Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Thailand Golf !!!

Get the Best Results from your Hybrid

This months tip is how to get the best results from your hybrid. The caddies in Thailand will call this club "Mei Khatoey" meaning half wood half iron, or "ladyboy" as they so passionately call it.

Hybrid clubs are incredibly useful from the close cut fairways and long grass that the courses in Thailand have, as long as you know how to swing one. You'd be surprised at how many golfers often with no clue of how-or of what the hybrid was designed to do in the first place.

To clear up misconceptions about hybrids, as well as how to swing one, let's look at what hybrids are designed to do. In most cases, hybrids are designed not as fairway-wood replacements but as long-iron replacements.

This isn't the case across the board, but to know for certain, check out the design of your hybrid. If it looks more like a wood, then it's better suited for a wood-like swing. There aren't many hybrids like that; most hybrids on the market have iron-like features, meaning these babies are better suited to swing like an iron. That's what this article is about.

Hybrid Iron Or Wood?
What is a hybrid, exactly? Most hybrids are designed to be replacement clubs for those hard-to-hit long irons, but that's not true with all models. The easiest way to determine if your hybrids require more of a wood-like swing or an iron-like swing is to check the design of the face. If the face looks like an iron, then it's meant to be swung more like an iron. If it has a more rounded profile and looks more like a wood, the club might perform better for you if you have a slightly shallower angle of attack. Now be careful, no matter what, a hybrid is not a fairway wood, and in most cases, your steeper iron swing will prevail. But if you have hybrids that look more like woods, don't be afraid to make a lower and longer golf swing.

BALL Position: Use your 3- or 4-iron as a guide

For starters, let's get your address position correct. The right ball position for your hybrid is just a smidge back towards the middle of your stance of where you would play of your 3- or 4-iron. The goal is to position the ball so you want to hit down on the ball with your hybrid. It's not made to scoop!
Second, the distance from you and the golf ball should change. This means moving away from the ball, about an inch or so. To get more specific, check your hybrid's length with your long iron. If it’s an inch longer, then stand an inch farther from the ball. 

Just as you would with a long iron, hitting a hybrid effectively means hitting down onto the golf ball, and making a full extension through the hit. In case you were also wondering, it's perfectly acceptable (in fact, it's encouraged) to make a divot with your hybrid shots. Follow these steps-hit your hybrids like a long iron, and you'll be on your way to making the most out of them and having some great scores while your in Thailand.

Putting on Thailand Golf Courses

As if putting wasn't hard enough already, you pack your clubs to come play in Thailand and you come up against a different style of grass that you haven't played before.
If you're from the tropics then you are familiar putting with, against and across the grain.
The grain generally follows either the direction in which water drains off the green, or it grows towards the setting sun or a water source. On severe slopes it will grow towards the drainage path. The shiny/dark rule works also when looking at the grass on a golf course. Take a look at a putt standing both behind the ball and behind the hole. If the grass on the green looks "shiny" or is a lighter shade than the grass in the other direction, it means you are down grain and the putt will tend be faster and roll out a bit more. When the grass is growing away from you it reflects the light at a different angle than when it's growing towards you, that's why it looks different. If you see no change in color, take a look from either side, as you may have a cross grain putt. Cross grain putts are even more frustrating, because even if the slope of the green indicates that a putt will break slightly from left to right, the grain may hold it. Conversely, a right to left putt with right to left grain might break quite a bit more that it appears.
To help you learn the grain on greens, take your hand and brush the green, if the grass lies down then that's down grain or fast, if the grass stands up then that's into the grain and will be considerably slower.
Keep in mind, that doing this is against the rules! (see rule 16-1d) Do this only in a practice round or better yet, on the practice green!
Another way you can combat the grain, especially on shorter putts, is to roll your ball with more speed. This is good practice for all greens, regardless of grain. The theory behind that is that the faster the ball is rolling, the more it skims the tops of the grass blades on the surface. As the ball slows down, gravity takes over and the ball settles slightly lower into the grass and the direction in which it grows is more likely to influence the ball's direction. Therefore, on the shorter putts especially, roll the ball with more speed and reduce the amount of break you play to counteract the effect of grain.
Most pros and scratch golfers do this anyway since they have putting strokes that consistently roll the ball on target. This allows players to eliminate most or all of the break on shorter putts of 5 feet or less and aim right at the hole. You see the pros do this on television all the time, that's why the ball rolls 2 or 3 feet by when they occasionally miss a short one.
Have a practice on the putting green before your round to get a feel for the greens and Im sure you will enjoy your round that little bit more.

Bunker Play

It is perceived by most amateur golfers that sand shot or bunker shot is often one of the most intimidating shots to execute, and can often leave a golfer discouraged.

As I have mentioned before, I believe that this game is 60% mental and 40% physical; therefore what we see and believe we will do with a golf club is most of the time what does happen. Hence, if you take a negative thought into the bunker chances are you will get a negative result.
There are only two reasons why at times we can't get the ball out of the sand: Once you make contact with the sand you don't follow through, the most common fault I see, or perhaps you took too much sand that resulted from hitting too far behind the ball.

The general rule is to aim two inches behind the ball so you are in a sense "lifting" the ball with the sand. To start, make sure you take a practice swing outside the hazard area-you may not ground your club in a hazard until you are making the forward motion of your intended swing.
Next, enter the bunker and plant your feet firmly in the sand. We want to set the clubface very slightly open, and that your body and shoulders are aiming left of the target to encourage an 'out to in' swing path which will assist you to cut under the ball. You should also remember to grip down slightly on the club as you have already reduced your height to the ball by digging your feet into the sand.

We now want to swing the club slightly outside to inside, on a steeper plane than the normal swing. This is achieved by 'hinging' your wrists early in the swing.

When we are close to the green we must create this angle which will get the ball out of the sand and has a higher trajectory to then sit on the green. As I take my club back, my hands have 'hinged' to make them strong, and then I continue up until my hands are between my waist and my shoulders. At this point, I pull the end of the club down and I aim generally two inches behind the ball accelerating through the sand and making a full finish. You should get the feeling your hands are 'splashing' under the ball.

Aiming two inches behind the ball can often end up to be five or more inches or no sand at all! I recommend practicing by drawing a line in the sand and practice making contact with that line over and over again. If you find you are hitting in front of the line, you are probably using too much wrist action, which results in 'scooping' the ball instead of letting your arms pull through the sand. On the other hand, if you are hitting the sand after the line you are pulling your shoulders to much and not enough wrist action.

Imagine swing your sand iron through a pool of water, and you want to skim through the top 2 inches of the surface only – no more, no less. This is the feeling your mind should have going through impact.
After a bit of practice you'll find this shot becomes very easy to execute and you will approach this shot with much more confidence.

Think positively and finish your swing!

How To Achieve the Proper Alignment in Golf

So you have arrived in Thailand and had your first game of golf here and it looks like to you forgot to pack your game!  It seems like anything you try just seems to make things worse.
One area of the game that is so simple yet so confusing and overlooked for the average golfer, is the alignment and is generally the root of all evils in the golf swing. What I mean by this?  Are you coming over the top because you aimed right, or are you aimed right because you are coming over the top?
To achieve the proper alignment in golf,  is to simply take a minute or two before you ever hit balls and follow these simple rules.
  1. Lay a club down first right behind the ball and point it at your target.
  2. Lay a second club down parallel to the ball target line along where your feet will be.
  3. Pick up the ball target line club and you are ready to setup.
  4. Setup with your feet, knees, hips, and shoulders, parallel to the club on the ground.
  5. Once you have the proper alignment you may feel as though you are not aimed correctly. This is a perfect tell tale sign that your alignment and swing are off.
The simplest fix in the golf swing is without a doubt alignment. This is one area of the swing that is often overlooked and can create a whole network of problems in your swing. Too often I see people hit the ball 10, 20, 30, yards off line in their mind, but it is exactly where they are aiming.
Imagine what your mind is telling your body when you hit the ball that far off line supposedly. You will create a flaw in your swing if you do not have the proper alignment. You may also fix a major flaw in your swing once you achieve proper alignment. Lay a club on the ground and take the first step to improving your game and enjoying you golf in Thailand.

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