With days getting longer and weather warmer, we’re reminded golf season is just around the corner. With that in mind, we turned to our friends at Callaway Golf to get their best golf pointers from their stellar roster of touring professionals and award-winning instructors. Here are five simple but compelling tips the Callaway pro staff provided for your next round.
“Tee it high and fly” is a phrase long known to golfers. PGA Tour star Jon Rahm converts it into a useful driving tip by adding two critical pointers. Rahm’s advice is to tee your ball slightly higher than normal and then take your stance so that the teed ball is a bit forward—i.e., adjusted toward the target versus what’s normal for you. When you swing and make contact, your driver will be farther along its arc and moving upward, which causes the ball to launch higher. It’s a simple formula for adding yardage to your tee shot.
Many golfers use their putter from short grass around the green, even when they’re quite a distance away. That’s to avoid “chunking” their chip shots with a wedge, which happens when the club comes in too low and gets slowed down by the turf. How to adjust? Award-winning instructor Erika Larkin proposes this: Set up close enough to the ball that the shaft of your wedge is almost perpendicular to the ground. Grip down slightly on the handle and make a putting-style stroke, with no wrist action. This way you’ll be able to strike the ball crisply while simultaneously enjoying the added control that comes with using a wedge instead of a putter.
If a golfer with a slender frame has sufficient flexibility and hand-eye coordination, long drives are easily possible for them. A touring pro who possesses both, Akshay Bhatia, suggests you add driving distance via a technique that combines deliberate “sway” in the backswing with a delayed un-cocking of the wrists in your downswing. Your upper torso will drift slightly backward (from the target, not the ball) as it begins to coil. Coming toward impact, the driver shaft will stay vertical longer than usual. Then the club will whip with extra speed into the impact position, unleashing added force.
Even on simple putts, average golfers tend to strike the ball toward the toe or heel of their putter, which produces a poor result. Teaching pro Stephen Sweeney trains his students to avoid off-center hits by improving their lower-body stability. If your legs and hips are “quiet,” he explains, your putting stroke will be far less wayward. Sweeney brings his tour-sized golf bag onto the practice green and has the student take their stance with their backside lightly contacting the bag. When they make a stroke, that contact should remain just as it was at address. If you can do this, your lower body will be rock-solid and your putter will move on a nice, controlled path. Contact with the ball will be dead-center of the putter face.
When you find yourself near the green with a bunker between you and the flagstick, you’ll need to hit a high, arcing shot that lands softly. It’s easy to feel tense in this situation, but the cure is to understand how wedges with loft angles in the 54- to 60-degree range can “do most of the work for you,” says teaching professional Erika Larkin. Hold your lofted wedge with a normal grip, set up so the ball is slightly forward in your stance and make a half swing—meaning your hands will only rise to waist-heighton the backswing and will finishin the same placeon your follow-through. Remember that if you’re standing 50 feet from the hole, your ball needs enough energy to cover that distance,plus the extradistance it’s traveling due to the high arc. Expect to make a shallow divot in the turf—that’s a sign you’re doingitright.