There are times when we all make this game too complicated. That’s why I started this article with a simple thought: send it, then hole it. I’m not saying golf is easy, but I find that if you simplify your keys to executing all the main shots, you’ll stop playing golf swing and start playing golf.
The goal is to advance the ball and drop it in the cup in as few strokes as possible. That’s really hard to do if you’re bogged down with swing mechanics. Instead, have a clear plan for what you want to do on the next shot, get your alignment right, and then make a swing or putting stroke that’s smooth and balanced. I guarantee if you keep it that simple, you’ll give yourself a better chance of playing good golf.
Reading on below, I’m going to give you some keys to hitting all the main shots. Easy stuff to remember so you can put more focus on your round and not your swing. Like my coach, Col Swatton, says, “Understanding that the golf course is where you should play, and the range is where you practise, is your first step to lowering your scores.”
Put yourself in position for a good drive
With a driver, I’m thinking only about hitting the ball as hard as I can in the centre of the clubface. If you want to do the same, remember these keys before you take the club back:
1. Get in a good setup. Start with a wide stance, a slight knee bend, your weight equally distributed on both feet and not in the toes or heels, and let your arms hang naturally as you tilt towards the ball from the hips.
2. Always check ball position. If it’s too far back in your stance, it will kill your chance of the club coming into it square and on the correct path. The same is true if it’s too far forward. I like the ball lined up just inside my left heel.
3. Think, slow takeaway. A lot of amateurs take the club back too fast, and that causes them to decelerate on the downswing. Do the opposite. By keeping my tempo smooth and taking it back slower, I can be aggressive through the ball without my timing being off.
“Iron play is not about power. It’s about precision. put some smooth in your swing.”
Treat your irons with care
No matter what iron I’m swinging, my process stays the same.
Here are my keys:
Set up neutral. I want to hit the ball high, low, left and right, so I try to be as neutral as possible with my setup and grip. If you set up to hit only one type of shot, that’s fine, but you might struggle if the situation calls for something other than your stock ball flight.
2. Shorten your swing. Good iron play is about hitting down on the ball with the centre of the face. I find that’s easiest to do if you go with a three-quarter shot instead of a full swing. Put the ball an inch back in your stance, cut your backswing down, and focus on solid contact – not hitting it as hard as you can. The ball will go five to 10 metres shorter than with a full swing, so remember to club up.
3. Finish like a statue. To improve your tempo and rhythm, make a swing that lets you get into a balanced, wraparound position like I am here.
Go big around the greens
Whether it’s a fringe chip or a pitch in long grass, my three short-game keys don’t change.
- Focus on a spot in front of the ball. To avoid hitting it fat, you want the low point of the swing to be after it strikes the ball. This technique will help you get a nice, clean strike.
2. Minimise wrist action. My chipping and pitching swings don’t have a lot of hinge. In fact, there’s very little elbow or wrist bend all the way through the shot. That makes it easier to make good contact and keep the clubface square with the target.
3. Use the big muscles. It’s tempting to hit these shots using mostly your hands and arms, but your consistency will improve if you put somebody into the shot. My shoulders rotate towards the target on the downswing, and my sternum is in front of the ball by the time the club strikes it.
Putt with common sense
My process on the greens has helped me become one of the best putters in the game. This is one area where the right type of practice will allow you to focus on line and speed when you play.
- At address, get your eyes directly over the ball, and make sure your hands aren’t leaning the shaft too much forward, back, in or out. Your eye-and-hand positions greatly affect accuracy.
2. Focus on path and face. A smooth-and-controlled stroke will help make sure the face is square with your putting line at impact. If you can’t roll it on the right line, nothing else matters.
3. Overestimate. Amateurs often fail to give their putts enough break or speed to reach the hole. Varying your putting scenarios in your warm-up will help get a better feel for line and speed that day. But when in doubt, overestimate both. Give every putt a chance to go in, and you can bet some of them will.
Jason Day spoke with Ron Kaspriske