Swinging the golf club and hitting the ball is where the BIG muscles are used, but not in the short game. The short game is ALL FEEL = SOFT HANDS. On and around the green keep your grip very,very soft. You must feel the clubhead and the ball to get the distance correct.
With putting and chipping there is no leg or torso movement = keep the body and especially the head still. Feel the putter head roll the ball, feel the clubhead chip the ball and this can only happen with soft hands. Do several practice strokes or chips and feel the putter/club head = you are striving for the feel of the distance – how much backstroke or back chip do you need to roll the ball just past the hole.
In David Pelz’s book ‘The Putting Bible’ he says that rolling the ball 18 inches past the cup is optimal. This will apply to chipping as well. Naturally on a steep uphill putt or chip do not go past by too much – the downhill or sidehill putt is always more difficult.
Copy the best! With chipping you will see all the pros grip way down, bending their knees more and moving very close to the ball – this will give way more feel and control. I have the shaft of the club only several inches from my legs. The closer you are to the ball the more feel and control you will have. Build a close personal relationship with the ball for chipping. Putting is slightly different with the posture since the shaft is straight, here you want your eyes over the ball.
With putting i am looking at the hole and the putt line way more than at the ball. Does a billiard shooter just stare at his stick and cue ball? Does a dart thrower look at his dart? Basketball players do not look at the ball when they are throwing it.
DO NOT GET BALL BOUND with your focus!!!
Yes i will look at the ball as i execute my stroke. I am glancing back and forth from the ball along the intended putt line to the hole and then backwards. I will do this as many times as needed until i feel that i can rock it in.
Then after my last look i will bring my eyes back to the ball and roll it within several seconds. Watch the best putters on TV or even better, in person – watch their eyes and where they’re focused. Look intently at an object across the room, then turn your head away or close your eyes – you can still see/feel the object for several seconds afterwards – you know where it is.
This same technique applies to chipping and other short shots also. Further away as in a short pitch or chip/bump and roll, i will look at the whole distance/line and the hole, but my primary focus is on where i want the ball to land – so that will be my last look before i initiate my movement.
Many golfers feel anxiety when they hit into the sand, they approach the bunker with trepidation and fear. They avoid the bunker at all costs.
The green side bunker ‘explosion or splash shot’ from the sand is THE EASIEST SHOT IN GOLF !!! Why?, because we don’t even hit the ball. We can hit anywhere from 2 or 3 centimeters to 8 or 9 centimeters behind the ball and it will pop out! We MUST accelerate the club head thru the sand.
We simply open the club face slightly to expose the bounce of the bottom of the club and then stand a little open to square the club face to the intended target. Then we take the club back on a steeper angle with our foot line creating an out to in swing path. I like to feel the toe of the club go up and out on the same angle as the loft of the club face outside the target line and parallel with my lower body. A smooth 3/4 back swing – then use your weight transfer as in a normal pitch shot and accelerate the club head down and thru the sand to a high finish.
If you are turning your hips and moving your lower body weight to the left as in a normal swing and accelerate the club head – the ball will pop right out of the sand and onto the green.
How you practice will show on the golf course. Let’s find a way to practice quality shot making with good ball striking. I tell all my students to take their time at the range and try to produce good shots by focusing on what they are doing with every single ball.
I have watched too many ‘wanna be better players’ go to the practice ground and load up the ball machine with a hundred balls to whack them out as fast as they can till they get tired and sit down for a break. What a load of garbage! They probably told their spouse “Honey I’m going to the range to bang some balls!”. That is exactly what they do – like a machine gun mike. They will probably become a better ball striker, but never know where it’s going – shotgun effect when they play. Maybe they want to see the whole course and explore places they have never been. Haaaa
Take out 10 balls from the tray and focus with every ball “as if you are on the golf course”. When i was playing i used 12 balls with each set and hit 10 or more quality shots flighting the same distance and spinning and turning the way i wanted it to fly, high/low draw or fade. With 10 you can easily look at your %’s of good shots.
It is not difficult to take your time and produce quality. I would suggest a good coach to show you what to work with. It’s very easy; if i show you a better grip or stance or posture or ball position with your set-up check it and adjust it. Then forget about it and focus on one or two swing keys i tell you for the movement = pretty simple. It does not take long before you start setting up automatically the better way and the body will get used to it. You will also start moving my concepts/words into bodily feelings and it will feel natural. to start swinging the club better and producing more quality golf shots.
***THEN LOOK OUT GOLF COURSE***
Even a touring pro may play with a swing key or two. For example i may have a ‘key’ for my backswing and then another for my downswing. I’ve begun playing again and my badshot is an ‘over the top move’ = where i start with my hands at the same time that I’m driving forward with my legs(weight shift). This will cause my club to go out ‘over the top’ and i will attack the ball from outside to in. Not a good move which many golfers have, usually making a big slice. In my case i pull the ball to the left because i get the clubface square, but my hips haven’t yet cleared and the out to in clubhead will launch the ball left.
So i will set up with a slightly narrower stance and put some weight in my right inner thigh and instep. I will make the backswing with the thought of adding more of my weight to my right instep – and once i feel the top of my windup(backswing) i will then dynamically push off of my right instep (the ball joint under my big toe) trying to get my weight to my left heel as fast as possible. This keeps my lower body initiating my downswing and the hands and clubhead will drop inside allowing the left hip to clear first as the club meets the ball square for a straight launch.
PUTTING – You might get tired of that word, but don’t ever get tired of doing it. Get the ball in the hole is the name of the game. This is where your score goes lower the better you can roll it in. I tell my students that if you spend 2 hours hitting balls on the range then you want 2 hours of short game practice; chipping/pitching/sand bunker. AND THEN you want 2 hours of just putting. This will make an outstanding golfer out of all of you. I practiced this way.
If you’re not near to a practice green you can do it at home? I always owned a 300 baht piece of carpet i bought at home pro 2 meters/2 meters. Draw a straight marker line on it and simply use a small object like a shot glass for your target. Start at 1′ then slowly move further away till you can hole everything from 2 meters.
This helps in many ways:
- Every putt on a golf course is straight, reading greens is another topic.
- Putting on a line helps you push the putter back straight and push it thru straight.
- You will start seeing the putt line on the greens more easily when you play.
- Big confidence will come with repeated practice.
Try it with just the left hand and then the right and see if you can keep the putter blade on the line. I did this so many countless hours and i found where in my hands i had the tendency to push/pull or tweak the putter and then could correct it.
It’s such an easy and effective practice and you can listen to music or the TV or the nagging wife at the same time as you get your putting practice in. Or complaining husband i should add.
Green Valley G.C. on Bangna Trad Hgwy south of the city has an awesome practice ground. It is only about 30 mins from anywhere in Bkk. Make a U turn at klm marker 16 and go back about 2 klm’s on the left. It is on the same soi as ‘American School of Bangkok’ and well sign posted.
Here we have a range facing northish so no sun on the mats or in your eyes. Hitting from grass is available and the practice balls are inexpensive. There is a good putting/chipping/lob pitching green at the range and also a sand bunker to work both greenside and fairway bunker shots.
Friendly staff, cheap range balls, facility to work every golf shot and not far from the city makes this range excellent for a 1/2 or full days golf training. It is also an excellent golf course and has a good restaurant.
‘Tee Off 42’ is a good range inner city where I’ll work with a students swing since it is so easily accessible with the BTS between the Pra Khanong and Ekkami stations on the right side. It is hitting from mats only but fine for working the mechanics of the swing, good ball striking or for a beginner learning the swing.
Friendly staff and good food. The highlight of this range is it’s good location for everyone.
If you ever watch a playing pro in a practice round you will learn a lot. We tend to look back from the green at the fairway and decide where is the best place to be for our approach shot into the green. What will be the best angle with less trouble and where is the fairway the widest.
I carried an orange highlighter to mark my yardage book of places i don’t want to be. We’ll check both sides of the fairway – sometimes from fertilizing the grass and then cutting the fairways smaller for the event one side is left with the deepest, nastiest rough that you would not want to be in. Many times around the greens there are places that have impossible deep grass for a par conversion if you miss the green.
You will see us hitting bunker shots from likely bunkers we may be in during the week. We’ll chip and putt around the whole green to check breaks and grain of the greens.
Also we will putt to areas of the green where we believe the holes will be cut for difficult pin positions during the event.
On par 3’s we will hit a number of balls to different places on the green in anticipation of the tough pin placements during the week.
When you hit a good tee shot with your driver on a par 4 or 5 ” Do Not hit another on”. I’ve seen it happen with myself and other pros where we hit too many tee shots in a practice round and then in the first round on that hole we can’t help remembering that horrible hook from the day before and sure enough….. Keep your pictures/images good and positive.
A great quote from legendary Lee Trevino “The more i practice the luckier i get”. I will add correct practice helps you play better.
I’ve watched too many golfers at the driving range load 120 balls in the machine and then rapid fire till they get tired. They helped their ball feel but added nothing to consistency, control or their swing!
Take your time when you practice. Take a set number of balls out onto the matt and take your time with whatever you are working with on your swing. Then take a short break, have a drink – review what you are doing. Then repeat with each ball “as if you were on the golf course”. The old adage “One shot at a time” will bring your consistent ball striking to the golf course.
I encourage my students to practice correctly at least once between coaching sessions. Bring a notepad during lessons and write down what you need to work with – then take it out and review before practice.
Developing and building a good swing is easy! Address the ball the same way and check posture, grip, ball position and what ever your pro shows you for improvement. Then it’s done, and now you can work with one or two swing keys that will improve your swing and ball striking. If this is repeated with each ball you are on your way to playing better and having way more fun!