Today we take a look at the wonderfully simple, effective, and elegant swing of German golfer Martin Kaymer. A simple golf swing is a consistent golf swing. Occasional Golfers like us can learn much from his example.
Kaymer from the Side
Have a look at Kaymer from the side, with a mid-iron from the fairway. Pay close attention to his head position from address through impact (0:11) — it remains almost perfectly still, right over the ball. This leads to wonderful consistency in the golf swing. How does he do it? His spine appears somewhat inclined toward the target on the backswing (0:08), which greatly helps to keep his head still, avoid swaying off the ball on the backswing, and deliver a descending blow to the ball. (And he has a lot of talent and surely works very hard on his game!) Of course, he ends up with his belt buckle facing the target with a nice relaxed pose. It all looks so simple! Have a look:
Kaymer Down the Line
Here is Kaymer from behind, on the range, with a wedge. Note his excellent setup position and short backswing. He gets the club to a good, comfortable position at the top without trying to keep his left elbow super-straight or rigid (0:09), keeps his lag on the downswing and then fires down and through the ball with his right side, all with great balance and control. Also notice his feet throughout this swing — they stay on the ground, giving him a solid, consistent base from which to hit controlled shots. Again, looks simple and fluid. Have a look:
Martin Kaymer has a simple, powerful, and controlled swing that we can all learn from. Simple does not mean easy, of course. It takes a lot of hard work on the range. Maybe the next time you are out on the course or the range, remember his example and see if you can hit a few Wunderbar shots yourself!
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Symptom: Poor putting on downhill putts, especially missing downhill putts on the low side of the hole because, yet again, you have underestimated the break. Or you over-read uphill putts, playing too much break.
“Wow, I didn’t see that break!” you say to your playing partners, while shaking your head and walking over to mark your ball yet again…
Description: Play more break than you normally would on downhill putts. That slow-rolling ball is going to break more than you think coming down the hill! Play less break on uphill putts.
Why it works: Downhill putts need to be struck more softly than flat or uphill putts in order for the ball to finish eighteen inches past the hole. Gravity, you know. Since the ball is rolling more slowly, the slope of the green will affect the ball more, causing the ball to break more than you might expect.
Sir Nick Turns an Uphill Putt into a Downhill Putt
For an excellent (and fun) demonstration of this, have a look at Nick Faldo’s putt for birdie at the 2009 Masters Par 3 tournament.
Of course Augusta National’s lightning-fast greens exaggerate the effect beyond what the Occasional Golfer is likely to see, but the point still stands — downhill putts have more break because the ball rolls more slowly, and gravity therefore has a larger effect on the ball’s path. You can learn how this feels by doing the surround the cup putting drill.
Watch Sir Nick’s uphill putt — there is almost no break going uphill (0:04). But then watch as the ball moves back downhill — there is almost six inches of break coming downhill before Faldo’s slow-rolling ball finally drops (0:12).
Thanks to Sir Nick Faldo for this outstanding demonstration of uphill and downhill putting!
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Symptom: You hit your tee shot from the middle of the tee box on every hole. But you have far too many missed fairways, especially on doglegs.
You say, “But I hit a good shot, it just rolled too far…” And so once again you are hacking it out of the thick stuff instead of playing from the short grass…
Description: Tee up your ball within the tee box strategically, depending on the shot you intend, or are likely, to hit. Don’t just tee it up in the middle of the tee box. Straighten out the hole as much as you can by teeing up on one side or the other of the tee box.
Why it works: You can alter the angle of a dogleg-right hole in your favor by teeing the ball up on the left side of the tee box (vice versa for a dogleg-left hole). You should always take advantage of this rule of golf.
Tee Box Angles
Think of it like in billiards, when you place the cue ball to your best advantage after your opponent scratches. So give this matter some attention. Sometimes the tee box isn’t level everywhere. You surely don’t want to be standing in a hole for your tee shot. Or sometimes you want to favor the right or left side of the fairway due to the wind, or because you are playing a fade or a draw, or because you are not using your driver, or because out-of-bounds runs along one side of the fairway**, or whatever.
No matter what the particulars, pick your teeing spot and your aiming point carefully and deliberately. You will get better results, more often.
Let’s have Jason Day demonstrate this for us, on the 18th hole at Augusta National. The ideal tee shot starts out at the bunkers in the distance and fades around the trees on the right. So where does he tee the ball? On the left side of the tee box, of course, because that straightens out the dogleg for him a bit. Have a look:
A Money Maker
**It can be very effective when playing for money, to helpfully point out to your playing partners that you teed up your ball on the left side of the box, to avoid the OB on the left side of the fairway. Do this just after you hit a successful drive and just before your buddy is about to tee up his ball. He won’t be able to deny the wisdom of your strategy, and you have just snuck a negative thought into his head before his tee shot. (Note: Not responsible for any damages resulting from this tactic!)
Did you like this article? Promise not to just set up in the middle of the tee box next time out? Will you give the tee box strategy a bit of thought? Then tell your friends! Like, Share, Tweet, Email, or “+1” below!
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Symptom: You are topping, thinning, and scooping the golf ball despite all your best efforts to stop. You try to stop topping the golf ball but can’t seem to get it done.
Your send another thin golf shot low and fast over the green. Why can’t you stop topping and hit the ball in the graceful arc you had hoped for?
Overview: At the range, or on the tee box at a par 3, put the ball on a tee and push the tee all the way into the ground. It should be as if the ball is not teed up at all. Now, focus on hitting the tee with the blade of your iron, not the ball, on the downswing.
Why it works: If you are topping the ball it means you are not hitting down on the ball, with a descending blow. You are certainly not taking a divot either. You simply cannot hit a good iron shot without a descending blow. Aiming at the tee instead of the ball gives you the descending blow you seek.
Fortunately, it is very easy to get the feel of the descending blow and the solid contact that comes with it. Just make yourself hit the tee that you know lies beneath the ball.
This is not a strange or esoteric situation, of course. You have several par threes per round where you get to hit the sunken tee. And on the short par threes you will be teeing your ball low.
Have a look at Phil Mickelson’s iron shot below, taking note of the descending blow he puts on the ball. The ball is struck first, then the ground in front of the ball. You can see the turf flying in the picture at the right. Note also how the clubhead is pointed skyward on the follow through, indicating a full release down the line. This was a well-struck iron, not a thin golf shot.
Have a look:
End the Thin Golf Shot
The “ball on sunken tee” trick works because you know that there is a tee underneath the ball (you just put it there, after all), and your mission is to hit the tee, not the ball! In order to hit the tee, you will naturally hit the ball with a descending blow, which is the very thing you are after. Do this, and you will have no trouble taking your divot in front of the ball, where it belongs.
Once you get the hang of this, test yourself with a ball on the ground. It should look exactly the same as the ball you just hit off the (embedded) tee. Just imagine the tee is there even though it is not. No problem! You will no longer be hitting thin golf shots if you can clip that imaginary tee beneath the ball.
Did you like this article? Think you can stop sculling those expensive ProV1x balls and start landing them on the green now? Then tell your friends! Like, Tweet, Email, or +1 below!
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