Learning how to Read Greens
Reading the greens is certainly more of an art form than a science. Here are some of the basic ideas that you can use. 1) You are responsible for hitting the ball forward/straight. The ground will make it break/curve. 2) Look at the overall green. If you poured water on the green which way would it flow? 3) If instead of a putter you had to putt using a small ramp, where would you aim the ramp? This is the line you should aim the putter on and the direction that you should putt the ball. 4) When reading the break you must include the speed as part of your read. 5) Speed is more critical then direction. Use these basic ideas to improve your green reading.
Greenside Bunker Play
Bunker play can be any player’s worst nightmare, if they allow it to be. The first thing when approaching a bunker shot is to not be afraid of the bunker, or else you will surely be taking more then one attempt to get your ball out. It is important to establish good footing before you attempt your shot. Get your feet comfortable in the sand before you hit your shot. After you have your feet set you should take an open stance towards your target, and take a few practice swings, making sure not to hit the sand. Before you hit, pick out a spot about two inches behind the ball, this is where you want to hit when executing the shot. Most importantly be sure to accelerate through the ball and not stop your swing when it hits the sand. Use these few steps and in no time you will no longer fear the bunker.
Eliminate your over the Top
Eliminating an over the top move is as easy as setting up three tees; you just need to know how to set them up. The first tee is placed on the target line and represents where the ball would be. The second tee is placed three club heads behind the ball and on the target line. The third tee is placed 2-3 inches inside the second tee. To use the tees set up to the first tee. As you start the club back swing the head of your club outside the second (i.e. go around the second tee on the outside). On your downswing, swing the club head inside the third tee. Be sure and clip the first tee each time. When you get a feel for it begin placing a ball on the first tee. It shouldn’t take long and you’ll be rid of your over the top move.
Choosing a Putter
There are several factors in choosing a new putter. The first critical choice is whether to choose a face balanced putter. Players who are either trying to swing the putter straight back, straight through or who are trying to straighten out a crooked path should choose a face-balanced putter. To test a putter to see if it is face-balance you simply need to balance the putter on one finger and see if the face points to the sky or if the toe of the putter hangs down towards the ground. If an inside to square to inside stroke is preferred then look for a putter that hangs toe down.
Learning to use bounce
Looking at the sole of the club you will see that it has a dig edge and
a bounce edge. The back edge is the bounce edge and you should learn
to use it to your advantage. Next time you're practicing chipping, drop a
few balls 5-10 yards short of the green. Take a 6 iron and open the
face (add loft). Practice hitting high 6 iron chips to different areas
of the green. Remember high for a 6 iron is much lower than high with
a pitching wedge. Hitting these shots should give you a great feel
for using the bounce and another effective shot to play.
This shot is difficult because there is so much room for error. However, if you follow these basics you will start to see more success. First, when addressing the shot dig your feet into the sand to give yourself a good, firm foundation playing the ball just back of center in your stance. Second, to compensate for digging in, choke down on the club about an inch. Taking an aggressive downward approach to the ball think about looking at the front of the ball. This will allow you to hit the back of the ball before hitting the sand. That is the key to the fairway bunker shot, HITTING BALL FIRST AND SAND SECOND. Try these few easy steps and see more success out on the course.
Loft is the Key
Once you have driven the ball right down the middle of the fairway think about making that second shot better. A lot of us will use a club with so little loft such as a 3 iron or a 3 wood. These clubs are really hard to hit because they have very little loft. Think about making that second shot with a 5 or 7 wood, a 5 or 6 iron, or what we recommend most is looking into getting yourself a hybrid club. Hybrid clubs are easier to get up in the air and still get good distance. So don’t make it harder on yourself hitting clubs that have a low success rate. Hit something with more loft to see more success.
The Need for Speed
There is one thing in the short game that will always produce failure. That is deceleration. In every short game shot we must accelerate through the ball and let the loft of the club work for us. To visualize acceleration take a few practice swings right next to the ball and get some grass clippings to fly up. We don’t just want to brush the grass we want to break it right at ground level. This proves that our club is hitting low enough to let the club do its job. Now, using that same aggressive stroke hit the ball and watch the high soft flight land lightly next to the hole.
Making the most of your Practice Stroke
The most common mistake players make with their practice stroke is looking at the ground more than they look at the distance between themselves and the hole. The purpose of your practice strokes is to learn the distance between yourself and the hole. To do this, you need to be looking at it. So, next time you work on your putting, improve your pre-shot routine by taking at least two practice strokes gazing back and forth between yourself and the hole.