Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Golf Hacks - How Far DO You Hit It????

Golf Hacks, Knowing Your Yardage
Do you know how far you hit the clubs in your bag? No, not just a guess, how far do you hit your 6 iron in the air? How about your driver? Notice I said in the air, not how far did your furthest ever roll when you were playing on that dried out course in the winter 5 years ago. How far do you hit it in the air on a better than 7 times out of 10 basis? See this picture linked below? This is how you are going to figure that out.

Plan on spending at least an hour if you want to get this done accurately. Remember if you have been keeping your stats you know how many times you have been hitting a shot long or short, how many GRIs are you getting? If you hit the drive in the fairway you need to be getting that second shot either on the green or just off.

So how do you do it? Well if at all possible, stand right next to this marker. If your range has a big sign with distances marked ask the shop guy where those measurements are from. Of course if you have a laser range finder you can shoot the flags from wherever, but I don't so I use the markers. Now make sure you are warmed up (do your stretches) and hit about a dozen balls with your favorite club so that you are feeling your swing.

***Note if your range uses crummy old balls that are dirty and cut up, go to a nice range, even if you have to drive a hour away, go to the nicest range in town (they have the best balls) and get the biggest bucket they sell***

Now start with the lowest know yardage and try to land the ball right on the stick. Start with the club you "think" is the one you need. Hit 10 shots with it and see how close you get. Now adjust your selection, if you were long go higher loft, if you were short, go lower in loft. Now hit that club 10 times, how'd you do? Still off? Grab another. If you hit 7 of the 10 right on it, you've got it. If it turns out to be between clubs, that's important to know too. Also, you may have to adjust for wind if it is more than a few mph. But, you get the idea. Write down what club hits that yardage.

Now go to the next yardage you know and repeat. Pretty soon you should have 4 - 5 known clubs all through the bag. This is your base line. If you don't do anything else you at least know those clubs and a simple math estimate can usually fill in the rest. In general there will be about 10 to 15 yards between each club so if you know your 3w, 4 iron, 8 iron, and PW you can probably plot out where the other clubs fall in there.

Now take those yardages and make a yardage card that you keep in your pocket when you go play. Every shot, check your card. Next time you go to the range test those estimates out. I don't hit more than 4 different clubs for a 45 minute range session. I usually will pick out the irons that will hit 2 known targets to make sure my yardages are right, then I will also hit one of my fairway woods, and finish with my driver. Why only a few? Well the iron shots are all the same and if you remember my stats 3 - 9 irons only make up 14% of my shots on the course. The woods make up 16% so I balance those with equal time.

Next time you play, you'll be shocked at the difference. You won't fear carrying the trap or the smaller greens and you'll be a better golfer.  Good luck! Thanks for reading! Now go hack it!


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Golf Hacks - Chip, chip, chip it in

If you are in a position where you are chipping, you might have hit a monster drive and are now right up next to the green, more likely, you missed on your approach shot and are now looking to get out of the mess you put yourself in.

First, what's the difference in a pitch and a chip?

Well a chip is usually within about 20 yards of the green, it has a low flight and runs up to the hole.

A pitch involves throwing the ball high in the air and trying to land it soft up near the hole. Usually you are going to be using this from 40-50 yards out or if you need to clear an obstacle.

They are two different shots and require you to do things accordingly.

The pitching will be worked on at the range. So I will cover that on the range posts coming up. The chip will be practiced at the chipping green, lets give that a go, since that is where you are probably throwing more shots away.

First the good news, you are really close to the green. Now the bad, you are more than likely in some sort of trouble since the greens are where they put all the traps and rough. Here are a few tips to make it a little more bearable.

1. Pick your landing spot. Walk up on to the green and get a feel for it, how far will it roll? Is it uphill downhill, cross hill? How far do you expect it to roll if you land it on the green vs the fringe? Go pick where you want to land it and then focus only on getting the ball to that spot.

2. Open up your stance about 30* and put the ball back by your back pinky toe, feels weird at first but try it, now do everything to keep your eyes focused on the ball. It will be almost impossible to blade it if you do this. So now you can feel out the swing and be confident that it will get up in the air and do what is supposed to do.

If you do nothing else, try those first 2!!! It will make a world of difference.

3. Practice, practice, practice. Take a range session where you spend 45 minutes chipping. Pick out targets at the back of the green, now go through steps 1 and 2 and hit it to stop at a pin or marker 5-10 ft off the back. Do this at least 20 times. Now repeat but this time pick a target that will allow the ball to roll to the center. Now, do it another time through trying to land it in the fringe and letting it trickle 10 ft past the front. Watch each shot, how does it roll? Now I would repeat the process from different angles so I could see the difference of landing on a cross hill or a down hill. What you are trying to learn is how far the ball will roll once it lands, once you know that you will know where to land it, then you just repeat steps 1 and 2 on the course. Simple as that.

4. Give yourself a goal, if you know how well you putt from the different distances, then you know where you need to land it to have a chance. So your goal will be to be within 3 feet and on the downhill side (so you have an uphill putt). Remember that a 8 footer that is straight uphill is usually easier than a 4 footer with a downhill left to right break. Give yourself the best chance to 1 putt!

Other: I practice most of my chipping in my back yard, I pour out 70 practice balls and I give myself a small target (a 1'x2' amazon box, etc) and try to land it in the box. I'm not worried about the roll here, just getting a feel for how far it flies and how accurate I can be on hitting my landing zone. I will do 70 from 9 yards, then from 12, then 18. Try it in different lengths of grass, or prop some up and push some down, learn to adjust the swing to the grass you are in, the goal is always the same, get it about 5 feet in the air and land it in the box. Best ever was 12 out of 70 from 9 yards (with about 50 with 2').... go try and beat me!

Thanks for the read! Now go hack it!


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

golf hacks - putting

Golf Hack #4 P-P-P-Putting
This is where keeping your stats come in handy. So go back to Golf Hack #1 and get started!
Nothing sums up the state of most peoples game like the scenes from Happy Gilmore when he hits the driver up on the green.... put then putts and putts and putts and putts... you get the idea. A 1" putt counts the same as a 330yrd drive, 1 stroke.

I played golf out at Star Ranch the week before and got 15 holes in before it got dark. Had a total of 31 putts which is just over my goal of 2 putts per hole (2.07). That means if I get it on the green in regulation (GRI) I will statistically make par almost every time. If you aren't working on your putting, you are throwing away at least 6 strokes over 18 holes.

You think I'm joking?

One of my playing buddies, who shall remain nameless :) had a 4 putt on 2 holes and several 3 putts, at least 3 maybe 4. That was over 15 holes, he gave away 7-8 strokes over 15 holes. Some of these were when he was within 15 ft from the hole! He would hit a great tee shot, then on the green in 2, then he would putt once and roll it 4 ft short or 4 feet past. Then he'd miss the 4 footer. Ring up a bogey. If he misses the green on the approach, ring up a double. I think he had par on every hole he 2 putted.

How did I fare? I only had 4 GIR's but had par on 3 for a 75% conversion rate, my buddy had about 9 GIR's but made par on less than half. I was having the hooks off the tee, had 6 penalty strokes, and we were tied through 14 holes, (then I hit it in the water, but the point remains, he should have smoked me).

So how do you work on your putting? Well here is what I do:

Step 1. Take 3 balls and start about 2-3 ft from the hole on the low side. Pretend that the green is the face of a clock and you are standing at 6 o clock. Now putt all 3 balls, if you make all 3 great, if not retry the ones you missed till you make them. Now work your way around the clock putting from all the different "times" if you don't want to do all 12 stations, at least do 8.

Step 2. Step back to 6 ft and repeat the same drill.

Step 3. Step back to 12 ft and repeat the same drill. But on these, if you miss them, simply finish them out, if you 3 putt, you start step 3 all the way over (its good to put some pressure on yourself so that you don't sweat it on the course). If you are already half way you can go back to the half mark.

Step 4. Work on lag putts of 20+ ft, you should be able to put these within 2-3 ft to count it as a make. I usually will do 5 stations of different lengths on the green, then 3 of different lengths on the green.

Step 5. Go back and make a few 3 footers with just the left hand and then just the right, maybe 6 putts per hand.

Step 6. Line up a putt from 3 ft, then close your eyes before swinging, try this about 10 times. You would be surprised how many you make. Next time you are standing over a short putt on the course you know you could make it 1 handed or with your eyes closed. So it is no sweat.

It sounds like a lot, but you can get it all done in about 45 minutes without rushing. I do this about every 3rd time to the range, with a condensed version before a round.

In the last 9 months I've got my putts per round from the 42 range down to about 37. Still got some work to do, would like to see it at 32 or less, put still a big improvement.

Ok hackers, hope that helps. Got lots of good posts coming up, going to discuss some chipping practice, how to find your yardages, and some game management in the future. Thanks for reading.