Millions of articles have been written and countless instructional videos have been produced, all with the aim of trying to help golfers improve their game so they will enjoy it more when they play. It’s true that the enjoyment level for a golfer increases dramatically, just as the frustration level decreases when you start playing better golf and posting lower scores. Yes, it’s true that using golf practice mats can help improve your technique, but what else can you do?
The main thrust of most of this body of instruction has attempted to convey to the improving golfer that there are three main areas which must be focused on in order to begin noticing a marked improvement in your game: the strike point, driving distance and accuracy, and developing a great putting game. This discussion will tell you how to accomplish all three of these steps, painlessly and even quickly if you’re willing to commit some time to regular practice.
The strike point
When someone talks about the strike point, they are referring to a two-part process which consists of contacting the ground in an optimal area, and striking the sweet spot of whatever club you happen to be using. The strike point concept is one of the few things that all professional golfers have in common, despite the many different types of swings that players bring to the game.
Striking the ground effectively with any of your irons requires that the lowest point of your golf swing be just forward of where the ball rests, and not at the point where the ball is actually sitting. This will always promote a ball-first strike because you’re hitting the ball with a descending blow that continues to descend just after contact. This is why you will see many professionals take a noticeable divot out of the ground after an iron strike. The iron has continued on its downward swing pattern just past impact with the ball itself, so it tends to dig into the turf and remove a patch of it on the upswing.
Striking the ball in the sweet spot of any club you’re using is the second critical factor in mastering the strike point concept. Your individual swing pattern will have a huge impact on the precise point of contact between your club and the ball. Most golfers have either an in-to-out swing or an out-to-in swing pattern, and both of these can cause an off-center impact when addressing the ball. If you impact the ball either at the toe of the club or the heel of the club, you can pretty much count on the flight of the ball being off-line, one way or the other.
What you should strive for is to consistently make impact with the ball directly on the sweet spot of the club, which is right in the center of the blade, or of your driver. Be aware that this may call for some slight alteration of your swing pattern so that the club is properly aligned at impact time, allowing you to impart a truer impact on the ball. This will lead to more consistently straight shots, as well as better distance control with all of your irons.
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Distance and accuracy
Achieving both distance and accuracy with your driver depends on three factors: hitting on a high launch angle, imparting a low spin rate, and making contact in the sweet spot of your drivers club face. When you hit with an upward motion using your driver, it will cause the ball to launch higher with the spin rate staying the same. If you have hit it in the center of your club face, you can expect to have increased distance off the tee.
In order to increase your launch angle, there are a couple of simple things you can do, the first of which is to use bigger tees so that the golf ball is up in the air more, and you can get your driver club head under it. Then, you should move the ball position just inside your left arm, assuming that you are a right-handed player. It may feel a bit awkward at first, but once you’ve practiced it a bit, it will begin to feel more natural and you should probably notice increased distance off the tee, as well as greater accuracy.
When it comes to getting more distance out of your irons, the first thing you should be aware of is that using an older set of clubs is probably robbing you of extra distance with your irons. It really is true that recent technology has increased the effectiveness of irons on the market today, so purchasing a newer set will automatically entitle you to the benefits of all that research, which results in greater distance with your irons.
Of course, there are also some things you can do technique-wise which will get you extra distance with your irons. The most common way that the average golfer loses distance with the irons is by consistently hitting fade shots, which for a right-handed hitter means that the ball travels to the right rather than staying online. One of the things you can do to combat this is to create a stronger grip, which requires that you rotate your hands away from the ball at impact time.
This encourages the club face to remain closed at impact rather than staying more open, which promotes the fade. The second thing you can do to prevent fade shots is to flex or bow your lead wrist all the way through the backswing and the downswing. This will help you to establish more control over the club face and minimize any spin loft.
This is in contrast to what most slicers do, which is to cup their lead wrist throughout the swing, because this strongly promotes an open club face at impact time, and it also produces more spin loft at the time of impact. Remember to flex your lead wrist throughout the swing path, and you will be well on your way toward eliminating those undesirable slices with your irons.
When you learn how to start golfing, putting can be extremely challenging. One of the most important aspects of becoming a better putter is knowing how to read greens effectively, and this refers to the specific slope between your ball and the hole. This can have a dramatic impact on the path that your ball takes, so for instance if there is a pronounced downhill pattern which slopes to the right, your ball path will be obliged to travel to the right also.
Whatever kind of slope is in effect between your ball in the hole, you need to account for it and make sure that you aim to the left or the right of the hole, so you have a chance of making the putt. The best way to read greens, in general, is to read it from behind the hole when you have a downhill putt and to read it from behind the ball when you have an uphill putt. This allows you to always read the green from the low side of the putt, which keeps your sightlines closer to perpendicular to the slope so that you’re always looking into the hill rather than looking down the hill.
Once you’ve decided on whether to hit the putt straight on or to allow for some kind of slope you’ve detected, then it’s a matter of putting technique. For short putts, it’s a good idea to keep your putter head slightly above the ball at address time, rather than leaving it resting on the ground. This will prevent your putter head from getting stuck in the grass and deflecting, which can impart an off-center strike on the ball.
For medium and long-range putts, you should have a longer backswing and keep the putter head online throughout the downswing so that you don’t yank the putt or fade it. It’s super important that you keep the putter head online during the backswing, otherwise, you have no chance of hitting the sweet spot during your downswing.
The best way to develop a feel for making putts beyond 30 feet is simply to put in some practice on the putting green so you begin to develop a feel for how much speed and force are required to get to the hole. This will naturally vary from course to course, since putting greens tend to be managed differently. If you have a chance before your round of golf, be sure to take some time and putt a few 50-footers, so you’re prepared for it during the round.
At the end of the day, there is much more that goes into improving your golf game than what we’ve covered in this article. While nothing can replace good old-fashioned time and effort practicing on the golf course or at the driving range, focusing on better putting, improving distance and accuracy, and mastering the strike point will set you well on your way to a much more efficient, effective game. Happy golfing!
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