Tips from the Pros
PGA/ LPGA teaching professional Sue Kaffenburg, from Bayberry Hills Golf Course, demonstrates how to develop consistent contact with every club.
You’ve seen magazine tips that help improve one type of shot, such as chipping, pitching and putting. But in the three decades I’ve been teaching, the number one thing people ask for is consistency. So here’s a tip that will impact all your shots.
All tour players consistently hit the ground at the bottom of their arc, with the handle of the club ahead of the ball, and just after impact. The fundamental geometry of solid hits is to strike the ball first, then contact the turf, as in photo B. In order to learn this, draw a one-foot chalk line to represent a ball positioned in the middle of your stance. Make 10 swings without a ball using a sand wedge, observing where the club hits the ground. Most likely, your divot marks will be scattered; maybe there won’t be any at all. Consistency demands that you change this pattern.
To correct this, set up with 60 percent of your weight on your left side and plan on no weight shift back. With your head in place, move your left shoulder down, rather than around, to make your backswing. You want to feel your right leg straighten, and your weight increase to about 75 percent on your left side. (See photo C).
As you come down, keep the angle in your right wrist locked to feel like you are trapping the ball against the ground, and let it push straight down and through to the target. Begin with one-quarter shots with your sand wedge from 20 yards, slowly increasing the distance.
Once the divots start showing a consistent pattern on the target side of the line, switch to hitting a 7-iron and begin to slide your hips laterally left on the downswing so that you end up with all your weight on the left side at the finish. Keeping that right wrist extra firm even after impact generates greater compression for increased distance and a straighter ball flight.