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Class Continues: August 9, 2011

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Q: Whenever I have a shot with my ball lying on a downward slope, I always 'chunk' my shot. Any tips? Do I address the ball towards my back foot, front foot or middle? Thanks.

-    Chad G. (Facebook)

A: The downhill lie is no easy shot and the common error is to hit the ground before you get to the ball. Treatment for this ailment: play the ball in the back-half of your stance and put more weight on your front foot than normal. In the backswing, leave your weight on the front foot and in the downswing, chase the club head down the slope after impact; avoid all the natural tendencies to lift the ball. It is essential to take plenty of loft with this shot as the angle of the slope will always shoot the ball out low. Some players even benefit from taking the back foot and walking down the slope after the ball has been hit. Good luck.

Q: I need to learn how to put backspin on the ball with my irons.

-    Hunter S. (Facebook)

A: Backspin is a function of speed, quality of contact and sometimes the type of ball you use. To get some 'zip back' on your irons, you need to hit the ball on the sweet spot of your club with a downward blow, best achieved by having the weight on the front foot at impact and the hands slightly ahead of the ball when you hit it; unwinding the hips helps to achieve this. Very often a shorter backswing than normal can allow increased acceleration which then creates more spin. Finally, the type of ball you use has something to do with how much the ball will spin. A premium ball with a urethane cover will spin the most and gives the best control around the greens, which is why this is the ball used on Tour. An 'economy' ball with a surlyn or ionomer cover spins the least which is why you will never see it on the Tour. Hope this helps you spin it.

Q: Any tips or drills for squaring the club face up at impact?

-    Josh P. (Facebook)

A: Squaring-up the club face at impact is the master skill in controlling the direction of your golf ball. There are many drills to try and achieve this; some are simple and others are complex. Probably the most simple and yet effective is to split your grip by 3 inches and take practice swings with that grip. You would want the feeling that the amount you pull with the left hand is matched exactly by the amount you push with your right hand, similar to the feel you might have if you were chopping down a tree with an axe. Hope this leads to straighter shots.

Q: Have trouble with my fairway woods and hybrid clubs on a tight lie in the fairway. I seem to do better getting them in the air from the rough. Mostly I get rollers on the ground from the fairway.

-    Sandy C. (Facebook)

A: Many players say the driver is the hardest club to hit, but my years as an instructor have led me to believe it is the fairway wood that most players find very difficult. The reason is that you really have no margin of error, especially off tight lies. Most players hit the ball too low on the club face and therefore never get the ball up in the air. As good a drill I know is to practice swing hitting at small metal washers or plastic shirt buttons. As you master the skill of consistently hitting either of these, you will certainly find that hitting fairway woods just became a lot easier. It won't happen without work, but it will be worth the effort. Good luck.