5 Simple Tips For Knocking It On The Green

HYBRIDS ARE MIRACLE CLUBS for a lot of players, thanks to the centre of gravity in the clubhead. Because it’s set back from the face, you can launch the ball high and square the club more easily than you can with a long iron, even from the rough. But just because hybrids are user-friendly doesn’t mean you don’t have to take some care in how you swing them. Tour players like Ricky Barnes, who’s demonstrating for us here, know how to make subtle adjustments in ball position and setup to promote the ball flight they want. They also know how to use the whole body to generate speed. Barnes can carry the ball 220 metres with his hybrid and flight it like a middle iron, which is useful on long par 3s and approach shots to firm, fast greens. That’s a great weapon to have. Read on to learn more.                    

Ricky Barnes

NOT TOO MUCH TILT (above)
As forgiving as hybrids are compared to other long clubs, many players still don’t trust the combination of loft and centre of gravity to get the ball up in the air. They tilt their shoulders away from the target so they feel like they can lift the ball. Give the club a chance to work the way it was designed. Set up more level, with your feet not quite driver width. Look at the bill of Barnes’ cap: It’ll stay level throughout the swing

SET YOUR HAND POSITION (above)
Lie angle – the angle of the shaft to the clubhead – is a huge factor with hybrids because most of them are built more upright to help the average player beat a slice. That can cause better players to fight a hook. If you’re missing hybrid shots to the left, stand slightly closer to the ball and set up with your hands in a higher position. For slicers, the opposite can be effective: Bend over more, hands lower.

Ricky Barnes

KEEP THE BALL FORWARD 
A lot of the advice you hear about hybrids is to play them like middle irons. It is possible to hit a hybrid from a centred ball position with a downward blow, but you won’t get the most out of the club. You want to sweep it more, which is easier to do when the ball is farther forward – midway between the centre of your stance and where you’d tee up a driver. The longer the club, the more toward the front foot you should go.

Ricky Barnes

BACK TO THE TARGET (above)
With short clubs, you can sometimes get away with an armsy swing. But with a longer club, you need to make a full turn to give yourself enough time to get the clubhead in the right position at impact with some speed. Avoid the temptation to turn less and guide the club with your hands and arms – that only produces shorter shots with more sidespin. Wind up going back so you can unwind powerfully through the ball.

Ricky Barnes

FINISH YOUR TURN (above)
Barnes’ follow-through says a lot of great things about the swing he just made. His shoulders and hips turn through completely and in the right proportion: His left shoulder has moved all the way around and is behind his head, but his belt buckle is still pointing to the right of the target. Many amateurs spin their hips wide open, and their shoulders never catch up. Ricky’s also taller than he was at address. You can’t turn your body through if you stay bent over.

With Matthew Rudy

Rob Akins teaches at Spring Creek Ranch Golf Club in Collierville, Tennessee.

Ricky Barnes has 12 top-10 finishes on the US PGA Tour. 

  

With Matthew Rudy