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  Low bounce
  Low runner
  Dominant hand?
  Switch to blades?
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  "Duck hook"
  Rough/closed face
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  Looking up
  Worn grips
  Grass or mats?
  Course layout
  Dimple number
  Masters founders
  Self-analysis
  Gender-yardages
  Shaft flexes
  Match scoring
  Grip size effect
  Onesome/single
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  Head down?
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  Pro's as juniors
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  Club lofts
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  Wedge bounce
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  Flier farther
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  Women's yardage
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Ask the Pro Archive - 2003
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 2003, 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 (2003)
(most recent to least recent, top to bottom)

Short Game > Low bounce on wedges

December 29, 2003

Question:

What is meant by low-bounce on wedges?

Norm Pesicka
Laguna Niquel, CA

Answer:

Hi Norm,

That's where the wedge's sole sits almost flat, or level with the ground, as opposed to with the leading edge significantly above the level of the flange/ground. See also bounce angle.

Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB

Long Game > General > Hitting a low runner

December 23, 2003

Question:

I'm often under or in the trees. What's the best method to hit a runner without the ball going so high, hitting branches? Thanks.

Eric Xiong
Maplewood, MN

Answer:

Hi Eric,

Techniques could include hands more forward, ball position back in stance, weight heavier on forward foot and choosing a club with little enough loft to keep the ball down appropriately. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Long Game > General > Which hand dominates in the swing?

December 19, 2003

Question:

Does one hand dominate the golf swing? I've read that the right hand is just along for the ride. I have also read "hit the ball with your right hand." Which is it?

Carl Larsen
Yorktown, NY

Answer:

Hi Carl,

Depends on whose swing you're talking about. Both have been used with success. The simplest and most reliable method, in my opinion, is either both hands or neither (depending on your perspective), i.e., the rotation of the torso creates the force, the lever system of arms, hands and club are "swung" by that force and for the most part do not contribute voluntary force of their own. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Long Game > Irons > Switch to blades with steel shafts?

December 11, 2003

Question:

My handicap is about 17 my iron shots are really good but my putting lets me down. I would like to know when I should start changing to a steel shaft and a blade iron.

Alex Lai
London, UK

Answer:

Not necessarily ever, Alex. There are many good tour players that do not use blades and that have graphite shafts. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > Tournament pairings

December 6, 2003

Question:

How are pairings set for tournaments?

Pam Kaehr
Tampa, FL

Answer:

Hi Pam,

It depends on which tournament you're talking about. It varies from event to event, but it's a combination of random draw, hand picking marquis groups for television times, tradition and the whim of the tournament committee.

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

Equipment > Stronger lofts on modern irons

December 1, 2003

Question:

I have heard from other golfers that club manufacturers are now making their irons stronger (reducing loft degree) than in the past. They say that is why golfers feel like are getting more distance with new clubs. Any truth to this?

Mark Dupuy
Albuquerque, NM

Answer:

Yes Mark, that is certainly one factor. Clubs are also typically a bit longer than in the past, and technology has improved in general (balls, shafts, club head materials and design). Thanks for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com. Best of luck with your game. MB

Miscellaneous > Terminology - Words and Phrases > The term "duck hook"

November 30, 2003

Question:

What is the origin of the term "duck hook?"

Dave Hendrix
Whispering Pines, NC

Answer:

Hi Dave,

I'm not sure where or how that phrase originated. I would take a wild guess that it is related to the usage of duck as in "duck and cover" but I could certainly be wrong. Please (Dave or anybody) let me know if you know or find anything out about the origin of this term, thanks. Thanks for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Long Game > Irons > Why does the club face close in the rough?

November 24, 2003

Question:

Why does the clubface have a tendency to close when playing from the rough. I would have thought the shaft end of the clubface would have been themorestable and the dragging effect of the long grass would open the face. I'm aware the face does close but do not understand the reason.

Graham Smith
Berry, New South Wales, Australia

Answer:

Hi Graham,

The usual explanation is that the grass wraps around and grabs the hosel/neck of the club. The mass of the toe of the club head has a natural tendency to want to rotate around the axis of the shaft with angular momentum. So the heel of the club, which is the first and deepest thing into the grass, gets decelerated and the toe continues with less resistance. That's the general idea -- hope that answers your question. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com -- best of luck with your game. MB

Miscellaneous > Other > Playing both right and left-handed

November 19, 2003

Question:

Have you heard of switch golfers, like switch hitters in baseball, where a person can play just as good left-handed as right-handed? And if so, would you or could you have two handicaps, one for right and one for left, if you played enough games each way to establish a handicap with each hand?

Denise Cleghorn
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Answer:

Hi Denise,

Yes, there are switch hitters (Mac O'Grady is probably the best known) and I'm sure you could establish two handicaps, but don't know of any precedents. Check with your state golf association or in your case I suppose, the Royal Canadian Golf Assosiation.

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

Mental Game > Looking up, how to not look up

November 14, 2003

Question:

My wife has been golfing for a couple years. She has a problem of looking up early before hitting the shot. She has taken several lessons and has tried several methods to fix this problem, none seem to work. Can you suggest anything that might help. Thanks.

Hugh Tice
Fallbrook, CA

Answer:

Hi Hugh,

Very common problem, I'm afraid, and one that always boggles my mind. If one KNOWS that the problem is "looking up" then it is as simple as choosing to not look up. When I was a beginning junior I had this problem -- like everybody else who has ever played golf. When I became aware that looking up was an error that caused a bad result I simply made sure that I still saw the ground (without the ball on it any longer) before I looked up -- it's a choice. Besides, the natural momentum of a decent swing and follow-through will automatically lift the golfer up and out of their original posture, easily allowing them to see where the ball goes.

If, on the other hand, there is a faulty mechanical issue or balance problem that is causing or promoting the raising up of the posture rather than simply the bad habit of looking up, that's another story.

Of course, 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 for a golf school or an individual lesson. I can help much more effectively in person.

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

Equipment > Playing with worn grips

November 5, 2003

Question:

My grips on my clubs are fairly worn and slick, and my shots without gripping tightly go left or right. Is it possible that my club head is opening or closing in my swing due to my grips being so worn? How important are the grips on clubs?

Paul Anderson
Madisonville, TN

Answer:

Hi Paul,

Certainly possible and very important -- get some new grips and your feel and consistency should improve. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Long Game > General > Practice on grass or mats?

November 1, 2003

Question:

I have noticed that when I hit from these pads [range mats] that they are very forgiving. Many times after hitting a practice bucket and then going out to play, I notice that I hit the ball fat. I feel that this is because the astro turf does not allow the club to make a divot and helps with the "sweet" feel. I am about a 12 handicap, but feel I could do better if I had the opportunity to practice on grass instead of astro turf. What kind of practice surface do you suggest?

Eric Terhorst
Los Angeles, CA

Answer:

Hi Eric,

Yep, common problem. Grass is certainly better, but it's expensive to maintain with as much wear and tear as is common with driving ranges. If you can find grass great, otherwise you'll have to develop more sensitivity to the feel of contacting the ball first. You're not alone in this, keep on plugging away. See also this previous question and answer on hitting it fat. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Miscellaneous > Golf course-related > Course layout, how many par 3's

October 28, 2003

Question:

Is there a rule that there must be a par 3 or more par 3's on a regulation golf course?

Stephen Small
South Portland, ME

Answer:

Hi Stephen,

Nope, no rule; just tradition and common practice. A "standard issue," regulation, 18 hole, par 72 course might be considered to have ten par 4's, with two par 3's and two par 5's on each nine holes, or side. But you'll find that there's a good bit of variation between courses.

Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB

Equipment > How many dimples do golf balls have?

October 23, 2003

Question:

Which one is better 300 dimples or 425 dimples in a golf ball? Thanks.

Shannon Bryson
Cheraw, SC

Answer:

Hi Shannon,

Neither is better; just different. Most people would never notice a difference. Different dimple patterns and shapes (may) slightly effect the ball's flight characteristics (low or high, etc.). You'd have to be VERY highly skilled and EXTREMELY consistent to ever tell a difference.

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

Miscellaneous > Professional golf-related > The Masters Tournament founders

October 19, 2003

Question:

Who is the founder of The U.S. Masters?

Douglas Nupen
Capetown, South Africa

Answer:

Hi Douglas,

Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Long Game > General > Self-analysis and correction

October 10, 2003

Question:

I am currently having a difficult time correcting my lifelong tendency to both slice and sky the ball. I tried keeping my hands in front of the club, hitting punch shots, changing my grip, backswing, and ball placement in stance. Nothing seems to work for me. My backswing always seems uncomfortable despite trying many different tips. The only time my swing feels comfortable and consistent is when I hit a huge skying slice that is about forty yards off the target line. How can I train myself to hit it low and with a hook?

Jason Welsh
Waterloo, IA

Answer:

You didn't mention anything about working with a golf professional in person, Jason. That would be a good idea. It sounds like you have many problems in your swing. And without seeing you in person it's impossible for me to guess what all of those problems are or what the best solutions would be. In writing the best I can do is to refer you to the already-posted questions and answers on those topics (all of which can easily be found by looking through the Ask the Pro FAQ's and Archive, or by doing a search of PGAProfessional.com): Slicing problem, Skying problem, Hitting it lower, Drawing the ball.

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

Miscellaneous > Professional golf-related > Yardages for men or women professionals

October 7, 2003

Question:

Can you please tell me the rules for the pro tours that apply to the tee off of men vs. women. Is it a set amount less for the women for each hole or does it vary depending on the par for that particular hole?

Suzette LeBoeuf
Austin, TX

Answer:

Hi Suzette,

There are no rules, it varies from event to event, hole to hole and day to day, and certainly can be influenced by the weather, prevailing wind, etc. They move the tee markers daily to give the turf a chance to heal in addition to varying the playing characteristics of the holes. The tour officials/tournament committees set the tees and hole distances. Obviously, distances for the women are shorter than those for the men. As a very general rule, with many exceptions, women professionals play approximately the white, or regular men's, tees.

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

Equipment > Shaft flexes tutorial

October 1, 2003

Question:

What is a regular mid-kick shaft?

Dale Fowler
Smyrna, TN

Answer:

Hi Dale,

Your question presents an opportunity to talk about shafts in general. Shafts come in different degrees of flex and ideally are matched to your swing speed (generally, the stronger the player and the faster the club head speed the stiffer the shaft). The broad categories are

Shaft Flex Chart

  • L - Ladies
  • A - Amateur (poorly named) or Senior (still vague)
  • R - Regular
  • S - Stiff
  • X - Extra Stiff
These are just ranges, and the names don't necessarily mean anything. For instance, there are some very athletic ladies who might best be fitted with a Regular, or perhaps even Stiff, shaft. Likewise there are some large strong men whose swing speed most closely fits a Regular or Senior flex.

Some manufacturers may have different names for the above flexes, and flexes can be indicated by numerical values called "frequencies" as well, with a little more precision than the broad categories. These are approximate equivalents (there is still not global agreement on this topic, and much variation between manufacturers).

Shaft Frequency Chart

  • 2.5 to 3.5 - L - Ladies
  • 3.5 to 4.5 - A - Senior
  • 4.5 to 5.5 - R - Regular
  • 5.5 to 6.5 - S - Stiff
  • 6.5 to 7.5 - X - Extra Stiff
Shafts also have different flex points (also referred to as either "bend point" or "kick point") labeled as either low, middle ("mid"), or high. All else being equal, the lower the kick point the higher the trajectory that will be produced, but there are many other factors involved.

So a Regular mid-kick shaft is a shaft of medium flex, or stiffness, with a medium kick point (probably suited to an average male golfer with an average trajectory).

As if all that is not enough shafts come in different torques, weights, lengths, etc. You can always find out specific details about specific shafts by contacting a reputable club maker or golf professional with club fitting expertise.

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

Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > Match play scoring terminology

September 29, 2003

Question:

I know that the winner of Match play is the golfer who wins the most holes rather than the one who has the fewest strokes. But what does it mean when they say a golfer has won his match 3 and 2?

Carl Sandstedt
Pasadena, CA

Answer:

Hi Carl,

It means that the winner won by being 3 holes ahead with only 2 holes left to play. Thanks for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Equipment > Grip size and its effect on shots

September 23, 2003

Question:

Does the size of the grip on your club make any difference on your ball flight? I fade the ball and I wonder if a thicker grip would have an effect on straightening out my shots.

Pat McGonagle
Simi Valley, CA

Answer:

If anything the larger the grip the more it would promote a fade, Pat, but the effect of grip size is usually very small. See also this already-posted answer on grip size. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com -- best of luck with your game. MB

Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > Onesome, or single player's status on course

September 19, 2003

Question:

I have just started learning how to hit a golf ball, and want to get out on a course. I have been told by a colleague that if I play a round on my own, i.e. as a single player, then I will have no standing on the golf course. I am curious as to what this means.

Mark Starford
Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland, UK

Answer:

Hi Mark,

That just means that groups of two or more will have priority over you on the course (e.g., you are obligated to let them play through you, if they so desire, and even if you might be playing faster than groups in front of you they are not obligated to let you play through -- though many groups will). See my free online book for beginners for more information for new golfers.

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

Mental Game > Breathing during swing

September 12, 2003

Question:

My question concerns breathing during my swing. Should I take a breath then swing, or half breath? Or should I breathe throughout the swing?

Steven Piecuch
Epping, NH

Answer:

A golf swing happens pretty quickly, Steven. You don't need to breathe during the swing, and most athletes naturally hold their breath during the impact phase of ballistic movements like a golf swing. Try a good breath before, then partially out, hold breath for the fraction of second through impact -- and stop thinking about this as soon as possible. It should be an automatic and unconcscious part of the picture. For other mental game tips see Mental Tips.

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

Miscellaneous > Other > Golf lesson statistics, how many do and don't

September 6, 2003

Question:

Do you know of any commonly accepted statistics about the percentage of average golfers (not just beginners) who have taken lessons? I have searched a bit for this and found nothing. Thanks.

Tom Vangeloff
Cinncinati, OH

Answer:

Hi Tom,

I don't know of any official research in that area, though it may very well exist. The National Golf Foundation may have something (). I ran a poll on the subject here at PGAProfessional.com for over a month and these were my results.

Have you ever had a golf lesson? (Poll ended 11-1-02)

52% - yes
47% - no

My next question for the 47 percent who answered 'no' was, "Do you want to improve your game?"

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

Miscellaneous > Professional golf-related > Putting statistics, what is a putt?

September 3, 2003

Question:

If one uses the Texas Wedge are these shots included in one's total putts? How are the professionals' putting averages worked out? Do they just count the putts they take on greens they've reached in regulation?

Robert Pritchard
Kington, Herefordshire, UK

Answer:

Only putts from ON the putting surface count in that stat, Robert. And for the pros there are actually two different stats: "Putts per Round" and "Putts per Green in Regulation." Note: From what I understand from both the PGA and USGA, once a player is on the green if they putt their ball off the green any subsequent putts still count as putts in the statistics. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Long Game > General > Keep head down?

August 26, 2003

Question:

What is the best way to keep my head down?

Jim Brown
Penn Valley, CA

Answer:

Hi Jim,

Actually keeping your head DOWN is a bad idea. You should, however, keep your spine angle constant. That's one of the important fundamentals of a good golf swing. It requires balance, a feel for rotating around the axis of the spine and a deliberate choice to stay in that spine angle through impact (avoiding the very common tendency to be looking for/at the result before the process of causing it has been completed). Doesn't that sound easy? smile

Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB

Long Game > Woods > Getting a lower trajectory on drives

August 25, 2003

Question:

I am not skying my drives but hit them extremely high. How can a get a lower trajectory and more roll? Thanks.

Clark Jaynes
Palm Desert, CA

Answer:

Hi Clark,

From a technique perspective it may be that your hands need to be farther forward in relation to the club head at impact and/or the ball needs to be contacted lower on the face (but not too low: lower on the face than center can create too much spin and make the ball go up as well chuckle). You may need a more inside/shallower angle of approach also. Lots of variables; I, or someone, would have to see you swing to comment on your specific technique.

See these two previous answers also ("Too high", "Hit it lower"—though these are about irons the idea of a later release is generally similar). Also look at tee height and ball position.

Beyond that the characteristics of your driver can make a difference (you could try either less loft, a higher center of gravity in the club head, a stiffer shaft with perhaps less torque and/or a higher kickpoint). Get with a reputable professional with clubfitting expertise to check on the club.

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

Short Game > Putting with the toe up

August 20, 2003

Question:

I have been having trouble putting lately, mainly with alignment. I switched putters, styles, shaft lengths, jumbo grip, etc. Through trial and error I found that putting with the toe up has improved my accuracy. Why would this be?

Ralph Randall
Columbus, GA

Answer:

Hi Ralph,

I'd have to see you putt to be sure, but it sounds like you probably tend to aim to the right of the target. Because with the toe up the ball goes to the left of where the face is actually lined up, due to the fact that the putter face has some degree loft. So if you were missing it to the right frequently that could be be the answer. It could also simply be a "visual perspective" issue (the position and alignment of your eyes). Again, I'd have to work with you in person to give you any certain analysis and correction.

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

Long Game > General > Ball above feet, distance loss

August 15, 2003

Question:

I lose considerable distance when the ball is above my feet -- my 9 iron becomes a sand wedge. Why?

George Sanford
Franklin, TN

Answer:

Hi George,

When you play from uneven ground it is much more difficult to transfer your weight and get the full force of you body behind the shot -- not to mention that with the ball above your feet you might very well be choking down lower on the club too, reducing leverage. That's why you might take one or two more clubs from uneven ground (the more severe the stance the more force you'll lose). Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Miscellaneous > Professional golf-related > How did the Touring Pro's do as juniors?

August 7, 2003

Question:

I am 15 years old and my handicap is 14. I want to be a pro and hopefully go on and do higher things like play on the Euro pro tour. The thing is I am worried about my handicap and I think it's to high, but I know I can play to about 7. Could you please find out what the big players like Tiger, Monty, and some other big player handicaps where when they were my age?

Ross Phillips
Bristol, England, UK

Answer:

You'd have to follow each individual pro's biography to find that out, Ross. It would be quite a project to dig all that up, but I'm sure that information can be found on the web. You'll just need time and patience to dig it up. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com and best of luck with your game. MB

Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > Time limit for shots on the Tour

August 2, 2003

Question:

On the professional golf tour, how many seconds are allowed per shot?

Sandra Major
Oklahoma City, OK

Answer:

Hi Sandra,

They only actually put them on the clock if they fall behind the group in front of them, and they give them a warning or two first. It may vary between events and sanctioning bodies, but once a player or group is being timed I believe it is something like 45 seconds to play a shot once it is the player's turn.

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

Equipment > Sparks flying from club head

July 28, 2003

Question:

Is it normal for a club to make sparks at impact?

Chris Walter
Scottsdale, AZ

Answer:

Hi Chris,

Sure, that does happen with some metals, but not with all clubs. I've seen it quite a bit, particularly on range mats with little tiny pebbles or grains of sand in them.

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


Long Game > General > Contact VERY slightly toward the toe

July 24, 2003

Question:

I have the tendency to hit my irons about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch off center towards the toe. Can you give me a tip to correct this problem?

Bob Mastroberte
Clifton, NJ

Answer:

Wow, that's not very far off center, Bob. I wouldn't worry about it if it's not farther off than that. You're not losing much. On the other hand, if you're really that consistent you might consider looking at your posture through impact. It sounds like maybe your spine angle is lifting slightly, though without seeing you this is only an educated guess. Check to see if your divots are deeper in the toe, this would be another indicator.

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

Equipment > Club lofts

July 18, 2003

Question:

What is the loft of each club in an average set of clubs today?

Johh Martin
Sant Cruz, CA

Answer:

Hi John,

It varies pretty widely between manufacturers and who the clubs are designed for (men, women, seniors, etc.). This may give you a general idea (these are typical ranges).
  • Drivers - between 6 and 12 degrees
  • 3 woods - between 13 and 16 degrees
  • 5 woods - between 19 and 22 degrees
  • 7 woods - between 23 and 26 degrees
  • 3 irons - between 20 and 23 degrees
  • 7 irons - between 32 and 38 degrees
  • Pitching Wedges - between 45 and 50 degrees
Again there is a lot of variation, and loft is not the only factor that determines trajectory and distance. Club head design, club head material, club length, shaft flex, torque and kick point also influence trajectory and height.

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

Long Game > General > Arms in front of the body?

July 14, 2003

Question:

I heard "keep your arms in front of your body center throughout your swing." Can you explain that to me?

Kenneth Yeong
Singapore

Answer:

That is another way of describing "connection," Kenneth. It refers to keeping your hands and club shaft in front of, or connected with, your torso rather than moving separately from the torso -- particularly a good idea through the impact area.

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

Long Game > Irons > Shots "in-between" clubs

July 5, 2003

Question:

I hit my PW 105 yards and my SW 75 yards. My question is apart from including a gap wedge, how do I control my in between distances ... by adjusting swing speed, or choking down on my PW wedge?

Kris Nan
North Brunswick, NJ

Answer:

The distance on those in-between yardages can be controlled both by choking down and/or altering the size (length) of the swing in both directions (half backswing and half follow-through, for example) -- lots of variations, very involved topic.

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

Long Game > General > Going from the range to the course

July 1, 2003

Question:

I spend about 50% of my golf time on the range where I hit balls clean and well. However, when I get on the course, I have a great deal of difficulty with my irons which I often top, shank and mis-hit! Needless to say, this is totally frustrating and I return to the range to find out that I can still hit well. I don't feel "uptight" out there on the course, and think positively too until I have hit the umpteenth bad shot! Any tips for me?

Joy Morrison
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Answer:

On the course and on the range are two very different experiences, Joy. For your swing to work on the course as well as it does on the range your moves have to be automatic/habitual. Without working with you in person I can make a couple general suggestions:
Note added 2013: Also see Dealing with Nervousness on the Golf Course and Mental Game Resources. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Long Game > Irons > When to use which bounce on wedges

June 29, 2003

Question:

I bought a 60 degree zero bounce wedge and a 58 degree wedge with 8 degrees of bounce. I hit them 50 and 70 yards respectively. When should I use the zero bounce wedge and when to use the wedge with more bounce?

Andrew Jackson
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Answer:

Hi Andrew,

Generally, the tighter the lie the less bounce you want. Bounce is good for thicker grass and bunkers. Of course, trial and error and personal preference (experience) plays a huge part. Have fun experimenting.

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


Equipment > Cast irons and forged irons

June 24, 2003

Question:

Is it true most, or all, irons used to be forged prior to say 1980? If this is true, why are current forged irons so very expensive?

Bob Tait
Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada

Answer:

Hi Bob,

I think we'd have to go back to earlier than 1980 before I'd say "most." Cast clubs were already popular in the early '70's (I had a set of cast Lynx irons in 1973 and PING's had already been around for a while at that time). Casting is cheaper because it's easier and less time-consuming.

Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Long Game > Irons > Why does a "flier" go farther?

June 20, 2003

Question:

The fact that the golf ball stays in the air longer due to backspin prompts the question, why does a "flyer" jump and fly farther out of wet or long grass that promotes LESS spin on the ball?

Barry White
Cinncinati, OH

Answer:

Hi Barry, (surely not the "we've got it together, baby" Barry White?)

Actually, backspin promotes lift and hang time but not necessarily forward momentum. "Fliers" go farther because the decreased spin is not causing the ball to "grab air" and climb.

Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game ... and "keep it together." MB

Long Game > General > Ten-finger grip, good or bad, who uses it?

June 12, 2003

Question:

I was told by a buddy that the ten finger grip was incorrect. I thought that their were 3 grips -- overlap, interlock and baseball/ten finger grip. I told him that I thought some pros use the ten finger grip and he told me to name 2 -- I couldn't. If there are any pros that use this grip on the tour could you tell me who they are?

Tim Mitchell
Roanoke, VA

Answer:

Hi Tim,

Here's a short list of well-known pros who use(d) the ten-finger grip
  • Moe Norman (greatest ball striker of all time)
  • Bob Estes (currently a top player on the PGA Tour)
  • Bob Rosburg (former PGA Champion, now golf commentator for ABC)
  • Dave Barr (PGA and Senior PGA Tour player)
  • Beth Daniel (LPGA Hall of Fame)
  • Art Wall (Masters Champion and more aces than anybody in history)
There are probably more. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Miscellaneous > Professional golf-related > Caddy wages, percentage, payment

June 7, 2003

Question:

Please settle a bet for me. What is the average percentage that a caddy makes off a pro's winnings at a tournament? I said it was between 13 and 18% of his take home.

Rich Farabee
Chicago, IL

Answer:

I'm sure that varies from player to player, but 5-10% (with a guaranteed minimum) is more common, from what I have heard. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com and best of luck with your game. MB

Miscellaneous > Professional golf-related > How the "cut" is determined

June 3, 2003

Question:

How is the cut line determined at a PGA Tournament?

Jeffery McBride
Muncie, IN

Answer:

It's based on roughly how many players the tournament committee wants in the last two rounds (I believe it's usually the top 70 and everybody tied with the cut score for regular U.S. PGA Tour events). The intended size of the field in the final rounds may vary from tournament to tournament.

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

Long Game > General > Using a weak grip

May 29, 2003

Question:

I have a weaker than normal grip, a little weak of neutral. I know everyone says strong is better than weak. It's just the way I naturally grab the club. I was wondering if your setup, swing plane, and everything else is correct if you can still hit it solid. I haven't played very long, and I do hit solid shots a lot of the time. I've been told I have a good swing but my grip is weak. I'm reluctant to change and was wondering if any good players that you know of throughout history had a weak grip.

Matt Welborn
Summiville, IN

Answer:

Hi Matt,

The first player that comes to mind with a weak grip is Jose Maria Olazabal (2 Masters titles and a lot more -- pretty successful). It certainly is possible to be effective with a somewhat weak grip, but I'd have to actually see your grip and swing to make a valid comment on it.

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


Miscellaneous > Professional golf-related > Touring Professionals and wearing shorts

May 22, 2003

Question:

Why can professional women golfers wear shorts, and the men professionals all wear long pants?

Laura Dorogi
Canton, MI

Answer:

Hi Laura,

Tradition dies hard. I suspect that for the men to wear shorts there would have to be a different group of people responsible for the PGA Tour. Supposedly (I cannot substantiate this, but have heard it more than once), there was once an incident on the Tour quite a few years ago involving a player cutting off his slacks during hot weather. Apparently he also neglected to wear undergarments, and the gallery was graced with "an eyeful" every time the player would mark his ball or read a putt smile ... and that was the end of any potential for the men to wear shorts. Perhaps it's time to give them another chance, though. It does get pretty hot out there.

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

Mental Game > Tee shot anxiety, stage fright

May 19, 2003

Question:

I am having trouble getting off the tee with the same consistency as I hit my second shots. I generally shoot a very good score, play second shots very well and my play around the green is very good. Some of the people I play with have suggested not using a tee, but I tee the ball low. I believe I suffer from stage fright. Any suggestions? By the way I do not use a driver. I carry 3, 5 and 7 woods.

Michael Falbo
Kansas City, MO

Answer:

Hi Michael,

If, indeed, "stage fright" is the problem (by whatever name you call it: performance anxiety, not being in the present moment, etc.) then I would recommend this great book on the mental game as an excellent place to start (it's the best).

I would also consider trying the suggestion of playing the ball on the ground rather than from a tee, just to see if it helps. I really like it myself.

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

Miscellaneous > Golf course-related > Why yardages are shorter for women golfers

May 12, 2003

Question:

We have had a long heated debate about why women tee off closer to the flag then men. The man in our office says that if a woman and a man are equal, skill-wise, in golf why should the woman have the advantage to tee off closer? Please help us!!

Jen Shaffer
Myrtle Beach, SC

Answer:

Pretty straight forward, Jen: women don't hit the ball as far as men, on the average (at any level of skill). Therefore, they start closer to the hole.

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

Long Game > General > Shot shape, why draw or fade instead of straight?

May 6, 2003

Question:

Why do many professional golfers play a fade or a draw rather than a straight shot?

Adam Gross
Lynbrok, NY

Answer:

Hi Adam,

It's much easier to play a shape than to hit the ball perfectly straight, particularly with the longer clubs. If you try to hit it straight you're leaving very little room for error, and the ball could curve in either direction. When you play a shape that you're comfortable with it is much less likely that the ball will curve in the opposite direction and there's more room for error. Hitting it fairly straight with the shorter irons is pretty easy, though.

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

Miscellaneous > Professional golf-related > Professional Major Grand Slam

May 1, 2003

Question:

Has there ever been anyone to win all four majors in the same year and who, if anyone?

David Peterson
Bloomington, IL

Answer:

Bobby Jones won the original "Grand Slam" in 1930, which was comprised of 4 tournaments: both the "Open" and "Amateur" championships of the U.S. and Great Britain. Nobody has ever won golf's "Professional Grand Slam" (Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA championships) in the same year, though Tiger Woods has held all four trophies at the same time (he did it starting with the 2000 U.S. Open and ending with the 2001 Masters), which is as impressive, if not more so.

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

Long Game > Woods > Worm burner, hitting grounders

April 28, 2003

Question:

I am the "Wormburner Queen" but I would gladly give up my title. Can you tell me a few of the most common reasons for this problem? As long as the course isn't wet, the ball rolls great, but moisture is deadly.

Ro Welch
Baldwinsville, NY

Answer:

Hi Ro,

Hitting a wormburner can only be done a few ways:
  1. clubface closed at impact
  2. clubface hooded at impact
  3. hitting the ball thin, or
  4. richocheting the ball off some other part of the club besides the face
Without seeing you in person I can't say which of them you are doing. A reputable professional near you would be able to fix you up easily.

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


Equipment > Ridge on underside of grip

April 25, 2003

Question:

What is the significance of the longitudinal ridge at the back or bottom of the rubber grip of our golf club? Please advise.

Jack Chai
Tapah, Perak, Malaysia

Answer:

Hi Jack,

It's called a "rib." Not all grips have one. It is supposed to make it easier to feel the same position on every club, as it should be in the same knuckle joint or place in your fingers each time. Again, grips are available without the rib also -- it's a matter of personal preference.

Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


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

April 20, 2003

Question:

What does "E" mean on a golf iron? It looks very much like my sand wedge, but it has an "E" on it.

Gillian Turner
Tallahassee, FL

Answer:

That stands for "Equalizer," Gillian -- a Hogan company pitching wedge. Thanks for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Equipment > What is shaft kickpoint

April 13, 2003

Question:

Please explain shaft kickpoint.

Ben Turnbaugh
Hunt Valley, MD

Answer:

Hi Ben,

Kick Point: The point of maximum bending, measured by deflecting the end nearest the club head while the grip end is held stationary. Shafts are available with different kick point locations. Generally, the lower the kick point the higher the trajectory (if all other variables remain constant). Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB


Long Game > General > On which hand you wear the glove

April 8, 2003

Question:

I am an amateur golfer and I was wondering if it makes a difference if the golf glove is on my left or right hand (I'm right handed). I like it on the right, however, I heard that your left hand needs to be the strong one and your right just to support it, so will it help my game if I change hands?

Scott Czarnecki
Fort Collins, CO

Answer:

Hi Scott,

It is most common for right-handed golfers to wear a glove on their left hand. A glove is not absolutely necessary. It is a matter of personal preference whether to wear one or not. The glove may help a player feel like there is a better connection between the left hand (generally the weaker of the two for right-handers) and the club. I have not, myself, ever seen anybody who was a decent player wear the glove on their lower hand. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com and best of luck with your game. MB


Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > Unplayable lie procedure

April 2, 2003

Question:

When a player declares his ball unplayable, how far back does he have to drop the ball? Thanks.

Muneer Hameer
Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

Answer:

Hi Muneer,

3 options:
  1. within two club lengths, no nearer hole
  2. as far back as you want keeping the point where the ball was in between you and the hole
  3. play from original location

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


Equipment > Why clean grooves

March 30, 2003

Question:

How important is it to keep the grooves of your clubs clean and why?

Michael Collado
Chicago, IL

Answer:

Hi Michael,

It's mainly important when there is a lot of moisture in or on the grass, as grooves are useful for channeling water and helping with spin direction. It's not absolutely crucial otherwise -- there are clubs with NO grooves that work fine.

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


Long Game > Woods > How high to tee the ball

March 23, 2003

Question:

Could you advise me on a method of teeing my ball up when preparing to use my driver? Thank you.

Garry Stevenson
Sheffield, South Yorkshire, UK

Answer:

Hi Garry,

The height you tee the ball with your driver is a matter of personal preference and the type of driver you use. General rule: tee the ball high enough so that some of it (approximately half) is above the top of the clubhead when the club is resting on the ground behind the ball. See also this tip on the driver.

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

Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > Changing balls or ball types during a round

March 18, 2003

Question:

Is a player allowed to change balls mid round? Can he use different types of balls for different holes? If he determines a ball is unfit for play, must he replace with the same type of ball?

Scott Bordick
Gallowy, NJ

Answer:

Hi Scott,

Yes, you can change balls between holes, or if the ball is damaged and unfit for play (fellow competitors must agree that it is damaged in competition), as often as you like.

The "one ball" rule is only used in some competitions (the PGA Tour for instance) and is not applied to casual golf. If the one ball rule is in effect you can only use balls of the same brand/compression/markings, with the exception of the number on the ball for identification purposes. Also see Rules FAQ for further rules questions. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB


Long Game > Irons > Iron distances are all the same

March 9, 2003

Question:

As a 20 handicapper, I find it intriguing that whether I use a 5 iron or an 8 iron, my distance does not vary that much. I swing easy and I hit the ball pretty straight with my irons. Without knowing much else, what would cause my iron distance to be so close with each other?

Jim Clegg
Chagrin Falls, OH

Answer:

The typical reason for that problem, Jim, is that as the club gets longer it is supposed to be traveling faster—because it is a longer lever—but the tendency for many golfers is to increase muscular tension as the clubs get longer, effectively putting on the brakes and slowing the club down rather than getting any speed increase. Also, as you get into the longer irons off-center hits tend to result in a more substantial percentage of distance loss than with the shorter irons.

The solution is improved technique and avoiding the tension that keeps the club from accelerating like it should. Technique is covered in simple, user-friendly detail in my golf instruction books. And it would also be advisable to work on your technique with a reputable professional in person. You can work on your game with me if you ever visit the San Francisco bay area - see my Golf Schools pages.

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

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

March 8, 2003

Question:

What is the origin of the word FORE? Thanks for your help.

Mike Arkin
Big Bend, WI

Answer:

Hi Mike,

It originated as a military warning cry when soldiers in the rear were going to shoot over the heads of those in front of them, from what I understand. Supposedly it started as "Ware before," as in beware or look out in front or forward, and was eventually shortened to just "FORE." Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Short Game > What putting grip to use

March 2, 2003

Question:

When putting what grip should I use?

Robert Jennings
Leeds, Yorkshire, England

Answer:

The one you're most comfortable with, Robert. It isn't as important to have a "proper" grip in putting, as your hands don't even move independently at all if your stroke is simple. What is important is that you have good feel. There are lots of successful players using different putting grips.

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

Long Game > General > Grip reminder, regripping during swing

February 28, 2003

Question:

Is there such a thing as a 'grip reminder'? My left hand comes of the grip at the top of my back swing, I re-grip resulting in a closed face; resulting in a duck hook.

Tom Husnay
Littleton, CO

Answer:

Hi Tom,

There are training gloves (that I would not recommend and that you cannot use within the rules of golf) available that will do it for you by keeping your fingers velcroed around the grip, and there's a generic drill where you hold a wooden tee between the grip and the heel pad of your top hand (sticking out past the back of your hand toward the end of the grip, so that if you open your hand the tee will fall out). But, to me, the easiest thing to do is to just consciously practice keeping your hand relaxed and in constant contact -- practice swings only, using a mirror to watch your hands -- until you have the correct feeling memorized. You should then be able to tell whether you're achieving it when hitting balls too.

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


Equipment > To use a 2 or 3 piece ball

February 25, 2003

Question:

I'm a weekend duffer and would like to know what the difference is between a 2-piece golf ball and a 3-piece ball. Which is better? Thanks!

Scot Conant
Kalamazoo, MI

Answer:

Hi Scot,

There are lots of different ball types nowadays, but usually the more "pieces" the softer the feel and the more the spin. General rule: Harder balls go a bit farther because they spin less, but they aren't quite as controllable (which is only an issue for players of higher skill levels). So I would say that unless you are very highly skilled the type of ball you use does not really matter -- it is certainly not a key factor, a weak link in your performance, or a place to look for improvement.

Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Short Game > What bounce on wedge for which sand type

February 21, 2003

Question:

Can you tell me if it is better to use a sand wedge with lots of bounce for playing bunker shots where the sand is soft and fluffy or should one rather opt for less bounce? Also in bunkers where the sand is "thin" should one rather use a club with less bounce? Thanks and thanks for a great website.

André Carstens
Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

Answer:

The consistency of sand varies widely, André, and developing a feel for which club to use in which situation takes time and experience. But you are correct in thinking that, generally, a wedge with more bounce (i.e., bigger, deeper flange) would be better for thicker sand and one with less bounce (i.e., a thinner or smaller flange, not necessarily less bounce angle) would be better for more tightly packed sand. Each player will develop a feel for what works for them through trial and error.

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


Miscellaneous > Other > Junior golfer reluctant to get instruction

February 14, 2003

Question:

I just recently got my 9 year old son interested in golf but he is very reluctant to take any instruction and gets upset when I try to help. What should I do?

Jack Arnest
Fresno, CA

Answer:

Hi Jack,

How about enrolling him in a "Junior Camp" at a golf course in your area? That way he could be learning with other kids around his own age and at the beginning skill level. We have junior golf camps at the course where I teach and all the kids seem to really enjoy them. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB


Long Game > Woods > Skying the driver, hitting a pop up

February 8, 2003

Question:

When I use my driver the ball tends to travel very very high, and land only at about 150 yards. This does not happen to me every time, but about 80% of it. I don't have any problem hitting the ball straight, so what is my problem? And how can I fix it? Thank you for your time.

Orr Goldvarg
Sunnyvale, CA

Answer:

For it to go that high and short you are probably going under the ball, Orr. Try teeing it lower or swinging up higher; just clipping the top of the tee. See this tip also.

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


Mental Game > Last hole pressure, nerves

February 1, 2003

Question:

I am 12 years old and usually shoot around 54 on nine holes. I am capable of shooting better but always seem to choke on the last hole. What can I do to solve this problem?

Trevor Ault
Toledo, OH

Answer:

Time and experience will take care of this, Trevor. But one thing you might try is to play that specific hole over and over again, until you know exactly what needs to happen and feel confident about being able to do it. If it is a different hole each time, but always the last hole, you might try to focus intently on one shot at a time and try to forget about the score on the hole. Try this great book on the mental game too.

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


Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > When to pick up your ball

January 29, 2003

Question:

How many strokes are allowed before picking the ball up on a hole?

Luke Reznecheck
Hanover, MN

Answer:

Hi Luke,

Well, there is no rule about that, but the thing to keep an eye on is the tolerance of the other players in your group and the group(s) behind you. Generally, if I were you I would pick it up once you double par, unless there is no one that minds and pace of play is not an issue.

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


Long Game > General > Alignment, problem lining up

January 24, 2003

Question:

I have been playing golf for close to 6 years now, and the biggest problem that I have is lining up my shot. When I position myself for a shot, and then lay a club at my feet to confirm the direction that I am actually pointed, I am discouraged to find that I am aiming in the wrong direction. I have been trying to "train myself" by aligning the text on my ball with the target (which helps) but without this aid I am hopeless. Can you offer a suggestion or another training tip to help my aim?

Matt McNeely
Charlotte, NC

Answer:

Hi Matt,

Assuming your vision is okay, first I would check the position of your head, using a mirror, to make sure it wasn't tilted at an unusual angle at address. Next, see my alignment article. All this would be simple to correct by working with a reputable golf professional in person, too.

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

Long Game > General > Back nine fatigue, endurance

January 18, 2003

Question:

I am having a problem with fatigue throughout a round. My scores are typically higher on the back nine then they are on the front and I believe that this is a result of fatigue. As I near the end of a round I feel sluggish and drained. Although my driving of the ball does not diminish, my greens in regulation drop drastically. I am wodering if there are certain foods that will help me keep my strength throughout a round. I am in decent physical shape and I do not think that fitness is the problem. Should I be taking energy supplements? Could this be mental fatigue? Any insight would be helpful and appreciated.

Andy Brunn
Little Canada, MN

Answer:

Hi Andy,

First of all try this great book for the food and eating habits -- it helps a lot. Next improve your leg strength in the gym, and your endurance by running or walking, if you have time. Supplements are a subject of great debate and results vary widely between individuals -- if you find something that seems to work go for it. Make sure you're drinking enough water too (and that probably means it's a good idea to avoid dehydrating drinks - coffee, tea, alcohol, etc. - just before and during your round). Beyond that just more playing will help (there's nothing like training specifically for the activity you're planning on doing -- just think, if you got used to playing 36 holes frequently the second nine of the first 18 would be easy.). It takes a while, physically and mentally, to build up to playing 18 holes, maintaining your focus throughout. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB


Miscellaneous > Professional golf-related > Pro's yardage books

January 10, 2003

Question:

I saw tour players always have a small notebook to check and write something before they make their stroke. What do they normally have in their book?

Rungsun Jearavatanakanok
Bangkok, Thailand

Answer:

Hi Rungsun,

Those are yardage books that they use to make all kinds of notations to help them remember aspects of each specific hole. They have a book for each different course and may add notes each time they play it, or when there is something they feel is important to remember, or just to have exact yardages to and from landmarks on each hole.

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

Long Game > General > Ground club or hover it above ground

January 7, 2003

Question:

I notice that if I do not ground my club behind the ball I have a longer tension free swing. Are there any drawbacks here? Do any pro's do it this way?

Lieb Howard
North Woodmere, NY

Answer:

Hi Lieb,

Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman and Payne Stewart right off the top of my head, for starters. There are others, I'm sure, who also hover the club instead of grounding it. If you're more comfortable with it stick with it. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Long Game > Irons > How do you control trajectory?

January 3, 2003

Question:

What's the secret to controlling trajectory? I heard Johnny Miller say that by hitting off certain grooves (counting from the bottom) you control trajectory. How does one hit it off the 2rd groove vs. the 7th groove?

Chuck Seto
Danville, CA

Answer:

Well Chuck, if anybody has that much talent they have a far better nervous system than any human I've ever seen. I certainly don't believe that it is humanly possible to have that much control over precisely where on the face you contact the ball (at least not for mortals).

Trajectory is controlled by the angle of the face, angle of approach into the ball, solidness of contact (I suppose if you can intentionally hit it thin it will go lower but, again, at the speed the club is moving how precise can a human possibly be?), club head speed, the shape of the shot (fade, draw, etc.), environmental conditions (temperature, wind, elevation, etc.), club specifications (loft, center of gravity, flex, flex point, etc.) and the flight characteristics of the ball (dimples, cover resilience). There may be other factors I've left out. Controlling trajectory is covered in detail in my golf instruction books, which I highly recommend. smile

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

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