124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2


Odds are you didn’t win your club championship. We asked three top teachers to explain why

September 12, 2019

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different outcome.

Don't be insane.

You might have struggled in your end-of-the-season tournament, outing or event, but it's time to change that for next time. Don't repeat the same bad shots that cost you the victory the next time you go out and play a round that matters.

We asked three top teachers to make short videos on a common mistake they saw players make last weekend under the gun, and they've offered advice about how to shore up those weaknesses. Golf Digest 50 Best Teacher Mark Blackburn is going to help you with your pressure chipping, and top South Carolina teacher Jonathan Yarwood gets your approach wedges dialed in. Top Illinois teacher Rick Silva gives you an easy way to get your driver going long and straight.

Why You Lost: You keep chunking wedges

In crunch time, dumping a chip might be the most devastating thing you can do because you're often left with the exact same shot all over again. The key to hitting a useful shot under pressure is creating the largest margin for error you can. "Players tend to take too much loft, lower the handle and play the ball back, all of which gets the leading edge interacting more with the ground," says Mark Blackburn, who is based at Greystone Golf & Country Club in Birmingham, Ala. "Your sand wedge has more bounce on the sole, and setting up with higher hands and the club in a slightly toe down position basically takes the fat shot out of the equation."

Why You Lost: You need more versatility around the greens.

Raise your hand if you recognize yourself. You're 80 yards out, from a great fairway lie, and you reflexively reach for your sand or 60-degree wedge to put a full swing on your approach shot. The result is often a wiped, open-face slider that comes up way short. Don't be that player. "Take more loft and use your pitching wedge to play a controlled, body-dominant shot," says Jonathan Yarwood, who runs the International Junior Golf Academy in Hilton Head. "You're going to produce a lower-launching kind of knuckle ball that still has enough spin to stay under control but will actually get to your target."

Why You Lost: You couldn't eliminate a few bad drives.

The more the club needs to re-route on its path down from the top to impact, the harder it is to produce speed and consistent, solid contact. Which is why pulling the club—specifically the club's center of mass—behind you on the backswing is a sure recipe for a re-route, and a snap hook. "When the club goes so far behind, it HAS to pitch out to get back to the ball, and you're going to come over the top, cut across it, pull it or do all kinds of other things that make it really hard to hit it where you can find it," says Rick Silva, who runs Movement 3 Golf in Highland Park, outside Chicago. "Doing even a slightly better job managing the center of mass on the backswing will get you hitting your driver with more authority when it counts."