Work the ball for better results on tough golf courses


Pete Dye’s Harbour Town Golf Links is one of the toughest tests for a non-major on the PGA Tour.

Narrow fairways, strategically located trees, multiple hazards, and what seems to be a strong prevailing wind give tour players all they want and more.

Graeme McDowell picked up a win Sunday in the RBC Heritage by dealing with tough conditions on a tough golf course.

Courses like Harbour Town require solid ball striking, but also a vivid imagination to work the ball around various obstacles.

Most of us are just happy to hit the ball, but eventually all players need to learn how to curve the ball and control their trajectories.

Here are a few basic tips to help you control your ball flight:

• A neutral grip will give you maximum ability to curve the ball in any direction. Players who have an overly strong or weak grip, hands rotated on the club excessively in one direction or the other, will be chained to a dominating ball flight with little ability to curve the ball in the opposite direction. Your grip is considered neutral if the creases between your thumb and index finger point to your trailing shoulder. You should also be able to look down and see two knuckles on your top hand.

• Make sure your setup matches the type of shot you want to hit. For example, if you want to hit a fade (left to right for a right-handed golfer), you will need to adjust your stance to be slightly open, front foot slightly farther away from the target line, to produce a swing path that is outside to in. Attempting to hit a fade with a closed stance can produce disastrous results.

• Pay extra close attention to ball position when attempting to work the ball. All things equal, aiming your body to the right and moving the ball up in your stance, closer to your front foot, will create a higher ball flight as well as a draw (right to left for right-handed golfers).

There are many other factors that must be considered when trying to master working the ball, and getting with a PGA professional is the best way to learn how to shape your shots.

However, I hope these few tips will give you something to work on the next time you’re on the practice tee.

Take an online lesson with Tyrus York.