Golf is about angles and leaving yourself with a good angle into the green. If you play a course that is fairly wide open without much rough you might intentionally try to hit your ball in the rough to give you a better angle into the green.
At my home course, hole 10 is an example of this. The hole is a par 4 playing 480 yards. There is a bunker down the left side that is reachable from the tee and a bunker down the right side also, but not reachable. There are very little trees to the right of the fairway and the green has a large deep bunker that is angled 45 degrees from the middle of the green to the back left of the green. Every time the pin is cut to the left side of the green behind the bunker I am purposely trying to hit the ball into the right rough.
The reason for this is first eliminate trouble. By aiming down the right side I can eliminate the bunker down the left side. Secondly, since this is a long hole I will have a long iron into the green on my approach shot. If I am in the right rough the left pins on the green are open and I do not have to carry the greenside bunker on my approach shot. This gives me more room for error if I miss my long iron into the green. I can mishit my 3- or 4-iron and still hit the green. Many times a mishit with the long irons may not carry as far, but will still release when they hit the green and my mishit may end up close to the hole.
Trying to intentionally miss the fairway is not for every hole, however some of you may wish it were. First, the rough must be very short. During this time of the year when the rough is not long it’s ok to miss fairways intentionally. Second, missing the fairway should serve a purpose. Are you avoiding a bunker that could potentially leave a tough second shot in? Are you opening up the green so that you have a better angle into the pin cut in the corner of a green?
These reasons are good and will have you playing better golf. Remember that hitting a fairway is a stat, but sometimes missing the fairway can result in lower scores, which is ultimately the goal.]]>
The typical ball position for players that hit pushes and hooks is a ball position that is back in the stance. The reason for this is that the club comes too much from inside and therefore they bottom out before the ball. Moving the ball back helps them hit the ball first. The problem with moving the ball back is notice what a back ball position does to your shoulders. This ball position will force your shoulders to close and therefore will promote a more in-to-out swing and will cause greater pushes and bigger hooks. Once you fix the ball position, you must then change the swing plane or your student just started hitting the ball fat and would be unhappy. (Chicken or the egg) The opposite is true for players that hit pulls and fades. This player would typically move the ball more forward in their stance so they can make solid contact. Because the club is coming on a steeper outside-in angle the ball back would cause extremely deep divots and fat shots. These fat shots would be different however from the guy that comes from inside out. The inside-out player hits dropkicks, which is a shallow, club bouncing into the ball versus the steep chunky divots. When the ball gets too forward in these players swings the shoulders will open and cause the over-the-top guy to come even more over the top (swinging on body line).
First, take your setup with your six iron. This is a great club to start with because it’s right in the middle of your bag. Now that you have your setup, take two golf balls and place them right next to your big toes. Step away and view from face on. The only thing that should be on the ground is the three golf balls. Two of those represent your feet and the other ball is the ball position. For a six iron it should be just slightly forward of center. Imagine that wedges or short irons will be center, while a driver will be about two and half balls forward of that center position. Somewhere in between those positions are the rest of your clubs. There is not much movement so somewhere in that ballpark is a good starting position for you. Pay attention to your address position with your feet. I want your feet to be matching. I want your toes to be flared out about 15 degrees (or slightly turned out). If you setup with one foot square and the other foot flared way out then this will mess with the view of your ball position. Many people’s ball position looks ok, but they have one foot flared dramatically open. Once they square up their feet, it is very evident that their ball position is way off.
Ball position is a fundamental that is extremely important to your golf swing. There is no correct answer as to if the ball position or swing is the area of concern, however if one of these is off the other will soon follow. Focus on the small details, like ball position, and your game will improve.]]>
The first key to hitting great pitch shots from rough are understanding what type of shot you’re trying to hit. Is the pin cut close to the edge of the green requiring you to use height to stop the ball or do you have plenty of green to work with? Lets first discuss the shot with plenty of green. To hit this shot you must understand that the key to playing from the rough is acceleration. Too often players take a big swing and then decelerate on the downswing which results in either a chunk shot or a shot that the rough grabs the hosel and closes the club, causing the ball to shoot long and left of the flag. To play this shot we need to set up with the ball in the back of our stance. Our stance width will be relatively narrow, (depending on the length of the shot), and will require us to hinge the club very quickly on the backswing. This allows us to get maximum downward angle on the ball to reduce as much friction of the grass between the clubface and the ball. We will however hit slightly behind the ball to allow the club to get down to the ball and explode the ball out of the thick rough similar to a bunker shot. We must hold the club firmly with our fingers in order to keep the club from closing, but always remember to accelerate through the ball and do not allow your wrists to flip over. We want to accelerate and hold the face square. Remember the phrase hinge and hold with acceleration. Due to the long grass and the ball back in our stance this ball will come out easily and will land about halfway and run the rest of the way.
The pin cut closely to the edge of the green will require a bit more of bunker rules. In order to pull this shot off we need height to stop the ball. The long grass will take backspin off of the ball and therefore we must adjust our setup to get the ball up. First set up with a much wider stance and move farther from the ball. Next, lower the handle of the club. This will provide a feeling that our hands will be down and close to our knees. Now simply play this shot like a bunker shot with the clubface open at address and out goal is to hit slightly behind the ball. We want nice rhythm and a ¾ backswing. Our club will enter the grass an inch or so behind the ball and we will control the distance by our follow through. A short firm follow through will produce a high soft shot while a longer follow through will produce a higher, softer, and longer shot. We are still hinging and holding with acceleration, but our setup is different. This will allow you to hit two different types of shots depending on the situation.
Remember that people struggle from these lies because they are unsure of how the ball will come out. You must force the ball to come out either low or high and this is affected mainly by our setup. Try these two different shots and you will be prepared the next time you have this shot on the course.]]>
Last year before the 2009 Walt Disney PGA Tour event Ryan Palmer was playing golf at TPC Craig Ranch with a few other Tour players including Harrison Frasier. During the round Harrison noticed that Ryan was not using a pre-shot routine, and if he did it constantly changed and was not uniform. Harrison pointed this out to Ryan and Ryan didn’t think it was that important, but said he would work on it. The following week Ryan won the Walt Disney Tour event and in his interview he noted that he was using a tip that he learned while playing with some buddies in Dallas. This tip of using a pre-shot routine made all the difference in Ryan’s play and helped him win another Tour event.
What is it that is so important in a pre-shot routine? A pre-shot routine allows a player to direct his thoughts and attention to specific details and thoughts. Vision 54, which is a sport psychology company, run by Pia Nielsson and Lynn Marriot, divide up the pre-shot routine into two areas. These areas are the think box and the play box. The think box is the area where you set your clubs down. This is the analytical thinking of your golf shot. Distance, Wind, lie, trouble, where you want to hit the ball, etc. All of these components go into the think box. The play box is the area around the ball. Your thinking time is over and you must react to the shot and forget all the technical thoughts and must become totally immersed in the shot and the target. If you do this properly this is what people experience when they are in the “zone”. For any players that have been in the “zone” you really don’t remember a lot about the shot. Time seemed slow, effortless, unconscious competent, which means you don’t have to think about it. This is the play box we all want to achieve.
If you do have a pre-shot routine I suggest you change it. Too often a player will use a pre-shot routine and will not change it for years. This becomes a ritual and is not a routine. A good routine will involve clear decision making skills and visualization, which will be done before stepping up to the ball. Ryan Palmer had sort of a routine, however he was “going through the motions.” This is what happens to routines that don’t involve thinking or to tour players that have played too many weeks in a row. Decisions are being made while the player is walking up to the ball or worst-case scenario, while over the ball. Clear decisions are not being made, and visualization is thrown out the window. This typically is the feeling we have when we just want to get off the course and don’t really care about our round anymore.
Having a good pre-shot routine can make the difference in winning a tournament or finishing middle of the pack. This simple mental commitment clarifies images and decisions in your brain and allows your brain to shut off and your body to react to the target. Develop a solid pre-shot routine before your next round and you may play some of the best golf of your life.]]>