Golf Digest editors picks
2012 Ranking: Breaking 100/90/80

America's Best Young Teachers

In the second installment of a ranking debuted in 2010, we recognize the game's most talented young teachers. You'll find tips for every facet of the game & all levels of play.

November 2012

There's one test in golf that can't be faked: breaking your personal scoring barrier. No amount of handicap strokes, good luck or hot-shot partnering can make it happen. Shattering 100, 90 or 80 is a hard-earned testament to practice, commitment and plain old skill. To help you get there, we present our new edition of the Best Young Teachers in America and offer from them a host of original, innovative tips covering every facet of the game. We identified these teachers, all under age 40, through surveys and discussions with PGA of America leaders and top instructors nationwide as well as our own grassroots research. Think of this section as an all-out assault on the areas of the game that matter most--first for breaking 100, then 90, then 80--from the next generation of great teachers. Find the level that fits your game, then dig in. Before you know it, you'll be lowering your scoring bar.

The Best Young Teachers At A Glance

AVERAGE AGE: 35
AVERAGE HOURLY RATE: $159
POPULAR LOCATIONS:
Florida (5), Texas (5), New York (4)

MOST PGA TOUR STUDENTS:
Mark Blackburn (6) Arjun Atwal, Kevin Chappell, Bobby Gates, Robert Karlsson, Bill Lunde, Heath Slocum Sean Foley (5) Stephen Ames, Hunter Mahan, Seung-Yul Noh, Justin Rose, Tiger Woods Matt Killen (4) J.B. Holmes, Troy Matteson, Kenny Perry, Josh Teater
STEVE ATHERTON

BYE-BYE BANANA

If you fight a slice, you might think you're swinging out to the target, but I'll bet you're swinging well left. Try this: Align everything down the middle of the fairway but swing the clubhead toward a specific target more to the right. Take a strong grip (hands turned to the right), relax your forearms and make a full turn. You'll love that nice, high draw.
A.J. Avoli

DRILL: HIT DOWN ON IT

The key to good iron play is hitting the ball, then the ground. With a 7-iron, set up to a ball and place four balls in a line opposite the outside edge of your rear foot, perpendicular to the target line. Hit shots avoiding the line of balls as you swing down. You'll feel yourself shifting toward the target and bottoming out your swing in front of the ball you're hitting.
COREY BADGER

DRILL: RIGHT ARM ONLY

To feel the correct swinging motion of the clubhead with your driver--and to improve your forward weight shift--make some practice swings with your right arm only. The object of this drill is to train you to avoid getting too aggressive with your hands and arms when starting the downswing. When you do it correctly, you'll finish in balance on your front foot, with your upper body facing the target. Remember the feel of these smooth right-arm-only swings when you go back to your normal technique.
LUKE BENOIT

DO YARD WORK

There's no better indicator of quality iron shots than well-shaped divots. Controlling their length and depth goes hand in hand with making flush contact with the ball. Here's something you can do to assess and monitor your divots: Set aside 10 minutes in your back yard every day to make swings with an 8-iron and no ball. Practice taking divots so that the holes you leave behind: (1) point to your target; (2) are long and thin, not short and deep; and (3) terminate in front of the tip of your left shoe. And don't forget to fix 'em!
JOHN BIERKAN

SOFTEN YOUR HANDS

Trying to hammer your tee shots can induce tension and prevent you from squaring the clubface. A big slice results. Relax your grip pressure a little. You'll hit the ball just as far, and the improved release through impact will fix that slice.
JASON BIRNBAUM

ACCELERATE!

When you lose that nice ball flight on iron shots, ignore what your friends say about swinging easier. Don't be afraid to take a good rip at it. Try to accelerate through impact. More speed means more spin and a higher, stronger flight.
MARK BLACKBURN

SHUT THE FACE

If you're struggling to hit the ball solid, your clubface might be too open during the swing. You've got to square that face. Rotate your left hand away from the target on the grip, and let the face feel "hooded," or closed, through impact.
Carlos Brown

PUTT THUMBS UP

For better speed control and a great roll, make practice strokes with the putterhead hovering off the ground and your thumbs raised slightly off the grip. You'll develop better feel for the putter and make a smoother motion.
JASON CARBONE

DRILL: PERFECT BLAST

Set up to an imaginary ball in the sand as if you were going to hit a 9-iron off the fairway. Shift your feet into the sand, then make a three-quarter swing from this setup. See how much sand you take? That's how much you want to blast out on a normal greenside shot.
Chris Como

YARDSTICK SLICE CURE

To get rid of a slice, you must fix an open clubface. Make slow-motion swings with a yardstick, the side with the measurements facing the target. When you swing down, your goal is to never see those markings. If you do, your "clubface" is still open.

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