Fat City Is Not an Option

By Dave PelzJanuary 21, 2002, 5:00 pm
Dave Pelz

After hitting a fat shot (hitting too far behind the ball), most golfers say they got too anxious and 'looked up.' Not only do they say that, they believe it.

When I measure their swings and ball positions, however, I usually find they are playing the ball too far forward in their stance and are making swing compensations with their hands in an attempt to hit the ball cleanly from that incorrect ball position. They go to 'Fat City' not because they look up, but because their balls are positioned too far forward in their stances.

The problem is, these same golfers can hit good shots after a few adjustment swings on the practice tee, after they have a chance to get their compensations and timing correct. But what happens as a result of practicing with poor ball position is that they develop habits of knee dips and wrist flips as they attempt to make solid contact with a ball theyve placed two to three inches in front of where it should be. Then, when they get into pressure situations on the golf course where the first swing counts, the ultimate result is usually the same - poor wedge shots hit fat under pressure.
Be sure you understand the situation:
  1. Good wedge swings produce good shots only when the ball is positioned correctly in your stance.
  2. Play the ball too far forward and youll either hit it fat or be forced to learn 'hand-powered' swing compensations that will make you generally less consistent, and specifically, worse under pressure.
  3. Play the ball too far back and you have about a two-inch margin of error, from which you can still hit playable shots with non-compensating swings, although they will fly a little lower than you desire.

Perfect Contact

You can never learn a non-compensating wedge swing without first learning proper ball position, because only the correct position allows a non-compensating swing to produce solid contact and good shots. Remember these important rules for ball position:
  1. For chip shots, position the ball back in your stance, off the back ankle. You want to hit the ball with a descending blow, trapping a minimal amount of grass between the clubhead and the ball, creating a low, running trajectory.
  2. For all distance-wedge and pitch shot swings from normal lies, when you expect a normal trajectory, position the ball in the exact center of your stance (centered between your ankles, not your toes). Your front foot should be turned toward the target by about 30 to 45 degrees, so the ball should appear to be somewhat back in your stance.
  3. In the bunker, you want to contact the sand behind the ball. Scoot the club under and past the ball, and use the sand to blow the ball out. To hit behind a ball from a good bunker lie, first aim to the left and open your clubface, then position the ball forward in your stance, inside the heel line of your front (toward the target) foot.

Placing the ball in the center or behind the center of your stance in the sand is terrible, because it forces you to move your natural swing bottom (divot) backward, which can be accomplished only by collapsing your wrists or leaning backward and creating a reverse weight shift (neither of which will work consistently).

Most golfers start with the ball too far forward on their wedge shots, particularly chips and pitches, and too far back in the sand. Nearly 80 percent of our Scoring Game School students, even some of the Tour pros, come to our schools with the ball ahead of the swings natural low point on 30-yard pitches and chip shots. Thats why so many of these shots are hit fat. The results worsen when the shot is important: Under pressure, hand and wrist muscles get stronger and tighter, inhibiting the players ability to manipulate them (to compensate for the bad ball position), so they cant accurately control where the divot occurs.

As a result of several years of testing at the Pelz Golf Institute, learning how golfers can best avoid 'Fat City' wedge results, we have developed the following two solutions.
  1. Learn to position your golf ball perfectly in your stance (back ankle for chip shots, mid-stance for pitch shots, forward on lead foot instep for sand shots) and then make pure, non-compensating swings, OR
  2. Close your eyes and take a practice swing next to your ball, and make sure you take a divot. Then move into your address position and position the ball where it will be hit before the start of your divot (assuming you can then swing the same as your practice swing).

Of course, your best short game solution is to come to a three-day Pelz Scoring Game School, a one-day Scoring Game Tour clinic, or watch my Dave Pelz Scoring Game Show on The Golf Channel Academy every week. Barring any of these, just close your eyes and learn to position the ball so you hit the little (golf) ball before you hit the big ball (Earth). Because 'Fat City' is not an option!
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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.