How to Practice Hitting the Ball First, Ground Second

We all know that when the ball is on the ground, we should hit the ball first and the ground second. The wrong way to make that happen is to deliberately guide the club into doing that with your hands. That just interfered with my swing as it went through impact when I did it that way.

So I’m trying something else now. I get a fairway wood, and set up, drawing a line in my mind where the leading edge of the clubhead is on the ground. Then I take a swing and make the effort with my swing, not my hands, to let the sole of the clubhead thump the ground in front of that line.

You most likely will have to adjust your swing slightly to make that happen. I couldn’t begin to describe how my swing got adjusted, so I’ll leave it up you to figure that out for yourself.

I like to use a fairway wood instead of an iron, because outdoors, I don’t make a mess on the ground with divots and get my club dirty, and I can do this indoors without damaging the carpet.

I’m still working on this, the adjustments aren’t automatic yet, so I can’t say if the effort will actually pay off. But the idea makes sense to me, so I’ll invest in it.

The Journeyman Pro

I don’t spend much time at all on this blog talking about professional golf. That’s because there’s so much of it online that you don’t have to find it. It finds you. No, wait. That’s porn. Oh, well…

I came across this fascinating post written by Phil Blackmar about how good Tour golfers are.

You have to be really good even to think about it. Then you have to be really, really good to be in position to get there. Then you have to be 3r good to get on, 4r good to stay on, and to be a champion is beyond my comprehension.

There’s a list of all the players who have been in 250 or more PGA Tour tournaments since 1980, including one who has made over 800 starts. There are many names at the top of the list you would not think to see there.

This all puts my single-digit handicap earned on fairly easy public courses in perspective, as I needed it.

A Few Odds and Ends

I was looking through a notebook I keep that contains notes from golf lessons I have taken. The last playing lesson I took emphasized the tee shot. My note says, “Tee shot is paramount to making par. Work on these.” So work on your driver, but work on hitting it straight, not far. If you can hit your irons straight, but not your driver, get a lesson. You’ll never figure it out yourself.

There are several other notes that pertain only to me, but another general note is, “Make your targets very precise from the tee and the fairway.” Think not only of which direction you want the shot to go, but on what spot do you want the ball to land. And it’s a spot, not an area.

You know the bottom of your swing needs to be ahead of the ball. How do you do that? I practice this indoors with a fairway wood. I set up and take note of the place where the leading edge of the sole is. Then I make a slow-motion swing and try to lightly tap the rug with the sole of the club ahead of that place when I swing through. Hint: if you’re not getting your weight to the left in the forward swing, and early in the forward swing, you won’t be able to get the club out there.

I’ve been playing around with a short stroke for short putts this past week. It started out as the old pop stroke, but I quickly found out that the rapid stroke and percussive hit the word “pop” suggests is the wrong way to go about it. I’m finding success with a rhythmic stroke that nudges the ball to the hole. That might be a better starting point for you if you want try this out. I should also mention my upper arms rest against my sides for security. The advantage of a short stroke (about six inches for a 10-foot putt) is that the clubface stays square throughout. I’m only using this stroke for short putts I think I can sink. For longer putts, I go back to my sweeping pendulum stroke and the TAP method.

I read a tip in a current golf magazine that I thought might help. So I went out and tried it. The results were terrible. What I realized very quickly is that I was already doing what the tip suggested. In trying to follow the tip I did more of it and that was too much. Beware of tips you read in golf magazines.