Kyle Voska Golf

PGA Certified Teaching Professional shares tips and advice on golf

New Junior and Women’s Programs at The Links G.C.

In the near future, The Links G.C. in Highlands Ranch, CO be rolling out our schedule of programs for this upcoming seasons.  We’re going to have Free Women’s Clinics and Socials, Golf Fore Her classes, a Lady 9ers league, Junior Camps, a Junior Golf Academy, a Junior League, and more.  Stay tuned….

If you can’t wait and would like more information, give the golf shop a call at 303-470-9292.

March 26, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Now Teaching at The Links G.C. in Denver, Colorado

In February, 2014, I accepted a position at The Links Golf Course in Highlands Ranch, CO.  Highlands Ranch is about 12 miles South of Denver.  The Links Golf Course is an 18-hole executive course playing to a Par 62 (10 par 3′s and 8 par 4′s with the shortest par 3 measuring 156 from the back tees).  It’s a challenging course for all levels.

The Links also has a great practice facility with an all grass tee-line, a large putting green, and another green for pitching, chipping, and bunker shots.  It’s ideal for working on any aspect of your game.

To contact me about a private lesson or any of our player development programs, call the golf shop at 303-470-9292303-470-9292 or email me at kvoska@hotmail.com.  I look forward to helping you with your game!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 26, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Winter Golf: “It’s Not That Bad Out There”

ENJOY GOLF IN THE WINTER

Winter golf, a wonderful time to play!  You might be laughing or rolling your eyes, but really, it can be a wonderful time to play (Disclaimer:  I would like to state that there are certain conditions that Kyle Voska does not find enjoyable and he cannot be held accountable for someone having an unpleasant time during a winter round of golf if any of these conditions exist:   when it is snowing, sleeting, icing, raining, fog-lifting, winterey mixing, windy, really windy, under 28.4 degrees, cloudy, after a long rain, snow or ice on the ground, warm outfit-challenged, not in mood, or you run out of golf balls during your round).  I love getting out for a few rounds in the winter and I’ll explain why and how you can enjoy it too.

Dressing properly is the key ingredient to enjoying golf when the weather is less than ideal.  First, I highly recommend wearing rain pants over your slacks.  Long-underwear works as well, but rain pants are better because they block the wind and keep your pants dry.  Second, a winter cap is a must.  If your noggin gets cold, you’re toast.  Third, load up the layers around your core.  I recommend 3-4 layers around your chest and up to 2 layers for your arms.  I prefer to have as little as possible on my arms so I can still swing with some speed.  And last, winter gloves.  Some prefer the winter gloves made for golf.  I, however, prefer using cart mittens with heat packs in them.  My hands generally don’t stay warm in gloves because my fingers are isolated.  They stay much warmer in the mittens and I’m able to hit shots with my normal glove and grip.

Learning to adapt to different conditions, winter conditions included, is one of the beauties of this game.  Generally, when you play winter golf in the northern states, the temperature will be below 50 degrees.  When the temperature dips, the golf ball doesn’t go as far.  Due to more clothing, your swing will slow down a bit, and it’s harder to compress the golf ball when it cools down.  I recommend taking at least one extra club on shorter shots and at least two extra clubs on longer shots.  This will make sure you swing within yourself and make solid contact (not hitting solid in the cold can leave a lasting impression).

Winter is a depressing time for many because there’s less light, it’s cold, and there’s more precipitation.  This terrible trifecta makes it’s difficult to spend time outside.  Humans weren’t designed to spend months at a time inside so when you have a chance to go outside it’s important to take advantage of it.  Golf is a great way to spend this time.  You’ll get some fresh air along with some exercise in very peaceful environment.  It’s truly amazing how quiet and peaceful a golf course is in the winter.

Go out and play some golf this winter.  You might be surprised how nice it can be.  Just dress properly and swing easy. When you finish, I’m willing to bet you’ll say, “It’s not that bad out there.”, the very popular winter-time phrase said at The Mill Course.  Have fun and thanks for reading!

February 6, 2013 Posted by | Golf Tips, Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

Cabin Fever

How To Get Through The Winter and Improve Your Game

For those living north of Florida, this has been a long and cold winter.  This can obviously lead to cabin fever for many of us, especially those who have the golf bug.  Today, I’m going to share with you some tips on how to get through the winter as a golfer and how to improve your game doing so.

Tips

  1. Put a club in your hand at least a few times a week.  This is one of those things that sounds so much easier than it is.  What I recommend is keeping a wedge in your house and swing it a few times a week.  This is pretty easy during the weekend when golf is on tv.  Watch golf for a bit, then take a few swings in your living room trying to copy the tempo of one of your favorite golfers you just saw on tv.  Swinging a club a few times a week will keep your golf muscles loose and make it easier to transition to an actual round when spring rolls around.
  2. Play simulated golf rounds.  Find a nearby place that offers simulated golf.  This is a great way to break up the monotony of winter, have fun with friends and play a round of golf.  In the Cincinnati area, I know you can play at Dave and Busters and The Practice Center at Clearcreek in Franklin.  If you’ve never done this, give it a try.  It’s fun.
  3. Go to a heated driving range when it’s above 30 degrees.
  4. Put an indoor golf net and mat in your basement.  I was lucky when I grew up because my dad put up a net in our basement.  I hit balls almost everyday in there.  Fortunately, our ceilings were 9 feet so I could swing any club.  If your ceiling is just 8 feet, you may only be able to swing a short iron.  That’s still much better than nothing.  This is a pretty inexpensive way to beat the winter and improve your game.
  5. Take a short golf trip somewhere warm.  This winter, I went to Florida and played 6 rounds of golf.  It was great.  Even if you can’t get away for a week, you may have time to get away for a long weekend somewhere.  3 days of golf is much better than nothing.  I’d recommend going to Orlando or south of Orlando for the best weather.  One of my favorites is World Woods, north of Tampa and West of Orlando.
  6. Hibernate or move south of your current location.

Drills

The winter time is a great way to improve your game.  You can work on your putting stroke, chipping, and all of your fundamentals.  Here are some of the drills I’d recommend:

  1. Check all your fundamentals once a week in a mirror.  Check your grip, posture, shoulder and foot alignment, balance, weight distribution, ball position, etc.  The better you are at these, the more consistent you’ll be.
  2. Check swing positions in a mirror.  Check your backswing halfway back to see if the clubface and path are good, check the top of swing face-on to see the length of your backswing, and check your finish position to see if you’re balanced.
  3. Swing in slow-motion in front of a mirror.  This is a great way to feel your golf swing and check certain position.
  4. Chip off carpet.  Buy some plastic practice balls and chip somewhere inside.  The firmer the lie the better.  If you can chip off a hard floor you can probably chip anywhere.
  5. Putt on smooth carpet  into a cup or buy a putting mat to putt on.  This a great way to groove your putting stroke.
  6. Draw a line on your ball and try to make it roll end-over-end.  If it’s wobbling a lot, then practice making the ball better.  If you do so, you’ll make more putts.

Conditioning Your Body

It’s easy to get lazy in the winter, but I believe it’s the best time to workout.  First, what else are you going to do?  Second, when you have free time in the summer, you’re usually golfing.  Use the winter to get healthier and stronger for the upcoming season.

  1. Walk or jog on a treadmill using a lot of incline to get your body used to walking up and down hills.  The longer you walk the better prepared you’ll be for the 4+ hour rounds.  Shoot for 3+ miles each time.
  2. Swim.  I swing throughout the year.  It’s a great full body workout.
  3. Strengthen your hands and forearms.  Squeeze stress balls at work.  Lift light weights for your forearms.  The stronger your hands and forearms are the more power you’ll have.
  4. Do a lot of ab work.  This will not only stabilize your body, it will help prevent back injuries.
  5. Learn new golf stretches and exercises.  One great website for this is Titleist’s Performance Institute, www.mytpi.com.

Club Maintenance

Winter is a great time to take care of your clubs.

  1. I recommend re-gripping them at least once a year.  There’s plenty of time right now to do it and you won’t miss them like you would in the summer.
  2. Check the lofts and lies of all your irons.  Believe it or not, the lofts and lies of your clubs can change.  It’s important to check to see if your set is consistent.
  3. Clean your grips at least once a month.  Think how often you play when your hands are sweaty.  Now, think how dirty your grips are.  Yuck.  Simply scrub them with soap and water.  This will make them tacky again and it will prolong the life of the grips.
  4. Get on a launch monitor with a local PGA Professional to see if your current set of clubs is good for you.  They may be perfect, they may need some tweaking, or you might need a complete overhaul.  If you love the game and you want to play your best, you owe it to yourself to know that your equipment fits your game.

I hope these thoughts and tips help you get through the winter faster and improve your golf game.  If all else fails, pray that the groundhog was right in predicting an early spring.  Thanks for reading!

February 4, 2013 Posted by | Practice Time | , | 2 Comments

The Great Escapes – Scoring Better From the Trees

The Great Escapes – Scoring Better From the Trees

Believe or not, during a round of golf, you may find yourself in a predicament where your ball is amongst some trees and you have to find your way out.  Some of you may not comprehend how you could possibly miss a fairway, but trust me, sometimes it happens.  All kidding aside, learning how to hit better shots from the trees is important if you want to improve your scores.

Today, I’m going to help you with some tips on how to hit better shots when faced with tree trouble.  And, just in case you’re wondering, I am qualified to teach this subject.  From April of 2002 – August of 2004, I didn’t hit a single fairway which allowed me to thoroughly research this subject.  In fact, the Greater Golf Bureau of Mid-Western America (GGBMWA) granted me a Masters Degree in Tree Escapagery in 2005 becoming only the 7th golfer ever to achieve this honor.  Without further ado, with the extensive data I have gathered over the years, I am now ready to share my wisdom.

First and Foremost:  The #1 Goal is to get the ball out of trees

The #1 goal is to get the ball out of the trees.

You’re welcome.

Just kidding!  In all seriousness, the #1 goal of any shot from the trees IS to get the ball out of the trees.  So, before attempting a shot from the trees, you have the weigh the risk vs. reward factor.  Is it worth the risk to try to hit the ball between two trees 5 feet apart?  What would happen if you clipped the top of the tree you’re trying to hit it over?  When facing a shot with trees in the way, you really need to be confident in the shot before attempting it.  I’d recommend taking a more conservative route if you don’t feel you can pull the shot off at least 75% of the time, if not more.  Pitching out isn’t much fun, but bogies are much better than double bogies and higher.

Curving the Ball Around Trees

This is the part where you learn how to curve it like Bubba.  After reading the next paragraphs, there’s a better than a highly impossible chance you’ll be able to curve your shots up to 90 degrees on command.  Remember, the first goal is to get the ball out of the trees without hitting them.   Curving the ball on command isn’t easy, but understanding a few important aspects will help you out tremendously.

In a nutshell, you want to aim your club face approximately where you want the ball to end up and you aim your body where your want the ball to start.  For more information on this, read the article below I previously wrote on shaping the ball:

http://kylevoska.com/category/tips-of-the-month/

How much you can curve the ball depends on your club head speed.  The farther you hit the ball, or how fast you swing, the more you can curve it.  Also, you can curve the ball more when hooking the ball when slicing the ball. For example, if a right-handed version of Bubba was in Bubba’s shoes on #10 in the Masters playoff, he wouldn’t have been able to curve the ball as much as the real Bubba did.  Why, you may ask?  The answer is loft.  A higher loft club doesn’t have the potential to curve as much as a lower-lofted club.  More loft equals more lift and less curve.

Distance Control

Controlling your distance from the trees is the one of the most underrated parts to this game.  It’s very important.  In fact, I wouldn’t be shocked if we hear the saying, “Drive for show, escapagery control dough” in the future as the go-to saying to describe the most important parts of the game.

Controlling the distance of your shots from the trees isn’t all that difficult, yet most don’t understand how to do it.  All it takes is a little planning and a little math.  First, determine how far you are from the hole.  Second, determine where you want the ball to land.  Consider whether your ball will be landing in the rough or fairway before choosing this spot.  Obviously, if it lands in the fairway it’ll roll a lot more than if it landed in the rough.  Third, choose a club that will comfortably avoid the trees.  And finally, use a little math to help you with the amount of effort you’ll need for the shot.

For example:  your ball is 120 from the flag.  You determine you need to hit a 5 iron to keep it below the limbs in front of you.  You normally hit your 5 iron 180 yards.  You see that your ball will land in the fairway.  You believe that if you land the ball at 90 yards it’ll roll onto the green.  You need to hit your 5 iron 90 yards which is 50% of 180.  Make a half swing, 50% effort, and you’ll be in good shape.

2nd example:  your ball is 100 yards from the flag.  It’s rough all the way to the green so you determine you need to carry the ball about 85 yards in order to bounce it on.  Looking at the trees in front of you, you’re confident a 7 iron will be able to go below the limbs comfortably.  Your 7 iron normally goes 120.  85 into 120 is approximately 70%.  Try to rehearse and “feel” a 70% swing before hitting your shot.  Then, go ahead and execute.

This is not an exact science, but it does work very well.  I will say this, the better you are at hitting half and three-quarter shots with your wedges the better you’ll be at these shots.  I personally try to feel like I’m hitting punch wedge shots for a lot of these shots.  It’s just a wedge swing with whatever club you chose to escape the trees.

With a little confidence, creativity, and practice, you’ll hit some great escape shots from the trees.  I wish you the best of luck on these shots and hope you don’t have to use them as much as I used to.

Thank you for reading!

April 22, 2012 Posted by | Course management, Golf Tips, Scoring Lower | , , | 2 Comments

When It’s Breezy, Swing Easy – How to Play in the Wind

When It’s Breezy, Swing Easy – How to Play in the Wind

“When its breezy, swing easy.”   Have you ever that quote?  When it comes to playing in the wind, that statement bodes well.   Playing in the wind can certainly be challenging, but it’s something every golfer will have to deal with from time to time, especially in the spring.  The best thought you can have when playing in the wind is don’t fight the wind.  Here are some tips to play better into the wind.

Grip if softer and swing easier

The simplest way to play into the wind is grab an extra club or two, grip it a little softer and swing easier.  The harder you grip the club and swing at the ball, the more spin the ball will have.  More spin in the wind equals a higher ball flight.  Your shots will come up short or veer off-line easier.   Swinging easier will take some spin of the ball which lowers the ball flight.

  • Practice drill:  Practice using a 6 iron when you think it’s a 7 iron and you’ll quickly see how your ball will stay below the wind much easier.

Finish lower

If you want to hit it low, think low and finish low.  The lower you can keep the club post-impact the lower the ball will fly.  This isn’t easy to do at first, but with some practice you can get pretty good with it quickly.  In order to this correctly, you do have to turn your body with the club.  This will keep it low.  It’s nearly impossible to finish low if your body stops turning.

  • Practice drill:  A nice thought is to imagine a low-hanging branch that’s a couple of feet off the ground 5-10′ ahead of your ball.  Practice trying to drive the ball under the limb.  You can actually use a driveway marker for this too.   Stick a marker in the ground on a 45-degree angle 5-10′ ahead of your practice area and try hitting balls under the marker with a middle iron.

Play The Ball Further Back In Your Stance

Moving the ball back in your stance an inch or two will effectively de-loft the club a few degrees.  This will lower your ball flight as well.  I don’t recommend over-doing this because it can lead to poor shots.  If you play the ball too far back, you’ll tilt backwards at impact causing your body to stop turning for a split-second.

Cross Winds

Playing in cross winds can certainly be challenging.  For most players, I recommend using the wind as your friend.  If the wind is blowing left to right, aim more left and hit your normal shot allowing the ball to ride the wind.

Some players like to try to hold the ball against the wind in these situations.  This can be difficult.  It’s not that difficult if you normally play a draw and the wind is left to right, but it is very difficult if you’re trying to play a draw and you typically play a fade.  I recommend using the wind as your friend most of the time by riding  it and only holding it against the wind only if it’s your normal shot.  Also, an important note, when trying to hold the ball into the wind, you may have to take an extra club because the wind will tend to knock your ball down.

Downwind Shots

Downwind shots are the easiest out of all these shots, but they do  bring some challenges as well.  Your ball will tend to fly much straighter downwind, but choosing the right club can be tricky.  The ball will fly farther downwind, but it’s not exactly opposite of the into the wind shots.  For example, let’s say you normally hit an 8-iron 130.  Into a 20 mph wind, you may have to drop down 2 clubs and hit a 6 iron from 130, but downwind at 20 mph you may only go up one club with a 9 iron.  This takes some practice and a feel for the conditions that day to choose the right club.

Once again, choosing the right club in the wind is very tricky, even for professionals.  It requires practice and controlled swings.  Just remember, if you’re ever in doubt, grab a club that will allow you to make an easy controlled swing.

Thanks for reading and good luck!

March 19, 2012 Posted by | Course management, Golf Tips, Iron Play, Practice Time, Scoring Lower | , | Leave a comment

Strengthen Your Left Hand Grip To Stop Slicing

Strengthen Your Left Hand Grip To Stop Slicing

There are many reasons why a golfer may slice a ball, but there is also one constant when a ball slices (curves left-to-right for a righty).   That constant is an open clubface at the point of impact.  An open clubface is when it’s pointed to the right or more towards the sky.  This open clubface can be caused by many things including an incorrect swing path, a poor setup, or a weak grip, amongst others.  Today, I’m going to explain how a weak left hand grip can increase the likelihood of a slice.

In order to have a consistent swing, you should have a  grip that matches your swing.  Unfortunately, for many golfers their grip doesn’t match their swing or their hands are in a position where they are more likely to change the angle of the clubface at impact.   The  most common error I see is when a golfer grips the club with a weak left (lead arm) hand.  In this position, the hand is placed on the side or even under the grip causing quite a few issues such as a loss of power and the greater potential to slice the ball.

Self-Test

If you’re a slicer, it’s imperative to strengthen your left hand grip.  Here’s why and a little test to show you.  Stand tall with your arms  hanging comfortably and softly down your side.  You’ll notice your palms are facing your side.  Now, lean over until you’re in your golf posture continuing with your arms hanging softly under your shoulders.  Notice how your palms are now angled about 45 degrees facing your body.  When you lean over, your arms naturally rotate inward.

Why is that important and what does it have to do with your slice?  When you lean over and allow your arms to hang softly, this is your arms natural position.  This is where your arms want to be.  Try this:  grip the club with just your left hand.  Rotate your palm towards the ground and notice the clubface rotate towards the sky.  The more it points this way, the more the ball will slice.  The weaker your left hand grip is at the start, the more prone the clubface will be at impact because your left arm will try to go back to it’s natural position.

It is possible to hit great shots with a weak grip, but usually, this is for golfers that tend to over-rotate their arms on their downswing.

How To Grip The Club

I recommend trying to grip the club up in the air in front of your face so you can see what’s going on.  When placing your left hand on the grip, try to angle your palm about 45 degrees towards the ground.  If done correctly, you should be able to see 3, maybe 4 knuckles on your left hand.  Additionally, the ‘V-shape’ caused by your left thumb and forefinger will be pointed towards your right shoulder.  After placing your left hand on the grip, put your right hand on with your palms facing each other.

Not only will this stronger grip help eliminate or reduce the amount of slice, it will also allow your wrists to hinge correctly creating more power in your golf swing.  It’s a win-win!

The grip is a very sensitive and difficult topic to fully grasp.  For help with your own grip, I recommend seeing your local PGA Professional to help you perfect it.

Good luck and thanks for reading!

August 24, 2011 Posted by | Slicers Corner | , , | 1 Comment

How To Chip Out Of Deep Rough

HOW TO CHIP OUT OF DEEP ROUGH

Spring is here and you know what that means.  Rainy days and thick rough on the golf course.  Playing golf in the spring is, without a doubt, one of the most difficult times of the year to play.  You have to deal with rain, wind, changing temperatures, wet course conditions, and very thick rough.  Today, I’m going to give you tips on how to chip better out of the deep rough.

Gauge the Lie

If you’re lucky enough to be able to get your clubface on the ball, you won’t have to change much from your normal chipping motion.  Unfortunately, in the spring, rarely does our ball sit cleanly in the rough.  Place your club behind the ball and check to see how much rough is between the clubface and the ball.  The more rough there is, the more it will slow down the clubface and the more the clubface will tend to twist (close).

Setup

After gauging the lie, you need to set up correctly for the shot at hand.  If the pin is further away, you can set up with the face square to the target line; however, much of the time, you’ll need a softer landing shot with less run.  For these cases, you’ll want to set up with an open clubface at address.  This will increase the bounce of the club which helps it glide through the rough better.  It also adds loft so the ball will come out higher and land softer.

Second, you need to grip the club firmer than normal so the club doesn’t twist at impact.

Third, ball position should be in the middle of your stance, not too far back.  We need loft for this shot.  Playing the ball closer to your back foot will deloft the club and you’ll struggle to be consistent for this shot.

Swing Motion

Now that we’ve set up correctly, we need to know how to swing.  The first thing you need to realize is we want to hit this shot with our bigger muscles, not with our wrists and hands.  We need our body to help out so the club will glide through the rough easier.

When you swing back, I’d recommend feeling like you’re keeping your wrists quiet with your shoulders doing much of the work.  Your wrists may hinge a bit, but don’t try to hinge them.

On your downswing, it’s imperative to turn your core through the ball.  I like to think about turning my belt buckle to the target.  If I do, the club and the rest of my body are turning together through impact.  While turning our core, we also want to maintain the open clubface through impact.  Ideally, you’d like to maintain consistent loft throughout the swing for this shot rather than it changing too much.

Finish

At your finish, if done correctly, the clubface will be facing more towards the sky and the end of your grip will be pointing close to your belt buckle.  If the clubface is facing upward, you didn’t allow the rough to twist the clubface.  If the end of the grip points to your belt buckle, your body and arms were turning through the shot together.

Drill

Take a wedge and choke down to the steel.  Then, place the end of your grip to your belt buckle.  Make a few mini-swings keeping the end of the grip pressed against your belt buckle.  This mini-swing should be no longer than waist-high back to waist-high through so you can stay connected.

Remember, chipping out of the deep rough is very difficult.  The goal is to get the ball on the green giving yourself a chance to make a putt.  Using your bigger muscles and maintaining an open clubface will increase your chances of being successful with this shot.

Good luck and thanks for reading!

May 1, 2011 Posted by | Chipping, Scoring Lower | , , , | Leave a comment

Myth or Truth: You’ll Get Worse Before You Get Better After A Lesson

MYTH OR TRUTH:  YOU’LL GET WORSE BEFORE YOU GET BETTER AFTER A LESSON?

Have you ever heard the old saying, “You’ll get worse before you get better”, towards taking golf lessons?  If so, has this made you hesitant towards taking lessons?  Well, let me dispel this myth by stating you should get better after golf lessons, not worse.  I don’t believe you should get worse before you get better.  That really doesn’t make in any sense.  Why would you pay someone to make you worse?

Taking a golf lesson can be intimidating at first.  You’re showcasing your skills, or lack there of some may say, in front of a professional.  It can be nerve-racking.  Trust me, I’ve been there.  However, the professional is there for a reason and that reason is to help you improve your game.  Professionals, like myself, have worked really hard to understand the golf swing and, more importantly, the skill of communicating properly so the golfer can feel comfortable with the change.

When I teach a new student, I first try to understand the golfer’s desires while learning about them as best as I can.  This builds trust.  Once I’ve heard what they’d like to do with their game, I then watch them hit some balls and create a plan on improving their game that day, and for the future.

If you’re taking lessons, whether it’s for 30 minutes or an hour, you should see some improvement during the lesson.  Some of your shots should produce, or come really close to producing the type of shot you desire.  Now, it may be challenging at first to do this, but you should see some benefits during the lesson.  That being said, practicing after a lesson is imperative to make the changes more long-lasting.  Sometimes, it can be a challenge taking these changes to the course; however, the more you learn about your tendencies and how to fix them, the more confidence you’ll have towards your game.

The bottom line is you really should be improving during and after a lesson, or it may be time to try someone else.  Just like a lot of other things in our lives, if it just doesn’t feel right or you don’t have a good feeling about it, it may be time for a change.  And that’s ok.  Not every instructor is right for every student.  We all have different personalities and swing beliefs that may not be right for everyone.

If you’ve never taken lessons, or are looking for a new swing coach, do a little research before jumping in.  Talk to a few instructors on the phone or in person.  If you feel comfortable and like talking to them, then you’d probably enjoy learning from them.

To summarize, find a local PGA Professional and trust that they can take your game to the next level or get it back to where you’d like it to be.  Lessons are a great way to challenge yourself and learn more about the game.  Good luck!

April 4, 2011 Posted by | Golf Myths | , | 2 Comments

Should You Use Your Wrists For Chip Shots?

Should You Use Your Wrists For Chip Shots?

The short answer is yes and no.  For some chips you should use your wrists and others you shouldn’t.  When your ball lies around the green, there’s a variety of ways to get the ball on the green and close to the hole.  Sometimes, it seems like there are too many options.  For many, confusion arises when you don’t know whether you should use your wrists or not.  I’d like to clarify this so you can simplify your chipping.  For most chip shots, I’d recommend trying to keep your wrists passive and I’ll explain why.

In my opinion, there are three families of shots you can hit around the green:  low, medium, and high.  Within each family, there are a variety of techniques that can be used.  My basic philosophy to the short game is this:  putt when you can, chip it like a putt when you can’t putt, and only hit it high when you have to.  Thinking this way and using it on the course will simplify your short game and reduce your errors.

I just mentioned there are three types of shots around the green:  low, medium, and high.  You might only need the  high shot 5% of the time so I’m not going to cover it today as it’s risky to hit and it doesn’t come about very often.  So, we’re going to cover the low and medium-height chip shots.  Simply, for the low chips you will not use your wrists.  For the medium chips, very little wrist action is used.  Remember, the higher/farther you hit the ball, the bigger the swing will be.  Bigger swing equals more room for error.  Whenever possible,  keep it simple with small swing around the greens.

The Low Chip Shot

The low chip shot, a.k.a. the bump-and-run, is generally used when your ball is within 15 feet of the green.  To keep it very simple, I like to think of this shot as a putt with loft.  The main difference is with the setup, but the stroke used is very similar.  After setting up with the ball back in your stance, weight slightly forward and the shaft leaning forward to the target, the motion used is nearly identical to a putting stroke.  That being the case, the wrists are not used for this shot as it’s  mostly a rocking of the shoulders.

The Medium (Standard) Chip Shot

When your ball is further off the green, you’ll need more height so your ball will land softer on the green.  For these shots, you’ll be taking the club further back to fly the ball a longer distance so you will use a little wrist action.

For this shot, you’ll set up similar to a pitch shot with the ball approximately in the middle of your stance, weight about 50/50, and your hands slightly ahead or even with the ball.   On your backswing, your goal is to the get the clubface up to about waist high feeling like your lead arm and club maintain a straight line.  Your wrists may hinge a little, but try not to get overly wristy for this shot.  On your downswing, the goal is keep the lead arm and club in a straight line finishing lower than waist high (finishing too high usually is the result of a scooping motion).

Wrists Equal Power

It’s important to note the wrists are a source of power, only use them when you have to around the greens.  If you hinge your wrists, which is great for lots of shots, you must unhinge them.  This unhinging creates power.  Creating power around the greens can lead to exploding shots over the green and last-second decelerations.  This is why I don’t recommend using your wrists much around the greens.

Summary

To summarize, keep is simple around the greens.  Hit it low when you can and only high when you have to.  Keeping the wrists relatively quiet allows for a simpler more repeatable motion for chip shots.  If you’re looking for someone on Tour to emulate for these shots, watch Steve Stricker.  His chipping and pitching motion is very simple, but extremely effective.  He’s consistently one of the best in the game with a wedge in his hand.

Good luck and thanks for reading!

March 27, 2011 Posted by | Chipping, Scoring Lower | 2 Comments

Change Tee Heights For Different Tee Shots

CHANGE TEE HEIGHTS FOR DIFFERENT TEE SHOTS

Nowadays, there are a variety of tees to choose from for your game.  Some are designed to tee the ball as high as possible, some are for par 3 shots, and others are made to last longer.  Choosing the type of tee is a personal preference, but today I’m going to explain how changing the height of your tee for tee shots can affect your shots.

I personally change my tee height for certain shots.  I tee it high for draws, medium for fades, and low for accuracy.  You may wonder why I don’t choose the same tee height for all shots, but there are valid reasons why I change the height for different shots.

First, it’s important to note that the size of drivers are very large now so most golfers would benefit teeing it pretty high, if in doubt.  Second, it’s been proven through data from launch monitors such as Trackman that in order to hit a draw, your club should be swinging in-to-out and on an upward path.  This is very difficult to do teeing it low.  So, tee hit high to hit more draws.

For fading the ball off the tee, I’d recommend teeing the ball about even with the center of the clubface when the club is lying on the ground.  This will encourage a straighter and more level swing path which makes it easier to fade the ball.  You can certainly fade the ball teeing it high, but many find it easier from a lower height.

The last type of tee height I use is teeing it low, about an inch off the ground.  This is a personal preference, but it’s something a lot of better players use to hit it more accurately.  For me, I use this tee height on tighter holes or on days I’m not swinging my best.  It allows me to swing more within myself and through the ball better.  I may lose a little distance, but I gain confidence knowing I’ll be in the fairway more often.  The key for using this tee height is to not hit down on the ball.  Use a sweeping motion which keeps the clubhead level through impact.

Practice changing your tee heights when you go to the practice range and on the course.  You may find that teeing it high all the time is best for you.  Or you may find that teeing it level with the center of the clubface makes it easier for you to hit the ball more solid.  What works for some may not work for others, but the key is to find what works best for you.  A little trial and error can go a long way towards hitting more fairways in the future.

Good luck and thanks for reading!

March 20, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Roll Your Putts Better With This Drill

Tee Behind-The-Ball Putting Drill

Here’s a simple drill that will get your ball rolling better on the greens.  Place a tee almost all the way into the green with about a 1/4 inch left above the surface.  Next, place a ball right up to the tee on the hole-side of the tee.  Then, place your putter behind the tee and hit some putts without striking the tee.

This drill will give you instant feedback on whether you typically hit the equator of the ball or not.  To get the ball to roll consistently, you need to hit the equator of the ball.  If you’re striking the tee, you’re contacting the ball beneath the equator.   This will make the ball bounce a lot off the putter face.

Eventually, you will start feeling what you have to do with your stroke to make consistent contact with the equator of the golf ball.  This drill should help you strike through your putts, like a tee being driven through the back of the ball, rather than trying to hit up them too much.

March 6, 2011 Posted by | Putting | Leave a comment

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