Saturday Morning Tip: Playing with images
We're back to our goals of Breaking 100, 90 or 80 with today's tips for the weekend. Many of you have been asking for non-mechanical thoughts, rather than very specific, analytical information. So I've turned to one of the brightest teachers in the game, Golf Digest Teaching Professional Josh Zander, who was the 2003 Northern California Teacher of the Year and is tremendous at devising visual images to hit better shots. Here are three tips from Josh that won't wear you out. Let me know if you like this kind of instruction, and please remember to follow me on Twitter @RogerSchiffman.
Breaking 100: Hit pitch shots like bunker shots
As in chipping, a lot of amateurs play pitches with the ball too far back, causing the club's leading edge to dig at impact. The pitch is like the sand shot, except you don't swing as hard. Play the ball about middle, and keep your weight slightly forward. The club's bounce should graze the grass the way it slides under the ball in the sand. This is more forgiving than playing the ball back, because the club can actually hit the ground behind the ball and still slide through.
Breaking 90: On the tee, play on thin ice
A great image for hitting better drives--especially if you tend to pop the ball up or run your driver into the ground--is to pretend you're swinging on a sheet of thin ice. Try to sweep the
ball off the tee. If you catch the ground with the leading edge, your driver will crack the ice, and you'll go for a nice, chilly swim! This image also does wonders for balance and tempo: Swing too hard, and you'll end up on your rear end.
Breaking 80: Pretend every shot is a trouble shot
When you play your next round, no matter where you are on the course, pretend you have to go around, under or over an obstacle. This exercise gets your mind out of golf-swing mode and onto the shot at hand. You'll be surprised how much better you play when your mind is entertained with shot shapes, and not bogged down in swing mechanics. Ever wonder why you hit great recovery shots but miss the green from the middle of the fairway? It's about picturing the shot.