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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hitting It High and Low

If you watched the first night of GC's Seven Nights at the Academy -- specifically The Golf Fix -- you saw Michael Breed talk to Webb Simpson about controlling the trajectory of your golf shots. It's possible you got a bit confused because Webb sometimes combines techniques to get the results he wants.

I'm going to try and give you a really simple explanation that should help you start controlling the height of your shots pretty quickly. And since I know many of you are left-handed, I'm going to use the terms "lead" and "trailing" in this discussion so everybody gets it. Remember, your lead side is closest to the target and your trailing side is not. ;-)

And remember also that these instructions assume you start from your standard setup.

Hitting It Low
There are 2 keys to hitting it low. First you want to move the ball back in your stance. Starting from your standard setup, you're going to move your trailing foot toward the target. You want to narrow your stance by about one foot width, which will be between 3-6 inches depending on how big your feet are. By moving your trailing foot forward a few inches, you narrow our stance and the ball ends up being farther back in your stance.

Why not leave your stance the same width and just shuffle it around so the ball is farther back? Two reasons:
  1. It's easier to get the ball in the same spot each time this way. The more different setups you use, the less likely you are to be consistent about it.
  2. You want your hands to be a little more in front of the ball to deloft the club. It happens automatically this way. If you shuffled around, you might adjust your hands back as well and not deloft the club, which would make the trajectory higher than you want. It's easier to keep your hands in their normal setup position this way.
You might also wonder why you don't move your lead foot forward and widen your stance, since that would also move the ball back in your stance. This would make it harder to turn through the shot, so you'd be more likely to leave the clubface open and hit a higher shot.

Once you're in position, you make your normal swing but with a shorter followthrough. By making your finish shorter, you help the ball fly lower.

That's simple enough, right? Narrow your stance by moving your trailing foot a few inches nearer the hole, then make a shorter followthrough.

Hitting It High
Likewise, there are 2 keys to hitting it high. This time you want to move the ball forward in your stance, so you start from your standard setup but you move your trailing foot away from the target. This widens your stance by about one foot width, just the opposite of what we did to hit it low. This time we want the wider stance because we want to hit it high.

And once you're in position, you make your normal swing but with a higher followthrough. By getting your finish higher, you help the ball take off a bit higher.

This high shot is a bit trickier than the low shot because you hit down on the low shot but now, with the ball forward in your stance, the clubhead comes in more parallel to the ground so it's easier to hit it fat. This one's probably gonna take a little practice before you feel comfortable with it.

So here's the quick summary: You can adjust your trajectory merely by changing the position of your trailing foot (and therefore the ball position) and by adjusting the length of your followthrough. It doesn't get much simpler than that.

After you're comfortable with these two shots, you can start trying to open or close the face or manipulate the shot in other ways if you want. But this is the simplest way I know to add trajectory control to your game -- it gives you a low, regular, and high shot -- and you don't have to change your setup much at all.

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