Tips from our Golf Pro - Derry Kiely

Pitching & Chipping

When executing a pitch or chip shot ensure that your weight is primarily on your left side (right handed golfers. With the weight in this position, it should encourage ball first contact caused by a descending blow. This should encourage maximizing spin and ball control. During your swing when playing this type of shot, try to eliminate excess wrist usage.

Good Posture

A good posture may not be possible for us all to have the poker straight spinal angle of the Tiger’s of this world. It is worth remembering that a good spinal angle combined with the correct knee flex does allow for better rotation. Assuming that you have achieved the best spinal angle that you can, the goal is to then try turn your body on the axis of your spine. Finally, always remember, when the body stops turning the arms should stop swinging.

Clock Drill

Assuming that your putting stroke is reasonably sound, I believe a lot of short putts are missed largely due to a lack of authority on the part of the player. We’ve all stood over a three footer at some stage and convinced ourselves we’re going to miss it. One of the oldest and most reliable practice drills is the ‘Clock Drill’ where you simply place a number of balls in a circle around the hole somewhere between 3 and 5 feet. Now try to hole each one individually, bearing in mind that if you miss one you should start all over again. This is a great drill for booth discipline and concentration.

Adjusting the Ball

I often get asked the question how to adjust for a ball either above or below your feet. In my experience a lot of club golfers either make no adjustment at all or go over board and complicate things even further. Due to the effect of slope on ball flight it should be remembered that when below your feet the ball will spin right and when above your feet will spin left. The opposite occurs of course if you play left handed. The simplest and most valuable advice is to adjust the angle of your spine in relation to the slope. For example, lower your spinal angle when the ball is below your feet. But above all, swing smoothly.

Fitness

Whether we like to admit it or not, fitness or a lack of can have a big impact on our golf game. This is the time of the year to hit the gym or the pool with a view of getting in to the shape for the start of the golf season. Poor fitness can affect us mentally as well as physically. So very often that loss of form at the end of the round in the monthly medal might not be a result of nerves after all.

Pitching Practice

Due to limited daylight and inclement weather it can be difficult to find time to practice at this time of the year.  My advice is to use any opportunity you get to focus on your pitching as it I soften said that a pitch is a mini version of the full swing. So bearing this in mind I feel that regular pitching practice over the Winter months helps to reinforce some of the important mechanics of the full swing.

Equipment Change

A lot of top professionals will change manufacturers over the Winter months so if you are thinking of changing any of your equipment this is probably the right time to do it. It is worth bearing in mind that the small details can make a big difference so if you are changing clubs, be sure to investigate what the right shaft is for you or the right lye angle or even the thickness of the grip.

Golf Lessons

If you are serious about your golf game then you should always consider having the occasional golf lesson. For some fortunate people one half hour session can be enough to get them back on track but in most cases it can take a few lessons to iron out any problems. If there is a good time to have a lesson or 2 it’s during the Winter months as it gives you time to adjust to whatever changes need to be made. So now might be the time to call your PGA Professional and get your game in shape for the season ahead.

Loss of Distance

When it comes to the driver I think it is fair to say we would all love those extra few yards. From my experience the most common cause for loss of distance especially in high handicappers is due to a steep angle of attack. Often something as simple as a wider stance or moving the ball forward in a stance can have an immediate effect. I have found however that the adjustment that has shown the best results is by getting the pupil to drop the right shoulder a little, left if you are left handed, which produces a shallower swinging action through the ball. 

Swing

Hitting fairway woods seems to be quite a tough task for a lot of club golfers. Very often the way the ball is laying can be a big factor therefore it is sometimes advisable to sacrifice a few yards and choose a more lofted wood. I think the big problem that I have come across is where the individual is simply swinging too hard trying to force the ball into the air. I would suggest a smoother swinging action through impact allowing the loft on the club to get the ball airborne.

Check your Set Up

When it comes to hitting iron shots, especially from the Fairway, it is advisable to check your set up first. Many golfers struggle to hit sweet iron shots simply because of a poor ball position or maybe too wide a stance. The main problem that I come across is failure to make a downward strike on the ball. A lot of golfers get stuck on their back foot which creates an undesired upwards strike. A good practice drill is to hit balls with the heel of your back foot slightly raised, giving you a little help with the weight transfer.

Pitching

Hands up if your pitching is the part of the game that most frustrates you. For starters you’re not alone. As a coach I see it as the shot that has the potential to make to make or break a card more than any other. The problem is that it can be quite difficult to develop the skill and feel required for making a reduced swing. To improve your pitching, try opening your stance a little whilst keeping your shoulder square. The swing technique you’re looking for is where the shoulders, arms and hands swing the club back and forward as one. Think of your chest as being the centrepiece. Once you develop a feel for the swing, it’s all down to practice.

Putting

Hands up if your pitching is the part of the game that most frustrates you. For starters you’re not alone. As a coach I see it as the shot that has the potential to make to make or break a card more than any other. The problem is that it can be quite difficult to develop the skill and feel required for making a reduced swing. To improve your pitching, try opening your stance a little whilst keeping your shoulder square. The swing technique you’re looking for is where the shoulders, arms and hands swing the club back and forward as one. Think of your chest as being the centrepiece. Once you develop a feel for the swing, it’s all down to practice.

If you would like more tips or arrange a lesson with Derry contact the proshop@fhh.ie or call 051380587