6 SHOTS YOUR BUDDIES DON’T KNOW
How to bomb it, curve it, spin it and stop it.
1 THE HIGH DRAW
TrackMan testing proves that sweeping the ball with a level strike and curving it right to left will help you pick up distance with your driver. 1. Play the ball even with your front foot. 2. Set the clubface at address so it’s pointing slightly right of your target. 3. Align your body and feet so they’re pointing even further to the right.
‹‹ 4. Swing the club in the direction that your body is aimed. EXPLANATION: The forward ball position will help you sweep it off the tee. And the clubface will be closed, even though it’s pointing to the right of the target, because the path is further to the right than the face is pointing. The face is closed to the path. That’s how you hit a draw.
2 THE FAIRWAY SPLITTER
Whether it’s a super-tight par 4 or a clutch moment in a match, there are times when you absolutely have to put the ball in the fairway off the tee. 1. Use your favourite fairway wood, and play the ball just forward of middle in your stance. 2. Set your body so it’s aligned slightly left of the target. 3. Make a threequarter swing back and through.
‹‹ 4. Lean the shaft towards the target at impact. EXPLANATION: Hitting down will help you make solid contact and produce a lower, easier-to-control trajectory. One caveat: This ball position is a little back for a fairway wood, and that creates an in-to-out swing, making it tougher to hit a straight shot. Aligning yourself to the left neutralises the path so you can hit a laser down the middle.
KEEP YOUR ARMS FIRM THROUGH IMPACT TO MAKE THE BALL CHECK UP ON THE GREEN.
3 THE HOOK SHOT
When you’re stuck behind a tree or playing a dogleg, knowing how to hook the ball on command can be a round-saver. 1. Ball position depends on the desired trajectory. Play it back if you have to stay under tree limbs, and up if you need carry. 2. Set the clubface where you want the ball to start. 3. Address the ball with your body aimed well right of your starting line.
›› 4. Swing the club out to the right, and let your arms release past impact. EXPLANATION: Lining up to the right but keeping the clubface looking more towards the target pre-sets a hook. The more you swing out to the right, the more the shot will turn. There’s no need to manipulate the club during the swing.
4 THE ZIP PITCH
On most short-game shots, lowering the trajectory and getting the ball to stop quickly improves accuracy. Your goal should be to make the ball check up after a couple of bounces. 1. Grab your highest lofted wedge, and make sure the grooves are clean. 2. Set up with the ball slightly behind your sternum.
‹‹ 3. Keep your arms nice and wide as you go back and swing through. 4. Make your backswing short enough so you can be aggressive on the downswing. Long and slow won’t produce much spin. EXPLANATION: Playing the ball back lowers the trajectory. And spin is created by the loft on the clubface, a shallow angle of attack, and a healthy bit of swing speed. Here’s a tip for better players: Hitting the ball a little lower on the face than the sweet spot produces more checking action.
5 THE BABY FLOP
Whenever you miss the green near the pin, you’ve got one of the trickiest shots in golf. To get it close, you need to hit a pop-up that lands with a thud and stops dead. 1. Before you try this shot, make sure there’s some cushion under the ball. Take your most lofted wedge, open the face so it’s pointing skyward, then grip the club. 2. Lower the handle to add even more loft to the face. 3. Stand a little wider than normal.
›› 4. Make a skimming swing, trying to slide the clubface under the ball, and keep the clubhead moving well past impact. EXPLANATION: Widening your stance helps produce a shallow, low-to-the-ground swing path. And the combination of a shallow path and an open clubface will produce the softest shot possible. Give it some practice time, and never try it from a firm lie.
6 THE SAND SAVER
Getting the ball out of the bunker is priority No. 1. But making it stop quickly and settle near the hole is what will help you save par. 1. Set up with the ball in line with your sternum.
‹‹ 2. Make a steep, V-shape swing with a lot of wrist action back and through. 3. Accelerate the club down and into the sand like you’re striking a match. 4. Make sure the club bottoms out directly under the ball, not behind it. EXPLANATION: As long as you give it some speed, a steep swing that goes under the ball will produce plenty of backspin. The wrist action helps the ball fly higher and settle quickly after landing. Your buddies are gonna hate this shot.
Josh Zander teaches at Stanford University Golf Course and the Presidio Golf Course in San Francisco.