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Teaching Zone

Putting - Did You Know?

Images_T Zone putting When we watch golf on TV it can appear as if putts are being holed from long distance on a regular basis – for example, what percentage of putts, on average, do you think are holed from eight feet on the European Tour?

The answer is 52% – that means the very best golfers miss around half of putts from that range.

TV coverage tends to follow the players who are in contention to win and are probably putting particularly well. Plus, the director will often cut away to an unfancied player holing a monster putt purely for entertainment purposes. As a result, the club golfer will often have a very high and most likely unrealistic, expectation for their own putting.

What does this mean? Imagine that on the first 10 holes you have an eight-foot putt on each green. If you are expecting to hole 8/10 but only hole 5/10 you may begin to feel you are putting poorly and thus lose confidence for the remainder of the round.

If, on the other hand, you know that your putting performance is world class at 50 per cent that would provide a great mental platform to continue putting well.

Hybrid Chipping

Seve Ballesteros was a short-game genius, he had a fantastic and creative imagination and played a tremendous variety of shots around the green. A new shot that Seve would no doubt have embraced is becoming increasingly popular: the hybrid chip. Images_T Zone fairway woods

It works well because the broad base of a hybrid acts like a ski and doesn’t allow the club to dig into the ground, therefore assisting contact, especially from tight or bare lies. It is also easy to learn.

Hold very low down the handle and adopt a chipping stance. Use a smooth stroke that brushes the grass as you strike the ball. Aim for an even length backswing and follow through. The ball will come off the face hotter than a putter so practice to establish feel for distance. With little backspin the ball will roll freely across the green – especially useful when playing to a back pin position.

Seve Ballesteros was a short-game genius, he had a fantastic and creative imagination and played a tremendous variety of shots around the green. A new shot that Seve would no doubt have embraced is becoming increasingly popular: the hybrid chip.

It works well because the broad base of a hybrid acts like a ski and doesn’t allow the club to dig into the ground, therefore assisting contact, especially from tight or bare lies. It is also easy to learn.

Hold very low down the handle and adopt a chipping stance. Use a smooth stroke that brushes the grass as you strike the ball. Aim for an even length backswing and follow through. The ball will come off the face hotter than a putter so practice to establish feel for distance. With little backspin the ball will roll freely across the green – especially useful when playing to a back pin position.

Going Low - The Punch Shot

Images_T Zone low punch If you find yourself in trouble on the course it’s important to get out with your next shot. On occasions this means a simple chip out sideways but often there is a tempting route to the flag – if you can play a low punch shot.

Here is how it works.

Choose a low-lofted club and grip down the handle. Position the ball a little back of centre and place extra weight on the front foot. Make a short backswing (arms around chest high) and deliver the club into impact with the hands well in front of the ball and body weight very much on the front foot. The follow through should finish around hip height with the arms extended towards the target. The tempo of the swing is fairly brisk.

Warning: When delivering the hands in front of the ball at impact some players leave the face open and hit high to the right. Learn to square the face on the range before taking this shot on course.

Course management tip: Don`t follow a bad shot with a bad decision. It can be tempting to take on a ‘miracle shot’ to make up for a poor drive only to end up in deeper trouble.

However, with a little practice of the low punch shot you will have a lot of fun escaping from trouble.

Hit Better Drives

Hitting a great drive is one of the best features of playing golf. The following tips will help: Images_T Zone better drives

Always pick a target: Be very specific. Choosing a point on the horizon, or anything that your brain clearly knows is impossible to reach, will enable you to commit to the drive fully and gain better yardage.

Measure your carry distance: If you know your overall carry distance with a good drive plus a distance that will allow for any roll on the ball, careful use of your course guide or Golf GPS System will help you immediately eliminate any hazards facing you from the tee.

This allows you to swing more freely and with confidence, as you know the likely finishing position for your ball. If there are severe hazards at your optimum driving distance, use a fairway wood or rescue club to minimise the danger.

Don't worry about others, play your own game: If you are playing with other golfers you should always remember that you are playing against the golf course and not against your playing partners, unless it is matchplay.

It is all too easy to get sucked into trying to keep up with others who may hit the ball further than you off the tee. Try and avoid this and play your own game. Hit the fairway consistently and you will come out on top.

Make the driver your favourite club you will have a lot of fun.

Creating Backspin

As we approach summer stopping the ball on firm, fast greens becomes increasingly tricky and there are a number of factors to consider:

The type of ball: A low-spinning ball will fly straighter due to less sidespin, but it will also have less backspin and not stop as quickly. A high-spinning ball will stop well but may curve offline a bit more. What is the priority for your game?

The lie: When playing from the rough it is tough to impart backspin because grass gets between the ball and the clubface, effectively filling the grooves leaving little grip on the ball. Playing from the fairway creates more spin and control.

The wind direction: Playing downwind the ball will be blown forward and its angle of descent will be shallower, therefore, it will not stop as quickly. Conversely hitting against the wind will land the ball very softly.

Consider these points when choosing your shot and you will hit more greens.

Crunch Those Fairway Woods

One of the most difficult shots to make consistent, solid contact with is the fairway wood. Why is this?

• The target is far away and players often try to give a little extra and lose rhythm
• The club has a long shaft and a relatively straight face which tempts players to lean back and lift the ball in the air

To improve the performance of your fairway woods try the following:
Set up with the ball positioned three-quarters towards the front foot and ensure you use a light grip pressure.

This ball position encourages a sweeping contact and the light grip pressure helps maintain a good rhythm. Make a normal backswing and then swing through to a balanced finish with the weight favouring the front foot.

The Chip`n`Run

World number-one golfer Luke Donald is an amazing player; he has a very strong all-round game and a brilliant short game.

Images_T Zone chip and run One of the stand-out features are his little shots around the green, while some club players always choose a lofted wedge Luke likes to get the ball on the ground and rolling like a putt as soon as possible.

Prior to playing the shot he will pick his landing spot and visualise the shot. Next he will feel the strength with a couple of practice swings then go ahead and play – this is the ‘see it, feel it, play it’ sequence.

The Technique
Hold low down the grip for added control and stand closer to the ball, adopt a very narrow stance with the feet aiming slightly left of the flag and set around 70% body weight on the front leg.

Position the ball in the centre of your stance and set the shaft so the butt of the club points at the inside of your left thigh (for right-handed players).

When playing the shot encourage a subtle rotation through the knees, thighs and hips. Practice this movement by taking a golf ball and making an underarm throw at a target about 20 yards away – you should notice how your body rotates. This is the essence of good movement for chipping.

Just take a look at Luke by clicking here!

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Top tips from Lee Westwood:

Custom fitting : Getting Flight into the Right Driver : Know Your Yardages :

Improving Your Bunker Play : Wedge Selection : Getting Fit for a Putter

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