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Scariest Shot #3: Mastering The Dreaded Half Wedge

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Scariest Shot #3:  Mastering The Dreaded Half Wedge

Hitting into the green from 40-60 yards out is a real challenge for many weekend golfers. Most can only do it once in three times. The reason: they have to slow their swing down to match the shot’s length. That’s hard to do—especially after swinging full out with your longer irons. The half-wedge shot also triggers bad memories for many golfers, so they lack the confidence to hit the shot aggressively.

Below are the five keys to hitting this shot:

Stand a little tallerPlay the ball in the middleShift your weight to your front footPivot around your front legHold the club face open through finish

The key to making this shot is matching your body turn to the club’s slower speed and shorter arc—a tough task for many golfers.
Take your normal address position but stand a little taller. Play the ball in the middle of your stance. And shift your weight forward on your front knee. This address position gives your arms plenty of freedom when swinging.
Make a normal backswing but go back only to about the 9 o’clock position. Load a little more weight on your front foot when you get to the top. Then pivot around your front leg as you come down into impact. Holding the clubface open through the finish generates a nice high shot.
Here’s a good drill to practice this shot: Take your address position with the ball in the middle of your stance. Pick up your back foot and point the shoe’s toe on the ground. Your weight will be forward on your front foot at this point. Now pivot around your front leg and make a full finish while hitting a ball.
Hitting an accurate half-wedge is challenging. Use the shot keys and the drill above to practice the shot. When you ingrain the shot’s feel, take it to the course. Mastering the half-wedge will cut strokes off your scores and your golf handicap.

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Category: Approaching

Hitting A Wood From A Fairway Bunker

fairwaywood

What do you use to hit out of a fairway bunker? Many golfers use an iron or a hybrid, with more and more golfers these days choosing the hybrid over the iron. Not many golfers would think to use a fairway wood instead. But you can use it to escape a fairway bunker in the right situation.
Here are the keys to this shot:

1.  Check out your lie first
2.  Make a full backswing
3.  Keep your feet quiet
4.  Take a shallow divot
5.  Finish in balance

The goal here is catch the ball cleanly with a level-to-the-ground swing. Thanks to the wood’s design the wide sole helps prevent the clubface from digging into the sand.
But you can only use it when you have the right type of lie and the right type of bunker. So check out your lie and the bunker first. Make sure the ball is sitting up on the sand and the bunker has little or no lip to it.
Then take a normal fairway wood stance. But don’t ground the club. It’s a 2-stroke penalty in medal play and a loss of hole in match play. Otherwise, take a normal set and swing for hitting a fairway wood.
Don’t be afraid to take a full backswing. But keep your feet quiet through the downswing. And try to take a shallow divot. Ideally, you’d like to make a shot that barely creates a divot. Finish in balance on the left side just as you would normally do.
You can get more distance with a fairway wood than you can with and iron or hybrid from a fairway bunker. So it’s a good club to use on a long par 4 or par 5. Just make sure your have a perfect lie and a bunker with no lip to it.

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Category: Approaching

Scariest Shot #1: Approach Over Water

water

This week starts a new golf tips series. In this one we cover 7 of the scariest shots in golf—shots few us like to hit.

Scariest Shot #1: Approach Over Water

Some of us hate the first tee. Others hate the short pitch over a greenside bunker. Then there are those of us who hate hitting over water. This approach shot is scary for it is set-ting more than anything else. With no water, you’d probably have no problem sticking it on the green.

But the water can be intimidating. Plus, there’s the fear of losing a ball. This may seem trivial, but for many it’s the ultimate finality. And don’t forget the strokes you have to add after finding water.

Here are five keys to hitting this shot:

Take a couple of deep breathsLocate the bottom of your swingPick an intermediate targetRelax your arms at addressMake a complete backswing

The real challenge here is overcoming your fear. Take a couple of deep breaths before addressing the ball. Slow your breathing down. If you’re really nervous, grip down on the club an inch for better control. Don’t strangle the club.

Finding the bottom of your swing arc is critical here. So take a couple of rehearsal swings to see where your swing bottoms out. Use this point as your ball position at address.

To ease the pressure, pick out an intermediate target a few feet in front of you. Take a last look at this spot. Then try to hit over it. Don’t look at the water! You fear swells up every time you do.

Golfers tend to rush their backswings when hitting over water. Instead, relax your arms just before hitting. Then make a full backswing and full finish. Focus on making a smooth, accelerating swing through the ball.

Don’t let water sink you on this shot. Engross yourself in the mechanics of the shot. To nail it, find the bottom of your swing, pick out an intermediate target, relax your arms, and make full swing to a full follow through.

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Category: Approaching