How to enjoy winter golf

I know, for some, that title sends chills up and down their body. For others, they look forward for the time when the golf course is almost empty (almost, because if you there, it is not empty).

Other people think, “What, isn’t golf suppose to be played when the sun is bright and warm”. Yes, but standing still for long periods of time because the golfers ahead are slower than “cold molasses”, is not fun or “real golf”. wintergolf2

For me, winter golf is a time when I can “take my time”, and enjoy golf. I am looking for relaxing swings of the golf club, not for a low score or a long drive, but a time I can relax and enjoy the game. (yes I know, I just said that. There is a reason for that.)

The game of golf is not intended to be a game of frenzy swings, but an opportunity for seeing how well you really can “play” golf. (remember – golf is a game.)

Here are simple “suggestions” to have a good time.

1. Leave your #1club in your car or at home. It is not needed. It will only get you in trouble in the winter. You have clubs in your bag that can give you same distance you normally have, you just haven’t discovered that yet.

2. Have a plan and play the plan.

3. Embrace the winter rains and weather, they will always be there.

4. Use your woods as often as you can. Sweep the ball off the ground/grass. Do not “hit down” on the ball, unless you like to dig the ball out of the mud in front of you.

5. Do not try to hit the ball as high as you can. If you do, you will be forever hunting for the white top of a golf ball that has buried itself in the soft course. Also, don’t hit the ball as hard as you can. (see above why).

6. For winter golf, you are allowed to hit the golf ball a little softer so it doesn’t bury itself when it lands.

raingolf17. Don’t try to hit the ball out of a mud divot. This is winter time and there are winter rules, like “use common sense when playing golf in the winter”.

In the winter you are allowed to pickup the ball, wipe mud off the ball, and drop it back into the mud. :)

8. At the end of the day, you will be surprised how well you can really play and how low your score can be (if you are keeping it :).

Important information: Wear winter pants, the water proof kind. They are easier to clean than your blue jeans. Wear waterproof boots and have lightweight wool socks to keep your feet warm and dry. (Dry and warm feet are happy and if they are happy you will be also.)

 

by John Vosgien

Expert bad weather golfer

Reading Golf Green Tips

Golf Green TipsI’ve experimented with a new putting stroke for some time now and have come to the same great results as Craig. This involves a pendulum stroke; an accelerated follow thru; a much shorter backward stroke and finally a method of practice (putting) each time before I play that day. It’s obvious that the recent “majors” winners on tour are highly effective players using pendulum strokes and using their bodies as anchors. Their success is no coincidence. Not wanting to change to a belly type putter, I did the next best thing and simply copied their triangular pendulum stroke using the triangle formed by the arms and shoulders.  And using the shoulders to drive the pendulum action back and throw the ball. Golf Green TipsMy key thought is to initiate the backward stroke with the left shoulder and the forward stroke with the right shoulder. Both strokes in this manner are “push” strokes, not “pulls”. The pull with the shoulders is too inconsistent in my experiences. The big benefit in the forward “push” stroke is that you actually feel the acceleration thru the ball better with the trailing shoulder pushing the ball. Nothing else I have tried creates this feeling of acceleration thru the ball. Acceleration is critical in keeping the ball on line. The “push” stroke going back and forward aren’t jerky but rather a measured tempo going back and twice that tempo going forward. I never change this tempo back and forward, regardless of distance. I simply lengthen or shorten the stroke for the distance needed. The tempo is the same for every stroke back and twice the tempo going forward. The second change I’ve made (also critical) is to practice making a much, much shorter stroke going back than going forward. By using a very limited stroke going back (than you have in the past) you will feel that the backward stroke is too limited and you subconsciously feel you must increase your tempo to gain any distance. Golf Green TipsThis acceleration is good not bad. This feeling just happens. It’s not planned. The opposite is also true in that a longer backward stroke results in a slower stroke going forward every time because  you believe the stroke is too long and you automatically decelerate without knowing it. Trust me this just happens. For a 3 foot putt, my length back is seldom more than two inches and on fast greens only one inch. All of my follow thru(s) are at least two to three times the length of my backstroke due to the accelerated tempo. I can’t tell you how automatic this becomes with a feeling you’re going to make every single one within 3 feet. Again the strokes are made with the shoulders. I use this on all distances and make an unbelievable number from 6 feet as well. The last thought I have is on longer putts over 6 feet. Before every round I spend at least 5 minutes on a flat surface on the putting green using the pendulum stroke with three balls and “no target”. I simply stroke each ball (not looking up until all balls are putted) using a backward stroke a set distance (which for me is to stop the stroke when the putter face reaches a point on my back foot) and start the forward stroke at twice the speed going forward. I do this to gauge the speed of the green that day. I putt all three balls without looking up and simply notice how far they all go. I repeat this again in the opposite direction, to get an average distance both ways with the same stroke. This gives me a distance for that day for my “basic” stroke. On the course I try to “feel” that basic stoke every time. I don’t allow any thoughts to enter my mind other than feeling that stroke for that distance. My experience is that my basic stroke usually  goes 10 to 12 paces depending on the speed of the greens that day. To insure that I am putting with more feel than mechanics, I also hit some balls simply looking at the hole and not the ball trying to feel that basic stroke for 12 paces. You’d be surprised at how your mind adjusts to varying distances once you know your basic stroke for a set distance. You should adjust your distances on downhill or uphill putts by simply looking at a spot shorter than the hole on downhill putts and  further than the hole on uphill putts. Golf Green TipsTo improve your success on sidehill putts, you should practice sidehill putts by placing three balls on the same line directly behind each other (two to three feet apart) and stroke the shorter ones first until all three are made. You’ll notice that the further you are from the hole the higher the break, relative to the other balls you just played. Hope this helps you as much as it has me.

Sidehill Lie Golf Shot

More on Uneven Lies.  Is the ball above your feet or below?

Newer players will often not take into account the change in the lie when they aim the ball and they are surprised that the ball veers left or right unexpectedly. The ball actually does exactly what it should be doing.  So aim accordingly.

Don’t be surprised on uneven lies.

If the ball is below your feet . . . beware if you slice.  With the ball below your feet you are forced to bend over more and your swing will suddenly be more upright and high.

Expect the ball to slice to the right so make sure you adjust your aim to the LEFT. It will also have added spin to the right so look at your landing area and see what it means. In short aim left and watch for slice, kick and roll to the right. And once again do not attempt to crush this shot.  That only increases the chances of something bad happening.

If the ball is above your feet . . . beware if you hook left already.  With the ball above your feet you should choke up on the club a bit. Aim this shot to the right and don’t forget to add in added kick and roll at the landing spot.  I can’t tell you how many iron shots of mine rolled into water or sand before I figured this out.

One way to remember this one the course is to note that the ball will fly in the air the same way it would roll on the ground.  If it’s below your feet, it would roll away from you–or right.  So adjust your aim left.  If the ball is above your feet it will roll towards you–or left.  So adjust your aim right.

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The quick way:  Side of the hill, ball above your feet:  Lean into the hill, and choke up on the club (put your hands further down the shaft. That’s it, no magic secrets. (sorry).  Lean forward more, keep the same ball position, and choke up on the club.  Swing, and amaze your friends!

Side of the hill, ball below your feet:  Lean back more so that you retain your balance on the downslope.  Grip the club all the way at the top so you use  ALL the club.

Uphill, downhill lie golf shot

Think about your lie.  Up, Down or Flat?

One common mistake many players make is they ignore the slope of the grass they are standing on and are frustrated at the behavior of the ball when they strike it. They expect the ball to do something other then what it will. Don’t be surprised on uphill or downhill shots.

On uphill shots, you can expect the ball to fly high and even draw to the left a bit.  Make sure you aim accordingly.  If you have a small slice expect the uphill lie to add a bit of correction.

For longer clubs, make the following correction.  Play the ball more forward in your stance than you normally would.  You will feel like you are leaning back a bit and that’s ok.  Then sweep the ball and expect it to have a high trajectory (and go left a bit).

For shorter clubs, play the ball more forward in your stance AND lean into the slope.  Plan on keeping your weight on your left foot through the whole swing. Instead of a sweep, punch the ball and don’t expect it to draw left.  It should go the direction you aim.

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Not all golf course are Flat.

And boy, can that be a pain!!  OK, here’s the quickie how to handle:

Uphill Lies:  My favorites.  I feel like the ball is on the tee!! Keep your shoulders balanced. They will tend to ‘weigh’ more on the right leg.  Play the ball forward, toward your big toe.  Take one club more than you normally would play.  If you would hit a six, play a five instead.  Swing normal, and watch that ball GO!

Downhill Lies:  Not my favorites.  But I am getting better.  Again, keep your shoulders balanced, even though the weight is geared towards your left foot.  Play the ball BACK in your stance.  A little back of middle should do the trick.  Take one club less than normal.  If you would hit a seven iron, play an eight.  You are trying to hit down into the ball, so take a full, high swing.  Then shout FORE!

For these lies, swing at about 75% of your speed.  This maintains your balance..

Use smart golf strategy for your approach shot

Short Siding, And How to Play Your Approach Shots!

“Hi!! A new golfer here. What does it mean to “short-side”  yourself? I’ve
heard the term, but not the explanation. Is  it good or bad?”

Well, anonymous new golfer, welcome. And to answer part one  of your question:
Short siding is when you miss a green on  the same side as the pin on your approach shot.

When you miss a green, putting  the next shot close enough to sink the putt is critical,
and that’s easier when you have a lot of green between your  ball and the hole
because you have more options for making  the shot — low running chips (Please
see HOT TIP  below!!!!) or high and soft, while if you are on the “short  side”,
your only option may be a high flop shot that stops  quickly, something that is
very hard to do for most people  and impossible for many. And we NEVER recommend
you try  that shot. Use another of those weapons in your bag.

Another thing to keep in mind is what direction the green  slopes and what the
landscape on the green between you and  the pin looks like. If the pin is near
an edge of a green  that slopes towards the pin, you may be better off being on
the short side, where you can stop a shot quickly hitting  into the slope, than
on the “long” side, where your shot  will run a long way downhill and be very
difficult to  judge.

One of the key things that determines how good someone is  at getting “up and
down” around the green is whether he/she  generally misses the approach shot

in a place where this will be easy.

This  means knowing how you generally mis-hit shots, and picking
your club and aim point so that a well hit shot is on the  green with a makeable
putt but a miss will leave you  someplace where you can easily get down in 2.
The aim point  and club selection will often not be at the pin and pin  high.

There could be a myriad of places that you want the ball to  land. And NEVER
fall for sucker pins. Sucker pins are those  that are in a well guarded
location, but tantalizingly  close. Hit your approach shot safe, and putt out in two strokes!!

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Where Should Your Miss Land??

One of the major differences between the Tour pros and the weekend  player is
that the Tour pro focuses on where he wants his approach shot “misses”  to land. For example,
if the green is sloped back-to-front, the  Tour pro will choose a club that will
make sure that he leaves his  approach shots below the hole so that he has an easier,
uphill putt for  birdie.

You should do the same thing. Instead of just walking off the  yardage and
choosing the appropriate club for the yardage, take a  second to study the green
to see how it’s sloped. If it is sloped  severely back-to-front, take one less
club or choke down on the club  a bit.

Or, if it is sloped hard right-to-left, aim well left of the hole  (assuming
the hole isn’t cut tight to the left side of the green  near trouble). By
leaving your approach shots on the proper side  of the hole, you’ll find
yourself three-putting or four-putting a  lot less.

What are the three worst words in golf?

Wedge, Putter, Wedge (OK, if you don’t get it, email me, and I’ll  explain..)

Hitting out of the rough – part 2

How to Hit Out of the Rough – part 2

You hit a long, long drive, it hits the middle of the fairway,  bounces off a
sprinkler head, goes left, and your are in that  nasty, thick rough that is just
off the fairway. After you stop  cursing (I must be politically correct: Don’t
curse on the golf  course. Instead, throw your clubs in anger. It’s much more
acceptable). After you get over your bad luck, and you decide not  to simply
kick the ball out of the rough to the low stuff, you have  to hit your ball.
How?

At address, play the ball BACK in your stance. This allows you to  ATTACK the
ball with the club coming in at a steeper angle, which  makes sense. It makes
the ball go get up and out quickly, and the  least amount of time your club and
ball spends in the rough, the  better! Aim your target line slightly left
(righthanders!) of  target, because the rough will send the ball right.

This is one time that I believe a TIGHTER grip should be used. You  are hitting
into hard stuff, and you can’t afford to let your club  head come apart on
impact. Your backswing should be slightly  longer, and taken further back. This
helps with the angle of  attack. Hit and swing firmly (DO NOT COME OUT OF YOUR
SWING. IN  OTHER WORDS, DON’T TRY TO KILL IT. THE PROPER SETUP AND GRIP WILL
TAKE CARE OF THAT). Now, watch the ball soar out of the rough, and  smile…

How to hit golf shots into the wind

Everyone Knows It’s Windy!

It’s a windy day.  You are 140 yards out to the green.  Which club do you use??
Hmm.. Well, I can’t tell you WHICH club to use, because we all strike the ball
differently.  I CAN tell you that you if you are hitting INTO the wind, you
should take one club more than you usually use for every 10 mph of windage.  So,
if you use a 6 iron from 140 yards out, keep it in the bag if you are hitting
into a 10mph breeze, and use your five iron. If you are hitting with the wind to
your back, you would go UP 1/2 a club.  So, use your 7 iron, and adjust your
swing speed accordingly.

Additionally, choke down on the club. This keeps the ball on a lower
trajectory, and helps to avoid the hazards of the wind!!

Most importantly, don’t swing hard!!!  A hard swing, if it connects, causes the
ball to go higher, where mother nature will do as she pleases.  A shot with 80%
of your normal swing speed will keep the ball low.

On Drives, tee the ball a little lower than normal.  This takes a lot of
practice, as you are going off your normal ‘drive swing’.  Play the ball
SLIGHTLY back in your normal stance, swing easy, and your ball will come off in
a nice, low trajectory, beating the wind, and scorching down the fairway.
You’ll also get a lot of roll from this shot

How to play great golf shots out of the rough

Shots from the Rough

When faced with a shot from the rough, use your head to think your way out of
trouble. The best rule to follow is to play it safe and choose the shot that
offers the best recovery with the minimum risk of leaving yourself in an even
more difficult situation. Trying an almost impossible recovery shot seldom
succeeds and a double or triple bogey usually follows. Treat the rough with the
respect it deserves, striving to incorporate the following general tips into
your recovery strategy.

Use a more lofted club to get maximum loft quickly. ‘Pop’ the ball out of heavy
or high rough. If you are a mid to high handicapper, choose the 5 wood over a
long iron. There is less tendency for the clubhead to get caught up in the
grass.

Choke down on the club 1″ to 2″. Open your stance slightly. Take the club up
more abruptly than a regular shot with the wrists breaking early.

In heavy rough, open the clubface slightly. Grass can wrap around the hosel and
close the clubface.

In light rough, take a more upright swing and hit down and through the ball.
Uneven Lies Most rounds of golf will produce abnormal lies. Handling these
situations is not that difficult if you approach your shot with a positive
mental attitude and adjust your swing accordingly.

Uphill lie. Take a normal stance, standing perpendicular to the slope. Take the
club back parallel to the slope and swing easily. Balls hit from uphill lies
tend to hook. Aim right to compensate.

Downhill lies. This is the most difficult lie to hit from. Stand perpendicular
to the slope and play the ball back in your stance. Follow the slope on the
backswing and stay down through the impact zone. Don’t lift your head!

Ball above the feet. Choke down on the club. Play for a hook. Ball below the
feet. Bend the knees and waist and stay down through the shot. Play for a slice.

Buried Balls / Buried Lies in Greenside Bunkers When you plug a ball into a
bunker so deep you can only see the top, you are in trouble. Any questions about
that?

Take your normal address position for a bunker shot – Keep your stance open,
and play the ball forward in your stance.

Now, close the face of the wedge. Make it look like a two or three iron!! Now,
swing with conviction (but don’t lose your form. Keep your natural swing, but be
aggressive). Don’t forget to follow through!!!

Remember from previous lessons: You still want to hit the ball as if it were on
a pancake, or sprinkler head (obviously, imagining this). Hit the front of the
pancake (in other words, hit behind the ball about 2 inches). Thickness of the
sand matters: If relatively loose, hit about 2 inches behind. Relatively hard,
hit closer to an inch behind.

And if you fail, get the ball, step on it and pound it in the sand, and try
again!!

Remember, most of us practice on the course!! (Just don’t hold up play).

Hard Ground/Divot Holes/Pine Needles When hitting from difficult lies, try not
to let yourself get ‘psyched’ up over the prospect of a poor shot.

Instead, take a three-quarter backswing for maximum control and make the
following swing adjustments.

On hardpan, play the ball farther back in your stance.

Play a normal ‘hardpan’ shot making sure to hit down into the ball.

Keep your hands ahead of the ball at the address position and be sure to hit
down into the ball.

Hit down into the ball when the ball is centered in a divot.

Depending on where your ball is in the divot you should do one of the
following:

1. Either firm up your grip and close your clubface a little to prevent the
edge of the divot from opening the toe at impact.

or-

2. Firm up your grip and open the clubface slightly to prevent the divot from
catching the heel and closing the face at impact.