GOLF DIGEST SCHOOLS

Game Plan: 5 Ingredients to Great Golf

1  of  5

Ingredient #1: The Setup

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Playing great golf requires a lot of good ingredients, but whether it’s driving, iron play or the short game, it all starts with a precise position at address. Here Claude Harmon III demonstrates the most important keys to the full-swing setup: body alignment and clubface aim. Harmon explains how to adjust these factors depending on the kind of shot you want to play.

SWING THOUGHTS

Set your feet, hips and shoulders parallel left of your intended line
Aim the clubface down your intended line
Allow your natural ball flight to dictate where you aim
If you play a draw, align your body farther right; farther left for a fade

DRILLS

Aiming Station

  • At the range, place a ball between two alignment rods a few feet apart and parallel to your intended line.
  • Set your clubface squarely to the ball between the two rods.
  • Align your feet square to the inside rod and your shoulders square to the outside rod.
Ingredient #2: Angle of Attack
2 Ingredient #2: Angle of Attack
  • The difference between driver swings and iron swings
  • When to hit up on the ball—and when to hit down
  • The one drill you need to start launching your driver
  • A practice station for learning to compress the ball

Game Plan: 5 Ingredients to Great Golf

2  of  5

Ingredient #2: Angle of Attack

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We’ve all heard the phrase “angle of attack” many times, but properly executing it requires careful planning. A proper angle of attack will significantly improve your iron and driver consistency, but different clubs call for different approaches. In this video, Claude Harmon III discusses how to check your attack angle and shares his best tips on improving impact.

SWING THOUGHTS

When hitting driver, your angle of attack should be upward at impact
On the driver downswing, feel like you’re swinging low to high in the impact zone
On iron shots, your angle of attack should be downward
Your divot on an iron shot should come after the ball, not before it

DRILLS

Driver Attack Angle

  • Stick an alignment rod diagonally in the ground a few feet behind your ball so the top of the rod is an obstacle in your swing path.
  • Take some swings and make sure you’re swinging under the rod on the downswing.
  • Miss the rod, and the club is working from low to high in the impact zone.

Iron Attack Angle

  • Place an alignment rod on the ground three or four ball widths behind your ball.
  • Use the rod as a feedback aid, hitting shots without touching the rod.
  • Miss the rod, and the club is moving on a downward angle into impact.
Ingredient #3: Speed
3 Ingredient #3: Speed
  • Ball speed—not clubhead speed—should be your goal
  • Sequencing your swing for effortless distance
  • How to avoid the most common power leaks
  • Why controlling speed matters in the short game

Game Plan: 5 Ingredients to Great Golf

3  of  5

Ingredient #3: Speed

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Among the many things the best players do well is swinging the club fast. That’s a great ingredient for your game, but your focus should be on ball speed, not clubhead speed. Ball speed comes from efficient contact in the middle of the clubface. In this segment, Claude Harmon III teaches you how to optimize your ball speed with the driver—and the short game.

SWING THOUGHTS

Think of the swing as four elements: lower body, upper body, arms/hands and club
On the downswing, move your lower body first, followed by your upper body, then your arms and hands, then the club
To create spin on short shots, make a short backswing and match the follow-through
With the wedges, always accelerate through the ball

DRILLS

Matching Sides

  • Stick two alignment rods in the ground vertically to bookend your clubhead path—one on the backswing, one at the finish.
  • Grab a wedge, and set up to hit a short pitch shot.
  • Match your swing size to the rods, the clubhead staying below the top of each rod, back and through.
  • To feel acceleration, create as much speed as you can in this short motion.
Ingredient #4: Loft
4 Ingredient #4: Loft
  • How to simplify your technique around the greens
  • Busting the biggest misconception in the short game
  • Varying trajectory with one simple adjustment
  • The secret to a killer short game: bounce

Game Plan: 5 Ingredients to Great Golf

4  of  5

Ingredient #4: Loft

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Few things in golf are as frustrating as struggling around the greens and wasting strokes. Most of the time, amateurs over-complicate the short game by making all kinds of changes to try to hit different shots. These are unnecessary complications. Here Claude Harmon III shares some basic tips on how to vary loft with one basic setup and swing.

SWING THOUGHTS

To hit lofted greenside shots, center the ball, set more weight on your front foot and lean the shaft slightly toward the target
In the short game, return at impact the clubface loft you set at address
If you like to play low greenside shots, use wedges with a lot of bounce
If you like to play high greenside shots, use wedges with less bounce

DRILLS

Three-ball Drill

  • Drop three balls around the green and hit each one with a different wedge.
  • Set up to each ball the same way and make the same swing.
  • Notice the trajectory and distance varies with no change in technique.
Ingredient #5: Touch
5 Ingredient #5: Touch
  • Building the proper foundation for greenside play
  • How to develop your feel around the greens
  • Picking the right club to play different shots
  • Experimenting to add flair to your short game

Game Plan: 5 Ingredients to Great Golf

5  of  5

Ingredient #5: Touch

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Once you understand the basics of the short game, you can add a little flair and expand your shot selection. Do this by adjusting your ball position and swing length, even opening the clubface, and you’ll learn what it takes to become a creative shotmaker. In this video, Claude Harmon III shows you different techniques for developing advanced short-game skills.

SWING THOUGHTS

To hit low chips, play the ball back; for higher shots, play it forward
For low greenside shots, lean the shaft forward and make a short backswing; for higher shots, set the shaft more neutral and make a longer backswing
When practicing the short game, get comfortable changing setup and swing combinations
Don’t just groove the easy shots when you work on your short game

DRILLS

Changing Locations

  • Drop a few balls in different spots around the green, various distances from the hole
  • From just off the green, hit some low shots with the ball back and a short swing.
  • For softer-landing pitch shots, position the ball farther forward and make a longer swing.
  • For standard greenside shots, center the ball and make a medium-length swing.

Game Plan: 5 Ingredients to Great Golf

Lesson
1 / 5
Ingredient #1: The Setup
2 / 5
Ingredient #2: Angle of Attack
3 / 5
Ingredient #3: Speed
4 / 5
Ingredient #4: Loft
5 / 5
Ingredient #5: Touch
Game Plan: 5 Ingredients to Great Golf INDEX
Ingredient #1: The Setup
1/5
Ingredient #1: The Setup
  • Perfect the positions that determine accuracy
  • Untangle the conflict between upper body and lower body
  • Improving your aim with solid fundamentals
  • How to play for the natural curve of your shots
  • Perfect the positions that determine accuracy
  • Untangle the conflict between upper body and lower body
  • Improving your aim with solid fundamentals
  • How to play for the natural curve of your shots
Ingredient #2: Angle of Attack
2/5
Ingredient #2: Angle of Attack
  • The difference between driver swings and iron swings
  • When to hit up on the ball—and when to hit down
  • The one drill you need to start launching your driver
  • A practice station for learning to compress the ball
  • The difference between driver swings and iron swings
  • When to hit up on the ball—and when to hit down
  • The one drill you need to start launching your driver
  • A practice station for learning to compress the ball
Ingredient #3: Speed
3/5
Ingredient #3: Speed
  • Ball speed—not clubhead speed—should be your goal
  • Sequencing your swing for effortless distance
  • How to avoid the most common power leaks
  • Why controlling speed matters in the short game
  • Ball speed—not clubhead speed—should be your goal
  • Sequencing your swing for effortless distance
  • How to avoid the most common power leaks
  • Why controlling speed matters in the short game
Ingredient #4: Loft
4/5
Ingredient #4: Loft
  • How to simplify your technique around the greens
  • Busting the biggest misconception in the short game
  • Varying trajectory with one simple adjustment
  • The secret to a killer short game: bounce
  • How to simplify your technique around the greens
  • Busting the biggest misconception in the short game
  • Varying trajectory with one simple adjustment
  • The secret to a killer short game: bounce
Ingredient #5: Touch
5/5
Ingredient #5: Touch
  • Building the proper foundation for greenside play
  • How to develop your feel around the greens
  • Picking the right club to play different shots
  • Experimenting to add flair to your short game
  • Building the proper foundation for greenside play
  • How to develop your feel around the greens
  • Picking the right club to play different shots
  • Experimenting to add flair to your short game