Let’s make a pact: No more slices in 2015. Or hooks. Or three-putts. Or chunky sand shots.
Whether you’re trying to break 80 or 100 this year, or you’re just trying to stop hemorrhaging money every Sunday morning in what you swear began as a friendly game of Wolf, SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio’s experts and former pros have advice to get your golf game off to a fast start this spring.
Nick Faldo: Envision pros hitting your desired shot
To take the next step in golf, you need to have an arsenal of different shot types. Something that helps, according to Faldo, is picturing a PGA’er hitting that very shot.
I had one back swing, and basically four follow-throughs. You manipulate your arms and your body a little bit through impact to produce four different shots. You can either do that through just sheer feel … or tempo is a very powerful one.
Or, if you have that ability to visualize somebody else doing it – I thought that was the real ligh-tbulb moment for me. When Johnny Miller suddenly says, “Well, ya know, if I wanted to hit the low fade, it was a Lee Trevino fade, and the Chi Chi Rodriguez little draw, and the Tony Lema …”
I never saw Hogan play, but I tried to hit the fade like Hogan, used to hit the Gary Player draw, I would hit the low Lee Trevino’s, and my high fade was the Johnny Miller high-fade.
John Daly: Get your butt to the range or the putting green
And no, that doesn’t mean putting tokens in the machine until you’ve got blisters on your palms.
I do practice. I practice a lot more than people think – especially on the short game. But, I’m not a range ball beater. I’m not one of those guys who can sit on a range for six, seven hours and beat balls. I can do it for a max of maybe two, but after that, I just feel like if I go on the driving range and I’m hitting it really good, then let’s go chip and putt. But if I’m not hitting it good, I work on the stuff that I’m not hitting good, and try and figure that out.
David Leadbetter: Eradicate the word “yip” from your vocabulary
No more pushing putts: Stop letting the tension get to you when you’re over the ball on the green.
Let me ask you one thing: Have you ever tried putting with your eyes closed? Tension is a big key here, and developing a consistent routine.
Two things with the yips: Generally it’s small muscles. Your body locks up, and it’s not enough big muscles flowing with the stroke. … What happens with the guys on the putting green, is golf professionals – and myself included – we tend to go on the putting green, look at the hole, stroke it smoothly at the hole. We don’t really care if it goes in or not , we’re just working on a pace, and just trying to feel the ball off the putter. And then, we go out on the golf course, all of a sudden you’re trying really hard to make it.
So what you’ve got to do is go on the putting green, use your routine first on some three- and four-footers that you can make, and really work hard, you know?
Do your full routine on two putts in a row, look twice, make sure you know what you’re doing, and feel your stroke, and feel the pace. And then do it again. …
And the other thing I want you to do is breathe. Tension is a killer here. So I want you to breathe, let all the air out. Get over the putt, exhale totally so you’re completely relaxed, and just get the feeling of the rhythm of the stroke. What I’d like you to do, is say to yourself, “One-two, one-two.” Think of nothing else. If you make good contact with the putt, that’s all you can ask of yourself.
Hank Haney: This is how you stop coming over the top
You’d probably give just about anything to finally hit a soft draw off the tee. In order to make that happen, you’ve got to come from the inside.
The one thing I think that you need to do is you need to be more committed to what you’re doing right from the get-go. You need to know when you go there to practice, that your tendency is to swing across it, and you need to be determined the next time you practice. “You know what, I’m gonna exaggerate it. I’m gonna swing more to the right, I’m gonna bump my hips forward, I’m gonna be more lateral with my lower body, I’m gonna get the club swinging more to the right, and even if I overdo it, today what I’m going to do is I’m going to try and hook it too much. And then I’ll work to straighten that out a little bit.” …
It’s just upping your level of commitment, get a little bit more focused on what you’re doing, and not being scared to exaggerate. … Try and create a different ball flight. If you create a different ball flight, you’ve got a chance to really change your swing, but you’ve got to do that. You’ve got to make a conscious effort to exaggerate it.
Jim McLean: Staying down through contact
Solid contact is the name of the game. Achieving that starts when you address the ball.
Start with your setup position, and make sure that you’re not too bent over or have any kind of rollover at the top. Get tall at the start, so it’s tougher to go up if you’re already starting pretty tall at address. That way, your upper body is sort of extended up and not down too much.
The other thing that I see is guys that have a little early release, you know that club is being thrown a little soon. Your body’s going to react by going up so that you’re hitting the ground at the right time with the ball. But you’ve got to stand up as you start it down.
As you start down and rock that right shoulder if you’re right handed, keep your back shoulder down as you start down, and really get that back arm and elbow to come in closer to your body as you start down. That way, as we say, you’re wide on the backswing, narrow on the downswing. … That’s really what keeps you down as you strike the golf ball.
Claude Harmon and Brooks Koekpa: Keep it simple!
Dedicating your focus to alignment when you’re on the golf course – and nothing else – can really help your game.
Koepka: You know, it’s funny. Ever since we started working together, Claude and I think we’ve only really worked on two things. We just keep it very simple. You know you have too much going on in your head when thoughts of failure, bunkers, water, out of bounds – doesn’t matter. … The simpler you make things, it’s crazy how easy the game is. … It eases your mind when you don’t have 50 things you’re thinking about.
Harmon: We work so much on your setup. You know, normally, when your golf swing gets a little bit off, it’s because of where your alignment is. All of a sudden, you’re golf swing can look really, really all over the place, and it’s a slight tweak to your alignment. As soon as the alignment gets better, all the pieces of the puzzle start to fall in to place.
When you’re playing in a tournament on the golf course in competition, what’s your thought process? Do you try and keep it as free as possible, or do you like to take one swing thought out there, or do you like to go out there with no thoughts?
Koepka: For me, I like to go out there with no thoughts. I think it’s a big thing for me. It allows me to free it up. It’s funny: The average golfer, even the Tour player, struggles with alignment. It goes down to basics. If you can’t set up right, you’re not going to hit the ball in the right spot.