10 tips that worked for our GOLF.com staffers in 2021
Here at GOLF.com we’re avid golfers, just like you. We tee it up whenever we can, and are always on the hunt for that next swing tip that makes it all come togther.
And, just like a blind squirrel searching for a nut, every now again and again we find one. Here’s a few that worked for some of our staffers last year. Here’s hoping the magic lasts into 2022…
1. Commit and swing hard
It sounds simple, but I was reminded time and again in 2021 that that swing thought helps ensure you whoosh through the impact zone with speed and finish your swing. Especially with driver, I’ve found the best way to avoid leaving the face open — and the soul-crushing high weak fade that follows — is simply to get after it. No hesitation, no problem. — Alan Bastable, GOLF.com Executive Editor (12 handicap)
2. Focus on hitting ahead of the ball for better contact
My iron contact hit the skids earlier this year and I struggled initially to find a fix. I’ve spent most of my golf career self-diagnosing swing issues with decent success, so I went back to an old drill where I focused on making contact with the turf about four inches ahead of the ball. It sounds elementary, but concentrating on contacting a fixed point kept me down through impact and brought back some semblance of consistent turf interaction. It’s still my only swing thought when I’m on the course. — Jonathan Wall, Managing Equipment Editor (7 handicap)
3. Clubhead outside the hands
The swing thought I leaned on this year was trying to keep my clubhead outside the hands on my takeaway. If I can keep the clubhead outside the hands while keeping my hand path close to my body, I know I’ll be in the proper position at the top of the swing to hit a solid shot. — Zephyr Melton, Associate Editor (4.2 handicap)
4. Look at the hole on practice putts
My lag putting improved considerably when I started taking practice swings while looking at the hole instead of keeping my head down, watching my stroke, then glancing over at my line. This tip came from GOLF Top 100 Teacher Joe Hallett. He says looking at the hole during those practice strokes will give you a better feel of how much effort you need for the putt. It’s remarkably simple yet has had a huge impact. — Josh Berhow, GOLF.com Managing Editor (14.5 handicap)
5. Left leg wedge shots
I got a great tip from my Fully Equipped cohost Kris McCormack the other day regarding wedge play: Plant your weight on your lead leg, keep a stable base, and rotate your arms around your center. It’s kept me way more connected throughout the swing instead of swaying and getting wristy. — Andrew Tursky, Senior Equipment Editor (3 handicap)
6. Load the back leg (and more)
It’s been a very good year, but it’s been nothing shy of a great year for golf swing advice. In 2021, I received two wildly simple swing thoughts from a pair of golf legends — both of which have worked their way into every round since.
The first idea came from Dave Phillips, founder of the Titleist Performance Institute and swing coach for World No. 1 Jon Rahm. After witnessing a truly dreadful range session, Dave had the wherewithal to spot an issue with my weight transfer causing many of my consistency issues. His advice to me was this: force yourself to feel as if you are loading into your back leg in the backswing, then pushing off that back leg toward the target in the follow through. Dave’s advice has dramatically shifted my iron play, and moreover, given me a simple thought for every club in my bag (minus the putter): into the back foot, push off the back foot.
The SECOND swing thought came from a lesson with Greg Norman (yes – THAT Greg Norman) at Sandals Emerald Bay resort in the Bahamas. At the time, I’d just returned from Pinehurst with a wicked case of the chipping yips, and I couldn’t figure out the issue. Greg and I found ourselves chatting on the range, and he watched me hit three (3) chips. As soon as I hit the third, he stopped me.
“You’re picking up your front shoulder too quickly. As soon as you do that, you’re exposing the blade of the club. Focus on keeping the front shoulder down through the downswing.” Twenty minutes later, the two of us were pegging it around the course he designed for the resort, and I found myself facing yet another dastardly chip from a tight lie. Before I entered my pre-swing routine, Norman turned to me. “Remember what we talked about,” he said. I took a deep breath and tried my finest to focus on his advice (and not the impending peril of blading a chip directly in front of a golf hall of famer). Finally, I swung the club.
It was perfect — I knocked the freakin’ thing to six inches. “Hell yeah,” Norman said, giving me a high five. I just about blacked out in the moment, but the message has stuck with me ever since: if you’re struggling with bladed chips, keep that front shoulder down. — James Colgan, Associate Editor (10.2 handicap)
7. Three wedge swings
It’s so simple it hurts. The tip that worked for me in 2021 was passed down by Dustin Johnson, then the No. 1 player in the world. DJ was overseeing my wedge game when I asked him about yardages. “For me I have three swings with each wedge — a half, a three-quarter, and a stock.” That’s how DJ ensures there’s no gap in his yardages. An 85-yard shot can be pulled off with a 50-percent 52-degree, a 75-percent 56-degree or a stock lob wedge. Again, it’s so simple it hurts, but it takes a ton of practice. Every time I visited a range this year, I made sure to try those three swings with all three of my wedges. Soon enough you’ve got a 60-yard range of shots, a la DJ. Next goal is being as good as he is with them. — Sean Zak, Senior Editor (8.6 handicap)
Defending Masters champion @DJohnsonPGA spends more time working on his wedges than any part of his game, so who better to teach our own @Sean_Zak how to hit 'em close and make 'em stick? pic.twitter.com/kHIUhHPa94
— GOLF.com (@GOLF_com) April 9, 2021
8. Practicing punch shots with wedges
Hitting punch shots with my highest lofted club at the range over, and over, and over again was the best best of advice I received this year. I’m trying to break out of a lifelong bad habit of flipping at impact and this routine has me making real progress for the first time… ever. — Tim Reilly, Director of Social Media (12.2 handicap)
9. Chest outraces club
I’m not going to lie, the nature of my job means I end up working a lot of swing thoughts, but I keep going back to is the feeling of my chest outracing the club on the downswing. I have a tendency to throw and roll the club on the downswing, which can lead to blocks and hooks. When I make sure to keep my torso turning, the club releases around me, and the ball goes straighter. — Luke Kerr-Dineen, Game Improvement Editor (1.8 handicap)
The distressing thing is that I can’t think of any. — Dylan Dethier, Senior Writer (professional golfer)