Bump and Run Dana Rader

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 29, 2009, 8:08 pm
We know it's difficult to find time to practice during the week. When a Saturday or Sunday tee time rolls around, you're hoping to find some spark or productive swing thought that will help you break 100, 90, 80 or whatever your scoring goal may be.

With the weekend warrior in mind we created Bump and Run, a weekly Q&A with some of the game's top instructors. Each Friday, a teaching professional will occupy this space and answer questions directed toward improving your game. This week it's Dana Rader, owner of the Dana Rader Golf School at Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge in Charlotte, N.C.
Dana Rader, Golf DigestDANA RADER
Owner, Dana Rader Golf School, Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge, Charlotte, N.C.

- Golf Digest's 50 Greatest Teachers
- Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers in America
- Golf Magazine's Top 25 Golf Schools
- LPGA National Teacher of the Year (1990)
- Author, Rock Solid Golf - A Foundation for a Lifetime (2002) 

Web Site:
Contact: 1-877-99-RADER

An LPGA Master Professional and one of Golf Digest's 50 Greatest Teachers, Rader is the author of the book, Rock Solid Golf. One thing she's always trying to preach to her students is rock-solid fundamentals, especially in the short game. We caught up recently with Rader to discuss her keys to better wedge play.

'The No. 1 thing I teach all levels with regard to the pitch shot is that you've got to get your arms and hands in the right position, and you have to open your chest up through the shot and use your body to hit the ball,' said Rader. 'People tend to keep their bodies still and hit with their arms. That just gives the ball a lot of topspin and overspin, so when you do hit it good you can’t stop it. Once the body stops, the hands take over and scoop, or slap at it.'

To submit a question to Rader or one of our teachers, please e-mail bumpandrun@thegolfchannel.com and check back every Friday to see if your question got answered.
How does a pitch shot differ from a full swing shot in terms of technique?
Your full swing is basically one speed, and that’s full speed. When you get into the short game, variables come into play (lie, speed, rhythm and tempo, different lofts), so the technique is more difficult in that it requires a whole different set of skills in terms of tempo and feel.

I think the biggest thing is making sure you don’t have to swing at it so hard. People go at full swing shots full speed; you approach the short game with smaller swings and lower swing speeds. I see people hit a pitch shot 20, 30, 40 yards from the green and there’s way too much speed for the shot they’re trying to hit.
Wedge play is all about distance control; it's not about power. How do you practice good distance control in pitching?

The best drill I know for this is the Handkerchief Drill. Place a handkerchief or styrofoam cup down at 20, 30, 40, and 50 yards, each one 10 yards apart. Take one club, like your sand wedge, and try and hit each target.

The thing is, most people don’t know what 30 and 40 yards looks like; they haven’t paced it off. By pacing off the yardages and putting down the handkerchiefs or Styrofoam cups, you can begin to see what 30 yards is as you practice on the driving range. Then you can see it better out on the golf course because you’ve practiced the shot.

Land the ball at the handkerchief. You’re working on your landing areas, which will help you with your distance control.

How do you best regulate distance in pitching? Is it controlled by the length of the swing, follow-through, or the speed of your body's rotation?

I'd say length of swing, and also loft. If, for example, you had a 20- or 30-yard shot, I’m going to have you grab a sand wedge because it’s an easier club to hit the right distance. Focus on short swings and loft.

How do you adjust your swing to hit high, medium and low pitches?

There are several ways you can adjust trajectory. No. 1 is ball position. I tell my students to use the right for roll, left for loft method. If you want the ball to go a little higher, you have to move the ball more to the left in your stance (for right-hand golfers). If you want more roll, you're going to move it farther back in your stance, to the right, to bring the trajectory down. 

Next thing is you can bring the ball down even lower by using a less lofted club. The less loft you have, the more roll you’re going to get.

On a standard pitch, is the plane of the swing more up and down (vertical) or flatter than people realize?

It’s flatter than people realize. If I’m trying to hit a real flop shot I might get the shaft angle steep. It's half of a full swing, and if you go into a half-swing checkpoint it [the club shaft] will be a little bit around your body, behind you. It won’t be directly inside. It’s always going to go straight back from the target, but as soon as you pivot the shoulders the club is going to come a little bit more around. This will give the ball better spin and control in terms of how you impact the shot.

A little earlier, you mentioned the importance of keeping your body moving, or rotating, through the shot. What's a good drill to help you sync up your arms and body? 

Assume your golf posture, and with your left arm extend the club straight out away from your left side at waist height, toward the target. Your left arm will be extended almost in line with the back of your heels. In order to get your right hand to your left hand, you have to turn your shoulders. If you don’t, you can’t reach it. Just turn toward the target and shake your left hand with your right hand.

One short-game shot that gives amateurs a lot of problems is the pitch over a bunker from a tightly mown lie. How do you overcome the fear of such a shot?

It's a scary shot, no doubt, even for better players. Those tight lies, if you turn too much, you’ll hit the ground too soon, and if you don’t turn up, you’ll hit the ground too soon. I always get the student to focus on the handle leading the clubhead as you pivot the body through the shot. So, as you’re coming into the ball you’re going to strike it with the handle leading. And right as you strike the ball, allow the chest to pivot on through to carry the club toward the target.

I encourage them to brush the grass because you do need to take a little bit of a divot in order to get any spin on the ball at all. If you don’t, you’ll get a lot of overspin. So I do have my students take practice swings brushing the grass a little bit so they can feel the clubhead reaching the bottom of its arc.

Dana Rader Instructional Videos


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    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.

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    Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:04 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.

    “Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

    “We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.

    In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010.