Golf tips

Learn how to putt, stroke, and play in the tradewinds with tips courtesy of Maui's top golf pros.

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Playing in Maui’s Trade Winds

By Bill Greenleaf, PGA Master Professional
Dunes at Maui Lani

Hawai‘i trade winds show up in the game of golf as an added challenge. Lowered ball flight on windy days can change the nature of the day from a struggle to survive to a private victory in tough conditions. Lower ball flight by applying a simple approach in the basic setup before the swing. Make the changes listed below, and without changing your swing, you will be able to lower your ball flight 50 percent or more.

•  Grip the club as low as you can on the handle. (Adjust upward when only slightly lower ball flight is needed.)
•  Narrow your stance 20 to 30 percent.
•  Play the ball just ahead of center.
•  Do not ground the club during address (similar to bunker shots).
•  Make the ball flight extremely low by standing taller, thus creating a bigger gap between club head and the ground at address.

Lowered ball flight needs to be combined with less-lofted club selection and slower swing speeds to achieve the distance the ball would travel on a calm day.
Developing this technique is best done on the range or in a lesson. Begin with five 7-iron shots without adjusting to a lowered ball flight address. Follow with five shots using the lowered ball-flight address. Observing the difference is the key to using this technique on the course.

Compression Drill

By Eddie Lee, PGA
Wailea Golf Club

Having trouble getting your golf ball airborne? Here is a simple drill that will help. This drill is coordinated with three key setup positions and one movement sequence.
With a 7 iron, establish your address position.

THE SETUP
Position #1: Lean your body weight on your forward leg, approximately 80 percent.
Position #2: Lean your hands forward toward the target side, maintaining a straight slanted angle between your lead arm and club shaft.
Position #3: Press your body weight down on your club shaft; at this setting, you should see a slight bowing/bending of the shaft.  This is imperative.

THE MOVEMENT DRILL
Drag the club face against the ground, while maintaining your setup positions. Compress the ground and follow through to your finish. Do not swing back—this drill starts at the impact position.
The effect of this drill will enable the individual to internalize sensations of:
• the correct impact position
• proper sequencing through the golf ball
• feeling the bottom of the swing arc

REMEMBER:
The club face is designed with loft. Lay a golf club down and look at the club face. It may look like a spatula, but please do not treat it like one.

Aim It, Stroke It

By Scott Ashworth, PGA
Head Golf Pro, Ka‘anapali

Putting is all about confidence. You must believe the ball is going into the hole every time you stroke it. I tell my students they have the best chance of making a putt when they do two things:
•  Aim it and stroke it, nothing else.
•  Practice gaining a simple, confident stroke.

Pick out your line and then hit putts trying to hear the ball going into the hole before you see it. Don’t look up too soon!  Believe that ball is going in every time!

Putting: Distance Control

By Ian Hume, PGA
Kapalua Golf Academy

How often have you been faced with a long putt on the first green, with very little feel for the speed? Practicing putting before your round can be more beneficial to your score than hitting balls on the driving range. Even on your home course, the speed of the greens can change from day to day, making consistency difficult.

The two factors determining the distance of your putt are tempo and length of stroke. While it is possible to control distance by changing your tempo for different putting distances, it is much easier to change the length of your stroke, keeping the tempo the same.

Here are tips for understanding and controlling the length of your putting stroke. Find a relatively flat spot on a putting green and lay down a yardstick. Take a few practice strokes to find your tempo. The speed of your tempo is not as important as having a consistent tempo. The next step is to make strokes of different lengths. It is important that your follow-through is at least as long as your stroke going back. If you look at most top putters, their follow-through is slightly longer than the stroke back. Looking at the yardstick, place a golf ball at the 5” mark. Take your stroke back to the 10” mark and then follow through past the end of the yardstick. Hit several putts with this length stroke and see how far your putts are going. If your tempo is consistent, your putts will be going a similar distance. On the golf course, this will show you how long a stroke to make for different distances. Another tip for improving your feel for controlling your putting distance is to practice by putting your ball where you can putt toward the first cut of fringe instead of putting toward a hole. Doing this encourages feel rather than focusing on make or miss.

Controlling the tempo and length of your putting stroke will allow you to make the proper adjustments for distance when you are on the golf course. Good luck, and I hope this helps you become the best putter you can be!

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