Column courtesy of Golf Digest
My objective off the tee is accuracy over distance. That's why I've usually stressed swinging within yourself, though it's sometimes hard for me to do. When I'm in control, I feel as if I'm going at about 80 percent of my all-out max.
This year, I've added a little gripped-down cutter with the driver that has allowed me to take better advantage of those short but tight dogleg-rights. I hit this shot 20 or 30 yards farther than my 3-wood while controlling the flight and trajectory to leave a lob wedge into these short holes. By gripping down, I can add control and still make an aggressive move instead of trying to ease up on a standard driver swing, which can cause me to overcut the ball.
To play the driver cut shot, I grip down half an inch to an inch, depending on how far I want to carry the ball. I picture the fairway as a four-lane highway: I aim for the far-left lane and try to fade it to the next lane over. Everything else in my setup and execution is like any other fade. I play the ball just off my left instep in a slightly open stance, then swing along my stance line and hold off the release for a fraction of a second to produce about a five-yard fade.
Make those bleeders:
On putts that slide right, let the putter release
Bad habits can sneak back into your game like a recurring nightmare. That happens to me sometimes when I start missing left-to-right putts -- I call them bleeders -- on the low side. Nine times out of 10 it's because I'm not releasing the putter through impact, not letting the putterhead track to the inside after impact. I'm kind of push-putting instead of swinging on an arc.
In other words, my right hand freezes at impact, restricting the putterhead from moving along its natural inside-to-square-to-inside arc. It's like cutting your follow-through short on a full swing. On a putt, you sacrifice accuracy and distance control.
Making a few right-hand-only practice strokes can remind me to release the putter. Give that a try if you have trouble keeping those bleeders on line.
Do you like playing with amateurs?
- Maurice Frierson, Sacramento, Calif.
Most of the time I do. We're usually out there telling jokes and stories, talking sports and giving each other the needle. The only time I don't enjoy them is when somebody gets too serious. The idea is to have some fun.
What is the best tip you would give to a beginner?
- Anne Patterson, Boulder, Colo.
Find clubs that fit you. It will save you a ton of aggravation from the start. Make sure they aren't too short, long or heavy. Otherwise, you'll adapt your swing to the equipment in a way that might not be technically sound. It's easy to get fit, and it really does matter.
What is your favorite NFL team?
- Christos Papadakos, Grand Rapids, Mich.
I've always been a Raiders fan. They were in Los Angeles when I was growing up in Southern California, and that's always been my team. I still pull for them, but it hasn't been easy the last few years.