Mid-week Lesson: It's all about feel

As you get ready for your upcoming weekend of golf, I thought you might consider a few thoughts from one of the game's foremost instructors, Golf Digest Teaching Professional Jim Flick.

Flick, in his earlier teaching career, was very mechanically oriented. But I've noticed a distinct change in recent years. He now talks a lot more about creating feel--for the club, for the swing, for the shot. He's been having a lot of success recently with junior players, especially in California. Beau Hossler is a great example. Beau qualified for the U.S. Open last year at age 16 and has won a number of junior events this year. Flick takes great pride in Beau's accomplishments. Jim tells me much of Beau's success is due to learning how to feel the "instrument," as Flick describes the golf club.

Here are three tips from Flick for gaining--or regaining--your feel so you can play to your potential:

1. Learn to feel the club. Grip a middle iron. First cock your wrists so you hold the club straight up. You'll see that it feels too light. Next, hold it straight out, and it will feel too heavy. Finally, hold it at a 45-degree angle. That angle lets you feel the proper weight of the clubhead, and the correct gripping sensation in your hands and arms. Now maintain that grip pressure as you swing.

2. Learn to feel your swing. First, from your normal address position, hinge your wrists, fold your elbows and let the clubshaft rest on your right shoulder. Second, turn your upper torso until your left shoulder is over your right knee, your hips staying level. Third, push your arms up into a desired backswing position with the wrists under and supporting the shaft. That's the way the club should feel at the top of your swing. (Close your eyes and let that position register.) Finally, practice your downswing, holding your shoulders back. allowing your arms to swing down on an inside path. Then repeat and hit the ball.

3. Feel your greens. When golfers three-putt, the reason is usually poor distance control, not direction. You can hit a putt as much as two feet off line, but if you have feel for the proper distance, your next putt will be at most a two-footer. Golfers with poor feel, however, often hit the first putt more than two fee past the hole or leave it well short. No matter how accurate their directional control, they'll have to deal with a missable second putt. Practice the Ladder Drill: Place five clubs on the practice green, like the rungs on a ladder, a couple of feet apart, so you have a 10-footer, a 12-footer, a 14-footer, and so on. Then putt five balls, one to each club. Develop your feel by concentrating on how much effort each stroke takes to roll the ball the proper distance. When you go out to play, your feel for distance will be superb.

I'm sure these thoughts from Jim Flick will help your game.

*Roger Schiffman

Managing Editor

Golf Digest

Twitter @RogerSchiffman*