Get rid of weak drives, duffed chips, the shanks, leaving it in the sand and terrible putts with our latest instruction guide.
As much as we’d like to hit more fairways and find more greens in regulation, there are also days where we’d settle for a round where we didn’t get frustrated or feel humiliated by a simple shot gone wrong.
The tyranny of that stationary ball – and all those cruel angles surrounding the sweetspot – mean that, for golfers, threat of embarrassment is generally running at ‘critical’. And when that unfortunate shank, sky or duff does crop up, the emotional side-effects have the power to cripple what’s left of the opening round.
So here we present for you a simple plan to deal with golf’s five most cringeworthy moments. We can’t say for sure that you’ll never fall foul of these shots again; but if you put these tips into practice, you can be assured they will be a much rarer event… and that’s a pretty good start.
Card Wrecking Shot #1: The Skied Drive
You finally hit a 300-yard drive… unfortunately, straight up. The humiliation of the ‘ghost’ impact is beaten only by the plop of the ball landing 30 yards in front of you – seemingly about five minutes later.
WHY YOU DO IT
With the skied drive the ball makes contact with the crown of the driver, and not the face. This happens because your action is sending the clubhead downwards, under the ball. There are two swing traits that tend to cause this steep attack
・Out-to-in-swing-path: A swing path that cuts across the ball goes hand-in-hand with a steep attack. Watch for the club exiting low and left (right- handers); you will sometimes even take a divot after the ball.
・Losing Your Body Angels: When you stand up through the shot, the clubshaft steepens in response. That sends the head downwards, towards the ground, promoting contact with the higher portion of the head.
HOW TO FIX IT
Change your release pattern. Curing the sky means moving impact lower on the face. To do that you need to torch that low-left exit. Here’s how;
・Clubhead Higher Than Hands… ASAP: The quickest way to beat the sky is to get the feeling of the clubhead releasing upwards though impact. Swing without a ball, with the sole intention of getting the clubhead higher than the hands as quickly as possible. It can help to split the hands and feel your thumbs are pointing up, across your lead shoulder.
・New Release: To help you change your release pattern, place a stand bag across your target line as shown. Make practice swings, using the upward release you’ve just trained to ensure the club climbs on the angle of the bag. This release should feel more ‘up and out’ to you. With practice, this drill starts to change that steep pattern that created the sky.
・Tee Guide: Work on those two drills, swinging to a tee only. Watch for the tee breaking or being squeezed into the ground, signs you are still too steep. When you start clipping the top of the peg on a regular basis, you are ready to introduce a ball.
・Up, Up, Up & Away: Hit a series of shots, but instead of worrying about their success focus only on that feeling of the club releasing upwards and away from you. You’ll instantly feel how this release helps you make contact with the face of the club… and no longer with the crown.
Card Wrecking Shot #2: The Duffed Chip
Two mighty blows to the greenside and you can almost smell the pin. Then, for some unaccountable reason, you can’t even get the club cleanly on an unmoving ball below your nose.
WHY YOU DO IT
Your wrists can either cock upwards, against the thumbs, or hinge backwards, bowing the lead wrist. This latter is ruinous for chipping because it promotes a low, inside backswing path, delofts the face and creates shaft lean. All of those make a clean strike harder.
HOW TO FIX IT
Cock it up! Work on using the wrists to cock the handle upwards; unless it’s a very short shot, get the clubhead above your hands. Now you can use the weight of the head to give your action the right momentum and flow. Note too how cocking the wrists puts the hands ‘outside’ the clubhead, while maintaining clubface loft.
Card Wrecking Shot #3: The Missed Shortie
It’s a putt you know your granny could tap in with her umbrella handle, yet, despite your brand new £250 putter, complete with precision balancing and a face milled flat by a computer, you can’t…
WHY YOU DO IT
Basically lack of commitment to a line. Most short putts have some element of break. However, when the club player gets to within three feet, they tend to aim straight. Aware of the slope at some level they make a stroke that can best be described as ‘hole searching’, body and club twisting in a doomed attempt to coax the ball home.
HOW TO FIX IT
・Improve Your Blade Arm: The aim of the face at impact contributes to 92% of the ball’s starting line. Path is only 8%. And yet most training aids and practice routines are based around correcting path. If you really want to hole more short putts, work on that square face; a laser , which can be clipped to the shaft, is a cheap and effective starting point.
・Commit To A Read: You need to get out of the habit of automatically aiming straight at the back of the hole, and this drill will help. Head to the practice green. Place balls around a cup on a slope. For each one, read the putt and place a ball marker at the ball’s entry point into the hole.
・Strike To The Marker: Square the putter face to the marker… your new target. This starts to get you used to aiming the face away from the centre of the cup. With the slope taken care of at address you can strike purposefully through the ball… and allow the slope to take the ball into the hole.
Card Wrecking Shot #4: The Shank
Yur iron shot fizzes farcically sideways into a bush, lake or unsuspecting playing partner. And even if your ball misses everything you’ll be on an adjacent fairway, playing your next under the judgmental gaze of another group.
WHY YOU DO IT
A shank is when the ball is struck from that satanic kink where face and hosel meet. This of course means that at impact, the clubhead is further away from you than it was at address.
・Side On Look: We can often trace this back to poor rotation of the body during the downswing. Many shankers have a side-on look at impact, the hips square to the ball-target line. When the hips fail to clear the hands and arms tend to swing outwards, towards the ball… pushing the socket right into the path of the ball.
The shank is supposedly very close to a good shot – a notion that’s never been of the remotest comfort to anyone who’s just hit one. This is probably because that side-on impact tends to deliver the club from the inside, similar to a draw. However, to cure the shank we need to make the path more neutral… which can feel a little over-the-top move to a golfer who is too far inside.
・Watch Your Balance: Shanks can also be the result of poor balance. Excessive weight in either the heels or the toes can lead to rocking away from and towards the ball, during the swing. Set your weight under your laces and keep it there through to impact.
HOW TO FIX IT
Create a space for your hands. To ditch the shank we need to make sure your lead hip rotation makes room for your hands to swing through. Follow this guide;
・Pocket Yank: Take your regular set-up. Now take your gloved hand off the grip and grasp your lead pocket, as shown. Pull the pocket up and around to encourage the lead hip to rotate. As you do this, feel how trail shoulder and arm respond by moving down and forward.
・Glove Focus: Now let a spare glove hang out of your lead pocket. Make a half backswing and swing through, keeping your attention on the glove. As you move through impact, feel the glove make that same up-and-around motion. As your lead hip rotates, feel pressure grow under your lead heel.
・Better Impact: When your lead hip rotates correctly, it sends the momentum of your throughswing back to inside the ball-target line. That helps pull the arms into a better delivery path and hitting position, closer to the body… which moves the heel of the club towards you.
・Space Created. As the lead hip pushes back, it also creates a gap between your chest and thighs for your hands to swing through. This allows you to nd an impact with the hands at a similar height and position to address… and not shoved out at the ball through that old side-on position.
Card Wrecking Shot #5: Thinned bunker shot
The greenside splash you face demands a delicate high launch and a soundless landing; it gets a knee-high howitzer that screams through the green and into the car park behind, your ball pinging round the Jags and Mercs.
WHY YOU DO IT
The original links bunkers were cut deep into the earth to stop the sand blowing out; ever since, a bunker shot has tended to mean playing from below the level of the turf. Because of this, the tendency to help the ball up through impact is higher than on most other shots.
・Lean and Mean: Whenever you are tempted to help the ball upwards, you will unconsciously lean back with your upper body. It throws your weight into your back foot and shifts the low point of the swing’s arc behind the ball. That means the clubhead is on the rise by impact, promoting contact with the leading edge… and that toecurling zooming trajectory.
・Stay Committed: The potential for embarrassment in greenside bunker shots is inevitably high because the clubhead has to travel so fast for such a short shot. While the idea of slowing the clubhead down sounds attractive, you must fend o the temptation. Sand is heavy, and bunker shots need speed and commitment. The right technique will help you.
HOW TO FIX IT
Get your pressure and energy forward. To start making the correct sand-first contact, wen eed to reverse that leant-back look and strike down and through the sand. Here’s how;
・Set Yourself Forward: Getting the pressure of the swing moving forward starts with ball position. Play it off your lead instep, like a driver. Now focus on the angle or lean of your upper body; lean towards the target until you feel your shirt buttons are closer to the flag than your belt buckle.
・Introduce The Club: Keep that forward attitude as you grip the club; you should feel pressure under your lead foot, and your lead chest should be opposite the ball. Set your hands behind the blade to create clubface loft and encourage the curved back edge of the sole to strike the sand.
・Train Rotation: The second key to finding the correct strike is through swing rotation. To feel how this needs work, focus again on your buttons and buckle. Place one hand on each and practise turning through, finishing with your chest facing the target and forward of the ball.
・Forward Thinking: Now repeat the same rotation with the club. The intention to rotate over and in front of the ball keeps your energy and pressure moving forwards, encouraging the club to strike down and through the sand. Release the clubhead freely and the ball will pop up softly on a cushion of sand.