Play Better Golf

Get Lower Scores by Busting Bad Habits

There are two mistakes that you can make in golf. First one is easy to identify. This mistake is done when players swing too hard and lose balance, or hit the wrong club or do a shot that must not be done. These types of mistakes often happen with unfavorable results. But, sure enough, you’ll know what mistakes you’ve made, so you fix what’s wrong and go on with your game.

The first kind of mistakes is easy enough to fix, but what about those that are harder to determine? What if you have certain habits that cause you to make mistakes, but are unaware of? Bad habits within the game are present most of the time, and students typically do not have any idea that they are doing these mistakes, hence doing nothing about them.

Here are 10 habits that golfers should be made familiar with plus some quick fix to bust these bad habits. So let’s start getting lower scores:

  1. Remove the pop-up from your game. Some players do a lot of pop-ups, and these shots aren’t pretty at all. This shot, which is caused by an incredibly steep swing, usually result in a weak drive off the club crown and an idiot mark on the club, which can be very embarrassing. So, how do you eliminate pop-ups?

It is fairly easy to fix, really. Try making your stance wider because chances are, you have a narrow stance. Make your stance wider to add width to your swing. This can help prevent the golf ball  following a steep path. Just keep in mind that whenever you make your stance wider, it is important to maintain the ball’s proper position depending on the left foot. This means that you add width to your stance by moving your right foot instead of moving the left. Ensuring this will help maintain the ball’s proper position.

  1. Kill “The Chronic Slice”. It is never fun to slice the ball, especially when you have no idea why ball slicing is happening. You may think that slices are due to swinging outside to inside the line of target. However, a slice may actually come from any swing path. Yes. The problem is not really the path, but more of the clubface’s angle relative to the path, which the clubface is following.

For example, if you swing outside to inside the line of target with an open clubface, then you’ll hit a big left-to-right slice. A slice and a fade can both be accomplished using a clubface that is closed to the target line, but make sure it is open relative to the club’s path.

The best way to eliminate the slice is to practice swinging from inside to outside the target line. But how would you do that? It’s simple, really. The ball is sure to have a draw-spin as long as the angle of the clubface is closed relative to the path where the clubface is traveling on. So, even though you have a slightly open relative clubface to the target line, it will still make a draw ballfight. So, it is not really necessary to try to hit the ball with a closed face. It is ideal to start correcting the path first then learn about the right amount of release in both wrists and hands. Doing this trick will definitely help in fixing a slice.

  1. Don’t swing along the body line. One of the common mistakes made by players (by better players, mind you) is swinging along the body line. Why is it common among the better players? Because sometimes, it actually works. To be able to execute this, you have to use an obstacle, for instance a tree, to wrap your ball with. It may be a tree between the ball and the green or any obstacle that will work for you. When you say swing along the body line, it means aligning the face of the club squarely with the target and telling the body to the target’s right, then swinging normally.

This method may work  at times, but it is somewhat unnatural, hence, may fail. Truthfully, it is not a good idea to mess with something that actually works, so instead of doing this, it is ideal to aim at the target and swing from the inside to out with the angle of the clubface slightly open relative to the target while remaining closed relative to the path.

 


Manipulating your stance will only make you feel uncomfortable not just with that particular shot, but all the shots you will have afterward. It is best to follow the stance that you are comfortable with and just adjust your path. Trust me, you will be more confident with every shot you make.

  1. Never do those Thin Hybrid Hits ever again. We know that Hybrids are great clubs, if you know how to use them. Use hybrids properly by swinging them more like you would swing a middle iron. Yes, a middle iron, not a long iron nor a fairway wood. Swing down into the golf ball, making sure that at impact, the shaft is leaning toward the target. Making a divot using a hybrid is perfectly acceptable, if you ask me. Most hybrid fails generate when you try to have the ball up in the air by hanging the club back on your right side. If you can, try not to lift the ball and start to hit the ball down with the shaft slightly leaning forward. Doing this result in immediate spinny hybrid shots.
  1. Lose those thin pitches. While hybrid and wedge shots have great differences, a thin hybrid shot and a thin wedge come from similar mistake. Both thin pitches come from scooping and lifting the ball into the air. This mistake is a big no-no with wedges, since the wedges’ loft are so great that you have a higher risk of having the leading edge of the wedge placed into the back of the ball.

Stop thin shots by not lifting the ball in the air. Just be confident in the loft and hit down the golf ball instead. Trying to scoop the ball can cause the player to flip hands, trying to add more loft right before impact. This result in skulled shots and unnecessary fat shots.

Lose this bad habit by keeping the body rotating throughout the shot.swing with the arms close to the body and rotate your body more. Then, as you swing, make sure that you hit the ball from your body’s left side. You may stay on your left side as you do the entire wedge shot to execute this. If this is what keeps you from doing a thin wedge shot, them do it.

  1. Say no to flubbed bunker shots. There’s not much good advice when it comes to bunker play. You may have heard of one: be aggressive when playing in the sand and hit down hard, and push the sand up. For some, this may work. But, it is better to do a much smoother, more shallow swing in the sand, combined with a full release through the shot.

 

To help improve your bunker swing, make small bunker swings using a practice bunker, making sure you barely clip the sand at your arc’s base. Release your hands and try to feel what is like to be bouncing off the sand instead of digging into it. Practicing this drill helps you develop the “thump” your favorite PGA Tour players have when hitting from the sand. Make your swing shallower, make your hands more active and practice making a “thump” sound instead of a “thunk”. Mastering this will make your bunker shots easier and better.

  1. Enough of the missed wedge shots. Amateurs usually do the mistakes of controlling their wedge shots with their hands. This will actually cause a lot of problems and you know what you should do? The OPPOSITE!


So, the best thing to do is let the body rotate and at the same time, make your wedge swing wider. Try to rotate with soft hands and keep hands low and away from the body as you finish the shot.

 

  1. Just say “Chili-Dip Chips” Now! Trying to execute the “hinge-and-hold chipping style? Well, unless you’re Rory McIlroy or Phil Mickelson, then this chipping style is probably not working well for you than you think it will. It may sound easy: hinge the wrists as you backswing and hold it through the chip. But this method is actually one of the hardest ways to chip successfully.

The hinge-and-hold method basically takes the bounce off of the wedge, giving you very little room for error and lots of fat chip shots.

How do you remove this bad habit? By letting the hands release more. Let your club bounce by releasing more, and see how it helps you prevent hitting fat chips. Trust your bounce, it’ll do its job. Practice this move by swinging the club using one hand at a time, making sure the wrists hinge and unhinge a lot. It may feel like you’re using the wrists excessively at first, but you are not. Practice regularly and sooner or later, you’ll see that using more release as you chip will give your chips more loft and more spin, as well.

  1. Cut out bad lags. Do you struggle with your lag putting? If yes, then you may be lacking something. You may have failed to look at your lengthy putt from other angles. While slow play is not really my thing, it sometimes pay up to make some extra effort before a long putt. Use a few seconds inspecting a hole from two sides. The more you check on the green, the more you get to avoid any subtleties you initially unnoticed.

Trust your assessment once you get to check, then make your stroke solid. Good lag putting is not trying to miss the putt, but making sure you aren’t far from the hole in case you missed a putt.

  1. Say goodbye to missing short putts. The most important factor in making a good short putt is being confident with your shot. Hesitation over the ball and as you do the shot will give you more missed results than expected.

See the top photo. It shows an unconfident position, with the head and upper body turned toward the ball, as if attempting to guide the ball in. Well, did you know that this position made me miss the putt?

See the lower photo. You’ll notice that I’m in a steadier stance; with a rock-solid head and upper-body alignment, which stay that way through the stroke.

If you look closely, you’ll notice that the left shoulder is higher than the right. This means a steady stroke was made using the shoulders instead of the hands. In addition, the upper body is not forcibly lifted in order to guide the ball into the hole.