Play Better in the Wind
Here are a few things that may help you play better golf in the wind…
- Take More or Less Club… Your normal “150 yard” club probably isn’t going to go that far when hitting into the wind. Use more club and swing easier. Downwind you may hit less club and get the same distance. Because the ball flight will be higher the wind will take it farther..
- Swing Easier… The harder you try and hit the golf ball the more spin you put on it. The more spin the more the wind affects the shot.
- Take a wider stance… The wind can move you around and affect your balance. To counteract that, widen your stance. This lowers your center of gravity and helps to maintain a solid base into the ground.
- Shorten your stroke… The longer your backswing the more chance you have of over swinging and having balance problems during the full swing. By keeping the backstroke shorter on putts you’ll have more control.
- Let the golf ball “ride the wind”… This one is a source of controversy. Some players like to try and “work” the ball into the wind, which straightens out the flight. But almost all great wind players let the ball ride the wind. If it’s blowing right to left then they will hit a shot that goes in the direction of the wind.
Note: You may notice that European Tour players use a much wider stance for putting then do their US counterparts. This wider stance helps make the players foundation much more solid since the Europeans usually play, more often than not, in windy conditions.
The next time you’re playing in windy conditions use these tips and have a more successful round.
Wayne A. Oien, PGA
Never Be Afraid of a Chip Shot Again!
A lot of players are scared to death of chipping. They have experienced the full gamut of frustration…
Sculling the ball over the green to taking out a chunk of sod that goes farther than the ball!
The good news is with the proper technique you can become a chipping master!
Here is how…
When you chip you do not want hand or wrist action, you want your weight forward and you want to make a descending blow…
- To help eliminate any wrist or hand movement keep the left arm and club shaft in one straight line from the forward shoulder down to the club head.
- You facilitate the descending blow by placing the ball location off the back foot instep. Keep your shoulders square to the target line, then narrow your stance and pull your forward foot back to give the visual of an open stance. Keep your head in the middle of your stance! This will place the head in front of the golf ball. Then lean your body and club shaft toward the target until you have 80 percent of your weight over your forward leg. By leaning the weight forward you sharpen the angle of attack and make it almost impossible to hit the chip fat or thin!
- Now, add your right hand and use any style of grip that is comfortable; overlapping, interlocking, ten finger, or reverse overlap. Once the grip is completed you are ready to start the stroke…You make the correct stroke by simply moving the club back with the arms and shoulders until the butt end of the club reaches the desired length of back swing to obtain the correct distance. (if you use a pitching wedge it should feel as if you are tossing the ball to the hole) Do not shift your weight – the weight stays forward. From there bring the hands and club forward into impact by using the arms and shoulders again. Maintain the straight line you created with the forward arm and the club shaft… no additional usage of hands!
- After impact keep rotating your lower body slightly and keep the club head behind and below the hands with an abbreviated follow-through.
Use this procedure and you will lose all fear of chipping. Who knows, you may even chip a few in the hole!
Wayne A. Oien, PGA
Putting Basics… Left… Left… Left
- Left #1… Ball positioned off of left instep to create more over-spin.
- Left #2… Left eye over ball… Feet, Shoulders, Eyes (Optics) all parallel to the target line.
- Left #3… Control the putting stroke motion with the left shoulder and arm.
Alignment & Stroke…
- Alignment… Feet Aligned 6-8 inches left of your intended target line.
- The Stroke… Follow through equal distance to backswing.
- Tempo of Stroke should remain constant for all putts… Distance is controlled by the Length of the Stroke.
Wayne Oien, PGA
Ball Position: When swinging a club, the lowest point normally falls right in the middle of your center of gravity. Since you want to make sure you hit the ball on the way down and before you hit the turf, this means you should move the ball slightly behind center at address. I recommend two inches behind your center. Keep this ball location consistent. Moving it further back or forward will change your club angle at impact.
Hand Position: Your hands need to be in the same place at address for every chip shot you make. You want your hands slightly in front of the ball.
Weight Balance: In keeping with the theme of hitting the ball first you need to make sure more of your weight remains on the front foot rather than the back, around 60%.
Clubface Alignment: The back of your left hand should face the target. The back of the left hand controls the club face alignment throughout the chip so keep it facing the target on the follow-through.
Body Alignment: Line up your feet and shoulders so they are square to a line which is 2-3feet left of the direction you want the ball to go. (Open stance)
Distance Control: Using a pitching wedge, make your swing feel like you are tossing the ball underhand to the spot where you want the ball to land. Using a 7-iron, pretend you are putting to the hole.
Wayne Oien, PGA
Help With the Long Irons and Woods
For women and probably for the majority of high-handicappers, the long clubs are the most difficult clubs to hit. A lot of people lack confidence with the driver and fairway clubs. They are more difficult to hit because they have less loft. They slice more often than not. Here’s some tips on how to hit them more solid…
- Learn the difference between hitting an iron/hybrid and fairway wood/driver.
- When you hit an iron/hybrid, you want to have a steeper angle of attack to get the ball up in the air. Play the ball position about three inches inside of your front instep.
- When you use a driver/fairway wood you want to sweep the ball, not hit down. Ball position is critical. Play the ball opposite your front foot instep which will encourage a sweeping blow. Since you play the ball more forward in your stance your back shoulder and hip will be lower at address. This tilt is critical for you to sweep the ball.
- To hit successful long irons and woods, it is important to feel as if you are creating a longer and more fluid swing rather than swinging harder. It is the club that makes the ball go further, not you. So, do not fall into the trap of swinging harder just because you have a driver in your hand!
- Consider using a 3-metal off the tee instead. The 3-metal has more loft and it is easier to control than a driver. You will get more distance from a straight ball with a 3-metal than a sliced driver.
- If you top your clubs, you may be losing your spine angle at the top of your swing. To correct this, work on your body motion and keep the same spine angle throughout your swing. Avoid bobbing up and down.
- Do not lift the club up in the air with your arms; On your backswing, try to keep the club head low to the ground at least until it has passed your rear foot.
- At the top of your backswing, make sure you have made a full turn with your shoulders and your weight is predominantly on the inside of your back leg. This will give you better weight shift and more power without swinging harder.
Good Luck with your longer clubs!
Wayne A. Oien, PGA
Ball Position and Weight Distribution Affect Your Ball Flight
Ball position and weight distribution are closely related. The distribution of your weight at address can affect your swing significantly. Because of this, ball position and weight distribution should change to match the shot you are playing.
- With short irons, (7-iron and up) there should be slightly more weight on the lead leg and the ball position is in the middle of your stance.
- With the rest of the irons and fairways woods, the weight distribution is about even.
- When driving, there is slightly more weight on the back leg than the front leg.
In summary then…
Ball position for short irons is just to the right of center for right-handed golfers and just to the left of center for the left-hander golfer. As you progress to longer clubs, move the ball a half of a rotation toward the target. The ball position for the driver will then end up opposite of the front heel. With a driver, the ball should fall underneath your front ear, making your head start behind the ball.
The “slicer” tends to keep too much weight on the front leg at address for all shots, which restricts the shoulder turn and encourages a steep out-to-in swing.
Someone that tends to “hook” the ball too much will have too much weight on the back leg and play the ball too far back in the stance. Adjust your weight distribution to correct your swing flaw.
Wayne A. Oien, PGA
Take Your Range Game to the Course!
A lot of players seem to have trouble taking their “driving range” game to the course. They hit it so pure on the range but yet when the bell rings and they go to the golf course there shot-making skills seem to be non-existent.
Does this sound like you? A perfectly logical, smooth swinger transforms into the “Hulk” and everything that you have been working on to get your game in shape suddenly disappears.
Most players I work with have a range game and an on-course game, but can’t seem to fit them together.
The key is to practice like you play.
If you are quick and aggressive on the course then you need to practice the same way. There is no use practicing something that you’re not going to use and put into play. If you are extremely quick on the course then practice that way and if you are a slow smooth swinger of the club then practice that. Whatever your “style” and tempo, spend time rehearsing them and quit wasting time trying to do something that is different than normal for you.
An example would be a player that is extremely long but wayward. Try as they may, they cannot play well while trying to hit it straight while swinging at a smoother, slower tempo. This usually results in more missed fairways and greens so they try to make up every stroke they have lost when the par-5’s come up. Dual personalities?
Both of these cases are score breakers. Players that hit it far, but not straight, should continue to work on becoming straighter but that doesn’t mean they should gear down to do so. It just means that they need to have a different set of components to match what they are doing.
Do yourself a favor… find a qualified PGA Professional and let him/her help you develop the skill sets you need to hit it straight as well long. Whether you swing like Fred Couples or The HULK the skill sets are the same. Proper set-up, swing plane and balance all relate to solid ball striking… whether you swing hard or Not!
Practice Like You Play!
Wayne A. Oien