Saturday, August 4, 2007

Lies and Your Swing

Your lie influences your club selection, how you set up to the ball and the kind of shot you play. Many golfers underestimate its importance. Pictured above are two lies in the rough--one fairly clean and one half-buried. How would you handle these two lies?
The cleaner lie on the left should be similar to a fairway shot, because grass will not get caught between the clubface and ball at impact. I would play it normally.
But with the partially buried lie, grass will get between the clubface and the ball at impact. The ball will come out with less backspin, causing a "flyer" A flyer generally will carry and roll farther than a shot from a clean lie.
There are two ways to play the shot from a flyer lie. The easiest way is to use one less club--say, a wedge instead of a 9-iron. The other way is to aim slightly left, open the clubface a bit, and stand a little closer to the ball. The open face allows the club to cut through the grass. Standing closer leads to a more upright swing and a more descending blow. The ball should fly higher and shorter because of the added loft on the clubface, but roll more thanks to less spin. Figuring the distance from any flyer lie is always guesswork.
Moral to this story: Keep your ball in the fairway and you'll be able to avoid the guesswork.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


Pitch Perfectly

By Scott Schneider, PGA

Of course, only dedicated practice can help you become a better short-game player, but if you master the key elements of pitching and chipping, you’ll discover an immediate improvement in your scores.

One element is to address the golf ball with a slightly open stance in relation to your intended target line and position the golf ball off of your front heel. Keep your weight on your heels for balance and your hands even with the ball (no need to forward-press). The takeaway should be in one piece, with the shoulders, arms, hands and clubhead moving together for the first 18 inches of the backswing. Your wrists should hinge soon after this point.

During the downswing, it’s essential that you move your back knee toward the front knee as you transfer your weight to the right side (for right-handed golfers). At impact, your weight should be distributed evenly to both sides. The mental image of two cymbals placed on the inside of both knees clanging at the point of contact is one that helps many of my students attain a solid pitch impact position.

Another element to a successful pitch is distance control. The length of the swing determines the distance (longer backswings for longer pitches and shorter backswing for shorter pitches). Avoid making a long backswing for a short pitch, this will cause you to decelerate on the downswing. Instead, take a shot. Many students ask how to spin the golf ball when pitching. As mentioned before, by taking a shorter backswing and then increasing the speed of the trailing hand, along with the movement of the back knee into the shot, more spin will be imparted. A good lie in the fairway will allow for your best chance for spin. With some practice, you’ll learn when you can and can’t execute this type of shot.