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Breaking 100: Find your balance
Created on 8/1/2003 12:00:00 AM

Breaking 100 - Find Your Balance

Two of the biggest problem areas for 100-shooters are maintaining good rhythm and balance on tee shots and hitting crisp, accurate chips. You're going to miss greens and a lot of putts, but if you can keep the ball in the fairway off the tee and chip it close around the greens, you'll break 100.

Focus on control, not swing speed
I hear a lot of high-handicap players giving advice to each other such as "slow down your swing." Slowing down a bad golf swing will only produce a slow, bad golf swing.

Instead, I tell all my students they can swing as fast as they want, but there is one caveat: They have to stay in balance.

To figure out how fast you can swing, picture yourself standing on the edge of a cliff. If you swing too fast, you're going to lose your balance and fall off. Find the speed that keeps you from falling. Ernie Els swings the golf club very fast, but he looks smooth doing it.

Earn respect with short shots
One thing every golfer can appreciate is a player who can chip the ball well. If you want to be that player in your foursome, focus on the setup. Play the ball way back in your stance, in front of the shoelaces on your back foot. I can't stress this enough. It will help ensure a crisp, downward hit on the ball. At address, stand with your feet slightly open and your body leaning toward the target (right). Now make a smooth, putting-like motion with your chipping club, keeping the left arm in line with the clubshaft past impact.

Take it three at a time
Break your 18-hole round into three-hole segments; it'll help prevent you from dwelling on bad holes. When you're done with a segment, let it go.

Sneak up on par 3s
The fastest way to break 100 is to get some 3s and 4s on the scorecard. Think of par 3s as short par 4s. Look for lay-up areas on tough par 3s rather than risk a double bogey or worse by trying a shot you likely won't pull off. If you get on the green in two, you may even one-putt for a 3.

Doglegs can bite
I know it's tempting, but don't take the shortcut on a dogleg hole. It's too risky. Play down the center of the fairway. Even though the hole bends, most architects reward players for staying straight.

Golf Digest August 2003


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