December 27, 2011

The 18 Most Annoying Golf Partners


Juno #5  Dress to distract,
Salman #18  "YES SIR!" - "I'm the best!",
Phong #17  "I'd rather be lucky than good.",
Soks #12  "F*CK!!!"


When pitching, average golfers tend to take their most lofted club and try to flip the ball up in the air. Better players keep the ball down—they know it's easier to control distance on a low shot than on a high one. Here's a good swing thought: Return the clubface at impact with the same loft it had at address. Play the ball middle to slightly back, let your wrists hinge on the backswing, and make sure your hands lead the clubhead through impact. Remember, the loft you set down at address is the loft you keep.
—Butch Harmon / Golf Digest Teaching Professional


The best way to learn to hit different distances from the sand is to focus on your follow-through. Keep your backswing length and swing speed consistent but swing to a finish that corresponds to the distance and height you want to hit the ball. Start with two options: a low finish for a low, short shot, (pictured) and a high finish for a higher, longer shot. And remember, always let the clubhead pass your hands so you don't get it stuck in the sand.

—Rick Smith / Golf Digest Teaching Professional

Butch Harmon's Basics

"It might sound obvious, but so few golfers do it: Practice your weaknesses, not your strengths. It can be hard to get yourself to spend time on something you don't like to do, but it's the quickest way to get better. Tiger was not a good wedge player when he was young, but he worked on it, and now he's one of the best in the world. Phil has always been a wild driver, but he's addressing that and driving it so much better. Take an honest look at your game, and get after those weak spots."


Most golfers try to keep their hands ahead of the ball when chipping to create a downward strike for solid contact. But this can cause the left arm to drag the butt end of the club away from the body through impact, which leads to inconsistent contact. Try this drill: Stick a tee in the end of the grip, set up with the tee pointing just forward of your belly button, and keep it pointing at that spot throughout the swing. This will get your arms and body working in sync for better chipping.
—Jim McLean / Golf Digest Teaching Professional


PhotobucketOne of the traits we see in the great players of the past, such as Gene Sarazen (pictured), was that they hit through the ball rather than at the ball. You can see here that The Squire has made a complete hip rotation toward the target. He has turned so much, in fact, that his feet are pointing at the target! You certainly don't need Sarazen's fancy footwork to complete your swing, but if you focus on turning your hips toward the target, you'll swing through the ball, not at it.

Turn Your Chin Back For Solid Tee Shots

One way amateurs can improve their driving is to strike the ball slightly on the upswing. Many amateurs hit down on the ball with the driver. It's a desirable trait in iron play, but this descending motion with the driver imparts too much spin on the ball -- backspin and sidespin -- and robs your tee shots of distance and accuracy.
A great tip to help you correct this problem is to turn your chin slightly away from your target at address. Then, as you swing back down to impact, sense that your chin points even farther behind the ball. This move was made famous by Jack Nicklaus, and it encourages your spine to stay behind the ball at impact -- a key to sweeping it off the tee. 


Most golfers think a shank comes from the clubface being open, so they try to flip the face closed at impact. This only leads to more shanks, because the actual cause is hitting with a closed face and an out-to-in swing path. Try this drill: Place a headcover just outside the ball, and practice hitting wedges. To miss the headcover, you have to swing from the inside with the face more open. If you're hitting shanks on the course, imagine the headcover in place and miss it from the inside.
—Butch Harmon / Golf Digest Teaching Professional

When to go for it

What's your risk-reward equation?
SMART PLAY: If it took a wood to reach a green guarded by extreme trouble, Sam Snead would lay up to avoid a big number.
Sam Snead was telling stories at an outing. He said that in 1948 he was frustrated because of his poor showing in the Vardon Trophy race for low scoring average. He analyzed his play and determined the par 5s had cost him. He was attacking them -- always going for the green on his second shot -- and had made some big numbers. The next year he vowed that if a par-5 green were protected by severe bunkers, water or O.B., he'd go for it in two only if he could get there with an iron. His average dropped significantly, and he captured the Vardon. He won it the next year, too. Are you careless with your second shot on par 5s or long par 4s? Instead of crushing a wood and getting into trouble, you might be better off hitting an iron to your favorite lay-up distance -- like a full wedge. Ask yourself: What's my risk-reward equation? My old colleague Davis Love Jr. once said if he thought he could hit the green seven times out of 10, he'd go for it. Zach Johnson never went for a par 5 in two last year at Augusta. That strategy won him the Masters.


You hear a lot of advice about the downswing, such as Keep your head down and Swing out to right field. These tips can help golfers with certain problems, but for a lot of players, they cause more harm than good. Here's a more effective swing thought, one I use with Tiger Woods: Let everything rotate together. If you allow your arms, body and head to turn toward the target in unison (left), you'll be in a better, more powerful position at impact—when it matters most.
—Sean Foley / Golf Digest Teaching Professional

Why You Miss Right

Problem: When the ball flies dead right, it means your lower body slid ahead, which drops the club too far inside.
Golfers see their tee shots go right and automatically curse the slice.
Sometimes those are blocked shots caused by swinging too much from the inside. The slice comes from an out-to-in swing, so trying to fix a slice when you're hitting a block is the worst thing you can do. 
Solution: To quiet your legs and hips, practice hitting drives from a narrow stance. You'll slide less and turn more.
Here's how to tell the difference: A slice starts left and curves right, and a block flies straight right. Blocks occur when you slide too hard with your lower body on the downswing (above). The club drops behind you and swings too much from the inside. You have too much lateral motion and not enough turn through the shot.
The best drill to promote turn is to take a narrow stance, about a foot wide, and hit drives at 75 percent. With a narrow base, you won't be able to slide much without falling over. You'll make a better turn, and the club will swing straighter down the line, with your arms turning over to square the clubface. You'll beat the block.


Jack Nicklaus, one of the all-time best putters, used to say he would think about the palm of his right hand traveling down his intended line. This is one of the reasons I like my students to practice putting with the right hand only (left). It reminds you how to release the putterhead properly and helps you regain your hand-eye coordination. By using one hand, you tend to forget about the mechanics of the stroke and simply roll the ball to the hole. That's a great mind-set for the course.
—Rick Smith / Golf Digest Teaching Professional


Many golfers unhinge their wrists well before impact in an attempt to help the ball off the ground. This is called casting, like you cast a fishing line, and it usually leads to poor contact—fat or thin. For solid strikes, your wrists should not unhinge fully until after impact. Get a feel for this with my punch drill: Using a 7-iron, hit punch shots with an abbreviated finish, keeping your hands ahead of the clubhead well past impact (left). Hit 10 punches, then try some normal shots re-creating that feel.
—Rick Smith / Golf Digest Teaching Professional

TIP: Key on your knee for power

To make a powerful move through the ball, your first goal should be to complete the backswing. Then you should start down with a slide-then-turn of your hips as your weight moves to your left foot. Use this image to check the slide part: Your right knee should point at or slightly in front of the ball through impact (left). That shows you've made a good forward shift, and you're ready to turn your hips through.
—Tom Watson / Golf Digest Playing Editor