A few weeks ago, we asked some top teachers to tell you about the worst advice they’d overheard amateurs giving each other on the practice tee. Off of that, we asked three other top teachers to help fill your now-empty information bucket with good advice you can share with your friends (or, if necessary, use for yourself!).
Golf Digest 50 Best Teacher Bernie Najar is going to get your playing partner headed in the right direction on the putting green, and top Canadian teacher Shauheen Nakhjavani shares what your actual rap should be when you see a quick, short slash at the ball. Top Michigan teacher Ian Hughes finishes up the lesson with anti-slice advice that will actually work—instead of ‘Hey, just aim more left.’ ”
What You've Heard: "Make sure you get it there."
Say This Instead: Get better speed on your next important putt.
“Be sure to get it there . . . How many times have you played with a partner in a team event and heard those dreaded words?” asks Najar, who is based at Caves Valley Golf Club outside Baltimore. “I understand where that comes from—it’s code for ‘Don’t leave it short.’ But the problem is that advice usually causes a player to make a different read and take a different line than he or she would've otherwise picked—and they usually gun it by the hole.”
A much better strategy is to simply read the putt from a few feet farther away, then make your practice stroke related to that size of putt, not the distance you see.
“That way, you can go through your normal routine and just make a regular stroke, not one where you’re thinking about adding more when you get down to impact,” says Najar.
Bad Advice I've Heard: "Slow down your swing."
Say This Instead: Turn more to improve your sequencing.
In general, speed is a wonderful thing in golf. It makes the ball go farther, and it produces more backspin on middle and short iron shots. But if you’re trying to add speed at the wrong time, you’re mostly just creating wind.
“We’ve all seen friends with terrible tempo and sequence,” says Nakhjavani, who is based at Mystic Pines Golf Club in Montreal. “Their real swing is typically a shorter, faster and more hectic-looking version of their practice swing.”
Instead of focusing on slowing down your swing, work on improving your turn to get back in sync. “I like to see you turn so that your trail leg straightens—not locks, but straightens—and your lead knee is under your chin,” says Nakhjavani. “That has the effect of getting your hands deeper behind you, which makes it easier to hit from the inside. You’re also engaging more of your big muscles, which are going to help you hit it harder.”
Bad Advice I've Heard: "Aim more left to straighten out that slice."
Say This Instead: Change your grip and aim to quit slicing.
We’ve all been there on the first tee—watching a playing partner aim down the left side of the fairway only to come over the top and slice it into the subdivision right of right. The commentary that follows is usually fun, too: “I never do that,” or “I usually hit a draw.”
No, you don’t. And no, you shouldn’t be telling people they need to aim more left, either. “What does it tell you that there are more anti-slice tips out there than anything else, and the vast majority of players still slice every single time?” asks Hughes, who is based at GolfTEC Grand Rapids. “Until you address the fundamentals, you’re never going to fix that problem correctly.”
If your friend actually wants a tip—and lots of people actually don’t—start with how they hold the club. “Whatever style of grip you have—interlocking, overlapping, whatever—if you’re a slicer, you need to make sure both hands are turned away from the target. If you’re a right handed player, your left hand should have its thumb on the side of the grip, and your right hand should be turned under the shaft,” says Hughes.
“After that, you have to deal with your aim. The more you open your body by aiming left, the more you exaggerate the swing that makes a slice. Turn so that your shoulders are aimed right of the target, which gives you a chance to start swinging from the inside.”