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One Thing For A Great Short Game

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Recently I have asked quite a few golfers what they believe is the most important part of a good short game. Most say that the answer is creativity, and I have to say that I definitely agree.

You may face many different situations around the green; each one is new and challenging and no single shot or technique will suffice. Instead of just giving you a new technique, I want to open your mind to being more creative and show you benefits this will have for your game.

What I often see with golfers around the green is that they position the ball back in the stance and place their hands in front of the club head, which delofts the club and leads to powerful shots that come off the face quickly. This is great for some shots around the green, but not so ideal for others. My challenge for you is to try to hit some higher shots from around the putting surface, and monitor the results.

If your ball flight is low with deep divots and the club head is digging down into the turf, you won’t be comfortable with some shots. It’s often said that you should try to use the bounce of the club, which will allow you to hit higher shots without digging.

But what is this “bounce?”

Think of the efficient action of a speedboat gliding through the waves. Then think about what would happen if that boat nosedived into the water. Just like a speedboat uses its bottom curvature to glide through the water, golfers should use the curvature of the soles of their wedges to allow the clubs to glide through the turf.

Bounce

Imagine a ball sitting on a putting green. If you place your hands in front of the club, the sharp leading edge (the most forward part of the club) is now pointing into the ground. This is a recipe for deep divots, low shots and the lowest margin for error in terms of contact.

Here’s what I mean by lowest margin of error: If contact is one inch behind the ball, the sharp edge will dig in and the result will not be pretty. If  the club is played in a more neutral position, however, and the strike is one inch behind the ball again, the result is a lot more manageable. Instead of the leading edge digging, the bounce will come into play, which will keep the club from digging as much and increase margin of error.

The next time you are around a green at your club, place your left hand behind your back and grip onto the club with just your right hand. Make a few swings trying to just graze the ground with the club as if you were playing a shot from on the green. Of course, taking a divot would not go down too well with the green keepers of the course, so the only way to avoid this is to use the bounce of the club, which right-hand only swings will help you feel.

This advice is NOT for everyone though. If you currently have a bit of a “scoopy” chipping action, this is not for you. However, I would encourage all golfers to experiment with hitting all kinds of shots around the green. The feeling of hitting a low shot is often enough for a “scoopy” impact position golfer to add another shot to their locker.

Now go and increase your creativity!

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Andy is currently coaching in Shanghai, China. He is a UKPGA member and graduate of the AGMS degree at the University of Birmingham. Andy has coached in more than 30 countries and traveled to work with many of the best minds in golf to constantly improve his coaching. His No. 1 desire is to help golfers reach their dreams, and to enjoy the process! Website: andygriffithsgolf.com Online Lessons: swingfix.golfchannel.com/instructors/andy-griffiths Twitter: twitter.com/andygriffiths1 Facebook: facebook.com/andygriffithsgolf

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Winning Ways: Here’s what it takes to become a winner in Junior Girls golf

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Every competitive golfer strives to win, and I want to help them achieve their goals. Recently, I wrote a story highlighting the statistics behind winning in junior boys golf, and how they can do it more often. Now, we set out to examine the data on winning in junior girls golf, and provide ways they can improve. The data is based on an analysis of tournament results from all events during the 2017 year from the Junior Tour of Northern California. We then asked stats guru, Peter Sanders, Founder of ShotByShot.com, to provide the stats related to the winning scoring numbers that we found. Finally, we discuss ways that juniors can practice building skills and work towards becoming tournament winners.

The Winning Scores

In 2017 the Junior Tour of Northern California held 26 tournaments with 850+ members. According to our data collection based on information available on the website, the average girl’s tournament course measured 6145 yards. The average winning score for girls was 146 (36 holes), or 73 per round. Ten of the 22 tournaments where won with scores of 144 or better and the low 36 holes total was a whopping 133! In the data collection we also collected the average 10th place scores girls. The average 10th place score for girls was 159 or 79.5.

The Winning Stats

We provided the numbers to statistics expert Peter Sanders. Peter’s company has been providing Strokes Gained analysis for golfers for the last 29 years. Peter is the founder of ShotByShot.com, a website that provides golfers at all levels with Strokes Gained analysis, pinpoints specific strengths and weaknesses and highlights improvement priorities. Since the launch of ShotByShot.com in 2005, Peter has collected over 317,000 rounds. Accordingly, Peter has agreed to share the numbers, below, for a typical female player who averages 73. There are two important points to consider when reviewing these statistics:

  1. In order to have a complete picture of the puzzle that is golf, one must consider the ERRORS, or lack thereof, that play such an important role in scoring at every level. Even the 650+ PGA Tour stats ignore these important miscues. Shot By Shot has included them in their analysis from the beginning and they are highlighted in the infographics below.
  2. The data provided represents only tournament rounds. As such it will primarily represent the high school and college programs that use ShotbyShot.com

Infographics Created by Alexis Bennett

The Winning Preparation

Junior girls are encouraged to use these stats as a benchmark against their own performance to determine where they might need to improve against the “typical 73 player.” After identifying gaps in their game, they can then create practice plans to help improve. For example, a junior might notice they have more 3-putts than the model. To improve, they could work put more time into practice, as well as playing games on the golf course like draw-back and 2-putt.

  • Drawback is a game where after your first putt, you draw the second putt one putter length away from the hole. This often changes a shorter putt (> 2 feet) to a putt of between 3.5 – 5 feet. This putts significantly more pressure on your putting.
  • You may also play Two-Putt, a game where when you reach the green, you (or your playing competitor) tosses the ball away from the hole. You must 2-putt from that spot to move to the next hole (even if it takes a couple attempts!).

Others reading this article might find that they don’t hit enough greens. Improving this area will require more consistent strikes, which may require further technical development and block practice, as well as working on the golf course. To start, I would recommend that every junior implement the yardage rule. The yardage rule works like this; figure out the distance to the very back of the green. For example, this number may be 157. Then figure out what club ALWAYS flies 157, which might be 6-iron. Then choose 7-iron for the shot. This way your best shot will not fly the green, your average shot will likely be in the middle of the green and your less-than-perfect shot will hopefully end up on the front of the green.

During practice rounds, play competitive games with yourself to sharpen your ability to hit greens. For example, if you normally hit 7 greens per round, in practice your goal might be 9. You would track your results over a month and then see your progress.

Beyond building individual skills, like hitting greens or working on putting, junior golfers need times to play competitive rounds on their home golf courses. Ideally, these rounds are played against other people with similar skills and done under tournament like conditions with consequences (loser buys winner a coke or cleans their golf clubs). Playing hundreds of rounds at your home golf course under these conditions gives you a unique opportunity to sharpen your game, learn your tendencies and build skills such as endurance and mental toughness. Most importantly, it teaches you to win and shoot under par!

Please also keep in mind building these skills may take months (or even years). In my own personal experience, when I set out to improve my birdies per round, it took nearly 4 months and 75+ rounds and significant practice to begin to see a change. Depending on your schedule and access to resources like a golf course and instructor, some changes might take a year or more. Regardless, don’t ever worry; building a solid foundation in golf will always lead to rewards!

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PNF Drills: How To Turn Onto The Golf Ball

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In this video, I share a great drill to help you turn onto the ball. This will help you rotate through impact.

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A routine to copy: Patrick Reed’s 9-second putting routine at The Masters

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A solid pre-shot routine helps maintain consistency and ward off the negative effects of pressure, yet it is very much an overlooked skill by most amateur golfers. In that vein, I was struck this weekend by Patrick Reed’s solid putting routine. Further, I believe that this precise routine, and the discipline with which he stuck to it, were the difference in his one stroke victory at the Masters.

I had happened to pick Patrick Reed in a Master’s pool, so I was delighted to see him featured in the TV coverage. Putting is typically 40 percent of the game, but it takes on a far greater importance at Augusta. Further, the significance of each putt and the pressure escalates with each round to a painful (to watch, and perform) struggle down the stretch in the final round.

I was impressed by Patrick’s putting routine in the first round and curious to see if he would be able to stick with it if under the gun. It was not that unusual of a routine, but it was identical and fairly quick  — 9 seconds from the first step toward the ball until striking the putt. My perspective on the speed is based upon players that I have studied in their major wins. Here are just two examples:

  • Phil Mickelson 2004 Masters: 17 seconds
  • Lucas Glover 2009 U.S. Open: 16 seconds

Reed’s routine

First, Patrick Reed uses a line on the ball to set his alignment. He reads the putt, and when satisfied, sets the ball and line accordingly before he finally picks up his ball marker.

  • He stands about 6 to 8 feet behind the ball, square to the intended line, facing the hole.
  • Makes two practice swings, with his shoulders, still facing the hole.
  • Steps forward, addresses the ball by placing the putter blade behind the ball
  • Sets up to the ball, a last glance at the hole, looks back to the ball and pulls the trigger.

I start timing the routine with the first step forward from behind the ball. If I were to include the time facing the hole and two practice swings, Patrick’s time would approach the two examples above.

Bottom line, I believe that Patrick’s strict adherence to his pre-shot putting routine enabled him to hole all of the meaningful putts in the final round that proved to be the ultimate one-stroke margin.

My suggestion? Have a friend or partner time your pre-shot routine. Once you have a routine that you like, practice it with every practice shot and putt. It may just carry you through the pressure spots in your events.

For more on Pre-Shot routine see my 2017 article: How solid is your Pre-Shot routine?  For a Complete Strokes Gained analysis of your game log on to www.shotbyshot.com.

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