How to hit a pitch shot

I live in: houston, Texas U.S.A
My_name_is: Rahmon Moore
My_age_is: 12
comments: How to pitch a shot, and what club do you use. Thank you.

Scott Robbins:
Rahmon,
The pitch shot is only a miniature swing. The length of your swing depends on how far you need to hit the shot. The shot can be hit with a variety of the short irons from a 7 iron to a sand wedge. The most common clubs to hit a pitch with though are the pitching wedge and the sand wedge.
To hit the shot you need minimal body movement and a focus on your arm swing, wrist cock and swing plane. Concentrate on swinging your arms back so that the clubhead moves along your target line (the imaginary line that goes from your ball to your target) and as the club goes back that your wrists cock the club in an up and down motion ( like you are hammering a nail) and not side to side (like a fish tail). Think “thumbs up” as you swing your arms back, being sure the back of your left wrist, forearm and clubhead are all in a straight line.
Coming down, feel your arms swing down and towards target and a feel of an underhand toss with your right hand. Try to feel like you are sliding the clubhead under the ball as your arms stay in control of the follow through.
Practice pitching with the wedges. Then experiment with less lofted (9,8,&7) irons and see the difference in the ball flight and run once it hits the green. Once you have mastered this basic shot, you will be on your way to a great short game and much lower scores.
Good Luck,
Scott


What is a handicap?

I live in: Ontario, Canada
My_name_is: Cathy
My_age_is: 19
comments: I was wondering if you could tell me what exactly a “Handicap” is and the calculations to find out what mine would be. Thank You.
Scott Robbins:
Cathy,
A handicap is an indication of a player’s skill level. Your handicap reflects when you are playing your best, your score should be that many strokes over par on your home course.
I am not sure of the exact formula for arriving at your handicap, but I will simplify it as much as possible. To figure a handicap, you take the best 10 of your last 20 scores. Those are scores from any course.
For each score, you adjust it for the course rating (subtracting it) and the “slope” rating (dividing by and multiplying by the average stroke rating of any course). You then add those ten scores and divide by 10 for your average strokes above par. I believe you then multiply that by 95% (,95) and get to your “handicap index.” Then you take your handicap index, multiply it by the course slope rating and divide by 113 to get your handicap for that course.
As you can see, it is quite a complicated process. Many clubs and even public courses offer handicapping services. I suggest looking into one of those. There are inexpensive computer programs available at computer stores that will allow you to input your own scores and figure your handicap. If you ever need a “verified” handicap, it will need to come from a member course of the USGA (United States Golf Association).
Best of luck and keep practicing and get those scores and handicap low!
Scott


Topping the ball

I live in: Atlanta, GA ,USA
My_name_is: Danny Navarro
My_age_is: 20
comments: Well, i’m having a problem hitting my irons in general. I believe that my backswing is good but it is the down swing that is the problem. i don’t did down but instead it seems that i catch the top of the ball alot. When i am about to strike the ball should i swing down into the ground and through? I can’t ever get that perfect little patch of grass scraped off the ground like you see the pros do. Even when i hit the ball solid i dont take any of the ground with me. Also, i’m having the problem of me hitting a 5 iron the same distance as a higher iron, like the 8 or 9. Please give me a basic tip so i can improve my swing and contact with the ball. Thank you very much.

Scott Robbins:
Danny,
The problem of contacting the ball, topping it, not taking turf and no distance difference seem to be coming from the same place.
In the golf swing, the club swings in a combination of up and down and around so that the club doesn’t swing perpendicular like a croquet mallet or parallel to the ground like a baseball bat. It swings as a combination of the two. The club swings in a circle (the arc) and that circle swings towards the ground(the swing plane). You can have a too steep, too shallow or proper plane and you can have a narrow, wide or proper arc.
The proper swing plane will contact the ground just past the ball and slightly in front of the center of your body (to the left of center of your stance). The proper arc will allow the club to create some momentum. The narrower the arc, the less momentum can be achieved and therefore the less speed you can generate causing every iron shot flying approximately the same distance.
Therefore it sounds like, if your backswing is as sound as it is, that you are creating too shallow and too narrow attack at the ball from the top of your swing. It sounds like you need to try and swing your arms down towards the ground a little earlier and try and make the club create a bigger arc or circle back into the ball. This bigger arc back into the ball will create more momentum. This should create the sensation that your arms are extending through impact instead of the feeling of them coming in close to you.
Danny, there are plenty of well qualified PGA of America member professionals in Atlanta. Start making some phone calls to courses with PGA Professionals and find one who likes to teach. Interview him/her first to see if you are comfortable with their style, talk, demeanor and mannerisms. If so, take a couple of lessons and have a pair of well trained eyes help you figure out how to strike the golf ball better.
Good Luck,
Scott Robbins


Practice tips

I live in: Colorado
My_name_is: Lane
My_age_is: 14
comments: I am a mid 90s golfer and I practice a lot. Is there any practice tips you can give me?

Scott Robbins:
Lane,
There is hitting a lot of balls and there is practice. If you like to hit balls, then I suggest you learn the art of practicing. There are few who know it but it is quite simple.
Find one of the fine PGA Professionals in Colorado and take a couple of lessons. Take a notebook with you to the lessons. Write down, in your own words, what the important point of each lesson is. Ask for drills to emphasize those points. (this is what the TOUR pros do.) Take your notes to the practice tee, read and reread them throughout your practice and focus your practice on your drills and what your instructor tells you.
If you do this two things happen. First, you are no longer hitting balls, you are learning and mastering the art of practice. Secondly, you are accelerating your learning ability and it will soon reflect in lower scores.
Best of Luck and good PRACTICE!
Scott


Fixing a slice

I live in: Porterville, Ca
My_name_is: Robert Longfellow
My_age_is: 17
comments: I’ve got the worst slice in the world. I didn’t use to have it but the more I seem to play the worst it seems to get. I’ve asked my Pro golfer what I’m doing wrong and he can’t seem to find it. What can I do to get my ball back into play?

Scott Robbins:
Robert, LET’S CURE THAT SLICE! First a slice means that the clubface is open at address. That can be happening for a number of reasons. First place to look is your grip. Be sure the heal pad (fatty tissue at the bottom of your hand opposite your thumb) of your left hand is sitting on top of the club and the club is running diagonally across the top of your palm to the middle joint in your fore (pointer) finger. Test to see if it is correct by moving your wrist up and down like you are hammering a nail.
Next set the lifeline cup of your right hand up against the thumb of your left hand on the right side of the club. Wrap your last three (middle, ring and pinkie) fingers under the club and your thumb on top until it touches the forefinger of your right hand. The forefinger should be on the club like it is on the trigger of a gun. Once that is on, test by moving your hands up and down like you are hammering nails. There should be little or no resistance. Another common reason for the face opening is too steep or straight angle down in the golf swing. That creates a path from the outside and for the hands to rotate to the left at impact, therefore opening the clubface. A good drill to combat that is start by swing the club in the air about knee level. You will feel how the club travels around you in a wide arc. Continue this drill and start lowering the club to the ground until you feel a wide swing that sweeps the ground.
Another good addition is to line up two tees the size of a clubhead apart. Put a tee in the middle. (This works best if you use different colored tees.) Keep trying to make this sweeping swing and hit only the tee in the middle. Also notice and try and be sure the back of your left hand is facing the target at impact as well as the butt of the club pointing at your belt buckle.
After you have done at least 25 swings with these drills then put a ball on that middle tee. Start with club in the air above the ball about knee high and swing back and swing down to hit the ball. Don’t be surprised if you miss the ball a few times. As you shallow out your swing, continue to feel your arms and forearms rotate the face of the club to the left.
This is hard work. Work on this and find the nearest PGA Professional that can help you work these drills and get rid of that ole hook.
Good Luck. If you ever head this way, call I know we can fix that slice!
Scott


Mental game

I live in: Vancouver, Canada
My_name_is: Jai Ideson
My_age_is: 19
comments: I realize I’m not still a Junior golfer, but I still feel like one. I am currently attending CBU in Memphis on a full golf scholarship. My home course handicap is +2 and feel very confid The reason I say I still feel like a junior golfer is because I still get intimidated by other golfers that hit the ball well. I know in my mind that I’m better than them and have worked harder tha but it never fails that I end up not playing up to my expectations because of this intimidation factor. How can I get my mind to work for me instead of against me? How can I take my game to the ne Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to my concerns and I look forward to reading what you have to offer.

Scott Robbins:
Jai,
The beauty of this game is that it is an individual game. You compete with yourself and the course. You compete against other players with score. Ben Crenshaw was one of the greatest junior and college golfers. He is still a top TOUR professional. Ben hit the ball well but does not hit a lot of greens. But he has got a great short game. He is still regarded the best putter on TOUR and one of the all time greatest.
Corey Pavin is similar. Corey is slight of frame, uses some unconventional techniques but he and Ben both have won major golf championships by letting their skills help them shoot the scores that were lower than any other player in those championships and both on course the experts did not think fit their games. They did it in college, they do it on TOUR.
Continue to take lessons, practice, play, and compete. To compete effectively currently learn, understand and accept your game. Improve it. While you are improving it, find a way to scrape, dig, shovel it into the hole. If you do that then those guys you are intimidated by because of their ball striking will become frustrated and intimidated by your style of scrambling ability and scoring. Learn how to score.
A great set of tapes is by Dr. David Cook, a sports psychology professor at Kansas University. It is called (I think) “Putting your mind in position to Score.” I think it is available through Booklegger. It is a great set of tapes that help you learn how to make choices that will benefit you, master concentration and learn a method to focus on each golf shot, not allowing outside interference to distract you from your purpose: using your abilities to concentrate on the process so that the result will just happen. Keep in touch, I am interested in how you handle the situation.
Good Luck,
Scott Robbins


Dealing with nervousness

I live in: New Albany \ IN
My_name_is: Zach Johnson
My_age_is: 17
comments: a lot of times i get to anxious on the tee and screw up my drives. This seems to be what keeps me from shooting in the lower 70’s. I am really inconsistant off the tee. I was just wondering if you had any suggestions on how to become more consistant with my driver. thanks, Zach Johnson

Scott Robbins:
Zach,
Nervousness and inconsistency (especially with the driver) are largely due to a lack of a plan. It s a lot like math class in school. When the teacher calls on you for an answer and you don’t have the answer and you just guess, you get a little nervous. The same thing happens on the golf course. If you don’t have a plan ( a target selected, a shot pattern you want to see the ball take and an idea of the feel of the swing you want to use) you will get nervous because you don’t know the answer (never do until you hit the shot) but you also don’t know how to solve the problem.
Therefore, to work on your consistency with your driver, first make your target as specific as you do with your irons. Imagine and focus on a pin and a green in the part of the fairway you want to land your ball.
Feel the swing you want to use to hit it there with your practice swing. Step into the shot, focus deep one more time and tell yourself to TRUST your swing as you take the club away from the ball. If you play at a course that isn’t crowded at times, use those times to go on the course and stick shafts, flags, tree limbs or anything you can on the fairways where you want your drives to land to give you the best second shot. Then go and play the course focusing on those targets.
Good Luck. Be sure to see a PGA Professional to be sure your driver problems aren’t mechanical. If they are, have him/her help you fix it. He/she is dedicated to making your game better.
Scott Robbins


Pulling shots

I live in: Jackson,MS
My_name_is: Brett J. Robinson
My_age_is: 12
comments: I’ve been playing golf for 7 years now. It seems to me that I have a problem with pullig my irons. Sometimes I even pull my my woods.I want to now how you can help me. My secod question is that I want to play in more tournaments this summer but there aren’t that many I can enter in Jackson MS.

Scott Robbins:
Brett,
Pulling shots means the path of the club is coming from the outside coming through impact. A good drill is to put the ball on a tee and put another tee at the toe tip of your club and another one a clubhead length in front of it. Your goal is to swing, hit the ball, miss the first tee and hit or graze the second. That is a good way to train your swing to change paths on the way down and come more from the inside.
I do not know anything about the Gulf States Association. However you can contact the Gulf States PGA at:
Gulf States Section
PGA of America
PO Box 29426
New Orleans, Louisiana 70189
(800)469-9199
Contact: Robert Brown
Good Luck in the tournaments. Let me know how you do!
Scott