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Backswing Checklist

By Jim McLean

People say the golf swing is all about impact. But it’s what you do before impact that determines if the strike will be any good. Getting into a solid position at the top lets you swing freely on the way down. You don’t have to fight your way back into position.

Let’s look at three things in my backswing here. First, I’ve stayed in my forward tilt toward the ball. My left shoulder is lower than my right. I’ve simply rotated around my spine, so my height hasn’t changed from address. Maintaining this tilt gives me a great chance to return the club precisely to the ball.

Second, my left wrist is flat. The left wrist controls the clubface. If my wrist was cupped (bent back), the face would be open. That turns the downswing into a recovery mission, where you have to try to shut the face or else swing way left to make room for a slice.

Finally, my back leg is braced and supporting most of my weight. This is a big one because from here, I have the leverage to drive toward the target and push off the ground. If the back leg is in a weak position, chances are the upper body will take over coming down—and that’s a killer.

Nail these positions, and the downswing is a lot simpler.

MCLEAN is based at The Biltmore in Coral Gables, Fla.

 

Source: GolfDigest.com

A Modern Blueprint to Breaking 90

By Peter Sanders

Want to break 90?  Here is my blueprint

The game is a puzzle and all the pieces fit together. Each round is a mix of good shots, average shots and bad shots or errors. The challenge is to find the piece of your game’s unique puzzle that is your greatest weakness so you can target your improvement time and money on the highest impact area. If you track the simple good and bad outcomes listed below for a few rounds, your strengths and weaknesses will become apparent.

Tee Game or Driving

Goals:  Hit 7 fairways, and limit your driving errors to 2 – preferably of the No Shot variety (see Errors below).

Distance:  I will ignore this and assume that you are playing from the appropriate tees for your game.

Fairways:  Hitting fairways is important as we are all more accurate from the short grass.

Errors:  Far more important than Fairways hit is your FREQUENCY and SEVERITY of misses. ShotByShot.com users record THREE types of Driving Errors:

  1. No Shot:  You have missed in a place from which you do not have a normal next shot, requiring some sort of advancement to get the ball back to normal play.
  2. Penalty:  A 1-stroke penalty due to hazard or unplayable lie.
  3. Lost/OB:  Stroke and distance penalty.

Approach Shots

Goals:  5 GIRs and 1 Penalty/2nd (see below)

Penalty/2nd:  This means either a penalty or a shot hit so poorly that you are left with yet another full approach shot greater than 50 yards from the hole.

Short Game

(Shots from within 50 yards of the hole)

Chip/Pitch: If you miss 13 greens, you will have at least 10 greenside save opportunities. Your goals should be:

  • % Saved:  20% (two saves)
  • % Errors:  15% shots that miss the green (approximately three every two rounds)

Sand:

You should have 2 greenside save opportunities.  Your goals:

  • % Saved:  10%
  • % Errors:  30% of your shots miss the green (approximately 1 in every 3 attempts)

Putting

You need 36 putts.  Aim for:

  • 1-Putts:  3
  • 3-Putts:  2

 

Source: GolfWRX.com

Flush Your Fairway Woods

By Michael Breed

The thing about hitting fairway woods off the turf is, most golfers feel like they have to help them into the air. They look down and don’t see much loft on the clubface, and they know they want to launch the ball high, so what do they do? The classic mistakes are playing the ball off the toe of the front foot and hanging back on the downswing to try to lift the ball. Both are killers. — with Peter Morrice

Let’s get you a clear plan for using these clubs. It starts with ball position. Yes, you’ve got a long club in your hands, so you want to play the ball forward—but not too far forward. Make sure it’s at least a couple of inches inside your front foot.

Next, to make a good strike, we have to look at your backswing. Resist the urge to just lift your arms straight up. You need some width to your swing arc, so focus on extending your hands away from the target. And not just your lead arm; feel your trail arm stretching back. This width will help you later.

Finally, you have to trust that you have enough loft to produce the trajectory you want—and you do! Keep your chest pointing down toward the ball through impact (above). Don’t pull your chest up or tilt it away from the target, or you won’t hit the ball solidly. With your chest down and the club coming in nice and shallow, you’ll catch the ball and brush the ground after impact. That’s how you flush a fairway wood.

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MICHAEL BREED is Golf Digest’s Chief Digital Instructor.

 

Source: GolfDigest.com

What You Can Learn From a Long-Drive Champ

By Justin James

As a former world long-drive champion, I often hear from regular golfers that they’ll never come close to being able to swing like me. Not true. You can. If you copy even a little of my technique, the ball is going to come off the face of your driver hotter than ever. Try these things the next time you’re on the range. By Justin James —with Ron Kaspriske

CHEAT THE SCALE

If you just stood on a scale, it would give you your body weight. But if you push down, that number will go up. When I make a backswing, I’m loading more than 100 percent of my body weight into my trail leg (right leg for righties). So really push into the ground with your trail leg as you take the club back. It will help you create and store a lot of energy.

GET OFF THE HEEL

As you swing back, it’s OK if your lead heel comes off the ground. That’s going to help you make a bigger backswing—especially if you’re not that flexible. You’ll really load up on your right side.

AVOID THE SWAY

Feel like someone standing behind your back is grabbing a belt loop near your right hip pocket and pulling it toward him. In other words, sink into that right hip as you swing back, which will keep you from swaying away from the target.

PLANT AND BUMP

To start your downswing, replant your left heel if you let it come off the ground. I mean really plant it. Try to leave an indentation in the turf. You’re using the ground to create energy for more swing speed. Also, let your left hip shift toward the target. This bump allows you to stay behind the ball with your upper body so you can apply all your weight to the strike.

GO WITH THE FASTBALL

I don’t think about pulling the handle of the driver down toward the ball, and I don’t think about releasing the club, either. Instead, I get the sensation I’m throwing a fastball with my right hand. It probably comes from my time as a minor-league pitcher. This feel will really boost your speed down into the ball.

SHOULDER THE LOAD

You want your club moving its fastest as it meets the ball. To make that happen, get the right shoulder facing the target as you finish the swing. It’s got to keep moving. As long as my lower body leads in the downswing, this turn helps blast the ball way down the fairway.

JUSTIN JAMES, 29, 6-foot-1, 215 pounds, won the 2017 World Long Drive Championship. He plays a Krank Formula X Snapper driver (48 inches, 3.5 degrees of loft). He hit a 435-yard drive to win the championship.

Source: GolfDigest.com

Masters 2019: Never mind copying a tour player – you should swing like Augusta legend Jeff Knox

By Matthew Rudy

The Masters - Round Three

Andrew RedingtonAUGUSTA, GEORGIA – APRIL 13: Eddie Pepperell of England fist bumps marker Jeff Knox on the 18th green during the third round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 13, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Yes, you’ve already heard about Augusta member Jeff Knox, the decorated amateur who holds the course record of 61 from the member tees and gets the call to play as a marker when the field goes to an odd number after the cut.

But what exactly makes the 56-year-old charitable foundation executive such a good player? It goes without saying that anybody who can shoot 61 from any tees at Augusta National has a wonderful short game—and every tour player who has gone around with Knox has confirmed he’s the best at navigating the greens here they’ve ever seen. But it’s his simple, repeatable swing that makes him such a valuable marker. He almost always hits it where he’s looking—so he can do his thing at the speed his playing partner prefers.

“When you bake out the differences between tour players because of their different body types and flexibility levels, virtually all of them still do some common things that explain why they hit the ball so well and so consistently,” says Golf Digest 50 Best Teacher Michael Jacobs. “Jeff Knox does a lot of the same things. He has what I would call a great ‘vanilla’ tour swing. It’s a terrific model for anybody to use as a starting point for their swing.”

The reason tour players look so fluid is because they aren’t doing a lot of re-routing of the club. “Knox’s left arm comes up during his backswing and goes directly across his right shoulder, and when he makes his downswing, the club never gets pushed or forced too much behind him or in front of him,” says Jacobs, who is based at Rock Hill Country Club in Manorville, New York. “When you see better players come down with the clubhead way behind them, they have to contort their body in strange ways to get to the ball. And weekend players usually have the opposite problem—they push the club way out and over the top so that it comes down steep and cuts across the ball.”

Knox’s clean and efficient move is why he’s been able to keep up on a 7,500-yard course well into his 50s—and shoot an unofficial 74 that would have beat or tied ten official competitors who teed it up Saturday.

“Like I said, players have different bodies and levels of flexibility, so you don’t want to try to copy exactly what somebody else’s move is,” says Jacobs. “But you can definitely train a better hand path like the one Jeff has by simply paying more attention to how much it goes behind you or in front of you on the downswing. Get that part more ‘neutral’ and your pattern of misses will get much more narrow.”

 

Source: GolfDigest.com

John Rahm: Low Scores Start with Maxing Out Your Drives

By John Rahm

There might be some par 4s where it makes sense to tee off with a 3-wood or an iron, but it’s rare to see me using anything but driver. I’m more comfortable with it. When it comes to scoring, I’d rather hit it as far down the fairway as I can and have a wedge in my hands for the next shot—even from the rough—versus a middle iron from the fairway. My strategy seems to work. I’m second on the PGA Tour in birdie average (4.5 per round) and third in strokes gained/off the tee. My goal with the driver is pretty simple.

I want to load up in the backswing and then use the ground in the downswing to generate as much power as possible. It’s a short-and-fast swing, with my legs and torso doing most of the work, so there’s not a lot that can go wrong. If you’re like me and would rather hit driver every chance you get—I bet you do!—here are some tips to help simplify your swing and make it your most effective scoring club. —With Ron Kaspriske


GET YOUR HANDS OUT OF THE SWING
This backswing position you see (below) is a checkpoint for me. I want to make sure I haven’t whipped the clubhead inside the target line with my hands. Taking the club back like that is a real power-and-accuracy killer, and if I think about what my hands are doing, I assure you my driving won’t be good. Instead, I want my torso, arms and club moving back together. You’ll know you made a good backswing if you feel it in your right hip. That’s the main thing for me. I want to load into that hip. If I don’t, it feels more like a stack-and-tilt swing where your weight stays on the left foot. You can’t hit it far from that position. Instead, I want to feel my weight on the inside of my right foot and thigh. When it gets there, I’m ready to swing down.

Jon Rahm
Photo by Giovanni Reda“If I think about what my hands are doing, I assure you my driving won’t be good.”

PUSH DOWN AND TURN HARD
To start the downswing, I want to push into the ground with my legs, which lets me turn hard and left with my hips and then the upper body. When I do this, it feels like the club is just being pulled into a great impact position. Again, I’m not trying to hit the ball with my hands. One thing to remember: You’ve got to keep turning—even after impact (below). I feel like I’m powering the club through the ball with my body rotation. In other words, don’t stop until you can’t turn anymore. For me, this produces a fade that feels really solid coming off the clubface. I guess you could say I just think aim left and swing hard left. Do that, and the ball gets out there a good way. Then just grab your wedge and go make birdie.

Jon Rahm
Photos by Giovanni Reda‘My advice for amateurs? Play the ball farther forward and tee it higher. Take advantage of that driver.’Source: GolfDigest.com

5 quick tips to conquering the downhill chip

By David Leadbetter

Usually the area around a green is level with or lower than the putting surface. But sometimes you’ll find your ball on a mound near the green, leaving you with a downhill chip. Sure, it was a lucky break that the hill kept your ball within chipping distance. But now what? This atypical lie presents a challenge for a lot of golfers, because it drastically reduces the chance of popping the ball up and landing it softly on the green—especially if you have a tendency to try to help the ball in the air with a scooping, wristy action. You need to make some adjustments to pull off this shot.

“KEEP YOUR KNEE FLEX IF YOU WANT TO POP THE BALL UP.”

First, you can’t afford to make contact with the ground behind the ball, or you’ll blade it across the green. So play the ball slightly back of center in your stance. Another thing that will help you make ball-first contact is to lean the handle a little toward the green, so your hands are closer to the flag than the clubhead. I also recommend gripping down on the club—your most lofted wedge—for more control.

Next, the way you swing is important, too. Maintain flex in your knees throughout the swing (above). Remember to keep the shaft leaning forward through impact and abbreviate the follow-through. A time-honored swing thought for this shot is to swing down the slope with the clubhead.

All of this might seem like a lot to remember, so boil it down like this: Ball back, hands ahead, and swing down the slope. Do that, and you’ll get just enough loft on the ball to stop it near the hole. — with Ron Kaspriske

Source here

Pull yourself out of that rut and hole more putts
By Cameron McCormick
Was your performance in 2016 slightly less than satisfying? I know it’s not enough to hear it happens to everyone from time to time. You want to shake off the year of stubs, lip-outs and three-jacks before golf season rolls back around and you’re racking up missed putts again like a kid catching Pokémon. Well, if you really want to fix this flat-stick fiasco, you’re going to need a bit more than a 30-minute session rolling balls into those tiny golf cups. I recommend a full reboot. Here I’m going to give you four ways to pull yourself out of that putting rut. Sometimes only one of these will do the trick, but be prepared for the reality that you might need all four. Best get started. —With Ron Kaspriske
1.) BENCH YOUR PUTTER
If you’re the kind of golfer who talks to a putter, gives it a good spanking when it isn’t performing, and even threatens to back the pickup truck over it in the parking lot, it’s time for the “we need to take a break from each other” conversation. Bench your putt-er for something different. Use a blade? Switch to a mallet. Always preferred heel-shafted putters? Try a centershaft. Everything from club length to grip circumference is up for consideration. Go get fitted (View: Your Ultimate Guide To Finding A Better Game). The big switch works for two reasons. First, there are no bad memories with a new putter. It’s a new day. Second, assuming the old one isn’t now residing in a scrap-metal yard, you’ll make it just jealous enough that it will perform its best when you rekindle your relationship.
2.) REALLY BENCH YOUR PUTTER
“It’s not you, it’s me” won’t fly as a break-up excuse after the second Tinder date, but it’s probably true of your relationship with the putter. It showed up ready to bury every five-footer—but sometimes you didn’t. You need a refresher on mechanics. So I suggest you practice putting with your sand wedge. It’s not as crazy as it sounds. A good stroke is propelled by the shoulders and requires minimal hand or wrist action. To get the ball rolling with a wedge, you have to make that kind of stroke hitting the ball at its equator with the leading edge (above). This type of practice elicits precision and is good for the ol’ ego. You’re more apt to forgive yourself for a miss, which helps reduce those anxious feelings that turn you into a puddle of goo when the putts actually count.
3.) GRAB AND GO
You’ve held your putter the same way for so long the grip is starting to look like one of those training clubs that has grooved channels for your fingers. It’s time to switch it up, because what you’re doing, as they say here in Texas, is as pitiful as a three-legged dog. The easiest switch would be to flip hand positions so the higher one is lower. But I think you should take it a step further. Get crazy with it. Try the saw, the claw, the paintbrush, the non-anchored belly grip. Sometimes all you need is a dramatically different way of holding the club to reset your brain and start rolling the ball the way you used to.
4.) HIT SOME BOMBS
On the putting green you need to be more Picasso than Pythagoras. In other words, knowing the math behind a putt is important (speed, slope, etc.), but don’t let it squelch your right-brain artistry. You probably aren’t crunching numbers when you ball up a piece of paper and try tossing it into the garbage. You just use your feel. My suggestion? Go deep. Find the longest, craziest putts on a green and try to make them. Even putting from well off the green will help you get your feel back. You know you have to hit the ball hard, and you know it’s going to break, but when you try these long-distance putts, you become less concerned with the mechanics and tap back into the hand-eye coordination you thought you lost. Another benefit? It will free up your stroke. No more trying to steer them in. You’ll putt without fear of missing. Reboot complete.
Cameron McCormick is Jordan Spieth’s instructor and teaches at Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas.

Much like he did last summer, Francesco Molinari snuck up on everybody on Sunday at Bay Hill. Trailing by five strokes entering the final round, the reigning Open Champion shot an eight-under 64 to capture the Arnold Palmer Invitational, his third career PGA Tour title, all of which have come in his last 12 starts.

Molinari, who teed off 10 groups ahead of the leaders, got off to a hot start, making three birdies and no bogeys on his first seven holes. Just as it looked like he’d cool off at the par-4 eighth, where he badly missed the green with his approach, Molinari played a deft chip that found the bottom of the cup for another birdie. He made four more on the back nine, including a 43-foot bomb at the 72nd hole that wound up ultimately giving him a two-stroke win over Matthew Fitzpatrick, who shot a final-round 71.

“I don’t know, I’m just super glad,” said a shocked Molinari, who just put new clubs in the bag this week. “First week as a Callaway player, so happy to see that the switch I made wasn’t as crazy as some people thought. The clubs are good for me and I showed it this week.

“It’s great, to do it here, to get it done here at this place knowing that my wife and the kids were watching back home, it’s just a special, special one.”

By far the best club in the bag was Molinari’s putter, which he used to hole 146 feet of putts on Sunday, the most in his career. The 36-year-old from Italy called it his “best putting round ever,” a bold statement with the way putted on Sunday at Carnoustie to win his first major. While Arnie’s event isn’t a major, it felt just as good as one for Molinari.

“Incredible, it’s high up there with the best wins I’ve had. He [Arnold Palmer] was a special player but most of all a special person and a global icon for the game. For someone like me coming from Italy, he and Jack [Nicklaus] were up there as gods, so to win here is truly special.”

Fitzpatrick wasn’t able to close out his first PGA Tour victory, but he did finish alone in second. Sungjae Im, Tommy Fleetwood and Rafa Cabrera Bello tied for third. As for Rory McIlroy, it was another final-round dud. The Northern Irishman shot an even-par 72 to finish in a tied for sixth.

Source: golfdigest.com