InstructionApril 1, 2011

Saturday Morning Tip: Getting the rust off

We'll take a break from the Breaking 100-90-80 series this weekend. For many of you it's been a long winter, and finally the weather is looking promising across much of the United States. Even in coastal Connecticut, where I live and where we had snow flurries yesterday, the forecast calls for lots of sunshine and a high of 50 degrees. So how do you get your feel back quickly after a long layoff? Here are some tips from three prominent members of the Golf Digest staff of Teaching Professionals to quickly get you back in mid-season form. Try them before you set foot on the first tee today or tomorrow. And please follow me on Twitter @RogerSchiffman.

*Roger Schiffman

Managing Editor

Golf Digest*

__Butch Harmon: Walk the line to find the tempo that's best for you.

__Tee up five balls in a row on the range before you play. Hit the first ball at about 40 percent of your maximum. Keep walking down the line hitting balls, increasing your speed, until on the last ball you're swinging just about your hardest and fastest. To make sure you finish each swing, hold your finish for a count of one or two before moving on to the next ball. If you're like most players, you'll find that you hit the ball more solid, straighter and farther with a swing

               that's considerably slower and easier than your maximum. It should be your goal to keep that tempo on the course.

Jim Flick: Lighten your grip.

When you haven't played or hit balls for a long time, your hands and arms feel weak, so you subconsciously grip the club too tightly. This prohibits your feel for the club and reduces your clubhead speed. You have to counteract that. Tennis legend Jimmy Connors once told me that when he served he held the racket with the desired tension level to create the most speed possible. When he really needed to come up with an ace on a big point, he held the racket with minimal arm tension yet secure finger tension for control. Do the same with your grip on the club. You want the magic feeling of firm in the fingers but relaxed in the wrists and forearms.

Jim McLean: 'Putt" a sneaker to improve your feel on the greens

After a long layoff, the short game--especially your putting--usually suffers the most. You have no feel. Here's how to get it back quickly. Before you leave for the course, find a tennis shoe and place it on the floor. Address the shoe's heel with your putter. Your goal is to "putt" the sneaker, trying to move it forward a few inches. You want to give the back of it a good pop, which will help ingrain the feeling of a solid strike. This promotes a forward-leaning shaft and a flat left wrist at impact. Spend some time working on this drill, and your feel for proper impact will sharpen significantly. This added feel will also help improve your distance control.

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