Archive for the ‘Swing Tips’ Category

How To Practice “Right” on the Range with Less Practice Balls!

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

If you asked me how to practice “right” on the range with less practice balls, you could probably start learning by hitting 1 golf ball over and over as I showed you couple years back.

Seriously though, that’s only going to get  you far enough to get good at hitting a trick shot and even more seriously, let me tell you how to practice “right” on the range with less practice balls.

First of all, something interesting happened to me today.  I hit up the grass range today and started making some horrendous, humongous divots.   I’ve actually been doing this for awhile now, all through this year and especially on the golf course.

Before when I used to strike the ball pure, I barely even made any divots nor did I feel nothing else but the clubhead hitting smack in the square of the golf ball, nothing else, perhaps few hairs of grass.

Anyways, I’ve been sorta mindlessly banging balls on the range for quite awhile.  Of course, hitting a lot of balls can help to you a certain extent but after you reach a certain level, you need to focus on “quality”, not “quantity”.

I’ve just realized that even me, myself, I love hitting a jumbo bucket every time I go out on the range (135 balls) but today because I also had a dinner appointment to make, I hit a regular (90 balls) bucket.

Because I had limited number of golf balls, I had to make the most of each ball.

So, this is how I hit every golf ball since I could only hit 90 balls today:
(also “how to practice with quality”)

1. Visualize the flight of your ball.

2. Make two practice swings thinking about what you are working on such as I want to not “dip” my whole body on the backswing.

3. Align, get comfortable, hit the ball.

4. Analyze your results.  If you hit it perfectly straight and at your target, pat yourself on the back.  If you didn’t, make a mental note of what you did wrong such as big divot, banana slice, duck hook, etc…etc…

5. Repeat from 1 to 4 for about 5 to 10 balls and if you are doing something wrong , you should see a pattern here.   Really take a long pause and try to analyze what you did wrong, you should be able to find it.

For me, that pattern was that I was making these huge divots plus it hurt my hands because my clubhead digged so much into the ground.

So, I stopped after 10 golf balls and analyzed what the heck was I doing.   I went through my “check list” of things that can go wrong.

Usually, fat shots mean that I didn’t do a proper takeaway, perhaps not rotating my clubhead to the right enough.  But the thing was, I was doing that properly, I’ve been really focusing on my takeaway for the last whole week!

So, then I thought it was perhaps my follow-through, I tried couple different follow-throughs (such as swinging a bit more inside-out) but still same result.

Next, I tried changing my backswing a bit flatter, perhaps I was swinging too vertically?

I kept making HUGE divots.   Then, it hit me!  While I was trying to change my backswing to be a bit flatter, I noticed that on my backswing, I would dip my shoulders about 3-4 inches so I can get into position, or at least it felt naturally comfortable for me to do that.

I have absolutely no idea how I started dipping my shoulders (or the whole upper body) that much.  I think perhaps because I haven’t took a video of myself lately.  (which I despise to do so, I think video should be only reflection of your results, you shouldn’t use video to fix your swing although I have been guilty of doing that most of my life.  Trust me, video drives you nuts!)

Finally, I started getting my backswing in the correct motion of rotation without dipping.  Immediately, I noticed that I no longer made those weird, thick divots but very shallow ones and none for my longer irons.

Later today, I was up at my parent’s house and went into the swimming pool to also practice the correct motion.

It’s actually a really good exercise to really feel the correct backswing.  Or if you can imagine yourself standing in a pool with just your chin touching the top of the water, then try to make a backswing with your whole body turn without getting your nose wet.

I know, I was crazy and I actually just did this about 100 times in my parent’s pool and I think I’ve got the correct motion going.

I’ve actually never had this problem of dipping my shoulders on the backswing but I believe while I took couple years from golf, somehow my body picked up some bad golf moves.

Anyways, tomorrow will be a huge day to really get my golf swing together, I feel like I am almost there, back where when I was shooting 4 or 5 under par.   Well, it’s always work in progress.

And yeah, don’t forget the next time you go out on the range, buy less balls, I bet you will try harder on every shot.

P.S.  One more tip, if you are hitting your ball wayward and simply cannot figure out what the heck you are doing wrong, try doing a “slow-motion” swing very, very, very slowly. (without hitting a ball of course)

Shoulder Alignment…

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Yup, today was one of those days I kept hitting the ball with a slight fade. Actually, it start a bit left of where I aimed and landed on the target or missed slightly right. I’ve been doing this for like last 3 months and wanted to really “fix” the issue.

So, I know I “align” my shoulders “parallel” to my target but just out of curiosity, decided to actually put a club on it.

And wow, my shoulders were about 10 degrees open, explaining my slightly left-to-right shots.

I had been doing this for months and this can cause many havoc like perfect shots that leak to the right or even duck hooks if you try to really square the clubface.

Anyways, align you shoulders to parallel to your target.

You can do this simply by placing a club on your shoulders after you take your address.

You might be surprised too, at where your shoulders are.

They should be “parallel” to your target line.

Now, I can actually hit the golf ball right on target, especially with the longer clubs. My problem now is that I am drawing the ball a bit too much as I am still trying to get used to the new shoulder alignment.

Keep hittin’ that ball and no matter what people tell you, you can do it, that’s the will you will need out there on the course. :)

Are You Being Too Anal?

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Yup, golf can become a bit too “anal”.  Even myself, I used to record my own swing like on everyday basis, trying to achieve a certain, magical swing plane that could get me to hit the ball consistently.

Even as of last couple weeks, I have been guilty of that, trying to swing on a magical plane while my inner-self told me to swing naturally.

A lot of times, golf can be harder because you try to be too logical and grasp a concrete theory.  But in the end, the truth is that golf has no standards, no real boundaries to abide by, those are really all set by human beings like you and me.

Of course, certain rules of human anatomy will be correct but in many instances, the golf swing that brings you the best results (not best looks) is the one you want to find.

Today, I am happy to announce that I’ve really found my swing, actually I’ve re-found what I used to do before.

For some reason, couple weeks ago, I became a bit fanatic with swing plane, trying to force myself to swing in a certain swing plane, just like Ben Hogan said, to imagine a pane of glass.   Sadly, that did work for most of my clubs except some days I hit the ball really good and some days, it was like I had no feel for my swing.

Yesterday was such a day.  I was hitting the ball so straight and long for the whole week before then I go practice at another practice range in another city, everything falls apart.  My golf swing felt literally like a mass of concrete that just started hardening.

Anyways, today I gave up everything about golf swing planes and try to really “free” myself.  Regardless of my swing plane, I told myself to make a backswing in which I used all my body together and one that felt strong.

All the sudden, I found my golf swing.

So, here’s the swing keys I reverse-engineered by making my body do what it really wanted:

1. First, my takeaway was different.  Before, I used to try to really “guide” (and force) my club onto my imaginary swing plane.   Now, I just turn my whole body to the right as if I was shaking hands with someone on the right.  This is actually how I swung many years before, I just happen to realize time again that it’s the “natural” way to swing.

From there, all I did was turn my shoulders and voila, everything else fell in place.

I used to do a practice drill, I even did a blog post on this.  I don’t know I keep forgetting, perhaps because I have been a bit too long away from golf.

Anyways, problem solved.  I am started to really shape my shots the way I want to.

The real secret to finding your own swing is to really try to let your natural instincts take over and just let it go.

I was so frustrated with last night’s practice that today I just let it go, let my body lead my golf swing.  The result was that I was able to actually find the “correct” and “natural” way for my body to swing.

I have to emphasize that it was correct and natural for me because everyone has different “natural” tendencies that could work to your advantage.

How to achieve this kind of wonderment?

It’s not that hard.  Just keep trying different moves.  When a certain move gives you better results, try to “reverse-engineer” what you are doing without really trying.   That’s the key.  When you let your body become the leader of your brain and body, you will ultimately learn that the best golf swing is already somewhere inside yourself, you just need to be patient and listen.

Well, I know I am being a bit abstract about all this but I hope you try it.  Next time you are having a tough time hitting the ball the way you want to, try just letting it go and see what your body does best.

Anyways, I am playing another round of golf tomorrow, wish me luck to break 75 for the first time this year.

How Hard is Pro Golf?

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Recently, Jerry Rice gave up after a set of 92-82 and 83-76 at the Nationwide Tour:

Rice had shot 92-82 in the first two rounds of the event. He began his quest for a pro golfing card last month when he shot 83-76 and missed the cut at an event in California.

How hard is golf?

Trust me, Jerry Rice would have to keep playing a lot more competitive rounds to see if he can make it.  I think Jerry Rice can make it, if he tries really hard for another 10 years but I don’t think it’s going to happen over just couple Nationwide events.

A lot of people may not realize how hard professional golf is but trust me, I’ve been in the pro golf gutter most of my life, the stakes are a lot higher than any amateur tournament and even higher, if golf is the only thing you know how to do to make a living.

On the other hand, Babe Zaharias was a women’s olympic star who decided to take similar route as Jerry Rice, except she exceeded everyone’s expectations by winning the U.S. Women’s open eventually.

I guess it all boils down to how determined you are no matter how badly you fall.  Yes, I have shot a ton of 96s in my life at golf tournaments because I simply couldn’t handle the pressure but if you keep playing, you get used to it and start scoring better eventually.

I just got back from my practice today, here’s a couple swing thoughts I was working on:

1. Making sure to cock my hands more “upwards” because I tend to lay off my clubface at the top.

2. Downswing felt automatic once I got the backswing done correctly.

3. Also, don’t forget to “finish” your backswing before your downswing, otherwise it will lead to a mess of events and club manipulation.

By the way, some of these thoughts my help you might not, I am just writing them down on this blog so I can remember it and go back to it if I start losing it.  But it may help you greatly, try them.

Never be afraid to try new moves.  If they don’t work, just fall back on your old moves.

I tried some new swing theories I had today and they didn’t work, so I simply fell back to my swing thoughts from the day before.

Alignment and Body Swing Ready at Address!

Monday, May 17th, 2010

So, I will be honest.

I played 3 rounds this year, first time playing golf in 2 years.  (I hit a lot of balls here and there but never played much, maybe 1 round a year)

The first time out, I played a pretty tough course (6900 yard from blues, 72.5 slope rating) in my flip flops!  Yes, I shot 85 in my flip flops but my foot hurt bad real bad.

Second time out the next week, I broke 80 by shooting a 79.   It was an easy course though but still, I am slowly coming back.

Last saturday I shot another 79, 1-over 37 on front and 6-over 42 on the back.  I hit like every fairway, hit the driver great but missed like 75% of my  approach shots from the fairway.

Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you, I haven’t worn golf shoes on the course yet, I wore my “slippery-on-the-grass” skateboard sneakers the last two times I shot 79s.  So next time I want to see what I shoot with golf shoes on.  (I did this on purpose to improve my balance and indeed, my balance has been improving well, I will have a blog post about that too.)

Worst of all, my short game was good on the front nine (where I had kick-in givemes) but on the back nine, I left myself like 5-footers all the time and I missed like ALL of them.

Anyways, I have yet to break par this year but I am pretty satisfied with where my game is going.  It shouldn’t be too long though so long as I keep playing.

One of the players that I played with the other day, on the 18th hole, hit it dead straight but his aim was toward the trees on the right.  Of course, he hit the trees.

I told him he hit the ball super straight but he was aimed like 40-yards right of the fairway.

A lot of times in golf, alignment and aim is everything.

If you are even aligned 10-yards slightly left or right, that can make  your natural instincts take over and try to manipulate the club so your golf ball goes toward the target.

Now, if this manipulations works well, you are fine but a lot of times, you will get bunch of duck hooks or banana slices in these situations. (Or, you hit it dead straight towards where you are aimed.)

If you want to be a great player, you might want to think about putting a club down between your ball and stance “parallel” to your target when you practice.

I know, it’s cumbersome but this simple act of alignment and aim can make you hit 14 out of 14 fairways or 0 out of 14 fairways.

The other day I hit 13 out of 14 fairways, that’s after I fixed my alignment and aim.

If you ever get a chance to watch the PGA tour guys practice on the tee, you will notice that a lot of them will put a club down during practice.   It’s not really a secret but yes, it’s like cheating in golf.    You should always put a club down parallel to your golf ball if you have never done it before.  I bet you, you are either aiming way left or right of your target.

Alignment is like 90% of making the golf ball where you want it to go.

On another note, during today’s practice, I realized another cool image (swing thought) that helped me make a more consistent swing.

That is to really “feel” your whole body being “together” at address before you start that swing.   What this does is gets you ready for the actual swing and by the time you start swinging, you move everything together, your hands, arms, shoulders, and belly in sync.

Anyways, my next goal is to break 75 next weekend.   Don’t shoot me for  that.  Even for me, after a 2 year layoff from golf play, it takes me about 5-6 rounds before I can break par again.

But I am getting there, I feel like I want to really push myself hard so I can make the PGA Tour next couple years.  First I will have to shoot up some lower numbers though like 65, 66, and whatnot.

Wish me luck!  And oh yeah, you can always find me practicing at Cypress Golf course in Colma or San Bruno range if you are in the bay area.

P.S. One more tip, how to really force yourself to hit great driver shots, use a hundred dollar bill as a tee.

Tips for Improving the Follow Through of Your Golf Swing!

Friday, May 14th, 2010

(This was my follow through couple years back, one of the best ways to improve your follow through is to imagine the swing plane (as I have drawn the yellow line, and try swinging your body in sync with it.)

Today, I was at the range and had one of those “ah ha” moments.  Because I haven’t really played much golf up until recently around end of last year, I had failed to follow through correctly.

But, today I figured it out and got my swing back.

Here’s what I realized and some tips for improving your golf swing’s follow through.

Like I was telling you the other day you want to use images as swing thoughts, I want you to do the same except “vision” your hands, arms, and body following through toward your target.

When you do this correctly, your body should automatically turn to your left side and come up.  If your body doesn’t come up, that means you are probably not following through correctly.

After the follow through, you should arrive at a nice finish with most of your weight on the left foot for a full swing.

Also, one more thing, you want to feel “free” while doing this.  When you really free yourself of any tension during the follow-through, you will feel like you are actually swinging in an imaginary track formed by your swing plane.  This is because you are swinging correctly, with your body, and you are feeling the centripetal force pushing your arms, hands, and the golf club outwards towards the target.

If you can achieve this feeling, you will inevitably hit the ball more solid and consistently as I did today.

Well, that’s all for today folks, have a great weekend and I will tell you all about my round tomorrow.

P.S. Oh yeah, my chipping is awesome now, I kept it simple now getting everything within a foot!  If you haven’t practiced your short game (even though I haven’t wrote much on it lately), YOU SHOULD!!!

All Body Swing!

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Yup, today’s golf swing practice went pretty darn well.

One of the things I was doing wrong was aiming.  I was aiming way too far left and I kept hitting a 20-yard banana fade (or slice) OR a 30-50 yard duck hook.

After I found out my aiming was off by at least 30 yards left of my target, I used a club to align myself.

Voila, it’s one of those moments when you need to get back to basics of golf, I started hitting my golf ball right on target.  Even when I missed, my misses would stay within 10 yard radius to left or right.

Great result right?

Yup, it happens to even the best of the pros, aiming.   I was about to quit golf then I found out it was my aim.

Also, after correcting my aim, I kept still duck-hooking all my longer clubs like the driver.

At first, I started swinging easier, making sure to use my body to make the golf swing.

Then, I started hitting the ball like 320 yards easy with my driver and darn straight.   One more note, I was delaying my impact with my arms and hands then I tried delaying the whole lag process with my whole body.

Voila, I start hitting these 320 yard drives right down the pipe at my target.

After that, I re-gained confidence in my ability to shoot some low scores under par.   I will play this Saturday and see if these things prove to work on the course so until then, make sure you are aiming “parallel” to your target, and don’t forget to swing with your whole body!

How to Make a Consistent Golf Swing with an Image Thoughts!

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

One of the ways you can make your golf swing consistent is to have a consistent backswing where you are swinging to the same point every time.

Over the years, I have found that image swing thoughts work the best to achieve the desired consistency above all other as your brain somehow manages to get your muscles right when you think of an “image”.

So what is this image?

Well, I will let you on a little secret.  For me, I imagine my hands about level with my eyes above my shoulders.   When I imagine my hands being in that certain position, I inevitably swing back correctly with my body.  From there, it’s piece of cake, just rip through the ball and same results every time.

Imagery is probably the most under-rated forms of swing thoughts, stuff that can actually hold up under pressure.

Instead of thinking, “keep my head down”, see an image of your head being in the position where you want while you swing.

Instead of thinking, “follow through”, see an image of yourself following through the golf ball while you swing through the ball.

You see, swing thoughts are only good if you can make an image of it.  I assure you, this results in more consistency in you golf swing.

P.S. My golf swing is coming back a bit, today I hit the golf ball really far, I will be playing for Pepsi Tour mini tournaments probably starting in July, wish me luck!

How Much Divot Should You Take? [Advanced Golf]

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

This whole month I am guilty of practicing only on mats at the range.  Usually that’s no biggie but sometimes it can make you think you are hitting the ball awfully well but you might actually “not” be.

I did hit up the grass tees couple times lately at the range and notice something funny, I was taking rather large divots.  Although I hit the ball good, making big and thick divots can make you hit “fliers”, ball with too much overspin and goes farther than you expected.

So, the question is, how much divot should you take?

It’s always good to take the less divot as possible, especially if you hit the ball long like me.  For most long hitters, hitting a flier can become a big problem as your error (of hitting fliers/too much divot) literally multiplies.

Also, divots should be as shallow as possible.  Plus, by taking shallow divots, you are putting less strain on your hands, which also allows you to achieve higher swing speeds.

Bryon Nelson used to take huge divots that looked literally like a dollar bill.  Of course, his divots were also “thin” as dollar bill.

My point here is that you want to make the shallowest, smallest divot possible because when you do that, it means you are getting more of the clubface onto the ball.

For long irons and woods off the fairway, you probably don’t even need any divot because your swing arc becomes shallow.

For middle to short irons off the fairway, a nice shallow divot starting “after” the ball is struck, would be ideal.

What to do if you keep hitting big divots that are thickalicious?

Most likely if you are making big-a** divots, there can be several reasons.

First, your golf clubs might be not probably fitted.  If your taller or shorter than average AND you use standard-size golf clubs, you are probably gonna dig that toe or heel end of the clubhead into the ground at impact, throwing off your shot and also cause bigger divots.   This is number one mistake I see among amateurs, they buy $2000 golf clubs and forget to custom-fit it to their body by getting longer shafts or cutting them to fit.  Also, there’s the loft and lie angles of the clubhead you NEED to adjust.   These things can all be done correctly if you ask your golf shop before ordering them.  Don’t get lazy.

If you don’t custom-fit your clubs, that’s like buying medium size T-shirts and giving it to your super tall/skinny daughter and super short/fat son who needs to wear 2XXL.

Second, if you are making big divots, examine what they look like.   For example, today I noticed that my divots were actually “aligned” about 15 yards left of my target, meaning my clubhead was closed at impact.   The real cause of this closed clubface was because I didn’t rotate my clubhead and body enough to the right on my backswing.

I fixed it by making sure to “turn and rotate” my clubhead and body starting from address.   Voila, I started making very, very thin and shallow divots again, the ones I am used to when I shoot under par.

Playing in the Wind Tip – Hit It Slightly Thin Intentionally

Also, one more tip, when you are playing in the wind, actually try hitting the ball a bit thin.  What this does is keeps your ball flight down and puts less backspin on your ball, which makes your shot less vulnerable to the wind.

You can practice these slightly “thin” shots by really keeping your upper body “UP” throughout the swing.  Plus, these can come in reaaaaal handy out of those fairway bunkers, allowing you to easily hit the green when you have a decent lie.

Well, I just told you what kind of divots you should be making out there (and some wind-play secrets), don’t forget to subscribe!

P.S. I am actually in the process of writing my new golf book, “How to Lower Your Golf Scores”, if you want a free review copy, let me know at the comments line!

How to Hit Downhill/Uphill/Sidehill Shots!

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

A lot of you may play great golf on flat courses where there are no hills but suffer bad scores on courses that have lots of hills.   I personally grew up playing very, very hilly golf courses and practically 90% of all my shots were either downhill, uphill, or sidehill.

If you don’t know how to hit these shots, you might want to keep reading as I can show you that they are not that hard, you just need to understand the fundamentals behind it.

How to Hit Downhill Shots!

Downhill shots are probably the hardest of them all to hit because most of the time, the downhill slope de-lofts your clubface.  For example, on a downhill shot, your pitching wedge will be more like a 9-iron or even 8-iron, depending on the angle of the slope.

Here’s THREE simple rules to remember about downhill shots:

One, setup with your ball further towards your right foot.  Because of the downhill slope, your clubface will contact the ground much sooner, meaning you need to place your golf ball where you will hit it, further towards your right foot.

Two, obviously you will need to lean a bit more toward the hillside, the right, otherwise you will lose your balance.

Three, because your ball is now further towards your right foot, you need to aim left as your clubface will be slightly open at impact.   Most of the time, I hit a 5-10 yard fade on downhill shots, just a rule of thumb I follow so I aim about 5-10 yards left target.

There’s more things you can do to enhance your downhill shotmaking skills but I am only going to make you learn the first three I mentioned here because these are perhaps the most important.  One more thing, try to keep your best balance here and swing smooth and easy.  This isn’t the best time to swing all-out.

For golf strategy, when you are on a downhill, your percentages are against you so play the safer shot instead of going for the green.

How to hit Uphill Shots!

Uphill shots are probably the easiest of them all because you are hitting into the slope and usually you can get by hitting it pretty hard.

Uphill shots are just the exact opposite of downhill shots, here’s THREE simple rules to remember about uphill shots:

One, setup with your ball further towards the left foot.  Again, the sloper will dictate that the best chance of hitting the ball is further towards the left foot.

Two, again lean a bit more towards the hillside, the left to keep balance.

Three, most likely you will hit a nice little draw because your golf ball is placed further left, aim 5-10 yards right of your target as a general rule of thumb.

For golf strategy, uphill shots are the ones to go for.  If you are in a grey area where you could make a potential eagle/birdie by going for the green, by all means, this is the time to go for it, just aim right enough and make sure to follow through all the way to your target on the finish.

How to hit Sidehill Shots!

Sidehill shots are also one of the hardest to master, especially the ones where your body is sitting higher than your golfball.

For sidehill shots when your body is sitting higher than your golf ball, try to stand a bit closer to your golfball and also as tall as possible.  From there, make a very smooth and easy swing.   Remember, this is one of the most delicate shots (because of the angle) so take it easy!

Also, don’t forget to aim about 5-10 yards left (depending on the side slope) as your ball will be not fading but actually going at a different angle!

When your body is sitting lower than your golf ball, grip down about 1-2 inches on your golf club and make the same golf swing.  No need for any changes other than that and also your golf ball will travel slightly from right to left so aim 5-10 yards right.  This is much easier shot in my mind (because of the angles) so play more aggressive when you have lies where your golf ball is higher than your body.

For shots that are mix of an uphill and sidehill, you will have to take everything into consideration.

For example, if you have a downhill shot on a right-to-left slope (where your ball is higher than your body), you might want to put the ball slightly right toward the right foot, grip down about an inch on the club, and aim slightly right of the hole.  Of course, the aiming part might be completely different depending on how much downhill/sidehill slope you are facing.

The important part is that you actually practice these uphill/downhill/sidehill shots with every club in your bag so you have your own “feel” of how the distance/aiming vary.

Trust me, these are one of the hardest shots to master but they could potentially be your best weapon when you are playing a hilly golf course.

You won’t be able to practice most of these shots on a practice range so I suggest you to practice them on the golf course.  When it’s not too busy on the golf course, just make sure to hit 3-4 shots whenever you encounter these hilly shots.

Most importantly, know that you need to make these small adjustments on these shots, even on a slight slope.   When you don’t, that might be the reason why you “duff” or “skull” the golf ball because you don’t play the slope, the slope plays you.

Practice, practice, and practice.