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October 20 2012

4:03 PM

On the Mark: Controlling trajectory

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Gary Player's quote: "High shot, high follow-through."

ON THE MARK ARCHIVE: Tips from Mark Immelman

By Mark Immelman, Special to PGATOUR.COM

The penultimate event on the Fall Series calendar saw the PGA TOUR visiting the Golden Isles of Georgia and the picturesque Seaside Course at The Sea Island Resort. One of three courses at The Sea Island resort, the Seaside Course has hosted many a great personality of golf, including Bobby Jones, who held the course record for a while, and the legendary golf instructor, Davis Love Jr.

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Immelman

The players were treated to perfect weather for the lion’s share of the first two rounds, and the conditions were ripe for good scoring. On Friday morning however was a different proposition entirely thanks to the back end of a cold front that passed through on Thursday night. The weather was cooler and very blustery with a northwest wind blowing between 10-15 mph. That wind direction forced the players to control the trajectory of their shots in order to keep their ball out of the marshlands and close to the targets.

Controlling the shot trajectory is essential to playing well in windy conditions; it is also a crucial part of good distance control. Here are a few keys that will help you to flight the ball better:

To hit the ball lower:

Select an extra club. If the shot calls for a 7-iron, select a 6-iron (or more if the wind is really heavy) and grip down the shaft a few inches. Widen your stance: If the conditions are really windy the wider stance will improve your balance which is crucial to good contact.

Move the ball back. Play the ball back in the stance (around the middle of the stance, or very slightly back thereof).

Move to your lead side. A good image to help to get “in front of the ball” which will help you to make contact with the handle leading the clubhead, thus delofting the club, is to keep the the buttons on your shirt to the left (if you are a right-hander) of the ball.

Resist the urge to hit down. Striking the ball with too much of a descending swing will actually cause the ball to spin back too much and that backspin will make the ball “stand up” into the wind.

Make a smooth, short swing. Gary Player always told me, “Low shot, low follow-through; high shot, high follow-through.” So to flight the ball down, make a shorter backswing and swing to a shorter, balanced finish. Over and above that, make a smoother swing to both improve contact and reduce backspin.

To hit the ball higher:

Select a more lofted club. This goes without saying as the extra loft will help to elevate the ball. Do this within reason -- obviously as you must select a club that will still comfortably get you to the target.

Widen your stance. If the conditions are really windy, the wider stance will improve your balance which is crucial to good contact.

Move the ball forward. Play the ball forward in the stance (for right-handers I would recommend situating the ball underneath your heart for a medium iron short and slightly further left of that for a long iron).

Stay behind the ball. Staying behind the ball will help to make a slightly ascending strike which will lead to a higher launch angle and thus a higher ball-flight. A helpful image is to keep your head behind the ball throughout the swing.

Make a high, balanced finish. Following through to a high and balanced finish will further help with creating an ascending strike. As Gary Player recommends, “Imagine that you have a shelf high above your lead shoulder and swing so that your hands finish on that shelf.”

Good luck
/mi

Mark Immelman, the brother of PGA TOUR professional Trevor Immelman, is a well-respected golf instructor and head coach of the Columbus State University (Ga.) golf team. For more information about Mark and his instruction, visit his web site, markimmelman.com or follow him on Twitter @mark_immelman or “Like” Mark Immelman Golf Instruction on Facebook. He also has a golf instruction e-book called “Consistently Straight Shots – The Simple Solution” available on iTunes/iBooks.

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