2 important shots pros know they need during the Florida Swing

I love the “Florida Swing”, and I love Bay Hill, just ask my wife (she told me I said it about five times while watching the Saturday coverage)

The ’21 edition of The Arnold Palmer Invitational did not disappoint.  The course was a complete test and an impressive cast of characters showed up on the Sunday leaderboard.

With much respect to Bryson DeChambeau, who stole the show, I was fascinated by Lee Westwood as he vied for the title. Massively outmatched off the tee, Westy combined guile, smarts, accurate ball-striking and some nifty plays to keep the pressure on Bryson all the way to the very end.

There are a couple lessons you can learn from the 47 year-old, who is already off to a good start at the Players Championship. The wily veteran has played enough golf in Florida to understand the importance of the following two shots, which every golfer should know how to hit…

1. The Low Ball

Keeping the trajectory down is a valuable shot-making skill and a great way to improve your ball striking.

A lower flighted ball is created by a blend of a delofted clubface at impact, a slightly descending angle of attack and a reduction of ball speed and spin.

Before we get into the how-to’s of the shot do always remember, the more the ball is spinning the more likely it is to climb and potentially bend off-line.  It is why I always share this ditty:  “Swing easy when it is breezy.”

Westwood did this by taking extra club, making an abbreviated, balanced and well-timed swing.

You can too but before you do make sure you have the following pre-shot elements in order:

  • Grip down the club an inch or two,
  • Move the ball back to the middle of the stance (be careful not to move it too far back),
  • Move your body wright forward and keep pressure on the lead foot, and
  • Set your hands marginally in front of the clubface.

Then as you make your swing, retain the pressure on your forward leg and pivot over it.  You should get the sense that you do not turn behind the ball very much at all.  (The pro’s would call the feeling “covering the ball”.)  Keep your arms out to your sides throughout the pass and strive for an even pace throughout the swing.  Remember, abbreviated in length, smoother in cadence and well-timed in movement will lead to better strikes and more success.

* And practice a few shots off a downhill slope – that will quickly “teach” you what you have to do.*

2. The divot ball

Equally as impressive as the shot into the 11th was Westwood’s approach into the iconic final hole. After pinning a drive down the middle, Lee’s ball found a sand-filled divot.  Impressively unfazed, he delivered a gem into the heart of the boomerang shaped green.

Playing out of a divot is easier than most people think.  In fact in many respects it is similar to hitting the low shot.  The main thing to remember is that you have to make the lowest part of the swing’s arc happen after the golf ball.

Add to that, the angle of attack will typically be a little steeper and more downward to “trap” the ball out of the divot.

  • Do not grip down the club – you need all of the length of the shaft to get under the ball (which is likely below your feet),
  • Move the ball back to the middle of the stance (be careful not to move it too far back),
  • Move your body wright forward and keep pressure on the lead foot, and
  • Set your hands marginally in front of the clubface.

As you strike the ball it is worthwhile to consider the collision of the club with the ground will likely slow it down.  In other words it will be hard to make a full-flowing follow-through – Stick with a shorter finish; just commit to decent, downward ball contact.

Just like the low shot, practicing out of bad lies is a good idea and guaranteed to help your swing and lower your scores.  It did with Westwood, on the very last hole of the tournament.

Golf.com Contributor

On-course announcer and analyst Mark Immelman is passionate about the game of golf. As a decorated instructor, award-winning NCAA college golf coach, and an accomplished golfer, Mark brings a robust knowledge and vast experience to his role as a television broadcaster and golf instructor. He is currently a Golf Analyst for CBS Sports HQ, and an Analyst and On-course Announcer for CBS Sports and Golf on CBS. He currently also serves as a Studio Analyst and an On-course Announcer for PGA TOUR Live  for PGA TOUR Live.

The older brother to 2008 Masters Champion, Trevor Immelman, Mark grew up in Somerset West, South Africa. After a successful amateur career in South Africa he was offered a golf scholarship to Columbus State University (Columbus , GA). He enjoyed a prolific collegiate tenure highlighted by his four-time All-America selections, two-time Academic All-America awards, and two NCAA Div. II National Championship victories. After graduation, Mark had a short season as a playing professional, but quickly turned his attention to his true passion – golf teaching.

As a golf instructor, Mark believes in cultivating ability and talent by providing comprehensive, holistic golf instruction that is easily understandable and of the highest quality to golfers of all abilities and skill levels. His passionate approach and keen knowledge of the game have led to him being a sought-after mind by leading Professional and Amateur golfers alike. Through his career he has taught and/or consulted to PGA TOUR and European Tour professionals and tournament winners such as: Larry Mize, Loren Roberts, Trevor Immelman, Scott Brown, Patton Kizzire, Louis Oosthuizen and Will Wilcox. He has been recognized as one of “Golf Digest’s Top 20 Instructors Under 40”, Golf Digest’s “Best Teachers in the State of Georgia” and Georgia Trend Magazine’s “Top 40 Under 40 – Georgia’s Best and Brightest”.

As a NCAA College Coach at Columbus State University (since 2001) Mark continues to coach the Columbus State Men’s Golf Team and his program is a perennial contender for Conference and National Titles. He is a two-time NCAA Div. II Atlantic/Southeast Region Coach of the Year, two-time Peachbelt Conference Coach of the Year, and the 2009 NCAA Div. II National Coach of the Year.

In 2019 Mark was selected as Captain and Coach of the (Arnold) Palmer Cup International Team. His team triumphed over the United States Team in the Palmer Cup Matches held at The Alotian Club outside of Little Rock, AR.

Mark’s additional broadcast duties include being a guest analyst on the CBS Sports “First Cut Podcast”. CBS Sports also uses Mark’s unique voice for audio and promotional PGA TOUR advertisements and promotional reads.

He has also served a 6-year tenure as a Play-by-Play Announcer for Sirius/XM PGA TOUR Radio.

Additionally, Mark hosts “On the Mark”, a PGA TOUR Podcast, which to date has been downloaded more than 3 million times in more than 125 countries.

He has also written golf instructional columns and articles for Golf Digest SA, Golf Digest USA and is currently penning instructional pieces for Golf Magazine. As an author, Mark has published two e-Books on golf instruction: “Scandalously SImple – The Easy Way to Accurate Golf Shots” and “Golf is a Game of Recovery”.

You can learn more about at MarkImmelman.com