December 30, 2009

Grip down in soggy conditions

Treat soft ground like it's a fairway bunker
Staying afloat: To hit it solid from wet turf, as I did here in the 2008 British Open, don't grip the club all the way at the end.
Staying afloat: To hit it solid from wet turf, as I did here in the 2008 British Open, don't grip the club all the way at the end.

You might have noticed that some players at last year's U.S. Open at Bethpage Black were gripping down on the club in the soggy conditions. You should, too. When you play on a wet course, your feet usually sink in. So if you don't grip down from the end of the club half an inch or so to compensate for the soft turf, the tendency is to hit it fat. It's like being in a fairway bunker where you dig your feet in for better stability, but then grip down on the club to promote ball-first contact.

The mistake I see average golfers make on wet days is to grip the club all the way at the end and then bend the left arm at address, rather than let it hang straight. Or they let the left arm hang straight but stand too far from the ball at address. Grip down instead.


MORE THOUGHTS FROM TOM
Here are three more tips to consider when the course is soaked:

1. The ball doesn't roll as much after it lands, so factor that into your club selection and targets. Focus on carry rather than roll.

2. Out of wet rough, raise your hands at address to make the shaft more vertical, which helps get the club through the grass more easily.

3. Putts on wet greens are slower and break less. Try to firm them in.

Tom Watson is a Golf Digest Playing Editor and the golf professional emeritus at The Greenbrier, in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.


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