Easy keys for making the most of every swing during every round
50 Best Playing TipsAre you one of those golfers who absolutely pures it on the practice range with every club in the bag, but eventually goes into the tank during the course of play? It’s an unfortunate scenario experienced by a vast majority of golfers, most often caused by too little time dedicated to practice or too long a time period between rounds. For most golfers, the onset of trouble starts on the very first tee, where high anxiety invariably sends the tee shot deep into the woods. For others, the tanking occurs gradually as the round unfolds—a loose swing here, a twitched putt there and poor shot selection in between—until, around the 14th hole, you say to yourself, “I guess it’s not my day.” The worst of it is, you’re right—it isn’t your day. However, there are methods to protect your game from suffering a complete collapse on the course. To play your best golf, you need an arsenal of skills and strategies to insulate your game when the heat is on. This 17-page feature presents a catalogue of specific golf advice, ranging from mental thoughts and images to easy-to-accomplish swing changes that guarantee better performance during your round. Among the top 50 are quick and easy tips to harness more speed from your swing (Power section), reduce grossly off-line shots (Accuracy), create better scoring opportunities (Strategy), get up and down every time (Short Game), keep round-wrecking scores to a minimum (Safe vs. Sane) and, most important, prevent the wheels from coming completely off during the course of play (Damage Control). I call this collection of advice the “Top 50”—you’ll call them lifesavers. Use them wisely and enjoy great results even when your “A” game turns into a “C” or worse.
Switch On The PowerPower
1. Switch On The Power
Here’s a simple thought to help turn on your power switch: Your weight shift and the clubhead should travel in the same direction. During the backswing, both the weight and the clubhead move away from the target; during the downswing, the direction switches—your weight and your clubhead move toward the target.
2. Own A Release
A horse and rider arrive at a seven-foot wall at top speed when, suddenly, the horse stops, catapulting the rider over the jump. The image that’s important for your golf swing is the “passing along” of energy because this is how you transmit power to the golf ball.
The wall of your golf swing is your front leg. The rider is your clubhead and his separation from the horse is the release of your clubhead through the hitting zone. The key to all of this is that the release is “passive”—it’s simply the result of your arms and hands abruptly slowing down and passing their energy down the shaft and into the ball. In other words, a good golf swing doesn’t require manipulative hand action. Correctly “passing” energy and creating power should occur without effort. Remember, you don’t “do” a release, you “have” one.
3. Generate, Transmit And Deliver
Web Tip: Learn How To Generate Power
Imagine a generating station located on the outskirts of town. Here, the big turbines generate the power that’s transmitted via power lines and dumped to the end user.
In the golf swing, the turbines are the large muscles of your hips, back and legs. Your shoulders, arms and clubshaft are the transmission lines, where levers acting like transformers ratchet up the power until finally the energy is dumped to the end user—the golf ball. Power begins at the source: If you fail to coil, the amount of power available for transfer is reduced.
4. Pre-Round Tips
Before your round, ensure that you’re nice and loose. I like the “Superman Stretch.” Stand with both arms stretched out in front of you. Reach under your left arm and curl your right wrist behind your left elbow. Keeping this relationship, place your right palm on the right side of your face (see photo). Now, bend from your hip joints into your golf posture. Make a slow-motion backswing. Hold at the top for 30 seconds, then reverse for the other side.
Upon hitting the practice range, work on two things: balance and contact. Tee the ball and choke down on a 7-iron. Make three-quarter swings, and don’t worry about how far the ball travels because your goal is solid contact. In addition, strive to finish in perfect balance no matter where the ball goes. Soon, your brain will get the message—balance and solid contact are the order of the day.
Another key element of your pre-round preparation should be to determine what “game” you have on that day. If your “A” game shows (you’re hitting the ball solidly and accurately), your master plan is to play aggressively. If your “B” game surfaces (your contact and accuracy are just okay), understand that your shots won’t carry as far. Resolve to take one more club and pick your spots to be aggressive. When you have no game at all and almost every shot is a mis-hit, it’s “Short Game Time,” where the plan is to play it safe and get up and down. Hang in there until something good happens. If you get aggressive early in the round, you’re in for a long day on the golf course.
5. Remember To Rebound
As you swing through the golf ball, your club whips past your body at a high rate of speed, a result of your body whirling around your front hip joint. In order to stay balanced while you whirl, your spine must be allowed to tilt slightly away from the target—the correct reaction to the demands of physics known as “staying behind the ball.” Depending on your strength, flexibility and swing pattern, you may have more or less spinal deflection (in the five- to 10-degree range), but all good players have some spinal rebound.
6. Warm-Up For Power
Prepare your round for heavy doses of power with this drill. Stand upright and make non-stop practice swings as though you’re hitting waist-high fastballs. Keep the motion continuous as you gradually incline your spine toward your normal golf swing position until your clubhead clips the grass. Repeat five times and you’re good to go.
7. Cover The Ball
Web Tip: See The Cover Drill In Action!
The golf swing is a complicated event, full of many moving parts and varying demands on your body at different points during the motion. A well-oiled swing flawlessly keeps all of these parts in order by synchronizing their movement, from takeaway to finish. Here’s a great drill you can use on the course to synchronize your swing and create more powerful, more accurate golf shots.
Assume your address position with your club soled behind the ball. Then, keeping your clubhead in position, remove your target hand (the left for right-handers) from the handle and place it on the butt end of the club so that you can hold the club in position with that hand only. Now, simulate a golf swing using your right hand, allowing it to move to the top of your swing, then down to the ball until it moves under your front forearm through impact.
I call this drill the “Cover Drill” (Corey Pavin once used it as part of his preshot routine) because it forces the front shoulder to move upward through impact—just as it should—without spinning open. Thus, your shoulder “covers” the ball at impact and returns your arms back in front of you like they were at address.
8. Don’t Play Your Hunch
While it feels powerful to reach for the ball at address, it actually costs you power because it decreases coil. When you overreach to the ball, your upper back invariably “hunches,” and for every one degree of hunch, you lose two degrees of coil. In the correct setup, try to touch your shoulder blades at address and make sure to bend from your hips rather than your waist. If you bend from your waist, you’ll hunch your back and that’s a hunch you don’t want to play. Continue here.