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Arnold Palmer once said, “Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated.” It’s true— you can get the basics down on your first day and then spend a lifetime honing the finer points of your game. If you let it, blowing a birdie can ruin your weekend and rattle your confidence. The upside, of course, is that even if you’ve never touched a club you can still hit the links with your boss without compromising your job security—provided you’ve been briefed by someone who actually knows what they’re doing.
We can do one better: For the ultimate fake-it-till-you-make-it cheat sheet, we asked PGA Tour pros for their best tips for nailing the most important shots. Take their advice to heart and, before you know it, you’ll be sharing inside jokes with the big kahuna.
Improve Your Drive
Your posture is very important with tee shots,” says Martin Laird, winner of the 2011 Arnold Palmer Invitational. “You want that athletic stance—feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart. it’s not quite as low, but it’s kind of like defense in basketball.”
Five-time PGA Tour winner and Cobra Puma Golf athlete Jesper Parnevik’s advice: “[Amateurs] try and aim straight down the fairway and end up slicing one way or another,” he says. “Pros curve their shot, they adjust. if you’re hitting left to right, adjust your shot so you’re hitting down the middle.”
For the shot itself, focus on coiling up and releasing like a spring. “The power in golf comes from your legs and lower half, not from your arms,” Laird says. “All of the torque comes from having an athletic lower half, and coiling against that.”
The Perfect Chip Shot
“Wedges are used around the green from 120 yards [away] and down,” Parnevik says. The goal for your chip shot should be to drop the ball on the green with minimal roll. With a more open face and heavier head than a traditional iron, the wedge is the club for the job. you can approach the swing in a similar fashion as you would a drive.
“[The chip] is a shorter movement, but the actual posture and swing is very similar to a drive,” Parnevik says. Know your limits— it’ll help in the end. “If you ask [an amateur] how long they hit a 7-iron, they’ll say 170 when it’s closer to 155,” Parnevik says. “Use more club than you think you’ll need.”
Read The Green
You have to know which way the grass is growing to determine which way the ball is going to break,” Parnevik says. “Later in the day, the grass usually starts growing toward the sunset. that could cause the ball to break more that way. [And if there’s] water or big lakes near the green, grass tends to grow toward the water.”
“The color and shade of the grass is helpful,” laird adds. “If you turn and look one direction and the grain is darker and you look the other way and it looks lighter and shinier, the darker the color the more into the grain you are. It can make a huge difference on the pace of the putt.”
Master the Putt
The key to a great putt is technique. “You want a solid stance—shoulder width or a little wider,” says Laird. “Concentrate on your legs and lower half not moving at all. It should all be done with your shoulders and arms.” For the grip, Laird has a helpful tip. “Grip it like a tube of toothpaste with the lid off—you don’t want to squeeze the toothpaste out,” he says.
Before you start your first round, take a few balls and roll some practice putts to get the pace of the green. “That’ll give you confidence if you know you can roll those 30-footers in,” Laird says. so show up early.
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