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Course Management – Five tips for long hitters

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For many golfers hitting the ball a long way is not an issue for them. With developments in swing techniques and equipment many of us mere mortals are able to hit the golf ball considerable distances. However, for some this just means a different set of problems. In this article we will give you our top five recommendations of how to keep the ball in play and use your lGolf club and ball in grassength off the tee as an advantage.

First things first. If you are a long hitter then you will have more opportunity to miss the fairway. A shot that is a slight push for a short hitter may not cause to many problems. But for you this could be thirty yards off-line and finish in the rough or out of bounds. Your number one priority must be to keep the ball in play. Our first tip is to use a club off the tee that you are confident that you will hit the fairway. Don’t automatically reach for the driver. Instead look at the hole on your course planner and asses whether a utility wood or even an iron may keep you on the short grass. As an experiment next time you are playing a practice round play two ball of the tee. Your usually driver and a lesser club and mark your card for both balls and compare your scores. In our experience you will usually score a lower score with your more carefully planned shots.

Golf tip number two is to think more about the shape of your shots. We would like you to have a regular stock shot shape that you can rely on under pressure. On the practice tee try different shots and hone in on a shot that you know you can play consistently well no matter what. For us a slight fade is the shot of choice because the ball has more back spin, is easier to control and will land on the fairway or green with a more predictable bounce.

Longer drives will mean you will be hitting more short irons and wedges into the green. Accuracy with these clubs is essential for you to score well.  It may be worth you investing in a third wedge to compliment your club armoury. This will give you more options from one hundred and fifty yards and in. On the practice tee ensure that you focus on hitting these shorter irons to a target. A slight improvement here will have a positive impact on your score immediately.

If you are hitting your short irons well you should also find that you will hit more greens in regulation. This has an effect on the distance of your first putts. We have found that the more greens in regulation you hit. The longer your first putts usually will be. Before you tee off spend some time on the practice putting area stroking putts from medium and longer distances. Try to focus on your lag putts ensuring a tap in for a regulation par.

Finally you will hit the driver off the tee and you will find yourself in the rough. This is inevitable for the longer hitter. When you are on the practice ground spend some time hitting shots out of the rough. Try and get a feel for what reaction the ball has out of the rough. This will help you predict what the ball will do when faced with these shots out on the course and help you decide on what type of shot to play. Just because you are in the rough does not mean the scoring potential for the hole is no longer available.

Try these tips and see how they improve you score and enjoyment out on the course.

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How to play from a fairway bunker

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Some of managing your golf game is the ability to negotiate around the golf course and avoid any hazards. However, from time to time you will be lured into a fairway bunker. In this post we will discuss the technique needed to play from a fairway bunker and avoid dropping a shot.White Golf Ball in a Sand Trap

Prevention is definitely better than cure when it comes to bunkers. So if you can avoid a fairway bunker then our advice is do so. OK, so how can you avoid a fairway bunker? Firstly you will need to know where the fairway bunkers are. On some holes it will be pretty obvious to see them from the tee box, but other holes with blind tee shots it may not be as easy. If it is a new course you are playing our advice is to buy a course planner from the pro shop and study the scorecard to establish where the bunkers are on each hole. Next you need to know your yardages (how far you hit each club) and if a fairway bunker is in play for you. If it is, then perhaps playing a lesser club and laying up short may be a smarter move for you. Also do not aim for a bunker and try to shape your shot away from the hazard unless you can consistently pull this shot off under pressure. You never want to be punished for hitting a straight shot. We recommend for the average golfer to aim away from any fairway bunkers just in case you hit that perfect straight shot.

If you have taken the advice above and are unfortunate enough to find yourself in a fairway bunker then here’s our three top tips to help you escape first time without dropping a shot.

Golfshot from fairwaybunkerWhere do you need the put the ball so that you are in a good position to make par? Is the question we want you to ask yourself. There maybe a good chance that you can reach the green from the bunker or you may need to layup and be on the green for three and try to single putt for par. Whatever the situation you are in, where do you need to be to have a chance of making par. Answering this question will help you decide on what club to play and whether you can successfully elevate the ball over the lip of the bunker and out of the sand with enough distance to reach the green. Now you know the type of shot you are trying to play and where you want to play the ball let’s now look at the technique.

Usually with a bunker shot you are advised to shuffle your feet in the sand to get a stable base. We do recommend that you try to achieve a stable base. However, sinking your feet into the sand lowers you swing arc which has the potential issue of you hitting behind the ball and a fat shot. So to counter this you will need to choke (grip) down on the club around the same distance that you have lowered into the sand achieving a balanced comfortable position.

You are now looking to achieve clean contact. For fairway bunkers you want to hit down on the ball with ball then sand contact. This will ensure that you get some compression on the ball and spin, to give the ball a true flight. To achieve this play the ball a little further back in your stance and swing through the ball. Many golfers think that all bunker shots are the same. A green side bunker is a very different type of golf shot. From a green side bunker you are trying to ‘splash’ the ball out of the sand. Green side bunkers will be covered in more detail in a separate post.

Finally swing within yourself. Why not try taking one more club than you would usually need for the distance and take an eighty percent swing. This ensures that you do not swing to hard and dip into the ball creating a fat or heavy shot. Your swing thought should be to stand tall and swing easy.  So now you know the theory of escaping from a fairway bunker, lets go to the practice area and try this out ….

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The Do’s And Don’ts Of Course Management

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We all agree that course management is a vital part of any golfers game. If you want to achieve your very best score out on the course you will definitely need to think your way through each hole and make balanced decisions throughout your round.

Here we have listed our top 5 do’s and don’ts to help you manage the course and not let the course manage you ….

Young man playing golf
have a plan for your round? What score are you trying to achieve? And are there any holes that you will strategically drop a shot and play safe. If you are an eleven handicapper where should those eleven shots be used? Accept there is such a thing as a good bogey

Do ensure you have the correct yardages. If you do not have a Range Finder then get a yardage book from the pro shop. Try to find out the yardage to the front, middle and back of the green and the yardage to any hazards.

Do know when to take a risk and when to play safe. Try to analyse the risk and reward of each shot and if there is less than a 60% chance of you pulling the shot off then choose another option.

Do play your own game. Sometimes we can get distracted by our playing partners or fellow competitors. Focusing on your own game will help you achieve your best scores.

Do try to shape your shots. Sometimes it makes sense to take a side of the green or fairway out of play to avoid hazards or put you in the best possible place to sink a putt.

Don’t get disheartened if you do not start your round off as planned. On occasion you will get a big score on an opening hole, just remember you have plenty of golf yet to play and a couple of birdies can make up the difference.

Don’t aim a shot so that if it goes straight it will end up in trouble, likewise if you think that a hazard could be in reach then take a lesser club. There is nothing more frustrating than a perfect shot landing in a bunker!

Don’t hit a shot in a competitive round that you haven’t practiced. When you are on the practice tee try to anticipate any abnormal shots that you may have to play out on the course if you get out of position.

Don’t follow a bad shot with a bad decision. If a wayward shot is in the rough, take your medicine and get the ball back into play. A dropped shot here can be made up later in the round

Don’t forget why your are out there. It is just a game, have fun and enjoy the fresh air

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The Golf Talk team