Tip of the Month archive
Pick up some extra golf tips from our PGA Golf Professionals at World of Golf
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How to get backspin: 6 things you can do
By Jon Woodroffe – July 2017
I am often asked: “how do I get backspin on the ball when I am chipping onto the green?” My answer is always the same – hit the ball properly!! Every single shot you hit, that gets airborne, has got backspin on it. Even with a driver. When chipping, most people are looking to stop the ball quickly. It’s a difficult skill to master, but by no means impossible.I am often asked: “how do I get backspin on the ball when I am chipping onto the green?” My answer is always the same – hit the ball properly!! Every single shot you hit, that gets airborne, has got backspin on it. Even with a driver. When chipping, most people are looking to stop the ball quickly. It’s a difficult skill to master, but by no means impossible.One of the ways to increase the amount of backspin on a golf ball is to hit the ball harder. The harder the ball is hit, the more spin will be created. If you are only going 10 yards, you are not going to hit the ball hard enough to generate a whole lot of spin. You have to be realistic and accept that the ball will not stop dead, but will roll on a little when it lands. Just allow for that in where you aim to land the golf ball.
THE 6 THINGS REQUIRED TO GET BACKSPIN ON A GOLF BALL ARE AS FOLLOWS:
Create a descending blow on the golf ball and hit the back of the ball first, before you hit the turf. To achieve this, play the ball slightly further back in your stance and lean your weight slightly onto your front leg.
Pick the club up steeply on your back swing.
Use the correct golf ball. Many golf balls like Pinnacles, Top Flite etc are hard core golf balls, designed not to spin much, so they travel a long way. Conversely they are not made to back up on the green. A a wound construction soft core golf ball is more likely to spin.The green that the ball is landing on has an effect. If the greens are slow, with long uneven grass, the ball will not roll forward or backward as much. Spin is much more evident on fast, close cut surfaces.
A lofted club. The more lofted the club, the greater the elevation the ball will have coming into the green and thus the quicker it will stop.
The quality and cleanliness of the grooves of the club. The grooves are there to help impart the backspin on a well struck golf shot. But if they are filled with grass or mud, their effect will be drastically reduced.
Speed of swing. As I mentioned earlier in this piece, the faster the club is travelling at impact, the more spin will be applied to the golf ball and thus more effect on landing on the green. This is why the tournament professionals get the most action on the ball, with a full wedge shot to the green.
To help get better at controlling the spin on your golf shots, have a golf lesson with one of our World of Golf Croydon teaching professionals.
Work the arms through impact to stop the slice
By Jon Woodroffe
Do you suffer the dreaded slice? Most golfers do. Here is a quick way to reduce or even stop the problem. Through impact most people suffer what we quaintly call the “chicken wing”, which is where the left arm lifts, the elbow sticks out and the forearms fail to turn over thus leaving the club pointing to the right through impact (see below)
To stop this the thought you need is to try to get your forearms to touch. This is actually almost anatomically impossible when you hit a golf ball, but any attempt to get near to achieving this will mean that you will have rotated your forearms thus closing the clubface through the hitting area and this will stop the ball slicing off to the right, as in the below picture.
The worst that might happen is the ball may go straight to the left of target. This will show that the swing path is still not correct, but at least the damaging side spin that you were putting on the ball will have stopped. The result? Less lost golf balls into the bushes, more smiles and better scores.
Don’t get drawn to the hole when putting
By Jon Woodroffe
One of the most regular errors I see when putting, particularly with newer golfers, is missing the hole on the low side, or the amateur side as we often describe it.
All too often I believe people see the slope that the green has and know that they need to aim to allow for this. In the pictures shown, it is a right to left break of about 6 inches and what I find is that the golfer knows this but at the last moment their eyes are inextricably drawn to looking at the hole and thus their putting stroke is also drawn similarly towards the hole thus pulling the putt to the left and missing on the amateur side of the hole.
I always advise people to move the flag in their mind, as I have got a golfer to do here so that it is the necessary 6 inches to the right of the hole. Then putt the ball towards this flag as if it was the hole. Then as the putt rolls along it starts towards the flag, but then the slope takes over and the ball falls towards the hole. As as you can see from the picture, there is a greater chance that the putt will either drop in, or if it does miss, it will miss on the high side, or professional side as we call it, which means it always has a chance of dropping in.
Shot Shaping – The Fade
By Jon Woodroffe
An interesting fact is that 85% of golfers worldwide suffer from the dreaded slice. But there are times when this much maligned shot can be of great help and the skill required to achieve it is well within the reach of all of us.
So say for example, you are teeing off and the fairway bends to the right and you want to fade the ball round the trees jutting out from the right hand side.
The simplest way to describe the process is as follows:
- Aim your feet, hips, shoulders and brain where you want the ball to start
- Aim the clubface where you want the ball to finish
- Swing the golf club along the line that your body is aiming
Now, aiming the feet, hips and shoulders left of the target for us right handed players is understandable, but what I mean by aiming the brain is you must look at a new target where you wish the ball to begin it’s journey towards. If you make the mistake of letting your eyes get drawn towards the flag, then you will subconsciously end up swinging the club towards the flag, thus resulting in the ball heading straight into the trees jutting in from the right hand side.
Aim the clubface where you want the ball to finish; simply means aim the club at the flag. This will look odd as it will be considerably to the right of where everything else is aiming, but if you fail to do this, you will hit a lovely straight shot, straight left into the trees that side of the fairway.
Finally swing the golf club along the line that your body is aiming, not the flag. This will then deliver a glancing blow to the ball that should mean it sets off up the left hand side of the fairway and then as it losses it’s pace, it will then turn to the right to end in the middle of the fairway.
Just one final point this is a shot that you can really only do with either the woods or a very long iron, you will not be able to fade the ball with anything more lofted than a 5 iron as the ball will get some much backspin that it will negate the effect of the sidespin and the ball will just go straight.
Playing off Soggy Ground
By Jon Woodroffe
We know it is coming but it is still a pain to play on soggy fairways, but it is part of the game. When practicing at the golf range it is impossible to work on the adjustments you need to make to cope with wet fairways and soggy ground as the concrete below the mat will not act the same.
The main thought you need to keep in mind in these situations is that you must have a slightly steeper attack angle on the ball so that you hit the golf ball crisply without catching any of the mud below, much like you would on a fairway bunker shot.
Bringing the ball back slightly in your stance is a good idea, but please only a tiny bit, too much and that will actually encourage hitting too far behind the ball.
With the ball back slightly, this will encourage your weight to be a touch more on your front foot and the shaft of the club will then be leaning towards the hole, all things that will aid the angle of attack you are looking for.
Another small point may well be to look at the front of the golf ball, the bit nearer the hole, rather than the back as you would normally do, this again will help prevent hitting behind the ball.
Finally, a much overlooked factor is the mind set. Try to accept that today may well not be the best round of golf you will ever play. The conditions are not conducive to great scoring and if you can get your head around the fact that a handful of shots over your handicap at this time of year is still a good round, then you will find it a lot easier to accept the tough conditions and enjoy your round a lot more.
All in all let’s look forward to lovely dry, sun drenched fairways, but if you are out there on a cold soggy February morning, I hope these few little tips will make your game a lot easier.
Playing a Greenside Bunker Shot from Wet Sand
By Jon Woodroffe
Through the next couple of months or so if you end up in a greenside bunker there is every likelihood that the sand is going to be wet and as such takes on the same sort of consistency as concrete. This makes a difficult shot under normal conditions an absolute nightmare.
The main changes to your normal greenside bunker technique mainly centre around the fact that you will not be able to dislodge a plume of sand when playing the shot as you would aim to do in the drier conditions. Because of this the first change would be to avoid using a sand wedge, particularly one that boasts a large bounce angle, something that normally stops the club digging and getting stuck in the sand, very much the way skies are turned up at the end. But in this situation, the bounce will actually do as it’s name suggests and bounce off the hard surface and end up hitting the ball in the belly leading to either the ball firing straight into the bank of the bunker or even worse, disappearing over the green at head height. A lob wedge with a low bounce angle or even a pitching wedge is better.
Next, keep the ball position forwards in the stance and as you swing at the ball you aim to make a shallow angle of attack on the ball, this can be difficult and dangerous as again if you hit too high up on the ball you will do as mentioned above. But if the sand is that hard, there is no way you can get the club to slide under the ball and take a divot of sand so you are going to need to pluck the ball more cleanly off the surface than usual. The choice of club will have a bearing on the flight of the shot and the stopping of the ball on the green, the pitching wedge will have to have more room for the ball to slow down where the lob wedge may well get a super amount of spin when played well and will stop on a sixpence.
I would still always offer the advice of try to avoid going into bunkers, particularly during the wet season, but these small alterations may still allow you to get out unscathed.
Down Slope by the Edge of the Green
By Jon Woodroffe
Most golf greens are banked at the back, as well as giving definition to the surface it also allows for a slightly over hit shot to stop before it disappears into the undergrowth behind the green, never to be seen again. When the ball rolls up that bank you would think there is a decent chance it would roll back onto the putting surface, but from my experience it seems that grass is barbed; only allowing free movement of the ball one way, up!
So the position you see in the picture 1 is quite common. The method for this shot is as follows.
Firstly remember to position the golf ball nearer the higher foot, this makes getting your left and right mixed up less of an issue. Secondly, get your hips and shoulders parallel to the slope, this will mean leaning quite heavily onto your front leg and feels very odd and unbalanced. But this takes the hill out of the equation and basically allows you to swing the golf club the way you would normally around the green if the lie was flat. See picture 2.
Club selection is vital here as the slope and your stance will take a great deal of loft off the golf club, so it is imperative that you use as lofted a club as you can, your lob wedge would be ideal for this.
When playing the stroke just be aware that the ball will come off much lower and faster than you would normally expect with that lofted a club, so land the ball on the green as quickly as possible and allow the ball to roll out from there.
This is certainly not the easiest around the green shot you will face but making those adjustments to your address position will certainly make it easier.
By Jon Woodroffe
Hopefully your golf has improved through this season and now we come to the time of year to tick along until the sun comes out again and the evenings draw out, here are a couple of tips to help get you ready to hit the ground running for 2017.
As an instructor I am very aware when I start working with a student of the time of year and the constraints that it can put on what adjustments I make. For example, if a fairly major rebuild would be ideal, but the student is about to go away on their annual golf weekend to Portugal, you would principally just tweak a couple of minor details and send the player off to enjoy their trip. So this is the time of year that we like to put together a strategy plan for a customer and his golf game. What areas need attention and how much of the coaching should be geared to it, so I would strongly recommend a visit to World of Golf and book a course of lessons with one of our teaching team. They will be able to plan your winter practice after the first lesson and I would also suggest not necessarily booking the lessons weekly, just see whether you need more time to work on things on the range on your own rather than just religiously coming to the weekly lesson having not been able to make the progress required from the previous lesson. This is what causes people to lose faith with the changes and revert back to old bad habits. Also, the first session you should find will have the biggest impact as normally there is something in the basics that has gone off the boil and the professional will be able to repair that quickly. What I also find is that people expect a consistent arc of improvement each lesson, this simply is not going to happen and in fact on some sessions you will struggle to improve at all, keep the faith and the practice that you do yourself at the range will win through in the end.
The main thing to check on this side of things are the little details, like how worn the grips on your clubs are. If your clubs are forged heads, then get the loft and lies checked as with play through the year the softer metal could have moved, both of these things can be done by your local American Golf store professionals.
Usually the main problem is flexibility especially through the winter so try to maintain a regime of stretching exercises to keep you as supple as possible, plus when you get to the golf range to practice in the colder weather, make sure you take a little longer in your warm up exercises before you start pounding golf balls.
The hardest distance to conquer in golf is the six and seven eights gap between or ears. One excellent way to improve your mind play is to improve your visualisation ability. As you cannot get out onto the golf course so often, try spending some time working on seeing yourself hitting your best shot, particularly if you play the same course, see yourself playing the way you would want to, learn what a good shot should look like and practice watching yourself performing it. I know you still have to swing the club, your mind is not capable of achieving that on it’s own, but a little mental direction as to what you are trying to attain will go a long way to helping you, try it and see what is does for you.
So, although the weather is not as enticing to make you want to go play some golf, at this time of year you can really help your golf game for the new season by preparing and practicing the stuff that is difficult or time consuming to do in the heat of the season, this could mean by The Masters you are already hitting your stride.
Ball Below the Feet
By Jon Woodroffe
Golf courses sadly are not built as flat as the golf range so when you are out in the real world, there is every chance you are going to have to play a shot from what we call a hanging lie, with the ball hanging below the level of your feet.
As you can see from the picture I have chosen a rather extreme situation to demonstrate this predicament, you would normally expect a golf ball on a slope this severe to make it to the bottom of the hill, but say it doesn’t, here is what you do to cope.
Firstly, you do not need to make any radical changes to your normal golf swing, which is quite a relief. What you mainly have to consider is what is likely to happen to the ball because of the slope and then you set about allowing for that.
Firstly, the ball will drift away to the right in this example. If you imagine this slope was a putting green (some putting green!!) you would know to aim up the hill to allow for the hill, so do the same here, so aim up the hill to the left in this example.
The main thing you have to guard against is topping the ball as it is so far below your feet so to do this you must bend from the knees, do not tip over from the waist as you will lose your balance. As this address position is so uncomfortable you will have to guard against pulling up through impact in an attempt to return to a normal position as this will lead to topping the ball, so in this one instance I would suggest thinking about keeping down on the shot is valid.
The final action you will need to take to avoid topping is on the take away, deliberately swing the golf club slightly more away from you and up steeper, as in picture 2. This will add to the slice spin on the ball but you have aimed up the hill to allow for that. It will cause a steeper angle of attack that will help get to the bottom of the ball which is really the main thing you need to do.
This is a very difficult shot to practice at the golf range as it is flat, but with these couple of tips in mind you should be able to cope with whatever the golf course throws at you.
One Shot at a Time
By Jon Woodroffe
We have all heard the old football cliché “We are just going to take it one game at a time” and as with many of these there is a huge amount of truth in this approach and we golfers should follow the same mantra.
How often have you made the mistake of adding your score card up on the 18th tee and uttered the immortal words “All I have to do is get a 5 on this hole and I will have my best ever score.”
Generally a statement followed by a sliced out of bounds tee shot, then a shanked approach finished off by a 3 putt.
The golf commentators often describe it as staying in the moment; this is the art of not letting your mind stray off the shot you are about to play onto the consequences of it or what will or could happen over the next couple of holes. It is essential to have 100% concentration on the shot you are about to play whether that be off the tee or a 2 foot putt, anything other than that total absorption will probably cause you to fail.
If you find yourself losing concentration there are various tricks to help. I like the idea of thinking of a great big stop sign, like you see on the roads, and this is my trigger to stop my thoughts wandering off and get back to the shot in hand. I am the world’s worst at letting my mind wander, I find myself thinking about what shopping I need, have I sent a customer’s golf swing video, etc etc, so this stop sign has always been my way of getting focused as my mind is often like herding cats
Don’t Short Side Yourself
By Jon Woodroffe
Most shots are lost around the greens by the majority of club golfers. Better technique and practice are certain ways to improve, but also not putting yourself in bad positions can save shots off your score.
The picture shows a classic pin position. Very close to the left side of the green with all sorts of danger to the left of the green. If you miss on this side the bunker and the long grass will mean your recovery from this side of the green will be impossible. From here you will probably dump the next shot in the bunker; either fluff the next or thin it across the other side and take another 4 from there. The result of this is that you blame your poor short game where if you had not been there in the first place many shots and raised blood pressure would have been avoided.
In a situation like this there really is no point in trying to play to the flag. There are acres of green to the right so in your mind, place a flagstick smack in the middle of the putting surface and go for that. If you end up hitting a bit to the right of your intended target, you will be left with a huge putt or a long chip and run shot with plenty of green to play with.
If you pull the shot a bit left of where you intend you could end up very close to the flag and could always claim to your playing partners you were intending to be that aggressive.
When aiming for a flag like this be careful not to let your eyes stray over to the real flag as your subconscious will be drawn to hitting towards it, so aiming at imaginary targets is a skill that will take some working at, but it will pay off in spades if you can stop short siding yourself in future.
Pace of Play
By Jon Woodroffe
As the R&A have recently released the findings of extensive research into how the game of golf can be speeded up, I thought this month I would highlight what I feel are the key things that help the pace of play as we all agree that it is the biggest annoyance in the game and yet nobody seems able to do anything about it.
Ready golf is a concept that has been around for a while now and if done properly really helps. It means if you are ready to play, whether it is your honour, or you are further from the hole or not, go ahead and play.
On the tee, let the shorter hitter of the group always tee off first, irrespective of whose honour it is.
Leave the practice swings to the golf range, maybe have one quick swoosh and then get down to business and after a poor shot, no long post mortem’s and practice swings analysing what went wrong, it is in the past and nothing can be done now to change the situation, so move on.
Your first instinct on the line of a putt or the club selection is nearly always the right one and so go with that, I don’t believe looking at the putt from every conceivable angle is going to make you any more likely to hole it.
And so the list goes on. There are also things that the golf club can do to help speed the pace of play up. Don’t put the pins at the edges of greens, don’t let the rough grow too long, don’t make the golf course too long and do away with gender specific tee boxes and have ability tees instead, and I am sure you have your own ideas on how we could reduce the problem of slow play.
One thing is for certain, the PGA professionals on the TV do not help with how long they take over each shot, like it or not they are the role models for the kids of today and the golfers of tomorrow.
From the spongy grass at the side of the green
By Jon Woodroffe
At this time of the year the grass around the fringe of the green is growing like wild fire and the ball can settle down quite badly, leaving a very delicate shot. If you catch the ball too cleanly there is every chance of seeing the golf ball go zooming over the back of the green, but if you don’t get a solid enough connection the ball will stay in the fluffy grass leaving you looking a tad embarrassed.
The key points for success on this shot are firstly use a lofted club, sand wedge or lob wedge is preferred. You must have your weight very much on your front foot and your hands well ahead of the clubhead.
I would also recommend placing the ball way back in your stance, even off the back foot for this shot is a good idea, as in picture 1.
The swing is very different, you must try to not move your arms at all, instead just hinge the wrists so the backswing is very steep, as in picture 2.
Then just let the weight of the club drop on the back of the ball. This way you should make contact with the ball, not the fluffy grass surrounding the ball due to the steepness of the angle of attack, but as you have only made a very short swing the power will be limited allowing the ball to pop up into the air and land softly onto the green.
Visualise your golf shot
By Jon Woodroffe
Everybody I ever mention this to initially finds it extremely difficult to get their mind round it, but the ability to visualise the shot you are about to play will really help you improve.
The best way to start the process of learning visualisation is to sit quietly and imagine how a good shot should look. It is particularly helpful if you play the same c
ourse regularly as you can imagine standing on the first tee and seeing how the ball should fly if you have hit a good drive. Would you see the ball drawing slightly from right to left or would you be happier making the ball fade from left to right. Do not try to see the ball flying dead straight as this is an almost impossible shot to replicate.
At first you may find this a difficult task. Imagine the Protracer that you see on Sky Sports following your good drive that will help you see what you are trying to see. After a few goes at this at home in the peace and quiet, then come to the World of Golf range and do the same in your bay, imagine how the shot will look when hit well and then play the shot.
I do not guarantee that just by imagining it you will suddenly be able to produce the perfect shape shot, but it is one of the many aspects that when added together will aid your ability to achieve your golfing goals. If you are taking coaching currently with one the World of Golf professional team, ask them for their advice on this subject, all PGA golf professionals are very adept at visualisation, you can too with a little practice.
By Jon Woodroffe
One of the problems that we see at the range more often than anything is the strangulation that most amateurs inflict on the poor rubber end of the golf club. Grip pressure is a tough one to get right because if you are hitting the ball brilliantly and your confidence is sky high, then gripping the golf club with the same pressure as you would grip a tube of toothpaste with the top off is easy. But as that happens so rarely to most of us, the fear of the impending disastrous shot is more likely to get the blood pressure let alone the grip pressure going through the roof.
The recommendation is to develop a waggle before you swing the club. All top players have this. It is a lifting of the golf club up and moving it gently back and forth in the air above the golf ball. It is the equivalent of what you see tennis players do before they serve, bouncing the ball. Batsmen in cricket will tap the bottom of the bat in the crease and lift it several times as the bowler is running in and Usain Bolt will flail and flap his limbs before settling into the blocks. In all cases it has the same effect, it relaxes the muscles prior to the rapid physical activity they are about to engage in.
Try to develop your own waggle, it will help you relax but one word of warning, try not to take too long over it or else the golfers playing behind you will have their blood pressure going through the roof waiting for you.
By Jon Woodroffe
With all the storms so far this year and the associated rain, I would imagine your home golf course may well have been flooded or at least there will have been a trolley ban. So if you have been forced to pull out of retirement the stand bag, here is a great way to make that piece of golfing equipment improve the first part of your golf swing.
One of the most common takeaway errors is swinging the club too much on the inside as we call it, or round your bum if you like, as in picture 1.
Well, why not place your stand bag in such a way that if you swing your club back too much on the inside you will hit your bag, as you can see from picture 2, the angle of the stand bag is very similar to that of the shaft of the golf club and that is the angle or plane of the swing that you should be trying to achieve. This way you can hit balls on the golf range and know that your club is not getting trapped behind you as if it does, your golf bag will get a hammering.
Just a quick word of warning, if you do this drill, make sure you take anything valuable and breakable out of the bottom pocket of the golf bag, happy practicing.
The Difference from Range to Course
By Jon Woodroffe
One of the things that I have become very aware of over the years of coaching golfers is the difference between the swing they use on the golf range and the one they have on the golf course. There are of course many reasons for this, not least of all that on the range you have 100 goes at the shot rather than a one off do or die scenario that is the golf course situation.
I find the one part of the golf swing that changes the most on the golf course is the follow through. On the range there are no ramifications for failure, but on the course there are trees, water hazards etc that come into the equation. The fear of the shot gong wrong usually stops the player from smoothly completing their follow through and instead they tend to hit at the ball rather than swing the club through the ball.
So my tip is when you play next, be aware of not stopping your golf swing until you feel the club rest either on your shoulder or the base of your neck, that way you can determine that the club did not stop straight after impact, but actually continued through the ball, as a good tennis player swings their racket through the ball and a good football puts their foot through the ball.
The pictures here show the difference of a curtailed follow through compared to a full fluid finish, see which one you most resemble on the course next time you play.
Winter Golf Tips
By Jon Woodroffe
Much though we hate it, that time of the year has come again when the hours that you can play are reduced and the golf courses play longer as there is no roll on the ball and the heavy cold atmosphere doesn’t allow the ball to fly so far.
So here are a couple of little tips to try to stop[ your golf game going too much off the boil in the cold.
Wet, Muddy Courses
Although winter rules does allow you to clean and replace your ball on the fairway, the ground under the ball will still be a little soft and a shot that is hit slightly behind the ball in summer and be got away with will certainly be punished by a large green hedgehog flying through the air and you walking past your ball to collect your divot.
So in soft ground it is more important than ever to aim to hit the ball a descending blow so that you make solid contact with the ball before the turf. To aid this I would suggest 2 things. Slightly bring the ball back in your stance, mind you only slightly, and leave a little more weight on your front foot throughout your backswing. Both of those things will allow a ball first contact if done in moderation, in excess, they will exacerbate the problem, so be careful.
Not always the Driver off the tee
In summer the driver with its lower flight will afford you more roll on the ball and if you are likely to slightly miss hit with that club you can get away with it as the distance will be enhanced with the roll. As the fairways are wetter the roll will be less, so I would suggest trying the 3 wood or 5 wood or even hybrid from the tee as these clubs will keep the ball in the air for longer where there will certainly be less resistance on the ball than rolling through wet fairway grass. Actually in winter a 3 wood or 5 wood off the tee will often go further than the driver, and will be less liable to mis hits, certainly worth a try.
Obviously as you cannot get out onto the golf course so easily at this time of year, now is the time to put some serious effort into your golf swing at the World of Golf ranges and get some top tips from the team of PGA golf professionals, so you can reap the rewards of that work come spring.
Hitting Under the Bough of a Tree
By Jon Woodroffe
Not that this is a situation you will get into too often, but if your path to the green is blocked by the overhanging branches of a tree as in the picture, then here is how you play this.
Firstly, take your least lofted iron club, making sure not to use a hybrid as they are designed to maximise height, just what you do not want in this position.
I would suggest a 5 iron is best. You need to position the golf ball in the middle of your stance or even slightly further back than centre if you really need to keep the ball very low. Then lean the end of the shaft of the golf club ahead of the ball so it is in line with your left thigh, this will then put most of your body weight onto your left foot.
During the backswing be careful not to transfer your body weight onto your right foot or you will spoil the whole reason for having your weight on the left foot in the first place. You should also ensure that you do not turn your shoulders; you are aiming to just swing your hands and arms and thus create quite a steep backswing. From here, then hit into the back of the ball trying to keep the feeling that your hands are staying ahead of the clubhead into impact.
As for follow through, this should be severely curtailed as the angle that your golf club is attacking into the ground you will struggle to complete a follow through and it would actually be more effective if you allowed the swing to stop soon after impact as this would not allow the wrists to hinge and thus stop you from trying to scoop the golf ball up into the air.
The ball then should come squirting out under the overhanging tree and make some serious distance up the fairway as it is coming out like an exocet missile. Do bear this in mind when selecting to play this shot, you do not want to end up careering through the green into the trees over the back.
The only problem with this shot is where to practice it as it is not an ideal one for the golf range as underneath your bay is concrete, so try a couple and see how they go.
By Jon Woodroffe
As we start the miserable descent into the darker winter evenings, as well as coming to the World of Golf range to keep your practicing going, here is a super drill to get your chipping improved if it is an area of your game that lets you down.
One of the very important features of a correct chipping technique is that you swing the golf club back along the ball to target line, not around your body.
Now I often find that what looks like back in a straight line to the person I am coaching and what looks like a straight line to me standing directly behind them are two very different things.
So to check, set up for a chip shot with the ball (if indoors use a plastic one) on a join between two pieces of carpet as in picture 1.
Then as you swing the golf club back, you should be able to look at the clubhead and still see the join in the carpet cutting through the middle of your golf club, just as you see in picture 2.
If you look at the clubhead during the swing and the join in the carpet is not in the middle of the clubhead then you are probably taking the club too much on the inside on the takeaway.
Keep practicing and it will soon feel natural and your striking of the short chip shots will be the best it has ever been.
Putting Line Up
By Jon Woodroffe
Often the best tips are the simplest and this fits that category. To help lining up a putt, very simply I always suggest after marking the ball on the green, place the manufacturers name or markings that form a straight line pointing towards the hole, as in the picture. Then when you place the putter behind the ball, the lines that you no doubt have on the top or the back of your putter will form a continuous straight line with those markings on the ball and this will make it easier to see if you are aiming the putter head correctly.
Do bear in mind, that this works fine for a straight putt, if however the putt is a sloping one, then you need to aim the golf ball markings and thus the putter head where you wish the ball to start it’s roll to allow for the slope.
On a separate note, is it just me or does the Ping putter used in this feature look like a person on a motorbike!!
By Jon Woodroffe
Bunker shots hold fear and dread for most higher handicap golfers and it is quite understandable as the whole shot is most illogical. After all you are trying to hit the shot very hard yet hit the ball a very short distance. You are trying basically to miss the ball and you are trying to hit the surface beneath the ball very hard which is you have ever hit the range mats hard behind the ball you will know that it is not a very pleasant experience.
So all these things make it hard to trust yourself to do the one main thing that you must do in a bunker shot to be successful and that is to follow through fully rather than stab at the sand and stop your swing immediately after impact.
If this sounds like your bunker woes, then here is a great trick to help. As you play your bunker shot, make sure that you finish your swing with your belt buckle, or tummy button, pointing towards the target. If you do this you will have continued the clubhead through the shot with enough momentum to send the sand flying out of the bunker and on top of that sand will be your ball, just like the 2 pictures of golfers here getting themselves successfully out of bunkers at a recent World of Golf game at Surbiton Golf Club.
Try it and I know you will find yourself losing your fear of the bunkers.
Feet Together Drill
By Jon Woodroffe
The simplest exercise often can be the most effective and this is certainly the case with the feet together drill. You do exactly what it says on the tin. You put your feet together tightly, so that your toes, heels, ankles and knees are pressed together. It is also best done with a middle to short iron, a 7 is ideal. The plan is that by having your feet together you are very wobbly and the fear of losing your balance will cause you to swing slower, shorter and on a better plane as any excessive, fast, jerky or off plane movements will generally lead to you falling over, particularly on the follow through.
So the list of swing errors that this simple drill will aid include, swaying on the backswing, over swinging, insufficient wrist hinge on the backswing, starting the downswing with the shoulders and coming over the top and not rotating the forearms through impact, so quite a collection really.
The other reason I like this drill is that you can actually hit golf balls and see the results. More often than not, the golf ball is hit better, straighter and more consistently with the feet together than with the feet apart. The only downsides to playing your round of golf like this are that you do not generate as much power, just as you would not throw a ball as far with your feet together as you would with your feet apart. But also it takes a long time to hop round a golf course with your feet tied together.
Make the Fairway Twice the Size
By Jon Woodroffe
If you have a tendency to slice or hook your drive then without making any adjustment to your golf swing you can double the size of the fairway you are aiming at. Let us take the example of if you have a slice to the right and your fairway is 50 yards wide.
The best exponent of this art was Colin Montgomerie. He always had a tendency to move the golf ball from left to right off the tee. So he would aim at the left edge of the fairway at around 250 yards, the distance his drive would be expected to finish. Thus if his drive did not move left to right as expected he would finish on the left edge of the fairway. If his shot drifted the amount he would normally expect, then his ball would be in the middle of the fairway and if his shot spun more than desired, he had the whole width of the fairway for the ball to spin into before running out of fairway on the right hand side.
What most golfers do is aim straight down the middle of the fairway with the hope that the ball will go dead straight, even though past experience tells them that may not be what happens. So if on the rare occasion the ball does go straight they are beautifully positioned in the middle of the fairway. However if the ball starts to get it’s usual spin, then they only have 25 yards of the fairway for the ball to spin into before they run out of fairway and enter the rough, so about half the size of fairway that Colin Montgomerie was using for his sliced shots
Now, obviously, the best answer here is to visit one of the World of Golf Professional team and get that persistent slice or hook sorted out with a course of lessons, but until then, while you are in the heat of battle, that tip could save you a lot of time in the long rough that is growing in this spring sunshine.
By Jon Woodroffe
As you set up to the golf ball you will always be affected in your judgement as to whether you are aiming correctly by looking along your shoulders at the target. This is unavoidable as your head and eyes are so close to your shoulders. Unfortunately when you are setting up to the golf ball there are 3 things that will naturally tend to get you aiming incorrectly, this is particularly true when driving off the tee.
1 Your right hand is below the left on the grip causing your right shoulder to move forwards of the left slightly.
2 Your right hand grip is on top of your left again causing your right shoulder to move forwards of the left slightly.
3 The ball position is left of centre of the stance and with the driver it is off the left heel which again makes your right shoulder move forwards of the left slightly.
The problem is that although each of those things independently makes a slight difference to your shoulder alignment, collectively they throw you out quite a lot and then the instinctive reaction is to think that you are aiming too far left and then you shuffle your feet round and you are now aiming too far right.
The answer is as you set up as the last part of your pre shot routine, pull your right shoulder back slightly to offset the 3 points I mentioned earlier, that should then allow you to aim at the target correctly, so then if the ball is still not going straight, come to the World of Golf and seek advice and help from our PGA professionals.
Easy reminders for tricky lies
By Jon Woodroffe
When the ball is not on level ground on the golf course you can see the golfer trying desperately to remember the adjustments they are supposed to make to allow for this, and not only is there confusion, but it will take ages, so here are a couple of fool proof, quick ways to remember what to do.
Ball below the feet
Imagine you were about to putt on a green with a slope like this, I think you would know to aim up the hill to allow for the slope, so why not do the same when playing a shot, aim up the hill to allow for the inevitable spin that will be put on the ball.
Ball Above the Feet
Ditto to the information above. This way you avoid thinking do I aim left or right and if you are left handed player is that left for me or a right hander, wow you can see where the confusion can come from.
Position the ball nearer the higher foot and get your shoulders and hips parallel to the hill. Also when going up the hill go down the numbers of the clubs to compensate for the impending loss of distance as the shot will go higher than normal.
Ditto the information above, except when you go down the hill go up the numbers of the clubs to compensate for the lower flight and extra distance the shot will go. Again, here you avoid left and right.
Theses shots are hard enough without filling your mind with confusion and doubt, hope it helps.
By Jon Woodroffe
How you connect the hands on the grip of the golf club is nowhere near as important as the position that those hands are placed on the club. There are generally 3 accepted ways of connecting the hands, the interlocking, the overlap and the split handed or as it is also called the Baseball grip.
The most popular has always seemed to be the interlocking grip which, although I use that myself, as does Rory and Tiger (that is the only time I will be in the same sentence as Rory and Tiger) I have found from experience that it is the biggest single cause of a slice. When people starting out are shown the “golf grip” by their mates, they always show them to link those fingers.
The problem is that when people link their fingers, they link them to the joints as in picture 1. This inevitably means that the golf club ends up resting along the base of the fingers of the left hand, a weak grip, which does not allow the forearms to rotate sufficiently through impact, causing the club face to be aiming right at impact, thus the slice is born straight away. If the person can link their fingers and still hold the club more in the fingers of their left hand, thus meaning that the fingers are not linked to the joints, then I have no problem with that way of connecting the hands.
But if you do slice, and you do use the interlocking grip, my advice is try, when you are next at the World of Golf range nearest to you, the overlapping grip. It will feel strange, and it will feel as if you have not got a firm grip on the club, but after all, you are not supposed to have a firm grip on the club. It should be in your fingers allowing your hands and wrists to work freely to add power and control the direction.
So try and let the little finger of your right hand rest either on the index finger of your left hand or in the gap formed between the index and second finger and see if you get more power and lose that slice.
Getting under the ball
By Jon Woodroffe
I think I am living proof that you do not need a brain to be a golfer; in fact it can be a considerable handicap. The danger is that we think logically about things so when the golf ball is not lifting in the air off the fairway, you are likely to use the immortal phrase “I am not getting under the ball”. This will then probably lead to on the next shot you will try to get under the ball thus leaning your weight back onto your back foot. This only makes the club swing down and reach the lowest point of the arc of the swing well behind the ball and then the club is on the way up when you strike the golf ball, causing you to hit the upper half of the golf ball again meaning that you top the ball again and fail to get any height, thus leading you to think again that you are not getting under the ball, and so the cycle continues.
To stop the topping, what you have to do is to hit down on the ball, so that the divot actually starts after the ball. Here is a great tip to help you get this feeling at the golf range. Just place a score card about 3 inches behind the golf ball as you can see in the picture. If you hit the card while striking the golf ball then you have bottomed out the arc of your swing too early, you have to continue to practice until you can strike the golf ball cleanly without hitting the score card.
Practice Pitching to a Small Target
By Jon Woodroffe
If you get the chance to practice your approach shots to the green then I would recommend this drill as a great way to hone your skill and challenge your ability.
The idea of this exercise is to place 3 targets on the landing area you are using, and those targets should be of different dimensions, from the large hoop in the picture through the range ball bucket and finally to the golf ball.
Firstly aim for the hoop. Hit 10 balls at the hop and keep a score of how many times you get the ball to land inside the hoop. For each shot that successfully lands in the hoop you earn 2 points, and for each one you miss that is a point against.
Then move onto the range ball basket. Again hit 10 shots and this time for each ball that connects with the basket in any way you earn 10 points and for each miss you lose 1 point. Then finally go for the golf ball. This is the ultimate prize, so for any shots that land on that ball you earn 50 points and for each miss again you lose a point.
Practice this each time you are able to and see how your score will improve over time and thus when you are pitching onto a green, this exercise will make the target area you are looking to land the ball on seem huge, thus increasing your confidence immensely on this shot.
Plugged Bunker Shots
By Jon Woodroffe
As if it wasn’t bad enough getting stuck in a bunker with a huge great lip on it anyway, but then to find that your ball has buried itself in as if taking cover from the enemy. So when you get a plugged lie such as the one in the picture, don’t abandon all hope just yet.
If the ball was in a normal lie in this bunker you would set up with the clubface open as in picture 1, but I would suggest you try a different method, close the clubface as in picture 2.
Then play the shot the same way as you would normally do, that is aim to hit the sand a couple of inches behind the ball with a high degree of acceleration and attempt to follow through. I say attempt to follow through simply because in this situation, the bank of the bunker will halt your chances of completing that follow through, but that is fine you will still have used sufficient force to carry the sand and thus the ball out of the bunker.
This way works like a geyser, a fountain effect, in that as the force of the clubhead is swung into the sand behind the ball, this pushes the sand that the ball is lying on into the face of the bunker where it has nowhere to go other than upwards, as in a fountain. With sufficient force this “geyser” of sand will shoot the ball up almost vertically causing it hopefully to just pop up out of the bunker. It will not make much progress but it should be enough to get the ball on dry land. The sharp toe end of the sand wedge going into the sand first acts like a knife, allowing more of the energy to be applied to the sand under the golf ball.
In the worst case scenario, at least this will dislodge the ball into a more normal position in the bunker allowing you to play a conventional recovery from there, although I think you will find it will be more effective than you would expect.
Get Your Kids into Golf the Fun Way
By Jon Woodroffe
If you are looking to get your kids started on golf, make sure they have fun. I know this may sound obvious, but as teaching professionals at World of Golf we so often see the parent that is dying to have their son or daughter become their pension fund from golf winnings. They will pass their entire knowledge of the game, gleaned over many years of golf magazine reading, into the first 3 minutes of the child’s golfing career at the golf range. This overload of information causes abject failure, followed by the parent castigating the poor child for their perceived ineptitude, leading to an all round bad first experience which is unlikely to be repeated too soon.
Children learn more visually on the whole and making the learning fun and interactive is crucial to get results. One tip we use is to place a piece of paper on the ground in front of the child’s golf ball with a scary face drawn on it. Then the child is encouraged to hit towards the piece of paper causing them then to create the downward, descending blow that is required for the golf ball to be lifted from the ground with an iron club. This works so much better than just saying “hit down on the ball” or the immortal advice “keep your head down.”
This advice is not only for kids, try it yourself if you are finding you are not striking your irons as crisply as you would like.
At World of Golf we use all the latest junior friendly equipment in our free junior beginners group classes, making it easier for the youngsters to hit the ball and get enthused by the game.
So if you would like your kids to get into golf and have a great deal of fun doing so, then please visit our website for the next dates and times of the free junior beginners group classes, or call your local World of Golf range, or ask at reception when you are next practicing yourself.
Need for speed!!
By Kenny Mckenzie
Every golfer you speak to is looking for more distance in their game. There are many factors which can create more distance in your game, the one all amateurs look at is new clubs and there is no denying correctly fitted golf clubs can give you more distance, the one we forget is our bodies and how it moves.
Can we create more club head speed with the way we move?
The answer is YES, let’s not forget the physics behind Distance=Speed x Time. More club head speed more distance, as I said there are other factors which can affect distance.
So how can we get more speed in your golf swing?
Well the research shows that you can increase your club head speed by adding resistance to your training program. To hit the ball further you must build good balance and strength through the legs, torso, core and arms to see improvement.
Strength however is only a foundation; it gives you the ability to create rotational force and acceleration but without flexibility and motor skill development it won’t increase speed.
The basic premise of resistance training is to train your muscles to fire faster but you must maintain flexibility in order to do so. If you just bulk up and don’t maintain flexibility then you will lose displacement between the body segments and will actually create a slower transfer of energy through those segments to the club. This is why a player like Camilo Villegas that lifts heavy weights also undertakes a rigorous flexibility routine after his workout to make sure he not only increases the strength of the muscle but also maintains the length. As a result for someone that is 5ft 9in and 160lbs he averages 293 yards off the tee.
So to increase speed we need to increase strength and maintain or increase flexibility.
There are lots of great exercises that will increase your strength and maintain your flexibility, I like using medicine ball exercises as they do both and adding a balance component, additionally using explosive exercise such as jumping etc.
As you age you should also try things like pilates and yoga, they are excellent for maintaining mobility, flexibility and strength. There are many different forms of Yoga and Pilates, so try some different classes and see what works best for you.
Working with a golf specific fitness coach on the correct areas to increase the speed in your swing will show a direct transfer into your game.
For more information on how to get more speed in your game contact me at [email protected].
Don’t practice those 3ft putts
By Jon Woodroffe
There is certainly a trend towards practicing the dreaded 3ft putts and I am not so sure that is a good thing as I intend to explain in this article.
There are two things that you have to refine about your putting to be successful, the line of the putt and the pace of it. Of the two, most people would agree that the pace is the most important part of this as if you get the pace right and the line wrong you will never be more than 9 or 10ft out, but if you get the pace wrong and the line right you could well be a long way away. So it is with this in mind that I would suggest learning the feel of the pace of the green far outweighs any other point in putting.
So what do we learn by practicing the 3ft putt? Well nothing about the pace of the green as you are extremely unlikely to leave a 3ft putt short or whack it 5ft past. But if you spent the time practicing putts of at least 30ft long, then that will sharpen up your ability to judge distances a treat.
The other aspect of practicing those nasty little tickly 3ft putts is that if you hole it, the reaction is “well, whatever” as you would expect to hole them. However if, as is bound to occur occasionally, you miss one, then the feeling afterwards is one of desolation and anger, not a great state of mind in which to spend the limited amount of time you have spare to practice your golf.
So I would recommend spend your time on the practice putting green trying to hole the longest putts you can. That way you will more quickly develop the feel of the pace of the green which will mean far less 3 putts and thus a reduction to your score, but also from the mental well being point of view, if you miss a 40ft putt while practicing, well you sort of expected to so that is not too disheartening. But if you manage to hole that huge putt, what a boost to your confidence that will be and suddenly practicing becomes a lot more fun.
When does a Putt Break?
By Jon Woodroffe
One of the most common mistakes when reading a green is golfers don’t allow enough break on their putts.
The main reason why this happens is golfers aim at the ‘Apex of the Putt’
The ‘Apex of the Putt’ is a point where the ball seems to start breaking as the ball starts to lose its speed.
What we haven’t taken into account is that if the slope is consistently sloping the same along the whole putt, then the slope will start to move the ball as soon as you hit it, not when it loses it’s power. What will happen when the balls starts losing its power it will break more because gravity will have more control on the ball, so this is why we focus on this point.
Below is a series of pictures showing an 8 foot putt across a 4% slope.
(This putt will break 12″ if the ball has a speed which will make the ball go 1 foot past the hole)
The slope is consistently sloping from right to left illustrated by the 3 planks of wood.
The second picture shows The apex of the putt with the black peg, allowing 6″ of break! but because the slope will start moving the ball to the left as soon as I hit it then the ball will miss on the low side (left) of the hole.
The true aim is aprox double the point of the apex, 12″ of break, illustrated by the orange string.
What will happen to the ball is it will start turning as soon as the ball is struck, turning to the apex and then continuing on to the hole.
By learning what is the ‘True Aim’ of the putt and not the apex then you will increase the chance of holing more putts.
If you would like to learn how to read putts quickly and efficiently, then please book an hour’s lesson with David Young at World of Golf Sidcup on 020 8309 0181
Why be custom fitted
By American Golf
You may believe that custom fitted clubs only benefit the better player; however this is not the case. No matter what size, height or age the correct custom fitted clubs throughout the whole bag can benefit your game and save you shots.
Whether you’re a pro, low handicapper or high handicapper we are all trying to achieve the same thing, hitting the ball out of the middle of the club face and producing consistent shots. To give you the best chance of achieving this, your clubs need to be the correct length, especially with your driver! Generally if a club is too long the strike pattern will tend to be more towards the heel or scattered around the face increasing the chance of catching the ground and the direction of the shot to be more left to right. Opposite to this if a club is too short the strike pattern will tend to be more towards the toe causing more thin shots and the direction of ball to be more right to left.
You may be asking the question, how can the correct length be determined? This is achieved by simply taking your overall height and wrist to floor measurement, which is also known as a static fit. Then using a size chart as a guide, the club fitter can then gauge a club length that could be best suited for you. This is then confirmed by you hitting 4-5 shots with ink tape applied to the clubface which will leave a mark indicating where you are striking the ball.
After the correct length has been determined, we can find the correct lie angle. Lie angle has the most influence on the direction the ball travels. Many golfing magazines state that the cause of shots going left or right is due to the heel or the toe of the club digging into the ground and club twisting around itself, however this is not the case.
This is actually due to what is known as face plane tilt, the direction the club face is pointing due to loft, especially with irons. If the lie angle is 1 degree out, this will cause the direction of the clubface to be offline at impact resulting in the ball travelling up to 5 yards left or right of target! If the lie angle is too upright this will cause the clubface to point to the left and if the lie angle is too flat this will cause the clubface to point to the right.
To measure the lie angle, lie tape is applied to the bottom of the club and you hit 3-4 shots off a lie board. This will leave a mark on the tape indicating where the club is hitting at impact. If the majority of strikes are towards the heel of the club, this indicates the club is too upright and if the majority of strikes are towards the toe, this indicates the club is too flat.
All in all the length and the lie angle are both very important in a custom fit, but need to be determined the right way round, always length first then lie angle. This is because changing the length of the club affects the lie angle, if a club is extended by ½ inch this will make the club 1 degree more upright and vice versa, potentially causing mishits and offline shots.
To get a custom fit, just pop into your local World of Golf range and speak to the highly trained American Golf staff.
Make your practice more fun
By Jon Woodroffe
I think as a child I would have been diagnosed with A.D.D. (attention deficit disorder) with regard to my golf practice, I just found it very dull trying to hit the golf ball the same all the time, apart from the fact that I also did not have the ability to hit the ball anything like the same every time. So I used to find my mind wandering off and thinking things like, I wonder how I would hit the golf ball round a tree, or under an overhanging branch, and then I would have a game with myself trying to achieve the goal I had set myself. I guess the education people would say that I engaged in experiential learning, to me it was just saving me from getting bored. But in hindsight this was a great way to make the time I spent practicing both more enjoyable and also more useful for playing golf in the real world. Unless you are super talented and never hit your golf ball in a position where you need to bend it back into play or escape from a dilemma, I think learning how to fade and draw the ball or hit a high or low shot is a must to get better scores.
When you are next at World of Golf, start your practice by hitting a few short irons to get your swing warmed up, then a few longer irons until you feel you are in the groove so to speak. Then picture out on the ball landing area a scenario where you need to shape the ball from right to left, a draw around a tree. The technique is simpler than you might think; this is best done with a 5 or 6 iron. Aim your feet, shoulders hips and mind in the direction you wish the ball to start and aim the clubface where you want the ball to finish, and then swing the golf club along the line that your body is aiming. Picture how a footballer would bend a ball round the wall at a free kick, try it, you have nothing to lose, not even the ball, it is one of ours!!!
Then try the fade, and again the process is the same, aim your feet hips shoulders and mind where you want the ball to start and the clubface where you want the ball to finish and then swing the golf club in the direction your body is aiming, this time this is best done with a long iron or a wood, particularly the driver. Again, nothing to lose, just imagine the flight that you need the golf ball to go in and let your body respond to this vision, you may well surprise yourself with your ability to achieve these shots. If you normally slice or hook, you will obviously find it easier to do the one you normally do by accident, but try hard to practice the other shape, you will be amazed at how it helps you to feel how to hit a straight shot, try it and make your practice at World of Golf both more enjoyable and effective for your golf game.
How to get out of the Rough
My first point with this article would be, come to one of our PGA qualified golf professionals and get some lessons so that your golf ball does not miss the fairway as often, they will be able with a slight tweak here and there to make you find more short grass than ever before.
But if you do have a bad day and end up in trouble, here are a few pointers you need to remember to get yourself back into play as quickly and painlessly as possible. At this time of the year the grass will be starting to grow like wildfire, and much though the greenkeepers will be working like mad, they will struggle to keep pace with it, so the rough becomes lusher and thus tougher than ever.
First generalisation I would go for is the longer the grass you are in the more lofted the club you should use. So if you are in light rough and think that you can get your rescue club on it, then go for it, but remember we have all done the hole where you end up hopping up the whole length of the hole in the rough, going from one bad lie to the next without ever getting free. Don’t be greedy, take your medicine and use enough loft on the club, sure you sacrifice some yards, but you will get out quicker.
Then there is the angle that you come out at. Again, this depends on each circumstance, but if you have 150 yards of rough to clear to get to the green from an appalling lie, you will inevitably be hopping your way up the rough to the green in a lot of shots. If the lie is terrible, there is no ignominy in hitting sideways back onto the fairway, but preferably try to find an angle that will allow you to get back on the fairway without having to make a career defining quality connection and shot.
Then there is the shot itself. Firstly, when you have found the ball, be careful that while addressing the ball you do not clumsily place the club behind the ball and disturb the grass that the ball is lying on as if you move the ball by accident, even just half an inch that will count as a shot. Your opponent may be 50 yards away on the other side of the fairway and you have moved your ball one inch, but it is down to your integrity whether you admit to that. Also be aware that you may remove from around the ball any material that is dead and now unattached to the ground, although by moving this if you move the ball in the process, that will be a penalty shot, so the touch of a surgeon may be required, anything alive and attached has got to stay that way.
Finally there is the technique to this shot. Position the ball in the middle of your feet, lean your weight substantially onto your front foot. During the swing make sure you do not move your weight at all and in fact try not to move other than swinging your arms and the club. This will cause a very steep angle of takeaway and lead to a very steep angle of attack on the ball. This steepness will allow the club to have the minimum amount of tangling with the grass between clubhead and ball prior to impact. If your clubhead catches the grass a lot before it makes contact with the ball then this will slow the speed of the club head and thus reduce the amount of power applied to the golf ball and thus reduce the chance of the ball coming flying out of the rough.
By virtue of the steepness of the angle of attack of the clubhead into the back of the golf ball there is likely to be little or no follow through as you will have to have removed half the Earth’s core to get to follow through. So when you start the swing remember to grip the club tighter than usual as the grass will try it’s best to rip the club out of your hands.
So all in all try to avoid the rough, let our professionals show you how, but in the event of a freak wind or a bad bounce, this should help you get out of the rough.
Stop Shorties – where average can be exceptional
If you are like most amateur golfers 80% of your shots will be on the front of the green or short of the green. WHY?
We think the main trouble around the green is over the green, when actually golf courses are designed with most of the trouble at the front of the green.
Old thinking has created 2 problems, the first is that the trouble is over the green so we can’t go past the hole and the second is that we should be playing our best shot to reach the hole.
New Golf Thinking encourages you to change this thinking.
Let’s create a regular situation in a game where the green is 30 yards in length and the flag is positioned in the centre of the green.
Old Thinking: Your best shot is next to the hole, your average shot is at the front of the green and your worst shot will be in trouble.
New Thinking: Your best shot is at the back of the green, your average is next to the hole and your worst shot will be at the front of the green.
By playing golf this way you increase the chance of hitting the green and helping you improve your score.
Where Average can be Exceptional.
The next New Golf Thinking Workshop with David Young, Advanced Member of the PGA, New Golf Thinking and Mind Factor Coach is on Thursday 13th and 20th February at the World of Golf, Sidcup.
Please contact David on [email protected] or contact the reception at Sidcup on 020 83090181 to book your place.
Jon Woodroffe – Playing in Wet Sand
At this time of year the bunkers will be wet and thus the sand takes on the same consistency as concrete. Compacted sand makes an already difficult shot that much harder, but a couple of small adjustments in style and club selection can help.
Firstly let’s look at the club selerction. You would normally attack a green side bunker shot with your sand wedge, a club that probably has a large bounce angle which is perfect for when the sand is soft and fluffy and deep, everything it isn’t at the moment. The bounce on this club will cause it to do exactly what it says on the tin and the club will bounce off the hard surface and hit the golf ball right in the belly, causing it to fly 4 feet off the floor like an exocet missile, across the green and if you are lucky into the bunker the other side of the green or alternatively into oblivion behind the green. Instead I would suggest you go for a pitching wedge, or even better if you have one, a lob wedge with a low bounce. The sharper edge of these clubs will dig into the wet sand and allow the clubhead to pass through giving the correct contact.
Style wise, I would recommend you play the ball more towards the middle of your feet in the stance and have your weight leaning less onto your front foot. Normally I am a huge fan of playing greenside bunker shots off your front foot with your weight heavily leaning to that foot as well, but as we want to hit less sand this time, a more central ball position works better. I would also try squaring the clubface up rather than the normal open face; again this will allow the front edge of the club to dig into the sand, normally the worst thing for a greenside bunker shot when the sand is soft.
My final advice with this treacherous shot is be aware that normally on this shot you try to hit very hard as there is to be no contact between clubhead and ball, and the harder you swing this allows the sand to be dislodged easier, but this time we are not looking to move a ton of sand. There will be a much closer impact to the ball although I must stress again we are not attempting to make contact with the ball. So a slightly shorter and less powerful swing would be a good idea, the sand is not going to dissipate the power as readily as normal, so if you don’t want to see the end of your Titleist disappearing into the undergrowth, take it easy.
I hope you find these tips help you approach a tricky shot with more confidence and do also bear in mind that these points will work if you are in a bunker in the middle of summer that has no sand in it, I know that should never happen but sadly it does all too often.
Fit for Golf
If we look at all the ways to improve your golf and lower your score, an area that is often overlooked for many reasons is the fitness and flexibility element.
At World of Golf Glasgow we have First Tee Fitness who are based at the far end of the golf range and have been offering fitness and resistance training programmes for our customers for several months now and they can boast some amazing results.
Golf is often thought of as a very slow sport, not as athletic as many others, but here are a few facts for you. A top golfer will generate around 120 mph of clubhead speed in 0.2 seconds, causing 900kg of force to be applied to the golf ball. This takes its toll on the body. A compression force of over 8 times body weight is transferred through the spine just before the point of impact with many more sheer and compression forces being exerted all over the rest of the body. It is no surprise then that coupled with poor swing mechanics, many golfers suffer injuries, the most common being the lower back, in fact 31% are here. The left wrist accounts for 27% of injuries and the elbow 23% with knees, ankles and shoulders making up a further 19%.
So fitness training for golf can both improve your performance and reduce dramatically your susceptibility to injury. Using this training you will be able to improve your flexibility, stability and strength. It will make it much easier for you to be able to get into the positions that your golf coach may well have been trying to get you into to improve your swing but you may have found difficult to achieve.
Fitness and resistance training in golf is a fairly new concept as it was generally assumed that it didn’t have a place within the sport and that the application of this type of training may hinder performance and reduce the range of motion of a player. In the last 10 years it has become a vital component in the modern game with the impact of Tiger Woods and many of the other top tour professionals taking advantage of the developments and improvements in sports science, so golf is at last catching up with many other high impact sports where the benefits of this training have been known and acknowledged for a long time. Surely if this is good enough for the tour professionals it is good enough for you.
If you are near the World of Golf Glasgow site, come along and speak to either Kenny or Ali at First Tee Fitness or e mail them on [email protected] or if you are a customer of our London sites then contact your World of Golf teaching professional team as they will have links with local sports science practioners who will be able to help.
Jon Woodroffe – Waterproof Clothing
Autumn is now in full swing and as they say, “There is no such thing as bad weather, just insufficient clothing”, so with that in mind, let’s have a look at the waterproofs you can get these days. There is a huge choice on the market, but I have chosen to highlight just a couple of them for you. Many would say the best brands are Galvin Green and the recently released Nike Hyperadapt Storm Fit.
The Galvin Green suits are made from Gore-Tex fabric which is a membrane that has pores in it that are 700 times larger than a body sweat molecule, but 20,000 times smaller than a water droplet. Thus, the material allows you to stay cool, not get sweaty and yet is completely waterproof; so much so that they come with a lifetime guarantee. The material is also windproof and as the Galvin Green suits are made of 3 ply Gore-Tex they are very durable and resistant to abrasion, again meaning that they will last a lifetime of use on the golf course.
The new Nike Hyperadapt Storm fit jacket is a new addition to the waterproof market and they have consulted their tour players in the design of this garment to a very great degree. This has produced waterproofs that not only do what they say on the tin with regard to keeping water out, but they have a sweater like feel due to the flexibility of the 4 panels that are woven together to make the jacket. This stretchy feel to the fabric means that you can swing the golf club with the same unhindered motion as you would do if you were wearing a sweater; often waterproofs tend to feel like a straight jacket, restricting your movement.
So with jackets costing upwards of £300 and suits being nearly £500, waterproofs are not cheap these days, but you do truly get what you pay for with the lifetime guarantees that the manufacturers give due to the confidence in their products, this must be seen as an investment. Our winters (and some would say summers as well) are tending to get warmer and wetter, so if you plan to be an all year round golfer, then it is time to bite the bullet and get a set of waterproofs that will truly keep you cool and dry on the golf course, no matter what conditions are thrown at you.
Brian Lee – Putters
Drive for show and putt for dough they say and for us professionals that is quite true, and I must say that my putting is an ok part of my game, certainly not my main strength, but also not an area I am unduly worried about. When I was playing a lot of tournament golf my putting was better, but nowadays I do not get so much time to practice, much like most of my customers, hence I am not as sharp as I was.
I previously was sponsored by Cleveland and used one of their putters, a 32 inch but now I have moved to the standard 35 inch Odyssey White Hot Xg Rossie putter. I feel more comfortable over the ball with the longer putter now and I like the larger target lines of the head, I find it easier to line the face up to target and it sits lovely and flat so that my eyes are directly over the ball.
I guess I average about 29 to 30 putts a round, not up to the PGA Tour standard of 26 to 27 putts, but still quite acceptable for the amount of time I get to play and practice.
To my lesson customers I would say when looking for a putter, obviously try them out, try plenty of them out, this club will get used more than any other in your bag and using it well will reduce your handicap quicker than any other adjustment you could make so take your time and be sure. You want it to look good, it needs to sit flat and be easy to align to the target so you can concentrate on your putting stroke and the line of the putt you are about to hit, not be fiddling around to get comfortable over the ball, and be sure that the length of the putter allows you to have your arms hanging at address and your eyes over the ball, other than that, the choice is down to you.
Stuart Smith – Irons
My current set are the Taylor Made RAC muscle back irons with Dynamic Gold S300 shafts and it is safe to say they are not for the feint hearted as the blade like design makes them a fairly unforgiving club to use. This is particularly true in the long irons, but when I was playing a lot and was a little more confident about finding the centre of the clubhead, the feeling of the impact was delightful and the power off the face was impressive.
For my customers I am aware that the sticks they are wielding can have a profound effect on their ability to achieve what I am trying to get from their game so it something I am always happy to advise them on, but the address position and swing that they have is far more important to their success than a shiny new set of irons.
One strong piece of advice I always offer is for a customer not to buy a new set of irons when they are starting a course of lessons as they may get clubs that suit their current address position and swing. After a few lessons and improvements made to their set up and swing then the clubs may not be as good for them as they thought, so I suggest they leave that until the changes are worked into their game.
The importance of getting the clubs custom fitted cannot be stressed enough, and just because you are tall doesn’t mean that you automatically need longer clubs. The best advice is when the swing and address position have been improved by myself or one of my World of Golf colleagues, then either get us, or the trained American Golf staff to measure you up for the correct lie and length of clubs that suit you. Also the size of your hands should have a bearing on the grip size you have fitted and your swing speed will be a major factor in the shaft flex you need. All these points are measured and the adjustments are made free of charge to the chosen set of clubs, so by doing this you will know that you have the best possible equipment to help you play better golf and have more fun.
As I don’t play that much these days I think my next set of irons will be something with a greater level of forgiveness in the head design, I quite like the look of the Taylor Made RocketBladeZ Tour and the new Ping i25 can’t be ruled out.
As part of the holistic approach to improving your golf game I would be delighted to give you impartial advice on your golf clubs as well as your golf swing, so to book a lesson with me please contact World of Golf.
Choose the right ball!
One of the best advances in golf equipment over the last few years has been with the golf ball, they now fly further and straighter than ever before, but the array of choice we are faced with is mind blowing. I use the Srixon Z Star, mainly because it performs like the Titleist Pro V1, but doesn’t cost so much. But what golf ball should you use. Fundamentally there are 2 choices in what you want the golf ball to do, either go a long way or stop quickly on the green, so it depends where your golf game is at, in other words if you are fairly new to golf then you probably don’t want the ball to stop you would rather it went a little bit further, whereas the lower handicap golfer is not so concerned about length, but requires the ball to stop on the green when it lands there.
Basically the 2 piece ball is the long distance one, this is made up of a hard core and a durable cover, this tends not to spin so much so less backspin when landing on the green but also less sidespin on an errant shot, while the multi-layer balls offer more backspin but also more sidespin, so really you pay your money you makes your choice on what your game needs.
Another factor of the ball is the compression or hardness of the core of the ball and again it is related to your golf game, in this case how hard you hit the ball. In essence the harder you hit the ball the harder the core will suit because when you hit the ball the core compresses onto the clubface and springs the ball off and if you have a low swing speed and a hard core you will not generate sufficient compression of the ball and will lose distance.
So there is more to the humble golf ball than you might think, the best way to know what golf ball to play with is to either ask one of our American Golf colleagues, or if you are having lessons with one of the World of Golf teaching professionals, even better, as they will know your game and will know what is best suited to you.
Do you have the correct driver?
I don’t get as much time to play nowadays as I did when I was a junior member of Pedham Place Golf Club, but still my favourite weapon is my driver. Currently I have a Cleveland 8.5 degree with an X shaft. The head is 400cc which is a little smaller than the maximum 460cc monsters available these days, but I find this gives me more feel off the clubhead. The loft is very strong and I believe is about as low as you can get, but my swing is such that I have a very shallow angle of attack on my drives and hit the ball very much on the up and this gives me too high a launch angle so the 8.5 degree loft compensates for that and gives me a lower flight and more distance. The X shaft flex is really a little too stiff for my swing speed, I actually lose about 15 yards because of it, but I find that is offset by a considerable gain in control and accuracy.
I love my driver, even though the components of it are designed to make the game a little harder to play, it is certainly not a game improvement club and I would certainly not recommend most of my lesson clients use one like it. The sort of driver that would be more appropriate would be a 460cc head that will forgive most mis hits that your average golfer will throw at it. As for the loft that would suit you, look at your ball flight, if you have what we call a “Rainbow” flight to your drives, then go for a driver with a lower loft, however if your ball flight is the “Airplane” flight you would be better suited to a higher lofted club, this will get you the optimum launch angle for your game. Finally the shaft flex, my advice is use the most flexible shaft you dare without losing control.
I am currently toying with the idea of investing in a new big stick, and the Nike Covert is the one I have my eye on, but for most golfers I would suggest the best driver for game improvement would be the Callaway Razr, and the best value for money driver is the Wilson Deep Red.
To find out what driver will help you improve your tee shots, either book a golf lesson with me Chris Bonner, here at World of Golf Sidcup, or book a fitting session at any of the American Golf superstores at the World of Golf ranges.
Hybrid Golf Clubs
For my golf, the best innovation in equipment over the last few years has definitely been the hybrid irons. I guess like everyone I have always found the long irons the hardest to consistently strike so with the advent of these new weapons I tried them and now swear by them. The lack of loft of the 3 iron is not a problem if you practice 8 hours a day, but like most people I don’t get the chance to work that hard at my game, so nowadays I like to make the game as easy as possible, so I have 2 hybrid irons, both Callaway and the lofts are 19 and 23 degrees, thus replacing my 3 and 4 iron. The design means that the weight distribution in the head of the hybrid is at the back and at the bottom of the head thus making it easier to get the weight below the ball at impact which will get greater elevation on your fairway shots. The hybrid shape is generally only found in the long irons because you don’t need the help to get the ball airborne so much with 6 irons and above.
The hybrid irons come in various lofts, generally starting around 17 degrees for a 2 iron going up to 27 degrees, so I would recommend if you have the old style long irons, pop into the American Golf store next time you are at your nearest World of Golf range and ask the guys there for advice on what lofts would help your game and go and try a couple of makes out on the golf range, I love my Callaway’s but all the top brands do excellent hybrid irons, I hope it improves your golf game this summer.
Hot tip from our Teaching Professional
The short game is where most amateur golfers could seriously improve their scores, rather than trying to get the next biggest booming driver in their bag, if they paid a bit more attention to the other end of the golf hole they would benefit greatly.
In your average set of game improvement irons you will have a pitching wedge and a sand wedge, generally 47 and 55 degrees respectively, which leaves quite a large gap in between. They are often very cumbersome looking weapons that are not best designed for the subtleties of the shots you are required to play around the greens and that is why I would recommend you choose wedges suitable for the role you wish them to play.
My favourites are the Vokey wedges although Cleveland are also very good as are the Mizuno wedges, but the Titleist Vokey’s have been the wedge of choice for many years now of the more discerning golfers including major champions.
I have a 52 degree with a 6 degree bounce angle and a 56 degree wedge with a 10 degree bounce. The idea is that the 52 degree with the low bounce angle is ideal for me to play pitch shots, particularly from tight lies and bunkers with firmer sand. The 56 degree I tend to use more from bunkers with soft sand and pitching from lush grass. Having this distinct difference in my wedges means I feel more confident that I can execute a shot well as I have the appropriate club for the job in hand. I and all my World of Golf teaching professional colleagues are ideally placed to advise you on what loft and bounce angle you should have in your wedges to make the most of your golf game, please just ask.
What is the best putter?
What is the best putter, a question we always get and I reply “if there was a bad one who would buy it” they are all good if they suit your style..
There are 4 main things to decide on when choosing a putter Length, head design, grip and insert the standard length of putters is 34 inch but the tendency nowadays is for people to use shorter putters, this allows you to get your eyes directly over the golf ball at address which is an important part of consistent putting
The head design can be chosen to help your putting stroke. If you have a straight swing then a face balanced putter head works better whereas if you have an “in to in” swing then a toe balanced putter is advised.
The grip thickness is largely for comfort but also if you have a tendency to use your wrists too much in the putting stroke then try a much thicker grip on your putter. Finally the insert in the putter face has an effect on the feel of the shot but also the speed that the ball will come off the putter face, on slow British winter greens a harder insert material would be wise, but on fast summer or continental greens a softer insert material will stop the ball flying off the putter face.
So there is a lot more to choosing the correct putter than just one that looks nice, and remember this is a club that you will use on every hole, virtually, and will certainly use a lot more often than any other so investing some time and money into it could reap great rewards. I would recommend you ask your World of Golf PGA qualified professional or American Golf expert to look at your putting style and advise you on what would be the best putter for you.
Take your medicine
As the spring approaches and the grass starts growing, so will the rough and the bushes and in the event of a freak wind or a bad bounce and your golf ball ends up in the jungle, then I would always advise “Discretion is the better part of valour”.
It amuses me that when a player has missed a gap 50 yards wide called the fairway and yet they believe themselves able to thread their golf ball through a gap 6 inches wide to find their way back as in picture 1. This will not work more than once in a thousand attempts and yet the rate of attempting this miraculous recovery is certainly greater than that figure.
One classic error I see is due to the restricted backswing scenario as in picture 2. What so often happens is that on checking how long a backswing the player is able to make they find it is restricted, now this should immediately lower the expectations of how far the next shot can go. Accordingly the club selection may as well be to a shorter club, and the acceptance should be made that a “shot back into play” is the best option, but yet so often instead the player makes the swing back with too straight a faced club, reaches the point of the restricted backswing, pauses to steel themselves for the oncoming assault on the ball which also serves to tense their muscles rendering them even less effective, and then an all-out lunge is made at the golf ball, culminating in either the ground going further than the ball, or even more embarrassing, no contact made whatsoever and the player is (red)faced with the same situation but with one more stroke added to their score.
I guess we have all made that mistake and I think you probably have to make mistakes to learn for them, but if you take my advice from many years of watching golfers in their natural habitat of the rough, take your medicine and just get back on the short grass and leave the miraculous recovery shots to the Bubba Watson’s of this world.
Making the most of tee shots
Whether you tee off with your driver or your 3 wood should be a decision made based on facts, experience and likelihood of success, take the macho out of it.
One great, long, accurate drive per round feels great but is little return if the other 12 tee shots are off into the bushes. Consistency is far more important, and while the ground is so wet at the moment, the higher ball flight attained by the 3 wood over the driver may well mean that the 3 wood actually goes further as it does not rely on the roll on the floor that the driver does.
So I would recommend getting to your local World of Golf driving range and taking some lessons from our PGA qualified teaching professionals with your wayward driver so that come the spring/summer season with drier fairways you can make the most of your tee shots with the big club.
The figure I believe is 85% of golfers slice, and I believe that the main reason for this is the very first thing that the golfer does, which is put their left hand (for right handed golfers) on the grip of the golf club. They end up with a short left thumb. Now I don’t mean that there is something anatomically wrong with their thumb, just that the position of it is as in picture one, where the thumb is extended well below the level of the other fingers. In this situation, on opening the hand we see that the golf club is now straight across the base of the fingers of the left hand. This puts the arm in a position that will not allow the forearm to roll over through the impact of the shot, thus the clubface strikes the ball facing to the right, or as we call it, open at impact, thus the ball slices to the right.
The remedy is to lay the golf club diagonally across the fingers of the left hand, as in picture 2, from the base of the little finger to the tip joint of the index finger, then wrap the left hand over the grip of the golf club. Then you will see that your left thumb is now much shorter, level with the knuckle of the index finger as in picture 3, now the forearm will rotate naturally, at 70 miles per hour in a 20th of a second, far too quick to be aware, and thus the club strikes the ball facing the target, automatically leading to straighter shots with all your golf clubs, even the dreaded driver, try it, you will love the result.
Start the New Year by finding the short grass on the golf course more frequently, you will have a lot more fun and need to buy a far fewer golf balls.
It is essential when playing these shots to create a descending blow into the sand just behind the ball and the best way to guarantee this is to lift your right foot up and point the toes into the sand as in picture 2. Now your weight is going to stay firmly on the front foot leading to a descending blow into the sand and as long as you remember to follow through, extrication from the bunker.
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