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5 Reasons You Aren’t Shooting Better Scores

If you’re like most golfers you think your scores should be better. You play on a regular basis, you practice a decent amount, you hit a lot of good shots during a round and you have plenty of good holes. At the end of the round though, the score is just too high. You’re not alone, it happens to everyone.

So what’s the problem? It’s nothing huge but you need to improve a few key areas. These areas are costly your dearly during a round of golf. Here are the 5 reasons you’re scores are too high and ways to improve them:

You Started 6,7,6

This has happened to everyone. You’re excited to play but the double, triple, double start takes the wind out of your sails. You find your swing by the 4th hole but it’s too late as the damage is already done.

The problem is poor preparation. Too many players go straight from the car to the 1st tee. Get to the golf course at least 30 minutes before your tee time. Hit 20-30 balls on the range to loosen up and see how your swing works. Then head to the putting green for 10 minutes to get a feel for your stroke and the speed of the greens. Lastly get to the 1st tee a few minutes early to relax and focus on the opening tee shot. Your warm up routine doesn’t need to be PGA Tour quality but it does need to be effective.

You Hit 2 Tee Shots OB

You played 16 good holes today but two tee shots went OB leading to a 7 and an 8. This kills your score and your psyche. Anytime you get to a tee shot that typically causes you trouble, is uber tight or just doesn’t feel right, back down to a fairway wood, hybrid or even an iron. The shorter the club the less likely you’ll find trouble. There is nothing wrong with playing safe, even on a long hole. Get the ball in play and get rid of those big numbers.

You Missed 3 Very Short Putts

You’ve had a hole that was a struggle. Now you have a 3 foot putt for bogey. Make it and bogey is no big deal. Miss it and double bogey will totally deflate your spirits. These short putts can make or break rounds. To make more practice your aim by using a chalk line on the practice green. Good aim is the biggest key to making short putts. Also, practice making a smooth stroke that is the same size on the backswing as it is on the follow through. Lastly, focus on speed. Short putts shouldn’t ram into the back of the cup; nor should they just fall over the edge. Short putts should fall in the middle of the hole.

You Mishit 3 Pitch And Chip Shots

You’ve played a good first two shots on a long par 4 now you’ve got a short pitch. Instead of hitting it on the green and having a putt for par, you blade it over the green. 4 or 5 just turned into 6 or 7. It’s a scorecard and mental killer. Improve these short shots by improving your setup. Keep your feet close together, weight on the forward foot, ball positioned in the middle of the stance and grip down on the golf club. From there practice making the backswing and the through swing similar sizes and have the golf club head thump the ground.

You Finished 6,7,6

You played great all day and looked good to shoot a new low score. The only problem is you finished 6,7,6. This happens to everyone at some point and is extremely frustrating. The problem is energy. You just ran out of gas. During a round of golf you need to be drinking water or sports drinks every hole. Lay off the sodas and beers as they slow you down. Pack a few granola bars and bananas in your golf bag as well. You use a lot of energy during a round and need to refuel often. PGA Tour players are always eating during their rounds. Also, if you are walker and always seem to finish poorly, consider taking a cart for the back nine. The energy you save will help on the last few holes.

Go back and think about your last round of golf. There were probably some moments listed above. Becoming conscious of why your scores are higher is important in fixing the problem. Use these 5 guidelines and you will shave strokes off your game.

Clay Hood is a PGA Golf Professional and Co-Founder/Marketing Director for Precision Pro Golf. Clay can be reached at clay@precisionprogolf.com.

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Hit a High, Soft Pitch Shot from Tight Grass

If you’ve ever played a golf course with tightly mown areas around the greens you know this shot. You’re ball is sitting a few feet below the level of the green, there isn’t any room to get the club under the ball, and you probably don’t have that much green to work with.

Most golfers are scared to death of this shot. So much that they grab the putter. This isn’t a bad play, as you’re chance of really screwing up is low. However, you’re just not going to be able to consistently get the ball as close as you would hitting in in the air.

Despite it being a tough shot, it’s not an impossible one. With a little practice and some know how, you can hit this shot more consistently. Here are a few pointers that will help you play the high, soft pitch from tight grass:

Use more Loft

As the name states, the goal of this shot is to hit it high and soft. In order to achieve this you must use a golf club that has a lot of loft. I would recommend using a 60 degree wedge. If you don’t have a 60 degree then use your 56. If you don’t have a club with at least 56 degrees of loft, get one ASAP. Otherwise this shot will be near impossible.

Open the Clubface

Opening the clubface is often thought of as something you do in the bunker or when trying to hit a high flop shot. Opening the clubface actually serves 2 important purposes. It adds loft to the club, which helps you hit it higher and it adds bounce to the club. Adding bounce is important because it keeps the club from digging, which helps you hit the shot more solid.

The important thing when opening the clubface is to open the face then grip the club. If you grip the first then open the face it will usually return to square at impact. This goes against the purpose in the first place.

Ball Position

Like the clubface, ball position is important because it affects how high and how solid you hit the shot. The further back you position the ball in your stance, the lower it go. Also, the further back you position the ball the more likely your club will dig. Neither of these are good for this shot.

For the best results with this shot, position the ball 2-4 inches ahead of the center of your body. Use a reference point such as the buttons on your shirt or belt buckle and get the ball slightly ahead of that. By doing this the club will have more loft when it hits the ball, and it will have more bounce which prevents the club from digging and makes solid contact easier.

Less Hinge, More Turn

The more you hinge your wrists on your backswing the steeper the club gets. The steeper the club gets the less loft it has and the less bounce it has. Both of these go against what we are trying to achieve on the shot.

Take a few practice swing and feel wrist action and more body turn. It will feel like a neutral swing where you hit down less. This allows you to maintain the loft on the golf club, which produces height, and maintain the bounce on the club, which keeps the club from digging.

Take no Divots

Good players don’t take divots around the greens. If you’re taking a divot it means you’re digging the leading edge of the club into the turf. This makes the margin for error low and solid contact very difficult.

If you’re using less hinge and more turn, you should start to see the divots go away. You’ll actually feel the bottom of the club thump the ground without digging. The great thing about this is that it increases your margin for error. You can actually hit behind the ball and hit a good shot (sounds weird but it works!).

Swing with Enough Speed

The thing to keep in mind playing this shot is that less force is being applied to the ball. You are hitting the shot with more loft and possibly even hitting slightly behind the ball. Both of these reduce how far the ball will travel, so to compensate you must hit the ball harder.

While you have to hit it harder, that doesn’t mean trying to swing the golf club faster. It means making a slightly bigger swing, keeping the same smooth tempo. The extra length of swing will produce enough extra power to move the ball the correct distance.

Don’t fear tight grass. Use these tips to change up your approach and with a little practice you’ll become more consistent with this shot.

Clay Hood is a PGA Golf Professional and Co-Founder/Marketing Director for Precision Pro Golf. Clay can be reached at clay@precisionprogolf.com.

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3 Reasons You Hit Behind the Golf Ball

 

 

Fat, chunked, chili dipped; call it what you will. As the old saying “thin to win” proclaims, there’s not much worse than hitting behind the golf ball.

The good news is that you’re not alone. We’ve all done it. Even the best players in the world lay the sod over it from time to time. The important thing is to do it less often.

A great way to start the process is by understanding why you hit behind the ball and what you can do to correct it. Here are 3 reasons and fixes for why you hit it fat:

Reason #1- Center of the Swing Moves

Staying centered during the swing big issue for a lot of golfers. If your weight moves laterally (away from the target) on the backswing, the center of your swing moves. The problem with this is that the golf ball does not move with you. Unless you can get the center swing moving forward to meet back up with the golf ball, you’re going to hit it fat.

A good way to stay centered is to get more weight on your front foot at address. The centrifugal force of the golf swing naturally tries to pull your weight away from the target. Setting a little more weight forward counteracts this natural tendency.

Start with pitch shots and wedge shots and feel the weight on the front foot. You’ll most likely notice how this helps you hit down on the ball. After getting the hang of it with the shorter shots, try it with a bigger swing. If it feels strange go back to the shorter swings and gradually work your way up.

Reason #2- Hands Flip Before the Ball

The “flip” or early release is a killer in the golf swing. Not only can it cause you to hit behind the ball, it is also robs you of power and distance. The release point is where the swing hits it top speed and if it happens before the ball, the club will be slowing down when it gets to the ball. No good!

In order to eliminate the flip you need to get your hands leading at impact. The first step to fixing this is to work on reason #1 and get your weight forward at impact. It’s not easy to lead with the hands if you’re weight is on your back foot.

Once you’ve fixed the weight issue, a great way to prevent your hands from flipping is to practice wedge shots. Take a sand or pitching wedge and make some ½ to ¾ practice swings. The goal is to feel the clubhead working down and hitting the ground where the ball would be; in front of the center of your stance.

After you get the feel for leading with the hands and hitting the ground, add a golf ball and hit some shots. Keep the same feeling as with the practice swings. The goal is to feel the club working down, hitting the ball, and then the ground. That’s solid contact!

After you get the hang of the ½ and ¾ swings move up to full swings. The goal is to keep the same feeling as the swing gets larger. The golf club should work down, hit the ball, and then the ground.

Reason #3- Backswing Over Rotation

A common problem is to whip the club inside on the takeaway and over rotate the hips. When this happens the backswing becomes flat and inside and it’s very easy to hit behind the ball.

To avoid this, feel as though the hands, arms, and club move away as one piece during the takeaway. If your takeaway starts with the hands pulling inside or the hips turning the golf club will wind up behind your body. This can lead to the dreaded fat shot.

Here is a great drill to help with your takeaway. Use a 7 iron and grip the club midway down the shaft. Stick the butt of club in your belly button and take your golf posture. The club should be running between your arms and touching your belly button. Now start your backswing and keep the butt of the club attached to your stomach. Do 10 practice takeaways using this drill. What you’ll notice is that everything moves away as one piece. This ensures a solid on plane takeaway.

After doing the drill, hit 4-5 golf balls and try to keep the feeling of the one piece takeaway. Alternate between practice swings and real shots until you get the hang of it. Getting rid of those fat shots will probably take a few strokes off your game and will make you feel a lot better about it.

Use these 3 simple thoughts to improve your game the next time you play.

Clay Hood is a PGA Golf Professional and Co-Founder of Precision Pro Golf. Clay can be reached at clay@precisionprogolf.com.

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Spin Your Wedges Back on the Green

  It’s always cool to hit a wedge shot and see it check up on the green. There’s just something about seeing that ball react that peaks our interest. Maybe it comes from watching professional golf and seeing the pro’s do it on a regular basis. It makes us feel like them! The problem for most golfers is the spin only comes on occasion. Most of the time you watch the ball hit the green and release past the hole or over the green. If you could consistently hit wedge shots with spin they would be much easier to control. While there is no “secret tip” or trick that will make you automatically spin your wedges, there are some you can do to increase spin. Let’s look at 3 things that will help you back it up on the greens:

Correct Equipment

  Equipment is always important and this case is no different. You must have a high spin golf ball and fresh grooves to put spin on wedge shots. The pro’s you see on TV are using these and if you’re not, it’s just not going to work. From the standpoint of the golf ball you need something that is designed to spin a lot. This generally means the top end ball from a manufacturer. Something like a Titleist ProV1 or a Bridgestone B330 will work well. Using a range ball or a rock hard distance ball is the quickest way to reduce your spin. And while it does hurt to pay $50 for a dozen golf balls, it is useful in this case. From the standpoint of your wedge, you need something with new grooves that have a milled or rough clubface. Spin is a result of the friction that is created between the golf ball and the clubface. If your wedge is old and the grooves are worn that friction just won’t be there. This is also true if the grooves are full of dirt or grass. At the very least clean your grooves, but if you really want to spin the ball, get a new wedge with a milled face.

Solid Contact

  After equipment, making solid contact is the next aspect of spinning your wedges. In this case solid contact actually means 2 things. One it means hitting the golf ball on the center of the clubface. Two it means having a clean lie where the club can contact the ball without hitting grass first. The pros you see on TV spin the ball because they make solid contact. More specifically they make solid contact lower on the face. This produces the most spin possible. If you are hitting wedge shots that don’t spin, there is a good chance you are making contact higher on the face. This usually comes from scooping or trying to get the club under the ball. While there is no direct correlation to hitting down and creating spin, there is a correlation to hitting down and making solid contact. That’s what we are looking for. If you don’t already do it, focus on hitting down, leaning the shaft towards the target at impact, and taking a divot with your wedges. It will make you hit it more solid, which in turn will put more spin on the ball. As far as the lie goes, you must have a clean lie to spin the ball. This means no grass sitting between the clubface and the ball. Any grass or debris (besides sand) that gets between the face and ball will drastically reduce spin. It basically means that if you’re in the rough, don’t expect the ball to back up on the green.

Clubhead Speed

  Simple physics say that the harder you hit a golf ball the more opportunity it has to spin. This is one of the reasons why golfers like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson put a lot of spin on their wedge shots. If you imagine a robot that could hit a sand wedge 200 yards, that shot would spin a significant amount. What this means for you is that you need to hit these wedge shots with acceleration. Acceleration keeps the speed up and helps you make solid contact. If you find yourself making a big backswing with a short follow through, you’re probably decelerating into the ball. This will make it difficult to spin the ball. Keep up the speed and you will keep up the spin. Spinning wedges is cool! Follow these guidelines and you will do it on a more consistent basis.

Clay Hood is a PGA Golf Professional and Co-Founder/Marketing Director for Precision Pro Golf. Clay can be reached at clay@precisionprogolf.com.

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The Secret to Becoming a Better Putter

Here it is… The secret you’ve been waiting for. The thing you need to do to really become a better putter is…

Improve Your Aim

Probably not what you were expecting. It’s not some adjustment you can make to your stroke or new system for better distance control. It may not be a huge secret but the key to becoming a better putter is becoming better at aiming. If you aim the putter face at the target consistently it becomes much easier to make the correct stroke and get the ball rolling online. If you aim left or right you have to make a manipulation in your stroke to get the ball back online. It all sounds simple but aiming the putter is difficult for 2 reasons: The first is that we stand to the side of the golf ball. This takes our eyes out of their normal point of view as we go through life looking straight ahead. If we could putt standing directly behind the golf ball (like bowling), it would be much easier to aim. To overcome this issue we must train our eyes to understand what correct aim looks like. The second reason is that the golf ball is round. A round object has no reference point as to what straight is. Aiming would be a lot easier if the golf ball were square (it may not roll very well through!). Again, to overcome this we must train our eyes to what is square. Despite the difficulty, there are some things you can do to make it easier. Here are 3 things to do to aim your putter better:

1. Check your ball position

This is a simple but often overlooked fundamental of putting. Because of the arc of the putting stroke ball position becomes important (if the putting stroke was perfectly straight ball position wouldn’t matter as much). If the golf ball is too far back in your stance you will tend to aim right and if it is too far forward you will tend to aim left. A good rule of thumb is to have the ball positioned under your left (forward) eye. This gets the ball slightly ahead of the center of your body. A good drill is to setup to a putt and hold a golf ball to your left eye. Drop the ball and see where it lands. If it hits directly on the ball on the ground your ball position is good. If it hits behind or in front, adjust your ball position to accordingly.

2. Check your distance from the ball

This fundamental of putting goes along with number 1. The distance you stand from the golf ball makes a big difference in how you aim. If you stand too close or too far away from the ball, your eyes are going to see a different line than they should. The rule of thumb is to have your eyes directly over the golf ball at address. If your eyes are inside the ball (standing too far away), you will tend to aim right. If your eyes are outside the ball (standing too close), you will tend to aim left. To work on this use the same drill as number 1 and drop a ball from your left eye when you’re setup. If the ball doesn’t hit directly on the ball on the ground you’re either too far away or too close.

3. Practice with a straight line

To become a more consistent aimer, you need to train your eyes. Because of the whole standing to the side of the ball, out eyes just don’t see square naturally. The best way to work on this is practicing with a straight line. The straight line gives you instant feedback on where your putter is aimed with any debate. Ways to practice with a straight line include taking a chalk line and snapping it on the green. Do this for a 3-4 foot putt straight putt and you will see exactly where you aim. Another way to practice with a straight line is to take string and wrap it around 2 pencils. Then stick it in the ground above the line of your putt and the string will give you the line you desire. Aim is not the sexiest thing you can practice but it is the most important for becoming a more consistent putter. Use these 3 tips and you’ll find yourself aiming at the hole more often.

Clay Hood is a PGA Golf Professional and Co-Founder/Marketing Director for Precision Pro Golf. Clay can be reached at clay@precisionprogolf.com.

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