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Jimmy Ballard: Golf’s most underrated teacher?



Post by GolfWRX Member – Dan “danattherock”

My journey towards learning how to properly swing a golf club has introduced me to all kinds of stuff. I have attempted to understand books from many of the most well known teachers and players. The norm for me is that I get a pearl or two from each book, dvd, etc.. but I never find an entire blueprint to go by that I can believe in or perform. I also have several ‘training’ aids in my garage collecting dust. I have a shelf full of books and dvds in my office. Golf is truly inundated with snake oil.

Click here to read all the discussion in the forums

Last week I spent two days down in Atlanta with Jim Grant at The Standard Club. Jim worked under Jimmy Ballard for years and teaches his connected golf swing as it is called. My intention originally was to attend Jimmy’s 3 day golf school in Key Largo, Florida. He lives there and does about a half dozen schools each summer. Unfortunately, I was not able to make that trip. My research and contact with Jimmy Ballard and his wife led me to Jim Grant, long time friend and disciple of Jimmy Ballard.

So I am driving down I-85 last Tuesday morning. Wondering what (if anything) I will learn in the next two days. Worried that I have spent another grand on nothing substantial. Questioning my decision but at the same time holding on to the hope that this will be the real “aha” moment. As it turns out, I stuck gold. Every aspect of this trip was unreal. The facility was as nice as any I had seen and Jim was a breath of fresh air. He smiled, explained fallacies of the golf swing, and told fascinating stories about his days on the PGA tour. The whole time he just kept rolling balls out in front of me on the range offering a tiny suggestion or feeling that would help me out.

During the two days, he taught me the basics of Jimmy Ballard’s swing principles. I drove home with a new outlook on golf and 15 pages of notes in a notebook. There is not one phase written down that I don’t understand. A first in my pursuit of golf proficiency. If I miss, I know what caused it. If I hit a perfect shot, I know what caused it. If I push the ball, I know one of two reasons for my doing so. For a lack of better terminology, I feel empowered. In contrast, every other lesson I had ended in me riding home with my head spinning trying to remember what I was taught and wondering how I would be able to process and hold on to the information.

A few years back I bought Bobby Clampett’s book, “The Impact Zone”. Until getting Jimmy Ballard’s book and dvd recently, “The Impact Zone” was the book that had the biggest impact (pun intended) on my golf swing. Cliff notes for the yellow book some say, his book was (and still is) very valuable to me. I even bought the yellow book, but couldn’t understand it. In the end, I can say I agree with many of TGM principles, I just can’t digest or employ the material. Unfortunately, my experience doesn’t seem that rare.

I even dabbled in S&T recently. More specifically a hitting pattern that blended components of S&T with TGM principles. At 6’6″ 300 lbs, I had a very hard time physically doing what was asked of me. My instructor, local, was fantastic. And to his credit, when I did what he asked of me, I made very solid and consistent contact. But in the end, low back pain forced me to abandon the swing. I am sure S&T will work for many, but for me, it just wasn’t meant to be.

In contrast, reading Jimmy’s book and watching his one hour dvd is more like having a beer with a friend. Casual conversation, loaded with facts, pictures, and references to all the greats in the game. Much reference (and reverence) is given to Ben Hogan. It is a very simple approach to something I have admittingly made harder than it needed to be. A basic athletic motion with a few (7) key concepts. None of which seem contrived or require super human flexibility, timing, or athleticism. My main obstacle is simply undoing all the damage I have done to my golf swing before hearing of Jimmy Ballard.

Click here to read all the discussion in the forums

Interestingly enough, all this originates with Babe Ruth of all people. A tip (hankerchief under left arm) he gave a team mate (Sam Byrd) who later won 25 events on the PGA tour after retiring from baseball. The same guy that helped Ben Hogan. He taught it to Jimmy way back when and it gave birth to Jimmy Ballard as a teacher. We likely would have never heard of Curtis Strange or Hal Sutton had Sam Byrd not taught Jimmy Ballard what Babe Ruth taught him way back when. A fascinating story, truly. But as I said, most importantly, it just makes sense.

My time with Jimmy’s swing principles has been brief and I hesitated to make this post to be honest. But in the two weeks since seeing the dvd and only six days since spending time with Jim Grant, my golf swing has already changed. I still have not read the book in it’s entirety. I am 39 years old and have been playing golf on some level of consistency since I was in high school. I have hit shots in the last week that I never thought possible. The contact is more solid, I am one club longer, and the trajectory is higher. For the first time, I am consistently getting out of bunkers. My driver is finding the fairway more than usual. Golf is not rocket science I am finding out. The odd thing, I feel like I am doing less, not more, to facilitate this.

I started this thread to see if anyone else has benefited from Jimmy Ballard’s teachings. Also, thought it would be good to make other struggling golfers aware of someone that the golf community in general has not acknowledged as much as would seem deserved. To make a very long story short, some of Jimmy’s principles defy what is commonly taught by the PGA and it’s stable of highly qualified instructors. Being that the average handicap has not been lowered in recent decades, I find this to be more of a reason to see what Jimmy has to offer, not the other way around.

Click here to read all the discussion in the forums

Very interesting article below about Jimmy Ballard for anyone interested….



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  1. Pingback: Connected Golf Swing Jimmy Ballard Golf Video | Golf Swing Tips

  2. JakeDD

    Sep 17, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    I think the swing pattern here is a good option for people to try with bad lower backs. I do not think it is the only way though. It sounds like a consistent pattern and is easy to digest information on for someone to implement on their own. I don’t think it produces long drives or power when comparing to other styles (not a ton of leverage produced). Can the average weekend warrior play fun / consistent golf this way? Possibly. Give it a shot who knows.

  3. Chris Fleming

    Jun 9, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    I went to see Jimmy in May of 2011. To me, his method makes the most sense. You do not have as many angles in the motion. The key thought for me is to hit the ball with half of a left arm. The only way to do that is to coil behind the ball via a weight shift into the inside of the right thigh and buttock. From there, you fire your right side through the ball with a weight transfer to the left leg. Take a look at George Knudson’s book. It shares a lot of the same ideas. Knudson took the club back more inside than jimmy advocates. However, his view of connection is very similar to what Jimmy teaches. Knudson was one of the best ball strikers of his era. The bottom line is Jimmy’s method works!

    As a rebuttal to the nay Sayers on this site, you can master any movement if you practice enough. In my opinion, pros are not the standard to measure against. They play golf 10 hours a day. You can groove just about any motion if you commit that amount of time. The key to what jimmy teaches is that it is geared toward the big muscles of the body. When the pressure is on, big muscles are more reliable than the smaller muscles.

  4. Thom

    Nov 13, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Didn’t somebody already invent the machine, the Iron Byron ? It seems to me that Paul Wilson’s Swing Machine Golf is similar to Ballard’s method. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

    • JJ 144

      Mar 12, 2013 at 6:02 pm

      You guys should be ashamed of yourselves making fun of a man whose done so much for golfers all over the world! He’s helped so many tour pro’s who have had very successful careers…Curtis Strange (last person to win back to back US Opens), Hal Sutton, Jim Colbert, Rocco Mediate, Hubert Green, etc.

      My suggestion is you take the time to understand what Jimmy is saying and then you’ll realize he’s correct in his philosophy. This isn’t as radical as you say it is. Jimmy can show you swings of Sam Snead and Ben Hogan and although they look different, many of the principles and fundamentals he talks about are in their swings.

      I’m shocked that more tour pro’s don’t go see Jimmy. He was voted the teacher of the decade in the 80’s and he’s still out there teaching! Remember people that live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones!!

    • cvictor

      Jan 26, 2014 at 7:26 pm

      yes, paul even mentions jimmy b. in one of his videos. jimmy and paul are in an echelon all by themselves. they teach the whole truth, not just bits and pieces.

  5. Jimmy Bullard

    Sep 20, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    sorry buddy, it clearly states that you can only use 2 of jimmy’s aids at once but not 3. Glad to hear you are getting conncted though. once you receover , fly down to key largo and for just $300 an hour you can learn how to use them correctly

  6. justin gaynor

    Sep 20, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    HELP!!! I am out at the Bound Brook Driving range in Bound brook NJ. I was wearing my new jimmy ballard swing shirt, jimmy ballard swing connector, and jimmy ballard vharness all at once and I have become severely tangled and cannot get up. Please somone come untangle me. i have not eaten or had water for 2 days. But I was hitting it great!!!

    Sent from my iPhone

  7. Greg

    Jul 27, 2012 at 7:49 am

    Well when all is said and done. The problem lies with the method. With all method teachers it might work for some. But to expect to have a solution a method for everybody is just delusional.

    • Chris Lock

      Feb 13, 2016 at 5:22 am

      He teaches the most efficient way to strike a golf ball squarely.

  8. Larry

    Jul 22, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    I think Ballard confused many when he would say “take the club back with center”. The center really doesn’t take the club back. The hands, arms and shoulders do and the “center ” follows them along. I think he meant “take the club back ALONG with center, which keeps the club in front of you and also maintains the address position of the upper arms resting on your chest. Not clamped to your chest just resting on it. Of course the right arm/elbow will leave the right side and slightly from the chest but there will still be some “connection”. Golf instruction is a lot like trying to instruct somebody how to walk. Tough.

  9. Luke Mccaskill

    Jul 6, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Rocco withdraws again due to injury. If the Ballard method is so easy on the body why does his only student withdraw from every tournament?

    Charlie Wi in the top 10. Go charlie!!!

  10. Luke Mccaskill

    Jul 2, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Sean Foley had 3 students in the top 10 at Congressional!!! JImmy had zero, zilch, zip. When you look up the word has-been Jimmy Ballard’s picture comes up! Apparently people can defy physics and the laws of othopedics and win at the highest level. How could that be?

    • Chris Lock

      Feb 13, 2016 at 5:20 am

      Hank Haney destroyed Tiger’s knee and Sean and the latest dude finished him off.

    • Mark

      Jan 26, 2022 at 9:34 pm

      Sean Foley players all have back issues… Facts..

  11. mike samulchak

    Jun 18, 2012 at 9:44 am

    webb simpson was wearing a swing connector under his golf shirt and thats why he won

  12. al tillman

    Jun 13, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    are you telling me this guy defies physics? Jimmy, please explain this to us, becuase it looks like Mr. Palmer turns his hips. Maybe his majors should be taken away.

  13. mike samulchak

    Jun 13, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    just pulling a few players,faldo, bubba, phil mickelson and arnold palmer..are you really going to tell me they don’t turn their hips? are you really going to say that no good players turn their hips in any way? So all these guys on tour are defying physics? is that you tube of bubba with his butt toward the target photoshopped?

    specifically when you view the swings from the rear you will see that the right butt cheek goes back and to the left. this is not a reverse pivot ( i guess every guy on tour is reversed jimmy)

    this is in opposition to jimmy’s teaching. he always will film a player from the back and he does not want the right butt cheek to move back and to the left (towards the target)_. he wants it to move laterally away from the target otherwise he says you are twisted.

    Hopefully he never gets a hold of bubba…

    • Chris Lock

      Feb 13, 2016 at 5:36 am

      Dictionary listing for Turn: to move or cause to move in a circular direction wholly or partly around an axis or point.

      Most people that play golf work off of two legs, not one. By definition, its, not a turn. A golfer either coils or twists.

  14. mike samulchak

    Jun 13, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    “I’d like to talk with you about a term in golf that’s been used over the years, it’s still being used and to me it’s the absolute worst thing that you can think of or try to do in a golf swing and that’s the word “turn.” You’re all told to turn, you’re constantly using the word “turn,” you hear the vocabulary used all of the time on television. Let me explain something to you by the laws of physics, if you are standing and playing golf on two legs, you can’t turn. And every time you try to turn it creates a reverse pivot and I’ve seen more back injuries as a result of people trying to turn in this game. I’ve predicted it years in advance, if people ever tried to turn they would tear up their backs and I’ve seen it happen at every level of golf. Now think about something, first of all I want you to understand to turn something, you could only turn it from one socket and one joint. Example, if I took a ball joint and socket and connected it to that golf club, I can turn it. But if I now add, at any point, another ball joint and socket to that golf club, you can’t turn it. At that’s what happens in the golf swing with your body if you’re standing on two legs, if you’re standing on two legs, you have two sockets and two joints. You can’t turn from two sockets and two joints, you can only turn from one. Any form of turning is a reverse pivot and in my opinion it ruins a golf swing

    JImmy Ballard

  15. al tillman

    Jun 13, 2012 at 7:09 am

    Jimmy Says there is NO TURN in the backswing. He calls it “Twisted” if the hips turn.

    Are you really going to tell me Bubba does not turn his hips??? His but is facing the target!!!

    • Chris Lock

      Feb 13, 2016 at 5:33 am

      He calls it a coil if you transfer your weight into your back leg during the backswing and a twist if your weight doesn’t transfer into your back leg. If you coil, you have something to push from on the downswing, if you don’t, you’re using your arms only for momentum.

      The word “turn” implies that you are working off a single point, like a baseball pitcher winding up to throw the ball or “turning” the car key in an ignition. Most people that play golf have two legs and keep them on the ground so the word “turn” can be misleading.

  16. charlie ford

    Jun 13, 2012 at 6:55 am

    Your right, Jimmy wouldnt change a thing..LOL

  17. charlie ford

    Jun 13, 2012 at 6:49 am

    rocco is at the bottom of the ballstriking stats as well…so whats your point?

  18. Blaine

    Jun 12, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    “Charlie Wi just shot 65-67 to win a US open qualifier. Hes heading to Olympic. Anyone guy who can compete at the level Charlie has is a good ballstriker”

    Compared to other amateurs and club pros, sure, but compared to his peers, he is near the bottom of the list. Look at the ball striking stats – they do not lie.

    “look at Bubba Watson if you want to see what hip turn looks like.”

    And he coils into his right side – he does not stay centered over the ball.

    As for Grant Waite, he was not a ST player. I followed him for 18 holes at the GVO in Vancouver, and he coils into his right side like any other good ball stiker. He does not move as much as Hal Sutton, for example, but he moved more than what the ST method espouses.

    I have not read a single article, interview, book, or watched any instructional video where Jimmy says the hips stay square to the target line. It’s impossible to coil 90 degrees with your shoulders while leaving your hips square. Can’t be done.

  19. Jimmy's Machine

    Jun 12, 2012 at 9:20 am

    Jimmy, its me your perfect swing machine. The one you patented. Im in the basement of the Alamo. Come quick. Don’t even glue your toupee on, just get in your private helicopter ASAP and come get me so we can have an enchanted land where no one hits bad golf shots.

  20. mitch etheridge

    Jun 9, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    grant waite and charlie wi hurt thier backs with stack and was because they had so much money in their wallets though not from swinging!

  21. mitch etheridge

    Jun 9, 2012 at 12:03 pm


    2 weeks? how about you give it 6 months, 1 year and see how you are once the honeymoon is over. If its such an easy and effective method I expect to see some tournament results in 6 months. Looking forward to your results when the pressure is on.


  22. gordon milken

    Jun 8, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    This man teaches a SWAY! And he wears a bad toupee. Run for the hills!

    • Mr Solid

      Sep 4, 2013 at 12:20 am

      14 Major Victories and all you can call it is a “SWAY”. Talk about bitter.

  23. Dennis Hanes

    Jun 8, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    a few months ago JImmy Ballard had a huge posting on his website that Tiger was being ruined by bad information (any information, not jimmy’s is bad you see) and he was finished. Tiger won twice and Jimmy removed his baseless, hate filled message directed at Sean Foley. Jimmy do you like to eat CROW with ketchup or mustard?

  24. Brad Olsen

    Jun 8, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    grant Waite was a good ballstriker, people would marvel at his ballstriking skills. I think he was a ST /MORAD guy. How could that be possible Jimmy? He defied physics?..LMAO.

  25. Rock N. Block

    Jun 8, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    the point is that JImmy would try to change Kuchar’s swing, Dufners swing saying it is too flat and too centered. Jimmy would say that Jim Hardy (kuchars influence) is a moron. Jimmy advocates an extremely upright swing (have to swing uo to hit down). Jimmy says there is NO TURN in the golf swing. When I worked with him he said you were not allowed to let the belt buckle turn, it could only move laterally. Sorry there are plenty of great players with no back problems that stay centered and turn their hips significantly. look at Bubba Watson if you want to see what hip turn looks like. Jimmy sees what he wants to see and nothing else. I dont see Justin Rose , charlie wi or Hunter Mahan, robert Rock etc.with any more back problems than anyone else.

    Charlie Wi just shot 65-67 to win a US open qualifier. Hes heading to Olympic. Anyone guy who can compete at the level Charlie has is a good ballstriker

    • Mr Solid

      Sep 4, 2013 at 12:18 am

      You folks have Jimmy all wrong. Jimmy doesn’t change stuff that is working well. Great teacher and true gentleman. I played the game for many yrs and was 4 hdcp and better ball striker. Later in life I started working with Jimmy and never hit it as solid and straight. Took lots of curveage off the ball and lowerd spin rate. Took lots of angles out of the swing. Longer, straighter and more consistent. Can pull drive on holes where I never dared.

      Jimmy is the man!

  26. Blaine

    Jun 7, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    I, too, was influenced by Jimmy back in 1981 when I bought his book as a 16 year old junior. I also played in the NCAA and worked as a pro. Many of Jimmy’s principles are taught today (big muscles driving the swing, staying on top of the ball at impact as opposed to staying behind the ball, hands in the center of your chest etc.).

    The comments posted here about some tour players who seem to have swings opposed to Jimmy’s teaching are not quite right. For example, Charlie Wi has indeed won lots of money, but look at his ball striking stats and you’ll know that he is not successful because he hits it good – he is successful because he is a great putter. Dufner does not swing flat and around either. His swing is flatter than others, but it is not AROUND. There is a big difference. Same with Kuchar. It is flat, but it is not around. If he swung around, he wouldn’t even be on tour. And let’s not discount that Kuchar has a fabulous short game and is a great putter, too.

    There are lots of guys who have played well for short periods of time, but they never last and are not competitive into their 40s. The best swings are competitive into their 50s. One thing that I have noticed with today’s players who swing in a more rotational manner, more centered over the ball, is that they seem to have more back injuries and other injuries despite golfers at this level being more athletic and fit as ever.

    The S&T method is crap IMO. I do not know why anyone would adhere to a method that basically teaches a reverse pivot as a golf swing. Look at the ball striking (driving accuracy and GIR) stats of most of the S&T players, and they are in the bottom of the PGA Tour. There are a few exceptions, but most of these guys are poor ball strikers.

    The only way you’ll be able to judge how well a system of teaching has worked will be over the course of a player’s career, not over a period of 5 years. And to reiterate a point, the ball striking stats are the best indicator of how good a swing is, not how much money a player has won since his short game and putting will be a large determinant of that figure.

    Jimmy has had as much influence on teaching today as any teacher in the game.

  27. Rock N. Block

    Jun 6, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    I agree Mike. I took lessons with Jimmy and I could not hit the ball out of my shadow. It was not until I started working on staying more centered with the help of Grant Waite that I really started to improve. Jimmy tries to brainwash people into thinking his way is the only way to play golf and that every other instructor is dumb. Sorry but not every player moves their spine laterally 6 to 8 inches off the ball into the brace of their right leg. I even see guys on tour actually TURN their hips and stay pretty centered. Who is that guy, Hunter Mahan? Jason Dufner has the club flat and around. They have both won twice on tour this year…can you please explain this Mr Ballard?

  28. mike samulchak

    Jun 6, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Jimmy is probably the worst and most overrated teacher of all time. I personally took lessons from him and his huge ego and overall bitterness toward any other instructor is what I remember most. Not too mention all the tall tales he fills up his lessons with like inventing a machine to hit perfect golf shots. Sure Jimmy. Jimmy lives under the illusion that his method is the only way to hit a ball and anyone who does anything different is just wrong or going against physics. Hey Jimmy, ever see Matt Kuchar?? He has the club “around” and wins millions. How does he do that??? How does Charlie Wi make millions playing golf without moving off the ball?

    He bashes guys like Sean Foley, but the last time I checked his players have multiple wins this year . What about you Jimmy? Hey Jimmy did you watch Tiger win this weekend? OR were you putting the touches on that machine?

  29. mike samulchak

    Jun 6, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Jimmy is probably the worst and most overrated teacher of all time. I personally took lessons from him and his huge ego and overall bitterness toward any other instructor is what I remember most. Not too mention all the tall tales he fills up his lessons with like inventing a machine to hit perfect golf shots. Sure Jimmy. Jimmy lives under the illusion that his method is the only way to hit a ball and anyone who does anything different is just wrong or going against physics. Hey Jimmy, ever see Matt Kuchar?? He has the club “around” and wins millions. How does he do that??? How does Charlie Wi make millions playing golf without moving off the ball?

    He bashes guys like Sean Foley, but the last time I checked his players have multiple wins this year . What about you Jimmy? Hey Jimmy did you watch Tiger win this weekend? OR were you putting the touches on that machine?

    There are plenty of guys

  30. Thomas

    May 31, 2012 at 5:15 am

    I started playing golf 1980 and back then Ballard and Leadbetter were the swing gurus at the time, at least in Sweden where I live (I played 4 years of college golf in Mississippi 89-93). In that era (80´s) some of the most promising Swedish players traveled to Ballard (Jesper Parnevik, Christian Härdin and some more guys) so Ballard was natural to look in to.
    I have followed Ballard ever since, but never got the opportunity to meet him in person. In my own opinion I think he has influenced the modern golf swing more than anyone else. Just see how almost everyone today talks about connection. Not saying that everyone means the same thing as Ballard does.
    I have a copy of Ballard’s “The Jimmy Ballard Golf Connection” and his book and these are the sources I get back to every time I am in doubt.

    When talking about Jimmy Ballard you will almost every time hear that he is teaching a sway, which he is not. This is the biggest misinterpretation of Ballard’s teaching and if people would take the time to really understand what Jimmy is talking about they could really benefit from him.

    Here is a link to a great summary of Jimmy and his thoughts on the golf swing.


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The Wedge Guy: My top 5 practice tips



While there are many golfers who barely know where the practice (I don’t like calling it a “driving”) range is located, there are many who find it a place of adventure, discovery and fun. I’m in the latter group, which could be accented by the fact that I make my living in this industry. But then, I’ve always been a “ball beater,” since I was a kid, but now I approach my practice sessions with more purpose and excitement. There’s no question that practice is the key to improvement in anything, so today’s topic is on making practice as much fun as playing.

As long as I can remember, I’ve loved the range, and always embrace the challenge of learning new ways to make a golf ball do what I would like it to do. So, today I’m sharing my “top 5” tips for making practice fun and productive.

  1. Have a mission/goal/objective. Whether it is a practice range session or practice time on the course, make sure you have a clearly defined objective…how else will you know how you’re doing? It might be to work on iron trajectory, or finding out why you’ve developed a push with your driver. Could be to learn how to hit a little softer lob shot or a knockdown pitch. But practice with a purpose …always.
  2. Don’t just “do”…observe.  There are two elements of learning something new.  The first is to figure out what it is you need to change. Then you work toward that solution. If your practice session is to address that push with the driver, hit a few shots to start out, and rather than try to fix it, make those first few your “lab rats”. Focus on what your swing is doing. Do you feel anything different? Check your alignment carefully, and your ball position. After each shot, step away and process what you think you felt during the swing.
  3. Make it real. To just rake ball after ball in front of you and pound away is marginally valuable at best. To make practice productive, step away from your hitting station after each shot, rake another ball to the hitting area, then approach the shot as if it was a real one on the course. Pick a target line from behind the ball, meticulously step into your set-up position, take your grip, process your one swing thought and hit it. Then evaluate how you did, based on the shot result and how it felt.
  4. Challenge yourself. One of my favorite on-course practice games is to spend a few minutes around each green after I’ve played the hole, tossing three balls into various positions in an area off the green. I don’t let myself go to the next tee until I put all three within three feet of the hole. If I don’t, I toss them to another area and do it again. You can do the same thing on the range. Define a challenge and a limited number of shots to achieve it.
  5. Don’t get in a groove. I was privileged enough to watch Harvey Penick give Tom Kite a golf lesson one day, and was struck by the fact that he would not let Tom hit more than five to six shots in a row with the same club. Tom would hit a few 5-irons, and Mr. Penick would say, “hit the 8”, then “hit the driver.” He changed it up so that Tom would not just find a groove. That paved the way for real learning, Mr. Penick told me.

My “bonus” tip addresses the difference between practicing on the course and keeping a real score. Don’t do both. A practice session is just that. On-course practice is hugely beneficial, and it’s best done by yourself, and at a casual pace. Playing three or four holes in an hour or so, taking time to hit real shots into and around the greens, will do more for your scoring skills than the same amount of range time.

So there you have my five practice tips. I’m sure I could come up with more, but then we always have more time, right?

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The Wedge Guy: Anyone can be a better wedge player by doing these simple things



As someone who has observed rank-and-file recreational golfers for most of my life – over 50 years of it, anyway – I have always been baffled by why so many mid- to high-handicap golfers throw away so many strokes in prime scoring range.

For this purpose, let’s define “prime scoring range” as the distance when you have something less than a full-swing wedge shot ahead of you. Depending on your strength profile, that could be as far as 70 to 80 yards or as close as 30 to 40 yards. But regardless of whether you are trying to break par or 100, your ability to get the ball on the green and close enough to the hole for a one-putt at least some of the time will likely be one of the biggest factors in determining your score for the day.

All too often, I observe golfers hit two or even three wedge shots from prime scoring range before they are on the green — and all too often I see short-range pitch shots leave the golfer with little to no chance of making the putt.

This makes no sense, as attaining a level of reasonable proficiency from short range is not a matter of strength profile at all. But it does take a commitment to learning how to make a repeating and reliable half-swing and doing that repeatedly and consistently absolutely requires you to learn the basic fundamentals of how the body has to move the club back and through the impact zone.

So, let’s get down to the basics to see if I can shed some light on these ultra-important scoring shots.

  • Your grip has to be correct. For the club to move back and through correctly, your grip on the club simply must be fundamentally sound. The club is held primarily in the last three fingers of the upper hand, and the middle two fingers of the lower hand. Period. The lower hand has to be “passive” to the upper hand, or the mini-swing will become a quick jab at the ball. For any shot, but particularly these short ones, that sound grip is essential for the club to move through impact properly and repeatedly.
  • Your posture has to be correct. This means your body is open to the target, feet closer together than even a three-quarter swing, and the ball positioned slightly back of center.
  • Your weight should be distributed about 70 percent on your lead foot and stay there through the mini-swing.
  • Your hands should be “low” in that your lead arm is hanging naturally from your shoulder, not extended out toward the ball and not too close to the body to allow a smooth turn away and through. Gripping down on the club is helpful, as it gets you “closer to your work.
  • This shot is hit with a good rotation of the body, not a “flip” or “jab” with the hands. Controlling these shots with your body core rotation and leading the swing with your body core and lead side will almost ensure proper contact. To hit crisp pitch shots, the hands have to lead the clubhead through impact.
  • A great drill for this is to grip your wedge with an alignment rod next to the grip and extending up past your torso. With this in place, you simply have to rotate your body core through the shot, as the rod will hit your lead side and prevent you from flipping the clubhead at the ball. It doesn’t take but a few practice swings with this drill to give you an “ah ha” moment about how wedge shots are played.
  • And finally, understand that YOU CANNOT HIT UP ON A GOLF BALL. The ball is sitting on the ground so the clubhead has to be moving down and through impact. I think one of the best ways to think of this is to remember this club is “a wedge.” So, your simple objective is to wedge the club between the ball and the ground. The loft of the wedge WILL make the ball go up, and the bounce of the sole of the wedge will prevent the club from digging.

So, why is mastering the simple pitch shot so important? Because my bet is that if you count up the strokes in your last round of golf, you’ll likely see that you left several shots out there by…

  • Either hitting another wedge shot or chip after having one of these mid-range pitch shots, or
  • You did not get the mid-range shot close enough to even have a chance at a makeable putt.

If you will spend even an hour on the range or course with that alignment rod and follow these tips, your scoring average will improve a ton, and getting better with these pitch shots will improve your overall ball striking as well.

More from the Wedge Guy

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Clement: Don’t overlook this if you want to find the center of the face




It is just crazy how golfers are literally beside themselves when they are placed in a properly aligned set up! They feel they can’t swing or function! We take a dive into why this is and it has to do with how the eyes are set up in the human skull!

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