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The Setup

Putting

Sand Shots

Chip Shots

Pitch Shots

  Iron Shots

Fairway Woods

The Driver

 

John Herlong, PGA

herlong@pga.com

 

* * All tips are given with the assumption of a right-handed golfer

 

 

The Setup

 

  • A proper setup is the difference between a good golf shot and a bad one.

  • No matter what grip you choose, your hands need to "work together."  To do this, make sure that your palms are parallel and facing one another.

  • Preshot Routine- This is very overlooked, but important.  The biggest complaint that I receive is that "I'm not consistent."  Watch a professional basketball player shoot a free throw or a tennis player serve.  They will go through the same routine "EVERY TIME".  This may be bouncing the ball the same number of times, or tapping their right shoulder before taking a shot.  Have a routine for every shot, chip, pitch, or putt.  This will make you a more consistent golfer 

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Putting

 

  • The quickest way to lower your handicap is by improving your putting.  If you can turn a three putt into a two putt on every green, you can bring a typical score of 100 to a 82.

  • The biggest problem that I see is that amateurs "hit" their putts.  By this, I mean they bring the club back very far and then decelerate as they approach the ball and hit "at" the ball.  I like to teach my students to "push" the ball to the hole.  This means to bring back the club a very short distance and accelerate through the ball.  This also helps alignment, because it forces you "follow through" to the hole.

  • Use a "Pendulum Motion."  You wrists should stay locked and the ONLY movement should be the shoulders rotating in a "Pendulum" motion around the spine. 

  • Question: When putting, what's more important, the direction (alignment) you hit the putt or the distance (for longer putts).  Answer:  The distance!!  Your goal is to get the ball close to the hole.  You can't expect to make 40 foot putts (hopefully, you'll make a few).  This is how you get rid of the dreaded three putt.  If you hit a putt off line, but get the distance correct, you're still only looking at a 2-3 foot putt.

  • Develop a methodology for putting different distances.  There are many good "feel" putters on the Professional Tours, but I like to teach more of a mechanical method.  I have my students bring the club back different distances for different length putts.  Personally, I bring the putter back 12 inches for a 20 foot putt (depending on the speed of the green).  This is relative to other distances also.  If you bring the putter back 12 inches for a 20 foot putt, then bringing the club back 24 inches should make the ball go 40 feet.

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Sand Shots

 

  • When hitting a sand shot, the displacement of the sand propels the ball.  The ball shouldn't come in contact with the club face.  You should be able to hit a rock out of a bunker with the same trajectory as a ball.

  • When hitting a sand shot, open your stance (body points about 10-20 degrees to the left of target) and then open the club face (aimed at the target or slightly right).  Swing with a steep angle (pick the club up quickly) along the BODY line and don't "release" the club face when hitting the sand.  This means don't turnover (right forearm coming on top of the left forearm) the clubface.  You should feel like you're cutting across the ball.  The face of the club should be pointing toward the sky on the follow through.  You should enter the sand about two inches behind the ball.

  • Changing the ball position in your stance (toward the left or right foot) is a good way to control the distance the ball goes.  The further back the ball is (toward the right foot) the further the ball should travel (lower trajectory) and vice versa. 

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Chip Shots

 

  • What is a Chip Shot?  This is a shot that spends less time in the air and more time rolling.  This is a VERY low trajectory shot and used just off of the edge of the green. 

  • Well over half of your golf shot will occur 100 yards and in, so you should spend well over half of your time practicing the short game.

  • Question:  What's more important when hitting a chip, distance or direction?  Yes, distance!  Again, your goal is to get the ball close to the hole.

  • Setup-Put the ball back in your stance (toward right foot) with the hands forward (near left thigh) and stance open.  Also, keep all of your weight on your left side throughout the entire swing.  This will help keep you from hitting it fat (under the ball).

  • Use a putting stroke.  You want the ball to come out low and start rolling as soon as possible, so keep your wrist locked.  This will give you a pendulum motion and sweep the ball at a shallow angle.

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Pitch Shots

 

  • What is a Pitch Shot?  This shot will spend more time in the air and less time rolling.  This shot has a VERY high trajectory.  The key is to get the ball up quickly.

  • If you want to bounce a basketball over someone's head, how would you bounce it?  You wouldn't throw it at a shallow angle, but would throw it steeply down.  To get the golf ball in the air, most people try to scoop it or help it up, but the opposite is true.  If you want to get the ball in the air (like the basketball), you want to hit steeply down on the ball.  To hit down on the ball, you want to use more wrist than in the Chip Shot.

  • Setup-Put the ball in the middle of your stance (equally between the left and right foot) with the hands forward (near left thigh) and stance open.  Also, keep all of your weight on your left side throughout the entire swing.  This will help keep you from hitting it fat (under the ball).

  • Use a "wristy" swing.  This will bring the club up quickly and back down at a steep angle.  This will result in a higher trajectory shot.

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Iron Shots

 

  • When hitting a full iron shot, you want to make ball contact on the downswing.  This means hit the ball before reaching the bottom of the swing.  This will make the divot in front (to the left) of the ball.

  • When hitting shorter irons, the ball should be in the middle of the stance, then as you hit longer irons, move the ball towards the front (left) foot.

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Fairway Woods

 

  • Setup-Weight should be equally between feet.  The ball should be towards the front of your stance (inside edge of left foot).  Hands should be in line with the club head (near the left thigh). 

  • Bring the club back "low and slow".  This will promote a "sweeping" swing.  The wood should make contact with the ball at the bottom of the swing (between the downswing and upswing).  Don't hit "down" on the ball.

  • Keep your center of gravity behind the ball (right of the ball)

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The Driver

 

  • This is the longest club in the bag, so it is designed to go the furthest.

  • Setup-Weight should be equally between feet.  The ball should be towards the front of your stance (inside edge of left foot).  Hands should be in line with the club head (near the left thigh). 

  • Bring the club back "low and slow".  This will promote a "sweeping" swing.  The driver should make contact with the ball on the UPSWING.  Don't hit "down" on the ball.

  • Keep your center of gravity behind the ball (right of the ball)

  • When driving into the wind, tee the ball lower and put it back in your stance (between the left foot and center of the stance).

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