Bad habits in the senior golf swing are as common as white bread, they are everywhere.
In our practice, we address some of the more difficult to change habits that occur in senior golfers, but today we are going to focus on some easy (easier) to fix golf swing issues that you can change more quickly.
Hitting Thin Hybrids
Hitting “thin” hybrids is much better than hitting them “fat,” but if you are commonly hitting your hybrids thin, the fix is much easier.
The most common cause of hitting “thin” hybrids occurs because golfers swing them like the driver or fairway wood. More of a sweeping type of swing trying to catch it on the upswing. Golfers try to “help” the ball into the air by keeping their weight back on their trail leg.
The key to hitting solid hybrids that fly high and land soft, is hitting them more like a mid-iron. Hit the hybrid with a slight descending blow with your weight transferring to the lead leg.
Setting up to the ball more in the middle of your stance is a great quick fix to improve your contact with a hybrid.
Hitting Fat Bunker Shots
I used to really struggle with my sand game. I mean really struggle! I remember playing golf in a tournament at Fircrest Country Club in Tacoma Washington about 12 years ago.
I was playing really well and was -3 coming into the 9th hole. I hit a terrible push slice drive over the tree line and into the opposing fairway. The fir trees are thick and tall in western Washington so the only shot I had was to hit a hard hook around the furthest tree (about 160 yards).
When I arrived I was deflated to see that the ball was no where on the green and was sitting under the lip in the green side bunker. To make a long story short, I flubbed the ball into the bunker lip twice and then air mailed the green on my third to finish with a triple.
Why was my bunker game so bad? I received and was working with some of the worst sand advice that is still given all the time. “you have to be very aggressive in the sand and hit down hard with the arms with no release and push the sand up.”
Have you heard this advice? No matter how much I practiced, I was never able to achieve consistency and I would occasionally have the disaster that I just described.
How did I fix it? I will let Brady Riggs, PGA Instructor, explain it, “To practice a better bunker swing, find a practice bunker and start making some small bunker swings, barely clipping the sand at the base of your arc. I want you to let the hands release and start feeling as though the wedge is bouncing off the sand, not digging into it.”
“With practice, you’ll start to develop that sound you sometimes hear when you watch your favorite players on the PGA Tour hit from the sand. When they hit a good shot, there’s a noticeable “thump” as their wedges hit the sand and bounce back up. Swing a little shallower, activate your hands more, and practice making a “thump” and not a “thunk.” You’ll quickly see that better bunker shots are a lot easier than you once thought,”Golf Tips Magazine.
Inconsistent wedge shots
If you are struggling to make consistent, clean contact with your pitch/chip shots, and having difficulty with distance control, you may be using the wrong technique for your skill level.
Personally, I love the Phil Mickelson hinge and hold method. However, a lot of experts are saying that this technique is difficult to master.
The hinge-and-hold technique is performed when the wrists are hinged in the backswing, but not allowed to unhinge in the down swing. In his instructional DVD, he states that all successful golfers with a good short game use this technique. However, I don’t think Steve Stricker does.
At any rate, if you are using the hinge and hold technique and are not happy with your short game, you may want to try the hinge and unhinge chipping style. With this method, you would be using the natural bounce of the wedge to improve the consistency of your short game.
However, keep in mind that the #1 reason for poor consistency and contact with pitches/chip shots is decelerating the hands on the downswing and/or allowing the club to pass the hands before the ball is struck.I am not advocating overactive hands, but eliminating a stiff wrist.
Personally, to smooth out my short game, I think “gentle acceleration” through the impact position.
Missing Short Putts
The great plague of the amateur golfer! Missing short puts has the same affect on your golf score as “duffing” your approach shot.
For some reason (if anyone knows why let me know), I see a lot of senior golfers make this mistake. Just after hitting the putt, the golfer turns the head and upper body towards the hole. It looks as if they are steering the putt in.
Maybe they are turning to see the ball into the whole due to poor vision? I don’t know. In any case. this practice inevitably leads to poor results.
Instead, hold your posture until the putt hits the hole. Have confidence in your putt and hit it with a confident, “gently accelerating” stroke and you will hear the satisfying, bottom of the cup rattle, more often.
Thanks for reading!
Dr. Ryan York, DPT CGS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Golf Performance Specialist
Age Defying Golf