Q: Hey Martin, I am a mid-handicapper and my main thought of bunker play is do anything and everything to stay out of the sand because I simply have ZERO control with sand shots. Do you have a swing thought that is simple to help me get through the shot??
A: The good thought I have for greenside bunker play comes from US Open champion Ken Venturi. He always recommended practicing bunker shots by putting a tee into the sand then take a swing and knock the tee out. When you can do this, push a tee into the sand, put a ball on the tee and knock the tee from under the ball. If you do this the ball comes out just about every time. Good luck.
Q: I am a 10 handicap and can't make two-three footers on a regular basis. I freeze-up when I stand over the putt and can't even bring the putter back on line (more like a figure 8). Could you please help me with drills to get over the dreaded yips?
- Max Ontario, Canada
A: Max, the very fact that you know the putter head wobbles during your stroke would suggest to me that you are watching your putter head during the stroke - not good. I am going to suggest a drill that helped Johnny Miller win the Open Championship. Struggling with the short putts, he painted a red dot at the bottom of his grip and after he lined it up, he took his attention from the ball to that red dot. He watched the dot move back and forth during his stroke, not the putter head or the ball. It worked for him; it may work for you. Good luck.
Q: School of Golf adds a great new addition to the Golf Channel line-up and I'll be sure to tune in every week to see what new drills I can practice. I am looking for help with hitting my 3-wood. I hit a very nice long draw when the ball is teed up, but when I try to hit if off the deck, my shot is typically caught heavy and sliced. Can you recommend any tips or drills to help me with this problem?
- Ross M. Toronto, Canada.
A: Ross, the fact your 3-wood is good off the tee but bad off the ground suggests you are too shallow coming into the ball. Your backswing might be too around/flat, but more likely you are not turning through to the target with your hips and shoulders on the forward swing. As you start your downswing, try turning your hips as you shift your weight and have the intent that your chest will face the target sooner in the follow-through. Many great fairway wood players take a small divot just after the ball - - this should help you do this.
Q: Enjoy the show, always good to hear a new approach! Liked the 'practice putt behind the ball' tip and will give it a try when the ground thaws! What do you think about practice putting at home on the carpet?
- Don Maeyer
A: Don, I think it can be helpful, but you can also groove some bad habits unless you are using some feedback sources to be fairly sure you are creating positive change. Most golf stores have products that help you check your alignment, swing path, stroke tempo and point of contact. Good luck.