GOLF DIGEST SCHOOLS

Play Without Fear

1  of  5

Lesson 1: The Terrible Two-Tier Putt

video breakdown

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OVERVIEW SWING THOUGHTS DRILLS

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So you hit a good drive and knocked your ball on the green 30 or 40 feet away. That’s a successful hole so far, but it can all be undone with a dreaded three-putt. Long putts often have to travel over multiple tiers, which complicates an already difficult situation. In this video, Debbie Doniger shares her tips on how to handle tough lag putts and get down in two.

SWING THOUGHTS

On long putts, start reading the green as you walk in from the fairway
Feel the green’s slope with your feet, always using your eyes, too
Once you’ve read the green and picked a line, commit to it
For downhill putts, move your target a few feet short of the hole; for uphill putts, a few feet past

DRILLS

Lag-Putting Practice

  • Get a feel for widening your stance to support a longer stroke.
  • Play the ball slightly forward, stand taller and grip the club a bit lighter.
  • Hinge your right wrist going back, and allow the momentum of the swing to unhinge your wrists going through for more energy at impact.

Tap The Tack

  • At address, picture a thumbtack stuck in the back of the ball.
  • Take the putter back with a little wrist hinge, and imagine tapping that thumbtack into the ball.
  • You’ll learn to put more energy into the back of the ball and make solid contact.
Lesson 2: The Scary Pitch Over Trouble
2 Lesson 2: The Scary Pitch Over Trouble
  • Reducing the moving parts in your pitch swing
  • Picking the right club for the shot
  • Connecting the size of your swing to the shot
  • How to adjust in bad-lie situations

Play Without Fear

2  of  5

Lesson 2: The Scary Pitch Over Trouble

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One of the harder short-game shots in golf is when you’re facing a downhill lie in the rough with an obstacle between you and the green. But if there’s a decent amount of green to work with, this risky shot can be very doable. Here, teacher Debbie Doniger helps you pick the right club and make the adjustments needed to knock it close.

SWING THOUGHTS

On pitch shots, maintain the triangle formed by your arms throughout the swing
For standard pitch shots, swing to hip high back and through
On tough greenside shots, getting the ball on is good; don’t play for a miracle
Hinge the club up more on the backswing for tough greenside lies

DRILLS

Practice the No-Skull Pitch

  • At first, try your 56-degree wedge; the 60-degree requires more precision.
  • Widen your stance to create a stable base.
  • Play the ball middle, and swing back and through with no wrist action.
  • Get some reps with these little shots so you can use them on the course.
Lesson 3: Solving Three Tricky Chip Shots
3 Lesson 3: Solving Three Tricky Chip Shots
  • Master the simple do-it-all chip
  • Using your hybrid to minimize risk
  • Adapting to different greenside lies
  • How to avoid chunks and skulls

Play Without Fear

3  of  5

Lesson 3: Solving Three Tricky Chip Shots

video breakdown

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Amateur golfers often make greenside chips, whether in the rough or the short grass, much more difficult than they should be. The secret is understanding what the lie and the hole location will allow you to do. In this video, Debbie Doniger looks at how to simplify these shots and stop wasting strokes around the green.

SWING THOUGHTS

From buried chipping lies, set the shaft more vertical, with the club on its toe
Choke down for buried greenside lies, and close the face for better contact
From just off the fringe, use your hybrid, and make a long putting stroke
On the fringe, choke down on a wedge, stand closer, and just brush the grass

DRILLS

Course Simulations

  • When practicing your short game, create different lies to different holes.
  • Experiment with a variety of clubs, trying all your wedges and up to the 7-iron.
  • Work on a variety of situations: good lies, buried lies, tight lies.
  • If you don’t have much time to practice, stick with only your wedges.
Lesson 4: Don’t Let The Rough Intimidate You
4 Lesson 4: Don’t Let The Rough Intimidate You
  • Hybrid basics for long shots from the rough
  • The key adjustments when you find deep grass
  • Knowing when the risks outweigh the rewards
  • One drill you need to improve from the rough

Play Without Fear

4  of  5

Lesson 4: Don’t Let The Rough Intimidate You

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If you’re shooting in the 90s or higher, chances are you’re playing a lot of shots from the rough off the fairway. Without the right mind-set or any mechanical keys for handling these shots, you’ll struggle to lower your scores. The trick is knowing your limitations. Watch Debbie Doniger demonstrate what you need to do to escape the long stuff.

SWING THOUGHTS

On shots from the rough, pick a more lofted club than you would from the fairway
From the rough, choke down, stand closer to the ball, and lean the shaft forward
With the right setup adjustments, you can make your normal swing from the rough
Best swing thought from rough: Pull down from the top, and rotate all the way through

DRILLS

Rough Practice

  • Find an area where you can practice hitting full shots from the rough.
  • Experiment with different clubs, seeing what you can handle with good results.
  • Try shots from buried lies, too, and see how more loft allows an easier escape.
Lesson 5: Handling Nightmare Driving Holes
5 Lesson 5: Handling Nightmare Driving Holes
  • The psychology of difficult tee shots
  • What to do when you just can’t miss right
  • Picking the best club for the risks at hand
  • Pre-swing exercises to reduce tension

Play Without Fear

5  of  5

Lesson 5: Handling Nightmare Driving Holes

video breakdown

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A common miss for amateurs is a slice with the driver. This makes holes with trouble down the right side a cause for much anxiety. Aside from leading to difficult recovery shots, even lost balls, trouble on the right creates a mental challenge that makes a free swing almost impossible. In this video, Debbie Doniger discusses how to avoid that big miss to the right.

SWING THOUGHTS

If you fight a slice, and there’s trouble right, go to the right side of the tee and aim left
To minimize a slice, tee the ball a little lower and close the clubface slightly
Use a 5-wood or hybrid off the tee if you’re worried about going right
If you feel tension on the tee, breathe, hum or count in your head to reduce stress

DRILLS

Control Plan

  • Monitor your emotions when you step into scary situations.
  • Where do you feel tension? Develop your own way to alleviate it.
  • Recognize your instinct to try to steer the ball away from trouble.
  • Shift your aim to safe areas, and don’t let nerves make you swing harder.

Play Without Fear

Lesson
1 / 5
Lesson 1: The Terrible Two-Tier Putt
2 / 5
Lesson 2: The Scary Pitch Over Trouble
3 / 5
Lesson 3: Solving Three Tricky Chip Shots
4 / 5
Lesson 4: Don’t Let The Rough Intimidate You
5 / 5
Lesson 5: Handling Nightmare Driving Holes
Play Without Fear INDEX
Lesson 1: The Terrible Two-Tier Putt
1/5
Lesson 1: The Terrible Two-Tier Putt
  • How to use your feet and vision to read greens
  • Calibrating your stroke for repeatable speed
  • Improving centerface contact
  • The art of visualizing a secondary target
  • How to use your feet and vision to read greens
  • Calibrating your stroke for repeatable speed
  • Improving centerface contact
  • The art of visualizing a secondary target
Lesson 2: The Scary Pitch Over Trouble
2/5
Lesson 2: The Scary Pitch Over Trouble
  • Reducing the moving parts in your pitch swing
  • Picking the right club for the shot
  • Connecting the size of your swing to the shot
  • How to adjust in bad-lie situations
  • Reducing the moving parts in your pitch swing
  • Picking the right club for the shot
  • Connecting the size of your swing to the shot
  • How to adjust in bad-lie situations
Lesson 3: Solving Three Tricky Chip Shots
3/5
Lesson 3: Solving Three Tricky Chip Shots
  • Master the simple do-it-all chip
  • Using your hybrid to minimize risk
  • Adapting to different greenside lies
  • How to avoid chunks and skulls
  • Master the simple do-it-all chip
  • Using your hybrid to minimize risk
  • Adapting to different greenside lies
  • How to avoid chunks and skulls
Lesson 4: Don’t Let The Rough Intimidate You
4/5
Lesson 4: Don’t Let The Rough Intimidate You
  • Hybrid basics for long shots from the rough
  • The key adjustments when you find deep grass
  • Knowing when the risks outweigh the rewards
  • One drill you need to improve from the rough
  • Hybrid basics for long shots from the rough
  • The key adjustments when you find deep grass
  • Knowing when the risks outweigh the rewards
  • One drill you need to improve from the rough
Lesson 5: Handling Nightmare Driving Holes
5/5
Lesson 5: Handling Nightmare Driving Holes
  • The psychology of difficult tee shots
  • What to do when you just can’t miss right
  • Picking the best club for the risks at hand
  • Pre-swing exercises to reduce tension
  • The psychology of difficult tee shots
  • What to do when you just can’t miss right
  • Picking the best club for the risks at hand
  • Pre-swing exercises to reduce tension