How this golfer got good fast — and how you can, too!

paris hilinski swings

For most golfers, game improvement is a journey that takes place over a lifetime. For 17-year-old Paris Hilinski, it happened in a flash.

Christian Hafer

For most golfers, game improvement is a journey that takes place over a lifetime. For 17-year-old Paris Hilinski, it happened in a flash. 

She took up golf when she was 12, had her first lesson at 13 and qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open when she was 14. Her coach, GOLF Top 100 Teacher Claude Harmon III, has been with her every step of the way.

Now, he’s here to share their secrets about how Paris got so good so quickly — and how you can apply those lessons to improve your game in a hurry.

1. Putting – Keep your head still

This time-tested tip remains the secret to making the short ones.

Christian Hafer

Learning this game requires working from the hole backward, even when putting. Paris started by learning how to perfect her short-range putting first, and then gradually moved farther away from the cup. It builds a good foundation for the rest of your game. 

No movement 

Putting requires precision, and if your head and body sway, it’s going to be hard to control the putterface. Have a friend or your coach grab the bill of your hat, like I’m doing here, and hit a few putts. Internalize that feeling of a stable head that never looks at the hole too soon.

2. Short game: Spin your chips

Good chipping improves your full swing, too.

Paris’ stellar full swing is based in some of the great things she does in her short game. Good players know that chipping it well demands an awareness of how to control the clubface to create spin and hit different kinds of shots. 

Christian Hafer

Compress the ball 

Start by hitting low spinners. Place the ball slightly back in your stance, with the handle forward, and keep it there on the downswing. That feeling of a “compression” shot with a stable clubface is one you can apply throughout your bag.

3. Full swing: Wide and stable

The best backswings are wide with a full turn — and zero sway.

Paris gets the club a little long at the top, which compromises the timing and sequencing on her downswing. It’s a common issue among juniors and golfers with lots of upper body flexibility. Not every swing has to go completely to parallel. 

Christian Hafer

Stabilize your turn 

Hold an alignment stick under your right arm and hit three-quarter shots. This will help you get the club into a wider, more stable position without reducing your upper body turn. For Paris, it puts her in a position to better control the club both at the top and at impact.

4. Shallow it out

For consistent strikes, favor a flat approach over a steep one.

Christian Hafer

Paris has a very athletic swing and she hits the ball a long way. But in order to take advantage of her athleticism, she needs to contact the ball without imparting too much spin and from a fairly neutral path — good advice for most players. 

Tee up an iron 

Try one of Paris’ favorite drills. With an iron, tee up the ball as you would with driver. This forces you to nix a too-steep downswing for one that’s more shallow and keep the spin under control. It also gives you better control of the clubface and “neutralizes” your path.

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