, and a lower handicap!
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