2011 Ranking

Golf Digest's Best Young Teachers: Continued

November 2010
Much has been made of the youth explosion on the PGA Tour in 2010. A similar phenomenon is also happening on practice tees across the country, led by 36-year old Sean Foley. Here we recognize these young stars with a new list: Golf Digest's Best Young Teachers.

Key For Crisp Wedges

Wedge shots from tight lies are difficult to hit without contacting the ground first. Tour players hit these shots by opening the clubface a touch and lifting their hands slightly away from the body at address so the club plays more toe-down. This prevents the heel from digging and allows the clubhead's flange or sole to slide under the ball cleanly.

Eye Up Your Shots

If your eyes stay level and parallel to the target line, you'll maintain your balance and body angles for an on-plane swing. With a driver, focus on the back of the ball for an ascending blow. With irons, focus on the top of the ball for a descending blow. For a draw, look at the inside part; for a fade, the outside part.
Top-20 Teachers Under 40

How To Build Feel

On greenside shots, traditional advice says play the ball back and keep your hands ahead. This freezes the body, which turns off the player's athletic ability. Try playing the ball in line with or just behind your sternum, keeping your weight left. Then think, turn back and through, maintaining light grip pressure so the clubhead swings freely. You'll make good contact and learn to trust the club's loft.

Drill: Hit The Center

One of the core principles of great lag putting is consistent distance control, which comes from hitting the ball in the center of the putterface. Here's how to ensure you do that: Wrap two rubber bands around your putterhead, one toward the toe and one toward the heel. Set the bands apart so there's just enough room for the ball to contact the sweet spot on the face. If you miss that spot, the ball will hit a band and deflect off the face.

Image: Look 'Softly'

Golfers who have been told to keep their eye on the ball on greenside shots, even to see the ground under the ball after impact, stiffen up and fail to rotate through the shot. Try taking a "softer" view of the ball; don't fixate on it. Then make a relaxed backswing, and turn your body through, letting your eyes follow the ball. If you stop turning, the clubhead will pass your hands, and you'll make poor contact.

Trajectory Control

Assuming that the majority of your weight is on your lead leg at impact, the point where you release the club (uncocking and rotating the left wrist) determines trajectory. Releasing the club from the top of the backswing, like Tom Watson does, produces more height. Delaying the release until the last possible second, like Ben Hogan used to do, yields a lower shot. Releasing somewhere in the middle, like Tiger Woods did at his peak in 2000, produces a medium shot--the most versatile if you want to develop one trajectory.

VIDEO: Watch a video lesson from Mark Blackburn
Top-20 Teachers Under 40
Teacher Profile: Mark Blackburn
Blackburn: Breaking 10-90-80
More Tips From Mark Blackburn

Don't Chop The Sand

Opening your stance and chopping down in a bunker is an outdated idea. You want to anchor your weight on your left side, but if you open your stance, you take your left side away. Instead, close your stance. Then make a half backswing, and vary distance with your follow-through: halfway through for a short shot, three-quarters for a standard shot, and full for a long shot.

My Texas Two-Step

Proper footwork is often discussed for the full swing, but it can help you hit better pitch shots, too. When pitching, amateurs often make an armsy swing and sway off the ball, which shifts the bottom of the swing and leads to poor contact. To avoid this, focus on keeping your weight on the inside of your right foot going back and on the inside of your left foot coming down. Here in the Dallas area, I call it the TexasTwo-step. By keeping your weight between your feet, you'll pivot correctly, and the clubhead will bottom out at the ball.

Image: Splash It Low

Many golfers try to help the ball up on greenside bunker shots, especially when the ball is under a high bank. This leads to chunks and thin shots. To fight this instinct, try this image: Picture splashing the sand through impact into the bottom of the bank rather than trying to "throw the sand out of the bunker," which is a common piece of advice. This will promote a downward angle of attack into the ball, will prevent your weight from falling away from the target, and will keep the clubhead down in the sand as it passes below the ball.

Recoil On Buried Lies

If you're plugged in sand, widen your feet and "sit" into your stance to set up a shallow swing. Open the face, and drop your hands behind the ball. At impact, think recoil to slow your left arm so your right hand can flip the club under the ball. Picture yanking the club backward after impact. This adds loft and sends the club down deep.
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