Golf Digest's Best Young Teachers

2 Minutes Tips: Continued

November 2010

Hybrids From Sand

The design of a hybrid club makes it perfect for hitting from fairway bunkers. The key is to let the wide sole glide across the top of the sand and sweep the ball out. Play the ball a couple of inches forward of center in your stance, and lift your chin up an inch higher than normal. Keeping your chin up will help shallow out your swing path coming into the ball. Also, swing at 75 percent effort to counter the instability of the sand and improve your chances of catching the ball nice and flush.

Groove Good Habits

To play more consistently, learn to practice consistently. On the range, always build a practice station. Use clubs on the ground or other aids to help you monitor alignment and ball position. Your goal should be to set up well, and then swing to the finish in balance. Go at three-quarter speed, and focus on hitting the ball with the center of the clubface. Starting well and ending well will help your consistency and eliminate unnecessary swing thoughts.

Stack, Squat, Swivel

You'll make a powerful swing and compress the ball at impact if you remember three things: stack, squat, swivel. On the backswing, keep your upper body stacked over your lower body as you turn away from the ball. From the top, make a squat move, pushing into the ground as you shift laterally toward the target. On the downswing, swivel or rotate your upper body around your lead leg, allowing the club to simply follow.

Image: Arms Hang

Nothing robs your golf swing of speed and power more quickly than excessive tension in your hands, arms or shoulders. One good way to release this tension is to imagine that your hands and arms are hanging down from your shoulders like heavy ropes. This image encourages minimal tension in these speed-producing elements and restores your maximum power potential. It's not just at address that you want this loose feel, but throughout the swing.

The Buried-Lie Chip

When your ball is in deep greenside rough and you have some green to work with, try this technique. Close your stance 45 degrees, and stand close to the ball, so your eyes are almost directly over it. Square your clubface to the target. Then make an abrupt wrist hinge back and down through the shot. The clubhead will cut through the thick grass and put hook spin on the ball. A short swing will get the ball running hard to the hole.

Pinpoint Putting

People talk about the importance of ball position in the short game, especially in putting, but often in terms of where the ball is located in the stance. The problem is, there's no standard for stance width, so this system is imprecise. Instead, focus on setting up with the ball below your left ear.

If you're not doing that, you're probably compensating during the stroke. With the ball too far forward, your tendency will be to miss left; too far back, and you'll miss right.

How To Stop Chunks

When you hit a short pitch shot fat, you're typically catching the ground with the leading edge of the clubface. Your hands are too far ahead of the ball at impact, so the leading edge digs. Try using the more-forgiving trailing edge. Set up with the ball in the middle of your stance and the grip pointing at the zipper of your pants. Place a dime two inches behind the ball, and practice hitting both the dime and ball to quit chunking.

Image: 'Re-Cork' It

When hitting iron shots, your feet should remain in contact with the ground, and your center of gravity should stay level throughout the swing. As you come down, think of your body action like the re-corking of a wine bottle. Instead of your downswing pulling you up from the ground like uncorking a bottle--this is most amateurs--imagine the forward rotation in your body twisting you into the ground. It's just like turning the cork back in.

Get To The Bottom

Jeff Ritter

Square Up Your Sand Shots

You've probably been told to play bunker shots with an open stance and to make an out-to-in swing to hit a soft, high spinner. But you don't have to make those awkward adjustments to hit this shot. An easier way is to address the ball as you normally would, with your body aligned to the target.

Grip your wedge with an open face, play the ball just forward of center in your stance, and then swing on the same path as you would on a normal shot (left). The only difference is, you should allow your arms to fold up close to your body as you swing back and through. By keeping your arms closer to your body, you narrow your swing arc and steepen your angle of attack. That ensures a consistent bottom to your strike and creates the backspin you need.


Keep Your Elbows Together

Many golfers have been told to keep the right elbow close to the body as they swing to ensure that the club comes into the ball from inside the target line. You do want to approach the ball from the inside, but folding the elbow quickly can get the club too far inside (inset). From there, to hit the ball, you'll have no choice but to re-route your swing to get the club back on line, commonly known as coming over the top.

Instead of keeping your right elbow tucked, allow your right arm to move away from your side going back (left), and try to keep your elbows close to each other at the top of the backswing. Your right elbow should feel lower than your left, and your swing arc will feel much wider. This will allow you to swing down from the inside and with more width--two keys to power and consistency.

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