“Find your distance potential”
By Tim Mahoney
One of the keys to playing golf in this era is to hit the
ball long. As golf courses continue to be designed longer and more
difficult, hitting the ball with power allows players the best chance to
score. Although Tiger Woods has possibly the greatest short game in the
history of the game, it is also a huge advantage the he has been consistently
ranked among the longest hitters during his career. How can you hit it
Quite simply, there are two keys to hitting it long:
solid contact and speed. Hitting the ball in the center of the face with
maximum speed will allow you to hit it as far as you can. This combined
with the latest in club and ball technology can help you find your true
The first thing you should determine is if you hit the ball
solidly with your current swing. The easiest test is to use face tape
that can be found at most golf shops. Place a piece of tape on your club
and hit a shot. The ball will make a mark on the tape which will show you
your contact point. Hopefully you will find you are consistently finding
the center of the clubface. Make sure you test both woods and irons as
you want solid contact with all clubs.
If you find that your contact is not as solid as you would
like, look at two things to improve your swing. Make sure your posture at
set up and throughout your swing is in an athletic position that you maintain
during your swing. Good posture will help you swing the club around your
body consistently “on plane” which leads to center hits.
Once you are satisfied with your contact point, the next key
to distance is trying to increase your swing speed. In the golf swing
there are three power sources that will help you swing the club faster.
The combination of proper wrist action, an arm swing that puts the club in
position throughout the swing and a powerful body pivot that supports the
swinging action of the club will allow the club to swing consistently and
Finally, if you feel you are making solid contact and are
using your power sources, make sure your equipment
fits your swing. Clubs and balls that are fitted specifically for your
swing will probably give you an extra few yards as well.
Learning to hit the ball longer is a very fun part of the
improvement process. Examine your current swing and determine your needs.
With a little practice, hopefully you will find a few more yards.
Remember if you do hit the ball farther, you will have
shorter approach shots to the hole. It is important to work hard on short
game distance control so you can take advantage of your distance and hit it
closer. This should take pressure off your putting game and allow you to
improve your scoring average.
Controlling distance with your Wedges
Golf is a unique activity where you have the combination of
distance, direction and trajectory control of the golf ball. In the short game the ability to score is
directly related to controlling the distance of the golf ball. Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Rickie
Fowler have the ability to control the distance of their wedges within 95% of
the required goal. For an example, on a
30 yard shot, Spieth has the control of his wedges to hit the ball 28.5 yards,
a differential of 1.5 yards in total distance.
Distance is controlled by club choice, length of club at
address, length of swing, elevation of the shot, solidness of the strike and
the speed of motion. All golfers should
have a minimum of 3 wedges with the lofts of 48, 52 and 56 degrees of
loft. All wedges should have a
differential of 4 degrees of separation.
As you work with the wedges identify the distance of ½, ¾ and full
Length of club at address will have a direct impact on the speed
of the motion throughout. Golfers should
attempt to grip down the shaft, ½ of a grip and a full grip. Combine this with different length of swings
as well. A shortened club will work with
a shortened swing and a long club will work with a long swing. All wedge swings should be balanced or
symmetrical on both sides of the motion.
A partial backswing should match a partial forward swing. The golf swing
needs to be balanced in order to control speed and distance.
A mirrored impact position and address, of the will assist
with controlling the loft of the club. The impact position should be identical
to the starting position. Unlike the full swing where the shaft needs to be
forward leaned for speed in pitching the shafts needs to match.
Solidness of the strike is the effect of the angle or plane
of the swing. A vertical swing motion
will produce a toe hit and conversely a horizontal or flat swing will produce a
heel hit or a shank. The club must be
swung on the desired angle or right angle to your spine.
Distance control in the short game is the effect of the
club, speed, length of swing and solidness of the hit. Control these variables and you to will pitch
Direction to better scoring
All gofers no matter what the handicap level should attempt
to control distance and direction. An
improvement in consistency is the effect of a compatible golf swing. When golfers attempt swing changes without
regard to keeping a balanced or compatible swing, inconsistency is the
result. Golf swings can be upright, Jack
Nicklaus, flat Ben Hogan, shut face David Duval or an open face Nancy Lopez; as
long as all the parts are compatible consistency is the result.
A weak grip should be balanced with a forward ball position,
centered pivot, open face, swing path that is out to in and aggressive hand
action through impact. A stronger grip
should be balanced with a centered ball position, closed face, path from in to
out and an aggressive body motion through impact.
There has never been a perfect golf swing, and probably
never will. Keep your golf swing
balanced and compatible and you will have consistent results.
Golfers are constantly striving for more distance. Trying out new clubs, improved physical
conditioning and the latest secret in a golf publication in an attempt to add
an extra 10-20 yards. All of these
changes are good, but the number one influence on distance is a combination of
club head speed and solid contact. One
without the other simply results in short off line tee-shots.
Speed is the effect of wristcock, arm swing and torso
turn. Maximize all power sources in a
balanced manner will result in an increase in speed. Solid contact is the result of a path that is
from the inside to along to inside.
Swing the club on the manufactured angle with the arms in front of the
trunk will produce the correct path, resulting in a square hit.
All golfers should be striving for balanced controlled
distance for improved scoring. Club head
speed combined with solid contact is a guaranteed means of increased distance.
Controlling Trajectory in the Short Game
In executing short game shots, inside 50 yards (pitches and
chips), a player’s ability to control the ball’s flight trajectory can be just
as important as controlling the ball’s direction and overall distance. A golfer has options to create consistent
ball flight trajectory and as a result consistent shot patterns swing after
Option One – Ball Choice:
A golfer’s choice of golf ball will have an affect on a golf
ball’s flight characteristics. It is the
dimples on a golf ball that are responsible for its flight
characteristics. Their design (size,
shape and pattern) will help dictate the ball’s trajectory. The size and depth of the dimples affect
performance. Shallow dimples generate
more spin on a golf ball than deep dimples, which increases loft and causes the
ball to rise and stay in the air longer and roll less, which is advantageous
when playing to elevated greens. Deep
dimples generate less spin on a golf ball than shallow dimples, which decrease
loft and causes the ball to stay on a lower trajectory, with less air time and
greater roll, which is advantageous when playing to low elevated greens.
Option Two – Ball Position:
A correct ball position helps you contact the ball crisply and
achieve the proper trajectory on the shot.
Ball position affects the path and the angle of approach the club takes
into the ball which ensures a consistent loft angle of the club at impact. With the ball positioned too far forward,
your shoulders align left of the target, thus creating a swing path that is too
steep and out-to-in. If you locate the
ball too far back toward your right foot, your shoulders are closed, which
creates a swing path that is too shallow and in-to-out. You will be able to produce consistent ball
flight trajectories only if the ball is positioned correctly in your
stance. For chip shots, position the
ball about two inches back of center.
You want to strike the ball with a descending angle of approach creating
a low trajectory, running shot. For all
wedges and pitch swings from normal lies position the ball in the exact center
of your stance.
Option Three – Swing Technique:
To create a low trajectory chip or pitch shot, set your
hands slightly ahead of the ball. A
forward hand position will naturally de-loft the clubface, helping to start the
ball on a low trajectory. Also,
concentrate on making a rhythmic swing with a slightly slower tempo on the
forward swing. A slower tempo will
produce less spin, helping to keep the ball on a low trajectory. Stay level with your hips as you swing
through impact. Feel as though the
handle of the club leads the clubhead through the hitting area to prevent adding
loft to the clubface at impact. A low
trajectory shot means a low finish. The
lower you want to hit it, the lower you want to finish, not only with the hands
and arms, but with the clubhead as well.
While it is okay to play the ball back in you stance to produce a lower
trajectory, it is not advantageous to play the ball forward in your stance as a
means of getting a higher trajectory.
Playing the ball forward in you stance moves it ahead of the bottom of
your natural swing arc. To hit a higher
shot, the first choice should always be to take a more lofted club and make
your standard swing. The second choice
is to open the clubface, aim your swing line to the left of the target and keep
the ball exactly in the center of your stance.
Keeping the ball in the middle of your stance ensures crisp contact.
Option Four – Club Selection:
The easiest way to vary shot trajectory from a normal lie is
to choose a higher degree lofted club or choose a lower degree lofted
club. If you need a higher soft landing
shot, choose a lob (60 degrees), sand (56 degrees), gap (52 degrees), or a pitching
wedge (48 degrees). If you need a lower
running shot, choose a 9 iron (39 degrees), 8 iron (34 degrees), 7 iron (30
degrees), or 6 iron (26 degrees). It is
easier than creating a different swing or changing your mechanics. Clubs are designed with the clubface having
different lofts. It is loft that makes a
golf ball take flight on an ascending trajectory, not an upward direction of
swing. The club actually hits the ball in
a horizontal or slightly downward angle.
Choose the option that works best for your game. Your golf ball selection will be based on the
design of the golf course that you’ll be playing. Under normal lie conditions, you’ll want to
maintain a consistent ball position for crisp club to ball contact. Vary the length of your swing technique to
produce low or high trajectories. And
choose your club wisely. Practice with
different lofted clubs and observe the ball flight trajectory patterns. Take your observations to the golf course.
4 Steps to Successful
By: Tim Mahoney
If you were to watch the good putters on any of the tours,
they all have the same type of routine, a routine for success. As you approach putting, your mind must be on
your hands, assisting you with controlling distance. Consistent players utilize fact not
fiction. Develop this routine, and you
will become a great putter.
Step 1- Walk into
the golf ball with your right hand only on the club. During this motion you have three goals: establish an angle in the back of your right
wrist (this angle must be maintained during the entire motion.) Aim your clubface at your target. Align your right forearm on the same plane as
Step 2- Position
your body (all shots in golf, you must align club than body.) Position your eyes over the target line,
weight even, golf ball forward in your stance with boxed feet.
Step 3- Position
your left hand onto the club. As you
slide your hand onto the club, position both thumbs on the flat part of the
club with your palms facing each other.
Flatten your left wrist and maintain the bend in your right wrist.
Step 4- Swing the
putter with the arms. Quiet torso motion
as you maintain the hand position. Hold
the follow thru until the ball comes to a rest.
Your mind must be on controlling distance. Perfect distance is the effect of maintaining
the hand position.
All good putters develop a routine. I believe great putters develop an angle in
the back of their right wrist at address and they maintain this angle throughout
the stroke. As a result, pre-set this
angle at address and maintain this angle during the entire motion. Consistent performers utilize fact not