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It occurred to me that this summer marks my 20th year playing this game. I have a few regular playing partners, but a lot of times I just go play by myself and join the first available threesome. Most of the time I find myself playing with the average once-a-month player who struggles to hit the ball solidly. I don't mean to sound arrogant, but I am a pretty decent ball striker, so they invariably ask me for swing advice. I am certainly no instructor, so I'm very hesitant to offer advice. But if I see something completely out of whack, I might recommend a grip change or alignment tip, or something simple like that.

 

Today I decided to write down all the tips/tricks and swing adjustments I have learned over the years. Most of these I've found in the dirt, or I've taken a tip I've seen on TV and made it mine. Everyone's body shape and physiology are different, and I'm not saying these will work for everyone, but these work for me. If you're struggling in a certain aspect of the game, maybe one of these will help. But use them as a starting point. You have to tweak them and make them work for you. Or ignore them all. I'm just saying this is what works for me.

 

Pre-shot routine

1. From behind ball, pick an intermediate target 4-6 feet from ball (a leaf won't work - they move!). That is your new target. Align with that spot and never look at the flag again - just make a good swing knowing you are aligned properly.

 

The Swing

Put the ball at your left heel for all shots. For LW and SW, you can move it back 1-2 inches.

Turn back with your shoulders only - the hinge will happen naturally.

Stop the backswing when your arms are parallel to the ground. (Actually they're much higher, but it feels like they're parallel)

On the downswing, keep your hands loose, your head still and just let go!

 

Swing killers in order of lethality:

#1 Over-swinging

#2 Tight grip (anything more than 3 on a scale of 1-10)

#3 Moving your head forward on the downswing

 

Fairway bunkers:

Put the ball 2 inches behind your left heel and take a normal swing, just try to hit it slightly thin.

 

Green side bunkers

Put the ball at your left heel, and aim 10 feet left of pin. Slightly open the face (not a ton though). Turn back with an arm swing til the club points straight up in the air. Then just turn your waist towards the target. There is no active hand or arm motions - it will occur naturally. The speed of your forward turn determines how far ball will go.

 

Chipping

Pick a spot to land the chip, and account for roll using the guidelines below:

9i - 10% (will roll 90% of the way)

PW - 25% (halfway, then half of that)

SW - 40% (A little less than halfway)

LW - 60% (A little more than halfway)

These are just guidelines. Adjust for slope and green speed.

 

Wind

Never, ever fight the wind! Find out where it will push the ball and account for the direction/distance. Use your regular swing.

Exception: Tee it a little lower if you're dead into the wind on the tee.

 

Side hill lies

Ball above feet:

Move the ball back in your stance and a little farther away from your body.

It will go left in proportion to how much higher the ball is above your feet, but because the ball is back in your stance, it will start farther right, so don't overdo the alignment.

 

Ball below feet:

Bend at the knees until you're level with the ball. Club up so you don't have to take more than a 3/4 swing. Use an all hands swing, concentrating on keeping your knee flex consistent throughout the swing.

The ball will go straight.

 

Rough

Ball down in rough:

Put the ball in the middle of your stance, and add at least 1 club, possibly 2 or even 3 clubs if the rough is buried or if the rough is especially deep. The more the ball is buried, the lower it will fly, and with less spin. If you can't categorize the ball as either sitting on top of the rough or buried in it, then it will be a flyer. Subtract 1 club and allow for lots of run after it lands.

 

Ball sitting up in rough

Play it just like a fairway bunker shot. Thin is far better than fat in this case.

 

Putting

No one can tell you how to putt. Find your swing in the dirt and stick with it. There will be good putting days and bad putting days. Don't change what normally works for you just because you had a bad putting day. Or week. Or year.

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Putting

Don't change what normally works for you just because you had a bad putting day. Or week. Or year.

Or life....

 

 

:ph34r:  :ph34r:

 

 

 

Nice write up

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Nice thread with lots of straight forward good advice.

 

However my instructor would take exception to the ball position thing. He likes it middle of the stance for irons moving to the left heel for the longer clubs and driver.

 

In the end we are all constructed a little differently and so those things will vary a bit person to person I think.

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Nice thread with lots of straight forward good advice.

However my instructor would take exception to the ball position thing. He likes it middle of the stance for irons moving to the left heel for the longer clubs and driver.

In the end we are all constructed a little differently and so those things will vary a bit person to person I think.

That's the one I thought is get the most push-back on. I've tried them all, and everything at the left heel just works better for me.

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How's your distance with short irons and wedges with it that far forward? Seems like it would be hard to flight them down.

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I'm not a fast swinger, so flighting it down isn't a problem for me. Getting it high and landing softly is where I struggle. But if I want to flight it down, I'll just take an extra club and a 3/4 swing.

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To elaborate:

 

I don't concern myself so much with flight or trajectory or bending it. I like straight and consistent (technically, it's a slight fade) But like I said, this is what works for me. Everyone is different, so I'm not saying everyone should do what I do, but I do think a lot of people (not you, just golfers in general) are concerned too much with distance, or spinning it back, or whatever, when they should be concentrating on finding a swing they can make consistently. For me, that happens to be a fade without a lot of backspin. I know my ball is gonna land take a few hops and roll to the right, so I aim accordingly, and it results a tension free swing. I never fight it. I don't hit it as far as most guys I play with competitively, but I'll take short straight and in the fairway all day. I may not eagle a lot, but I kill 'em with consistency.

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Very true, Richard. But I've had too many bad teachers. They did more damage to my swing than good. I did have one good teacher, but he's in the west coast, so I don't have access to him anymore. I think too many teachers want to put you in a category (I'm tall, so they want to change my swing to match Ernie Els). It just doesn't fit. A good teacher should listen a lot in the beginning, and I haven't found many that do that.

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Yeah I don't mean "distance" as in how far. I mean consistent distance. I hit very high shots and in the past have had trouble with too much spin, landing close to the pin and having it back up to the front of the green or even all the way off. Different shafts helped that big time. I can count on the ball just stopping almost always. But keeping the flight to a reasonable trajectory is what let's me hit the distance I want. Sometimes I still get too high and end up shorter than normal.

 

If I played those shots that far forward, I would be all over the place distance wise and probably too much spin again. But like you say, that's just me. Knowing what works for you is what matters.

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Exactly. It's all about what works for you.

 

Have you tried a low spin ball? I play the NXT Tour. Hits, hops and stops, but no excessive spin back.

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One more thing to add, blade. If it's about distance control, then maybe you just need to find that happy medium with your wedges. Similar to mine, I play everything on the left heel, except the wedges. But I only move it back a couple inches. I don't have issues sliding under it like it sounds like you do. My miss with the wedges is closing the club face. So I moved it back a little and it's much more reliable.

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I play them just forward of center. I wouldn't say I slide under them at all unless I want to to hit a high shot. I trap the ball more. Last night I was hitting a sw back and forth between the targets in my back yard. They're 100 yds apart but I'll hit to them from wherever balls happen to be in the yard. But usually I'm 75-120 yds away. I was alternating between hitting a draw to the pin and a fade. Draw, no problem, good distance. Fade, hard to do. I can get a fade but it ends up high and short and sometimes just a pull cuz I don't hold it off enough. I don't get a huge bend with that much loft either way. But on the course I would have a hard time trusting a fade to get there with a wedge unless it was a shorter shot to begin with.

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I play them just forward of center. I wouldn't say I slide under them at all unless I want to to hit a high shot. I trap the ball more. Last night I was hitting a sw back and forth between the targets in my back yard. They're 100 yds apart but I'll hit to them from wherever balls happen to be in the yard. But usually I'm 75-120 yds away. I was alternating between hitting a draw to the pin and a fade. Draw, no problem, good distance. Fade, hard to do. I can get a fade but it ends up high and short and sometimes just a pull cuz I don't hold it off enough. I don't get a huge bend with that much loft either way. But on the course I would have a hard time trusting a fade to get there with a wedge unless it was a shorter shot to begin with.

I think bending a wedge at all is pretty darned tough.

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Great tips!

 

Now that I've retired and can spend more time on the range and the course, I've found myself getting more consistency with the ball further forward than I was taught. It's working for me, so that's what I do.

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Regardless of the ball position thing it's a great thread because its very sensible and simple.  I think that the ball position points to the old difference between one and two plane - one plane guys prefer it back a bit, two plane up, either is more right or wrong, just speaks to our different approaches in swinging the club.

 

What I appreciate about High Fade's approach is that it is like mine - simpler is bettter.  When my swing got too complicated I went to a teacher who promised to simplify it - so far he's been good to his word.  Don't be afraid to do some research before finding a teacher as Richard said!

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I play them just forward of center. I wouldn't say I slide under them at all unless I want to to hit a high shot. I trap the ball more. Last night I was hitting a sw back and forth between the targets in my back yard. They're 100 yds apart but I'll hit to them from wherever balls happen to be in the yard. But usually I'm 75-120 yds away. I was alternating between hitting a draw to the pin and a fade. Draw, no problem, good distance. Fade, hard to do. I can get a fade but it ends up high and short and sometimes just a pull cuz I don't hold it off enough. I don't get a huge bend with that much loft either way. But on the course I would have a hard time trusting a fade to get there with a wedge unless it was a shorter shot to begin with.

I missed your point about how you trap the ball. That being the case, a forward ball position would definitely NOT work for you. If it's forward, you can't trap the ball, and distance will be all over the place. Now I understand what you meant....

 

Tournament day today. We'll see if I can practice what I've been preaching!

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Simple is good, "You swing your best when you have the fewest things to think about." - Bobby Jones

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