Golf Tips: Intermediate Tips

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How can I combat the tenseness when I swing at the ball?

Stay Flexible on Tee and Fairway

One of the worst things you can do to your golf game is to tighten up or get too tense when teeing off, or when you're on the fairway or green. Instructors have a cure for this; it's a drill called “the hip blocker.”
First fix your knees as if ready to swing at the ball. This will force the body to turn more correctly and increase flexibility. If you're right-handed, while swinging, turn your shoulders back until the left shoulder is under your chin. You should be able to feel a greater stretch along your left side. Do the same thing on your follow-through, but this time with your right shoulder under your chin. With this exercise, in time you will increase your ability to fully coil without using your hips. You'll achieve a new flexibility and at the same time increase the power in your swing.

I’m right-handed, so what can I do to increase the power in my left side when I swing at the ball?

Are You Using Both Sides?

Are you one of those golfers who unconsciously is using only one side when hitting the ball? After all, it is probably your strongest side and so depending on it for most of your strength comes naturally enough, right? It's important to use both sides fully in your shots to play well and score well. Too many players, even those who have been playing for a while and should know better, allow their swings to be dominated by their right side. The left arm and side, consequently, remain weak and do not contribute as they should to every shot you make. Right-side dominance causes poor extension and leads to a lot of other flaws in your swing. If you're right-handed, one way to correct this is to practice swinging with your left arm only. Do this a few times and then add your right arm for a full swing. You should begin to feel the difference in your swing and in the power you can now generate.

There must be something wrong with my mechanics because I am now losing distance on my shots. How can I fix this?

Why Am I Losing Distance?

Sometimes a golfer who's been playing for a few years starts to lose distance on his shots, which can be a very troubling sensation.
One of the first steps in correcting this problem is to concentrate on releasing your hands through the ball correctly. Your forearms should be close together when you hit the ball. After impact they should be crossed or form an “X.” When this happens you'll know you are not blocking the ball, which now has a chance to go the full distance. Other things to watch out for include making sure you make a full turn, with your arms fully extended through impact. Keep your body relaxed, with a light grip on the club. Keep your left side firm and your left knee bent through impact. Swing through the ball, not at it, and finish with a full follow-through.

I know my timing is off. What can I do to correct it?

Is Your Timing Off?

Even the best of golfers is conscious of timing. Is your timing good, or is it off a bit – or a lot off? If it's off, then you're not getting the shots you want. What can you do about it?
First, think about your swing. Are you swinging the club too fast, or trying too hard to get more distance out of the ball? Make a correction by swinging your clubs using your large leg and body muscles rather than your arms and hands. Then hit the ball with about 80 percent of your power rather than trying to kill the ball with 100 percent impact or more. One instructor advises hitting the ball with about the same energy you would use in hitting a 7-iron. Be sure not to rush your downswing. Take a full coil and start your downswing with your legs and hips. Before turning on the power, get your arms into the hitting position. Try this technique and see if it helps.

What can I do to make sure my shots are straight, especially off the tee?

Good Driving Tip: How to Hit the Ball Straighter

If you're having trouble hitting the ball straight, there are a few techniques you can brush up on so as to avoid this problem, especially when you're teeing off. Here are four steps to better drives:
First, stand behind your ball and look out into the fairway (or on a short hole, on the green). Select a spot where you'd like your ball to land. You can approximate the spot, for instance, make it a 10- to 15-yard landing area. Then visualize an imaginary line from your ball to the targeted area. This will help you concentrate on your focus when you're addressing the ball. Now, get ready to hit the ball, first taking one more look at the targeted area. Keep your head down and fire away with confidence. You know exactly what you want to do, and you're doing it. That will give you full confidence in your shot, and it should be a straight one.

I’m still having trouble with my sandtrap shots. What can I do about it?

A Master of The Sand

Still not making respectable exits from sandtraps? According to Dave Petz, game consultant for Golf Magazine, you can fix this problem in fairly short order by practicing at home in your own backyard for about 30 minutes each week. All you need is sand, your sandwedge, and knowledge of the right technique to use in hitting the ball out of the sand to the spot where you want it to go.
Put a pile of sand on a flat surface (you might want to use a cookie sheet for this), and enough sand to bury your clubface into. Place a ball into the sand and fire away. The ball should be far forward in your stance, just as it should be when you're in a sandtrap on a golf course. Keep your clubface open and swing through the ball aggressively to get the needed backspin. Set yourself a target, the place where you want the ball to land. Keep practicing the shot until you achieve your goal. This is a good drill for you to use in becoming a Master of the Sand.

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Sherril Steele-Carlin