Fast Fixes Tee To Green
Get off to a really great start this spring
February 03, 2014
Spring golf is right around the corner, so we assembled some great young talent to help you brush off the winter rust. Unless, that is, you've been out beating balls every day. (We didn't think so.) As you'll see here, sometimes it's the little things that come back slowly. Other times you need to focus on the overall motion. Whatever your situation, nothing helps more than having a few simple, clear thoughts to rely on. With insight from two-time world long-drive champion Jamie Sadlowski (left) and four of Golf Digest's Best Young Teachers, you can incorporate some tried-and-true solutions into your game, from the driver to the putter. You'll clean house when you get back on the course—whether it's your first round of a new season or just another chance to show up your buddies.—Matthew Rudy
COIL GOING BACK, THEN RELEASE ITWhen people watch me during the Re/Max Long Drive events, they're expecting to see violent swings. But my 150 miles an hour of clubhead speed comes in part from good fundamentals and smooth sequencing. Those are things any golfer can improve.Everybody talks about coil, but a lot of players don't really know what it is. To me, it's the difference between hip turn and shoulder turn on the backswing (previous photo). You might not be as flexible as I am, but any amount you increase that spread will help you add yards.Also, notice my head position in these photos is the same: six inches behind the ball. If you set your head back and keep it there, you can work your right shoulder under your left coming down and launch the ball on the upswing. One last tip: You can see here I'm using the ground to turn my hips hard—they're 45 degrees open, and my chest is facing the ball. That's the coiling action in reverse, and it's a big power play.Jamie Sadlowski hit one 418 yards to win the 2008 Re/Max World Long Drive Championship.
DON'T GET QUICK FROM THE TOPOne of the most common mistakes with the longer clubs—and hybrids are so popular now—is a quick transition from the top of the backswing to the downswing. It happens when the upper body lunges forward as the first move from the top, throwing the club onto an outside path and setting up pulls and slices. Notice how you can't see the buttons on my shirt at the top of my backswing? As I start down, I'll wait an extra beat to let my arms drop first before I begin rotating my torso. A great swing thought is to hide those shirt buttons for as long as you can, keeping your back turned to the target. This will help you keep the club on an inside path and deliver a powerful strike. The ball will fly longer and straighter.But perhaps the biggest fault I see with hybrids is a simple one: letting the ball position creep forward, into fairway-wood territory. Keep it no more than two inches ahead of center in your stance. That'll go a long way toward setting up good contact.John Bierkan is director of instruction at Quail Valley Golf Club in Vero Beach, Fla., and Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, Pa.
ROLL OFF YOUR BACK FOOTA major swing error I see with the irons is cutting across the ball because you get stuck on the toes of your back foot. You can't compress the ball much that way, so the result is a weak shot, usually a slice. To get the club to swing through the ball from in to out, you need to move your weight in the same direction. Use this practice drill to groove your weight shift, then turn it into a mental image when you play.Set up with a ball under the toes of your back foot, and pretend the ball is an egg you don't want to break. During the backswing, make sure your weight stays between the arch and heel of that back foot. Practice starting down by rolling off your arch and heel onto the inside edge of your back shoe (left). If your weight never moves toward your toes—you never "crush the egg"—you'll be in position to pinch the ball off the turf and produce a powerful draw.Jason Carbone is director of instruction at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J.
RAISE THE HEEL OFF THE GROUNDOn chip shots, it's important to set up in a way that lets you be instinctive and not worry about the club's leading edge getting stuck in the grass at impact.First, use your putting grip. This puts the lead wrist in a more unhinged (downward) position (left), promoting a more upright shaft angle. With the heel of the clubhead slightly raised, there's less chance of the club digging.Second, let that lead wrist have a slight cup to it so that the area where your watch would sit is curved away from the target. Almost every other shot in golf works better with a flat or slightly bowed lead wrist at impact, but in chipping, that again can cause the leading edge to get stuck in the turf. Lean the shaft toward the target at setup but not so much that the lead wrist becomes completely flat. Your divots will be shallower, and your impact consistent.Travis Fulton is director of instruction at the Tour Academies at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach and World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla.
LET YOUR ARMS SWING FREELYMany players try to keep their arms pinned to their bodies in an effort to create a "one-piece" stroke. The trouble is, this rigid action doesn't have any rhythm, which is the key to distance control.To introduce some freedom and flow to your stroke, feel as if you're sweeping the putterhead low to the ground on the backstroke. Keep your body stable but with no tension in your arms or shoulders. On the through-stroke, let your lead arm naturally separate from your body (left). The putterhead should work gently from low to high in the forward stroke, finishing higher off the ground and closer to the target the longer the putt. This added freedom will help your feel for distance and create a better roll on the ball.Chris Como teaches at Gleneagles Country Club in Plano, Texas.