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Q&A with Expert Fitters: “You’re not good enough NOT to get fit”

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The equipment you play can have a major impact on your performance on the golf course. Your consistency, your ability to hit different shots, and the types of misses you encounter all depend on having the proper equipment.

As a teaching professional, I like to turn to the experts on the equipment side of the game so I can maximize the performance of my students on the lesson tee and not waste anyone’s time. We can hack away all day, but if you’re swinging a regular-flex driver shaft and you need an extra-stiff shaft, we’ll never make much progress. You may actually even regress.

Sometimes, all that’s required is a simple shaft change, while other times a more in-depth change is in order, such as adjusting lofts, lie angles or swing weights. Regardless, the fact remains that without the experts in the field of club fitting, my job would be 100 percent more difficult and much less effective. In a perfect world, I would have each of my clients fit with the correct clubs before I even taught them their first lesson, since doing so would eliminate one piece of the puzzle.

For the last several years, Golf Digest has put out a list of the Top-100 Clubfitters in the country: the best of the best at getting golfers fit into equipment that works for them. Today, I would like to introduce two of those fitters that I hold in very high regard: Scott Felix of Felix Clubworks and Kirk Oguri. In this Q&A, we discuss equipment, technology, and what it all means for amateurs and professionals alike. I hope you enjoy their expert insight.

Tom Stickney: You have each been club fitters/builders for almost 20 years. How has technology evolved from a fitting standpoint to make your job easier?

Scott Felix: Interchangeable shafts in the same head have made it easier to control inventory, offer more options and be able to adjust lie/face angle. Moveable weights have also allowed us to change spin, CG (center of gravity) and draw or fade bias. The fitter must still know how to control each of the variables based on the person swinging the club, however, as well as the type of transition and swing they have.

Kirk Oguri: Technology and advancements of measurement tools have allowed for fitters/builders to be able to build and adjust equipment much faster and more accurately to spec. The guessing game has been reduced.

Stickney: How has shaft and head technology evolved?

Felix: Shaft materials gotten better and there are more options, and lighter-weight options that are still stable. The materials have gotten lighter and stronger in the heads allowing engineers the ability to move weight to make faces faster and the MOI (moment of inertia) much higher.

Oguri: Golf shafts are made at a higher tolerance and of higher quality control. Profiles are much easier to create. If the shafts are not of high quality control, it is that company’s choice to skip that process, not because they are unable to control it properly. Club head designs have evolved, utilizing different materials to move CG, displace weight, etc. Unfortunately, the governing bodies have made the evolution of club heads and designs more difficult.

Stickney: We all know the player who says, “I’m not good enough to get fit,” or “I never make the same swing twice, anyway.” How do you respond to this? 

Felix: What we always say is “You’re not good enough NOT to get fit and here are the reasons why…”

Oguri: I wholeheartedly disagree with that golfer. A less-skilled golfer does not have the ability to overcome ill-fit lengths, weights, flexes, lofts, grip sizes, etc. The average golfer requires golf equipment that fits their game more than the elite golfer who has the ability to adapt.

Stickney: Should anyone carry long irons in their bag? 

Felix: Slim to none. There still are players who create enough speed to hit long irons/driving irons. Some guys still feel more comfortable with an iron over a hybrid. More should play hybrids, but driving irons are getting better and more forgiving as well, so they are getting more play than before.

Oguri: Yes. Flat-faced irons have a better plus/minus for launch, spin, direction than a hybrid for some golfers who don’t require higher flight. There are also enough golfers who do not hit hybrids well due to the majority being draw bias.

Stickney: How do you fit the player who comes to you with preconceived notions of what they need and want to use, but they’re incorrect? (i.e. shaft flex, set make up, etc).

Felix: You give them the stuff that they want and let them get numbers off Trackman. Then start working a few different options and let the numbers confirm or deny. The proof is in the pudding, plus you’re able to see ball flight and confirm numbers. It’s hard for anyone to argue with numbers and seeing ball flight.

Oguri: I wouldn’t treat it any different than when a golfer comes for a golf lesson with their own ideas of what they believe is best for their game. I would discuss what they believe in, help them sort it out, and have constant feedback and discussion to help them to understand what may be better suited for their game in the long run.

Stickney: Does club fitting really help the professional player or can they “make” their clubs work?

Felix: Yes, club fitting does help the Tour player. Everyone has tendencies, even tour players. So if you can minimize flaws and give an them opportunity even when they’re a little off — that is the goal. So they can make anything work, but what works with their natural motion and tendencies?

Oguri: Elite players have the skill to overcome a golf club that doesn’t work best for them, but it doesn’t mean they will play to their best ability. I’ve worked with enough Tour players who don’t have the best equipment for their games and have helped them. Just remember, club fitting isn’t just reading numbers off a launch monitor and finding optimal. There’s much more to it.

Stickney: Every OEM claims their new driver is “longer and more accurate” than last year’s model. Is this really true, or do you feel that it’s all marketing hype? 

Felix: Every company has to sell product and market their product as the next best thing. So companies can get lucky and make back-to-back great products, but most likely not. Now with some companies, things work better than others from year to year, but knowing what is hot that year vs. last year is up to a great fitter who is not biased and only wants the best product for their clients at the time. We consult, verify, and guide customers everyday into the best option possible.

Oguri: The majority of OEM’s are striving to lower CG to lower backspin. Some are doing a better job than others to not only lower CG, but to keep it as far back as possible to lower spin while also maintaining MOI. This does not always mean these new drivers are best for everyone. Not everyone needs lower spin! I’ve seen enough golfers that benefit from a higher-CG driver due to their higher strike location of the face and reduced loft at impact.

Stickney: If you have used the same woods and the same irons for X number of years, when it is truly time to take a look at the new options?

Felix: Depends on the person. When someone they play with starts playing better through getting fit, hitting the ball past them when they never did … I don’t think that you always need to get new stuff, but make sure you are not leaving anything on the table. It’s good to check every now and then. All you might have to do is add a 5 wood or hybrid, check gaps on your wedges, etc.

Oguri: In my opinion, a golfer has an idea as to when they want something different from their golf clubs. If a golfer changes their swing patterns significantly, that may be a good time to be evaluated for their changes. Or if the clubs are still made of trees, perhaps it’s also time.

Stickney: Can you really fit someone without technology such as Trackman or Foresight at the average levels?

Felix: Not anymore…..YOU HAVE TO HAVE TECHNOLOGY TO VERIFY NUMBERS AND DATA. You can’t just guess. You’re not even in the game if you don’t at least have Trackman or FlightScope.

Oguri: Yes, it can be done if that fitter/builder has a vast knowledge base and experience to know what ball flights look like, although it makes it much more difficult. But… they must be hitting real golf balls and not range balls!

Stickney: If you could tell the average player one thing in regard to what you do and the clubfitting industry, what would it be?

Felix: I hope to help people enjoy the game more by getting their equipment fit correctly for them in order to maximize scoring, minimize misses, and to score better in the game we are all so passionate about.

Oguri: I do my best to match their golf equipment to their current or future swing patterns to help them play better golf.

Stickney: Thanks guys!

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Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction at Combine Performance in Scottsdale, Arizona. He is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, and has been honored as a Golf Digest Best Teacher and a Golf Tips Top-25 Instructor. Tom is also a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 60 people in the world.

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35 Comments

35 Comments

  1. Rodanst6

    Jun 28, 2017 at 9:56 pm

    I have been fit 4 times for clubs and it must be my luck but I never found a fitter that did a really good job. I read an article by Tom Wishon on all of the elements of proper fitting and none of the club makers or PGA professionals that I went to did even 50% of those things. I would love to find a fitter that would do the process correctly so that I get the best equipment for my game.

  2. peterpro

    Jun 16, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    GOLFWRX admin/officers…. Do one of your contests for fitting!!! Like you did for TM and Callaway drivers this year… 10 or 20 golfers play 36 holes BEFORE fitting, then 36 holes AFTER fitting….or however you want to do the details, but this would be great information for everyone concerned????????

  3. Steve S

    Jun 16, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    One of the best amateur golfers I have ever played with thinks that the fitting craze is a bit of a scam. His feeling is that a lot of golfers are “fit” to compensate for a crappy swing. Standard clubs are made for folks with “normal” physiques between 5’8″ and 6’1″. If you are outside those parameters or have unusually short or long limbs then fitting makes sense. Otherwise fix your crappy swing first, THEN maybe tweak your equipment.

    Also, I think shaft flex is over-rated as a parameter. I’ve hit senior, regular, stiff and x flex shafts in the same irons and see very little difference other than the “whippier” shafts add to dispersion.

  4. ders

    Jun 16, 2017 at 11:07 am

    My buddy got fit recently and it changed his game. He went from mid 90’s to mid 80’s over night and his swing looks way better: He used to goat hump and flip at the ball, now he is smooth and relaxed. …But he is also 6’4″, 270lbs+ and was playing with off the shelf lie/loft/regular flex. The clubs he has now are stiff with an extra 2″ and and +2* lie. If you aren’t anywhere close to 5’9″, you definitely should get fit.

  5. Current_Fitting_Methods

    Jun 16, 2017 at 10:58 am

    Current fitting methodology is trial-and-error. It doesn’t use science to determine optimal fit (and the resulting launch monitor numbers), it instead uses the skills of the fitter to “guess” at combinations of components to work toward improved numbers. Of course, these guesses are only as good as the fitter and only as good as the swings the golfer is exhibiting during the fitting.

    So the question exists; Should a fitting be based on flawed swing mechanics or should a club fitting be based on math/science (idealized club metrics based on the golfer’s anatomy, strength, flexibility, fitness, etc.)?

    • Nathan

      Jun 16, 2017 at 3:05 pm

      Exactly!

      Static fit and ‘force’ a golfer into a better swing.

  6. dcorun

    Jun 16, 2017 at 10:15 am

    It may not be as good as these gentlemen do since it’s their job, but if you buy your clubs at PGA Superstore or Dick’s, they will fit you for free. I have had good fittings at both (had a very good person at Dick’s which was lucky). I was able to try at least 4 shafts in each driver I demo’d and came away very happy with the results. Both places had Trackman and it helps to get fitted to get everything out the club you can. Especially at the price they charge for golf clubs now.

  7. larrybud

    Jun 15, 2017 at 8:53 pm

    I don’t think fitting is going to matter to the guy who hits half worm burners and 40% chunks. Your $1000 is going to be much more effective in dropping your handicap from 20 to 10 with lessons than fitting to your crappy swing.

    Talk to me when you hit the ball somewhat consistently on the center of the face and can begin to sniff 5-6 greens in reg a round.

    Funny article, though, as if club fitters would say “Nooooo, you don’t need fit!”

    • Jack

      Jun 15, 2017 at 10:53 pm

      Obviously need it all. New clubs with latest technology, golf lessons every week multiple times, club fitting and tuneups ever 3 months. And on top of that play every day. Anybody can be a single digit with that process.

      Club fitting could be a big or small factor depending on the person. But you never know until you try it.

      • larrybud

        Jun 16, 2017 at 9:52 am

        Except 95% of the population doesn’t care about being single digit. Most are out to drink a couple of beers and play 9 or 18 holes once a week and get the ball airborne.

  8. KillerPenguin

    Jun 15, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    And this is why golf will never be more than a niche sport. I’m not qualified enough to debate the relative merits of getting fitted for clubs, but all this whole “Grow the Game” fervor runs headlong into the fact that playing golf at a high level is prohibitively expensive. I’m sure Mr. Felix and Mr. Oguri are excellent at their profession, but they don’t work for free. And for those who bring up the idea of used equipment, I’m willing to bet these gentlemen would be reluctant to fit me for my 15 or so year old Hogan Edge CFTs. Again, this is no knock on the fitters. They have to make a living, but any expectation that a significant percentage of casual golfers are going to expend the money to get fitted is a pipe dream. Customers for fittings will by and large be continue to be middle aged and older men with upper middle class and higher incomes.

    • Tom1

      Jun 16, 2017 at 12:01 am

      and I will add those whom wish to improve their game performance levels so as to make a living at it.

    • Richie Hunt

      Jun 16, 2017 at 10:28 am

      I don’t think it’s cost prohibitive to play at a high level. I played a high level and wasn’t fitted for clubs. And I could make the argument that being properly fitted in the end will *save* the golfer money. The issue with the cost prohibitive nature of golf today for golfers that want to compete at a high level is more with junior golfers working to get a college golf scholarship. They have to play in tournaments which are not cheap to enter and the costs associated with the travel are quite expensive. Add getting an instructor (important, if anything to develop a network with college coaches), equipment changes as the player gets bigger, memberships, etc…it’s very expensive.

      But, if you’re out of college and want to play at a high level…unless you’re trying to be a pro…the costs are not prohibiting a golfer from doing that. It’s more about skill, knowledge and having the time to play and practice.

  9. J Zilla

    Jun 15, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    Without any evidence supporting my opinion, I’m pretty confident Regular Flex off the rack clubs will be more than adequate for 95% of golfers. Hell, I’m a decent golfer who’s been playing for almost 30 years and I’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between different shaft models and flexes.

    • J Zilla

      Jun 15, 2017 at 6:34 pm

      I definitely agree, most weekend duffers don’t need 14 clubs and they certainly don’t need 3 and 4 irons. As to flex, I don’t think it really matters to a vast percentage of players at the local muni whether they play regular, senior or ladies flex. Their swings just aren’t good enough, fast enough or consistent enough to make any difference.

      • DaveT

        Jun 16, 2017 at 10:31 am

        Right… Which is why fitting makes sense. The first job of a good clubfitter is set makeup. Not flex, not swingweight… What clubs should the golfer be carrying? I played some of my best golf as a 20-year-old with just 8 clubs in the bag.

    • ooffa

      Jun 16, 2017 at 10:37 am

      More drivel. Your just an angry old man. Hey, get off my lawn you kids!

  10. surewin73

    Jun 15, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    I believe in the fitting process. I have seen the benefits in my own testing of shafts for my driver. It’s amazing how ball flight, distance and feel is affected.

    As for high handicap not benefitting because they do not make the same swing twice is rubbish. General high handicapper are very consistent. If they are hitting slices all day long, they are probably coming over the top and/or have a open club face.

    When it comes to clubfitting, you need to go to an independent club fitter and builder. One who will actually build the clubs and make sure they are spec’d out correctly. I see that as the big problem with the big box retailers and get orders shipped for the OEM. Shafts and grips are just slapped together.

    My game has improved since getting properly fit (shafts checked for frequency, length and swingweight) and not believe what an OEM says is true.

  11. farmer

    Jun 15, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    Been fit for a driver-horribly. Had it not been a gift, I would have walked, and this was a top 100 fitter. People need to remember that a fitter is running a retail business, and the more money they can persuade a customer to spend means the more money they make. Unless a golfer is of odd dimensions, is playing clubs way off, ie, ladies clubs for a 6’2″ male with some speed, I question the strokes gained factor.

  12. BlubberButt

    Jun 15, 2017 at 11:09 am

    The golf industry has shot itself in the foot by insisting everyone get a professional fitting; mainly because it most often goes hand-in-hand with buying new clubs, which is expensive. So, instead of bringing in Joe Schmoe and getting a set of clubs in his hands in 20 minutes and getting him out of the store, you now have everyone demanding that they hit a million balls on the simulator with every club in the shop. Then if you do manage to convince them to get a *legit* fitting session with a pro, you’re asking them to spend $100-200 more dollars on top of what they’re spending on the clubs… It was a mistake to ever create this marketing scheme. If someone is serious about their golf game, they will know the benefits of getting fitted and will likely take advantage of them. But to push the “custom fit” narrative to all the average schmucks that just want to play with their friends on the weekends is crazy. Put a set in their hands. Tell them it’s good and will work for them, get their money, and get them out the door.

  13. Tom1

    Jun 15, 2017 at 10:47 am

    a 10 index buying used clubs off the internet from Joe boxer might benefit getting fitted IF they are interested in lowering scores. Technology has come along way in golf equipment the past decade. Use it to your advantage.

  14. KC

    Jun 15, 2017 at 10:26 am

    I’ve been through a couple of professional fittings and every time the numbers have come out to my advantage. If you’re arguing that the numbers aren’t there to support getting fit then frankly you don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.

  15. Nick

    Jun 15, 2017 at 9:37 am

    I just don’t see where anyone truly benefiting from being fit unless their swing is very consistent and likely a single digit handicap. Otherwise there is just so much variability from their shot dispersion the impact would be very minimal and the money would not be worth it. The other thing to note is if someone is going to be making improvements to their swing, getting fit now will make the club not fit once their swing improves.

    • Duke

      Jun 15, 2017 at 11:46 am

      A basic fitting is more about club length, grip size, shaft flex, lie angle; sure a golfer’s swing comes into play but w/ a club that is too short/long the body is put in bad positioning from the start. I would posit most golfers are somewhat consistent enough to get fit for that criteria.

  16. acemandrake

    Jun 15, 2017 at 9:18 am

    Fitting is a piece of the puzzle; the results are a starting point for club buying and bag setup.

    The fun part is figuring out what you want/need to do with equipment.

  17. Gordy

    Jun 15, 2017 at 7:50 am

    So, fitting is a must this has been true forever. However, even as a serious golfer who’s got the money to be fitted and buy new clubs? I think that’s the fallacy in this article.

    • Gordy

      Jun 15, 2017 at 9:03 am

      So, what I am getting at, is the money worth it? How many strokes does one actually save with fitted clubs vs. no fitted clubs. Is the juice worth the squeeze? Amazing, how these fitters say the numbers are a must when being fitted. Yet they cannot produce the hard numbers on strokes gained vs. strokes lost because a player wasn’t fitted. Amazing…

      • Duke

        Jun 15, 2017 at 11:39 am

        Wouldn’t that actually be on a player to report? How many rounds would it have to take to compile that data? My experience is most places i have been to offer a free basic fitting w/ the purchase of irons.

      • Someone

        Jun 15, 2017 at 5:41 pm

        How well you play with your equipment is far different from playing with equipment fit to you… that’s one of the main points they make about the difference in players. Tour players are able to adapt and adjust to I’ll fit clubs whereas the average joe will continue to play poorly with I’ll fit clubs because they don’t know what to do to adjust and adapt.

        Example of two players using the same clubs (caveat, I may have misspoke on some terms, but the idea is that the two players are think differently about their game vs equipment):

        Clubs: off the shelf, too short by .5″, lie too flat, stiff flex.

        Average joe: I can hit the ball well sometimes and I get it where it needs to be but the club doesn’t always do what I want it to do. When I want to add power, i swing harder, but the ball ends up slicing or hooking. I got a stiff because I know my swingspeed is fast enough. There’s something wrong with these clubs.

        Tour pro: I have to get over the ball more in order to hit it straight with a little more vertical swing plane. When I want to add power I need to make sure my swing is in sync and I hit center face, not just swing harder. I notice I have to setup with the face a little open to hit it more straight, so playing a draw isn’t as easy as a cut, so I play the cut whenever possible.

      • Anthony

        Jun 15, 2017 at 10:04 pm

        I fit golfers of all types for a living (yes I make money but not a lot) and your comment regarding strokes gained is spot on, ALL my clients gain benefits from there custom fit clubs and ALL of them reduce handicap guaranteed.
        We are not all sharks out for your money as I’m sure some are but the main key is the guaranteed results I provide people. Yes, that’s right, I guarantee results!!!

        Good luck in this wonderful/painful game

    • peterpro

      Jun 16, 2017 at 7:36 pm

      Thankyou Gordy,

      As a pga pro that has taught thousands of lessons and done hundreds of fittings over the last 15 years I know that 99% of the people comming in and getting ” fitted ” will have no impact on their score…..that is why I love Gory’s comment…. ” expert/master fitters” talk about all the benifits… I never hear a lower score as a benifit?

  18. Ummmm

    Jun 15, 2017 at 7:27 am

    People who make a living fitting golfers insist on them being fit?

    This is groundbreaking stuff

    • sleepy

      Jun 15, 2017 at 8:20 am

      bingo

    • The dude

      Jun 15, 2017 at 12:13 pm

      Yet …people still buy off the rack….sobyes for some it is “groundbreaking”

    • kits013

      Jun 16, 2017 at 3:00 am

      Well, LeBron James says he’s never played for a ‘super team’

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Instruction

A Jedi Mind Trick For Improved Target Awareness

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I think all golfers, at some point in their life playing the game of golf, has gotten stuck, or become frozen over the golf ball. Why?  They’re trying to remember which of the 23 different swing thoughts they used for the day performed the best.

The disheartening reality: none of us are going to perform well on a consistent basis with our thoughts being so internally driven. Swing thoughts force our awareness inward. Is the shaft in the correct position? Am I making a proper pressure shift? Was that a reverse pivot? Close that club face! Regardless of the technique you are trying to manage or modify, these kinds of questions make you acquire sensations internally.

To complicate things further, we are taught to look at the golf ball, not the target, while hitting our golf shot. And yet instinctively, in almost all other skills of making a ball or object finish towards a target (throwing a ball or frisbee, kicking a soccer ball, skipping a rock across water, shooting a basket ball) our awareness is not on the ball or the motion itself, but rather the ultimate target.

So, can we develop a skill that allows us to still keep our eye on the ball, like the game of golf encourages, but have awareness of our target, like so many other target sports demand?  Yes, the answer is (third rate Yoda Speak), and the skill can easily be yours.

Here’s where this gets fun. You already have learned this skill set, but under different conditions. Perhaps this example resonates with you. Did you ever play hide-and-seek as a child? Remember how you used to close your eyes and count to 10? During those 10 seconds of having your eyes closed, weren’t you using all of your senses externally, trying to track where your friends were going to hide? Weren’t you, just like a bloodhound, able to go directly to a few of the less skillful hiders’ hiding places and locate them?

Or how about this example. When you are driving down your own local multilane highway, aren’t you aware of all the cars around you while keeping your eyes firmly on the road in front of you? Reconnecting, recognizing and/or developing these skills that all of us already use is the first step in knowing you’re not too far away from doing this with your golf game.

Here’s what I want you to do. Grab a putter and place your golf ball 3 feet away from the hole on a straight putt. Aim your putter, and then look at the hole. As you bring your eyes back to the golf ball, maintain part of your awareness back at the hole. Each successive time your eyes leave your golf ball and head back to the hole, your eyes will be able to confirm your target. It hasn’t moved; it’s still in the same location; your confidence builds.

When you know for certain that your external awareness of the target is locked in while still looking at your golf ball, step up and execute your putt.

The wonderful beauty of this skill set is that you now have the best of both worlds. You are still looking at the golf ball, which gives you a better chance of striking the golf ball solidly… AND you are now target aware just like you are when you are throwing an object at a target.

As always, acquire this skill set from a close target with a slower, smaller motion. If you don’t execute properly, you have a better chance of making the proper corrective assessment from a slower, smaller motion and closer target. As you become more proficient with this skill, allow the target to get farther away and try to add more speed with a larger range of motion.

So give learning this skill set a go. I don’t think there is anything more valuable in playing the game of golf than keeping your “athlete” attached to the target. Become proficient at developing this awareness and you can tell all your friends that the primary reason your scores are getting lower and you’re getting deeper into their wallets is because of Jedi Mind tricks. Good luck!

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Instruction

6 things to consider before aiming at the flagstick

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One of the most impactful improvements you can make for your game is to hit more greens; you’ll have more birdie opportunities and will avoid bogeys more often. In fact, hitting more greens is the key to golfing success, in my opinion… more so than anything else.

However, there is a misconception among players when it comes to hitting approach shots. When people think “greens,” they tend to only think about the flagstick, when the pin may be the last thing you should be looking at. Obviously, we’d like to stick it on every shot, but shooting at the pin at the wrong time can cost you more pain than gain.

So I’d like to give you a few rules for hitting greens and aiming at the flagstick.

1) Avoid Sucker Pins

I want you to think about Hole No. 12 at Augusta and when the pin is on the far right side of the green… you know, the Sunday pin. Where do the pros try and aim? The center of the green! That’s because the right pin is by all means a sucker pin. If they miss the shot just a touch, they’re in the water, in the bunker, or left with an impossible up-and-down.

Sucker pins are the ones at the extreme sides of the green complex, and especially the ones that go against your normal shot pattern.

So go back to No. 12 with a far right pin, and say your natural shot shape is right-to-left. Would you really aim out over the water and move it towards the pin? That would be a terrible idea! It’s a center of the green shot all day, even for those who work it left-to-right. Learn to recognize sucker pins, and you won’t short side yourself ever again.

2) Are You a Good Bunker Player?

A “sucker pin,” or just a difficult hole location, is often tucked behind a bunker. Therefore, you should ask yourself, “am I a good bunker player?” Because if you are not, then you should never aim at a pin stuck behind one. If I wanted to shoot at pins all day, I’d make sure I was the best lob wedge player around. If you are not a short-game wizard, then you will have a serious problem attacking pins all round.

For those who lack confidence in their short game, or simply are not skilled on all the shots, it’s a good idea to hit to the fat part of the green most of the time. You must find ways to work around your weaknesses, and hitting “away” from the pin isn’t a bad thing, it’s a smart thing for your game.

3) Hitting the Correct Shelf

I want you to imagine a pin placed on top of a shelf. What things would you consider in order to attack this type of pin? You should answer: shot trajectory, type of golf ball, your landing angle with the club you’re hitting, the green conditions, and the consequences of your miss. This is where people really struggle as they forget to take into account these factors.

If you don’t consider what you can and cannot do with the shot at hand, you will miss greens, especially when aiming at a pin on a shelf. Sometimes, you will simply have to aim at the wrong level of the green in order to not bring the big number into play. Remember, if you aim for a top shelf and miss, you will leave yourself with an even more difficult pitch shot back onto that same shelf you just missed.

4) Know your Carry Distances

In my opinion, there is no excuse these days to not know your carry distances down to the last yard. Back when I was growing up, I had to go to a flat hole and chart these distances as best I could by the ball marks on the green. Now, I just spend an hour on Trackman.

My question to you is if you don’t know how far you carry the ball, how could you possibly shoot at a pin with any type of confidence? If you cannot determine what specific number you carry the ball, and how the ball will react on the green, then you should hit the ball in the center of the green. However, if the conditions are soft and you know your yardages, then the green becomes a dart board. My advice: spend some time this off-season getting to know your distances, and you’ll have more “green lights” come Spring.

5) When do you have the Green Light?

Do you really know when it’s OK to aim at the pin? Here are some questions to ask yourself that will help:

  • How are you hitting the ball that day?
  • How is your yardage control?
  • What is the slope of the green doing to help or hinder your ball on the green?
  • Do you have a backstop behind the pin?

It’s thoughts such as these that will help you to determine if you should hit at the pin or not. Remember, hitting at the pin (for amateurs) does not happen too often per nine holes of golf. You must leave your ego in the car and make the best decisions based on what information you have at that time. Simple mistakes on your approach shot can easily lead to bogeys and doubles.

6) When is Any Part of the Green Considered a Success?

There are some times when you have a terrible angle, or you’re in the rough/a fairway bunker. These are times when you must accept “anywhere on the green.”

Left in these situations, some players immediatly think to try and pull off the “miracle” shot, and wonder why they compound mistakes during a round. Learn to recognize if you should be happy with anywhere on the green, or the best place to miss the ball for the easiest up and down.

Think of Ben Hogan at Augusta on No. 11; he said that if you see him on that green in regulation then you know he missed the shot. He decided that short right was better than even trying to hit the green… sometimes you must do this too. But for now analyze your situation and make the best choice possible. When in doubt, eliminate the big numbers!

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Instruction

Is There An Ideal Backswing?

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In this video, I talk about the backswing and look into optimal positions. I also discuss the positives and negatives of different backswing positions.

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19th Hole

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