Jack Nicklaus: Why You Lose Your Grip

By Jack Nicklaus and Roger Schiffman; Illustrations by Jim McQueen

WHAT I WROTE IN 1973

Loosening the hands at the top of the swing is a major fault of weekend golfers and a sure shot-wrecker. The answer lies not in putting a stranglehold on the club, but in maintaining a consistent firmness in the hands. If you haven’t swung the club back adequately by turning your body, loosening your grip will be instinct’s way of getting it there.

TODAY

It’s never a good thing to let go at the top. If I do it a little today, it’s because my body won’t turn like it used to. But I never, ever tried to turn. Never consciously made a shoulder turn. I let the club turn me. I let my body coil through inertia, with the momentum of the club pulling me back.

It should be a flow back, but only go as far back as your body will allow. If your swing is a little shorter as you grow older, that’s fine. When you try to force a bigger turn, you move off your plane; you lift your hips, your shoulders, your head; and yes, you loosen your grip.

When I was playing really well, I might have let go a little with my right hand, but never my left. Keep that left-hand pressure constant, and you’ll be much more consistent.

Jack Nicklaus writes only for Golf Digest. In this series he looks back at his classic lessons published in the magazine.

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Some of the best chippers in history do these two things for extra-crisp chips

By Luke Kerr-Dineen
Top Teacher Andrew Rice has two thoughts to help your improve your chipping strike: Rotate and Rise.
You probably think “staying down” is a good idea when hitting chip shots. It’s not. Staying down limits rotation and alters the radius of your swing, which has an adverse effect on strike quality. When it comes to short shots, strike is king.
Study the best chippers in history—players like Seve Ballesteros and José María Olazábal—and you’ll notice they shift pressure forward onto their front foot during the backswing. This positions the body for the proper descending strike. In the downswing, they elevate or stand up slightly through impact.
This might go against the grain, but getting “taller” in your downswing will encourage your chest to rotate through impact—an important element of a crisp chip strike. During practice, work to coordinate a subtle shift forward followed by a gentle rise through impact. Your swing thought: Rotate and Rise. Do that, and you’ll lift to your up-and-down percentage. — Andrew Rice
Source: https://www.golf.com/instruction/2019/02/20/two-keys-to-improving-your-chipping-strike-golf-tip-chunking-shots?fbclid=IwAR2KLdsV9bQTuX16HG5EAjd5P-RXdW01fWEWdubhF097IrCAC1ba3k5efGc

Escape Any Bunker: How to Get Over a High Lip

By Stacy Lewis
This might go against your instinct when you’re in a bunker with a high lip, but the last thing you want to do is try to help the ball over the lip. When you try to force it up and over, it almost always comes out lower and slams into the face. Instead, do what I do.
First, try this drill. The biggest difference between hitting out of a normal bunker and one with a high lip is the amount of sand you need to take. To get the ball up quickly, your club should strike a lot more sand, and this drill will help teach you how much. Draw a circle in the bunker about four inches in diameter around your ball. Now get in your address position, playing the ball off your front foot. Before swinging, pick the ball up so all that’s left is the circle. We’ll get back to that, but first, two more things about address: Dig your feet in so you have a solid base, and open the face of your wedge before gripping the club. I know opening the face can freak out some amateurs, but don’t be scared. In a bunker, your wedge is designed to work when it’s open like this. In fact, you should keep the face open throughout the shot.
“DON’T BE SHY: TAKE PLENTY OF SAND TO GET OVER A HIGH LIP.”
Now here’s a key thought: When you swing, think about putting your hands into your left pocket as you come through. You can see me swinging toward my left pocket here. This forces the club to exit low, left and open, and cutting across the ball like this helps get it up quickly.
Back to the goal of the drill. I want you to make the circle disappear. To do that, you’re going to have to hit the sand a few inches behind where the ball would be, and swing through it with some effort. That’s the feeling you want moving through the sand in a high-lip situation. Practice the circle drill with my swing thought of getting into that left pocket, and you’ll make this shot a lot easier than it looks. — with Keely Levins
Stacy Lewis is a 12-time winner on the LPGA Tour, including two majors.
Source: https://www.golfdigest.com/story/escape-any-bunker-how-to-get-over-a-high-lip

This Lost Art Will Save You Strokes

By A.J. Avoli
Over time, a simple method for getting the ball from off the green to the flagstick fell out of favor.
I rarely see anyone chip like the late Hall of Fame golfer Paul Runyan. That’s a shame because this technique will make you more accurate around the greens with a lot less practice. Once you master the setup and learn to make a rhythmic stroke—like putting—you’ll start getting up and down more often. Let me show you how to chip old school. —With Ron Kaspriske
SCENARIO + SELECTION
Although you can use this shot in a lot of spots, it’s not all-purpose. Use this technique when you are no more than five yards from the green in the fringe or rough. Because this shot requires a stroke of consistent length and speed, the only thing you need to judge is which club to use to get the ball pin high. Visualize a small spot on the green where you think the ball should land to roll out to the hole. Then read the rest of the distance like a putt.
So which club to use? Take a little time on a practice green with your pitching wedge, 9-iron and 8-iron to see how far the ball carries and rolls using a stroke of the same length and speed. You can experiment with other clubs, too, but I’ve found sticking to these three brings about the most consistency.
SETUP + STROKE
Start by aiming the clubface at the small target where you want the ball to land. Remember, you have to read the green like a putt. That means if there is a slope, you might be playing the shot away from the cup. Now hold the club with medium grip pressure with its heel just off the ground (above). That’s really important to ensuring the club glides along the turf instead of digging into it.
You’ll notice the shaft is nearly vertical, with the handle leaning slightly toward the target and your weight favoring the left foot. Your arms should be relaxed, slightly bent and aligned parallel to the target. Ball position normally is just right of center in your stance, although you can alter it slightly as you experiment with how that changes the amount of carry and roll.
The stroke is as simple as it gets. It’s like a putting motion—the shoulders and arms do most of the work, and there’s no wristy movements. Focus on swinging the club with the same rhythm and force. The handle of the club should be swung no farther than the distance between your thighs. It’s a short swing equal in length on the backswing and follow-through.
The stroke should be aggressive or slightly accelerated, and always hold your finish to ensure a steady pace. If you’re struggling with that, say any two-word phrase with the first word coming on the backswing and the second word on the follow-through. A suggestion? Tick-Tock. Even better? Great-Chip or Hole-Out. I think you get the idea.
A.J. Avoli is one of Golf Digest’s Best Young Teachers. He is director of instruction at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, Calif.
https://www.golfdigest.com/story/this-lost-art-will-save-you-strokes?fbclid=IwAR1w-6ZWIxxKRj9V8eXCv1atQ6O9Itf6L5hJ97PdH1JACyv2D4_VUbPwGX4

How to Cure the Shanks

The fix for golf’s worst shot
By Keely Levins
We know, we know. You don’t even want to talk about the shanks for fear bringing the subject up will cause you to catch them. But like it or not, you might find yourself in a situation where you’re going to want to know a solution. Though awful, the plague of the shanks is curable.
First thing you have to do is take a break from the course. You need some alone time to sort this out on the range. Start by checking in on a few basics. Make sure you’re standing tall with your chest up during the swing, don’t hold the club too tightly, and make sure your weight isn’t sneaking up towards your toes. David Leadbetter told us that not tending to all of these little things could be the root of your struggles.
He also gave us a drill that will cure your shanking woes.
Set up like you’re going to hit it, and then put a tee in the ground just outside the toe of the club. While you’re swinging, think about keeping the grip end of the club near your body. “Miss the tee at impact, and you’ll hit the ball in the center of the face,” says Leadbetter.
Source: https://www.golfdigest.com/story/how-to-cure-the-shanks-there-we-said-it

Get better swing plane where it matters, near the ball

By Matthew Rudy
The same few words seem to pop up when describing Bryson DeChambeau’s game: Unique, quirky, or even strange.
What isn’t strange are the results. DeChambeau won his third career PGA Tour event at the Northern Trust, smashing the field by four shots with elite ball-striking using his single-length Cobra irons. DeChambeau hit 16 greens on Sunday on his way to his fourth round of 69 or lower at Ridgewood Country Club, and he made just six bogeys on the week.
The precision and consistency in DeChambeau’s game comes in part from his determination to make every swing on the same plane—literally. “I’ve run his swing on my 3D analysis software, and Bryson is literally more planar than the swing robots they use to design clubs,” says Golf Digest 50 Best Teacher Michael Jacobs. “Even if you wanted to try to do that yourself, I don’t think the average player has the coordination. He really is unique.”
But even with DeChambeau’s idiosyncratic method, there are things you can take away and use to tweak your game. “What gets weekend players in trouble is pushing and pulling on the club with too much force that’s perpendicular to the direction of the swing,” says Jacobs, who is based at Rock Hill Golf & Country Club in Manorville, NY. “That forcing of the club makes the club respond ‘out of plane,” which requires you to make a compensating move to recover.”
You don’t need to try to get your swing on a consistent plane throughout, as long as you can produce more consistency through the “execution phase,” says Jacobs—which is about hip high to hip high. “That’s where swing plane really matters,” he says. “Film your swing from down the line, with the camera on the ball line, and practice making swings where the club doesn’t move very much off the plane line in that phase. That’s going to come from a more neutral address position, where you aren’t aligning your shoulders, hips and feet at different targets, and from more neutral body motions. Get that phase down and you’re going to hit much more consistent shots.”
Source: https://www.golfdigest.com/story/steal-bryson-dechambeaus-secret-to-swing-consistency?fbclid=IwAR3X9BoXNIBzbhod3-_rCiWFhzl0sNFHXueGP_q-8irRDNpqnvQN8xvPN-U

Learn how to turn back, not sway.

By Keely Levins
Let’s talk about hip turn. James Kinney, one of our Golf Digest Best Young Teachers and Director of Instruction at GolfTec Omaha, says that from the data GolfTec has collected, they’ve found lower handicap golfers have a more centered lower body at the top of the swing. Meaning, they don’t sway.
If you’re swaying off the ball, you’re moving yourself off of your starting position. The low point of your swing moves back when you sway back, so you’re going to have to shift forward to get your club to bottom out where the ball is. That takes a lot of timing, and is going to end up producing some ugly shots.
So, instead, Kinney says you should turn.
“When turning your hips, you are able to stay more centered over the golf ball in your backswing and the low point of your swing stays in the proper position, resulting in consistent contact.”
To practice turning, Kinney says to set up in a doorway. Have your back foot against the doorframe. When you make your lower body move back, your hip will hit the door fame if you’re swaying. If you’re turning, your hips are safe from hitting the frame.
Remember that feeling of turning when you’re on the course and your ball striking is going to get a whole lot more consistent.
Source: https://www.golfdigest.com/story/how-a-doorframe-can-help-your-golf-swing

Wide = Far: How to get more out of your full-swing shots

Written by: Keely Levins

The Jutanugarn sisters had one heck of a 2018. Older sib Moriya picked up her first LPGA Tour victory, while Ariya won the U.S. Women’s Open title, was LPGA player of the year and moved to the top of the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. So when they give advice on better ball-striking, it’s wise to listen.

One of Moriya’s favorite drills to hit it higher and farther is as simple as it gets.

Take any full-swing club and set up to the ball normally. Now adjust your feet so they are several inches wider apart, and then start hitting shots.

“We call it the flat-feet drill,” Moriya says. “It helps shallow out your angle of attack, which is going to help you hit it more solidly using the club’s proper loft.”

Moriya also uses this drill to slow hip rotation, which improves her swing’s timing. And a wider stance has a benefit for amateurs: It helps prevent the common fault of swinging with weight on your back foot to try to “help” the ball up. Your weight should shift into your lead foot in the downswing.

To improve this drill, alternate hitting 10 balls with the wider stance and then 10 with your normal stance.

 

Written by: Keely Levins

Source: https://www.golfdigest.com/story/wide-far-how-to-get-more-out-of-your-full-swing-shots-moriya-jutanugarn

You’ll Pitch Better If You Don’t Hang Back

By: David Leadbetter

Great advice to remember when hitting pitch shots is to swing through impact on a shallow angle, letting the bottom of the clubhead slide along the turf.

Having said that, I’ve seen the application of this advice prove troublesome for some amateurs, because they try to do it off the wrong foot—the back foot. This typically happens because the golfer wants to help get the ball in the air with some unnecessary hand and body english. There’s no need for that. Wedges have more than enough loft to produce a high-and-soft shot, especially if the angle of attack is shallow—think skim, not dig.

So what I want you to do is make sure your body is being supported by your lead foot as you swing through impact. An easy way to ingrain this into your pitching game is with the classic step drill. It’s reminiscent of Gary Player’s signature move of walking toward the target in a seemingly continuous motion after he struck the ball. In this drill, swing down feeling all of your weight shift into the front foot. As your club is about to meet the ball from that shallow approach, your back foot should be off the ground and starting to move toward the target. Hit the shot and step forward as you see me doing here.

Getting your weight forward is going to help make your pitching game much more reliable.


MORE FANCY FOOTWORK: THIS ONE CURES THE SHANKS
Shank one shot, you try to brush it off and move on. Shank the next? Full panic sets in. Before you walk off the course and put your clubs on eBay, let me help. First, understand that the shanks most often occur when the golfer has moved too close to the ball at impact. Sometimes we unknowingly drift toward our toes as we swing, and this causes the club to strike the ball near or on the hosel. So what can you do? TRY THIS: At address, lift your toes inside your shoes (below), and keep them up when you swing. This will prevent you from moving toward the ball and clanking one off the hosel.

—With Ron Kaspriske

 

By: David Leadbetter
Source: https://www.golfdigest.com/story/youll-pitch-better-if-you-dont-hang-back

5 tips to help you keep your golf resolutions in 2019

Written by: T.J. Auclair

The new year has arrived and a lot of you golfers out there might be uttering the words, “new year, new me.”

Most of us make New Year’s resolutions and, unfortunately, most of us fail to see them through for all 365 days.

If your resolution involved improving your golf game in 2019, here’s a list of things you can do every day/week — even if you’re in the bitter cold like a lot of folks right now — to help you achieve those goals.

And, once it warms up in your area, you can take all five of these drills outside.

5. Exercise. Yeah, we know. That’s what we should be doing every day anyway, right? But when it comes to golf, you don’t want to be tight. There are a number of stretches you can do right from your desk while reading emails that will benefit your arms, shoulders, neck, back, hips and legs for golf season.

Even better, place one of those handy, elastic, tension bands in the top drawer of your desk.

4. Take 100 swings per day in your house or garage… without a golf ball. The best players in the world visualize the shot they want to hit before they hit it. With a drill like this one, you’re going to be forced to visualize, because there’s no ball there to hit. If you’re able, place a mirror in front of you and pay attention to the positions of your address, takeaway, the top of your swing and impact position as well as follow through. Do it in slow motion. Become an expert on your swing.

3. Work on your chipping. Can’t do it outside? No worries. You can purchase a chipping net, or even put down a hula-hoop as a target. Get a few foam golf balls and a tiny turf mat to hit the balls off of.

Will it produce the same feel as a real golf ball? Of course not. But what it will do is force you to focus on a target and repeat the same motion over and over. After a long layoff, “touch,” is the first thing that goes for all golfers.

This will help you to work on some semblance of touch all winter long.

2. Practice your putting. Anywhere. All you need is a putter, a golf ball, a flat surface and an object — any object — to putt at. If you’re so inclined, rollout turf can be purchased for around $20 with holes cut out.

Since the greens are where you’re going to take most of your strokes, doesn’t it make sense to dial that in whenever possible? It can be fun too. Does your significant other, roommate, or child play? Have regular putting contests.

The feel you gain during those sessions may not seem like much, but man will they come in handy when your season begins on the real grass.

1. Make a weekly appointment with your PGA Professional. Even in areas of the country that are suffering through the cruelest of winter conditions, you can always find a place to hit golf balls inside. Contact your local PGA Professional to find out where places like this in your area exist. You might be surprised at all the options you have.

With your PGA Professional in tow, you can work on your swing throughout the winter months and keep your game sharp. How nice would it be to be on top of your game as soon as the courses in your area open in the spring?

 

Written by: T.J. Auclair
Source: https://www.pga.com/news/golf-buzz/5-tips-help-keep-your-golf-resolutions-in-2019