Golf Guidance
What to do on (and off) the green to improve your game
By Erin Bell

Does the club you use really matter? How can you make sure you find the perfect clubs?

I wish there was a perfect club. Because there are so many on the market, you have to find a club that matches your ability. You want to get fitted, that’s an absolute. Ask a professional to make sure you have the correct length and lie angle, and do your own research too. If you’re a beginner, you want a more forgiving club – something more perimeter-weighted, with a light shaft. –  John DiMarco, PGA head golf professional, Laurel Creek Country Club

One of the best things a golfer can do for their game is to invest in a professional fitting to ensure your clubs are setting you up for success. Many players struggle with consistency for years, only to learn that something as simple as improper lie or club length was the culprit. Using the latest launch-monitor technology allows us to perfectly match the clubs to the golfer.  –  Kevin Duffy, PGA head golf professional, The Riverton Country Club

When getting started, don’t get caught up on having the correct equipment. Use what’s available, and take it from there. To find the perfect clubs, find your local PGA pro or equipment specialist and set up an appointment. They will have the knowledge and technology to find you the perfect clubs.
——– –  David Cartwright, head golf professional, Trump National Golf Club Philadelphia

It is important for women to not play with their husband’s old clubs, because they tend to be too heavy and the shaft requires a higher club head speed. A lot of people think it is based just on height, but a good club fitter will take your wrist-to-floor measurement as well as look at your ball flight. The lie angle can be adjusted to help create a ball flight of your choice.  –  Cheri Cottelli, Class A LPGA teaching and club professional, Hamilton Trails Golf Club

Club specifications must match both your body makeup and your swing characteristics. An incorrect shaft flex, club lie angle and/or grip size can change the swing path and face angle and cause a loss of accuracy and distance.  –  Dick Smith, PGA golf professional,Valleybrook Golf Club

With today’s technology, there are clubs designed specifically for golfers of different skill levels. I would recommend that you visit your local golf shop and have a professional do a swing analysis before purchasing a new set of clubs.  –  Bill McCoy, PGA director of golf, Ramblewood Country Club

Getting fit for a set of clubs does help your golf game, but it doesn’t help as much as the average golfer may think. The question becomes: Do you want to get fitted for your faults in the golf swing, or do you want to get fitted for how you should swing the golf club? This is why getting a few golf lessons and then working with the golf instructor to help best fit you is a far better solution then just going and spending a lot of money on clubs that are fit to your faults.  –  Steve Sieracki, director of instruction, Indian Spring Golf Course

What’s the best way to step up your putting game?

Take a lesson to make sure you are doing it correctly. Make sure you have a few drills you can do to help keep your putting in good form throughout the season.  –  Hugh Matthis, head golf professional, Tavistock Country Club

You must apply the basic principles that all great putters follow. Body posture and position to the ball, grip and arm position, and then putting stroke components.  –  Dick Smith

Practice. Most golfers spend 80 to 90 percent of their practice time on the range making full swings; however, almost 50 percent of your actual score is determined by how well you putt. A great drill is the “3-5-7” putting drill. Find a straight putt and mark three distances; 3 feet, 5 feet and 7 feet. The goal is simple, hole nine putts in a row, three from each distance, starting at the 3-foot mark. The catch is that if you miss any of the putts, you have to restart. Once you are able to master this drill, you will become automatic inside 7 feet.  –  Kevin Duffy

Practice, practice, practice. Make your putting practice as much like playing on the golf course as possible. Practice with one ball, and focus on getting the ball within 3 to 6 feet of the hole. Practice on different types of greens to adjust to the different speeds.  –  Cheri Cottelli

You want to make sure when you practice you’re hitting putts from different lengths and that you’re doing uphill, downhill, left to right and right to left – all different angles.  –  John DiMarco

When setting your ball down on the green, be sure to use the logo or line on the side of your golf ball to aim at the line you want your ball to roll on. Once you do this simple step, all you need to focus on is speed. You should take three to four practice strokes with your eyes on the hole in an effort to feel the stroke needed to sink your putt. Now you just need to step up to your ball, be confident in your aim and speed, and putts will begin to drop.  –  Bill McCoy

What’s the key to a great drive?

Most would like to hit 300 yards, but you’re better off just getting the ball on the fairway. Alignment is key. Don’t swing out of your shoes and hit it as hard as you can – you want to swing with tempo and let the club do the work.  –  John DiMarco

Make sure when you finish your swing all of your lower-body weight is on the front foot. You should be able to pick up your trail foot when you are finished with your swing.  –  Steve Sieracki

The first step to hitting a great drive is to aim at the smallest possible target. For example, you should be aiming at a yardage marker in the center of the fairway, rather than the fairway itself. If you are just trying to hit the ball in the fairway and you miss your target, you will most likely be in the rough or even the woods.  –  Bill McCoy

It may sound trivial and obvious, but hit the center of the clubface. A phenomenon known as gear effect is exaggerated with a driver. Gear effect is the curvature created on the golf ball by hitting it off center on the face of the driver.  –  David Cartwright

When it comes to controlling ball flight, clubface is king, and the golf ball is always going to launch in the direction that the face is pointing. Spending time learning to control the delivery of the clubface will go a long way in hitting longer and straighter drives.  –  Kevin Duffy

The two factors that determine distance and direction are swing path and clubface angle. These can be best described through quality instruction from a PGA golf professional. Once the correct swing path and clubface angle have been mastered, driving the ball becomes much more consistent, and distance and accuracy will follow.  –  Dick Smith

What training or specific exercises should you be doing off the course to improve your game?

With the likes of Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, fitness has become one of the most important aspects of golf. In general, I would focus on strengthening the core and back. Most importantly, flexibility is a key component to the success of the golf swing, so work on flexibility and stretching daily.
——–  –  David Cartwright

Anything that will help your back. I’ll stretch on the exercise ball – you can do anything on those. Lean against the golf cart to stretch your shoulders, hips and back.  –  John DiMarco

I think yoga, Pilates and stretching are great for your golf swing. Knowing your flexibility strengths and weaknesses is key for improving your swing.  –  Cheri Cottelli

Having a physical assessment by a professional is a must when looking to improve. A professional may be able to pinpoint areas that will help your golf swing, like strengthening your core, so you can create more power and/or separation in the downswing.   Hugh Matthis

Trunk twists while holding a medicine ball are a great way to loosen up before a round of golf.
——–  –  Bill McCoy

Being in great physical shape is good, but that does not mean you will be able to make the basic movement patterns of a golf swing. Look at Charles Barkley – one of the greatest rebounders in basketball history, a fantastic athlete – but the guy cannot play the game of golf, and he cannot perform the basic movements of the swing. On the range I will teach players who can barely touch their hands past their knees and are horrible athletes, but they can perform the basic movements of the swing.
——–  –  Steve Sieracki

June 2016
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