Scottsdale, AZ (Sports Network) --
Everyday I see many common errors around the golf course. Two that stand out more than others are when an amateur golfer chooses to shoot for the pin, and performance from inside 100 yards. I put both of these errors into the same class simply because most amateurs should only shoot for the pin if at 100 yards or less. Only if you are a single digit handicap should you be firing at the pin from anywhere beyond 100 yards.
Having said this, you may be thinking ?how in the world do I ever have a chance at making birdies if I am not supposed to shoot for the pin?? You will be surprised at how many more birdies and routine pars you will make by simply aiming for the fat part of the green. I recently had a conversation with several local Mini-Tour players and we discussed course management.
One particular player, who always plays the ball from left to right, stated that he never aims for a pin that isn?t on the middle to left side of the green, no matter where he is outside of 100 yards. So here is a guy who is only a step or two below the PGA Tour saying that he aims at the fat part of the green more often than at the pins!
Once you are inside of 100 yards, then everyone gets a green light, full speed ahead, take dead aim! But if you are taking dead aim, you had better make sure your alignment and distance control is right on. Here is how to do that.
Do you miss your intermediate wedge shots high and short and to the right? If so, it's the most common error. To get your distance correct, and not lose the shot right, keep your body rotating through impact. Too often, golfers take the club back way too far and then stop their body rotation through impact to slow the club down to the correct speed. This is backwards to what is supposed to happen. The backswing should be shortened by using less lower body and then accelerating through impact by keeping the hips and shoulders rotating open through impact. Ultimately, the finish should be similar to your normal full swing with the hips open, belly facing the target, and weight balanced on your forward foot. A good test is to hold this position until the ball lands softly on the green.
Maintaining your rotation through the ball will keep your impact consistent and create more speed on your short wedge shots. It is now very important to feel comfortable stopping your backswing in different positions to control your distance. The next time you have a few minutes to kill on the range, find a place where you can pace off a few different yardages from less than 100 yards. Now imagine your left arm is the little hand of a clock in your backswing. Practice taking the left arm back to different times and maintain your body rotation through the ball so that you accelerate through to the finish. Keep track of how far the ball goes when you swing the left arm to 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 o?clock. Write these distances down and keep them in your golf bag for reference on the course.
Following these tips will help you with those tough in between yardages. It is crucial that you do not throw away strokes inside 100 yards. Remember to be aggressive and keep rotating through to accelerate the club. Make your errors being aggressive, not defensive, you will find far greater rewards by playing aggressively!
PGA professional, Doug Hammer, is the Director of Instruction for Talking Stick Golf Club in Scottsdale, AZ. Doug has been with Troon Golf since 1998, teaching full time since 2001. Doug has studied under some of the game's greatest teachers in Tim Mahoney, Hank Haney, and Mike and Sandy LaBauve. Since 2001, Doug has taught in 10 U.S. states and a short stint in Japan. With this experience, he brings a very patient and consistent approach to the lesson tee, and feels that he can help all levels of players reach their goals.