My Golf Spy

My Golf Spy
My Golf Spy Forums

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Best Swing Tune Up Ever Printed, A Must Read

It's already the middle of the golf season, and I'm sure some of you are finding yourselves stuck in a rut. Don't worry, it happens. Golf is a fickle game. One day you have it; the next day you don't.

Knowing that every golfer—even Tour pros—suffer from common faults, I've come up with 10 common ones, and the fixes that will best address them.

I've structured this article so that it moves fluidly from tee to green, from fundamentals to feel. If you want to completely overhaul your game, try each tip in the order I've written them. If you find one tip that speaks directly to your current needs, then practice that one. Everything here was meant to address common faults, and hopefully after reading it, you'll be able to fix whatever ails you.



I always tell my students to play with "educated hands." And by "educated hands," I mean hands that hold the club properly so they can optimize how the clubface makes contact with the ball.

So how do you do that? It's simple: Go to a correct impact position and then grip the club in a way that it squares up the clubface. Consider what the clubshaft looks like at impact. The golf shaft has a forward lean and is in line with your lead arm. While that's happening, the clubface is aimed at your target and delofted. At that moment, your hips have rotated and your weight favors the forward foot, all while your hands are in the best position to make solid contact. Educate your hands so that your grip promotes a forward wrist that's flat/unhinged, and your rear wrist is bent.

My rear wrist is bent, and my forward wrist is flat.
In the photos at left and above right, notice that I've secured door hinges to my wrists to help illustrate this point. When you grip your club at the impact position, it allows your hands to lead and control the swing so you return the club to impact and "smash" it into the back of the ball.

To begin ingraining the feeling of a proper hand position, hit some short chip shots so your forward hand controls your shot's direction, and the rear hand controls the club's loft. Once you've successfully hit a number of shots in a row, increase the size and speed of your swing until you're making full swings and producing noticeable ballflight control. Educated hands are critical to playing great golf!


To eliminate over-the-top swings, you need to picture hitting the inside third of the golf ball. To do this, simply keep your back to the target longer so that your hands can drop the club into a correct downswing slot when you start the downswing transition. Remember to start the transition with your lower body first.

Check out the three colors on the ball just like your traffic lights: red, yellow and green. You always want to swing your clubhead on the path that will deliver it to the green "light." If you're on a yellow-light path, be cautious; and if you're on a red light, you'll slice the heck out of it or have to yell, "Fore left!" Either way, it's time for a lesson! Avoid those red lights. Work on getting your clubhead on the green-light path and go, go, go!





The club has outraced my body.

Not all tee shots need to end up in the fairway, but they definitely have to be in play if you want to score well.

To ensure this, it's important that your backswing matches your followthrough. When that happens, you can be sure your swing is on the same path. And that will help you produce a lot of great shots. Therefore a flat backswing should result in a flat followthrough, and an upright backswing should produce an upright followthrough.

My body has unwound too quickly. This causes a slice.
To start hitting more consistent drives, practice this simple drill: Choke down on your driver so that your hands are at the bottom of the shaft and make a swing. As you do this, keep the butt of the grip on the same plane in your downswing and followthrough. If your body unwinds too quickly and your hands are too slow, the club will lag behind you and produce a high right slice (the butt of the grip doesn't return to the same plane). If your hands outrace your body and the club crosses over, you'll hit a low left hook (the butt of the grip rolls over too quickly).

Remember the key to consistent tee shots is a swing that looks the same on the downswing and forwardswing. Once you've grooved that for a while in a 3⁄4 swing, extend it to a full swing and start striping it down the fairway.


If your swing path tends to move all over the place, there's an easy way to fix this, especially if you're a feel player. Just hold onto two irons and give them a swing at 1⁄2 to 2⁄3 speed. If you feel any jerks in your back- or forwardswing or a lack of balance or tempo, then you're on the wrong swing path. Continue to swing the two clubs and, as you're doing so, focus on creating a smooth swing. Try to match the backswing to the forwardswing so both are on the same path and you finish in balance.

Notice in the photos at left how my right shoulder mirrors my left in the backswing and followthrough? On the backswing, my left shoulder is in the same spot as my right one after I've swung. My swing doesn't jerk or sway—it's a compact, precise movement that moves around a fixed point. With two clubs (and twice the weight) you'll swing slower and create a more precise path. After feeling the right path, take that feeling and apply it to your normal swing.


A proper golf swing is one that stores up a lot of power in the backswing and then releases it in the downswing. Unfortunately a lot of golfers tend to get off path in the downswing and lose power. This happens when the shoulders turn too quick in the start of the downswing, often causing the clubshaft to go outside the ideal downswing path, which often leads to an open clubface producing a high, weak sliced shot—not a winning combination.

Turning the body first in the transition before bracing the left foot will cause a loss of clubhead force. To hit with power, start your downswing with a lateral hip shift instead, keeping your back to the target until your left foot is braced. As you do this, feel a slight increase in your knee flex. This creates a slight downswing squat that all great players have. It also stabilizes the upper body in the transition and allows your hands, arms and shoulders to follow in the proper downswing sequence. As a result, you'll have a firm left side and deliver the clubhead into the ball from inside of the target line and create a down and out swing path with maximum clubhead force. So shift first, then turn—just like throwing a ball!


Anytime you make a swing that's out of balance, your rhythm and tempo get disrupted. And when that happens, it's very hard to make solid contact.

To remedy this, you must first set up properly so that you're in balance. To do this, tilt from your sternum as you see me doing in the top two color photos. This places your head, shoulders and arms in front of the balls of your feet while your hips, thighs and lower back tilt behind your ankles. When you're in this position, you're counterbalanced. A good way to check your balance is to lift up either the heels or balls of your feet without changing your knee flex. If you can do that, you're in good shape.

For a visual check, use a mirror or a sliding glass door and picture two vertical lines, one that runs up from your ankle, and the other from the balls of your feet. What's in front of your forward vertical line is counterbalanced by what's behind the back vertical line. Once you're balanced, hit some ½ to ¾ wedge shots. Swing the club, turn the hips and finish in balance facing the target. The correct blending of hands and hips while in balance will establish the correct rhythm and tempo. Remember that feeling when you transition to full swings—just stay in balance until the ball lands!


As you can see here, I've hit two different shots. The pin was tucked over a bunker, and in one instance, I took dead aim and ended up in the kitty litter. From there, it's pretty hard for the average player to get up and down. During golf schools and playing lessons, I see students shooting for pins like this all the time. And they often end up short-sided, as you see here. Difficult shots like this are almost impossible for the average golfer to hit consistently near the hole.

The next time you're confronted with a tucked pin, aim for the middle of the green, as you see by my shot at left. I might have a long putt, but at least I'm on and I have a much better chance of two-putting than getting up and down from the bunker.

When you sweep a broom, your "backswing" is short.
The last factor to consider when hitting approach shots to tough pins is what kind of putt you want to leave yourself. While it's hard to control those shots from 150-200 yards away, you still want to position yourself for an easy putt. If you miss the green, make sure your upcoming chip or pitch shot leaves you in a position where you'll have an uphill par-saving putt for your next shot. You can always make a run at a putt from under the hole, but get above it on a fast green, and look out—you'll be lucky to walk away with two putts!


At "impact," the broom has a forward shaft lean.
Why am I swinging with a broom? Well, I hope that it'll illustrate a few things. First, you should be making a sweeping motion that "brushes" down to the ground, not up. Second, the swing I make with the broom has a longer followthrough than backswing. On chip, pitch and bunker shots, I often see students do the exact opposite. They want to help the ball in the air, so they swing up on it. They also tend to make a long backswing with an abbreviated followthrough. Neither one of these faults produces good shots. Hitting up on the ball leads to thin shots, short finishes, and stubs and chunks.

And its "followthrough" is longer than its backswing. Copy this movement when you chip.
The broom also should illustrate the importance of a third key point—forward shaft lean. By making impact with a forward shaft lean, you'll let the club do the work for you. And finally, notice that my broom is sweeping down until it passes my left shoulder. This is the low point of your golf swing. Once you decelerate, the club races ahead of your hands, which creates all kinds of problems.

Remember, make solid, crisp contact to accelerate and let the club's loft get the ball up in the air and onto the green. If you keep your hands forward and sweep down as if you're using a broom, your short game will become more consistent.


All too often, I watch my students walk up to a putt without taking a true look at how the putt breaks. When you consider that the game's best players are usually the game's best putters, you know that the greens are the best place to lower your scores. That means averaging 30 or less putts per round.

Pick your aim point—the line you're going to aim at.

Choose an intermediate target 2-12 inches in front of your ball.

Alignment time! My putter alignment aid matches the line on my ball. That aims at my intermediate target and the stick. With the right speed, I'm draining this one!

Draw a line on your ball for better alignment.
Improving your putting doesn't take a lot of time, but there are three aim steps you need to keep in mind. First, it's important to consider how the green breaks. Are there any slopes or ridges that the putt will break away from? Are there bodies of water, drains or valleys that the putt will break toward? Are there nearby bunkers that the architect doesn't want water to drain into? (Hint: Your putt won't break toward it.) Once you've assessed the lay of the land, it's time for Step #1: Pick your peak aim point. This is the aim line you're going to aim at!

To give you the best chance at starting your putt on line, you need to learn how to aim your ball correctly. Check out what I'm doing here. I used an alignment aid to draw a straight line (you can also use the manufacturer's name on the side) down the side of my ball. Step #2: Aim that line where you want the ball to start, (your peak aim point). I'm using a directional stick to indicate the line I want my ball to start on. This putt will break to the left, and it's a little downhill, so it's vital that I start the putt on the peak aim point. Step #3, create an intermediate aim target two to 12 inches in front of the ball, so when you set up to the ball, your putter, ball and intermediate target are all on same line. When all three aim points line up, you can trust your aim and putt with feel. Now you'll make a lot more putts inside 10 feet.


It's important, when you play golf, to not get too technical. Leave all the tweaking and swing analysis for the driving range, because on the course, it'll just lead to overthinking and tension, and your athletic skills will start to diminish. When playing, you want to have simple images and play by feel so you can be an athlete, not a technician. In putting, speed determines the line, so it's critical that you develop speed/distance control with your putter.

To help get a feel for a green's speed, stroke some long putts, as I'm doing here, when you warm up for your round. Place three balls about 30 feet from the cup and putt them. Try to make all three, but more importantly, get a sense of how fast or slow the greens are that day. A great way to improve your feel for speed/distance control is to practice putting with your eyes looking at the hole. Feel the putterhead as you stroke your ball. Once the feel of the putter converges with your eyes' target, you'll improve your control. Once you develop a feel for control, you'll get connected to the greens and you'll start to literally develop a sensation for playing with feel. And once you can control your speed, you'll eliminate most three-putts.

PGA professional and Senior Instruction Editor Glenn Deck is regarded as one of the country's top-100 teachers. He's director of instruction at The Pelican Hill Golf Academy at The Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Coast, Calif. For more info, visit

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wicked Stick Is Still A Daly Pleasure!

Wicked Stick: Five Things You Need to Know

wicked stick need to know.jpg
Wicked Stick is one of the Grand Strand's most player friendly layouts.
Wicked Stick Golf Links opened to great fanfare in 1995 just months after John Daly, who helped design the course, won the British Open. With a two-time major champion’s name on the sign, Wicked Stick enjoyed immediate attention.

Sixteen years later, Daly’s name and an enjoyable round of golf continue to attract people to Wick Stick, one of the area’s most player friendly layouts. Before teeing it up at Wicked Stick, here are five things you need to know.

Grip It and Rip It: As one would expect from a course with the free swinging Daly’s name on it, Wicked Stick offers plenty of opportunity to pound the ball, including two of the longest holes along the Grand Strand. The 611-yard, par 5 11th hole is Myrtle Beach’s fifth longest and according to legend, Daly can get home in two. Even more daunting is the 7th hole, a 265-yard par 3. Players need to grip it and rip it on those two holes.

He Did More Than Lend His Name: Daly was actively involved in Wicked Stick’s design, visiting the course several times throughout its development. When the seventh hole was still in its formative stages – only a dirt bowl that would be the home of the green was complete – Daly pulled a mat out of a truck and walloped a ball with his three iron that ended up in middle of the green site. Daly declared that spot the home of the seventh tee. It was 265 yards from the green, making it the Grand Strand’s longest par 3. No word on whether anyone has replicated that shot since.

Teeing It Up: We’ve made much of the length of the seventh and 11th holes, but that distance is from the Daly tees, where few people play. On balance the length of the course is very manageable. As a matter of fact, the blue tees at 6,507 yards and the white tees at 6,080 yards are perfectly placed. If you are skilled enough, good luck from the Daly tees at 7,001 yards.

Was That Who I Thought It Was?:  Don’t be surprised if you see Daly at Wicked Stick, particularly if you are in town around the annual Hootie & The Blowfish Monday After the Masters Celebrity Pro-Am. Daly stops by and occasionally plays the course when he is in town for the event.

Location, Location, Location:
Wicked Stick is located right off Highway 17 Bypass, meaning it’s just minutes from the airport, and players drive by it going north and south. It is one of the Grand Strand’s most accessible courses.

Wicked Stick: Three Best Holes

wicked stick 18.jpg
The 18th hole is one of Wicked Stick's best.
Wicked Stick Golf Links, the only John Daly signature course, was designed with the idea of letting traveling golfers enjoy the grip it and rip it game that Long John helped popularize. The fairways are generous and bombing the driver is encouraged, but the layout offers a diverse and enjoyable round.

We asked head pro John Thomas to share the course’s three best holes. He obliged.

No. 7, 265-yard, par 3: The Grand Strand’s longest par 3, No. 7 is an absolute monster from the Daly tees. It’s long but manageable from the blue (205 yards) and white tees (188 yards). There is a pond on the right and a green with a surplus of undulation.

“Par is a good score,” Thomas said. “There is a pretty deep pot bunker on the front right, a shallow bunker on the back left and you play into an egg shaped green with a big elephant buried in the middle of it.”

Good luck!

No. 9, 403-yard, par 4 – Wicked Stick’s ninth, one of the course’s more scenic holes, demands a quality approach. Water fronts the green so there is no coming up short, and the challenge is substantial.

“There is water to the left and mounds (off the tee), but it’s really wide open,” Thomas said. “You don’t have to hit a driver. Whatever you can get to 150 yards, that’s what you want to hit off the tee. You have to hit the green (on the approach).”

No. 18, 528-yard, par 5 –
A risk-reward hole, there are several different ways to play No. 18. It’s a dogleg left that offers players the chance to go for the green in two, but it’s a risky gambit. Most players that dream of an eagle, attempt to pound the drive to the corner of the fairway and hit a long iron into what amounts to an island green.

Playing 485 yards from the white tees, even mid to high handicappers can be tempted after a long drive, but most play it safe.

“Most people play it down the right side about 260 out then layup,” Thomas said

Sounds like a smart way to finish a good round.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Leopard's Chase Has Claws

Golf Course Review: Leopard's Chase Leaves Golfers Purring

Leopards Chase Review.jpg
Leopard's Chase is one of the best Myrtle Beach golf courses.
Any hunt for great golf along the Grand Strand will lead players to the home of Ocean Ridge Plantation’s most fearsome Big Cat – Leopard’s Chase. The newest of Ocean Ridge’s four felines, Leopard’s Chase has raced to the top of must-play lists faster than its namesake chasing prey across the savanna.

Leopard’s Chase opened to great acclaim in 2007, earning a spot on Golf Digest and Golf Magazine’s list of America’s best new courses, and vaulting into the consciousness of Myrtle Beach golfers. The Tim Cate design has proven worthy of the plaudits it received, providing an ideal combination of challenge and beauty.
Cate, who has worked almost exclusively along the coastal Carolinas, is one of the game’s most underappreciated architects and Leopard’s Chase is his signature design. He co-designed Ocean Ridge’s first course, Lion’s Paw, before creating Panther’s Run and Tiger’s Eye on his own.

Cate took elements from all three courses in creating Leopard’s Chase and the results were spectacular. He used locally harvested coquina boulders, abundant sand traps and environmentally sensitive areas to mold a course that is visually stunning without being deceptive.

Selecting a favorite hole at Leopard’s Chase is only slightly less difficult than naming your favorite color M&M. The choices are many and the differences in quality are non-existent. The fourth and fifth holes deliver consecutive island greens, providing an early glimpse of what makes the course special.

The green on the par 3 fourth hole is surrounded by water, a more “typical” island green. On the par 4 fifth, the green is enveloped by sand, leaving a bunker shot players don’t want to contend with. The front nine, which features three, par 3s, has water on every hole.

The back nine, with its three par 5s, is full risk-reward opportunities and offers an outstanding finish. Water is visible on eight of nine holes, but it isn’t as impactful. Instead the environmentally sensitive areas and waste bunkers are the more dangerous hazards.

The par 5 11th is a prime risk-reward example. An environmentally sensitive area dissects the fairway twice, the first time 275 yards from the white tees, setting up a decision on the second shot. From the end of the fairway, the green is approximately 200 yards out but it requires a carry over 70 yards of wetlands. The alternative is to pull out a wedge and layup between 125-150 yards from the hole.

To further complicate matters, players that reach the tip of the fairway, have to contend with two bunkers fronting the left side of the green.

Number 14 is another reachable par 5, and one of the course’s best holes, but 17 is a monster (585 yards from the tips) that is unreachable in two.

A 439-yard par 4, No. 18 is Leopard’s Chase at its best. A waste bunker on the right, a beach bunker on the left and a water fall gliding over the trademark coquina boulders conspire to create one of the Grand Strand’s most memorable finishing holes.

Leopard’s Chase is the toughest of the four courses at Ocean Ridge, but it’s a challenge golfer’s embrace. The fairways aren’t narrow, but between water, waste bunkers and trees, drives that stray too far offline, are punished.

“It’s a challenge, but you want to come back and play again,” Bill Long, Ocean Ridge’s director of marketing, said. “You come here and you are going to see things you don’t see at other courses.”

The Verdict: Leopard’s Chase is a great course and certainly among the best in the area. It’s a layout you will want to play repeatedly. If that’s not enough, Leopard’s Chase offers tremendous value given its place in the market. It’s a Big Cat that always leaves golfers purring.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Myrtle Beach Forecast!


Monday, June 20, 2011

Leopard's Chase Matures

Leopard's Chase Golf Club: 5 Things You Need to Know

Leopards Chase 047.jpg
Tim Cate used bunkering to help create dramatic visuals at Leopard's Chase.
Leopard’s Chase Golf Club was the fourth Big Cat to join the pride at Ocean Ridge Plantation, but it’s first in the hearts and minds of many Grand Strand golfers.

The layout has been regarded among the area’s best since its 2007 opening, and the course’s popularity continues to rise. Before you challenge Ocean Ridge’s most fearsome cat, here are five things you need to know.

If You Like The First 3 …: Tim Cate co-designed Lion’s Paw, and he was the solo architect of Panther’s Run and Tiger’s Eye before crafting Leopard’s Chase, regarded by many as the facility’s best course. Leopard’s Chase is Cate at his best – yawning waste bunkers, dramatic visuals and a stern, but fair test of golf. Cate’s name isn’t well known outside of the Carolinas, but he is an outstanding architect and Leopard’s Chase is a jewel.

Best of the Best:
Despite its youth, Leopard’s Chase has piled up honors. The course was ranked among the top 10 new courses in America, upon its opening, by both Golf Digest and Golf Magazine. It’s also among the top 5 courses in North Carolina by Golfweek, and Golf World readers ranked Leopard’s Chase among the top 50 public courses in the nation.

This Cat Bites:
Visually Leopard’s Chase is a memorable layout, but players can’t get too caught up in its beauty. It’s the most difficult course at Ocean Ridge and places great value on shot placement.

Those Aren’t Rocks!:
One of Cate’s signature design traits is the use of locally harvested coquina boulders to enhance the course’s visual appeal and create contrast. The ancient boulders are filled with fossils, and sharks and mastodon teeth, providing a glance at the animals that used to roam the grounds.

Drive For Dough:
The L93 bentgrass greens are large and quick, but the driver holds the key to success at Leopard’s Chase. The ability to put the ball in the fairway is the most vital component of a successful round. Leopard’s Chase is longer than its counterparts and while the fairways are sufficiently wide, miss them at your own peril. Hit it straight and enjoy one of the Grand Strand’s best courses.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

How To Drink While Playing Golf

How to Golf While Drinking

While golf is traditionally a sober sport enjoyed by the wealthy and business elite, you can take your next game to the another level with a few drinks. Drinking while golfing may come naturally to some, but a few tricks that will help to keep you and your friends safe and out of trouble couldn't hurt!



    • Choose a suitable golf course. If drinking while golfing, it is best to choose a 9-hole course instead of 18, or you may not be able to walk off the course when the game is over. Try to find a golf course without a lot of people, as you may get a bit rowdy, play slowly and dangerously swinging your clubs and balls.
    • 2
      Select a designated driver. Not only will you need a safe ride home, it is also illegal to drive a golf cart while drinking. Unless you want to carry your clubs for 9 holes and take a taxi home, a nice, sober friend is your best bet. Your designated driver can also help to keep you safe and cut the game short if things get out of hand.
    • 3
      Decide what you would like to drink during your golf game and stash the bottles, cans, cups and other necessary supplies in the bottom of your golf bags. While it is not technically illegal to drink on the course, most managers will look down on it heavily and ask you to leave before your game begins if you are too obvious when entering the clubhouse.
    • 4
      Manage your drinks with each hole. You may even ask your designated golf cart driver to be your official bartender, to speed things up a bit. Depending on the strength of your chosen liquor, you should probably keep it down to one or two drinks for each hole.
    • 5
      Take care when drinking and golfing, as you are carrying potentially lethal weapons. Make sure that all of your buddies are out of the line of your swing and out of the way of your ball when it is your turn.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

150 Yards Out, Help!

From 150 Yards Out

Knock it stiff on your approach shots—no matter what the lie

Here’s the good news: You’ve just hit your drive to within 150 yards of the green. If you’re like most golfers, that means all you have left is a 7- or 8-iron (that is, if you have a perfect lie, of course).

But this is golf, and bad breaks happen. Just because you’re 150 yards out doesn’t mean that you have one of those easy, unobstructed shots you practice at the driving range. You might be in a divot, in the bunker or behind a tree. Don’t worry—over the next four pages, I’ve taken a look at a number of different shots and situations in which you may find yourself. Hopefully, after you read it, you’ll be able to find the green as a result!


To escape fairway bunkers, you must make good ball-first contact. Rather than hitting the sand first, like a greenside bunker shot, you want to hit the ball first as if the ball was in the fairway. If you take some sand after the ball, like a normal divot, that’s fine. When you hit the sand first, the club slows down tremendously and will result in a shot that comes up well short of the green.




To make good ball-first club contact, you must adjust your setup accordingly. First, place the ball slightly back in your stance. When the ball is back, the club will hit the ball first before bottoming out and hitting the sand. The other setup key is to grip down slightly on the club about half an inch. Doing this makes the club slightly shorter and more difficult to hit the sand too soon during the swing. As a result, take one extra club (if you’d usually hit an 8-iron, try a 7) so you can make a controlled swing.


Finding your perfect drive in a fairway divot is one of golf’s unluckiest breaks. When you find yourself in this situation, change your expectation. You may not be able to go for the pin, so accept a shot that hits somewhere on the green. If possible, play a low punch shot from this lie and let it run up to the green or land just on the front.

In golf, you never want to “scoop” the ball, but especially for this shot, you must hit down on it to escape the divot and get it airborne! To hit down on it, place the ball slightly back in your stance and your hands slightly ahead of the ball. You want your backswing to be a little more upright so you hit down on the ball. Make sure your wrists are relaxed so they hinge a little earlier in the backswing. Make a three-quarters swing and hit down on the shot. Expect a shorter follow-through, and as a result, a more descending blow.



Now and then you get a lie in the rough that sits up. Initially, it seems like it’s a pretty good lie—even better than a perfect lie in the fairway. Then you hit it, and it flies 20 yards over the green. What happened? Well, some grass between the ball and club negated the spin and caused it to fly farther than usual.

The first thing you have to do is be able to identify this “flier lie.” Typically, the grass blades grow in the direction you’re hitting the shot. To combat hitting it 20 yards past your target, take one less club. If you typically use an 8-iron, hit a 9-iron and so on. Second, move the ball slightly back in your stance from its normal position. If you make good contact, you’ll get the spin you need for the ball to travel the close to normal distance.


When the ball sits down in the rough, you need to make good contact. If you hit the tall grass first, it slows down the club, and the ball comes up short of the green. Since the ball is sitting down, you must hit down to make good clubface contact. That fires the ball out of the rough.

To make sure you hit the ball first, place the ball back slightly in your stance at address so your hands are slightly ahead of the ball. You want a slightly steeper downswing than normal, so feel your wrists hinge so the club points at the sky early in the swing. This will help you hit down on the ball. Really try to feel as though your left hand leads through impact. If you can keep your left hand ahead at impact, you’ll make good contact. Since the ball is sitting down, the grass will grab the club and slow it down, so expect your followthrough to be a little shorter than normal. Don’t try to force a full finish!



If you find yourself with a tree between you and the green, don’t worry! The good news is that, since you’re 150 yards out, you have a relatively short club for this shot. So first figure out if your 150-yard club will get over the tree. If you think it can and it will land, at worst, near the front of the green, go for it. Short of the green is usually safe, so if it gets over the tree but comes up a little short, that’s fine.

To hit the ball high over the tree, play it slightly forward in your stance. Make a normal backswing and downswing, but make your finish reflect the shot—in this case, high so your hands are high and you don’t fully release. I want my forearms separated and not touching. This does two things: First, a high finish helps the ball fly higher, since swinging into a high finish demands a speedy swing; second, I limit the amount of release that typically leads to a fade (fades go higher than draws). Also, make sure to swing with good speed, as more speed equals spin and gets the ball higher in the air.


If the tree is too high (or too close), you have to hit it under the tree. For this shot, you have to choose the right club. In this case, I’ve selected a 5-iron. Its low loft keeps the ball low, but high enough to get airborne out of the rough. One of the hardest things to judge is how big your swing needs to be. After all, it’s a low shot, and the ball will run a good amount when you hit it. For example, a 150-yard shot needs to fly only about 130 yards (so it rolls another 20).





Also, a smaller swing generates less speed, and less speed equals less spin, and less spin keeps the ball low and under the trees. Play the ball slightly back in your stance and place your hands ahead of the ball. From there, make a three-quarter backswing and hold off the finish, only about halfway through. Remember, a short finish keeps the ball below the trees.