Well, the emails have been pouring in lately full of instruction questions. As always Iím happy to help those who need it. This week Iíll address two questions. First, the cause and effects of topping and second bunker play.
Topping the ball occurs when the club head hits up on the ball rather than down on the ball. I have four suggestions to reduce topping. First, when you are on the practice range tee the ball up and start with a 7-Iron. The tee should be very short. If you swing and hit the ball and not the tee then you havenít kept your swing low enough. The bottom grove on your club should make contact with the top of the tee. If you strike the tee then chances are you will have made good contact.
Please remember if you do top the ball while doing this, the tee may still be in the ground just pushed down farther from topspin being applied. Second, make sure your right knee is flexed during the entire swing. Most players at the top of their back swings often straighten their right knee. The end result is a cold top.
Third, make sure you maintain the same posture you have at address. Make sure you donít get taller at anytime during the swing. Have a friend hold a club an inch above your head. If your head touches the club then you have lost your posture and have gotten taller. This also is a cause of a topped golf shot. Fourth, is there a divot occurring on the target side of ball? Roli Quintilla sent this question to me from Mission. Roli was the winner of the trivia question and will get help with his topping problem from myself.
Second email question was about bunker play. Armando Pompa of Mission writes ďI know you have to hit 3Ē behind the ball but do I even change the position of the ball in my stance, depending on how tight or far the pin is?Ē ďDo I always lean forward? Will there ever be a time when I need to strike the ball first?Ē
Well Armando, whenever youíre playing a greenside bunker itís always best to keep the ball forward in your stance. I suggest just inside the left heal. Your set up should change very little but your swing may change. For example, if you need to hit the ball higher and softer try to finish high with your hands and arms on the follow through. If you are trying to make the ball come out lower then make sure your hands and arms donít touch your shoulders and thus reduce your follow through position.
Next, if you have a very short bunker shot trying using a lob wedge (60-64 degree wedge). If the flag is medium length then try a sand wedge. If the shot is a long green side then use a 9-Iron. So, change your swing and or your club but not your set up and ball position. Anytime a player plays a short game shot whether itís a bunker shot, chip, or pitch the weight of the player should be on onto the left side. We do this for two reasons. First, we donít want our weight shifting and second keeping the weight on the left side helps us hit down on the golf ball. Except, for long bunker shots we generally donít hit the ball first.
Striking the sand first helps insulate the impact of the club against the ball. If we were to hit the ball first in most short bunker shots our ball would go at least 50 yards too far because that is the effort in the swing we must make in order for the ball to be extracted from a short bunker shot. In actuality, you can improve your regular ball striking by improving your bunker play. How you may ask? It will take pressure off of your full swing and you wonít worry so much about going in the sand because you will be able to recover.
One of the ' best bunker players is Dustin Garza. Dustin is a graduate from Sharyland high school and just finished PGA Tour Qualifying. Although, he didnít get his PGA Tour status he has status for the Nation Wide Tour. Did you know that 66% of all the PGA Tour Members have played at one time on the Nation Wide Tour? It truly is the proving ground of the next generation or PGA Tour Stars. The Nation Wide Tour is covered each week on the Golf Channel. Congratulations to Dustin!
Lastly, itís that time of year again for me. My sonís birthday is this month and its time to head to Brazil. I have been going to Brazil for the last seven years and have played a little bit of golf. Golfing in Brazil is like a trip back in time.† The Santos Country Club where I have been invited to play has caddies and not golf cars. Its also only nine holes with no practice range. Kind of reminds me of how golf was 100 years ago.
Last year I played near Salvador, Brazil. I played where they have the Brazil Open. It was a nice course designed by Pete Dye. Being a PGA Member from the USA is like being a celebrity for the day. They really roll out the red carpet for me and treat me like a king for the day. I really enjoy going to Brazil and while I was in Salvador I provided a clinic to several of the Brazilian Club Professionals about teaching players and how to correct flaws and issues. Its really important to teach the Brazilian teaching professionals as Brazil will host Golf in the Olympics for the first time. I feel the need to teach the teachers because we need to get more Brazilians interested in golf. Anyhow, it brings us to this weekís trivia question: What is the name of the golfer from Brazil who just qualified for the PGA Tour in December? Send your reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The first correct reply will get a free lesson from me. The Winner of the first lesson given away way was Roli Quintilla. Roli correctly answered that Shawn Foley is Tiger Woodís new coach. Apparently, Foley has helped Tiger turn the corner as he almost won his event in California at the end of 2010.
By the way, if you want five golf lessons for $99 Iím offering them each Sunday in January. We will start on January 2 at 10 a.m. here at Cimarron. Call the Cimarron if you want to sign up. 581-7408. The program is called Get Golf Ready and it has its own web site. www.getgolfready.com
Keep the questions coming send your questions or comments to: email@example.com.
See you at the lesson tee! -Will Borowski, PGA
Will Borowski is a Class-A PGA Member and provides instruction at the Club at Cimarron.