Want to score like the pros? Take the advice of this European Tour winner
I was born in Manchester, England, but have been living in the U.S. since I was a kid, and am a proud University of Florida alum. Nowadays, I split my time between PGA Tour and European Tour events.
Learning how to adapt my game for both sides of the Atlantic took some time, but it basically boils down to two things: Getting a feel for hitting low shots on command and being versatile around the greens.
Here’s how to do both.
Low Iron “Punch”
What it feels like: Something I work on with my coach Sean Foley is maintaining some tilt in my backswing and turning over my trail leg. When players try to hit it low, they tend to mostly lift their arms.
What it looks like: As you can see, I don’t get as far over on my trail leg, but I’ve definitely shifted and rotated more than I’ve lifted.
What it feels like: My head is behind the ball, and my arms are wide and away from my body. On low shots, the key is to swing more “around” than “down.”
What it looks like: Feeling like my head stays back and my arms stay wide on the downswing allows me to turn freely without get – ting my torso too far over my front foot. When that happens on low shots, I get too steep and create a lot of spin — that’s a killer in the wind.
What it feels like: The club is moving around me in a circle. This is what pro – motes a low spinning draw that cuts through the wind, from wedge all the way up to my long irons.
What it looks like: In reality, I definitely take a divot on punch shots and get my weight on my front side through impact. Yet notice how the club has slung past my hands and how my arms have fully rotated around my body. I’m not hitting the ball; I’m swinging through it!
High vs. Low
Playing in different conditions means being able to hit different shots around the greens. Even weekend warriors should learn how to chip and pitch it high and low on command. Keep your setup the same for both trajectories, except when hitting it high (near right), play the ball up in your stance with your hands directly over the ball. On lower shots (far right), set about 80 percent of your weight on your front side and add a little shaft lean toward the target.
What it feels like: This is a tip I got from the legendary Seve Ballesteros: “To hit it high, finish so the club is past your hands and you can place the grip of your club in your left pocket.”
What it looks like: Knowing how I want to finish my swing, I feel like I “dump” the clubhead early, so it outraces my hands. It feels like the ball sticks to the clubface longer, which creates shot-stopping backspin.
What it feels like: I feel a lot of right hand in this shot — not as much rolling of the clubface but rather creating a “cuppy” motion with my right hand that keeps the club level with the ground.
What it looks like: My right hand motions the club around me, creating just the right amount of draw spin. This is a shot I play a lot when I have a makeable chip or want to get something rolling on the ground quickly.