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When to be aggressive and when to play it safe?

As the golf course becomes firmer and faster in the Fall, there may be times during your round when you are faced with that in between shot and you have to decide whether to go for it, or throttle back and play the smart shot. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself before hitting that shot:

  1. How is the Lie? If it's flat or slightly uphill, be aggressive. If it's downhill or side hill, play it safe.
  2. What trouble can I get in if I go for it? If there's any kind of hazard directly in play, or if you have to force carry over water, play it safe. If the hole is fairly wide open or if the bunker is the worst place the ball could end up, go for it.
  3. Where is the pin? If the pin is located near the center of the green, Take Dead Aim! If it's tucked away behind a bunker or close to an edge, play towards the middle in case you push or pull the shot, you may still hit the green.
  4. Can I really hit this club that far? If you are left with 250 yards to the green on a par 5 on your second shot and you typically hit your 3wd 180, don't hit it unless you like a 60-70yd shot. Layup to your strengths and yardages that you are most comfortable with.

Green reading 101
I’m often asked the question, “How do you read these greens?” and if I had to sum it up, I would say this – Look at the bigger picture!  While nothing can take the place of experience and practice, there are certain features of the course that have a tremendous effect on how the ball will roll.  For instance, I’m sure you’ve heard the rumor that the greens on the front nine tend to break towards Highway 41.  While I believe this to be true a lot of the time, I’ve had certain putts that seem to break the opposite way.  These are the putts that I chalk up to experience and trying to remember how the putt rolled in previous rounds.  Not only do you have to look at the slope of the green, but you must also look at the surrounding landscape and determine the highest point because the ball will have a tendency to break away from that point.  Grain is another factor that affects break and speed.  Next time you’re on the course, take a close look at the cup.  By late morning or mid-day, the cup will show signs of wear on either side.  If the cup is brown on one side, the grain is growing in that direction.  Also look at the color of the green.  Darker/Dull green = into the grain while Brighter/Shiny green = downgrain.  Like I said, nothing can replace experience but if you take a look at the surroundings, this will help you make more putts.  Good luck and good golf!

5 Easy Steps to Speed Up Play 
1. Be ready when it's your turn
2. Take more than 1 club with you if you are separated from the golf car.  Take the club you think you may need and also 1 more and 1 less club just in case
3.  Look at your putt while others are in the process of putting, don't wait until it's your turn before reading the green
4.  Play the tee markers that are best suited for your ability. 
5.  Your place on the golf course is directly behind the group in front, not directly in front of the group behind.

Having trouble with "Blocking" the driver? Try this drill:
Get your hands on a long broom handle or something about 6-8 feet long and sturdy. Place the handle behind your head (about shoulder level) and maintain your hold on the handle. If you have trouble getting your arms back that far you can fold your arms in front of your chest and grip the handle between your hands and chest. Concentrate on keeping the angle of the handle the same in the backswing and the downswing. Blocking the driver results from trying to swing the club too far from the inside and dipping your right shoulder. If you practice this feeling of a consistent swing plane you will see your drives improve.

Find Forgiveness
You want the most forgiving clubs that you can find. Accept that hybrids are used by all now and that long irons are becoming a thing of the past (except for the purists) and purchase the clubs that you are going to use the most around your strengths and the most forgiving clubs around your weaknesses. If you would like to discuss your set make up, please see a professional in the Golf Shop.

To gain more distance, make sure to rotate your body's core, or midsection, through the shot so your weight finishes on your left side. You want your thighs to finish close together (you should be able to hold a sheet of paper between them) and your lower legs to form a small, inverted V from the knees down. If the V is larger or there's a gap between your knees, your weight is not on your left side. Most likely, you're hanging back on your right foot which causes the club to bottom out early and hit the ball fat or thin. Reduce the size of the V and you'll improve your balance and gain distance.

Ruling of the month:
Your ball comes to rest on the fringe and you intend to putt the ball from there. There is a large ball mark 1 ft in front of your ball and the ball mark is NOT on the putting green. According to the rules of golf, you are:

a. entitled to relief since you did not make the ball mark and it's in your line
b. allowed to fix the ball mark without penalty
c. prohibited from fixing the ball mark since it is not on the putting green
d. none of the above

The correct answer is C. Since your ball and the ball mark are not on the putting green, you are prohibited from fixing the ball mark. If you did, you would incur a 2 stroke penalty in stroke play and loss of hole in match play. See Rule 13-2 Improving Lie, Area of Intended Stance or Swing.

Six Steps to a Better Golf Game
Step 1: Picture swinging an ax to cut down a tree. Your arms extend at the point of impact with the tree. That same motion applies to the golf swing.

Step 2: Set up with an impact bag in the middle of your stance. Address the bag as if it were the golf ball. Your left arm (for right-handed golfers) should be straight and should feel like an extension of the club.

Step 3: Take a normal three-quarter backswing. The left wrist should remain flat, neither cupped nor bowed.

Step 4: Make a slow-motion downswing and tap the bag, holding the impact position for the count of five. At this point, both arms should be extended and straight. The hands should be ahead of the club head and the hips rotated toward the target.

Step 5: Repeat this motion with the bag until you feel comfortable with it, then try to repeat the same motion without the bag.

Step 6: Practice alternating between hitting golf balls with this new motion and hitting the bag to reinforce the proper impact position.


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