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Ask the Pro Archive - 2002
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 2002, 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 (2002)
(most recent to least recent, top to bottom)

Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > Where to stand when another player is swinging

December 28, 2002

Question:

Regarding the following from your online book: "Be aware of your position relative to other people and be unobtrusive, e.g., don't stand too close to somebody making a stroke, or in a distracting position (like behind them)."

I've been playing for 18 months now, and I've heard this before but not understood it. If I'm behind the player he can't even see me, so how can it be distracting? Or does "behind" mean behind the ball, i.e. to the right of a right-handed player?

Peter Schaff
Scotts Valley, CA

Answer:

Hello Peter,

Actually, when you're behind somebody it's the fact that they CAN'T see you that is the distraction. It's best to stand somewhere where the player is aware of your presence/position, but not in a distracting place. Generally, in front of (in the visual field of) the player, and even with or behind them relative to the target is best. Some people aren't bothered no matter where you stand and, of course, there are situations that are exceptions to this general rule.

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


Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > Is the ball still in play or out of play

December 22, 2002

Question:

If you hit a ball that passes the out of bounds markers but lands on the inside of a marked lateral hadzard, is the ball still in play due to the hazard or is it still out of bounds?

Anthony Woodard
Rocky Mount, NC

Answer:

I'd have to see the situation to comment conclusively, Anthony. But if you're certain it is the last OB marker then the ball is in play. Again, I'd have to see the exact situation to say for sure. That's something that the professional at the course in question should easily be able to answer for you; they may even have a local rule covering it.

Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Equipment > Is a 45" driver too long?

December 20, 2002

Question:

I recently purchased a TM 320 driver and reshafted it with a UST 75. It is about 45" long. I am 6'0". Is this driver too long? A club maker stated it was too long.

Willie Best
Alexandria, VA

Answer:

Too long is relative, Willie. It depends on who is swinging it. I'd have to see you, but for a club that light and for your height 45" certainly is not exhorbitant.

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


Equipment > Is a 1 wood the same as a Driver?

December 14, 2002

Question:

Is a 1 wood the same as a driver?

Cindy Pankiewicz
Pittsburg, PA

Answer:

Hi Cindy,

Yep, but ONLY the 1 wood. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB


Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > Putting order, who has the right? - "continuous putting"

December 12, 2002

Question:

Does my opponent have "THE RIGHT" to putt out after missing his putt but I'm away and he has a 2-footer left?

Kevin Maher
Lynn, MA

Answer:

I wasn't sure about this one, and got so many confusing and unsure answers on this question that I ended up checking with the USGA on it. Everybody I asked thought that it was match play no, stroke play yes. The answer I got from the USGA was no in either case (see Rule 10 in USGA Rules of Golf). But there is no penalty for playing out of turn. In match play the opponent would have the option of recalling the stroke to be played over again in the proper turn order. So the answer is no, your opponent does not have "the right" to putt out. The one exception is in stroke play when the ball would have to be marked and lifted, the player putting has the option of continuing to putt instead of marking and lifting -- that's what you see them doing on the tour when they finish when somebody else is away. All this having been said, however, for practical reasons continuous putting is usually a good idea, as it helps with speed of play.

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


Equipment > Offset driver good or bad

December 1, 2002

Question:

What is the benifit of using an off-set driver (or wood in general) as opposed to using a regular straight driver/wood?

Andrew Gordon
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Answer:

Well, the manufacturers will tell you it helps to get the ball up in the air, and that the offset creates more of a hands-forward impact position. There is no effect at all, from my experience. The only reason I can see to play them is if you prefer either the look, feel or performance of them, Andrew.

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


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

November 27, 2002

Question:

What is the origin of the term "scratch?"

Dennis Lynch
Las Vegas, NV

Answer:

Hi Dennis,

Tough one! The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) will shed some light on the word for you. Generally, it's from the middle to late 1800's, meaning "from a position of no advantage or handicap" or "a line drawn or scratched on the ground as a boundary or starting point." You might read through the OED yourself for further clarification.

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


Short Game > The ball hops when I putt

November 22, 2002

Question:

When I'm putting, the ball lifts off the ground when I strike the putt before rolling the rest of the distance. This is causing alot of inconsistency for me on the greens because I can't roll the ball on the ground properly.

Martin Wisely
Dublin, Leinster, Ireland

Answer:

Hello Martin,

Without watching you putt I can only speculate. But there are a limited number of things that could make the ball jump up like that at the beginning of the putt:
  1. a delofted face (negative loft -- hands too far forward) that forces the ball downward into the ground and makes it pop up immediately thereafter
  2. too much loft on your putter, whether due to your stroke or the putter itself
A reputable pro would easily be able to tell you what the problem was by watching you putt. Find someone near you to work with.

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

Miscellaneous > Other > Tips for beginners

November 19, 2002

Question:

I'm a beginner in the wonderful game of golf. I'm 22 years old and was wondering if you could give me some of your best tips on how and where to begin?

Wayne Hughes
Birminghan, Smethwick, England

Answer:

Sure Wayne,

I have a free book for golf beginners that I have written available online right here at PGAProfessional.com. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB


Long Game > General > Wearing a hole in the glove

November 12, 2002

Question:

Why does my glove develop a hole in the left palm after 18 holes?

Charlie Maestas
Las Vegas, NV

Answer:

Hi Charlie, I'd have to see it to be sure, but the most common reason is that the butt end of the club is not sticking out past your hand enough (choke down on the club enough so that the end of the grip is definitely PAST the fleshy part of your palm. It could also be that the grip is moving in your hand during the swing (e.g., regripping -- a no-no). This is all easily diagnosed and fixed by a lesson with a reputable pro.

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

Short Game > Technique for long putter

November 5, 2002

Question:

What is the proper way to use a long putter? (50"). Do I use the shoulders,or do I keep the top of the shaft against my chest and swing my arm?

D. Ross
Fishers, IN

Answer:

There are different styles, D. But the most common one is to keep the end of the grip anchored to your chest and let the lever swing like a pendulum with just the lower hand/arm moving hand. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Equipment > How to clean the irons

November 3, 2002

Question:

What is the best way to clean your irons while playing and between rounds? Thanks!

Rod Davis
Long Beach, CA

Answer:

Hi Rod,

During a round a towel with one corner wet is good. You clean the dirt, mud, grass off the face with the wet area of the towel and then dry it with the dry part. Also, these days sometimes golf carts have a club cleaner right on the back of the cart, and those are even better. After a round simply using warm water and a brush (like a firm toothbrush or similar) has always worked well for me. To clean marks that some striped range balls can leave on the face I have used acetone/fingernail polish remover.

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

Short Game > Take a divot with pitch shots or not

October 28, 2002

Question:

Do I always have to take a divot when playing a pitch or is it not necessary?

Dr. J.A. Conradt
Frieburg, B.W., Germany

Answer:

Hello Dr. Conradt,

If you're talking about short pitches from near the green then the answer is no, not always -- depends on the situation. If the grass is nice and full and there is some air under your ball all you have to do is brush through the grass underneath the ball, no divot necessary. If, on the other hand, you're talking about full pitches from longer distances, or if the ground conditions dictate (e.g., tight damp lie) then yes, you need to take a divot or play a different type of shot. These are general answers and there are probably many shades of grey. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB


Short Game > Buried lie on uphill slope in bunker

October 25, 2002

Question:

How do you get out of a severly steep uphill bunker when the ball is buried? Our league course has an elevated green (40 ft.) with a front bunker. Balls come in with a lot of arc and bury into the sand.

Tony Velotta
Hershey, PA

Answer:

Hi Tony,

Sounds like a tough bunker. Two crucial factors are
  1. make sure the blade of the club gets below the bottom of the ball
  2. contact the sand VERY close to the ball
It helps to get your body's center of gravity (belt buckle) even with the ball (not downhill from it) so the club's angle of approach can be steep enough. This shot requires a lot of precision, so balance and foot stability are very important. In the case of buried lies, strength will come in handy too (especially if you hit too far behind the ball). smile

Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Equipment > Importance of changing worn grips

October 20, 2002

Question:

I was told by some friends that my grips need to be changed. How important are the grips? Will it improve my game any?

Clif Adkins
Florence, KY

Answer:

The texture of your grips is very important, Clif. Relaxing your hands is a very important part of golf, in general, and you can't do that too well with old, worn, or slippery grips.

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


Miscellaneous > Other > Dividing up practice time

October 11, 2002

Question:

I recently watched a golf program on the TV and a former European tour pro said that the best way for a high handicapper to get down to single figures is to practice the short game 75% of the time. It is a goal of mine to get to single figures. Can you suggest a practice routine to help, should you not agree with him?

Andrew Webster
Kingston Upon Hull, East Yorkshire, England

Answer:

Hi Andrew,

Well, it would depend on exactly what the state of your game was, and where your most costly mistakes were consistently occuring, in terms of what to practice and how much. But I would say, generally, his statement was correct. Usually the short game (especially putting) and making good decisions (course management) are some of the biggest differences between highly skilled players (single digit handicaps) and higher handicap players. More highly skilled players usually have more repetitive swings and better "feel" (awareness and sensitivity from experience) also.

Since I don't know your game at all, that's about the best I can do for recommendations, but best of luck. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB


Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > Using distance measuring devices on the course

October 8, 2002

Question:

During a round of golf can you use a Golf Scope or any device to get distance from one object to another? Example: tree to bunker

Robert Martin
Rockport, MA

Answer:

Nope, [in 2002, when this was posted *] artificial devices or aids to get yardages are not allowed within the rules, Robert. But that only applies to situations where you're limited to playing by the rules. It's certainly no problem to do it during a practice round, when you don't necessarily need to follow the rules. * Note: As of 2006 this rule has been changed to allow the tournament committee to permit the use of distance measuring devices.

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


Equipment > Which clubs to carry in the bag

October 4, 2002

Question:

How can I best determine which clubs to have in my bag?

Steven Stout
St. Louis, MO

Answer:

Hi Steven,

It's mainly personal preference based on experience. But it's generally a good idea to configure your bag to play to your strengths, avoid your weaknesses (which you can be trying to improve in the meantime), and try to address any special demands presented the particular course you're playing.

Examples

It's common for people who have trouble being effective with their long irons to carry some extra lofted woods instead. For instance, replacing the 3 iron with a 5 wood, 4 iron with a 7 wood, etc.

Some players opt to carry 4 wedges (in my case, PW - 48°, Gap wedge - 52°, SW - 56° and Lob wedge - 60°) and therefore need to drop a club somewhere else to stay within the 14 club limit (I usually leave my 3 iron out, but on very tight courses have left my driver out instead).

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


Miscellaneous > Professional golf-related > What is a "Major" tournament?

September 23, 2002

Question:

What is the definition of a major tournament in golf?

Fred Onyon
Los Alamitos, NY

Answer:

In professional golf only four tournaments a year are considered "majors:" The Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship for the regular tour; and The Tradition, U.S. Senior Open, Senior PGA Championhip and Senior Players Championship for the senior tour. In terms of amateur golf see the USGA and R&A events (www.usga.org and www.randa.org).

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


Long Game > General > Should I flick the wrists for more power?

September 17, 2002

Question:

During lessons, my golf pro suggested that I (kind of) flick the wrists through the impact of the ball, in order to get a bit more distance. I've tried this at length, but am now consistently hooking the ball. Any suggestions please?
PS. I can't check with the golf pro, as he doesn't teach any more.

Christopher Mills
Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England

Answer:

Hi Christopher,

Well, that's a guaranteed way to hit the ball erratically. Ideally the wrists would unhinge in a more passive way, being closer to the same every time, rather than muscularly trying to flip the face closed. Also, it would be nice if the rotation of the body was squaring and accelerating the club instead of the weaker hands and wrists.

Without working with you in person these generalizations are about all I can offer. You might also read the FAQ on hooking.

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

Equipment > How do you know if clubs are the right size?

September 10, 2002

Question:

How do you know if the clubs are the right size for you?

William Bruton
Houston, TX

Answer:

You'd need to consult a good clubmaker or a golf professional with club fitting expertise, William. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB


Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > Penalty for breaking a branch

September 6, 2002

Question:

Where in the rules and under what section does it state that if you are under a tree and in the back swing you hit a branch and it breaks you are penalized a stroke?

Carol Byron
Tacoma, WA

Answer:

That's rule 13-2, Carol. In particular it is covered in the Decisions on the rules (13-2/22).

***** quote from the rules *****
13-2/22. Knocking Down Leaves with Practice Swing Q. A player's ball lies near a tree or bush. The player knocks down leaves with a practice swing. Is this a breach of Rule 13-2? A. It depends on the circumstances. In some cases, the knocking down of a number of leaves would not improve the area of the intended swing, in which case there would be no breach of the Rules. In other cases, the knocking down of one large leaf might improve the area of the intended swing, in which case there would be a breach of Rule 13-2.
***** end quote from the rules *****


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

Long Game > Woods > Technique for fairway woods

September 5, 2002

Question:

How can I hit the ball off the fairway with my woods rather then using my irons ALL the time?

Mike Dickie
Enfield, Nova Scotia, Canada

Answer:

The fairway woods are designed to be swept off the grass, so you'll have to work on brushing the grass with your swing with them. See also my article Using the Fairway Woods. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Long Game > General > Ball position, or ball placement, basics

September 1, 2002

Question:

Where is the correct ball position for iron play at address? Any tips for this would be appreciated.

Peter Gowen
Dublin, Ireland

Answer:

Hi Peter,

Well, assuming level ground and a fundamentally sound swing standard-issue ball position would be center of the stance for short irons, gradually moving the ball more forward with the middle and long irons (or hybrids) until the clubs that are designed to be swept (fairway woods) would be below the forward shoulder or opposite the inside of the forward heel. There may be slight variations depending on body type but that is the most commonly accepted answer.

Once you are playing from uneven ground, or if you want to manipulate the shot characteristics, the ball position changes in most cases. These topics are covered in detail in my book "Beyond the Basics." Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > Placing ball while another player putts

August 30, 2002

Question:

While on the putting green, I am away. I proceed to make my putt, but at the same time an opponent places his ball. Is their a stroke penalty for the opponent? Do I get the replay the putt?

Derek Hataoka
Waipahu, HI

Answer:

I don't know of any penalty for placing the ball while another person is putting, Derek. It's extremely rude to do that during another player's stroke, but as far as I know only a matter of etiquette, and not a rule. If the ball is being placed after your ball is already in motion I don't see a problem with that in any way, really. You don't get to replay the stroke, but nice try. smile See also this FAQ on the rules of golf. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB


Miscellaneous > Professional golf-related > What are "TPC" courses?

August 26, 2002

Question:

I'm always seeing golf courses referred to as "TPC" -- What the heck is that?

Barry Milliken
New York, NY

Answer:

It stands for "Tournament Players Club," Barry. Courses designed specifically with the Tour in mind. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Short Game > Club slides under ball in bunker

August 21, 2002

Question:

When I'm practicing hitting the ball out of the sand bunker my wedge usually hits the sand but it slides right under. What should I do to prevent this?

Keaton Miller
Wichita, KS

Answer:

Well, that's the whole point really, Keaton: that your club slides under the ball without hitting it. That's HOW you play a greenside bunker shot. Are you saying that your club slides under the ball and the ball just sits there? If so, you are probably not actually sliding under the ball. You are sliding through the sand NEXT TO or NEAR the ball. I suppose it's also possible the you have the blade laid back too open, a narrow flange on your sandwedge and are playing from thick soft sand. That combination seems improbable, however.

See a reputable professional near you and/or make sure that you're actually contacting the sand where you think you are. smile

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


Long Game > General > Wrist injury from practicing

August 11, 2002

Question:

I've recently sprained my wrist. The doctor didn't say it was tendonitis. Anyway, how do I prevent future injuries while playing or practicing on the range? Thanks for your time.

Ray Mitsuda
Fremont, CA

Answer:

There are a few things you can do to help, after you've rested the injury and recovered, Ray. You might try using graphite shafts (and a slightly softer shaft -- most people use shafts that are too stiff for their swing speed). A somewhat softer grip may help (grips come in all sorts of textures and densities). You also probably need to work on your swing so as not to hit the ground so hard (postural control, less forcing with the arms, flatter angle of approach, all of the above or other). I'd have to see you swing, or your divots, to know what the problem was.

I have also known people who were recovering from hand or wrist injuries that put the ball on a tee for every shot. Yes, I know that isn't really golf in the purest sense of the game, but if it came to that or quitting what would your choice be?

Anyway, depending on the severity of the injury you might try any or all of the above, and of course, following doctors orders and resting it until it heals. You also might do some preventative training. Golf trainer can give you specific help if you can't see me in person.


Long Game > General > Where to tee the ball in the tee box for shapes

August 9, 2002

Question:

If you hit a fade or slice and danger is on the right side of the fairway should you tee the ball on the left or right side of the tee box?

Joe Jenkins
Dacula, GA

Answer:

Many players will tee up on the same side as the trouble to increase the angle that they're able to aim AWAY from the trouble. In the case you mention, the farther to the right side you tee the ball the farther left you can aim.

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


Long Game > Irons > Hitting it on the toe of the club

August 4, 2002

Question:

When I mis-hit my iron shots, the shot is always hit on the toe of the club. Can you tell me how to correct this so that I will hit the sweet spot?

Frankie Arthur
Muncie, IN

Answer:

Hello Frankie,

Of course, the simplest and most obvious answer is to keep making adjustments (feel yourself swing farther out away from you) until you find the center of the club instead of the toe. Part of the development of every golfer includes adaptability and logic, making adjustments and learning feel. Things to focus on specifically if you repeatedly hit it on the toe would be
  1. Make sure your posture stays relatively constant (raising up in the spine angle through impact is a common mistake)
  2. Let your arms and hands stay fairly relaxed (tightening the hands and/or arms is another common mistake)
Thanks for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com. Best of luck with your game. MB


Equipment > The difference between Men's and Women's clubs

July 22, 2002

Question:

What is the difference between men's and women's golf clubs?

Tracey Schekman
Los Alamitos, CA

Answer:

Hi Tracey,

Standard women's golf clubs are usually around an inch shorter than men's, are lighter, have softer shafts and smaller diameter grips. Depending on the manufacturer there may be other small differences, but those are the most common ones.

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


Long Game > Irons > Hitting the ball too low

July 16, 2002

Question:

I have a problem trying to get the ball up from the 8 iron and lower. The trajectory is way too low, and thus I lose distance. I have tried putting it forward in my stance, but then I hit it fat. The long irons I can't even get airborne.

Jacques Germishuys
Koster, South Africa

Answer:

Well, it sounds like you are hooding (and/or closing) the face pretty severely, Jacques. If it's not ball position, and assuming you're making decent contact with the ball rather than hitting it thin, first I'd look at grip. Next, I'd be sure that you were not shutting the face on the way back (check the first parallel position -- see this photo -- notice the relatively toe-up position when the shaft is horizontal). I'd also try to make sure that you were not getting out in front of/chasing the ball with your body too much. These are some things to check. It's actually tough to do more than speculate without seeing you, but this shouldn't be a problem for a reputable teaching professional near you.

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

Short Game > The Claw grip or Psycho grip for putting

July 9, 2002

Question:

Is there any instruction on how to use the claw grip? It would be great to understand how Calc, DiMarco and now Sutherland actually use this grip, so I can try it.

Frank Adamek
Raleigh, NC

Answer:

claw grip, gator grip I don't know of any instruction specifically for this grip, but it wouldn't take much (putting mechanics are not that complex). I've included a picture so you can see it. With all the grips out there (many different grips being used with success) it's unlikely that this "claw grip" or "Gator grip" will change golf as we know it. Players get hot and cold and techniques get popular and fade away. Just like you might try a long putter, you also might try a split-handed grip, cross-handed grip, grip against the belly (Azinger, Vijay), Bernhard Langer's grabbing the opposite forearm grip, ... you might even try a normal grip. smile

Chris DiMarco suggests that he places his right hand on the club in that reverse position and uses it very lightly for support only, and claims that he is basically putting with his left hand. Perhaps Calcavecchia and Sutherland do the same or have their own subtle versions, I don't know for sure.

In any case, have fun experimenting with it. It couldn't hurt to play around with it (especially if you are putting poorly at the moment). But putting always ends up being about good, solid, repetitive fundamentals and feel   vision (which can only be improved by practicing).

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


Short Game > Speed or line in putting?

July 7, 2002

Question:

I have a fundamental question on putting. Does speed determine line or does line determine speed? Whatever the answer can you explain why?

Mark Jordan
Fort Collins, CO

Answer:

Hello Mark,

Speed determines line (if I understand your question correctly). In other words, the faster the ball is traveling the less gravity will affect it and, therefore, the less it will break. There are an infinite number of lines that will make any given putt, between the slowest possible speed that will still allow the ball to reach the hole and the fastest possible speed that will still allow the ball to drop into the hole. It's a good thing the hole is about 2.5 times the size of the ball -- though some folks think that's not big enough. smile

Putting is an inseparable combination of speed and line. Judging the speed and beak of a putt requires feel and vision, trial and error and time and experience. Of course, it helps trememdously to have fundamentally sound and very repetitive putting stroke mechanics in order to have your experiences give you much in the way of meaningful feedback.

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

Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > Hitting the ball accidentally with a practice stroke

July 5, 2002

Question:

When a person takes a practise swing through the green and accidently hits the ball what is the consequence? Do we
  1. incur a penalty stroke and replace the ball where it was before the accidental stroke, or
  2. consider it as a stroke and proceed to hit the next stroke as the ball lies
Agilan Renganathan
Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Answer:

Your #1 is the correct answer, Agilan. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Equipment > Two-way chipper clubs are not allowed

July 3, 2002

Question:

A friend bought a two way chipper and then was told it was illegal in league play. According to USGA Rule 4-1d, a club with more than one striking face is illegal. She wrote PGA and was told the club is legal. Which is the correct answer? I had been told myself that a two way chipper is illegal. Would appreciate a definite answer to give to my friend.

Rachel and Al Standen
Pulaski, TN

Answer:

Hello Rachel and Al,

A two-way chipper (one with two striking surfaces) is not permitted under the rules of golf. Here is a quote from the rule book.

"The clubhead shall have only one striking face, except that a putter may have two such faces if their characteristics are the same, and they are opposite each other."

Even some of the one-sided chippers have irregularly shaped grips that do not conform to the rules, so be on the lookout for that too (see Appendix II - Design of Clubs, Number 3 of the Rules of Golf). Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Miscellaneous > Professional golf-related > British PGA founding

June 28, 2002

Question:

Could you tell me when the British PGA was founded?

Yvonne Forgan
Crail, Fife, Scotland

Answer:

According to them it was 1901. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB


Equipment > The difference between forged and cavity back

June 25, 2002

Question:

What is the difference between forged and cavity back irons? Are forged irons more difficult to play? I have asked around and have gotten conflicting answers.

GR Schalick
Washington, DC

Answer:

Well, there might or might not be a difference between forged and cavity back clubs, GR. Forged means that the clubheads are put together in two pieces. Cast means that they are poured into a mold and made in one piece.

Personally, I use a set of clubs that are both forged AND cavity back. Typically, but not always, forged irons are NOT cavity back and, therefore, somewhat less forgiving, making them appropriate for highly skilled players. Cast clubheads commonly ARE cavity back and, therefore, somewhat more forgiving. I hope this straightens things out for you.

Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Equipment > Getting the latest, new clubs

June 21, 2002

Question:

Each year manufacturers bring out their new all-singing, all-dancing clubs that make the ball go further, with more spin/control, etc. Will they really knock that many shots off the average player or would my money be better spent on a golf coach/sports psychologist?

Paul Moore
London, England

Answer:

Clubs can make a difference in some cases. How much varies from person to person. But it is safe to say that lessons (physical and mental) and practice will have a far bigger impact on your improvement than clubs -- unless your clubs are so bad, or totally inappropriate for you. Of course, golf club manufacturer's and club makers/fitters might disagree with me smile

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


Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > Why handicap holes are alternated between front and back sides

June 18, 2002

Question:

I was wondering why the handicap of golf holes are set up with the odd handicaps on the front nine, and the even handicaps on the back nine? I assume that it has something to do with players handicaps and tournaments. Just wondering.

James McCasland
Dallas, TX

Answer:

It's so you can play only 9 holes, instead of all 18, and still be able to use about half your handicap. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com and best of luck with your game. MB


Short Game > Club face opens to right on chips

June 10, 2002

Question:

When I am chipping sometimes the clubface opens up in my hand hitting the ball hard right. What is happening?

Richard Skinner
Auckland, New Zealand

Answer:

Hmmm, that's weird, Richard. The only explanations I can come up with for that are that either the toe of your club is catching in the grass or your hands are very active in the swing and opening/turning the clubface -- both bad ideas. One other thing: are you sure that you aren't shanking those shots (ball ricocheting off the hosel)? You should probably have a reputable pro near you have a look.

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


Equipment > The effect of oversized grips

June 5, 2002

Question:

Do oversized grips have any affect on your golf swing, such as promote slicing?

Allan Carver
Jackson, MS

Answer:

That could be true in some cases. Grip size can have an effect on the result. It is one of the factors in custom fitting a set of clubs for any given individual. And, as a general rule, the bigger the grip the more difficult it is to use your hands, or actively square the club, through impact. Having said this, it is probably a fairly minor factor in determining performance unless the size of the grip is extremely inappropriate for the size of your hand. Depending on your style of swing it may be totally insignificant and only a matter of personal preference and feel. If, however, your style of swinging is VERY "handsy" it might end up being a big factor, but still wouldn't be the worst of your problems in that case. Hope this answers your question.

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


Equipment > Wedge lofts beyond pitching wedge

May 23, 2002

Question:

My son-in-law can hit his pitching wedge 140 yards. He would like to have a club that he can hit about 80 yards from a fairway lie. Can you tell me what angle wedge would accomplish this for him?

David Harrison
Shawnee, OK

Answer:

That would be either a Lob Wedge (59-60° range) or a Gap Wedge (52-54° range). These wedges are also referred to by MANY other names.

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


Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > Writing or marking on the golf ball

May 16, 2002

Question:

I purchased a Line 'em up device and love to use it on my golfballs. However, today after finishing the first day of a 2 day tournament, one of the players in the foursome questioned the legality of making a long straight line on a golfball. He believes this falls under what would be "an unfair aid." We asked the four pros in our club, one was sure it was NOT legal and the other 3 had no opinion.

Fernando Aguerrevere
Caracas, Miranda, Venezuela

Answer:

No problem, Fernando, it is completely within the rules. Many touring pros put all kinds of markings on their ball.

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

Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > Using Chapstick or foreign substances on the club face

May 9, 2002

Question:

Is chapstick legal to put on your clubs or not? It helps me not to slice.

Melvin Ball
Elloree, SC

Answer:

Applying foreign substances to the club face is against the rules, Melvin.

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


Equipment > Why aren't club lengths all the same?

May 8, 2002

Question:

Why does a set of irons have shaft lengths? If the goal is to keep to a consistent swing would not it be easier to take the same stance and not have to bend differently for each club? I know there is a reason I just do not know what it is.

Luke Bond
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Answer:

Hi Luke. The reason is quite simply that as the irons are supposed to increase in distance the shafts need to be longer in order to increase the width of the arc and therefore the speed of the club. Actually, your posture should not be different between clubs (slightly, if at all, between your shortest and longest club). The length of the club and the lie angle are matched to make the adjustment for you.

Interestingly, there have been, and still are, companies that make clubs that are all the same length and marketed with the same question you have asked. They're about as popular as ... well, they're not popular. Maybe it's simply because marketing is tough competition. But I suspect if having your clubs all the same length was a good idea a large number of good players would be doing it.

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

Equipment > How often to replace the ball

May 7, 2002

Question:

How often should I be replacing my ball? I've heard that one will last no more that 18 holes. I have used a single ball for multiple rounds in the past. Is there any way to physically define a "worn out" ball?

Todd Morgan
Olympia, WA

Answer:

Hi Todd. It totally depends on what kind of ball you're using. If you play with a balata-covered ball they wear out REAL fast (as a matter of fact, once they've been hit they are no longer round ... if they ever were in the first place). The pros that use balls of this type usually change them on the average of every 3 holes. But they don't have to pay for them. smile

If you're using a more durable ball it should last quite a bit longer. If you don't hit the cartpath or play any bunker shots with a ball it might even last more than one round. Most golfers lose a ball before wear becomes an issue. smile

Whether a ball is unfit for play is subjective. In competitions, if you want to declare your ball unfit for play your fellow-competitor must agree that the ball is damaged ("visibly cut, cracked or out of shape"). But if you want to play with a ball that is a bit beat up it's not like it won't work -- it's up to you.

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

Long Game > General > Topping the ball, hitting shots thin

May 2, 2002

Question:

Hi, I am a 14 year old golfer and I have been working on my swing, but in the process I started topping the ball and I have no clue why.

John Burk
Olmsted Falls, OH

Answer:

Well John, there can only be two possible explanations for topping the ball or hitting it thin.
  1. your posture raises up (perhaps due to loss of balance or just plain old looking up too soon)
  2. your lever system (arms and club) shortens -- usually due to excess tension and/or trying to hit the ball hard with the arms and hands
It could be either or both. Without seeing you I can't say which you are doing. But even with just that much information you should be able to figure it out, if you pay attention. This is something a reputable golf professional near you could help with very quickly in person.

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

Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > When you drop on teeing ground can you use a tee?

April 27, 2002

Question:

Hi, as you know, if you hit it in the water you drop anywhere on the line it went in on behind the hazard. One of the options is to drop it right from where you hit the first one. Now, since you can drop anywhere on the line it went in, can you go up to front of the T box and hit the ball? And if you can, can you tee it up?

James Cooper
Aspen, CO

Answer:

You can drop in front of the tee box, but you can't tee it up if you're not within the two club lengths behind the original tee markers.

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


Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > Who is away and who plays first?

April 23, 2002

Question:

If you are off of the green, but closer to the pin than someone who is on the green, who should legally hit first? I believe if you are off the green you should be hitting first. Please settle a constant argument.

Joel Glabman
Las Vegas, NV

Answer:

Farthest from the hole plays first (on OR off the green). Reasonable exceptions to this general rule would be when more time might be consumed by playing the longer shot first (e.g., if the shorter shot was a bunker shot, with raking afterward, or moving clubs, etc.). Of course, if it is not a formal competition, and to save time, play when ready -- let's not get TOO serious. Also see my article on honor, who is away, order of play, etc.

Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Long Game > Woods > What is causing me to sky the ball?

April 22, 2002

Question:

What is causing me to sky the ball?

Ben Moulton
Wellington, North Island, New Zealand

Answer:

There could be many causes, Ben. But the bottom line is that you have to develop enough proficiency with your tee shots so that you do NOT touch the ground with your club as you swing through the ball. It is likely that in an attempt to hit the ball HARD you are approaching the ball at too steep an angle. The woods are designed to be swept and their approach into the ball must be very shallow or horizontal (basically parallel with the ground, maybe even slightly upward depending on tee height and ball position, etc.). See this tip on the woods, it will help.

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


Equipment > Swing weight tutorial

April 19, 2002

Question:

I am student at Omak High School in a Research/Inquiry class that tests and studies different subjects. Could you possibly explain swing weight? I've heard of numbers like C7, D7, E7, etc. but I did not understand the variance of the swing weight. Thank you for your time.

Ryan Niemeyer
Omak, Washington

Answer:

A club's weight can be measured in two pertinent ways, Ryan: swing weight and overall, or dead, weight. Swing weight is measured (as the club head hangs) on a scale with (usually) a 14 inch fulcrum (see picture). As the numbers and letters go up so does the swing weight (e.g., D2 is heavier than C8, as D is after C and the numbers are 0 - 9 for each letter)

Common swing weight ranges
C0 - C9
swing weight scale D0 - D9
E0 - E9

Typically men have heavier swing weights than women and stiffer shafted clubs are usually associated with heavier swing weights. I hope this explains it for you. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com and best of luck with your game. MB


Long Game > General > How far away to stand from the ball

April 10, 2002

Question:

What is the correct distance to stand from the ball? Is their any guideline in length for say a six iron, which would allow you to optimize your stance? I am 1.88m (approx. 6' 2") tall and need this info to obtain a better understanding of the golf swing and plane.

Johan Agenbag
Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

Answer:

Hi Johan,

Since everybody is built a little differently there is no specific measurement that applies universally. But here's a good general rule for people of an "average" body type. If your posture is correct (i.e., bent forward from the hip sockets so that the arms can hang vertically with gravity, knees flexed to approximately above the middle of the feet with the weight in the middle of the feet toe to heel) there should be approximately the width of a fist between the closest part of your top hand (fleshy pad between pinky finger and wrist bone of the hand nearest the top of the grip) and your closest leg (this would be the left hand and left leg for right-handers). If this is confusing see these pictures. And again, depending on body type adjustments might be necessary.

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


Long Game > General > What balance means and its importance

April 5, 2002

Question:

I hear alot about being balanced throughout the golf swing. I read alot of books and hear alot of talk about balance. That is usually "stay balanced." That is pretty vague. Some tour players like Duval look as though they are going to break their ankle when they are finished. Annika Sorenstam looks as though her front foot has not moved at all. Could you explain what balance is needed to consistently repeat good shots.

Bill Bath
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Answer:

Hi Bill, one of the bottom line fundamentals of a consistent golf swing is constant posture (i.e., rotating around a constant spine angle). In order to do this your balance must be excellent (that's why leg strength is a valuable asset for golf). It is a pretty subtle thing: it's not like you're going to fall over or anything -- at least for MOST people. smile But if your weight is moving back and forth between your toes and heels during the swing it's a safe bet that your posture is not staying constant.

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


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

April 3, 2002

Question:

Crossword puzzle query:

__ T __ M __ E   (6 letters)

Clue: Former situation on a golf green in which an opponent's ball blocked the line between the hole and the ball about to be played?

Sue
Dublin, Ohio

Answer:

Hi Sue, "STYMIE" is the word you're looking for.

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


Long Game > General > How many knuckles to see in the grip

April 1, 2002

Question:

On your right and left hand grips how many knuckles should you be able to see when looking down?

Richard Gaiger
Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England

Answer:

Well, it's probably not wise for me to make a blanket statment like that, Richard. People's physiques differ and so will their grips. But for most right-handed golfers 2 knuckles is good for the left hand, and what's more important for the right hand is that the palm is square (or close) with the club face ("V" formed by thumb and forefinger is mainly pointed upward). That having been said, there are successful golfers with varying grips and knuckles.

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

Long Game > General > Swinging with a cross-handed grip, reversing the hands

March 31, 2002

Question:

Hi, I've been taking a golf class at the community college and my teacher says that I'm swinging with the wrong grip. I not only putt lead hand low, but I also drive and swing left hand low. I do however play very well and regularly beat all my friends and even my old high school golf coach. (whom also disliked my golf swing, and even kept me out of all the tournaments) Is it really that bad to be "switch handed?" Should I change it even if it works for me? And have you ever heard of this before?

Shawn Barry
Whittier, CA

Answer:

Hmmm, well from one perspective, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," right? But since I'm not actually seeing you I can't make a determination as to whether or not it's "broke," at least in my opinion. YOU certainly seem to be happy with it; what else matters?

From another perspective, I seem to recall a couple guys, I believe their names are Chuck Thorpe and Charlie Owens, who had a great deal of success playing the entire game cross-handed (if anyone out there remembers this more clearly please let me know), and I'm sure there are other precedents -- but clearly not many. I, personally, have never seen anyone play cross-handed with any success. And the way the human body is built it appears to be far less efficient for generating acceleration -- I wouldn't enter any long driving competitions. smile

Bottom line: if you are happy with it and you can score better than the people you want to beat ... keep up the good work. If you want to get to a higher level you might consider a more traditional approach. But again, I'd have to see you hit shots to give my opinion.

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


Short Game > Plumb bob for reading putts

March 25, 2002

Question:

Please explain the plumb bob method for estimating amount of break on a green.

James Hegarty
Beltsville, MD

Answer:

Hi James, and thanks for your question. Quite frankly the plumb bob method is ineffective, as the number of variables involved make it impossible to perform accurately. Very few players use plumb bobbing and even those that do plumb bob actually just do it out of habit. They don't REALLY see the break precisely with it. It's just another individual quirk, like a distinctive waggle or mannerisms in a pre-shot routine, etc.

For a very thorough explanation of the limitations see this article by Dr. Putt -- (http://www.drputt.com/deardrputt/plumbob.htm). Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Miscellaneous > Terminology - Words and Phrases > The terms "birdie" and "bogey"

March 19, 2002

Question:

What are the origins of the terms "Birdie", "Bogey" and "Eagle?" My kid is driving me nuts. Thanks for your time.

Bill Murphy
Glen Burnie, MD

Answer:

I didn't know this, but I found an answer for you. Mr. Rand Jerris, the Librarian/Historian at the USGA was kind enough to provide this information.

BIRDIE
Historical narratives inform us that the term "birdie" originated in the United States in 1899. Specifically, H.B. Martin's "Fifty Years of American Golf" contains an account of a foursomes match played at the Atlantic City (NJ) CC. One of the players, Ab Smith relates: "my ball... came to rest within six inches of the cup. I said 'that was a bird of a shot ... I suggest that when one of us plays a hole in one under par he receives double compensation.' The other two agreed and we began right away, just as soon as the next one came, to call it a 'birdie.'" In 19th century American slang, "bird" referred to anyone or anything excellent or wonderful.

EAGLE
By analogy with "birdie," the term "eagle" soon thereafter became common to refer to a score one better than a "bird." Also by analogy, the term "albatross" for double eagle - an even bigger eagle!

BOGEY
The term "bogey" comes from a song that was popular in the UK in the early 1890's, called "The Bogey Man" (later known as "The Colonel Bogey March"). The character of the song was an elusive figure who hid in the shadows: "I'm the Bogey Man, catch me if you can." As the story of the Bogey Man spread throughout the UK, he gradually acquired the rank of Colonel. Golfers in the UK equated the quest for elusive Bogey Man with the quest for the elusive perfect score. By the mid to late 1890's, the term "bogey score" referred to the ideal score a good player could be expected to make on a hole under perfect conditions. It also came to be used to describe stroke play tournaments -- hence in the early Rules books we find a section of Rules for "Bogey Competitions." It was only in the late 1900's/early 1910's that the concept of "par" started to emerge -- this being the designated number of strokes a SCRATCH player could be expected to take on a hole in ideal conditions. In this way par was distinguished from Bogey. The term par itself is a standard term in sports handicapping, where it simply means "level" or "even" -- hence a score that is even or level with the designated number of strokes.

Thanks again to Mr. Rand Jerris for his kind response. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game, Bill. MB

Long Game > General > Elevation changes - uphill and downhill

March 15, 2002

Question:

My biggest problem with playing at a new course is figuring out which club to use for elevated greens. Is there a way to estimate what yardage a hole will play if its uphill or downhill. I can judge clubs for wind, but not elevation.

Schjon Aster
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Answer:

Hi Schjon, that is part of the evolution of any golfer: learning to assess, calculate (guess?) and adapt to any given situation. Only time and experience will serve you in this area. But for a place to start why not assume approximately 1 club (more or less) for each 10 feet, or so, of elevation change (up or down). To be sure, each situation is unique and other factors will affect the shot as well. Your computer (brain) will improve with more time on the course and after being in more situations where adjustments have to be made.

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

Miscellaneous > Golf course-related > How hole yardages are measured

March 8, 2002

Question:

How is the distance of a hole measured; and if a hole is 340 yards and is playing 320, what does that mean?

Harlan Kapuan
Secane, PA

Answer:

Hi Harlan, typically the hole is measured from the permanent tee marker (which is usually something embedded in the ground, e.g., a flat stone, plate, or emblem of some kind that the survey is done from) to the middle of the putting green. If a hole is playing a different yardage than that which is specified on the scorecard it is because the tee markers are usually moved around on the teeing ground to make sure the grass doesn't wear out in one spot. The yardage on any given hole on any given day will vary, depending on where the tee blocks are placed.

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


Short Game > Training aids for putting

March 2, 2002

Question:

Please advise effective training aids or device you would recommend to improve putting practice on the green?

SS Chiu
Singapore

Answer:

Hello SS, there are lots of other details you would be well-advised to work on with a reputable pro. But the best training device I know of for putting is to start practicing with a chalk line (you can get one at any hardware store). Find a putt on the green that is dead straight (4 or 5 feet is long enough). Snap a chalk line to the center of the hole and start lining your putter up on the chalk line (it helps if you have a line on your putter that indicates the target line).

See also Training Aids for Putting. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Miscellaneous > Golf course-related > How yardage markers are measured

February 27, 2002

Question:

Do the yardage markers mark the distance to the front or center of the green, and also on let's say a dogleg hole is the yardage taken by the run of the fairway or as the crow flies (bee-line)?

Jeff Chiles
Bel Air, MD

Answer:

Yardages are usually to the center of the green, Jeff. But it depends on the course. I've seen yardages measured to the front of the green in a few rare cases, and some courses with excellent markers in the fairways have 3 yardages -- front, center and back of the green. The doglegs are usually measured down the center of the fairway, not as-the-crow-flies.

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


Miscellaneous > Professional golf-related > Why caddies don't wear spikes

February 22, 2002

Question:

After watching the Welsh open on TV the commentator said that the caddies were having trouble keeping their feet, as it had been raining heavily, because they weren't allowed to wear spiked golf shoes. Why is this?

Stuart Wilson
Stirling, Scotland

Answer:

For one thing, that would be twice as many feet chewing up the putting greens with spikes, Stuart.

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


Mental Game > Mental game tips

February 17, 2002

Question:

I have been having problems with the mental aspects of my game and was wondering if I could get some tips on how to change? Or where I can find web sites to help me change this?

Brian Harwood
Willard, OH

Answer:

Hi Brian, here are some great mental game resources:
  • The Mental Keys - Michael Anthony's book on how to focus, control your emotions and control your thought process.

  • Peak Sports - with well-known mental game guru Dr. Patrick Cohn.

  • Golf Mind CD's - extremely convenient and easy to use software for improving your mental game with progressive relaxation, guided visualization and hypnosis -- nothing to install on your computer -- just pop in the CD and you're good to go!
Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com and best of luck with your game. MB


Miscellaneous > Other > How to arrange the clubs in the bag

February 12, 2002

Question:

I am starting in the game and just got my clubs. I am wondering what is the proper way to arrange/place the clubs in the bag??

Nestor Figueroa
San Juan, Puerto Rico

Answer:

Hi Nestor, great question for a beginner! The answer runs the full spectrum from "just throw them in there any way they'll fit" all the way to "some bags have dividers and individual tubes for each club, and are arranged from the longest clubs (woods) at the highest side of the bag down to the shortest clubs (wedges and putter) at the lowest side of the bag."

What it really boils down to is personal preference, based on your experience. Get out there and start playing with your new clubs and you'll develop a feel for what works best for you.

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


Long Game > General > Same swing with iron and driver?

February 7, 2002

Question:

What is, if any, the difference between the swing with an iron and the swing with a driver?

Brian DeLong
Goose Bay, Newfoundland, Canada

Answer:

Hi Brian, generally the mechanics of the golf swing will be the same for an iron or a wood. The differences will be in the plane of the swing (the woods are longer and therefore swing on a slightly flatter plane) and ball position (woods are mainly designed to be swept rather than struck with a descending blow like the irons). Because of these things, even though the movements are basically the same it does feel a bit different.

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


Mental Game > What to do for a nervous putter

February 3, 2002

Question:

Everytime I use the putter, I get incredibly nervous and hit it softly. It usually goes half as far as I want. How can I stop this?

Gary Hitchens
Bath, U.K.

Answer:

Hi Gary, well for starters I'd suggest using a very relaxed grip, not tight. Then work on keeping your hands from contributing ANY of the force (leave them totally neutral and passive, and just feeling what is happening). The putting stroke will ideally come from the tilting or rocking of the shoulders with the rest of the body completely still. If the hands are soft and the stroke is rhythmic (coming from the shoulders, with the putter head swinging through the same distance that it went back or farther) your sensitivity/touch should improve and things should get better. You might also try these great resources for the mental game (Great Book and CD, Easy Software)

Putting is an art, to be sure. There is no substitute for time and experience, but a simple and repetitive stroke certainly helps.

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

Short Game > Sand Wedge or Lob Wedge from the bunkers?

January 30, 2002

Question:

What club should I use out of the bunker, SW or LW?

Luke Murdoch
Omaru, Otago, New Zealand

Answer:

Hi Luke, SW is probably best for most situations, but the LW will come in handy for the real short shots, or the shots that need to go up and down very quickly. It is also useful on buried lies, where you need to let the blade of the club dig, but still need some loft. The shape of the flange and the specific texture of sand you're playing from are also factors; you'll need to do some experimenting and develop some feel for different clubs from the sand so you can accomodate varying situations.

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


Miscellaneous > Terminology - Words and Phrases > The term "links course" or "links style course"

January 26, 2002

Question:

My friends and I talk about playing links courses all the time. But what actually defines a links course?

Dennis Medeiros
San Jose, CA

Answer:

Hi Dennis, a links course is usually relatively flat and characterized by gently rolling hills or dunes (rather than big hills), and was originally (but not always nowadays) found on the coast, having zero or very few trees, making it very exposed to the wind and elements.

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

Long Game > General > When to bring the hips through

January 18, 2002

Question:

When should you bring your hips through on your downswing?

Adam Smith
Wellington, North Island, New Zealand

Answer:

Hi Adam, and thanks for your question. The sequence of events is very close together and happens very quickly. Assuming a healthy individual the hips should come through before the shoulders do (to varying degrees depending on athleticism and flexibility). So at the moment of impact the hips should be more open, or more toward the target, than the upper torso.

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

Long Game > General > Alignment deteriorates during the round

January 14, 2002

Question:

Over the course of a round, my 16 year old grandson slips into bad alignment. Is there a set-up routine you can suggest that can keep him squared up?

Tom Parmley
Topeka, KS

Answer:

Hi Tom, and thanks for your question. Learning to set up square is a "vision and feel" thing. Steps and procedures vary widely between individuals, but if you consistently practice with some kind of visual aid (straight edge, edge of the range mat, 2 X 4, club shaft parallel to the target line, etc.) to help you see if you're square or not eventually your nervous system will adapt and KNOW the look and feeling of being square. Once you know the feeling using an intermediate target in your alignment procedure helps a lot, too.

Beyond that the only real solution is to have someone (preferably a knowledgeable golf professional) watch and help. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with BOTH of your games. MB

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