How To Get It Close From 40 Yards and In

How To Get It Close From 40 Yards and In

I get so many questions about the short game stroke but when I teach I see that it is the alignment skills, (or lack thereof) and club face control that most golfers should be focusing on. As you get closer to the hole your aim and alignment becomes crucial being that the ball will not fly far enough to recover from faulty alignment with a big banana ball fade or round house draw.

The first thing to do is make a decision on where you want to land the golf ball. Judging the bounce and roll should be handled first.

Then stand back behind the golf ball and get your belly, the golf ball and your target area, (where you decided you wanted to land the golf ball) in a straight line. Then set the golf club face pointed directly at your target. Once your golf club face is set go ahead and align your body. I use an open stance meaning my front foot is dropped back slightly being that I hope not to move my body very much during the swing.

Once you have everything in alignment swing the golf club as if you were trying to lob the ball under handed to the target. Your challenge is to swing the golf club with just the right enough of force to move the ball in the air to your target landing area. If you guessed right as far as landing area and predicted roll the rest should take care of itself.

Why Is It More Difficult To Hit Your Driver?

Your initial golf shot is your most important golf shot in my estimation. It’s sort of like first down in football. If you’re second down and twenty every time you get the ball you’re going to have a long afternoon. I’m used to it, being a Dolphin fan.

If you’re having trouble during a round of golf with hitting your golf driver in the fairway then drop down to your three wood immediately. Maybe after some success with your three wood you will gain your confidence back to try your driver again. The little bit of distance you’ll loose by hitting your three wood will be more than compensated by being on the short grass in the fairway. Work out any problems with your driver in practice not on the golf course.

The first thing you need to understand about a Driver is that the length is probably doing you the most harm. A golf swing is very similar to a group of skaters turning in a circle or a group of soldiers marching in a circle. The outside skater or individuals will have to move that much faster than the rest of the line to keep up. Sure the longer the driver the faster the club head will travel in theory, but eqaully the harder it will be to square the club face at impact thus causing that dreaded slice off the fairway.

To square the golf club up at impact, (impact is actually about three degrees closed with a driver) you need to start rolling your forearms over earlier. Why, because the golf club head is further away from you. If you’re having trouble squaring up the club face first try choking up a little on the golf club. My opinion is golf club manufacturers make the modern drivers too long anyway. Most are about 45 to 46 inches. I prefer 44 inches. Tiger Woods only hits a 43 ½ inch driver.

I also prefer the smaller club heads. Everyone is raving about the hybrid woods that are replacing three irons. Golfers rave about how easy the hybrids are to hit. The heads are SMALL and have a low center of gravity. In contrast the new Drivers have a head the size of a basketball and golfers wonder why they can’t square it up. I recommend the 395cc head as the largest acceptable size, not the 460cc style which is actually more difficult to square up at impact.

Some golfers try to keep their head still or over the top of the golf ball. To make a full turn on a swing with your driver your head might move a little towards your back foot. That’s fine if not desired. You need to be well behind the golf ball at impact. One should have a straight line from the front shoulder to the ball at impact.

Another thing I noticed is that most golfers tend to hit their driver out on the toe. Use some face tape on your driver and witness for yourself where you are making contact with the face of your driver. Usually the best place to make contact is high on the face and just a little inside of center. Different drivers have difference centers of gravity. See my Blog report on finding the center of gravity on your golf club for help.

How To Find the Center of Gravity On Your Golf Club

How To Find the Center of Gravity On Your Golf Club

There IS a technique for finding the center of gravity on your club face. Finding the center of gravity is crucial to your success and CONSISTENCY! I would rather swing the golf club 85 miles per hour and hit the center of gravity than swing 95 miles an hour out on the toe of the golf club.

The purpose of any iron shot is to hit the ball straight. We must also move the ball a specific distance. What good does it do to swing perfectly, (as far a club head speed is concerned) for a five iron shot to travel let’s say 180 yards, and then hit the ball on the toe or the heel and only travel 165 yards. Same goes for the driver. Hitting the ball right on the center of gravity of your driver will not only add distance but also accuracy putting you in position to attack the green with an aggressive approach from a good lie in the fairway.

Today there are computers and strobe lights that are used to find the center of gravity on any golf club. Some of these studies are done by independent companies, (yea right). You also might not be able to count on the information the manufacturer gives you about where the center of gravity is on their golf club. In fact, changing the grip or bending the lie angle can change the center of gravity and balance point of the golf club. As cookie cutter as the manufacturers try to make their golf clubs today, there still can be a discrepancy from club to club within a set.

Here’s my method, (it might seem like Cuban engineering and it is, but it has worked for touring pros for many years and still works today). Hold the club face up close to your ear and bounce a golf ball off the face. Bounce it all around the club face. You’ll notice a different sound and a different bounce off different positions on the face of the golf club. Of course we haven’t mentioned that hitting the ball off the center of gravity also creates additional torque that will open or close the club face and send your shots off line.

Continue to bounce the ball until you find one spot that seems to sound the best and you get a better bounce off the face of the club and the club face doesn’t wiggle as much, (torque) in your hand. On most golf clubs, the center of gravity will not be the exact center of the club face. It should be slightly inside of center.

Once you find what you think is the center of gravity put some face tape on your club face. You can buy some at most golf stores or go on line to a company called Longshot and buy it by the roll. If you’re serious about your golf game you should be checking yourself for centeredness of hit constantly so you will use up the roll faster than you think.

The driver is especially crucial. Don’t fall for the gag the golf club companies tell you about having a bigger sweet spot. Bravo Sierra! Center of gravity is center of gravity! You may need to set up your driver at address with the ball appearing to be a little inside of center to get your eye used to hitting the ball where you’re suppose to. Most golfers don’t realize that they hit the ball out on the toe with their driver.

My suggestion is to get some face tape, find the center of gravity, hit balls until you can get your contact as close to the center of gravity as you can. If you find you’re hitting on the toe try choking up on the golf club. If that doesn’t work try taking a shorter swing. You may be surprised at how far you hit it with a smaller swing and you’ll be more consistent. If you’re still hitting on the toe you might be swinging over the top and have your club face open. If you’re hitting the heel constantly you might be swinging too shallow or too inside out. Or you could be rolling the golf club open on the takeaway.

If you have comments or questions please place them on the Blog and I’ll answer you. Leave your email address. Or you can email me at

College Golf? This one was a little disappointing.

I have to admit I attended my very first collegiate golf tournament at King’s Mill yesterday. I can certainly stand by my statement that kids that play golf are better kids. I did not see one participant throw their golf clubs, (all though I saw some shots that warranted a temper tantrum or two) and when spoken to they were very polite and just all around good kids.

I was a little disappointed at the level of golf especially being there were some nice golf swings out there. There was however a lack of playing maturity that needs to be addressed.

One, I didn’t see even one, not one, player pull a yardage pad or notes before hitting a golf shot. That is one of the first things you’ll see on tour. The note pad comes out of the back pocket with not only yardages but reminders. Maybe you have notes like finish your backswing, tempo, whatever key you are focusing on. Important notes on how the ball will kick from a given landing area.

I used to think I had a great note pad when I played until Angelo let me see Jack Nicklaus’s book. He had drawings of the green that looked 3D and showed the kick on every landing area of the green and fairway. Jack already had his decision whether to hit a 3 wood or driver on a given hole and would not change his decision no matter what the score was. I saw several holes out there yesterday that warranted teeing off with a three wood or one iron. Do they still make those?

When you get down to improving your score from 75, to 74, to 72, to 69, it’s the little things that good players do well. It is the little disciplines that add up to a lot in the final analysis.

In summary a saw a lot of golf shots wasted Monday on poor decisions and poor preparation rather than poor golf swing mechanics. I saw poor club selection and a lot of putts wasted with poor judgment in green speed, not the best club face control on short putts.

It’s not all bad. A couple of young men out there shot a very good score of 69 and there were a couple of 71’s. However they were the ones that were playing beyond their years in discipline compared to the others, not because they necessarily had a better golf swing.

If You Are Going to Play Tournament Golf, You Better Get Good at Pre-shot Routine!

One huge example of the difference between the golfer that makes it in tournament play and the one that doesn’t is his/her pre-shot routine. Golfers that play a significant amount of tournament play eventually learn this. You’ll also pick it up by playing with better golfers.

Your challenge is to swing a golf club the same way almost every time. I say almost being that the occasion does present itself when you need to hit a knock down shot which calls for a variation from your normal swing motion. For the most part you need to swing the golf club the same way every time whether it’s your driver or your wedge. That process begins by approaching the ball the same way every time. In fact Lee Trevino stated that the timing of a golf shot begins the moment you make your first step towards the address position. I agree.

There is no one perfect pre-shot routine. You need to find the right for you. If it helps you any mine is; I stand behind the golf ball. Choose my club, the shot I’m going to make and view the shot before hand in my mind’s eye. Once I believe I’m ready I make my first step towards the ball. In my mind the clock starts ticking. I set the club face first, then my upper body and right foot and then my left foot. I take two waggles and I’m out of here. Let it rip. There’s nothing you can do about it now. Swing the golf club freely and keep in mind they can’t electrocute you if you play bad. Of course your wife could make fun of you and that might be worse!

Roll the Ball a Little Faster on Aeriated Greens

Having to aerate the greens is a necessary evil this time of year. The new technology available to superintendents today allows for faster recovery and a better surface to putt on until the grass heals. Generally some of the break is taken out of the putt, just slightly, and you should probably hit the ball a little harder especially if there is sand on the green.

Most of all don’t get upset and figure that your day is wasted because the greens are being aerated. You don’t necessarily have to turn in your score for handicapping purposes being the golf course was under maintenance. First off call the golf course to see if the greens were just aerated before you book your starting time. I would say a golf green that has been aerated three days ago is fine to play on. I’ve seen some, if the right equipment is available, that are fine to play on in hours!

Remember that the golf course has to do this maintenance or someday in the future you’re going to be belly aching about the greens because they will be shaggy and in bad shape. Not only aeration but also “verticutting” are necessary and will go a long way to making the greens really enjoyable in the months to come.

Warning…Look Out For Robo-Golfer!

Robo-Golfer could be coming to a golf course near you! You may have seen him before. You can recognize hime when he starts twitching and re-gripping, trying to get comfortable with all the mechanical positions he learned from watching the latest golf instructional video. You can tell he reads every golf magazine, listens to every golf tip from friends. He stands over the ball forever at address. Oh boy, says his player partners, here’s a 6 hour round. God forbid you have Robo-Golfer playing in front of you. You’ll need to show this article to your wife to prove you really were on the golf course for six hours!

Golf should be played like basketball, an action – reaction sport. You don’t think about every step you take to the basket and then slowly try to make sure your arms are in exactly the right position to shoot at the basket. No, you shoot the basketball! You do a lay up in a flowing continuous motion. Stand up to a golf ball, (on the golf course) in an athletic position, (sort of like you would if you were playing short stop) and let it rip. Only on the golf driving range should you be concerned with attempting to re-program your swing motion again and again until it behaves, (sort of like Cookie combing his hair). Concentrate one maybe two drills, make sure you know what the purpose of the drill is, make sure you can perform the drill properly, then drill drill drill and forget it. Do the drills in practice and then forget them when you get on the course. You’ll play better and golf will be better off for it. Slow play is the biggest killer of the growth of this great game.

Warning! Being Fitted For Golf Clubs Could Ruin Your Golf Game!

I speak from experience on this subject. I believe I was the first to offer golf club fitting in Virginia on a large scale basis and have studied the subject in depth. I’ don’t do that much of it any more because I just don’t have the time and that’s the key…TIME! It takes at least two hours to do an accurate golf club fitting and even with that you might have to send the golfer home to practice some more before being fitted. So accept my advice as my contribution to helping you better understand golf club fitting, rather than an attempt to sell you a set of golf clubs. I might do a fitting for someone but only if they beg, no kidding.

Think of it this way. You’re not just fitting your physical characteristics; you are fitting your swing. The path, swing speed, angle of attack, tempo, centeredness of hit, lie angle. That being said, when a salesman in a golf store says I can fit you in about 10 minutes run for the door.

Being fitted by the fancy computer gadgets is not as much help as they claim. One the computer doesn’t know what’s wrong with your swing if at all. It only gives you a reading of what happened not how it happened. If you have a swing fault and you fit according to what the computer recommends then you will be fit to the swing fault and be doomed to continue to commit the swing fault for as long as you own the golf clubs.

You want the golf club to reward you when you make your best motion. Someone has to determine if you have made your best motion and the time of the reading. Yes the computer can tell you if you swung inside out or outside in but heck Colin Montgomery swing outside in every time and stills plays pretty good golf. So as you now see this is not an exact science.

You’re really not buying the brand of golf clubs you’re buying the fitter. I have a free special report I’ll send you I you’ll email me at on the “Seven Questions You Should Ask Before Buying Golf Cubs”. I’ll send it free with no obligation of any sort whatsoever.

Also you’re not buying golf clubs. What you should be buying is a better ball flight and performance. If the ball doesn’t fly better and further than forget it, no golf clubs for you!

How Do You Know If A Golf Instructor Is A Good One?

Sounds like a dumb question but a friend of mine worked at a very well known golf magazine, (won’t mention any names here). She was asked by her editors, “How do you know if a golf instructor is a good one”? She said, “Their students get better”.

They stared in amazement as if the answer was just too simple. She was right on target though. Who cares if your instructor supposedly knows everything there is to know about the perfect golf swing, all its technical aspects and can recite the engineering terms involved. Do the students get better or not, that’s the question?

I personally believe there is just too much information overload on the golf swing causing many a golfer to get discouraged. When I teach I use the Dale Carnegie method. If someone asks for a cup of coffee you give it to them black straight up. If they ask for sugar only give them one spoonful unless they begin to ask for more.

Some instructors begin to empty the entire sugar bowl in the coffee at one time and confuse the client. The pro that brought me up used to say, “The dumber they are the better they play”. Freddy Couples and Dave Duval have proved him right.

How do they say it, the KISS method!


Far Hills, N.J. – Golfers must continue to post all scores for handicap purposes made with the aid of a device that measures only distance, but not devices that measure additional conditions such as wind or elevation.

This provision follows consistently with the announcement from the United States Golf Association earlier this year that golfers may use distance-only measuring devices in competition, provided such a local Rule has been adopted. But, regardless of whether or not a local Rule has been adopted, any score made using a distance-only measuring device is acceptable for handicap purposes.

However, under the Rules of Golf, golfers must NOT use distance-measuring devices for handicap purposes or in competition that are capable of gauging or measuring other conditions that might affect play, even if such a function is not used. For example, a distance-measuring device that includes a compass and can measure changes in elevation can NOT be used in competition or for handicap purposes.

This wording for Decision 5-1f/2 has been updated in the 2006 online edition of The USGA Handicap System manual found in the Handicap section at to be consistent with the Decision 14-3/0.5 from the Decisions on The Rules of Golf.

Questions can be directed to Kevin O’Connor, senior director of handicapping, at (908) 234-2300.