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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

Want more power and consistency? Master this transition move

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Lucas Wald Transition

World Long Drive competitor Eddie Fernandes has added speed and consistency by improving these transition moves. You can do it, too!

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Instruction

Why you must practice under pressure if you want to play better golf

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Practice, as most of us employ it, is borderline worthless. This is because most of the practices, if you will, typically employed during practice sessions have little chance of improving our performance under pressure.

The type of practice that improves performance is, for the most part, rarely engaged in because practicing under typical “practice” conditions does very little to simulate the thoughts, feelings, and emotions we deal with once our performance actually means something. If we want to really improve our performance when it matters, we need to put ourselves in situations, often and repeatedly, that simulate the pressure we experience during competition. And nowhere is this statement more true than on the putting green.

The art and skill of putting is a funny thing. No element of the game requires less inherent hand-eye coordination or athletic talent. Putting’s simplicity makes it golf’s great equalizer. You roll a ball along the ground with a flat-faced stick in the general direction of a hole nearly three times its size. Sure, green speeds vary wildly, and there are those diabolical breaks to deal with, but despite that, putting is truly golf’s most level playing field; it’s the one element of the game where even the highest handicappers can potentially compete straight up with the game’s most skilled. At the same time, there are few other situations (other than maybe the first tee) when we feel as much pressure as we do on the putting green.

Ben Hogan, during the latter part of his career — years that were marred by poor putting — claimed that putting shouldn’t even be a part of the game because, in his words, “There is no similarity between golf and putting; they are two different games, one played in the air, and the other on the ground.”

Now, Hogan suffered a serious case of the yips later in his career, and while this statement was likely uttered following a frustrating round of missed three-footers, it serves to highlight not only the differences between putting and the rest of the game, but how taxing on the nerves it can be for even the game’s greats.

Its inherent simplicity, the slow pace of the stroke, and how much time we are given to contemplate it, are in truth what sets us up. It’s golf’s free throw. We very often know exactly what to do, and how to do it, like when we’re faced with one of those straight three-footers, but with more time to think, it opens the door wide for the type of second-guessing that arises during those moments we feel a bit of pressure. And that’s the biggest part of the problem.

The self-sabotage that leads to missing relatively short easy putts, the reasons behind it, and practices to overcome it is something for a different article. What I really want to get into at the moment is a practice that I think can help ensure you never end up in that desperate place to begin with.

Most of us rarely practice our putting, and when we do, it’s in about the most useless way we can. We’ve all done it. You grab a sleeve of balls just prior to the round, head to the practice green, and begin rolling them from hole to hole around the typical nine-hole route. Now I could go into a whole host of reasons why this isn’t very helpful, but the No. 1 reason it’s such a pitifully poor practice is this: there is no pressure.

Early in my career, I worked at a club where there was at least one money game on the putting green every day, and many nights too. The members (and staff) putted aces, 5 for $5, rabbits, and many other games for hours on end, and when the sun went down they often switched on the clubhouse roof-mounted floodlights and continued into the wee hours. Many days (and nights) I witnessed hundreds of dollars change hands on that putting green, occasionally from my own, but in my younger days, that was fortunately an infrequent occurrence.

Those money games were a cherished part of the culture of that club and an incredibly good arena in which to learn to practice under pressure. To this day, I’ve never seen as many really good pressure putters (many of very average handicaps) as I did during that period, and when I think back, it’s no small wonder either.

The problem with practicing golf, or just about any other sport for that matter, is that it’s difficult to practice under the types of pressure we compete in. In 4 or 5 hours on the golf course we might only have a half dozen putts that really mean something, and maybe only 2 or 3 of those knee-knocking 3 footers with the match on the line or the chance to win a bet.

When I was younger and playing in those money games on the putting green, I had a meaningful putt every minute or two, for hours on end, and you either learned to handle that pressure pretty quickly or your hard-earned paycheck was being signed over to someone else. Now I’m not bringing this up to encourage gambling, as I know for some people that can become a serious issue, but rather to point out how the opportunity to practice repeatedly under pressure helped me learn to deal with those situations. And with how infrequently we even get the opportunity to face that same pressure when we actually play, it’s important to try do our best to simulate it as often as we can during practice.

So when it comes to my own students these days, I don’t necessarily encourage gambling (I don’t discourage a little bit of it either), but I do encourage putting and practicing for something. I’ll get three of my students together on the putting green and say “look, you guys putt for 30 minutes and the loser has to do 100 push-ups” or something similar. I’ll tell students to putt against a parent for who has to mow the lawn, do the dishes, or some other mundane household chore neither of them really wants to do. The point is to have something on the line, something that will make it really hurt to lose.

You can even do it by yourself. Wait to practice putting right before lunch or dinner and make a pact with yourself that you can’t eat until you make 15 three-footers in a row. Until you find a way to practice under pressure all that practice is really just that: practice. You shouldn’t be surprised if, when the chips are down, mindless practice doesn’t translate to improved performance. Hopefully, by learning to simulate pressure during practice, you’ll play better when the heat is really on.

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Instruction

WATCH: How to execute the “y-style” chipping technique

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Top-100 instructor Tom Stickney of Punta Mita Golf Academy shows an easier way of chipping around the greens to get the ball rolling faster and ensure ball-first contact. Enjoy the video below, and hope this helps!

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