ASK GOLF DIGEST
Q Is there a technique or drill to break the habit of looking up too soon? I have heard of a couple, but they seem very painful.
AWhat, you don’t want to tie a rope to your crotch and inflict yourself with excruciating pain on every swing? Sounds like somebody’s lacking commitment.
We kid.The truth is, you shouldn’t even be worrying about looking up, says Josh Zander, a Golf Digest Teaching Professional.“It’s a myth that somehow has perpetuated throughout golf.” People typically cry,“I looked up!” after a topped shot.The most common actual culprits: (a)Your swing angles are too shallow, or (b) your downswing is a shallow reaction to a swing that is too steep. “You want to figure out the real reason for your topped shot, not your buddy saying you’re picking your head up,” Zander says.An important note: Zander does recommend keeping your head (and eyes) still when putting. I went solo to a course recently and got teamed with three other guys. At the 18th hole, I saw one spit directly into his hand to clean his ball. When the final putt went in and the handshakes began, I was disgusted but not sure what to do. I shook his hand, but what you have done?
You could have gone with the fist bump, or, because you didn’t know these guys and probably won’t see them again, the simple ignore-andwalk-away. But honestly, there is so much filth on your hands at the end of 18 holes – insecticide, fertiliser, hot-dog relish – we always use your approach: a handshake followed by speedwalking to hot water and soap. (By the way, after you’ve washed up, avoid the peanuts in the clubhouse bar. They’re no cleaner than your hands were.) I pulled two coins from my pocket. I used one to mark my ball and put the other one back, then went to tend the flag. When I returned to my mark, I saw two coins about 30 centimetres apart. One must have fallen from my pocket. I wasn’t sure which was right, so I played the one furthest from the hole. Is there any penalty?
Our two cents (sorry) is that you’ve got to fix that hole in your pocket. When golfers see stuff rolling out of your pant legs, they’ll assume you’re the kind of player who might drop a ball down the same hole while looking for an errant shot.
You, clearly, are not that kind of player.We know this because you instinctively did the right thing. First, you met your requirement to mark the position of the ball before lifting it (Rules 16-1b and 20-1). The Rules of Golf doesn’t say anything about mistaken ball markers, but there is a rule (1-4) that says:“If any point in dispute is not covered by the Rules, the decision should be made in accordance with equity,” by which they mean “treat it like other similar situations under the Rules.” In equity, you should replace your ball at the marker that’s furthest from the hole. Without penalty! Do tour pros often switch clubs or balls for specific events?
If you had access to unlimited free equipment, wouldn’t you mix it up a little? In one of the most extreme examples, Phil Mickelson dropped a 3-iron into his bag just for a playoff at the 2005 BellSouth Classic.They were playing the 18th hole, and he knew it would come in handy. He was right – and won. (The playoff was technically the start of a new round, so Mickelson could select new clubs.) Balls are another matter. Before multilayer, urethane-covered balls, players used to switch them up more regularly. Now they pretty much stick to the same ball no matter where they’re playing.