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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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How to Chip From Thick Rough Around the Green

So you’ve hit a couple good shots a long par four and you’re just a few yards off the green. You’re thinking easy par until you get to the ball and realize there’s a problem: your ball is sitting at the bottom of five inches of lush bluegrass. With your spirits diminished you proceed to hack the shot 30 feet and past the hole and in your upset mental state, three putt for a double bogey. Welcome to the wonderful world of golf! There is good news; it doesn’t have to be this hard. Shots from thick rough around the greens are difficult but if you use the correct technique they can be manageable. Here are four things you can do to have more success when chipping from thick rough:

Judge the Lie

Not all thick lies are created equal. There are different types of grasses and levels of thicknesses. When judging a lie the things you are looking for are how thick is the grass, how far down in the grass is the ball sitting, and what’s behind the ball. The thicker the grass the more force will be required to extract the ball. A ball sitting at the bottom of the rough will require a steeper swing than a ball sitting up in the rough. If there is a thick clump of grass behind the ball, you’ll have to hit the ball harder than a cleaner lie. A great way to judge the lie is to place your club a few inches behind the ball (not close enough to move the ball). Feel how thick the grass behind the ball is, then take a few practice swings near the ball to feel the resistance of the grass. Once you have a good idea of the lie you can better judge the shot.

Use More Loft

Hitting good chip shots out of thick grass requires clubhead speed and loft. Because of this, using a lower lofted club such as an seven iron doesn’t work very well. A lower lofted club usually results in shots that come out left, too fast, or even don’t come out of the grass at all. If the lie is decent (ie: sitting up in the grass) an eight or nine iron will work. Otherwise stick to a sand wedge or something similar. We will make a few adjustments in the setup and swing that will allow you to hit the ball lower with this club.

Setup for Success

The goal of the swing when chipping from thick rough is to drive the clubhead down and through the grass. In order to do this successfully there a few changes we need to make with the setup. The first change is to open the face. The reason is that the thick rough will slow down the momentum of the clubhead. When that happens the clubface closes making it easy to hit easy to hit the ball low and left. Slightly opening the face accounts for the clubface closing at impact. After opening the clubface make your grip pressure firmer than normal. This will also help prevent the clubface from closing through impact. The last two setup adjustments are to position the golf ball 2-3 inches back of the center of your stance and to put more weight than normal on your front foot (ie: 70%). Both of these things aid in steepening the swing, which helps to drive to golf club down and through the thick grass.

Steepen the Swing

So you’ve judged the lie, picked the correct club, and adjusted your setup. Now it’s time to hit the shot. The thing to remember when chipping from thick rough is that the swing needs to be steep. It has has to come in at an angle so that it hits the least amount of grass possible before hitting the ball. If you “pick” or “scoop” your shots around the green, playing from long grass will be next to impossible without making adjustments. As you start the backswing feel your wrists hinging upwards so the golf club works up and away from you. If your club goes inside or behind you on the backswing, you’re going to catch too much grass on the downswing. Take a few practice swings and get the feel for the wrist hinge and the club working up. Once you’ve got a feel for the backswing you can start to work on the bottom of the swing. At impact you want to feel the clubhead get down in the grass. It’s like a chopping motion with the clubhead working up and then abruptly down. You should feel the bottom of the golf club contacting the ground. If you try to “scoop” this shot you won’t have much success. Lastly there is not much follow through with this shot. Between the golf club hitting the thick grass and the golf club contacting the ground, a lot of the club’s momentum will be lost. You should not try to slow the swing down to shorten the follow through. Just let it happen naturally. The motion of leading with the hands, the grass, and the ground will do this for you. To summarize, when chipping from thick rough you need to: judge the lie, use a club with more loft, setup for a steeper swing, and play the shot with a steep motion down into the grass. If you do this you will have more success and get more shots up and down.

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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Play Better Golf by Hitting Better Chip Shots

  Tell me if this sounds familiar. You hit a great drive down the middle of the fairway and nice approach shot just off the edge of the green. You then proceed to mishit the chip and leave yourself a 10 footer for par that you miss. Meanwhile your buddy hits it in the trees off the tee, scrapes his second shot out, and then gets up and down from 40 yards for par beating you on the hole. Makes you want to pull your hair out right? The good news is that it doesn’t have to be like this. With a few simple adjustments you can start hitting more solid chip shots that end up closer to the hole and give you a better chance to save par. Here are 3 easy ways to improve your chip shots:

Forward at Setup

  To hit a chip shot solid you need to hit the golf ball, then the ground. In order to achieve this you must strike the ball at or before the bottom of the swing. Getting your weight and golf club leaning slightly forward at the setup are excellent ways to improve contact. At the setup feel 60% of your weight on the forward foot. It will feel as though back shoulder is higher than your front shoulder. This sets your swing into a steeper position allowing for a solid hit. Now the key is to keep the weight there during the swing. Next get the shaft leaning slightly toward the target. A good reference point is to have the grip of the club even with the middle of your forward thigh. This along with leaning forward add just enough steepness to allow for a solid hit on the golf ball.

Balance and Tempo

  If you watch a good chipper you’ll see that their backswing and follow through are similar sizes. You see a lot of golfers who struggle with chipping making big backswings with little follow through or the opposite, making a small backswing and over accelerating into the ball. A balanced chip shot swing leads to good tempo and makes it easier to deliver the clubface solidly on the back of the ball. It also reduces the desire to “hit” the ball when chipping. Good chippers make a smooth balanced swing and let the ball get in the way. Make some practice strokes with your chipping club and feel the club moving back and forth in nice balanced and smooth motion. Do this without a ball until you get the feeling then add the golf ball. The goal with the ball is the maintain that same balance and tempo. This will lead to solid shots and better distance control.

Better Cub Selection

  Many golfers struggle to pick the correct club for chip shots. They use too much loft which makes it tougher to make solid contact, brings backspin into play, and makes judging the roll difficult. Or they use too little loft which makes it difficult to land the ball on the green and easy to hit the shot too hard. The goal of a chip shot should be to land the ball just on the green and let it roll to the hole. Rolling a ball provides better distance control than carrying it in the air. The ball should be landed on the green though as it provides the best surface and most consistent bounce. Focus your club selection on the PW, 9, and 8 irons (keep the sand and lob wedges in the bag for shots that require more loft to land the shot on the edge of the green). Using a combination of these 3 clubs for chipping will provide a good balance of height and roll. It will also reduce your choices simplifying the club selection process. So stop throwing away shots around the green. Use the 3 chipping tips the next time you practice or play and you’ll see more up and downs and less frustration with your chip shots.  

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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