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  Time limit
  Use lead tape?
  Outside - In
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  Heeling putts
  Number of clubs
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Ask the Pro Archive - 2001
Golf Questions and Answers on a variety of topics


Here are all the golf questions and answers that appeared on the "Ask the Pro" page in 2001, from most recent to least recent, top to bottom. Links in the left menu column give a "keyword" indication of the topic and will take you directly to that entry on this page. Also see the Ask the Pro Archive Index for longer descriptions in categorized and somewhat alphabetized form.

Golf Questions and Answers (2001)
(most recent to least recent, top to bottom)

Miscellaneous > Professional golf-related > When did the PGA begin?

December 29, 2001

Question:

When did the PGA begin?

Paul Craven
Mobile, AL

Answer:

PGA of America: 1918
PGA Tour: started in 1920's and became organized in the 60's

Thanks for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Miscellaneous > Other > Lifting weights and golf

December 20, 2001

Question:

I love to lift weights and I love to play golf. However, golf is becoming more important to me now. Can I still lift weights and play golf? Or is the my training hindering my game?

Jared Jarrett
Blakeley, GA

Answer:

Hi Jared, SURE you can lift weights. Many of the top pros (probably MOST at this point, including Tiger) do. It's just important to make sure you do your exercises properly and go through a full range of motion. Strength training is great for golf, as it is for almost any sport. The one exception might be extreme mass building: I have seen too much mass interfere with good swing mechanics.

For more details let me recommend this page.

Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com and best of luck with your game. MB


Long Game > General > Backswing slow or fast?

December 15, 2001

Question:

Is it better to have a slow backswing or a fast backswing if you are more of a beginner golfer?

Matt Rogers
Miami, FL

Answer:

Hi Matt, generally a slower backswing (rather than a fast one) is better no matter who you are. But the easiest way to manage your tempo, without worrying about fast or slow too much, is to make sure that your hands never grip tightly at any point.

Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com and best of luck with your game. MB


Long Game > Irons > Long iron out of the rough

December 10, 2001

Question:

I continue to struggle with my low irons out of the rough. I always seem to pull the ball off to the left. How do I keep my club head from moving?

Eric Affa
Whitehall, PA

Answer:

Hi Eric, and thanks for your question. The possible answers are
  1. Strength
  2. Know when NOT to try to hit a long iron out of the rough (when the lie is too tough)
  3. Use a utility wood (5 wood, 7 wood, rescue wood, etc.) instead of a long iron
Hitting a long iron from the rough is a problem for just about everybody. Time and experience may help you with numbers 1 and 2 above, but number 3 is something you can do now or later.

Thanks for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com. Best of luck with your game. MB


Long Game > Woods > Hitting longer drives

December 7, 2001

Question:

I was wondering how to go about improving my driving distance. I am a pretty straight hitter, but my average drives are around 220-235 yards. Just looking for ways to hit the ball longer. Thank You!

TC Clinton
Reidsville, GA

Answer:

Well TC, here's the short answer. The components of distance are
  • fitness (strength (both general and golf-specific), flexibility and endurance)
  • proper technique
  • appropriate swing concept
  • proper equipment for your physique and swing
  • athletic ability and explosiveness
  • feel
  • confidence
If you improve in any of these areas you will improve your distance. Improving in all of them would give you the best possible results.

Take one of my Long Drive Schools -- getting more distance is what they're all about! smile If you cannot come to work with me in person I recommend that you get my book, Hitting It Longer: Getting More Distance in Your Golf Game, with the Driver and Throughout Your Bag

For more fitness ideas check here. For equipment and fitting help find a reputable golf professional with fitting expertise near you. Part of getting distance is just plain old inborn athletic explosiveness, but general and golf-specific fitness will help. Finally, feel and confidence will be the result of improving in the areas mentioned above.


Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB


Long Game > General > Visual images while swinging

December 6, 2001

Question:

What are some good visual images to imagine while swinging the golf club?

Matt C.
Charlotte, NC

Answer:

Hi Matt, and thanks for your question. Well, everybody's different and golf swings, games, impressions and thoughts are like fingerprints. Since each individual is unique I can't give you a definitive answer. (Boy, I'll bet that isn't what you were hoping for smile)

I can tell you what I visualize. Obviously I'm actually LOOKING at the ball. But I don't visualize ANYTHING while swinging. I DO get a visual sense of the blur of the clubhead's direction travelling down the target line. All my visualizing is done prior to swinging.

That's about all I can tell you on this, besides that what and how you visualize may evolve over time. In an ideal world there is no visualizing during the swing, for me.

I hope this helps somewhat. Thanks for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Miscellaneous > Golf course-related > Shared, double or common greens for more than one hole

December 5, 2001

Question:

Have you ever heard of shared greens; say #1 hole shares the same green and hole with #3 hole?

Gary Sawhill
Smithville, NJ

Answer:

Sure, I have played a few courses that have that feature, Gary. And St. Andrews, the oldest and one of the most famous courses in the world has some shared, or double, greens.

Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Long Game > Woods > Problem hitting drives too low

December 1, 2001

Question:

I'm having trouble getting the ball in the air with my tee-shots. I hit low, line-drives that just seem to not want to "get up." I hit my irons well enough to save me on 2nd shots, but I want to get off the box. I'm a leftie and have been told that my hands are too far in front of the ball. I also use my 3 wood to tee off. A response would be greatly appreciated!

Randy Rose
Ewing, VA

Answer:

Hi Randy, and thanks for your question. To answer it simply, look for these things:
  1. that you're playing the ball far enough forward in your stance (opposite your right heel since you're a lefty -- use a mirror and/or lines on the ground to check this -- a decent golf professional in your area should also be able to help you with this quite easily)
  2. make sure you're hitting all these shots solidly up on the sweet spot rather than thin (low on the face)
  3. that your shaft is a soft enough flex and the flex point low enough to give you appropriate "kick" (again a good professional or club fitter near you can help with this)
Beyond that I can't help much without seeing you. If you cannot come to work with me in person get with a reputable pro near you. If you don't know one try www.PGAPros.com.

Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. Best of luck with your game. MB

Long Game > General > How many targets are there in a shot?

November 27, 2001

Question:

A buddy and myself have been arguing a queston for awhile now ... how many targets are in each golf swing, 1 or 2? (1 = the ball or 2 = the ball & the green, fairway, or pin, etc.)

James Morrison
Grand Prarie, TX

Answer:

There's only one real target per shot, James: where you want the ball to end up. The ball is never the target. But, depending on how you define target, there could also be at least one more "intermediate" target. Here's a quote from my Golf Glossary (available at http://www.pgaprofessional.com/glossary/):

intermediate target - a real or imaginary reference point, or target, that is on the line between the ball and the ultimate target (usually but not always fairly close to the ball) to make alignment easier
Example: an intermediate target might be a pebble or discolored blade of grass (it could be anything, really) three feet in front of the ball that is used as an aiming point because it's easier to line up to than the actual target 200 yards away.

I hope this helps. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB


Miscellaneous > Other > Resources for left-handed golfers

Novemember 21, 2001

Question:

I recently just started learning how to play golf and I am a left-handed player. I have had some golf instruction, but as you know this game doesn't come to you overnight. To help myself, I have been looking for golf instruction via books/tapes/magazines, anything really that would help me in my quest. Unfortunetly, everything is for the right-handed player. This is undestandable, since most people are righthanded, but when I try and read one of these books, it makes it that much harder when I have to read it, understand it, and then flip it in my head to what I should be doing. And without the help of pictures, it has been almost imposible.

Jason Melnyk
Marlton, NJ

Answer:

Hi Jason, and thanks for your question. Try watching videos or looking at book pictures in the mirror for one thing. There isn't much specifically for left-handers, but check out these resources for lefty golfers:
Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Miscellaneous > Professional golf-related > "Putts per round" statistic

November 13, 2001

Question:

What is the correct way to calculate "putts per round?" Do any strokes using a putter from either the fringe or just off the green count in this statistic?

Lawrence Diamond
Kailua, HI

Answer:

Hi Lawrence, and thanks for your question. The official method is that only putts "on" the putting surface count (that way there is no grey area).

Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > Time limit to search for lost ball

November 8, 2001

Question:

How many minutes are you allowed to look for a lost ball?

Ryan Aweida
Broomfield, CO

Answer:

Hi Ryan, and thanks for your question. 5 minutes from when the search begins. See also Golf Rules. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Equipment > Using lead tape to correct swing problems?

November 7, 2001

Question:

How does the swingweight effect a player's game? Can I use the lead tape to change the swingweight and correct my slice?

Ryan Shu
Auckland, New Zealand

Answer:

Hi Ryan, and thanks for your question. Swingweight is important relative to shaft flex. In other words, as the flex of the shaft gets stiffer the swingweight, typically but not always, gets heavier. Weight is also a matter of personal preference. Adding lead tape cannot correct your slice (if only it were that easy, eh?). Check through the "Ask the Pro" section here for tips on slicing and read my article on slicing on the site.

Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB


Long Game > General > Outside to inside swing problem

November 4, 2001

Question:

I have an out to in swing and I have been told that my hips need to go forward to give my arms room to come through, do you know any drills for this problem? Do you know any other reasons why a person has a out to in swing?

Johnathan Lowe
Loganville, GA

Answer:

Thanks for your question, Johnathan. The most common reason why a person would have an outside-in swing is "hitting" instead of swinging. More specifically, yes, the weight should flow from the right leg onto the left through a combination of leg and pelvic girdle action (this is a fairly compact movement, generally). The key is that the arms must be allowed to FOLLOW this motion and the turn of the upper torso, not INITIATE the downswing. Most people instinctively try to make their arms move fast (trying to hit the ball hard) right at the beginning of the downswing, which starts the arms on an outside path immediately, resulting in a path from the outside through impact. See if you can allow your arms to more or less drop and follow the turn of your pelvic girdle and torso (swing) rather than trying to use your arms to create force in the downswing (hit/hack). This should make your swing path come more from the inside.

This is far easier to convey in person than in writing. If you have trouble getting the feel of this I suggest you locate a reputable pro near you to work on it. If you don't know any, check www.PGAPros.com

I hope this answers your question, Johnathan. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com - best of luck with your game. MB


Short Game > Tip for playing from wet sand

October 23, 2001

Question:

What is a good tip for getting out of wet/heavy sand? Thanks.

Jeff Marquardt
Ewa Beach, HI

Answer:

Hi Jeff, and thanks for your question. It takes a good bit of time and experience to learn how to deal with all the possible variations in sand, but the best general advice I can give you for wet/heavy sand is to NOT use the flange of the sandwedge (to control the depth that the clubhead is allowed to dig into the sand) as you would in normal sand. The blade of the club will have to dig to some degree in wet/heavy sand in order to get the club below the ball and to keep it from bouncing back up into the ball (you might even use a pitching wedge instead of a snadwedge in some instances). How much, and at what angles is where the time and experience must come in.

I hope this helps you somewhat. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB


Short Game > Hitting putts on the heel

October 19, 2001

Question:

I hit about 60% of my putts in the heel. Can you help?

Richard Moorefield
Princeton, WV

Answer:

Hi Richard, and thanks for your question. I sure can help. First of all, make sure that your weight is NOT forward on your toes when you address the ball and then make sure you hold your body/balance still. Second, try to eliminate any independent pressure from the arms and hands. Let the stroke be created from the rocking of the shoulders and allow the arms, hands, and putter to all swing as a result of the shoulders rocking. One last thing, be sure that your grip pressure stays constant throughout the stroke -- no tightening the hands during the downstroke, ok?

I hope this helps, Richard. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com and best of luck with your game. MB


Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > Limit on number of clubs

October 14, 2001

Question:

How many clubs can a golfer legally have in his or her bag?

Mariellen Ralston
Fairfax, VA

Answer:

Hi Mariellen, and thanks for your question. Well, if you're talking about tournament play, or strictly following the rules, the answer is 14. If you're talking about casual play, I guess the answer is as many as you're willing to heft around. smile

Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com and best of luck with your game. MB


Long Game > General > Trying to get backspin on hard greens

October 11, 2001

Question:

I saw your answer to the question on how to put backspin on the ball but it wasn't clear enough to me. I don't understand how on the same course, and same hole I can sometimes back the ball up one day, and the next time I can't. I don't think I'm hitting the ball any differently. When I connect with the ball it is a somewhat low trajectory but it comes off like a rocket and that is with my sand, pitching wedge and my 9 iron mainly. It looks very good and I usually take a nice dollar bill sized divot, but I've only had it back up a couple of times now, and I don't know what the deal is. Most of the places I play up here have fairly hard greens especially in the summertime. I mean I hardly have a ball mark to fix, but it won't back up. It's ticking me off. Do I need a higher trajectory on my ball flight and if I do how? Please help!

Alex Hawkins
Beaverton, OR

Answer:

Hi Alex, the answer to your question is in the hard greens ("I mean I hardly have a ball mark to fix") - nobody would be backing the ball up on those greens ... too hard. The other variations you refer to could be due to inconsistent contact, varying grass lengths and wind direction. Besides, backing the ball up is far less desirable than getting the ball to stay very close to where it lands. If the greens are even too hard for that, well I guess you'll have to land it short of where you want it to stop ... or play a different golf course. The same shots you're hitting now would very likely back up somewhat, or at least hold, on softer greens.

Again, the elements of creating backspin are
  • quality contact (solid - ball before ground)
  • reasonable clubhead speed
  • relatively soft cover ball
  • reasonably receptive greens

For more see this FAQ. Thanks for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com. Best of luck with your game. MB


Equipment > Flatter lie angles on wedges?

October 5, 2001

Question:

I currently hit irons that are 3/4" longer than spec and 2 degrees upright. If I purchase wedges (i.e. 56 or 60 degree) should I adhere to those specifications? I'm a little afraid of changing angles, thereby swing planes, for different clubs.

William McGuane
Cheektowaga, NY

Answer:

Could go either way on this one, William. The short clubs are very much "feel" clubs and more personal. I've seen very successful short iron players with the wrong lie angles and lengths. Since you haven't actually adapated to any particular clubs yet, it's probably smartest to try to match your fitting.

Hope this helps a bit - thanks for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Equipment > Loss of feel after switching from steel to graphite

October 3, 2001

Question:

I have played with steel shaft clubs for about 6 years and have recently switched to graphite shafts. I am hitting my woods and short irons much better, but my long irons are terrible. I seem to be hitting every shot fat. Because of this, I hit anything from a 4 iron to a 7 iron the same distance. I have tried the other tips for hitting the ball fat and find that I hit fine with my steel shafts and only have this problem with the new graphite shafts. Is there some sort of adjustment I need to make in my swing due to the lighter shafts?

Anita Rapp
Hampton, VA

Answer:

Hi Anita, everybody has more difficulty with the longer clubs. But it is likely that the difference in feel between your two sets is the problem, and nothing that a little time and getting used to them won't fix. You might also have the lie angles, swing weight and club lengths checked by a good professional or clubmaker in your area to be sure they're right for you.

Thanks again for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com. Best of luck with your game. MB

Miscellaneous > Terminology - Words and Phrases > The phrase "over the top"

September 28, 2001

Question:

What does the term "hitting over the top" mean?

Mark Ragno
Portsmouth, NH

Answer:

Hi Mark, the commonly used phrase is "hitting FROM the top" or "COMING over the top." It refers to a common tendency to apply arm and hand pressure early in the downswing, causing the club to come from outside (or "over") the target line across to the inside. The result is a pulled or sliced shot, depending on the angle of the face through impact.

I hope this answers your question, Mark. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB


Miscellaneous > Professional golf-related > What happens in the case of ties with money

September 18, 2001

Question:

When 2 pros are tied for second place do they split 2nd place money or do they both get the full amount for 2nd?

Charles Belletsky
Audubon, PA

Answer:

Hi Charles, and thanks for your question. They combine 2nd and 3rd place money and split that. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB


Equipment > The different types of wedges

September 14, 2001

Question:

What are all the different types of wedges and lofts, and what are their purpose individually?

Anthony Charles
Kill Devil Hills, NC

Answer:

Hello Anthony, there are far too many wedges for me to try to describe them all to you. But it is safe to say that all wedges are designed for short, lofted shots. The loft, bounce, club head, sole and flange (back edge of the sole) come in a wide variety of degree, shape, size, width and thickness to influence the performance of the club in an attempt to deal with varying kinds of lies, grasses and sand. That's about the most complete answer I can give you without writing a book.

Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Miscellaneous > Terminology - Words and Phrases > The terms "fade" and "draw"

September 7, 2001

Question:

What is the origin for the words "fade" and "draw." I know what they mean but I'd like to know how they were chosen for a left to right/right to left shot. Thanks.

Ken Bonneville
Madison Heights, MI

Answer:

Hi Ken, I didn't know the answer to this so I consulted Mr. David Joy of www.Golf-Historian.co.uk. This was his answer:

Draw - Chambers Edinburgh journal 8th. Oct. 1842. "Then he may stand unfair, or he may draw his stroke and thereby send his ball off the course" ... Again in Chambers Journals of 1862 "...... when struck by the point or toe of the club, it is said to be drawn or hooked and flies to the left." -- Fade seems a much more modern word and I haven't come across any references to it until the 1930s!!! David Joy

Thanks for your answer, David. And thanks for the question, Ken. MB

Long Game > General > Curving shots, hitting a fade & draw

September 6, 2001

Question:

I know this sounds stupid, but I can't seem to be able to get any fade or draw when I need it (e.g., stuck behind a tree). Can you help me?

Nicola Melville
Stirling, UK

Answer:

Hello Nicola, and thanks for your question. Hitting a fade or a draw intentionally is a skill that it takes time and lots of feel to develop. Another thing to consider is that the longer the grass your ball is sitting in the harder it is to make the ball spin in ANY direction.

The easiest way to describe these shots to you is to say that the path of the club must move across, rather than directly down, the target line (one way or the other, depending on whether you're trying to hit a fade or a draw) while the club's face looks more in the other direction. This puts some form of sideways, or tilted, backspin on the ball, causing it to curve. E.g., a club that swings to the right of the target line with the face slightly closed relative to the swing direction would cause a draw (for a right-hander).

The easiest way to accomplish these curves, or shapes, is to alter your body alignment at address (again, either left or right depending on whether you're trying to hit a fade or a draw) and keep the club face pointing more toward the target. Sounds easy in theory, but again, it takes some time and lots of feel. Keep plugging away, and take a lesson from a reputable pro in your area if you continue to have trouble.

I hope this helps. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB


Miscellaneous > Other > Taking skills to the course

September 5, 2001

Question:

My problem seems to be that I can not transfer what I achieve on the driving range to the golf course. I am a bit like John Daly in stature and I have not found a range which I can not out drive, however when I come to the "real thing" on the course I either top it, or slice it wildly right. My usual response to avoid embarrasment is to put my woods away and stick with my irons which I do not have any problem with at all. I have none of the aforementioned traits on the driving range, so why do they appear only on the golf course? I hope you can help me, I put alot of time and effort into my golf and practice every day and play 2-3 times a week. I am desperate to improve my golf as I have seen that I can do it but only on the driving range.

Tony Pike
South Hampton, Hampshire, Great Britain

Answer:

Hi Tony, and thanks for your question. Well, there are a few reasons why this is a common problem, especially for less experienced players:

First of all, you get to hit many, many shots in succession on the range, developing a rhythm and holding onto the short term memory feel of your shots -- easier to groove. Whereas on the course you mostly are waiting in between shots. It's a totally different situation. Not to mention the fact that people tend to get nervous on the course (there's trouble on the course and NOT on the range), and so try to steer the ball instead of just letting their swing flow. That's one of the biggest parts of becoming an experienced and highly skilled player: learning to take your game from the range to the course and have confidence in your swing. It takes time.

Another factor is how easy it is to forget the bad shots on the range (again, you get to hit so many in a row it's possible to think you're doing better than you actually are). On the course you can't forget about the bad shots so easily, as they are added to your score. smile

Anyway, keep plugging away (working on all aspects of your game and playing a lot) and time and experience will prevail. I would also recommend this book - It's a great one for developing the mental side of your game.

Thanks for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com - best of luck with your game. MB


Long Game > General > Where to focus eyes, which part of ball

August 27, 2001

Question:

When hitting irons, where should I be focusing my eyesight, i.e., on top of the ball, bottom part of the ball? I can't seem to get an answer from those I play with. My brother plays pretty good and tells me that he looks about a 1/4 of an inch behind the ball so he can always get a divot. Is this right?

Juan Ortiz, Jr.
San Antonio, TX

Answer:

Hello Juan, the answer is don't look so hard at ANY particular part of the ball. Just generally look at the ball (what else are you going to look at, right?), don't be so specific and detailed about it. I don't know of any highly skilled players that look so particularly at the ball as your brother (plus it makes sense that if you were looking about ¼ inch behind the ball you would hit all your shots fat, no?). Focusing so intently on your vision will also take awareness away from your feel (probably not a good thing). Anyway, that's MY answser and what works for me and the players I have talked about it with.

Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB


Equipment > Degrees of loft on different clubs

August 20, 2001

Question:

Can you tell me the degrees of each iron on a standard set of clubs?

Bob Waldie
Grant, MI

Answer:

Hi Bob, and thanks for your question. Well, the problem is that each manufacturer defines its own "standard" for club loft angles ... and they're all DIFFERENT! Here is one version (again, of many) that I got from a custom club manufacturer. Though this doesn't cover all variations it should give you a general idea (most are pretty close to these):
  • 1 iron 17°
  • 2 iron 20°
  • 3 iron 23°
  • 4 iron 26°
  • 5 iron 30°
  • 6 iron 34°
  • 7 iron 38°
  • 8 iron 42°
  • 9 iron 46°
  • Pitching Wedge 50°
Also
  • Sand wedge and other wedges more lofted than PW 52-65°
  • 1 wood 6-12°
  • 3 wood 13-16°
  • 5 wood 19-22°
Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com, Bob, and best of luck with your game. MB


Long Game > General > Problem rolling the hands in the takeaway

August 11, 2001

Question:

How do I keep my hands from rolling during the take away? This puts the club behind me when the shaft is horizontal to the ground. I have tried everything please help.

David Otis
Mission, TX

Answer:

Hi David, and thanks for your question. Well, if your hands don't do ANYTHING then you will probably come closer to a correct one-piece takeaway (which I would recommend for you based on your problem). When your club shaft gets to a horizontal position for the first time in the backswing (somewhere between your knees and hips most likely) the blade of the club should approximate the angle forward of your spine, or the toe should be up but not past vertical (see the photos here).

Again, if you don't do anything at all with your hands, and simply turn away from the ball with your shoulders, this will happen automatically. But another method you could use would be to memorize the feeling (through many repetitions and conscious attention) of having the club in the right position described above. Remember also that there are some successful players who do NOT have a particularly good backswing, demonstrating that the move through impact is more important.

I hope this answers your question and helps, David. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com and best of luck with your game. MB


Long Game > General > Inconsistecy, hitting it left and right

August 10, 2001

Question:

I'm your regular social golfer only I have just recently encountered a problem or two that occasionally I will hook or slice the ball. When I'm driving I generally get great distance off my shots but when it hooks it stays hooked and nearly goes at right angles. Slicing is not so bad, as I feel in my body that I try to bring the swing in closer to my body as I swing. Why would I have such a bad hook when I also suffer from slicing and hit about 85% of my balls straight down the center of the fairway?

Stuart Clark
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Answer:

Hi Stuart, it's called active hands and an inconsistent release through the ball -- welcome to reality! These two FAQ's cover your question as thorougly as possible in writing (FAQ #3, FAQ #4).

Thanks for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com, Stuart. Best of luck with your game. MB


Long Game > General > Getting more distance, hitting it straight and long

August 5, 2001

Question:

When teeing off with my driver, I can hit the ball straight all day. However, I don't get much distance on it. What can I change to get more distance and continue to hit the ball square off the tee?

Erich Strack
Lincoln, NE

Answer:

Hi Erich, and thanks for your question. The best thing you could do is to take one of my Long Drive Schools, where we'll cover everything you can do to increase your distance in detail.

The most obvious answers besides that are
  1. improve your level of fitness (i.e., strength, flexibility and endurance)
  2. make sure your equipment is fitted properly to you
  3. get your swing mechanics and swing concept firing at maximum efficiency
If you cannot come to work with me in person I recommend that you get my book, Hitting It Longer: Getting More Distance in Your Golf Game, with the Driver and Throughout Your Bag

See this answer also. Best of luck with your game and thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com, Erich. MB


Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > Playing a wrong ball

August 1, 2001

Question:

This is a quick one: How many strokes will one be penalized if they play someone else's ball?

Sheri Waldner
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Answer:

Hi Sheri, and thanks for your question. Well, if you're talking about Match play it is simply loss of the hole on which the wrong ball was played. If you're talking about Stroke play (which you probably are) it is two strokes, unless the ball was played from a hazard (in that case it's 0 strokes, but the mistake must be corrected and the original ball played out).

Thanks again for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com. Best of luck with your game. MB

Miscellaneous > Terminology - Words and Phrases > The term "Golf", origin

July 25, 2001

Question:

Where did the word "Golf" originate?

Deanna Dorward
Lockport, NY

Answer:

Hi Deanna, and thanks for your question (I think ... the origin of the word golf, indeed). You're going to turn me into a golf researcher! smile  I don't really know the answer to this obvious question and, in fact, must admit to never even having thought about it!

The only information I can come up with at this point (though I will keep looking) is
  1. It originated with a game called chole (which has an O and a L in it, at least)
  2. It is supposedly the Celtic word for "ball"
  3. It may come from the Old Dutch or Old German word "kolb" or "kolven" meaning "club" or "clubs".
If I find anything else I'll be sure and get back to you, and I would appreciate your letting me know of anything you find out as well. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com, Deanna. MB


Short Game > Playing long bunker shots

July 18, 2001

Question:

Could you give me some technique tips or specific drills for consistently hitting accurate 50-80 yard bunker shots?

Dwight Kearns
Brandon, Manitoba, Canada

Answer:

Hello Dwight, and thanks for your question. I just finished reading a book called "The Stone Diaries," (ever heard of it?) which is about a woman who spends a great deal of her life in Tyndall, Manitoba. Good story. Anywhere near you?

On to your question: Hooah! That is a real tough shot, even for advanced players. The answer is that it depends on the exact situation (there are so many different ways your ball can lie in a bunker, and so many other variables). Obviously, if you're going to contact the ball first, like a normal fairway bunker shot, there is a premium on stillness:
  • playing the ball a bit farther back in your stance
  • choking down on the club a bit
  • making sure your lower body doesn't move too much (very little, if any, weight transfer -- mostly an arm and shoulder swing)
You're basically trying to make sure you hit the ball first, with no sand in between the club face and ball. This takes lots of feel, good technique and experience -- just keep working on it.

You can also play an explosion type shot with a less lofted club, depending on the situation (this usually works better if you have some room to be able to run the ball up a bit). Try using a 6 or 7 iron and playing a shot similar to a greenside bunker shot. The ball will come out lower and hotter than a normal shot with a sandwedge. This, again, will take lots of experimenting and feel.

That's about the best I can do for you in writing. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com and best of luck with your game, Dwight.


Miscellaneous > Professional golf-related > Making the cut and winning money

July 14, 2001

Question:

On the PGA Tour does a player make any money if he doesn't make the cut?

Mark Oehmen
Tinley Park, IL

Answer:

Hi Mark, and thanks for your question. The answer is nope, gotta make the cut to get paid. Sometimes outside the country players receive an "appearance fee" just for teeing it up, but not on the PGA Tour. Also, some limited-field "invitational" events have no cut. Best of luck with your game and thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB

Long Game > General > The shape of a swing

July 7, 2001

Question:

The 'U shape' swing plane of Tiger and Sergio make them above average off the tee. What are the fundementals to follow to produce such a swing?

Jason Rubis
Kawerau, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand

Answer:

Hi Jason,

Tiger and Sergio actually have quite different swings, and any reasonably good golf swing will have a generally elliptical shape to it (I suppose one could loosely call that a "U" shape, but I would not). U-shaped and V-shaped swings generally describe the angle of approach -- or the shallowness or steepness of the swing. There are many variables, and appropriate times for both.

The basic fundamentals of any good swing are the same. That is generally far too broad a topic for me to answer in writing -- I'd have to write you a book... and hey, as a matter of fact I have written some great golf instruction books covering the entire game in detail, right here.

Best of luck with your game and thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com.


Long Game > Irons > Hitting long irons fat

July 6, 2001

Question:

I have difficulty with my long irons. I always seem to hit them fat and/or get very little distance. The rest of my game is OK, it's always the second shot with a 3 or 4 iron that costs me.

John Regan
London, Ontario, Canada

Answer:

Yes John, many (perhaps most) people have trouble with the longer irons. As the irons get longer and the face gets steeper (less lofted) and the surface area of the clubface gets smaller ... it's just plain more difficult. You can't get away with swing flaws with the longer clubs like you might with shorter irons. They demand more precision. Even the best players in the world cannot hit their long irons as accurately, or as consistently, as their middle and short irons. Add to that the fact that most people know the longer clubs are supposed to go farther, so they swing harder and try to help the ball up into the air, and you have an evil combination of factors making a good result unlikely.

What to do about it: focus on the quality of contact and realize that it might take a while for you to develop enough precision to get results. Also, keep swinging with the same tempo and force you use on the shorter clubs and allow the longer lever length to provide the increased speed (don't try to hit the long irons harder).

Many people go with more lofted woods (5 wood, 7 wood, 9 wood, etc.) and find them to be easier to manage than the long irons. That may be worth trying if you continue to have trouble. Personally, I wouldn't have a clue what to do with one of those things -- maybe later. smile

Bottom line: don't press for distance and height with the longer clubs. Focus on the quality of contact and maintaining your rhythm and just let it happen naturally with time, experience and increased confidence. I hope this helps. Best of luck with your game and thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com, John.


Long Game > General > Keeping the left arm/elbow straight, or not

July 5, 2001

Question:

When I T-off, I only bring my wood about half way up, and when I swing down I swing with some power behind it. (Not like a bat) I have been hitting the ball better than I have ever before, even though I am new at this game. My friend (who is a good golfer) says that I will wish I didn't swing like that in a year or two, because it will start causing me to make mistakes. I am right-handed and when I swing I bend my left elbow as well to help my with my power to hit the ball. I always mess up hitting when I try to keep my elbow straight and to bring the club up higher. Do you have and suggestion? Thank You.

Matt Ruedlinger
North Vernon, IN

Answer:

Hi Matt, I definitely have a suggestion: golf lessons from a good professional near you. Your issues are far too complicated and varied for me to help you in writing. Though all the details of the golf swing that you need are covered in my book The Full Swing.

It will be necessary for someone to help who could actually see you swing and talk to you in person. If you don't know a good pro in your area try PGAPros.com.

Generally, it is simplest if the left arm (for a right-hander) stays extended throughout the backswing and through impact, but it is not absolutely crucial that it stays completely extended. Even that is a broad topic. See my related article on keeping the left arm straight

Thanks for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com - best of luck with your game. MB


Long Game > General > Grounding the club a lot or a little

June 30, 2001

Question:

My question concerns set up. When addressing the ball where is the correct location to have your clubhead? I have found that if I ground the club too much I tend to hit a fat shot every so often, while if I don't ground it at all I sometimes hit it thin. Maybe I am just thinking too much, or do I just need to groove my swing more? Thanks for the help.

Bernie Hayes
Rochester, NY

Answer:

Hi Bernie, and thanks for your question. Well, there are different styles of grounding the club and many successful players that use them all -- it's pretty much personal preference. Some players hover the club above the ground and some rest it on the ground, some line the ball up directly with the center of the club and some line it up off center. But I don't know of any players that push the club into the ground with any firmness. My preference is to let the club rest lightly on the ground, and that is what I see most players doing.

And, sure, you probably do need to groove your swing more (ideally to the point of not thinking about it at all). I hope this helps. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com and best of luck with your game, Bernie. MB


Short Game > Cutting across putts

June 26, 2001

Question:

I have fallen into the habit of cutting my putts. I have tried to break it but I can't keep the putter moving down the line. I have tried cross-handed, open stance and closed stance, any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Dave Soley
Slippery Rock, PA

Answer:

Hi Dave, and thanks for your question. There are a couple things you can do that will help real quick:

First of all, experiment with where your weight falls on your feet (you want to make sure you're not heavy on the toes or back on the heels - right in the middle with solid balance will help a bit)

Next, start using a chalk line AND a couple 2 X 4's placed parallel on the ground (one on each side of the chalk line) just about 1/4" wider than the toe and heel of your putter (like a trough for your putter to swing in). Use this from inside 5 feet or so to develop a straight stroke with a square face.

These two things alone should make a world of difference, Dave. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com and best of luck with your game. MB


Miscellaneous > Terminology - Words and Phrases > The term "release"

June 20, 2001

Question:

What is meant by the term "release" when used in reference to the golf swing? Do you release the tension in your hands and stop swinging, or does it mean to release the stored up power, e.g., to apply power?

Bob Hicks
Brisbane, Australia

Answer:

Hi Bob, and thanks for your question. There are differing opinions on what "release" means (like with a lot of things), but I'll give you my take on it and you can add it to your database.

There are a couple key ways to think about it. First of all, there is (ideally) a trememdous amount of centrifugal force, or angular momentum if you prefer, in a golf swing. Releasing that force is the "allowing" of the hands and wrists to unload, or unhinge, through impact and the bottom of the swing. (This is very different than pushing the club with your hands or "snapping your wrists" -- allowing is different than making.)

Another important way to think about release is the continued rotation of the pelvic girdle and torso through impact and into the follow-through (called releasing the right side, for a right-handed player) rather than stopping or bracing the body for impact and slashing with the arms to try to generate force.

I'm not sure if this complicates things for you or helps, Bob. I hope it answers your question. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com and best of luck with your game. MB


Long Game > Woods > Aligning the face with offset woods

June 12, 2001

Question:

Recently I purchased some Adams offset woods, a 4 & 7. Every time I hit from the fairway, I pull the ball to the left. How should I address the ball? Should I straighten the club face to the target, or adjust to the offset to the target? I'm a bit confused.

Eddie Arguello
San Antonio, TX

Answer:

I'm confused too, Eddie smile. I never have liked those offset woods, but ALWAYS keep the face lined up toward the target, in any case. Your problem may be a ball position issue (try moving the ball back just a bit in your stance and see what happens). It's a bit tough without seeing you, but check your alignment too. It's surprising how easily that can get out of whack.

Thanks for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com, Eddie. Best of luck with your game. MB


Long Game > General > How to go from low handicap to scratch

June 11, 2001

Question:

I have a handicap index of 4.4 and can't seem to get the consistency in my game to become a scratch player. What would be the best path for me to take to become a scratch player?

Bob Wood
Clarkston, MI

Answer:

Hi Bob, and thanks for your question. Actually, each player is unique and so your question is way too tough for me to answer precisely for any given individual without knowing them and their game. But generally, at the level you're playing now, it will probably be a combination of continuing to improve in managing your game (course management) and perfecting your short game.

Sorry I can't be more specific than that but, again, it's too individualized. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. Best of luck with your game. MB


Long Game > Irons > Long irons fat or lacking distance

June 3, 2001

Question:

I have played with steel shaft clubs for about 6 years and have recently switched to graphite shafts. I am hitting my woods and short irons much better, but my long irons are terrible. I seem to be hitting every shot fat. Because of this, I hit anything from a 4 iron to a 7 iron the same distance. I have tried the other tips for hitting the ball fat and find that I hit fine with my steel shafts and only have this problem with the new graphite shafts. Is there some sort of adjustment I need to make in my swing due to the lighter shafts?

Anita Rapp
Hampton, VA

Answer:

Hi Anita, everybody has more difficulty with the longer clubs, but it is likely that the difference in feel between your two sets is the problem, and nothing that a little time and getting used to them won't fix. You might also have the lie angles and the lengths checked by a good professional or clubmaker in your area to be sure they're right for you.

Thanks again for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com. Best of luck with your game. MB

Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > Play through, who asks who?

May 30, 2001

Question:

When playing through (e.g. a twosome behind a foursome) is it the correct etiquette for the foursome to ask the twosome if they would like to play through or the twosome to ask the foursome if they mind if they play through?

Justin Connery
Marina Del Rey, CA

Answer:

Hi Justin, and thanks for your question. In an ideal world, it would be the foursome asking the twosome to play through. But, quite frankly, some people either don't know they should or are just too selfish to do it. So, in the real world, the twosome should probably say something (diplomatically) about it if the foursome does not. Of course, use discretion, as each situation is unique. And make sure that there is not another group directly in front of the foursome, otherwise, why play through? (Sometimes play is just slow and you have to live with it.)

Best of luck with your game and thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Long Game > Irons > Hitting the 1 iron to the right

May 25, 2001

Question:

Hello there, I'm a strong 6 handicap. I'm not a long hitter but my control and tempro is great. I have been wanting to learn how to hit a 1 iron. Most of the time when I hit this club the ball leaks right. Is there something at setup that I can do to straigten the ball flight?

Christopher Morgan
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Answer:

Hi Christopher, and thanks for your question. The 1 iron requires a very good swing (and usually a lot of clubhead speed) to use effectively. But you can probably help your problem by making sure the lie angle is upright enough. If you have decent success with your other clubs and only the 1 iron goes right, perhaps the lie angle is too flat. Get it checked and give it another try.

Best of luck with your 1 iron (do you actually need it on the course very often?) and thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Long Game > Woods > Erratic results with woods

May 23, 2001

Question:

I have been having problems hitting long irons so I went out and bought an Adams 16 degree strong 4 and an Orlimar 16+ fairway wood but I seem to have a problem getting the ball airborne with both clubs. I am topping the ball down the range and digging up big divots with both clubs. It is really getting frustrating, what can I do to get my fairway wood shots up and airborne? Thank you.

Ray Roscoe
San Diego, CA

Answer:

Well Ray, if you're topping it AND taking big divots both, it sounds like your swing is very inconsistent and needs some work. I'd take a lesson, or a series of lessons, from a reputable pro in your area first.

What is needed is for your woods to come down and lightly brush the ground consistently. It sounds like sometimes your club doesn't touch the grass at all, and sometimes it digs in. Without seeing you I can't help much, but I suspect that your posture (and/or your lever length) is moving during the swing.

Get a lesson from somebody good near you. If you don't know anybody try PGAPros.com. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com, Ray. Best of luck with your game. MB

Miscellaneous > Other > Junior golfers and working out with weights

May 16, 2001

Question:

I am 15 years old and beginning to get very serious about golf. This is my 4th year playing and I'm very happy with my playing ability. However, since there is always room for improvment I would like to improve! I have just started working out and lifting weights and was interested in what were good exercises to do and good muscles to strengthen to improve my golf swing. Thanks a lot.

Aaron Graybill
Cherry Hill, NJ

Answer:

Hi Aaron, good to hear you're happy with your progress. At your age I wouldn't get to heavily into the weights just yet (unless it's very light weight and high repetitions). After you're growth slows down a little getting into weights would be great. Making your lower body stronger would be a good idea (how about running some hills ... run up and walk down is best for the knees). Also, longer distance running or walking will help your endurance (important later in your rounds). Keeping your abdominal muscles in good shape (sit ups, crunches, rotations, etc.) is a good idea. And lastly, staying flexible is important (stretching).

Get some good input on technique in all these areas from your coaches or a fitness trainer. Keep up the good work and thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com.


Equipment > Can women play with men's clubs?

May 7, 2001

Question:

Very Simple: can women golfers play with men's clubs?

Diane Belisle
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Answer:

Hi Diane, and thanks for your question. Just as simple: sure they can -- if the swing speed and hand size is appropriate, it is even recommended.

Best of luck with your game. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com


Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > Correcting a wrong score

May 4, 2001

Question:

In our last tournament, on #11, I turned in a wrong score (too many stokes for that hole). When we got to the 13th hole I realized I had turned in one more stroke than I actually took and wanted to correct my score for that hole. Can I do this?

Tom Warnimont
New Port Richey, FL

Answer:

Hi Tom, if it's match play no, if it's stroke play yes (in fact you can correct it all the way up until you sign and turn in your scorecard in stroke play).

Thanks for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com - best of luck with your game. MB


Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > Repair old hole in putting line

May 1, 2001

Question:

I have an old hole in my putting line. It is lower than the putting surface. Do I get relief?

Mills Rowe
Chesapeake, VA

Answer:

Hi Mills, no relief, but you DO get to repair the old hole and make it smooth to the best of your ability, like a ball mark. Thanks for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Long Game > General > Shaping shots, how to fade and draw

April 29, 2001

Question:

I am trying to figure out how to hit fades and draws. I have the fade down pretty good, however, I am not so good on the draw. What are some good, easy, ways that I can consistently hit fades and draws?

Jason Founds
Norwich, OH

Answer:

Hi Jason, thanks for your question. To hit either shot consistently the key is to make all adjustments in the set up and try to swing mainly the same way. So, for a draw the easiest way is to align your body slightly to the right of the target (if you're right-handed). An important thing to make sure of is that your SHOULDERS are ALSO to the right (most people can line their feet up, but don't get the shoulders right). Of course, the clubface should be lined up at the target and stay that way through impact. It is the across-the-line action caused by the alignment of the body that creates the sideways spin on the ball. Start experimenting, it takes a while to develop feel and consistency for this. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com and best of luck with your game, Jason.


Long Game > General > Which grip to use

April 22, 2001

Question:

I started playing golf about a year and a half ago. I can't seem to get a grip that works for me. It always feels like the club is not moving correctly when I swing. Do you have any suggestions on a simple grip I can use?

Matt Murphy
Tamaqua, PA

Answer:

Hello Matt, thanks for your question. To describe the grip in detail for you would take a LOT of writing. It would be easier for you to get a lesson with a good pro in your area. Check here if you don't know of any - PGAPros.com.

In the meantime, also read these brief instructions and see these pictures.

I would recommend starting with the ten finger grip (no overlap or interlock) and see how that feels. Best of luck with your game. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Miscellaneous > Other > Golf ball size

April 20, 2001

Question:

Is there a standard size for the PGA golf ball?

Tim White
Worcester, MA

Answer:

Hi Tim, and thanks for your question. There may not be a standard size, but there are limits on the minimum size, and most balls are the same or very close. Here's what the rules of golf have to say:
  1. Weight
    The weight of the ball shall not be greater than 1.620 ounces avoirdupois (45.93 gm).

  2. Size
    The diameter of the ball shall not be less than 1.680 inches (42.67mm). This specification will be satisfied if, under its own weight, a ball falls through a 1.680 inches diameter ring gauge in fewer than 25 out of 100 randomly selected positions, the test being carried out at a temperature of 23 +1°C.
That's probably more info than you wanted, but should answer your question. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com and best of luck with your game, Tim.


Long Game > Irons > Hitting shots to the left of target

April 11, 2001

Question:

I consistently hit my irons left of the target even thought the divot is usually on target. I have a flat swing and play to a 9-10 handicap. Could this problem be caused by standing too far from the ball, by the lie angle of the irons or by something else altogether?

Jack Richards
Iowa Falls, IA

Answer:

Hi Jack, and thanks for your question. Since I'm not seeing you swing it's a bit of a guess, but sure, based on what you have said the most likely cause WOULD be that the lie angles are too upright for you. That's the first thing I'd have checked. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. Best of luck with your game. MB


Equipment > Can I fit myself for clubs?

April 2, 2001

Question:

I'm an avarge hacker (with 20 year old clubs). I would like to get a new set, I don't know what length my swing is, how do I measure it?

Paul
Minneapolis, MN

Answer:

Hi Paul, and thanks for your question. YOU won't be measuring your swing, a club fitter or golf professional will. Get with somebody in your area with a good reputation. If you don't know anybody try PGAPros.com. There are too many variables for you to do it yourself.

Thanks again for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com, Paul. Best of luck with your game. MB

Miscellaneous > Other > What is a "green in regulation?"

March 27, 2001

Question:

What's a Green in Regulation?

Loke Yeow Wong
Singapore

Answer:

Hi Loke Yeow, and thanks for your question. Par on each hole is typically based on the length of the hole plus two putts. So a "green in regulation" (GIR) would be when a player has their ball on the putting green on a hole (the fringe doesn't count) in whatever par for the hole is minus the two putts. So, your ball is on the green in regulation on a par 3 hole if it is on the green with your tee shot, on a par 4 hole in two shots, and on a par 5 hole in 3 shots.

I hope this clears things up for you, Loke Yeow. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com and best of luck with your game. MB


Long Game > General > To pull or to push

March 23, 2001

Question:

For more powerful shot, in to which spot (around geometrical center) will you hit the ball? Another words you will "push", "pull" or hit in to a "dead center?"

Serge
Amherst, NY

Answer:

Hi Serge, I'm not totally certain that I understand your question. But I think you mean, "Do you swing the club by pushing or pulling?" The short answer is, in an ideal world you'd do neither, or both -- it's mostly torso rotation and the arms are relatively passive. I hope this is the answer to the question you were asking.

If you mean which part of the ball do you hit instead, that's a pretty involved topic and depends on what type of shot shape you're trying to hit.

Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com - MB


Short Game > How to get good at short putts

March 19, 2001

Question:

The other day I had a chance to break par for nine holes, but my short putting cost me. I missed a 4 foot putt birdie on the third hole and then a 2 foot par putt on the 7th hole. I ended shooting 1 over, but I was frustrated because I don't get to shoot par or better very often. Can you give me tips for short putts? Thanks

Daniel Cochran
Sunnyvale, CA

Answer:

I can indeed help, Daniel. Since touch, or distance control, is not the biggest factor on short putts (unless your playing extremely fast and severly sloped greens) you want to develop your ability to SEE and roll the ball ON your intended line. If you train your eyes to line your putter up precisely your confidence will soar on those shorter putts and you'll keep your scores down. Start practicing with a chalk line (available at any hardware store for 5 or 6 dollars). Find yourself a straight putt on the practice green and snap a chalk line down that is about 5 or 6 feet long. It helps a great deal to have a putter with a very distinct target line indicator on it. Make yourself line up exactly and start stroking those short putts into the exact center of the hole. Keep in mind that if they are not going in your hands are moving, or altering the alignment of the putter's face, during the stroke, and in an ideal world your hands won't influence the face in any way. Once you KNOW that you can keep the ball EXACTLY on line you will be deadly on those short ones.

Thanks for visiting pgaprofessional.com, Daniel. Best of luck with your game. MB


Short Game > Which club to use for chips

March 16, 2001

Question:

My problem is with the short bump and run. What club should I use here? I have switched between 9, 8, 7, PW & LW -- having sucess with all at times but not always. Should I take one club and stay with it and do I hit the ball half way to the flag? Thanks ... trouble is between 40 yards in.

Ron Hill
Canton, NC

Answer:

Hi Ron, and thanks for your question. There's a bit of personal preference here, but the general rules on this type of shot are:
  1. keep the ball as low as possible whenever possible

  2. keep the behavior of the ball as consistent as possible by keeping the spin to a minimum
There are a few players that use one club for all these shots almost exclusively (it seems that Phil Mickelson mainly uses a trusty sandwedge with his hands pressed well forward). There are also players who use many different clubs to create different effects (for instance, Paul Runyan, a long-time master of the running shot, uses all of his irons depending on the distance from the ball to the green and from the edge of the green to the cup). This is where the personal preference comes in, as both methods work for different players.

My personal preference, which seems to be fairly common, is to use 2 or 3 different clubs to create the needed shot shapes. I use a 7 iron to play very low shots that run a long way, I use a pitching wedge to play shots with a somewhat higher trajectory that roll a bit less, and I use a 60 degree wedge to play even higher shots that I still expect to release a bit. Beyond that it actually becomes a pitch instead of a bump and run.

Whichever clubs you decide on (time and experience will serve you well in deciding) remember the general rules above and you'll probably have a lot of success with these shots. Also, remember to practice
  1. landing the ball both on and off the green
  2. using your imagination
  3. using the terrain to create shots
Thanks again for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com, Ron. Best of luck with your game. MB


Equipment > "F" wedge, what does the F stand for?

March 15, 2001

Question:

This may be seem like a silly question, but here goes. I recently purchased a 51 degree Mizuno T-Zoid Wedge. I was looking for what is commonly referred to a "gap" or "dual" wedge. This club has been a life saver for the in between shots. I have heard this called the "gap" or "dual" wedge, but on occassion, I have also heard this called an "F" wedge. This wedge actually has an "F" on it (like a Sand Wedge would have an "S"). I love this wedge, I am just curious what does the "F" stand for in "F Wedge?"

Brian Barker
Blaine, MN

Answer:

The F stands for "fairway" on that wedge. Good to hear it's working so well for you.

Thanks again for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com, Brian. Keep up the good work with your game. MB


Equipment > Driver loft and its effect on trajectory and distance

March 14, 2001

Question:

I use a Cobra 10.5 offset driver and hit the ball 200 to 225 yds. I hit the ball very high. My question is if I switch to an 8.5 or 9° driver will I hit the ball lower and farther? Thanks for your input. I am 61 yrs. young and have been golfing for 8 seasons and am a 12 handicap.

John Birkmann
Chicago, IL

Answer:

Hi John, there are other factors that probably have a bigger impact on trajectory (shaft flex, kick point, center of gravity of the clubhead, etc.). Check with a good professional or clubmaker in your area.

Thanks for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com - best of luck with your game. MB


Long Game > General > Stance width, how wide to place the feet

March 11, 2001

Question:

How wide should the golf stance be?

James Flewellen
Columbus, OH

Answer:

Hi James, and thanks for your question. I assume you're talking about a standard issue full swing -- heels approximately the same width as the shoulder joints.

Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com - best of luck with your game. MB


Long Game > Irons > Power leak, not enough distance on irons

March 9, 2001

Question:

I'm 6'4" and feel that I don't hit my irons as far as I should. I play to about a 13 handicap and have a pretty big swing, I'm not overweight nor do I have any thing physical that hinders my swing. I'm wondering if it's because I tend to hit the ball clean without much of a divot or if it's simply a question of swing path. For an example of what I mean, I hit my driver about 260-265 but a 7 iron for me is about a 150 yard club. I'm thinking I should be hitting it approximately 10 or so yards further. Any Advice?

Scott Schwitzer
Port Orchard, WA

Answer:

Well, I've seen all kinds of players (big and small) that had power leaks all over the place, Scott. It could be a lot of things (could even be your clubs -- have you tried other clubs? same result?). I've seen many tall players who were pretty short hitters, so being tall alone does not necessarily mean distance. Your "power leak" is probably somewhere in the swing mechanics. A good pro near you would have a better chance of helping you in person than I would without seeing you. If you don't know one check PGAPros.com. Or, if you ever visit the San Francisco bay area of Northern California contact me for a golf school or a golf lesson. I'd need to work with you in person.

Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com, Scott. Best of luck with your game. MB


Long Game > General > Left wrist bowed or cupped at impact

March 7, 2001

Question:

Should the left wrist be bowed or cupped at impact?

Robert Craig
Louisville, KY

Answer:

Hi Robert, and thanks for your question. Definitely never cupped, and depending on who you are, your initial hand position, what kind of shots you play and how strong you are anywhere from relatively flat to somewhat bowed would be the answer.

Thanks for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com, Robert. Best of luck with your game. MB


Equipment > Advantages of graphite over steel

March 6, 2001

Question:

I've been thinking of buying a new set of clubs, and I would like to know what the advantages of graphite shafts are over steel, if any.

Robert Messer
Lee, MA

Answer:

Hi Robert, and thanks for your question. It totally depends on WHICH shaft in particular you're talking about, and there are MANY. You'll notice that most tour players still use steel, though a good number now use graphite (tradition dies hard and good players have been used to the feel of steel shafted clubs for a long time). It boils down to personal preference, really. Besides the fact that graphite typically transfers less vibration into your hands (meaningless for most players, but helpful for some with arthritis or other physical limitations) and the overall weight of the club is lighter (making the head feel relatively heavier -- is this good or not? depends on your preference and your swing style). Generally, graphite is probably a good idea for women because of the lighter overall weight and emphasized head weight.

The bottom line is that it's more important to be fitted properly and like the look and feel of your equipment rather than what the clubs are made of. I've been using graphite shafts in all my clubs since 1990. Has it helped? No, I just like the feel of the clubs. I'm sure I'd play just as well with steel once I readapted to the feel of it.

Get with a good clubmaker or professional that specialized in fitting and work with them. I'm sure you'll come up with something you really like. Thanks again for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Long Game > General > Erratic results, misses are everywhere

March 3, 2001

Question:

I am almoat 55, I play to about a 10. Until last year I hit the ball consistantly straight, (slight fade) and was down to about a 5. I broke a bone in my left hand and played last year while rehab'ing my hand. I have lost considerable distance and now my misses (always were right) are everywhere. Hand is fine all strength has returned. I no longer make as solid contact as I did in years past. In fact, before the injury I had more than a dozen rounds in the 60's. I have no physical limitation that I am aware other than being 55 and I am 5'8 weigh about 210, but am pretty solid. Just not hitting it solid anymore and it is very frustrating. I used to hit tee shots about 235 yards carry and my 7 iron about 155 yards. Solid short game but now chipping and pitching stroke is choppy and quick. Tempo was always kind of quick. I have tried to slow things down and I practice regularly at an indoor facility in the winter. I play at least 4 times per week at different courses and practice at least 45 minutes each day that I don't play. I will try anything. I have the weighted club Momentus, I have the Kallasy Swing Magic club but nothing has seemed to help. I have Jan, Feb, and March to get it back or it's softball and bowling for me. (I hate them both) Anyway thanks for your time.

John Casion
Kirkville, NY

Answer:

Hi John, and thanks for your message. To be fair, without seeing you I can't really do anything more than speculate. But the fact that your misses used to all be to the right and now they are everywhere suggests that your arms and hands are more (too) involved than they were before ... OR that you've completely lost all feel for what you used to do (you would know better about that than I would). I suppose it could have something to do with either a loss of strength or a lack of confidence in the injured hand, but again, speculation. It sure doesn't sound like it's because of a lack of practice time.

My general suggestion would be to stop trying so hard. Make sure you're not gripping the club too tightly, as the hand injury may be subconsciously causing that to happen. Try moving up to the regular tees (or playing shorter courses) and try being smooth for a while to see if you can get your rhythm back, and then moving back to the tees you normally play. Obviously, lessons from a reputable pro in your area would are advisable, too. I'd have to see you in person to give you any meaningful analysis and correction. If you ever visit the San Francisco bay area of Northern California contact me to arrange a private golf school or a golf lesson. If you will not be traveling this way and would like to find a professional near you to work with try PGAPros.com. Thanks again for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com, John. Best of luck with your game. MB


Long Game > General > Which grip after hand problem

March 1, 2001

Question:

Have been a single number handicap most of my life. Have always used interlock grip. Now that I am getting older (41), the skin on my right hand takes lots of abuse including cuts that make holding club difficult. I hate wearing gloves (I am right handed). I am debating going to overlap to reduce the strain, wondering of there is any opinion on type of grip vs. type of player you are? For ex, interlock grip helps power player, or overlap is better accuracy? Thanks

Butch Philbrick
Germantown, MD

Answer:

Hi Butch, and thanks for your question. I'd recommend the ten finger grip (no overlap, no interlock, just the hands together with no space between them). The crucial aspect of a grip is not how your hands connect with each other but how they are positioned in relation to the clubface and where the grip contacts the hands. The ten finger grip is the easiest grip to relax your hands with, which will help your feel AND clubhead speed. Want references?

Bob Rosburg, PGA Champion and multiple PGA Tour event winner; Beth Daniel, one of the all-time LPGA greats; Moe Norman, considered the "Best Ball Striker Ever" by many; Art Wall, more aces than anybody in the history of golf. See also this answer on the ten finger grip.

There really is no "best grip for playing style." It would have more to do with the shape and size of the hands and how they worked and felt together more than anything else. Try some experimenting, if you've had a single digit handicap most of your life I'll bet you could play with ANY grip and do well.

Thanks again for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com, Butch. Best of luck with your game. MB

Mental Game > What to think during the swing

February 28, 2001

Question:

What should you focus on when swinging after you are set up and ready to fire?

Rodger Wilson
Scottsdale, AZ

Answer:

Hi Rodger, and thanks for your question. The answer to your question totally depends on where you are in your evolution as a golfer. Pretty simple answer, really: The less the better -- probably just one particular thing which could be, and probably is, different for each individual. Swings are like fingerprints and so are ways to think about the swing.

To explain, once your swing is "in place" (i.e., automatic or repetitive) thinking is not necessary per se -- it's more or less feeling and visualizing rather than thinking. But for beginners and/or people that are working on their swings there might be many thoughts, and these are unavoidable.

The real short answer is if you are on automatic the question will not arise. If you are not on automatic, have many thoughts going on, and can't choose between them it's simply too early in the game to expect anything else. All golfers go through the "too much to think about" stage as they learn. So, for now, when you are PLAYING golf (not practicing) just try to focus on what you want to have happen as an end result of the shot at hand.

Confused yet? Here's a link to some further help.

Mental Keys to Better Golf

Hope this helps somewhat. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com, Rodger. Best of luck with your game. MB


Long Game > General > Reverse pivot problem

February 26, 2001

Question:

I have got serious problems with a reverse pivot at the moment. Could you please send me any information on how to cure this problem?

Stewart Curtin
Glasgow, Strathclyde, Scotland

Answer:

Well that's kind of a broad topic with lots of different permutations, Stewart. But here are some general things to look for. (I'm assuming you're right-handed ... use a mirror to check these)
  1. Make sure your right hip is not moving much laterally to the right on the backswing

  2. As an exaggeration, try to get your left shoulder back above your right knee at the top of your backswing (as you see it in the mirror) while keeping your right knee from moving much (you may not be able to get all the way there, but trying will get you a good feeling for moving into your right side)

  3. Allow your head and spine to move laterally to the right a little bit in the backswing but make sure that your right eye can see the ball at ALL TIMES (close your left eye to test this)

  4. As a drill, pick your left foot up off the ground at the top of your backswing (you will not be able to do this if you reverse pivot)
These should get you started in the right direction, Stewart. I hope this helps. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Mental Game > Losing distance once a year mystery

February 23, 2001

Question:

I am a 10 handicap. Every year I organize a golf trip in February to Myrtle Beach. I always lose 10-20 yds per club, the other guys do not. It does not feel like I am pinching the ball off the turf. After awhile, I tense up   lose even more distance. Are there any cures, drills, or checkpoints you can recommend? I usually hit my 8 iron 150 yards and am 33 years old. Thank you

Chris Seibert
Coldwater, OH

Answer:

Hmmm, the old "mysteriously losing 10-20 yards per club only on the tripto Myrtle Beach" syndrome, eh Chris? If that doesn't sound like a psychological issue I don't know what DOES. "It's couch time, baby!," he said, hoping that Chris could take a joke. grin

All kidding aside, if it ONLY happens on that one trip to Myrtle Beach every year perhaps you're pressing to keep up with the other guys in terms of distance and the increased tension in your body associated with that is making you so tight that it's impossible to get your usual clubhead speed.

Besides that it sounds like perhaps your hands are a bit too active and the clubface is not being presented to the ball in enough of a hands-forward position. Try to feel your hands being farther in front of the ball at impact (make the clubface steeper/less lofted). Without seeing you in person these are only guesses.

I hope this helps somewhat. Best of luck with your game, Chris. Thanks again for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Long Game > Woods > Blocking it to the right

February 20, 2001

Question:

I am 15 and just made the Varsity Golf team. After making the team I began to get my bad habit back of blocking the ball. The coach tells me I have to either slow down my hips or speed up my hands but I just can't seem to correct it right now. Do you have any drills or suggestions that might help?

Josh Mecouch
West Linn, OR

Answer:

Hi Josh, and thanks for your question. Yeah, that happens to me sometimes too. The cause could be a few things and without seeing you I can only take a stab at it. What usually happens to me when I get the blocks is that the club is getting too flat and a bit laid off at the top of the swing. See if you can get the club a little bit more upright (higher over your shoulder) at the top. That will allow the club to fall less from the inside and may make it easier for you to keep the club and your arms slightly more in front of you. There could be many factors involved; I'd have to watch you swing to say -- work with the above a bit and see if it doesn't help.

Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com, Josh. Best of luck with your game. MB


Long Game > General > Problem hitting the longer clubs

February 19, 2001

Question:

About three months ago I started playing golf again after having had it for a semester in college. I'm doing very good I think since people at the range that I thought were pretty good themselves were watching me and asked me if I was a scratch golfer! Every iron up to my 4-iron that I hit with a very smooth and easy swing of the mat goes very straight and very far. The problem is my 4 and 3-iron and my metalwoods. They do not have the consistency off the mat and I seem to loose the relaxed and smooth feel in my swing. Any tips?

Rick Alessio
Hillegom, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands

Answer:

Thanks for your question, Rick. That is a very common problem with all beginning and intermediate golfers. Time and experience will help, but my best advice would be to focus on the rhythm and feel of your swing rather than power. As the clubs get longer people have an instinct to swing harder and try to hit the ball farther. It's a tough instinct to overcome, but the truth is that the increased length and leverage of the club is what will provide the distance, not swinging harder. Keep the rhythm smooth and try to improve the quality and squareness of contact and things will evolve as they should.

I hope this helps a bit. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com, Rick. MB


Long Game > General > Low handicapper wants to shave off last few shots

February 17, 2001

Question:

Hi. My current handicap is 5 and I am trying desperately to shave those last 3,4,5 strokes off of my game, but I am not seeing any immediate results. I was just wondering what part of my game would be best to work on to shave those last few strokes. Thank you

Tracy Tripp
Reidsville, GA

Answer:

It will almost certainly be a combination of putting (and the entire short game) coupled with more playing time, Tracy. Keep up the good work. It sounds like you're doing well. Thanks for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Long Game > General > Hitting shots on a lower trajectory

February 11, 2001

Question:

I am a 9 handicapper who consistently hits an abnormally high ball. I still hit the ball a good distance but I feel I would be an even better player if I could keep the ball down. Can you help me?

Jason Weber
Visalia, CA

Answer:

Hi Jason, and thanks for your question. You are correct in assuming that you would become a better player by learning to keep the ball down when warranted. This is a common problem among good athletes who become good players. You're hitting the ball well, but perhaps too hard and/or with too much hand action.

Knowing that in order for the ball to go low the clubface has to be steeper, see if you can bring the trajectory down by keeping your hands more passive and farther in front of the ball at impact, using your body turn to create the acceleration rather than your hands. Just start with short punch shots (see how low you can hit a nine iron 100 yards, for instance). It will help to swing smoothly instead of hard, as the harder you swing the more you will compress the ball and the higher it will climb from spin/lift.

I used to have the same problem when I was in college, but finally figured out how to keep the ball down and it definitely helped me to improve. All this being said, it's nice to be able to hit it high when you can or want to. I hope this answers your question, Jason. Best of luck with your game and thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Miscellaneous > Other > Diet, workout   getting noticed by colleges

February 7, 2001

Question:

What type of weight training should I do to lose weight and gain power? Also how do I get noticed by a college team when my community college does not offer golf and my handicap is low?

Bryan Schambough
Eunice, LA

Answer:

Hello Bryan, and thanks for your question. To answer your first question just get on a general conditioning program which would include weight training, some kind of aerobic training (jogging, swimming, biking, cross-country skiing, etc. -- this is where you will lose body fat/weight), and flexibility (stretching, yoga, etc.). The specific training can come later. The benefit you gain from generalized training alone will help you forever. Also, nutritionally speaking, I have found this book and system of eating (The Zone) to work very well for me.

To answer your second question start playing in as many high profile amateur events as you can locally (contact your state golf association for a tournament schedule and membership info). Even if your school doesn't offer it the state golf association does and coaches will find out about you if you do well. You might also consider contacting college coaches directly.

I hope this helps and answers your questions, Bryan. Best of luck with your game. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Miscellaneous > Other > Who is a Pro? (qualifications, etc.)

February 3, 2001

Question:

Can anyone give golf lessons or do you have to be certified? Don't you have to be a real golf pro? Surely just becuase someone plays golf, they can't advertise and charge money for lessons. Need reply ASAP please. Thank you!

Robin Stover
Charleston, SC

Answer:

Ah yes, Robin, anybody can CALL themself a "golf pro" and start charging money for lessons (if uninformed and unsuspecting persons will pay for them), just like anybody can teach piano lessons, etc. Now, whether or not those lessons are worth money is debatable. The truth is that there are MANY unqualified people teaching golf lessons (I know some of them) and for students who don't know any better ... well, how would they know the difference between a good golf lesson and a bad one considering their lack of experience? More advanced players would know, and would not likely be taking golf lessons from someone who was not qualified.

My recommendation would be to only take lessons from a member of the PGA and someone who has some credentials to present. (Unless the instructor in question had a VERY positive, long term reputation and you could get testimonials from people you knew and trusted that had improved their game to their satisfaction.) Not to say that a person could not be a good golf instructor without being a member of the PGA or without credentials, but as a student how would you know without experience?

I hope this answers your question and thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com, Robin. Best of luck with your game. MB


Long Game > General > How to keep from overswinging

February 2, 2001

Question:

Are there any drills to keep me from over-swinging? I go way past parallel? Thanks

Lyn Maroon
Palm Harbor, FL

Answer:

Hi Lyn, and thanks for your question. There are a few key things you can do to make sure you're not going too far back:
  1. Make sure that BOTH eyes can see the ball at ALL times (e.g., if you are right-handed practice hitting balls with your left eye closed ... your right eye should be able to see the ball the entire time in your backswing -- if it disappears there's one problem)

  2. Make sure that your top hand (left hand if you're right-handed) is NOT opening up at the top of your swing -- the fingers should not be letting go at all at the top (though they SHOULD be fairly relaxed as opposed to tight)

  3. Make sure that your lever arm (left arm if you're right-handed) is extended (that doesn't mean rigid) and your hands are as far from your torso as they can get -- many golfers overswing because they allow their arms to collapse (more or less wrap around their neck)

  4. Make sure that your back leg/knee (right leg for right-handers) is not straightening up and/or turning back away from the target much. It's very common for the knee to move out of position like this, and if it does your pelvic girdle is allowed to turn too far.
If these things are in shape it is not possible to overswing. Thanks again for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com, Lyn. Best of luck with your game.

Long Game > Irons > Shanking - cause and cure

January 29, 2001

Question:

What causes the shank and what can correct it?

Robert Riley
Chesterfield, MO

Answer:

A shank is usually associated with the path of the club rather than the angle of the blade, though an open blade through impact will increase the chances of it. The most common reason for a shank is an outside-in swing path caused by excessive arm and hand pressure on the club (also called hacking, as opposed to swinging -- probably trying to hit it too hard -- you wouldn't be the first). The weight moving forward or back on the toes/heels (loss of balance) can also contribute. This causes the club to approach the ball from outside the target line "exposing" the hosel to the ball and ... ouch, shank.

Wanna fix it pronto or hurt yourself trying? grin Here's a quick cure, but you have to be a bit careful (wear protective lenses, like when you're using a grinder). Actually it's not that bad, but I have to be sure to include a disclaimer. You'll see why in a minute. Warning/Disclaimer: If you have reservations about the saftey of this or if you think you might hurt yourself don't do it. I have never seen, nor have I ever heard of, any injury resulting from this drill.

Set a 2 X 4 on the ground on its narrow edge, running parallel to the target line and just on the far side of the target line from you. Place the ball near enough to the board so that when you address it with the center of the club there is about 1/2" (1" if you're really apprehensive) clearance between the toe of the club and the board (that is plenty of room to swing and still miss the board easily, IF your swing is actually going down the target line through impact).

Shank drill with board or box in place Get used to hitting balls like this. This will train you (quickly) to swing down the target line, or more inside out than you are currently, and should fix the problem. (B.F. Skinner, of operant conditioning fame, is grinning.) You may find yourself striking the board. If so, you will probably find that your club strikes the board BEFORE, or BEHIND, the ball (you'll be able to see where the club has hit the board by examining the board afterward). If this sounds too dangerous to you try a cardboard box with a very straight edge instead (like the boxes individual golf clubs come in for instance, they're about the right size).

Once you know the feeling of the correct path the shanks should go bye-bye. I hope this answers your question and helps. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com, Robert. Best of luck with your game. MB


Long Game > General > Spinning on heel because of injured knee?

January 26, 2001

Question:

After the ball has left the face of the club, because of a bad left knee (I think), I spin on my left heel to complete the follow through, rather than my weight getting to the outside of my foot, with the big toe and ball coming off the ground. Could this be a release of a resistence to hit against, and thereby result in some loss of distance?

Hank Connelly
Fanwood, NJ

Answer:

Hi Hank, and thanks for your question. The short and direct answer to your question is yes. What to do about it is another matter entirely. Obviously, if the knee CAN be strengthened that would be a great starting point. Barring that, some adjustments may need to be made to your swing that might not fit "the ideal model" of the golf swing but that would serve you well. I'd have to watch you to be of specific help.

I hope this answers your question and helps. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. Best of luck with your game. MB


Long Game > General > Should I hit a fade or a draw?

January 24, 2001

Question:

I am now hitting the ball stright or at least trying to. Should I switch to a fade or a draw? I ALWAYS slice when I hit a wood especialy my Driver. I now hit 275 yards average with my sliced driver. Thanks.

Micah Trueman
Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Answer:

Hi Micah, and thanks for your question. At some point it would be a good idea to settle on a favorite shot shape, whether it's a fade or draw. Most good players favor one way or the other, it's just easier to be consistent, especially with the longer clubs. It'll probably happen for you naturally as your game evolves. But there's no harm in starting to think about it. A good pro in your area will be able to assess your swing and help with this. If you don't know a pro in your area try PGAPros.com.

I hope this answers your question and helps. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com, Micah. Best of luck with your game. MB


Long Game > General > Another golfer with wildly erratic shots

January 19, 2001

Question:

It's 19 years I'm playing. I've never been as close to giving up the game from frustration. My swing is absoutely capable of delivering a 185 yard 3 iron shot screaming towards the stick. I can go out and shoot a respectable 90 basically being in play and making a few mistakes (which I can live with). The part that has me totally unhinged is that I could fall apart so badly that I simply can't put a swing on the golf ball. On the range I might be so "on" that it looks like my next round will be a new level of golf. Whether it's smothering the drive to the ladies tees immediately following a hole that has a 3 iron shot of the kind I described above, to simply being either over the top or shutting down the club face to smother the ball, to leaving the club open for a shank slice, to over compensating and pulling it hard left. It's simply no fun anymore. Have you heard of this condition before and any thoughts?

I am a real student of the game and actually a great amatuer coach of the swing. With my thousand swing thoughts, inside out, big back swing, restrict the hips, hinge the wrist early, swing late, and another 1/2 million swing thoughts I'm in agony.

Peter Farkas
Los Angeles, CA

Answer:

Hi Peter, and thanks for your question. Without writing you a book, it sounds like you have no "feel" and therefore no confidence. If you've been playing that long and still suffer the kind of erratic and unpredicatble results you describe it can only mean that you really don't have a "grooved" swing, or that it's not "automatic." To make a simple assessment of a complicated problem here's the deal: You need to increase your sensitivity for what the clubhead is doing, where it is at any given instant, and where the face is pointing -- all things that highly skilled players have developed.

A good starting point is to make sure that your hands are not too tight (I will bet that they are indescribably tight as it stands now, and that you are unaware of it). Monitor the tension in your hands when you swing -- on both practice swings AND swings through the ball when you're practicing on the range. If you can truly feel the weight of the clubhead a lot of things will fall into place.

Good players are not good because they can manipulate the club into the correct positions like a robot. At some point they learn to feel their swing and do it without thinking about it or trying at all. It sounds like you're so wrapped up in all the possible mechanical details that you've never learned to feel and trust your swing. Keep in mind that even if you had the ugliest and most convoluted swing on the planet, you could still be consistent and successful IF you had enough AWARENESS of where the clubface was and how to let it accelerate toward the target. That's about the best I can do without working with you in person.

I hope this answers your question and helps. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com, Peter. Best of luck with your game. MB


Miscellaneous > Other > How high can a golf ball go?

January 18, 2001

Question:

Can you tell me what is the maximum height a golfball can go on a drive from a tee shot, or from a grass shot?

Frank Nidever
Sparks, NV

Answer:

Outrageous question, Frank, and better put to a physicist I think. grin I don't know the answer to that one, but if I had to guess I would think that I could get a ball up to around 600 or 700 feet in altitude. I suppose that could be way off and probably doesn't answer your question.

The bottom line, obviously, is that the faster the clubhead was travelling the higher the ball could go. Solidness of contact, backspin, launch angle, initial velocity, etc. would all factor in. I do know someone who has measured the hang time of golf shots by long drivers (up to 10 seconds), which seems to mean it could get near 1000 feet as an estimated human maximum. That's about the best answer I can come up with. Maybe someone else can figure it out more precisely and will contact me through the site. If anyone knows the answer please send it in.

Thanks for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com, Frank. MB


Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > What is slope rating?

January 12, 2001

Question:

What is "slope rating" as stated in the handicap calculator? The scorecards at most courses here [Australia] do not have the "slope rating," ACR only. Please advise. Thank you.

Jimmy Lea
Sydney, NSW, Australia

Answer:

Hi Jimmy, and thanks for your question. Course Rating is "the evaluation of the playing difficulty of a course for scratch golfers under normal course and weather conditions. It is expressed as strokes taken to one decimal place, and is based on yardage and other obstacles to the extent that they effect the scoring ability of a scratch golfer."

Slope is the "relative playing difficulty of a course for players who are not scratch golfers." Slope ranges from 55 to 155 -- the higher the number, the harder the course.

For more information on course rating and slope visit the USGA. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com, Jimmy. MB


Long Game > General > Why am I hitting it fat?

January 9, 2001

Question:

I am a 10 handicapper but recently I have started to hit the ball fat with my irons. I've tried widening my stance and it's better, but I'm still doing it.
P.S. I play on a lynx course, where the lies are very tight - no nice grassy lies here. Please can you help?

Andrew Evans
Wales, Glamorgan, UK

Answer:

Thanks for your question, Andrew. Well, there are basically two ways to hit it fat:
  1. Your spine angle changes (lowers toward the ground) in the downswing
  2. Your arms apply pressure independently of your torso (i.e., hacking with the arms more than allowing your arms to swing in response to your body turning)
Without seeing you I really can't tell you what you're doing, but experiment based on the information above and you'll probably be able to determine what's going on. The most common thing I've seen is that people try to hit the ball too hard and therefore the arms and the club reach the bottom of the swing too soon, before the body has turned out of the way and moved onto the forward foot.

I hope this answers your question and helps. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Long Game > Irons > How to feel the hands forward

January 3, 2001

Question:

I am trying to improve my ball striking ability. I am able to hit the ball first but my hands are behind the club head at impact. I saw this on a video someone took for me. This results in very high shots and loss of distance for me. Is there a drill that I can do to get the feel of my hands being ahead of the club head at impact. Thank you very much.

Mark Thomas
Millica Hill, NJ

Answer:

Hi Mark, and thanks for your question. Well, if you ARE hitting the ball first (before the ground) it is not possible that your hands are behind the clubface at that moment. Consider the physics: in order to hit the ball and then the ground the clubhead would have to be descending, which would mean that your hands would have to be ahead of the ball at impact. But you may be coming in very shallow and flipping your hands at the bottom of your swing, or have an open face, whatever, causing the high trajectory. If this is the case you most likely hit the ball fat and thin frequently as well.

In any case, to cultivate a feeling for having your hands farther in front of the clubface at impact (a good thing to be able to feel) start with very short shots with your short irons. Try hitting it only about 40 or 50 yards with your pitching wedge, for instance, and try hitting it as low as you possibly can. This should give you the feeling you're looking for, and once you know this feeling well applying it to your full swing should be pretty easy.

I hope this answers your question and helps. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Long Game > General > Flat wrist at the top of the swing?

January 2, 2001

Left wrist at the top
This guy knows how to swing and he
doesn't have a perfectly flat left wrist
Golf instruction book on the mechanics of the full swing

Question:

My wrist is not flat at the top. What is the likely cause and what can I do to correct it?

Tom Gunn
Norwalk, CT

Answer:

Thanks for your question, Tom. Your left wrist is probably not supposed to be flat at the top. But if it was at a similar angle to how it is at address that would be nice and simple. Without showing you in person this can get a bit confusing, so let me just try to have you demonstrate a good position yourself by doing the following pieces.

If your set up position is good and your grip is proper (I can't see you so we have to assume these are okay) notice how much angle there is between the back of your left forearm and wrist. Is it absolutely flat? Probably not.

Now start your backswing and stop when the club reaches its first point where the shaft is horizontal or parallel with the ground (below hip height). The shaft should be parallel to the target line as well as the ground at this point and your left wrist would ideally be in the same angle/relationship with the back of your forearm that it was at address (although your wrists may have started to cock or set slightly at this point, that's a separate angle).

Now continue to the top of your swing (get the shaft parallel to the ground again, just for a reference -- even though, depending on which club you're using, you may never actually go this far back during a real swing). At this point the shaft should be parallel to the ground and the target line again AND your left wrist would ideally continue to be in about the same relationship (same angle between the back of your forearm and hand - see photo). The wrists at this point would be completely cocked or set (again that's a separate angle).

To develop a consistent feel for this would take a thorough understanding of all the positions involved and lots of repetition. This and the rest of the details of the swing are covered clearly and in context in my book "The Full Swing."

I hope this answer helps, Tom. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


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