Q: I've been having a problem with striking the ball on wet fairways. I'm hitting the ball slightly fat and getting nowhere. At other times, I'm striking the ball 'thin'--not skulling it. Can you offer some practice drills that I can use to improve? Thanks.
- Haydon E.
A: Hitting the ball fat on wet fairways is a very common mistake. When the ground is soft and soggy the contact needs to be very precise. Try the following: Shorten where you hold the club; that is go down the grip 1/2 inch, hover the club slightly off the ground as you address the ball, reduce wrist action in your swing, both back and through, and keep your head rock solid still until the ball has been hit - - no lowering and no dipping of the head. Incorporate these thoughts and you should be fine.
Q: When I am at the range on artificial turf I hit balls like it's my job. As soon as I am on grass it all goes away. Any suggestions on how to take my turf game to the grass?
- Timothy C.
A: Hitting balls off mats is very flattering. You really cannot hit it fat off a mat since the club will bounce up into the ball. Some mats however do not cause this; a soft spongy mat or a mat with a sort of cushion under the ball will probably react closer to the real thing. The moral here is whenever you can, hit off real grass, and when you can’t, try and find a mat which is not rock- hard. If neither of these is available hit 3-woods off a low tee. Hitting balls off a hard mat is bad for your game, since it can bend your clubs and cause wrist injuries. Don't do it if you can avoid it.
Q: I play on the Golf Channel Am Tour and get nervous/anxious during the events. Do you have any tips to help calm the nerves under pressure?
- Ashley A.
A: Most players get nervous in competition including the world's best, so that won't go away. You have to learn to play with it. Bob Toski used to say 'composure comes from exposure.' The more you put yourself in this arena the less difficult it will feel. These days there are lots of resources available to help battle nerves and performance anxiety, two of my favorites being 'A Golfer’s Mind' by Bob Rotella and “The 30 Second Swing' by TJ Tomasi. Two excellent books filled with lots of ideas on how to get the most out of your game when you compete. Good luck.
Q: I generally hit the ball with most clubs, particularly the driver, with a low trajectory and a draw. Do you have a drill that will enable me to get the ball airborne with the proper trajectory?
- Jim B. (North Dakota)
A: When players hit the ball too low, they have taken loft off the club at impact, turning a 7-iron into a 5-iron at the moment of contact. There are really only two ways to do this. Either the upper body is sliding too far toward of the target by impact or the hands and grip-end of the club are too far ahead of the ball at impact. Try keeping your head behind the ball until you have hit it and try having the hands level with the ball as you make contact. Perhaps even a feeling of swinging the club head more; this should help.