30 May 2010

    Advice from Nicklaus - approaching greens

    Taken from "The best of Nicklaus' golf (1992)" here are some points worth discussing.

    Lesson 50 Principles of position Play
    -"when you pass a hole you'll be playing later do you note the pin position? I'd bet that not 5 in a hundred weekend golfers do it habitually"
    -"there is an ideal route for playing every hole of golf"
    -"go to the movies"

    Lesson 51 Iron shot strategy
    -"always and I mean always tee the ball up on par-3 holes"

    Lesson 52 Distance factors in approaching
    -"On all approach shots I take a club that I believe will get me up, even if I miss it slightly"
    -"trouble behind greens is frequently less severe than hazards in front"

    Lesson 53 When to gamble on approach shots
    -""working in from the middle.""
    -"by aiming say 20 feet to the left or right of the pin and trying to fade or draw the ball in toward it, I give myself a much greater margin for error. Now I can miss the shot by 40 feet and still keep the ball within 20 feet of the hole."

    I doubt these points will have been raised with McIlroy but definitely most of them I rarely see my playing partners doing in Club golf.

    My routine is:
    1. Think about the approach before the previous shot.
    2. Work out the distance to the front, middle, and back of the green.
    3. Consider the best side to miss the green. (not that I usually do)
    4. Consider the behaviour of the ball on the green.
    5. Check the lie of the ball (tight,rough, divot, downslope etc.)
    6. Check the wind (grass, tree tops, flag)
    7. Pick a spot that will leave an uphill putt if possible.
    8. Once decided on the yardage and effect of the wind I pick the appropriate club and programme the swing length with a few practice swings.
    9. Choose a shot shape into the green depending on the pin position.
    10. "Go to the movies"
    11. Set up for the shot shape.
    12. Hit the ball.
    13. Watch the ball land and stop near the flag.

    27 May 2010

    How to read putts

    Reading putts is like 'touch' in that it can't be taught but it can be learnt.

    Everyone's reading of a putt will be different, because everyone has a different putting stroke. I hit my putts with a bit of a hook (must be my only similarity with POD) and I've seen a lot of golfers who putt with a cut stroke - so for myself and someone with a putt stroke the reading of the same putt could be different by the width of the hole quite comfortably, but we may well both hole it.

    In the same way, a putt for me that has break will tend to have 'full' break as I aim to be as close to dead weight as I can be with any putt over 5 or 6 feet. People who hammer each and every putt at the hole will have real problems if they putt on those lines.

    You'll be able to find plenty of websites, books or magazine articles that promise to tell you how to read putts, but the only answer is to really try to reason why you think what you think (what factors are at play or is it genuinely just a gut feeling) and then be honest with the results - did it miss due to a bad stroke or due to a bad read, etc.

    10 May 2010

    Learn from the best

    You'll probably be pleased to hear that one of the most effective ways to improve is simply by watching the top players in the world on television. By scrutinising the technique of Tiger Woods or Ernie Els, you will see just how a good swing should look.

    The top pros all have a perfect posture, and they remain well balanced throughout the swing. By having a picture of their technique in your mind when you swing, your own mechanics are likely to improve without having to work too hard on the range.

    It is also worth watching how such top players prepare to play. The majority of them have a pre-shot routine to help focus on the situation at hand. Again, if you copy one particular pre-shot routine that you like, you are likely to become a better player.

    Good luck, and here's an excellent Tiger Woods swing video to get you started.

    3 May 2010

    Get lessons to get ahead

    To make a lasting improvement to your swing, it's really important to take regular lessons with a qualified pro - and a good one at that.

    They will be able to assess your game in the cold light of day, hopefully using the latest gadgets to tell you swing plane stats and how the ball is coming off the clubface. But most importantly, they'll simply take a look at your swing and be able to give you some good advice because they've seen it all before.

    If you are serious about shooting low scores and you're not a child prodigy, your only real option is to get lessons from someone who knows what they're doing. It will be worth the money and it most certainly will be worth the time.

    Regular lessons over the course of months or years will help you and your chosen pro get to know your strengths, weaknesses and things you need to work on to break into the low numbers.

    Golf is only fun when you're winning, right?