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Class Continues June 28, 2011

Q: My driver tends to slice but my irons tend to hook. I'm quite new to golf and love it but this problem causes me great frustration.

- Tim (Elk Grove, CA)

A: This is a comment I hear from time to time but usually what is happening is that you slice your driver but pull your irons, both types of shot being caused by an out-to-in or cut-across swing. The major culprit here is either a grip that is too weak resulting in an open face with the driver at impact and then a sliced shot, or an iron where the loft negates some of the side spin and an across-the-body downswing resulting in a pulled shot. If it is not the grip then you are probably unwinding both your hips and shoulders too early as you start the downswing. Try this as a cure: feel as though at the moment you hit the ball, part of your back is still facing the target. This almost always stops the 'slice with the driver and hook with the irons'. Good luck.

Q: I'm new to the game and am a 25-handicap. What is the number one thing I should work on that will take the most strokes off my game? Thank you!

- Jon (San Antonio)
A: There is no question what you should work on to take the most strokes off your game: chipping and pitching. Some may say putting, but I think where you putt from is more important than how you putt. Learn to chip with a variety of clubs (your choice) and then with your pitch shots, know the exact yardage you hit your wedges, from 50, 60, 70 and 80 yards. If I had to do it all over again I would put way more effort into those scoring shots. The players on Tour know this is the most important part of the game and spend more time on it than most average players can imagine. Put effort into this part of the game and you'll be shocked how it brings your score down.

Q: I need help with keeping my left foot in place. I seem to always slide my left foot at the end of my swing.

- Andre R. (Facebook)

A: The most effective way I have found to deal with this issue is to get a piece of carpet, probably two square inches, stand on it, then with a sharpie pen have someone outline your shoes leaving 2 footprints on the mat. Now when you swing don't let any part of your left foot come out of the foot print. It will reveal to you if you have a 'heel moving' problem or a 'toe moving' problem. Once you know which it is, then you can train yourself to do it correctly in a fairly short space of time. Hope this works for you.

Q: I'm still fairly new to the game and was wondering if you had any tips to help me get out of bunkers. It is definitely a weak point in my game. Thank you.

- Josh S. (Facebook)

A: I don't think how far you hit the sand behind the ball is as important as many people make it. Rather, what matters more is that the deepest part of your divot be directly below the ball. Draw a line in the sand at right angles to your target and without a ball, strike the sand. Did you enter and also exit the sand an equal distance on both sides of the line? Was the deepest part of your divot level with the line? If you learn to do this drill successfully then bunkers will cease to be a problem for you. Good luck.