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3 simple rules to avoid big trouble off the tee

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One of the hardest things for average golfers to do is avoid trouble off the tee. In fact, if they could eliminate these penalty shots, they may no longer be average golfers in the first place! Usually golf course designers place trouble that you must avoid on one side or the other, but provides you ample room to “miss it” on the other side. Think 18 at Doral, or 18 at The Players; both have water all down the left side that begs you to challenge it in order to get the shorter shot into the green, but you do have room to bail out if needed.

Holes such as those cause the weekend golfers fits, because they tend to miss the ball in the ONLY place they cannot… the water. In this article, I want to give you my three rules as to how you can avoid problems like this off the tee.

Rule No. 1

Tee the ball up on the side of the tee with the trouble and aim away from it.

We have that same type of shot as Sawgrass or Doral at one of our courses here at Punta Mita. The water is all down the left, yet we have ample fairway right to hit the ball. I have placed the ball on the left side of the tee box and from here I will aim right…well right to take advantage of the angle away from the water.

Rule No. 2

Pick a spot in front of the ball so you begin the ball on the correct line

In this photo, you can see the extra piece of grass just to the right of my driver; this is directly on the line I have selected (from behind the ball), which is the one I want to take in order to hit the right portion of the fairway. This simple spot-aiming technique gives you a great way to visualize the line you want to take when you are aiming cross-line or away from the natural angles of the tee box.

Rule No. 3

Make your LAST look before you take it back where you want the ball to go, NOT where you don’t want it to go!

The last look is very important as it programs your body as to what you want the ball to do, and it’s just as impactful as the visualization players do from behind the ball beforehand. Your last look can either program you mind and body with positive information, or you can give yourself negative thoughts to fight while in the early stages of your backswing.

I have always preferred to focus on the positive rather than the negative while aiming. I might not pull it off every time, but at least I have done all I can to promote a good swing. They say the mind can talk you out of a good shot if you let it, but this is the best way I have found to make sure that does not happen to you!

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Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction and Business Development at Punta Mita, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (www.puntamita.com) 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 15 people in the world. Punta Mita is a 1500 acre Golf and Beach Resort located just 45 minuted from Puerto Vallarta on a beautiful peninsula surrounded by the Bay of Banderas on three sides. Amenities include two Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses- with 14 holes directly on the water, a Golf Academy, four private Beach Clubs, a Four Seasons Hotel, a St. Regis Hotel, as well as, multiple private Villas and Homesites available. For more information regarding Punta Mita, golf outings, golf schools and private lessons, please email: tom.stickney@puntamita.com

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. unoho

    Aug 6, 2018 at 2:09 pm

    Stinkney plagiarizing Nicklaus… hohum

  2. ...Patrick Loughran

    Aug 4, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    Jack Nicklaus advised this technique many years ago and IT Still Works….

  3. ...Patrick Loughran

    Aug 4, 2018 at 1:54 pm

    When I first started playing golf over 50 years ago I read “Play Better Golf” by Jack Nicklaus he advised doing this on every shot Enough said…Still works today…

  4. Bolt

    Aug 3, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    Keep in mind that placing an object in your aiming line is against the rules. So only pick something that is already there.

    • Mizzle Fizzle

      Aug 3, 2018 at 6:20 pm

      Beat me to it…

    • Joe

      Aug 4, 2018 at 10:50 pm

      I use the line on the golf ball to aim (like putting, but off the tee) it’s helped a lot and I don’t think is illegal …

  5. LD

    Aug 3, 2018 at 12:30 pm

    Good advice. Thanks

  6. millennial82

    Aug 3, 2018 at 11:09 am

    100%

  7. juststeve

    Aug 3, 2018 at 11:03 am

    Good stuff Tom.

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Instruction

WATCH: How to swing the driver “from the inside”

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In this video, I show you how to consistently deliver the driver from the inside.

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Golf 101: How to properly grip the golf club

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I’m sure you’ve heard by now that a good grip is one of the cornerstones of a good swing. Clichés become clichés because they’re true, and putting your hands on the club is extremely important… for reasons you know, and for some reasons you probably haven’t heard before.

Let’s start with the big, obvious one you already know. Your grip establishes the default relationship between the clubface and the golf ball. If you set your grip in a way that promotes bringing the club back to impact open or closed, you’re going to have to do something else in your swing to compensate for that. In other words, a sound grip makes the job of squaring the club easier.

The less obvious reason that a good grip is important is speed. If you set the club in your hands correctly—so that the handle runs across the base of the fingers in your left hand and not across the palm—you’re giving your wrists much more freedom to move. This wrist “mobility” is what allows the final transfer of energy from the body to the club. A great swing thought is to envision that your wrist joints were just greased up. They should feel like they are unrestricted and “oily.”

Another less obvious problem caused by a bad grip is that it tends to perpetuate itself. If you have a bad grip and repeatedly make off-center contact on the clubface, the off-center hits will actually jar the face of the club more off-line, and you’ll hit it even more crooked. And the bad feeling those shots produce in your hands will cause you to continually adjust it. There’s no consistency or feel there. It’s like hitting a whole bunch of baseballs off the end of an aluminum bat on a 39-degree day. A recipe for pain.

To fix your grip, start with your left (top) hand. Set the handle along the first joints of your fingers, and hold it like you would carry a suitcase or briefcase by its handle.

When you get the grip in this position, you’re creating an angle (and a lever) between the club and your left arm, and you’re giving the wrist freedom to move. If you turned the handle so that it crossed your palm diagonally—like a putting grip—you’d immediately feel how your wrist would be much more restricted in how it could bend or turn. That’s why it’s great for putting—because it restricts how the face turns. But on a full swing, you want to take full advantage of the range of motion that comes from rotating from open to square. (this is what the club is designed to do!)

Get a firm grip on the handle with all of the fingers of your left hand and get as much of the thumbprint pushed onto the grip as you can. Now, place your right hand on the handle so that the underside of your right thumb covers the left thumb as much as possible, and get as much of the thumbprint on your right hand onto the top of the grip as possible.

Where you place your hand on the grip is more important than if you decide to interlock, overlap or play with all 10 fingers on the handle. I prefer the overlapping grip because it keeps the index finger of your left hand on the handle, and that extra finger can make a difference for many players.

If your grip isn’t great and you make these changes, it’ll definitely feel strange at first. But I’m betting that straighter and longer shots will make up for it.

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Instruction

WATCH: How to use a sledgehammer to stop swaying in your golf swing

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It is pretty much impossible to sway when swinging a sledgehammer. Take advantage of the feel you get from swinging a sledgehammer and see how easy it is to implant in your own golf swing. You were built for this move!

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