Better Chipping for all Amateur Golfers

Hitting better chip shots requires a few fundamentals, most of which get overlooked by beginner and better players alike. Let’s look at a few and get your chipping back on track.

Choke Down On The Grip
This seems like an obvious mechanic, but choking down on the grip actually does a lot more than simply get your body closer to the ball to make a delicate stroke. Choking down also counterbalances the club, meaning added weight above the hands work to make it easier to make less than full shots without flipping the hands over too soon. As for your body, remember as you choke down: Don’t hunch your upper body. Instead, choke down with your hands, and get your body lower by adding more flex in the knees, as opposed to hunching over.

 

Stay Open & Narrow
Many of my students assume the best way to chip is to align their body either at or parallel to the target. I advise against this, since it’s important for the body to rotate (unlike a putt where it doesn’t rotate) just as with a full shot. Also, when it comes to chipping, because the hands have a delayed or lesser release than they do with a full swing, it’s even more important that the body be poised to turn. Think of it this way: If you’re too square, the body will resist rotating, and the hands will take over and get too active. That is, they’ll start to flip! Instead, make a narrow and open stance (don’t just flare out one foot) and let your body turn through the shot.

Weight On Your Forward Side, And Ball Back In Your Stance
Why? Simple. Keeping your weight predominantly on your forward side with the ball back in your stance (toward the target) helps to ensure a steeper downward blow into the ball. This prevents fat and thin shots and helps you make consistent contact with the ball. Also, by keeping your weight leaning toward the target, this helps maintain a consistent impact position, which will help you better control your shots and gauge different distances. As for the ball position, I like to play my shots just off the inside of my back toe. But you may prefer it slightly farther back or slightly farther forward. It’s okay to be flexible, but try to keep it consistent. And stay away from placing the ball too far forward in your stance. If you move it forward, you’d better be ready to hit a flop or lob shot–which is a different lesson for a different day.


Keep Your Head UP!
Let’s get this straight: Keeping your head down is never a good idea, especially with your chips. If you stuff your head into your chest, your upper body loses its ability to rotate and once again, the hands will try to take over. When that happens, the hands get flippy, and even if you manage to make decent contact, you’ll have a heckuva time trying to control your distance and direction. Instead, keep your head upright and your neck in line with your spine. This will free your upper body to rotate. And by the way, keeping your head up doesn’t mean taking your eyes off the ball.

Choose The Right Club
When chipping, I like to mix up my club options, depending on the amount of height and roll I want. This allows me to maintain the same chipping stance and ball position, and lets the club do the work for changing the way the ball flies and rolls. But look closely at my options. I prefer to use an 8-iron, pitching wedge and a sand wedge. The 8-iron is my go-to for low-rolling chips. The pitching wedge does the same, except that I use it in deeper grass. But notice I omitted the lob wedge? Reason being, a lob wedge is for lob shots, not chip shots. A 56-degree sand wedge gives me the optimal height/spin combination, and because of the bounce, making solid contact is a lot easier than with a low-bounce lob wedge.

Make A Single-Lever Swing
Steve Stricker does it best. Next time he’s on TV, check out his single-lever chipping style. What that means is he hinges his wrist at the setup, then maintains that hinge all the way through the chip. The body rotates the clubhead through, and because of this, Stricker is able to consistently reproduce a stacked impact position. What’s that mean? It means Stricker, like many good players, can better gauge different distances by adjusting his swing length. So, longer chips require a longer swing; shorter chips need a shorter swing. He doesn’t have to make big changes to his ball position, how he releases the hands, etc. Instead, by using a single-lever method and rotating the body through the shot, Steve Stricker is able to get up and down a whopping 75 percent of the time. Good enough for fourth in Scrambling on the PGA Tour in 2010 (at the time of this issue). Copy this method and you’ll become a better chipper in no time.

Best Golf Drivers for 2018: The Top 7

Nothing beats bombing one off the tee and straight down the middle, except blasting it down the middle twenty yards past everyone else.  

You get to innocently say things like “is that my ball way up there,” or “gee, my long irons are getting a lot of rest today.”

Today’s drivers will get you further and straighter down the fairway than ever before.  Every one of them boasts new levels of distance, forgiveness, and adjustability.

Before you can decide on what to buy, however, you need to focus on what you want from your new driver, forgiveness, distance, low spin, adjustability, or all of the above?

Let’s see if we can help with this short primer and rundown on the best new golf driver 2018 has to offer.

Can’t wait?  Here’s the Best Drivers of 2018:

  • 1

    TaylorMade M3 Driver / M3 440CC Driver

  • 2

    Callaway Rogue Driver / Rogue Sub Zero Driver

  • 3

    Cobra King F8 Driver / F8+ Driver

  • 4

    Ping G400 Driver / G400 LS Driver

  • 5

    Mizuno ST180 Driver / GT180 Driver

  • 6

    Titleist 917 D2 Driver / D3 Driver

  • 7

    Cleveland Launcher HB Driver

Shinnecock Hills narrows Fairways for U.S. Open

The mission statement of the U.S. Open identifies the tournament as “the toughest test in golf.” Evidently, the signature phrase is aimed at the people who tend the fairways and greens as well as everyone who plays on them.

At Shinnecock Hills, the staff was presented with the equivalent of the bar exam, having been asked by the U.S. Golf Association last year to remove wide swaths of fairway grass on 14 holes and roll in thousands of yards of fescue rough. In the USGA’s estimation, the venerable club in Southampton passed with flying colors.

“They did it almost overnight,” said Mike Davis, CEO of the USGA. “As someone at the club said, it was like a military exercise. When all is said and done, it looks tremendous. It fits your eye because these are the appropriate grasses.”

The purpose of the massive project, which was completed in a week late in September, was to make the fairways narrower for the Open June 14-17. Those target areas still will be wider than they were for the previous three Opens in the modern era — in 1986, 1995 and 2004 — but slimmer than they had been after the club’s recent restoration project.

“Some of the fairways had gone to 60 yards wide. It was great fun to play,” Davis said, adding that the average width had been 26 yards in 2004. “What we’ve done is come back and say, ‘You know what? You’re going to have to tighten it up some because accuracy is part of the test.’ ”

It became a priority last summer for USGA officials, who saw that the spacious proportions of Erin Hills, a first-time Open course in Wisconsin, were no match for today’s pros. So, the association got Shinnecock to agree on a plan that seemed as ambitious as moving heaven and earth. Literally, there was a lot of the latter.

Shinnecock Hills superintendent Jon Jennings said three contractors were hired, bringing nearly 100 workers at a time to the property. “Delea Sod Farms used a big roll harvester to cut the sod, roll it up and position it off to the side,” he said of the Long Island firm. “We actually saved a great deal of the fairway sod. It’s presently in New Jersey, being taken care of, so if we want to put it back in fairways, in places where it was narrowed, we have the option to do that.”

LaBar Golf Renovations, a New Jersey-based turf specialty company, put the new sod in place. Leibold Irrigation, which has offices throughout the country, worked side-by-side with the other groups.

Some of the fescue that serves as the new rough was taken from the par-3 course on the property. Other large patches were transplanted from parts of the main course that are scheduled to be covered by corporate or service tents during the Open.

A reasonable person might ask why they had to go through all of the trouble. If they wanted more rough, why not just let the fairway grass grow higher along the sides? Darin Bevard, director of championship agronomy for the USGA, said that greenskeepers have done just that at Shoal Creek in Alabama, site of this year’s U.S. Women’s Open. But there, he said, the fairways and rough are similar. “You just let the Bermuda grass grow taller and it works out great,” he said.

Trying to do that with the combination of poa annua, bent grass and rye grass that compose Shinnecock’s fairways would create a condition that would be beyond brutal. “If you grow that to two inches, you almost can’t get a club through it,” Bevard said. “It’s so thick and matted because it grows almost as much sideways as it does up.”

Fescue, in contrast, is wispier. Jennings said, “It presents more of a progressive penalty, meaning the deeper into the rough you go, the harder it is to get out.”

Making golfers try to avoid the rough is part of the new, and old, tactical philosophy at Shinnecock. Davis said that the membership has made a major effort in recent years to restore the feel of the course that architect William Flynn built in the late 1920s, after Suffolk County extended Sunrise Highway through the layout that had hosted the 1896 U.S. Open.

Jennings said, “William Flynn’s architectural design is based on angles: hitting angles off the tee into the fairway and then off the fairway into the green. The work by Mike and the USGA, where we brought the fairways in, really accentuated the angles and makes them more robust. It brings features back into play that might have been lost in the modern game, based on how long people are hitting the golf ball these days.

“People are going to come out here and they will see a golf course that they’ve never seen before,” the superintendent said. “It is going to show the best it has ever shown for the championships.”

And it will be the pros’ turn to face a test.

Golf Gifts for Father’s Day

Shopping for Father’s Day can be an arduous task. Another tie? More socks? The same old cologne?

But if your dad loves to chase the little white ball, you are in luck. Golfers have a long list of items to help their games, and Father’s Day is the perfect time to hook him up with some new gear or something even better – a golf getaway to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

What father wouldn’t love a little time away to play golf all day on the Grand Strand, which is home to more than 80 championship courses. It’s less expensive than you think, especially when you book through Myrtle Beach Golf for the lowest rates in town. But if that’s too much to swing, check out these 10 golf-related gift ideas for Father’s Day:

Books: The legendary Arnold Palmer’s latest release “A Life Well Played” is sure to hit home with golf fans. Ben Hogan’s classic “Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf” never goes out of style.

Driver: This can be tricky to find the right match for his swing, but knowing his favorite brand is a good start. The new Callaway Epic and Rogue, Cobra King, Ping G400 and TaylorMade M4 are excellent top-line drivers.

Glove: Give dad some extra grip to rip it on the links. Under Armour’s Cool Switch line of leather golf gloves are made of an easy-breathing material that holds up in the heat.

Golf Balls: No golfer can ever have too many golf balls, but they can have better ones. The new Titleist Pro V1 models are the highest rated on the market, but any brand will help as practice balls and backups.

Head Covers: The golf industry has gotten quite creative with head covers these days, including college mascots, cartoon characters, super heroes and more. ReadyGolf.com has a wide selection so you can find the right fit for your father.

Putter: How many times have you heard dad complain about his putting. Maybe it has something to do with that old putter he still drags around. The new line of Scotty Cameron Selects are receiving rave reviews.

Range Finder: Give your dad the latest model of range finder, Nikon’s Coolshot Laser, which allows golfers to scope out their next shot over long distances and bad weather.

Shirt: Dads can always use another golf shirt, especially some of the newer models that are made of lighter weight materials and provide more room for a full swing. Holderness & Bourne Apparel and Under Armour are popular among the dad set these days.

Watch: These handy GPS gadgets do much more than tell time, and they seem to get more high-tech every year. Garmin’s Approach S60 reads the course and gives you info from any spot.

World Amateur Handicap Championship: Sign dad up for the largest amateur golf tournament on the planet in Myrtle Beach on Aug. 27-31. The entry fee includes at least four rounds of golf on Myrtle Beach’s top courses, free food and drink nightly at the World’s Largest 19th Hole, and the thrill of good-natured competition with more than 3,000 golfers from around the world.

Myrtle Beach Golf also offers the best deals on golf rounds on the Grand Strand. Purchase a single round of golf at your dad’s favorite course, or pick out a package that will allow him to play several days on some of Myrtle Beach’s top layouts. Make his Father’s Day extra special with a little slice of Myrtle Beach.

2018 Veterans Tourney

The 19th annual Veterans Golf Classic, which has attracted 360 players from 28 states, is poised to tee-off on nine outstanding Myrtle Beach golf courses.​ A 54-hole, two-man team event, the Veterans Golf Classic is open to all current and former members of the military and their friends.

The event features a different format of play each day – better ball, modified alternate shot and scramble – and each team must include at least one current or former member of the armed forces. Players are placed into one of four flights – Eisenhower, MacArthur, Nimitz and Franks – based on their handicap.

The host courses for this year’s event are: Shaftesbury Glen, Tradition Club, Maples Course at Sea Trail, Burning Ridge, Aberdeen, River Club, Arrowhead, Wachesaw Plantation East and Long Bay Golf Club.

Participants will also enjoy a Wednesday night awards banquet, in addition to receiving a Veterans Golf Classic hat and shirt and an assortment of goodies in a tournament gift bag.

The Wednesday banquet is one of the event’s highlights. The colors of each service branch – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard – are presented and the atmosphere is the perfect blend of festive and respectful.

The competition extends beyond the standard two-man team event. The Branch Challenge pits the five branches of the U.S. Military against each other. Participants are entered into the contest and at the end of the tournament the branch with the lowest score is crowned champion.

The Carolina Cup, which matches members of the VFW against the American Legion, is another popular tournament within the tournament.

For more information, go to http://veteransclassicgolf.com/.

TRUE BLUE STEPS INTO THE TOP 100 SPOTLIGHT

By Chris King

True Blue Golf Club, despite being No. 77 on Golf Magazine’s list of the Top 100 You Can Play and No. 42 on Golf Channel travel guru Matt Ginella’s list of the country’s best public courses, often lives in the shadow of its even more acclaimed sister course, Caledonia Golf & Fish Club.

To be clear, Caledonia, which collects accolades at the rate Michael Phelps wins gold medals, is worthy of the praise it receives, but there is a reasonable argument to be made that True Blue is as good as any course in Myrtle Beach.

The Mike Strantz design offers a rugged, visually stimulating and, ultimately, unforgettable challenge. Everything about the course is bold – the area’s widest fairways, huge greens and the waste bunkers that frame nearly every hole – and therein lies its appeal.

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GOLFERS FROM AROUND THE GLOBE TO PLAY IN 33RD ANNUAL MYRTLE BEACH WORLD AM

By Chris King

More than 3,000 players from 26 countries are preparing to descend on the Grand Strand for the 33rd annualMyrtle Beach World Amateur Handicap Championship.
The “Every Man’s Major,” as the event is often called, gives amateurs the opportunity to compete like a pro for a week and earn the title of World Champion.

A 72-hole, net stroke play tournament, the World Am will be played August 29-September 2 on 50 Myrtle Beach golf courses. Players will be separated into six divisions and 64 flights based on age, gender and handicap. After four rounds of competition, all flight winners and ties advance to the World Championship Playoff at Barefoot Resort’s Dye Club.

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Find Wildlife on the Myrtle Beach Links

There are many reasons why Myrtle Beach is one of the world’s best destinations for golfers. Among them are an incredible roster of great golf courses, hotel accommodations for any group type, size or budget, tons of attractions for the family — and the chance to see some exotic wildlife, particularly on the course.

Since you’re reading this on MyrtleBeachGolf.com, you’re probably already familiar with these first three big reasons. The fourth, though, may be news to you. But it’s true: Especially if you stay on the lookout, you’re likely to see some awesome wildlife during your golf rounds. If you’re excited about seeing the area’s fauna, here are our recommendations for the best courses to find each of the most popular species.

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