Steve North is the Director of Coaching and is responsible for the delivery of the world class coaching at St Andrews Links Golf Academy. Steve is also one of Golf Monthly’s Top 25 Coaches and here are some of his top golfing tips:
What would be your best tip to anyone looking to cure one of the following faults?
Check the grip to ensure that the hands are in a neutral to slightly strong position to ensure that the club can be released correctly through impact. Also practice hitting balls from a side slope where the ball is above the feet to help gain a more in to out path.
Check grip to make sure that the hands are not in a strong position so that the club face can stay netural through the swing. Hold the club a little tighter and then try to clear the body faster through impact so the club does not overtake the hands and shut the club face again.
Lack of power:
A lack of power generally comes from poor weight transfer and incorrect sequencing of the downswing. To gain power, the golfer must start the downswing with a slight shift to their front side and then allow the left hip to turn through as fast as possible. This will then ensure that the thorax, arms and hands activate in the correct sequence and store energy in the club for longer, resulting in greater speed at impact and hence more power.
Start without a golf ball. Begin by making some putting strokes with your eyes closed. Lighten the grip pressure until you can feel the weight of the putter head back and through. On each stroke, hold the finish position for a count of three seconds. This will allow you to feel the putting stroke. If you are on the course focus on a smooth rhythm, do not think technical.
Fat and thin strikes:
First of all check ball position is not too far forward or too far back. For all numbered irons, the ball should be positioned roughly under the left chest (for right handed player).
To help with solid contact, hit balls with feet together to ensure that the sternum is over or slightly in front of the ball. Start with small chipping swing with a 7 iron and work up to three quarter swings. This will stop any excessive lateral movement.
Check weight distribution, making sure your weight is on the balls of your feet. Usually if a player moves forward towards the toes during the swing, the hosel will get closer to the ball, thus causing a shank. To help, hit balls feeling the butt of the club is closer to your body as you go through impact.
Practice putting with only the dominant hand on the putter from long distance to gain better feel and then allow this dominant hand to control the club to help with better distance control as this is usually the main cause of three putts. Also make sure you add mid and long range putting into your practice sessions.
If you could offer one piece of strategic/course management advice, what would it be?
Take more care over shot selection. Far too many golfers take on the “one in one hundred shot”. If in trouble, first try to get the ball back into play and then go about trying to save par/bogey. What I see are players getting into trouble and then putting themselves into even greater trouble by attempting a shot they will hardly ever make.
What advice would you offer a player who is looking to buy new equipment?
Club design is crucial. When buying new clubs, players should first of all seek professional advice on what type of equipment they require and then get fitted properly for that equipment. Golfers are often guilty of buying equipment just because they see tour players using it, instead of using the correct flex and head design which is more suited to their game. With the fitting technology available to customers today, there is no excuse for buying the wrong equipment which could ultimately harm their golf game.
If you could pinpoint one Tour professional that you should study for technical reasons, who would it be and why?
Charles Howell III – Charles is quite a slight build (70kg / 5’11”), but one of the longest hitters on the tour. The reason for this is down the huge amount of lag (angle between the left arm and shaft being maintained long after the transition) that he holds to the very last moment before the release of the clubhead. This release fires the clubhead through impact with amazing speed. This incredible move is coupled with the sequence of the body ensuring that all element are moving at to maximum through the impact zone.