Golf Tips by Bob Burns Chaska Golf Pro
Improper posture at address is one of the most common faults of the average golfer, and because the posture influences the swing we will examine three common factors that are apparent among the good golfers.
1) First and most important, the good player keeps his back as straight as possible at address, including his upper body over the ball by bending from the waist.
This has the effect of thrusting the posterior out and pulling the stomach in, because the degree we bend from the waist influences the amount of shoulder turn we can promote (in the backswing) this position is most important prerequisite.
2) Second, the good golfer flexes and “sits on” his knees as he addresses the ball, providing stability and balance for the backswing and allowing him to use his legs correctly in starting the downswing.
3) Third, the good golfer holds his head erect, giving the impression that he is “standing tall” to the ball. He bends over from the waist only sufficiently to be able to ground the club head behind the ball.
This “proud” stance with high head will facilitate a wide swing arc and provide space for the shoulders to turn, without the head and upper body swaying.
Bad Takeaway Causes Bad Shots
By: Bob Burns
Many misdirected golf shots are the result of an incorrect takeaway. This vital movement is important because the initial movement of the club largely controls what follows.
What consciously initiates the back swing will vary even with the greatest of players. At times, it will seem that the hands and arms start the club head back. At other times, there may be a feeling that the turn of the left shoulder is triggering the swing.
For the best bet, the simplest method to execute the golf swing properly is with a forward pass.
Develop A Practical Putting Pattern
By: Bob Burns
Almost half the strokes or more of any average golfer are recorded on the putting green, yet oddly, when most golfers practice golf, they do so mostly at the driving range with a driver. The easiest way to cut any golfer's score is simply to learn to putt better.
Although putting style is quite a personal matter to some extent, there are certain fundamentals that must be learned and observed if one hopes to putt consistently.
There are many variations of grips, even among the pros, but the most widely used and recommended is the standard overlapping grip with fingers of the right hand gripping the club. There are three broad categories in gripping pressure. The golfer may choose to use a loose grip, a lighter grip, or a tight grip. In my opinion, a loose grip doesn't give enough control and the club may slip in the golfer's hands. A tight grip produces tension and causes over-control which will reduce distance, especially on longer putts. The ideal pressure is light-to-give control, maximum feel, and freedom of motion during the stroke.
Anatomically and mechanically, the best position of the hands should be for them to face each other squarely. If the club were to be removed, the hands would lay face-to-face as if in prayer.
There are variations with the stance position as with the grip. The standard square stance, however, seems to be the most advantageous for most golfers. In the square stance, the feet, hips and shoulders are all parallel to the intended line of putt. It might be well to distribute the weight predominantly on the front foot (left foot for right handers), as this will prevent swaying or moving. The most important thing in the stance, whichever style you use, is that you do not move while stroking the ball.
Once you set up over the ball, with the prescribed grip and a square stance, all that remains is to place the putter face squarely behind the ball—at a right angle to the chosen line—and to swing the putter head back and through along that line. Ideally, your club head should feel as if it is accelerated during the forward stroke. You should feel that the club is picking up speed gradually as it moves into and through the ball. One of the most common causes of feeble putting is taking too long of a back swing and then decelerating the putter head prior to impact. Swing the club head only with your hands and arms, never use your legs or hips or move your head. We are trying to build a simple stroking pattern with a minimum of extraneous movement.
Remember that your goal is to create repetitious patterns that will develop confidence. You should experience the visual and physical reactions of seeing and feeling successful putts.
Through practice, this will eventually become habitual in your muscle memory.
Finish the Back Swing
By: Bob Burns
The surest way to hit the ball off line is to start the club down before you're finished going up. This is one of the most common errors among players. I term this practice "hitting in the back swing". In other words, too many players are so anxious to hit the ball that they never complete their back swing, and are unable to start down to the ball with the proper motion.
The most successful concept I've found to alleviate this problem is by thinking of making a full shoulder turn on the back swing. The left shoulder should coil back and brush under the chin of the back swing. Learn to pause momentarily at this point. The back should be facing the hole, with the shaft and club head pointing at the target.
I wait for it to stop there, and then begin my downswing by shifting my hips and legs laterally at the hole. This makes sure I'm always starting the downswing from the same position. Working in sequence, the shoulder turn gets you back all the way, and keeps you from starting the downswing too early. The hip movement reduces the tendency to use only the hands in the downswing. Thus, you make a united swinging move forward, not a hitting move downward.
The Flying Elbow
By: Bob Burns
The right elbow can be one of the keys to straighter shots:
When the golfer's shots fly off line to the left or right consistently, I can usually spot one single factor that invariably is wrong with their back swing—the "flying elbow," or the golfer error in which the right elbow wings out.
In the "flying elbow," the golfer will, in the downswing, cut across the target line on an outside in plane. If the ball fails to slice, it merely stays on the left of the target trajectory. Few good players can bring the elbow in sufficiently on the downswing after letting it "fly" out on the back swing.
To correct this, 1) position the right elbows a little closer to the body at address; 2) take most of the right hand pressure out by relaxing the index finger and thumb. To compensate, firm up the last three fingers of the left and; 3) at the top of the back swing the right elbow should be pointing or looking down at the ground, with the club shaft directly above the elbow.
If these steps are followed, a slightly inside-out swing path with super consistency will result.
By: Bob Burns
There are many theories about getting the club down from the top of the back swing. Most golfers fail to start the downswing with the lower half of the body and wind up (hitting from the top). The poor player often starts his downswing with his shoulders or the premature use of his hands and wrists, throwing the club off line, and dissipating its speed too soon. He tenses up on the downswing, clutching or grabbing the club with a tightened grip in a conscious attempt to direct the ball and general club head speed.
Good golfers initiate the downswing on all full shots with the lower half of the body. This critical downswing actually occurs with a lateral movement of legs and hips toward the golfer's target.
The hips shift laterally in the direction they are facing at the top. This fulfills the following essential requirements 1) it moves the golfer's weight over to the left side. 2) It drops the right elbow into the side and creates a beautiful left-hand lead back into impact with the ideal late-hit position for release. 3) It causes the players right shoulder to move down and under his chin, rather than out and around it, and thus moves the club head on line into the ball on the correct plane. This assures you of better shots with all clubs.
Square the Blade at Address
By: Bob Burns
The direction in which the club face looks at impact is the most important element in determining the behavior and flight of every shot you hit.
If your club face direction is pointing right or left in the direction your club is traveling, the result may be a hook or a slice.
The perfect impact with the ball occurs only when the club head travels along the target line square to the intended line of flight. Thus, the club face must be square at the address.
If the blade is open, you are almost certain to keep it open throughout the swing and wind up with a slice. (A "slice" ball starts left of the target then bends to the right.) If, on the other hand, the blade is hooded or closed at address, you will be certain to hook, or maybe even shank, the ball. (A "hook" ball starts right of the target then bends to the left.)
To assume the correct position at address, place the leading edge of the club head at right angles to the target line. This is considered "square". At this point, ask a friend to stand opposite to you and check the position of the blade. You may be surprised to find that your perspective can be off.
Another factor that effects the geometrical alignment of the club face at impact is the grip, or the way in which the club is held in the fingers. This has been previously described in my article "Good Grip, Good Golf".
Always remember the basic fundamental that everything in golf stems from the way the club face meets the ball. This determines both direction and flight.
Good Grip-Good Golf
By: Bob Burns
The majority of golfers never develop a proper grip. They regard the way they hold the club as a minor, and relatively boring, aspect of the game compared to the fascinating technical intricacies of the swing itself. Additionally, even if they do make an effort to develop a correct grip, few persevere because any change feels a little uncomfortable at first.
The way the golfer holds the club, however, controls the critical geometrical alignment of the club face at impact. This determines the success or failure of one's shot. Thus, finding a grip that consistently returns the club face square to the swing line is an absolute first priority. The improper grip will not yield good results even if all other parts of the swing are perfect.
Since no two people have hands that are exactly alike, it is impossible to say that any one grip is best for all. One should experiment until they find the grip that feels the best and gives the best results. There are three grips used: 1) The standard is the overlapping grip. It has been widely used for over half a century, ever since Harry Vardon popularized it in Great Britain. 2) The interlocking grip is basically recommended for those with short fingers or small hands. 3) The ten-finger grip, or baseball-type hold, is usually most natural for children and beginners.
All of those grips are similar. Variations in the grip are achieved mainly by changing the position of the little finger of the right hand with respect to the index finger of the left hand (for the right-handed person).
To acquire the proper grip, let the handle of the club rest diagonally across the left hand, from the second joint of the forefinger to the heel of the hand. The handle is pressed up under the muscle pad at the inside heel of the palm. The main pressure is in the last three fingers of the left hand. The thumb runs straight down the shaft or slightly to the right of the center. The end of the handle should extend about one inch beyond the heel of the left hand. Most individuals hold the club at the very end, but because the diameter at the end of the club is so large, the golfer loses control of the club at the top of the swing.
After the left hand is correctly affixed, place the club in the right hand so that the shaft lies across the top joint of the four fingers and definitely below the palm. The club is held primarily in the fingers. The position of the thumb is slightly on the left side of the shaft. The student should note that any pressure in the "pincher fingers," the forefinger and thumb, should be avoided. The grip pressure should be the second and third finger on the right hand.
If overlapping grip is being used, the little finger of the right hand should wrap around the knuckle of the forefinger of the left hand. Seven fingers will be holding the club.
If the interlocking grip is being used, slip the finger of the right hand between the forefinger and second finger of the left hand. Usually people with short fingers will find this most appropriate. Six fingers will contact the club. If the non-lapping or baseball type grip is used, eight fingers will contact the club. Although the hands are not overlapping or interlocking, the fingers should be close together. This type grip usually feels comfortable to youngsters because they can also relate the same sensation with playing baseball, and thus it enables them to become more receptive.
Remember that golf is an individual activity, so experiment until you find the grip that gives you the most consistent results. If you are an established golfer but feel you have never reached your full potential at the game, chances are your grip is the root of the problem.
Check Your Alignment
By: Bob Burns
Improper alignment is one of the most common faults of the average golfer. It can lead to misdirected shots, even when the ball is hit solid.
The setup at address, therefore, influences the way one swings the club. The golfer who sets up improperly must necessarily invoke compensations during his swing, lessening the chance for a perfect shot. Through teaching, I find that the golfer is so mentally intent on the mechanics and theories of the swing that he is not conscious of his misdirected and improper alignment.
Learning to align properly is not too difficult if the next time he goes to the range for some practice, the golfer takes the time to check themselves before the shot.
Before each shot, you should place a club down parallel to the intended line of flight, and take your stance with your toes against the club. If you feel awkward at first, it's because you've been lining up wrong all this time. Now, you are in the perfect position. The setup to the target is such that the feet, knees, hips, and shoulder are parallel to the intended line of flight. After doing this for a bucket of balls, you'll find that you can achieve this perspective without the aid of the club.
A Good Foundation for a Better Swing
By: Bob Burns
The first step in most anything you do involves the basics or fundamentals which, when mastered, make the other steps easier. In golf, a good stance is the firm foundation upon which to shape and mold the swing. The stance is the proper placing of the feet in relation to the line of flight selected to the target.
In the following article, we will explain the three different stances in relation to various golf shots.
The important element in a good stance provides the player with balance. The swing must be a smooth, fundamental, one-piece movement from the beginning to end. To achieve this, the golfer must be in balance throughout the swing. If off balance in some part of the swing, the golfer has irrevocably lost some control.
The first step to proper balance is to place the feet firmly on the ground with the weight distributed evenly between the balls and heels of the feet. If you have a tendency to lean forward onto your toes during the swing, make an effort to stay back on your heels.
1) SQUARE STANCE: This is the basic stance from which the other two are adapted. To adapt it, simply place the feet shoulder length apart, as measured from the inner edges of the shoes, and touching the line. The feet should be set apart the width of the shoulders when playing a standard five-iron shot. They are set somewhat closer together when the more lofted clubs are used and somewhat wider than the width of the shoulders when the long irons and woods are played. In all of these stances, the left foot should be turned outward, toward the target, about 15 degrees to the left. This facilitates an easier body turn and contributes to greater balance throughout the swing. The square stance is best used with long and middle irons.
2) OPEN STANCE: Move the right foot ahead of the line not more than four to five inches and the left foot slightly back. Use this stance for short irons, seven, eight, nine, and wedge.
3) CLOSED STANCE: Drop the right foot behind the line two to four inches. The left foot moves slightly forward. This stance can be applied to woods.
The closed stance, with the right foot withdrawn a couple of inches farther from the direction line than the left, makes it easier to get the full back swing, probably with a flattened plane, but tends to restrict the forward swing. The open stance, with the left foot drawn back farther than the right, has the opposite effect of restricting the back swing and forcing it into a more upright position, but facilitating the forward swing.
Short Shot Stroke Savers
By: Bob Burns
Today's lesson holds good advice for women who need to compensate for their lack of distance off the tee, and for men who waste far too many shots around the greens.
Ask almost any teaching professional to name the most important single factor in teaching a woman to score well, and invariably the answer will be the short game—the pitch, the chip, and the putt—that will save her many strokes around the green. It's just a fact that most golf courses are too long for the average woman golfer to reach the green in regulation, so any girl who scores well does so because she has a good short game.
Even the women competing on the professional tour have to get the ball up and down from the green. Generally speaking, this is one part of the game where women are as good as, if not better than their male counterparts.
There are two types of shots that provide for a simple game: the pitch shot and the chip shot. The situation for the pitch shot would be beneficial when shooting over a bunker. For this shot, the pitching wedge or sand wedge could be used. This is certainly a key shot anytime the golfer has to get the ball up in a hurry and set it down with a little spin or roll. In addition, it is easy to control.
The chip shot is used around the green when there are no hazards between the ball and the hole. The object is to drop the ball on the edge of the putting surface and let it run the rest of the way to the hole. Club selection is governed largely by the distance the ball must carry through the air before reaching the green, and the amount of green between the golfer and the hole. For example, from a few feet off the putting surface, a 6-iron might loft the ball to the edge of the green from which it would roll to the hole.
From 15 yards out, however, the ball would roll too far. Thus, an 8-iron or an even more lofted club would probably be used. Most chips are really nothing more than long putts, except that the ball starts out by going just a little way through the air to miss the surface irregularities between the golfer and the green. The major difference between the two shots is that you are trying to minimize backspin with a chip shot and maximize it with a pitch shot. Under normal conditions, the chip shot is the safer of the two because roll is easier to judge than flight, and easier to control.
Method of Execution: Stance- The stance must be open to the target. The feet should be at a 30-35 degree angle to the left of the hole. Get the hands ahead of the ball, place the majority of the weight on the left side and leave it there. With the weight and hands ahead, the golfer is virtually assured of striking the ball a descending blow and hitting it with the center of the club.
Club Selection- The middle irons are the key clubs in chipping. The wedge will run because the ball gathers backspin as it rolls up the face of these clubs. Thus the pitching wedge, or sand wedge, is more conducive for high lofted pitch shots.
Chip with Arms, but Add Wrists to Pitch- In chipping, maximum height and maximum roll is needed. Swing the club predominantly with the arms. Sweep the ball forward with little wrist action. In pitching, just the opposite—plenty of height, but no roll—is desired. Use more wrist action to make the ball rise. Swing the club head steeply downward onto it. In neither shot should the club face catch up with the hands until after impact.
Accelerating the Forward Push
By: Bob Burns
One reason for stubbed putts is a tendency to "baby" the ball on short shots. This error, in turn, is often caused by too much back swing. The player realizes at the last minute that he has gone back too far and is about to hit the ball too hard so he eases up just before contact. The result is a shot hit too short and almost always off line.
Even on the shortest shots, the club head should be accelerating rather than slowing down as it meets the ball. To make sure that the club head is gaining speed at impact, take a shorter back swing on the chips. By doing so, you will be forced to accelerate the club head in order to get desired distance, be it 10 feet or 10 yards.
Experiment with the length of the back swing until you get the feeling that the club head is picking up speed as it goes through the ball. Don't quit on the shot—keep the club head moving right at the flag stick.
A few minor adjustments in address position are necessary. Keep most of the weight toward the left foot and use a slightly open stance. The ball should be played off the right foot. These alterations will help you avoid hitting behind the ball.
Practice Pitching, Chipping to Lower Golf Handicap
By: Bob Burns
Every golfer, I don't care how well they hit the ball, is going to have days when they miss a lot of greens, and that is when they must rely on their short shots.
Chip and pitch shots are even more important for the weekend golfer, who misses more greens than the golf professional. I can think of no quicker way to lower one’s handicap than to develop the ability to consistently chip close enough for a one putt instead of two.
A chip shot assumes a lower trajectory than does the pitch because it is hit with a less-lofted club. Most chips are really nothing more than long putts, except that the ball starts out by going a little way through the air to miss the surface irregularities between you and the green.
A pitch shot, hit with a more lofted club, such as a "wedge" flies high to the green, lands near the flag stick, and because of the backspin, quickly comes to rest.
On this shot, I may use any club from the 5 iron through the 8 iron. The exact club selection depends on the specific situation—the lie of the ball in the grass, the length of the shot, the amount of green between the ball and the hole, the character of the green's turf, the terra in between the ball and the hole, and even the direction and velocity of the wind.
There is a less chance of scuffing behind the ball with a less-lofted club, such as a 5 iron, than with the more lofted 8 iron.
Therefore, I always try to use the least-lofted club, which will take my ball just onto the green in flight and still not let it roll passed the hole.
As you choose your club for the shot, you should also select an exact landing spot on the green. This spot may be a light or dark patch of grass, blemish, or something similar.
The roll of the green should also guide your selection of a landing spot. You should "read" the green, just as you would on a putt.
To assure hitting the ball first, make certain that your hands are well forward of the club head, both at address position and at impact.
It also helps to keep most of your weight on your left foot (right foot for left handers), and use a slightly open stance. The ball should be played in the middle or just outside of the left heel.
The word "chip" sounds the way the shot should be executed—a short, crisp, but rhythmical, stroke—much like slapping a baby on its bottom. Since it is a short shot your feet should be quite close together and your hands near your body. The knees should be slightly flexed to avoid tension in the legs. The swing is mainly with the arms and hands while the ball should be struck with a descending blow.
When chipping, you must make certain that you see the blade and hit the ball, but don't let your chin move forward before the hit. Hit passed your chin and then follow the ball's flight.
THE PITCH SHOT: As I mentioned before, the chip shot is best when you have a great deal of green between you and the hole. It's a bad policy to use a pitch shot with a wedge or a 9-iron in such a situation because often the ball will take on a great deal of backspin and stop short of the hole.
However, that short pitch is a valuable shot around the green when you must stop the ball in a hurry. Such as when the green slopes away from your ball, or when you need a high shot to clear a sand trap with little green beyond.
This pitch shot is similar to the chip in that the stance should be narrow with the knees flexed, your weight should be toward the forward foot with the hands ahead of the club head at all times until impact.
If I want the shot to fly high and stop quickly, I open my stance slightly so that my left foot is pulled back from the target line. This allows me to take the club back more to the outside than on the chip. The outside-in swing helps to prevent hitting with a closed club face, which would reduce backspin.
Keep your game sharp around the green and shave strokes off your score.
Hold Your Head Up For Maximum Shoulder Turn
By: Bob Burns
Lifting the head gets the blame for almost every missed shot. What most golfers do to prevent looking up is bury their chin in their chest. This is one of those faults in the swing that may solve one problem while creating another! By burying the chin in the chest, you'll prevent a smooth shoulder turn and a full arc. Also, as you come into the ball, the right shoulder can't come under the chin.
On the other hand, if you hold up at address and stick the chin out slightly, the left shoulder can move beneath the chin. This will create a full-shoulder turn and will enable the upper body to turn more than the lower body. If you have a short neck, merely hold the head up and turn it slightly to the right. This position will accomplish the same objectives as will sticking out the chin.
Fairway Bunker Shot Explained
By: Bob Burns
One of the most troublesome sand shots for the average player is from the fairway bunker. The golfer is usually indecisive as to how to execute the shot and whether to use a wood or an iron. When faced with a shot from a fairway bunker, the golfer should play the shot almost exactly as it would be played from the grass. The ball must be struck first—the divot taken afterward.
In teaching this shot to my students, I attempt to show them that it is better to hit a little thin than to catch sand before contacting the ball. The ball must be struck first, to be assured of any distance.
Now for the specifics of successful bunker shots:
The address position—the stance is very important, since the golfer is dealing with loose material, he must dig in solidly to avoid body sway and slippage. Rotating the feet once their placement has been satisfactorily determined can do this. The ball should be played forward, inside the left foot. The result then will be high with a shallow cut of sand. The hands should be forward of the club head.
The takeaway—the back swing should be in the conventional plane. Excessive weight transfer to the right side should be avoided. The club should be extended fully on the way back and the turn should be primarily with the hips. On the top, the club is in the proper horizontal position. To ensure that I have completed the back swing, and to prevent rushing the shots, I feel my hands fully cock at the top of the swing.
The downswing—the move back to the ball is the same pulling action that is employed for all shots, with the hands remaining cocked and the club head lagging behind. There has been a definite move to the left side, developed by pushing the right knee significantly toward the left. The ball gets struck first and then the sand is taken. The head must stay fixed over the spot where the ball had rested. If the left foot stays firm, there will be no body sway. Because the ball has been played from a conventional position in relation to the feet, the club is easily able to move through to the target. The head will come up to follow the flight of the ball only after the follow through is nearly completed.
An exceptional club to use out of the fairway bunker is a seven wood, due to the extra loft and shorter length. The average distance of this club is between a 3 and 4 iron.
Don't Be A Fool while Playing It Cool
By: Bob Burns
Golfers who play during the early, cold weeks of the golf season would be well advised to swing much easier than normal. When playing in a strong wind, the tendency is to swing too hard. It is natural to sense that the elements are something to overpower, but you should avoid the tendency to hit harder in the wind and cold. Swinging too fast is bad under any conditions, but fatal in the cold weather when bulkier clothes tend to restrict movement and cold temperatures cause the muscles to tighten. There is also a strong urge to "steer" the shot according to the direction of the wind. Most of these tendencies exaggerate swing faults and cause the ball to fly erratically.
The ball will stay on line much better when you swing easy and selecting plenty of club to get the job done.
Prepare yourself mentally for an easy, rhythmical, flowing swing. Then make a conscious effort to take the club slower than usual on your back swing. Swing with less force than usual and you are sure to play well under these cool, windy conditions.
The "Punch Shot" From Trouble
By: Bob Burns
In my experience teaching golf, I have found a problem, which all too often baffles the average golfer. This is the predicament in which the player finds himself when he is prevented from taking a full swing. This might occur when the ball lands so close to a tree or other obstacle that a conventional back swing is obstructed. The golfer then must adjust his swing to compensate.
I have accumulated a few checkpoints to use as a guide in executing this type of shot:
1) First, take a few practice swings;
2) Be sure to choke up on the club as much as necessary and maintain a steady body position;
3) Adjust the feet closer to the ball in relation with the choking down on the club;
4) Play the ball off the right toe;
5) Try to pick the club up with the wrists rather than with the left arm or hands;
6) In executing this shot, the wrists must break immediately on the back swing;
7) Hit down on the ball and follow through as much as possible.
The "Cut Shot"
By: Bob Burns
If your ball has landed in a green-side bunker with a very high bank to shoot over, how will you achieve enough loft to clear the bank, but yet keep the ball from running over the green? Try the "Cut Shot!" Play the ball opposite the left foot, open the stance, open the blade of the sand wedge, and swing the club on an outside-in path that cuts across the ball, but no more than that, or you will leave the ball sitting there.
Your swing plane should be up right, with a slow, unhurried action. Swing in a relaxed, easy manner, taking about a 3/4 back swing and swing as far forward as momentum carries the club. That should result in a full follow-through.
You may use this same shot with a sand wedge when attempting to get height from off the green. An example of this is shooting over a bunker. In this situation, position the ball toward the right foot. This will also work exceptionally well out of the rough and will result in a high shot with backspin.
Curing the "Fat" Shot
By: Bob Burns
One of the most common faults of the average player is breaking the left-arm "elbow" on the back swing. This forces the golfer to hit the turf behind the ball, and the result is a "fat" shot.
The fat shot is caused by the player picking the club up with their hands, thus restricting their shoulder turn and causing the club control to switch to the right hand (left, for lefthanders) at the top of their back swing.
To cure this ailment, I instruct my students to have complete left-side control of the club at all times. The back swing is initiated by taking the club away from the upper left quadrant (shoulder area), and maintaining a firm left arm. Develop a mental image of always promoting a full shoulder turn of 90 degrees, stretching the left shoulder under the chin to the top of the back swing.
Throughout practice, the right side will become subservient to the left, and the tendency will become less frequent. Some might find it necessary to develop the left side through exercises.
Left-side dominance and coordination are essential for playing super golf. This will enable the golfer to start the downswing with his left side rather than with a movement of the hands. If the left side initiates the return to the hitting area, the right elbow will slide naturally into the right side and the wrists will stay cocked until just before impact. This will also keep the pressure in the grip constant throughout the swing, thus minimizing chances for error.
Using the larger shoulder muscles by swinging the hands and arms can generate more power.
Cure For Inactive Legs
By: Bob Burns
Inactive legs are one of the basic flaws of the average high handicapper's game. The golfer tends to hit with the hands and arms, leaving the lower half of the body stiff and useless. Logically enough, because of the inactive lower body the golfer is forced to pull the club inside on the downswing with a sweeping motion of the right shoulder, arm, and hand. This causes the right shoulder to cut across the intended line of flight at impact and the right hand gains control of the club causing a slice!
Because the shoulders are moving horizontally or around the downswing, the swing plane is "out-to-in." This motion imparts a clockwise spin to the ball which makes it fly from left to right. The slicer is therefore programmed by habit or muscle memory to swing with hands and arms.
The cure must result from a swing that is returning the club face square to the intended line of flight, repetitiously inside out!
Initiating the downswing with a cross-lateral shift, or thrust, of the hips and legs helps you return the club head to the ball on a path that runs from inside to along your target line. It makes you feel as if you are swinging the club under, instead of around, your hips. It forces your head and shoulders to stay back of the ball, as they should, instead of swaying left toward the target. This move prevents "hitting from the top." It delays the release of the wrists until the last second, so that the golfer can obtain maximum club head speed during impact rather than before.
The lower-lateral shift is relatively simple to perfect with practice. To feel how your legs and hips should work in the golf swing, hit some shots using the following procedure:
1. Keep the knees flexed slightly at address so that the lower body may be active during the swing.
2. Weight should be distributed between the ball and heel of each foot, with slightly more weight toward the balls of your feet if lower body action is desired.
3. The lower body turn should start early in the back swing in unison with the movement of the hands and the coiling of the shoulders.
4. The motion of the knees should always be in action during the swing, with the left moving and the right moving toward the left on the downswing.
5. The lower half of the body should initiate the downswing by thrusting laterally toward the target.
6. Lateral leg thrust action will be more effective if the hands are swing well above the right shoulder on the back swing and the left shoulder on the follow through. The lower-lateral leg thrust method will allow you to generate maximum club head speed during impact by the utilization of your body weight transfer.
Left Side Control to Establish "Square Swing"
By: Bob Burns
Many golfers never give themselves a chance to make a good swing because, in setting up to the ball, they move the entire right side into a dominant position.
The right hand clutches the club too powerfully and sets the right arm and shoulder higher than the left. This encourages the right hander's natural tendency to lift the club with their right hand and arm during the back swing, and restricting his shoulder turn, thus throwing the club outside the target line on the downswing.
In the modern method of the square swing, the right hand should be relaxed and submissive to the left side, which is firmly in control. The method itself is presented in a total concept involving such areas as the grip, set-up positioning, exercises, and aids to learning, as well as the swing itself. The square method is designed to produce consistent, shot-making excellence with a swing based on economy and simplicity of movement through left side control dominance.
-Minimization of hand and wrist manipulation during the swing;
-Full turning of the upper body on a relatively upright plane; minimal hip turn during the take away and back swing; smooth but forceful leg action during the downswing;
-Domination by the normally weaker left hand, arm, and side over the normally stronger right side (vice-versa for left handers).
The essence of the golf swing is to bring the club head squarely on the intended line (flight path) through the ball, with maximum club head speed at impact. The square method is accomplished in the following way;
1) Set up and alignment: Set-up position must be conducive for the square swing. Set up and alignment are two of the most important points of the modern golf swing. Alignment to the target will predetermine the use of the body in the golf swing.
The feet, knees, hips, and shoulders should be aligned parallel to the intended line of flight.
2) Posture: The knees are flexed as if the person were about to sit on a stool. The arms hang straight down from the shoulders rather than outward. The right arm is relaxed and under at address so that the right side may be submissive to the left during the back swing and therefore, throughout the entire swing. Since the left hand is higher than the right on the grip, the left shoulder must be higher than the right at address.
The degree that a person bends from the waist, so long as the back remains relatively straight, will determine the amount of shoulder turn the person will promote during the swing. The amount that a golfer bends forward at the waist also influences their swing plane. Making a full shoulder turn on the back swing can help produce maximum shooting distance with greater consistency.
3.) Arms: Golfers have always been told that the left arm must be straight in order to generate any sort of power in the swing. Often, they have not been told why: Without a straight left arm, it is what is known as the "power arc." The arm position determines the length and path of the club head arc and, if the left arm is bent excessively, the club cannot be pulled through on an inside-out plane because the right arm will take over and force the club outside. The arm need not be perfectly rigid, but it must be relatively straight in order to keep the left side firm.
It may also be a surprise to many golfers that the "golf muscles" in the arms are not the biceps. The key muscles are those on the underside of the forearm. Grip pressure should be emphasized in the last three fingers of the left hand. The last three fingers are connected to the interflexor muscles on the inside of the left forearm. When properly applied, this pressure will cause muscles to bunch on the underside of the forearm. To demonstrate this, squeeze the club with the last three fingers of the left hand and watch these muscles contract. The squeezing of these fingers stabilizes the left hand and forearm. It also enables the player to have the hands ahead of the club head through the impact area.
Bunching on the upper side of the forearm indicates too much pressure in the thumb and forefinger. The thumb and forefinger of the left hand, and all fingers of the right hand, should grip only enough to hold onto the club. Too much pressure in the grip of the right hand will cause the right arm and shoulder muscles to tighten. Such tightening greatly restricts the ability to make a full shoulder turn on a sufficiently upright plane.
Right-hand pressure also causes the right side to take over on the back swing. This causes a premature lifting of the club head, which shortens and flattens the swing. The left side, with the last three fingers of the left hand dominating the grip, should be responsible for moving the club head back and up on the back swing.
The Basic Sand Approach
By: Bob Burns
One of the most troublesome shots in the game of golf for the average player is from the sand trap. The golfer generally has a difficult time getting out with a consistency.
Confidence in one's ability to successfully escape a trap plays a major part of the shot. Confidence, however, may be endangered by lack of knowledge of two important things: how to play the individual shot and which club to use.
Let's discuss the club first: The golfer should have sand wedge, which as a wide flange on its bottom edge. The flange gives the club "bounce" and is designed to keep the club from cutting too deep into the sand. Its construction will cause the club to slap the sand and "splash" the ball on to the green with very little effort on the golfer's part.
Execution for the Basic Sand Shot
First of all, take a stance so that the ball rests opposite the left heel. The left foot is drawn back only slightly more than the right from the intended line of flight, so that the stance is a little open. Wiggle the feet into the sand to provide a firm base for the swing.
Before actually starting the swing, take sight on the shot behind where the club head is to strike. If the sand is normal, try to hit about two inches behind the ball. The reason for hitting this far behind the ball is that, if the contact were closer, the wedge might bounce into the ball causing a skulled shot. Hitting the ball farther back assures getting the club head under the ball.
Keep most of the weight on the left side for the actual swing. Pick up the club head quickly by immediately cocking the wrists. The club head will initially move outside of the target line and then back to the inside with the turning of the shoulders. Pull the club head through the sand with the left hand. Don't look up until you hear the ball thump onto the green; then you will be assured of keeping your head down and getting the ball out. The distance your sand shot will travel depends on three factors. The first is the same one that comes into play with all shots, the speed at which you swing your arms forward. The second is the amount of sand that your club head displaces before the ball starts on its way. The less sand displaced, the farther the ball travels. The third factor is the condition and texture of the sand.
When you anticipate a large displacement of sand on shot from buried lies, uphill lies, or soft sand, you will need more arm speed than normal. When you anticipate displacing less sand on downhill lies, and from coarse, wet, or otherwise firm sand, you will need less arm speed.
You can vary the depth of your cut of sand by setting your hands to the left or right of the normal address position. Setting your hands slightly to the right of normal turns the leading edge a bit upward, thus the club head will skim off a relatively shallow slice of sand.
By positioning your hands slightly to the left of normal, it turns the leading edge of the club head downward. This will cause the club to enter the sand at a sharper angle and thus cut deeper. The deeper the cut of sand, the more sand displaced; the more sand displaced, the less the shot will fly.
The texture of the sand also affects the depth of the cut. The club head will cut deeper into soft, fine-grained sand than it will into coarse or wet sand.