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Tagged "Iron Shots"


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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Practice with Your Wedge and Improve Your Full Golf Swing

  You want to improve your golf game right? You’re not alone. Most golfers want to improve their games. The question is how do you do improve your golf game without spending hours each day at the range and $1000’s on golf lessons? The answer is: break the game down to what’s really important and work on that aspect. Let me ask you another question. What do you think you need to do to become a better golfer? The first thing most players would say is “I need to be more consistent”. You’ve said this before and the truth is it’s the most vague and meaningless thing a golfer could say. Of course we all want to be more consistent. Tiger Woods wants to be more consistent. But what does that really mean? Have you ever gone to the range to practice your consistency? Sounds kind of funny right? Other golfers may say “drive the ball better”, “make more putts”, or “hit more solid iron shots”. They are getting closer but to really improve we have to break it down even further. And by breaking it down further, I mean getting to the aspects that really affect your shots and your scores.

The Two Most Important Things to Your Game

  1. The Clubface 2. The Bottom of the Swing The more square you can get your clubface and the more often you can get the bottom of your swing to be in the same place, the better shots you will hit. Those are the facts of golf. Now the question is how do we more efficiently improve our clubface angle and the bottom of our swing. By Practicing Pitch Shots That’s right, hitting 30, 40, 50, and 60 yard pitch shots using the correct technique is a great way to improve your overall golf game. The reason is with the shorter swing required for a pitch shot you learn to correctly control your hands and body and thus learn how to control the clubface and bottom of the swing. It’s also easier to implement changes making smaller swings. This then translates to better results for your full shots.

This should be Your Next Practice Session

  The next time you go to the range, forget your normal routine. Take a sand wedge, some tees, and an extra club or alignment stick. Every shot you hit in this practice session will be a 30, 40, 50, or 60 yard pitch shot. Here’s how to do it: 1. Pick a very specific target. Whether it’s a net on the range, a yardage sign or a spot of dead grass, you need a target to aim at each time. 2. Place the extra club or alignment stick on the ground and have it point just left of your target (right hander). This ensures that you actually aim at your target each time. 3. Tee the ball up about a half inch off the ground (yes, you are going to hit pitch shots off of a tee). The ball should be positioned so as the club or alignment stick is between your feet and the ball. Now your practice station is set and you are ready to hit. Start at 30 yards and gradually work your way up to 50 and 60. With this practice station you will receive immediate feedback on the bottom of the swing and the clubface. Teeing the ball up demonstrates solid contact. The goal is to make contact with the golf ball and then the ground. • If you make contact with the golf ball, then the clubhead lightly contacts the ground, you have made solid contact. • If you “pick” the ball off the tee without hitting the ground, the bottom of your swing is too far back and you need to focus on swinging down and making ground contact. • If your club digs into the ground you need to shallow your swing and focus on having the clubhead “thump” the ground instead of digging. The goal of the target and alignment stick are to show the clubface angle at impact. • If the ball goes at the target, your clubface is square. • If the ball goes left of the target, your clubface is closed. • If the ball goes right of the target, your clubface is open. Based on how your golf ball flies you may need to make a grip adjustment or focus on your hand action through the shot. If your hands “flip” through impact, the ball will tend to go left. If you “hold” your hands too much the ball will tend to go right.

Two Things to Remember When Practicing Pitch Shots

  1. Make your backswing and follow through similar sizes. A big backswing and a short follow through equal’s deceleration. A short backswing and a big follow through equals over acceleration. Both make it difficult to hit solid shots. 2. Let your body rotate through the shot. A lot of golfers like to hit pitch shots only using their hands. This turns into “flipping” hands and poor contact. Let your upper body rotate through the shot and have your chest face the target in the follow through. The next time you head to the range, ditch your normal plan. Take a sand wedge, alignment stick, and some tees. Use this drill to practice your pitch shots and you will see better, pitch shots, iron shots and drives the next time you play.  

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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Learn to Keep Your Golf Ball Out of the Wind

  One of the great things about golf is that we have no control over the environment and it’s never the same. Other sports are played pretty much on the same field or court from place to place. The wind is one of these factors we have to pay attention to every time we play golf. Depending on where you live and play it may be subtle or it may be intense. Whatever the case you have to know how the wind affects your shots and how to compensate for it. Here’s a look at three different situations, what they do to your golf ball, and how to best navigate each situation:

Into the Wind

  This is the situation you mostly think of when talking about playing in the wind. You’re sitting at the 150 marker, and the breeze is directly in your face. What should you do? The main thing to remember in this situation is that the higher you hit the shot, the more the wind will affect it. This seems obvious but many players don’t factor it in. The other thing to remember here is that the harder you hit a shot, the higher it will typically go. Use this method when hitting into the wind. Take 1-2 more clubs than normal, position the ball in the middle of your stance, make a ¾ sized backswing, and make a ¾ sized follow through. Taking more club will ensure a lower ball flight, the ball centered in the stance will do the same, and the smaller swing will ensure the swing stays under control. One thing to avoid when hitting into the wind is taking your normal club and swinging harder. This becomes difficult to control.

Downwind

  Hitting downwind is the easiest of the situations but can have its issues as well. It’s great to stand up on the tee box and hit a drive downwind as it usually produces you're longest drives. However, it becomes difficult when trying to hit and iron shot into a green and judge the distance correctly. When hitting downwind you need to remember that the wind still affects the flight of the ball. This is why it is still better to play a lower shot when hitting downwind. It will much easier to control your distance. Use the same technique to hit the ball lower as you would playing into the wind. The only change will be your club selection. Instead of taking 1-2 more clubs you can usually get away with using your normal club for that situation with a smaller swing as the wind will add a little distance.

Crosswind

  Hitting golf shots with crosswinds can be the toughest of all the situations. If you’re a left to right player and you have a left to right wind, you could see a lot of movement on your shot. The same is true in a right to left situation. The big thing to take into account for crosswinds is what kind of shot you normally play and what the situation is in the landing area. If you always slice the golf ball with the driver and you step up to the tee and there is water right and a left to right wind, you have an issue. Instead of taking your normal swing and watching the shot land in the water, aim well further to the left, or even better club down to a three wood or hybrid which will curve less. The same is true from the fairway. If you’re fighting a hook and you’ve got 160 with a deep bunker left, club down from a seven to six iron and aim a little further right. Taking less club will produce a lower shot which will be less affected by the wind. The wind can be frustrating but it is manageable. Use these tips and you’ll find it much easier to determine where your golf ball ends up.  

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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Make Solid Contact from Fairway Bunkers

  Everyone has those shots where they know it’s just not going to well. For many golfers the fairway bunker shot fits this description. The fairway bunker provides the ultimate test of your ball striking skills. There is no forgiveness. Hit slightly behind the ball and it goes nowhere. Hit it thin and the ball could go anywhere. Despite all the bad things that can happen, the shot is doable as we see from professionals on TV each weekend. You just need to make a few adjustments to your setup and swing. Use these four tips and you’ll find it easier to make solid contact from fairway bunkers:

Grip Down

  One of the keys to making solid contact is controlling your golf swing. The longer the club the tougher it is to control (it’s easier to control a wedge than a driver). By gripping down an inch or so it becomes much easier to control. This added control will help you make solid contact.

Center the Ball in the Stance

  When hitting a normal iron shot you should position the ball slightly ahead of the center of your stance depending on the club. However, in the fairway bunker there is much more of a premium on hitting the ball first. Centering the golf ball in your stance ensures that you make contact with the ball while the club is coming down. This helps to provide that extra bit of solidness you need to hit a good shot from the sand.

Make a Smaller Swing

  Again, the fairway bunker shot is all about making precise contact with the ball. The bigger the golf swing you make the more clubhead speed you create but you lose consistency. Instead of stepping in the bunker and making your 100% swing, think of the shot like a knockdown or ¾ shot. Make a backswing that is slightly shorter than normal and a follow through that is slightly shorter than normal. The smaller swing will reduce your clubhead speed but it will make it easier to make solid contact and hit a good shot.

Take One More Club

  Hitting fairway bunker shots more solid will be a big improvement but you still need to hit the shot the correct distance. The adjustments we’ve made to help make solid contact will reduce clubhead speed. To counteract this more club is needed. Another reason to use one extra club is that sand is less forgiving than grass. If you hit fractions of an inch behind the ball from the sand you will lose much more distance than from grass. Reduce your fear of the fairway bunker shot. Use these tips and you’ll find it much easier to make solid contact and have good results from the sand.  

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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