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A simple backswing technique to hit better partial shots

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The author, Scott Hamilton has created a four-lesson video course with his keys to achieving consistent, solid contact. The Solid Contact Series is available for free on his website OnTourGolf.com.  

The PGA Tour players I’m coaching are really detail-oriented guys. They can tell the difference between a wedge that has a little too much bounce or a putter that has a degree too much loft. They can detect these subtle changes because they perform consistently enough to see it in the way the bounce interacts with the turf or the way the ball rolls along the green.

Tour players can get wrapped up in what can seem like small things to the average guy. Over the years, I’ve learned that the better a golfer gets and the higher the level of competition, the more the small things can add up to be the difference between good and great. One of those small things is the ability to hit shots close from distances that fall between their full swing yardages. 

As Tour players get closer to the green, hitting it close becomes a bigger priority. PGA Tour stats indicate that the No. 1 influence on a player’s chances of making a putt is how long or short it is. The 10-to-15 yard gap that exists between most player’s irons and wedges represents a 30-foot range in the distance an approach may be from the hole when it lands. Combining how far offline a shot is with how long or short it travels increases the distance from the hole and decreases the chances for making the putt.  

With this in mind, I want all my players to be great at controlling their distance and direction, especially when they’re hitting shorter clubs into the green. They need to hit accurate shots to distances that fall between their full-swing yardages. In order to do that, they often have to take less than a full swing. I’ve found that a simple backswing technique allows my guys to maintain their accuracy when they are playing “off speed,” as I call it. 

In the video, I show you the backswing technique I coach my guys to use to hit it close to the hole when they need to hit a partial shot.

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Currently teaching 14 PGA Tour players, Scott Hamilton is a staple on the PGA Tour range each week. In 2015, a poll of PGA Tour players conducted by Golf Digest ranked him as the No. 2 instructor on the PGA Tour. His players like him for his ability to conduct a complete analysis of their games and return a simple solution to help them play better. “You get the result you want without all the big words.” as Scott often says.

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. RoGar

    Mar 30, 2016 at 12:44 am

    Thumbs up!!!

  2. Corey

    Mar 27, 2016 at 10:14 am

    Scott, what brand of 5 pocket pants are you wearing in that video?

    • Scott Hamilton

      Apr 6, 2016 at 10:33 pm

      Not sure. Got a bunch of em. Got them at my wife’s store Blue Sky.

  3. HANK HANEY

    Mar 24, 2016 at 10:36 am

    Pure brilliance!!

  4. mhendon

    Mar 23, 2016 at 7:20 pm

    I’ve been playing golf for over 20 years so I’ve seen or heard virtually every tip imaginable. So this was a breath of fresh air and it seams like a good tip to.

  5. jamesnames

    Mar 23, 2016 at 6:37 pm

    Good stuff. Thanks.

    Though, if you’re teaching it you might want to use the term centripetal force instead of centrifugal. Centrifugal force is a fictitious force.

    • Scott Hamilton

      Mar 25, 2016 at 11:37 am

      Man- I’m country. I’m lucky I even got that close.

  6. David Leadbetter

    Mar 23, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    I have a light saber for this

  7. Shallowface

    Mar 23, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    This is good stuff! Looking forward to more from Scott Hamilton.

  8. Other Paul

    Mar 23, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    i dont understand what all the shank votes are about.

  9. Michael Breed

    Mar 23, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    WHAT I TEACH!!!!!!!!! IS TOO TAKE CLUB BACK & FORM L!!!!!! THAN SAY YABBA DABBA DOO &SWING FORWARD THIS SHOULD PRODUCE A SHOT THAT IS THE CORRECT DISTANCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Adam Scott

      Mar 23, 2016 at 6:26 pm

      Never knew that Michael Breed was also a Class A Dunce in addition to a Class A PGA pro.

  10. 4pillars

    Mar 23, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    That’s quite clever.

    I’ll get the flashlights when I am doing my Easter DIY shopping.

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Instruction

3 keys for getting out of bunkers with soft sand

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One of the most infuriating things in golf is to land in a bunker that has too much sand, or sand with the consistency of a truckload of talcum power. Now, I am not picking on the Superintendents; they do have to add new sand from time-to-time, so no hate mail please! It’s my fault for hitting it in the bunker in the first place, and bunkers are supposed to be hazards; I know that.

The one thing we will assume for this article is that even though we are in soft sand, we will have a good lie, not a plugged or semi-plugged one. We are in a bunker that just has a bunch of sand, or it’s soft and fluffy sand. Everyone asks me what the secret is to handling these types of conditions and I’m here to help you get better.

1) Get a wedge with the correct bounce

Let’s consider that you play the same golf course every weekend, or that you mostly play on courses that have the same type of playing conditions mostly. When you have this luxury, you should have wedges that fit the conditions you tend to play. So, if you have a low bounce wedge with a sharp flange and you’re playing from bunkers with lots of sand, then you are putting yourself at a disadvantage.

Why alter your swing if the wedge you have can help you? Use a high bounce wedge (9-12 degrees of bounce) for soft sand, and a low bounce wedge (6-8 degrees) for firm sand.

2) Control your Angle of Attack 

As with most things in golf, there are always things that you must pay attention to in order for you to have the odds in your favor. Simple things such as paying attention to the lie you have can help you save shots in the rough. In bunkers, you cannot test the surface, however, you can use your feet to feel the density of the sand. Pay attention to what you feel in the balls of your feet. If you feel a ton of sand below you, then you know you will have to alter your angle of attack if you want any chance to get out of the bunker successfully.

So what do I mean by this?

The setting of your wrists has a very dynamic effect on how much the wedge digs in or skids through the sand (assuming you have an open face). When there is a surplus of sand, you will find that a steeper attack caused by the maximum cocking of your wrists makes it much easier for the wedge to work too vertical and dig too deep. When you dig too deep, you will lose control of the ball as there is too much sand between the blade and the ball — it will not spin as much and won’t have the distance control you normally have.

The secret to playing from softer sand is a longer and wider bunker swing with much less wrist-set than you would use on your stock bunker shot. This action stops the club from digging too deep and makes it easier for you to keep moving through the ball and achieving the distance you need.

3) Keep your pivot moving

It’s nearly impossible to keep the rotation of your shoulders going when you take too much sand at impact, and the ball comes up short in that situation every time. When you take less sand, you will have a much easier time keeping your pivot moving. This is the final key to good soft-sand bunker play.

You have made your longer and more shallow backswing and are returning to the ball not quite as steeply as you normally do which is good… now the only thing left to do is keep your rear shoulder rotating through impact and beyond. This action helps you to make a fuller finish, and one that does not lose too much speed when the club impacts the sand. If you dig too deep, you cannot keep the rear shoulder moving and your shots will consistently come up short.

So if you are in a bunker with new sand, or an abundance of sand, remember to change your bounce, adjust your angle of attack, and keep your pivot moving to have a fighting chance.

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Instruction

WATCH: How to stop “flipping” through impact

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Are you flipping through impact? In this video, I share a great drill that will help you put better pressure on the golf ball at impact. By delivering the sweet spot correctly, you’ll create a better flight and get more distance from your shots immediately.

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Instruction

The Wagon Wheel Drill

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For many golfers, the ability to hit shots golf ball to the target is a difficult task, especially when you take into account the rough, trees or hazards lining the hole. In this video, I share “The Wagon Wheel Drill,” a simple idea of how to practice intentionally hitting the ball left, right and on target.

Practice this and you will soon be hitting the target more often.

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