I feel this is one of the most important shots one can learn to really reduce their score on the golf course and it is very easy to learn. Wouldn’t it be great if you could always hit a good quality shot into the green every time and be able to control your distance at the same time? This is exactly what the ‘no hands’ shot will do for you with just a little practice.
The golf swing has two ‘levers’ in it. The first is the amount of power and club head speed that can be produced by swinging the club around the large muscles of the body. The shoulders, trunk, and legs will provide a certain amount of speed swinging the club around the body. The second ‘lever’ is the hinging and unhinging of the small muscles namely the wrists. As you bring the clubs down through the hitting area, the big muscles are creating the angles and the speed to hit the ball, but the ‘cocked’ wrists is where the power is really generated from. That last minute release is where 50% of the club head speed comes from and what provide the power in the swing. But what if we don’t need that power and don’t need the ball to go all that far, then wouldn’t a one lever swing provide more consistency and distance control? That is absolutely the case. When hitting a sand wedge 60 yards, most people could hit a pretty good shot if the wrists were taped where no hinge is possible. They could simply take the club back with their shoulders and return the club to contact and square the club every time. With the same exact amount of club head speed each time, the ball has to travel the same distance. A longer backswing is the only way to allow more distance because more speed can occur. Work on taking the club back with no hinge of the wrists at all and then come down through the hitting area with consistent speed. The contact will be flush and the ball very seldom off line. The secret then is to practice how far back to take the club for the ball to travel a certain distance. I used to practice that a backswing to my belt would give me a 55 yard shot, to the lowest rib, a 65 yard shot, to the upper rib, a 75 yard shot. Once I get past 75 yards, I need a second lever to hit the ball further so I then start to use the wrists and hands. Keep the weight slightly left and trap the ball and this will become your favorite shot. The ball should be played about center in your stance. Practice hitting the ball certain distances and you will soon find this to be one of your favorite shots. - Mark DeBolt, PGA Professional
I tell a lot of my students that the difference between the golfer who is serious, but not well accomplished yet, and the scratch player, is the ability to move the ball the direction you want it to go. Why would I want to curve the ball on purpose? It makes the game twice as easy to be able to move the ball. For what reasons? There are three reasons to move the ball one direction or the other. First, to make the fairway wider. Second, to move the ball safely onto the green. Third, to limit the effect of the wind on the golf ball. Let’s say you have the ability to make some adjustments that allows the ball to fade or draw on command. No matter how hard you may try, you can’t move it more than say 30 yards one way or the other so you set to tee off on a 400 yard long par 4 with out of bounds down the left side and plenty of room right. I was taught to hug the out of bounds and do everything in your power to make sure the fall fades. It is virtually impossible to hit a big enough of a fade to miss the fairway to the right and the out of bounds is no issue. If a pin is tucked to the left side and you simply can’t afford to short side yourself to the left, then why not pick out a target in the center of the green and if the ball draws, you could be stiff, if it stays straight, then you have a simply 25 footer down to the hole. Growing up in the wind, I soon learned how to put it into my favor. You can take out a couple of extra clubs and hit a cut into the right to left wind and the ball will usually hold a fairly straight line though it will go shorter than a normal iron shot. If you turn it over with the wind, then the ball will hang into the air and ride the wind out greatly increasing the distance that shot will go.
All of these fades and draws can be produced by altering your grip on the golf club. By turning the left hand further to the right or strengthening the left hand grip, the clubface will become more closed at contact allowing hook spin to be produced and the ball will draw. Remember, turning the left hand more to the left side, will weaken the grip resulting in a more open clubface and a fade as far as the ball flight is concerned. Make sure you always move both hands in making these adjustments. It does no good to strengthen the left hand but not let the right hand go with it. Nicklaus has a great way of doing this. He would set up on his normal position and then turn the clubface the direction he wanted the ball to travel. He would then grip the club normally with the face open or closed and then make his normal swing and it either the fade or hook. You go out and practice these ideas and watch your scores start to drop. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment for me. - Mark DeBolt, PGA Pro
One question I get all the time that is very innocent and to the point is simply, “How should I practice? When I go to the practice tee to work on my swing or to just enjoy a practice session of hitting balls, what is the best way to do it?” I was taught a long time ago by a very good player, Earl Stewart, the golf coach at Southern Methodist, and winner on the PGA Tour, that every practice session has a purpose. You want to put yourself in the exact situation that you will be on the golf course. First, always warm up hitting soft sand wedges to get the feel of the grip again and work into full swings. He then said to choose odd or even and then hit every club in the bag that is one or the other. So today I pick odd and after the Sand Wedge I move to the nine iron on down through the three iron and then Hybrid, Fairway, and Driver. Each shot is at a target with a certain hole in mind as to what shot you are hitting. The next time you practice you would move to the even clubs starting with the Pitching Wedge. You will be hitting all of your clubs equally and develop confidence in each. I think the worst thing you can do through practice is to acquire a couple of favorites. I hit my eight iron so good all the time that once on the course if I can hit a big eight iron instead of the seven that I miss hit a lot, then that is what I will do and then the good eight iron falls short. I have heard this so many times. If you have a couple of clubs you love to hit, they will dominate your decision making on the course and cost you shots. Get acquainted with each of your clubs equally and trust each one equally and you will reap rewards. This sounds like a trivial point, but I see it every day. Try this and make friends with all your clubs. - Mark DeBolt, PGA Pro
There will be many lessons on this site that will mention why the ball curves; when the club face is not perpendicular to the path. The path of the club through the hitting area, whether it is from outside to inside or inside to outside, greatly determines where the flight of the ball will start. Club face angle can also influence this to a certain degree (a very closed club face can cause the ball to start left even when the divot points to the right of the target), but the path is huge. The first thing you want to check when you are pulling or pushing shots is your actual alignment and second, is the direction of your divot. I have seen many people who are convinced they are pushing their shots when they are actually lined up twenty yards to the right of the target. Lay an alignment stick or club down between the ball and your feet and make sure you are parallel left of your target and then you can check your divot to see what the actual path of the club was for that shot. Why the path is not down the line is a topic for many other lessons, but it is good to know exactly why you are starting the ball off line.
There are also push and pulled shots that can happen from the toe being closed or open at contact when you have actually made a great swing. This occurs from not having the correct equipment. Yes, you will hear me say many times that possibly the problem is with the Indian and not the Arrow, but if the ‘lie’ is not correct for you on your irons, then off line shots will occur. When a club sits too flat, the toe will hit the ground first flipping the face open. When it is too upright, the heel will dig and the toe will shut. I was hitting my 56 degree one day on eighty yard shots and had my alignment rod placed on the ground and a second one for my path of the club. I hit about fifty shots and every divot was exactly on target and probably 75% of the shots were ten to twenty feet left. The club was square throughout the swing but the ball continued to go left. I drove down to the shop to check the lie and it was upright for me so I bent it about 2 ½ degrees flatter and returned to the same spot on the range. After about fifty more balls I only had two of them left of the flag. For that reason you should have the lies on all of your irons checked to make sure they are correct for you. This can be done down at Golf Headquarters and will take about 30 minutes. I believe in this so much that you bring your clubs in and mention you read about it on our webpage and we will give you 20% off on the fitting. - Mark DeBolt, PGA Professional
Let me make one thing clear on the front end, these series of lessons are not in any order of importance at all. When I have time, I sit down and give a lesson that happens to come to mind at that point in time. Today, I want to discuss the “death move” because I see it every day.
I am sure that many of you have played many different sports so you can relate to this immediately. In football the quarterback gets the snap via shotgun and back peddles sometimes three steps before he plants and moves his weight forward along with the motion of the arm to throw to the receiver. The infielder catches the ground ball and takes a few small steps before he steps into the throw to first base. The boxer steps into the jab. All three of these examples show that the main body moves towards the direction of the throw or blow, it creates momentum in that direction that allows the small muscles to move even faster to deliver the action. In golf we have a very similar action that I like to call the ‘lean’ and more graphically, the death move. We want to create momentum in the downswing and to start this off, it seems only logically that the first move down should be a huge lean with the upper body in the direction of the intended target no matter how far away it might be and no matter what club we are using. You feel the complete motion of the shoulders turning back to the chin and then the first move down has to be the left shoulder and upper body moving five or six inches towards the target and then boom, an absolutely terrible golf shot. WHAT HAPPENED!!!!!
What happened is that you have the ball way too far back in your stance. The club is traveling on too vertical of an angle of descent and there is virtually no way the club face can get back to square in the hitting area. High blocked shots out to the right or very thin or even topped shots result and sometimes the player can recover enough to get out over the top from outside to inside to completely pull the shot way left, or even shank it occasionally.
So what is the solution? We want to hit the ball solid and we want the most distance we can possibly get, but we can’t live with this death move. When you start the swing hopefully you have the ball in the proper position in your stance and in relation to your chest. Once the backswing begins, we want that ball position to stay constant during the entire swing and moving “ahead of it” is the worst thing we can do. I teach that you strive to make a good ‘pivot” in the backswing and you load the right side up as much as you can the then the first move down is to simply separate the left shoulder from the chin. What? Again, in the bad swing you will notice that the left shoulder and the chin ride each other down through the hitting area causing the player to ‘move ahead of the ball/the death move. Instead, the left shoulder simply moves away from the chin moving towards the target as the left leg firms up and eventually straightens up to force the weight to stay behind the ‘hit’. This allows you to deliver the maximum amount of power to the shot without changing the position of the ball in relation to the fulcrum point, or the position of the ball in relation to the chest at address. In earlier times when I was growing up, they called this simply “hitting against the left side”, one of the best expressions I have ever heard when it comes to hitting the golf ball.
If you like these lessons and they are doing you any good, please let me know or post a comment here. - Mark DeBolt, PGA Professional
Why is it that some of the shortest and supposedly easy shots in golf become so difficult to perform day in and day out? Chipping can save so many rounds, but in turn, can completely destroy a golfer and any self-esteem and confidence the player ever had. I must admit that I am pretty much old school meaning that it drives me crazy to see all the young studs chipping with 52, 56, and even 60 degree wedges when three or four feet off the green. I learned chipping back when everything was basically bump and run type of shots. For the sake of this lesson, I would like to have everyone try this approach to see if it helps from around the green.
I grew up under a great teacher in Oklahoma City, Mr. Ernie Vossler, who once wrote an article for Golf Digest titled “1/3 in the air and 2/3 on the ground. What he meant by that was when chipping with an eight iron from the fringe or just off the fringe, if you chip a ball 1/3 in the air, it will roll 2/3 on the ground. If you find yourself 45 feet from the cup on a fairly level lie, then you want to chip your ball with the #8 iron 15 feet in the air and watch it roll 30 feet on the ground. Put your feet close together with the ball in the middle of your feet and 60% to 70% of your weight on the front foot. Your feet should be about 30 degrees open to your intended target. With the clubface behind and ball, your hands should be slightly ahead of the ball and club head and the hands will stay ahead of the club head throughout the shot. The clubface only passed the hands well after the contact has been made and the ball is headed to the target. There is no turning of the body on the backswing, but the hips and upper chest can “release” towards the target after contact with the golf ball in the bump and run chip shot.
The key is to work hard on the feeling of dragging the club through the hitting zone and not flipping the clubface out ahead of the hands. Concentrate on the spot that is 1/3 of the way to the hole and land the ball on that spot and you will start to develop great consistency with this part of your game. - Mark DeBolt, PGA Professional
Most teachers will address the grip during a lesson, but few teach what the grip actually is. The grip is the only bridge between the club and the body and how it is performed can determine the most important aspect of the swing, a square clubface during the swing and at contact with the golf ball. There are three types of grips, the overlapping (Vardon), the interlock, and the ten finger grip. All of these can be very effective. The trend today is towards the interlock grip where the overlap was the popular grip during the past three or four decades. Whatever is more comfortable will be correct for you. The most important aspect of the grip is that you use praying hands or hands that face each other. This will allow the hands to work quickly and to ‘release’ the club to the maximum extent. For right handers, start out with the left hand ‘V’, the line formed between the left thumb and left index finger, pointing around your right ear. If you move the ‘V’ to the left or towards your nose, that is considered weakening your grip and should result in a more left to right and higher ball flight.
Strengthening your grip, or moving the ‘V’ towards your right shoulder, should strengthen you grip and produce a more right to left shot because it is much easier for your to close the face through the hitting area. If you hook the ball too much or slice the ball too much, try moving your left hand on the club to counter this action by changing the angle of the face at contact. Remember, the right hand goes along with the left hand. The worst thing you can do with the grip is to have the palms not facing each other. To have a strong left hand and a weak right hand will destroy any chance you have of getting any distance out of any club. - Mark DeBolt, PGA Professional
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I would like to begin by thanking each and every one of you who have come to visit our new website. I hope you visit it often and let us know what you think and how we can improve. One new addition on our site will be a weekly golf tip from me. If you want to know my credentials as far as teaching goes, please visit our section “Staff” and read my biography.
I grew up in Oklahoma City under the guidance of Ernie Vossler, PGA Head Golf Professional at Quail Creek Golf and Country Club. After a very successful junior and high school golf career with State Championships, I played college golf at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. We qualified for the NCAA Tournament each year I was there and I received All America honors in 1974. I was also a teammate of the late Payne Stewart while at SMU.
While in Minnesota, I was the PGA Head Golf Professional at Willow Creek (1988 thru 1993) and PGA Head Golf Professional at Rochester Golf and CC (2003 thru 2008). I have been the manager of Golf Headquarters since early 2013.
I have been a student of the game most of my life and there is simply no place I feel more ‘at home’ than working with someone on the practice tee. I feel everything in the golf swing is tied together and everything has cause and effect. I feel the most important aspect of teaching is communication and the ability to gauge whether or not the student is grasping the point being made or is it time to communicate another thought to get the same result. Anyone who has worked with me I feel would certainly verify this point.
I will cover many different aspects of the swing, the mental game, and how to handle extreme situations such as wind or even pressure. Please feel free to contact me if you have individual questions or have one of my online lessons about your particular problem. I will try to add a new segment every Tuesday right HERE.
Thanks again for visiting our site.
- Mark DeBolt, PGA Golf Professional/Manager, Golf Headquarters
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From the Pro
Hi! I'm the Manager at Golf Headquarters in Rochester and I've been a PGA Professional since 1988. Follow my blog to stay up-to-date on equipment, news, and tips on your golf swing.