The PGA National Golf Academy at Gleneagles - Pro-Tips

We are delighted to welcome aboard The PGA National Golf Academy at Gleneagles this season, and their team of pros. Each month they will provide a tuition tip to help our Swingers reach their full potential this season.

To find out more about The PGA National Golf Academy at Gleneagles click here.  

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Longer Drives

Let's be honest – who doesn't want to hit longer drives? We all do – the key is to ensure that we achieve this without sacrificing any element of control or consistency. Looking at the players on the leading tours and the element that seems to ring true throughout, is how effortlessly they seem to swing the driver – allowing them to produce prestigious distances at will.

Let's see if we can't implement some of the key fundamentals from their swings to allow us to maximise distance from the tee…without sacrificing any control. If we focus on three core areas, we should be able to add yardage every time.

Set-Up

By making sure we have a slightly wider stance than normal, this will give us both stability during the backswing and a base from which to be more explosive in the through swing. Add to this a ball tee'd up slightly higher too and we're ready to sweep the ball from the tee on a more shallow angle of attack to maximise distance.

Top of the Backswing

We have to complete the backswing – make sure that the left shoulder turns all the way under the chin to generate maximum torque through the core. Too often when we want to hit it further, we tend to rush the swing and start the downswing before we've even got to the top. Distance won't be generated purely through arm-speed, we need to sync the body and club in the backswing, to give them the best chance of being powerful and consistent in the downswing.

Finish

We need to deliver a complete finish – transferring the weight into the front foot and allowing the torso to rotate well to the left of target. You can see from the image that the sternum hasn't just turned to face the target, but has gone well beyond – the ball simply gets collected at the base of this extensive and somewhat explosive range of motion.

So next time you're out on the course, give it a try – take care with creating an athletic set-up, complete the backswing and commit to a full finish for longer, straighter drives than ever before.

Hit The Stinger

One of those shots that is talked about a lot and always a valuable addition to any players' arsenal. The ability to hit the stinger, also known as "knock down" shot or punch shot, can be a massive help to those battling some inclement weather conditions or a key attribute for when accuracy is at a premium, either from the tee or into a green.

Ultimately the goal for this shot is too reduce backspin and flight the ball down a touch – so that we generate a lower, more penetrating trajectory. This is ideal for when hitting shots into the wind. However, an interesting bi-product of reducing backspin is that sidespin is often reduced too – so this shot is ideal for increasing accuracy and finding fairways from the tee. It may not be the longest flighted shot you ever hit, but the boring trajectory should find the short grass and then roll out considerably more than a standard shot.

There are numerous ways to play this shot, with many modern golfers choosing to be aggressive and manipulate the club-face through impact (as expertly demonstrated by Tiger Woods during his peak). However, I feel that a simpler way to execute this shot is to relate it more to a pitch & run shot – by shortening the swing down on both sides and altering the set-up slightly – you can generate plenty of power and produce a stunningly strong ball flight.

Set-up:

  • Grip down the club slightly for greater control.
  • Weight favouring the front foot – 60/40.
  • Ball position centre-just back of centre.

Action:

  • Firm action with no manipulation of the hands – rotate the triangle formed between the arms and shoulders back and through – the wrists will hinge naturally as required.
  • Don't let the weight rock into the back foot in the backswing – maintain over the front foot.
  • Brush the grass from under the ball (no need to over think this as the set-up will do it for you) – no big divot, or need to hit down on the ball, just a bruising of the surface which will be helped by the weight distribution at set-up.
  • Don't help the ball into the air – the club will do that for you – turn back, turn through and let the ball be collected at the base of the action.
  • Don't over-swing in a bid to "hit" the ball – the curtailed action back and through is what will help lower the ball flight.

Give the above a try and see how you can add a new shot to your repertoire – hitting the stinger at will – to find more fairways and cheat the wind!

Become a Short Game Wizard!

This can be without doubt, one of the most rewarding aspects of the game. Particularly given that when mastered, it can deliver an array of shots from one simple technique.

Via a couple of significant set-up changes and an understanding that the loft of the club will do all the work – and dictate the style of shot, it is possible for us all to improve our touch around the greens.

Set-up:

  • Grip down the club for greater control.
  • Weight favouring the front foot – 60/40.
  • Ball position centre-just forward of centre.

Action:

  • Firm action with no manipulation of the hands – rotate the triangle formed between the arms and shoulders back and through.
  • Brush the grass from under the ball (no need to over think this as the set-up will do it for you) – no big divot, just a bruising of the surface.
  • Don't help the ball into the air – the club will do that for you – turn back, turn through and let the ball be collected at the base of the action.
  • Club choice will dictate the shot and how it reacts – less loft = lower flight and more roll; more loft = higher flight and softer landing.

Give the above a try & see how consistent your contact becomes, which will ultimately deliver the repeatable flight and spin that we all crave to produce short-game magic.

Hole More Putts

Very rarely a truer word said than within the phrase – drive for show and putt for dough. The green is most definitely the point that can have the biggest impact on your score, helping you to convert those fist pumping birdie chances or equally as important, allowing you to grind out those valuable par saves!

It is without doubt one of the most individual aspects of the game – you only need to look at the numerous methods employed on the tours throughout the world, to see that this area of the game has no specific right or wrong. Ultimately, it's about developing a repeatable and dependable technique that can be used in a recurring process so that you feel as comfortable as possible over each putt. Having said that, there are a couple of key fundamentals we can implement within this area of the game to help improve consistency and ultimately scoring:

 

  1. simple line on the ballLine on the ball – make life as easy as possible for yourself pre-shot by using a simple marking to help start the ball on the identified target line. Set-up when replacing the ball and then allow the putter face to be aligned, squarely behind the ball, at ninety degrees to the line to help remove any pre-stroke doubt from your mind.
  2. ball position eye alignmentFundamentals – there are a few key set-up factors that will allow your putting to be as effective as possible:
    • Keeping the ball position forward of centre will allow for a reduction in initial "skid" on the ball and help produce a truer roll on the putt.
    • The eyes being over the ball will help you to "see" each putt more clearly, without any distortion from a skewed perspective.
    • A balanced stroke with an equal length backswing and through-swing can provide increased consistency and an improved roll the removal of any "hit" at the ball. The putter simply rocks back and through with little to no manipulation or influence from the hands.

    3. Process – the best players in the world stick to a regular routine for each putt, something that we can easily copy and duplicate. A look from behind the ball to confirm the line; set-up; rock the putter back and through; ensure the putter face completes the stroke still looking at where you want the ball to start. Engrain a repeatable routine and you will hole more putts, no matter what the pressure of the situation…

Shape Your Shots

When on the course, the last thing that you want to do is over-think things! That being said, there are times when you need to influence the ball flight from the tee, either because a hole design dictates it, or because you're "fighting" a certain shot on a given day. When that's the case, there's a simple way to make a change, without getting too technical.

By varying the tee height you can assist how easy it is to implement a draw or fade. When the ball is teed lower, you naturally need to "squeeze" the ball off the tee a little more, which means the tendency is to get a little steeper, which promotes that gentle left to right ball flight – perfect for when the whole dog-legs that way or if you've been struggling with a bit of a hook during the previous holes/rounds!

Similarly, if you're looking to hit the ball a little more right to left – tee it up higher, which will encourage you to "sweep" the ball off the tee via a more shallow, upward moving swing path which will equally afford you a better release through the ball & allow you to deliver that power-draw!

Give it a try and see how something as simple as tee height, can help you shape your tee shots like the greats!

Bunker Play Made Easy

PGA golf professionals have a lot to answer for – I should know being one! Over a long period of time, we've managed to instil some serious misgivings into the technique of certain shots, so much so that it becomes folklore to an extent, while making things far more complicated than they need to be.

Take bunker shots as an example, there is definitely no need to overcomplicate them and that comment about an inch of sand before the ball – load of rubbish! Think of it this way – what gives a golf shot height? Quality of contact, spin, speed – what assists with the first two of these things – the grooves on a clubface! What use are they if there is an inch of sand positioned between them and the ball? Answer – no use at all!

By following these simple steps – it will make your bunker pay far more consistent and effective than ever before. All the alterations are simply in the set-up. Most sand wedges will have 56+ degrees of loft, more than enough to escape the majority of bunkers, so no need to open the face and adjust your alignment as a consequence.

All I would suggest is to shuffle your feet into the sand, make sure the ball position is slightly forward & have 60% of your weight on your front foot. If you apply this at set-up and make a natural pitching action, "trying" to strike the ball first as you would off the grass, you'll naturally contact the sand first as a result of you being at a lower level than the ball (because you shuffled your feet in); and because the ball is slightly forward of centre – this will allow the ball to naturally come out on a soft/thin cushion of sand – landing like a butterfly wit sore feet.

No new technique. No helping the ball out of the bunker. No contortion at set-up. A natural pitching action, with the same focus as on the grass, with three simple set-up changes – how easy is that? Give it a try and see how many up and down's you can generate in your next round? Enjoy...

Eliminate That Slice

Slicing the ball is one of the most common faults we see in amateur golf, often stemming from an over the top movement in the downswing that promotes an out to in swing path. This tends to be when the club gets disconnected from the body and attacks the ball from outside the intended target line on the way down, wipes across the ball through impact and then works inside the target line on the way through.

Depending on the clubface position, which is ultimately most responsible for the amount of spin imparted on the ball, it is possible to hit a number of shots from this swing path, most commonly the slice.

Try this drill to help put the club in a better position on the way down, allowing you to attack the ball from a more in to out swing path, which when combined with a more neutral clubface will help eliminate the slice and begin promoting a controlled draw.

Two Ball Drill:

Place a ball approximately two feet behind the object ball and one the same distance in-front, in line with the target. Swing from inside the back ball to outside the front ball to help reduce the slice & deliver a more neutral shot shape – nice an easy to integrate into a basic practice session.

Eradicate that slice

Perfect Your Grip

The grip has arguably the strongest influence over the ball flight of all the fundamentals – after all, it is our only connection with the club! The hands should be placed on the club as naturally as possible, which is defined by the palms facing inward and toward each other, as they would when the arms hang freely from your side.

As a check-point, the "v" created between the thumb & forefinger on both hands should run parallel with each other & aim somewhere between the right ear & right shoulder for a right handed golfer. This will allow the hands to naturally return to their default position at impact & match up with a square clubface.

Should you struggle with the ball spinning to the right, by strengthening the grip slightly, it will be easier to square the clubface at impact and reduce the slice spin. Allow both hands to sit further to the right on the grip so that you can see two knuckles plus on the left hand and the right hand is more under the club. When the hands return to their neutral position at impact, the clubface will automatically square up/release more easily and provide a more neutral ball flight with vastly reduced side spin.

Vice versa for consistent shots spinning to the left, where a weaker grip, with both hands further to the left, will help neutralise the ball flight.

Palms naturally facing inward & toward each other - as they should be placed on the club. Neutral grip to all full control over the clubface. Weaker grip with both hands around to the left on the club. Strong grip with both hands further around to the right on the club.

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