Golf Monthly’s panel of Top 25 Coaches give you some fantastic free golf tips in the magazine every month, covering every aspect of your game. Here are five favourites to take with you into 2012 to get your scores tumbling down.
SHORT GAME – PRESSURE PROOF CHIPPING, Top 25 Coach Steve North
Here’s some free advice if you find your chipping game crumbles under pressure and you are looking for a more structured practice routine.
The ability to play well under pressure should be an integral part of any sport. If you are a regular participant in club competitions, you’ll know what the heat of battle can do to your game. The key to feeling comfortable when the pressure comes is to recreate it in practice. Carefully thought-out practice games are the best way to do this and my favourite is ‘par 18’. The challenge is to give yourself 18 different positions around the green ranging from easy to very hard. You need to get each ball up and down for a par score. Note down your score at the end and use this as the yardstick every time you take on the challenge. Not only will this create pressure, but it will give you a way of measuring your own progression.
DRIVING – CURE YOUR SLICE, Top 25 Coach Paul Foston
It is without question the most common fault in the game – the slice. If you struggle with a slice you are cutting across the ball. Your drives drift from left to right and some drives may go straight left.
Slicing is a problem that plagues many amateurs – but the solution may be more straightforward than you think.
To fix it, try hitting 20 or 30 balls from an upslope, so the ball sits above your feet at address. This has two effects on your swing. Firstly, it will encourage you to release your hands properly through the ball, squaring the face more effectively at impact. Equally as important is the way it forces your swing path to become more rounded.
A more rounded swing will resolve the problem, so try this drill and you should notice an immediate improvement.
LONG GAME – SWEEP FROM THE FAIRWAY, Top 25 Coach Barney Puttick
Many amateurs struggle to hit woods cleanly from the fairway, often catching fairway woods on the heavy side. One of the keys to fairway wood play is to produce a sweeping action that clips the ball off the top of the turf with very little or no divot. A good way to develop an ideal shallow angle of attack on the range is to start the swing with the club a couple of inches behind the ball. Focus on returning the club to this point as you approach the ball on the downswing. Hit a number of shots like this in order to groove the right move that is required to sweep the ball away. When you return to your normal address position, try to create the same angle of attack. This should help you produce a consistently pure strike with your fairway woods.
PUTTING – FIND A SOLID STROKE, Top 25 Coach Paul Ashwell
Most of us have been here at some point. You miss too often from around six feet and your stroke doesn’t feel as solid as it should.
Faced with a perfectly straight six-foot putt – would you hole it? While we all know these putts should be going in more often than not, the reality is that none of us will ever make them 100% of the time. What we can do, however, is work hard to groove a solid stroke that keeps the putter on a good line more consistently. A great way to groove this is to tie a piece of string between two tent pegs, find a perfectly straight putt and fix them into the ground. As you address the ball, the string acts as a very clear visual aid, not only for the line of the putt, but the way the putter should work through the ball. To further refine your focus, place two tees in the ground just ahead of you, just wider than the width of the ball. The combination of the string and the tees will help you groove a much more solid and repetitive stroke. Do this regularly and you’ll start to hole a lot more of those six-footers.
BUNKER PLAY – ONE SIMPLE RULE, Top 25 Coach John Jacobs
You’re not alone if you find yourself hitting bunker shots fat and thin and, as a result, fear playing from the sand. To hit consistent greenside splash shots you need to understand how your wedge is designed to help you in sand. The back of the sole sits closer to the sand than the leading edge. As this part of the club strikes the sand, the wedge ‘bounces’ through impact, blasting the ball out on a cushion of sand. Indeed, it is this movement that allows you to be aggressive with short greenside splash shots without losing control of the ball. You need to hit the sand before the ball. This is why you set the ball forward in your stance at address. Understanding the mechanics of a successful splash shot is the key to escaping sand as consistently as possible.