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Brooks Koepka: My Advice to Make Your Second Shots Matter

Brooks Koepka: My Advice to Make Your Second Shots Matter

Written by: Brooks Koepka

feel like my accuracy stats with irons are a bit misleading. I play fairly aggressively week to week and fire at a lot of pins. So I might miss more greens than other pros, but I'm still only a few yards from the hole when I do. That being said, when I really need to hit a green in regulation, I'm confident in my swing. In winning my second consecutive U.S. Open, at Shinnecock Hills in June, only three other players hit more greens in regulation than I did—and trust me when I say that hitting greens there was like trying to stop a marble on a kitchen countertop. Here I'm going to share some of my tips on hitting better second-shot irons, a part of the game where I see a lot of golfers struggle. Let's start with alignment. Lately my coach, Claude Harmon III, has me checking to make sure I'm not setting up open like you see here, with my feet aligned left of my target. On the Monday of U.S. Open week, he was all over me saying, "Aim more right; aim more right." I told him I couldn't aim any more right. Then he put a club on the ground to check my alignment.

Wouldn't you know it? I was still aiming left. The lesson is to make sure you're set up to hit the shot you want. Here are some more of my tips. – With Ron Kaspriske


DIP YOUR LEAD SHOULDER
You drove the ball into the fairway and have a real chance of a green in reg. Now what? Assuming your alignment is good, focus on making a better backswing. A lot of golfers take the club back with almost no upper-body rotation—they're all arms. And even when they do rotate back, it's usually on a flat shoulder plane. If your shoulders turn back fairly level with the ground, it's hard to swing down from inside the target line and hit an accurate shot. You'll probably slice or pull it and miss the green. Instead, turn so your left shoulder moves back and down. See how mine is pointing at the ball (below). Look at all that space I've created to swing down from inside the target line. Essentially, it allows you to swing on plane and hit it straighter.


GOVERN YOUR DOWNSWING
A question I get asked a lot in pro-ams is how I'm able to swing the club as hard as I do. Honestly, I'm not swinging that hard. I'm using about 75 percent of my maximum effort. If I swung any harder, I'd probably spin right out of my golf posture and miss the green big time. I bet when you swing your hardest, your accuracy goes out the window. That's why I recommend you take one more club than you would from a particular distance—say, a 6-iron instead of a 7-iron from 150 yards—and make a swing at 75-percent effort. You'll know you're doing it right if it feels like the club is trailing your body's rotation toward the target like it is here (below). What you'll find is, this syncs your swing and improves your chance of hitting it solidly.


GET THE DISTANCE YOU EXPECT
It's great if you're able to hit your shots fairly straight, but when it comes to second-shot accuracy, that's only half the equation. Putting the ball on the green is a blend of hitting shots in the right direction and the correct distance. The direction part comes from controlling the clubface's position at impact in relation to the path. The distance part comes from hitting down on the ball and compressing it, getting that great sound and feel off the face. To flush iron shots, work on improving what your dominant hand does as the club moves through impact. Here I'm showing that the right palm should never turn skyward (below). This allows you to strike the ball and keep the clubhead moving downward into the turf. Consistently do that, and the ball will fly a predictable distance.


FINISH IT OFF
I typically opt for a fade when I'm hitting into greens. It's just an easier shot to control. That's why Claude keeps an eye on my alignment to make sure I don't aim too far left and overcook my iron shots. I'm telling you this because it relates to the photo you see here of my finish position (below). Notice where my chest is pointing in relation to where I'm looking. It rotated well past the green and is facing almost 90 degrees left of it. The point is, I kept my body moving as long as I could, which is a key to accuracy when controlling a shot's curve. If I stop turning my body sooner and the club keeps going, I probably would hook the shot. And if I stop turning my body and club too soon and at the same time, my fade will turn into a nasty slice. That's a move I see a lot from amateurs. In the hopes of hitting it somewhere toward the green, they don't let the clubhead close, and they stop the swing cold when their arms and club are facing the target. We call that steering, and it rarely works.

My advice: Keep the body moving to match the swinging of your arms and club. Whether you hit a draw or fade—or a straight ball if you're one of the lucky ones—keep everything moving until all the momentum is gone and the club's shaft finishes wrapped around your body, as you see here. If you swung at 75 percent of your max speed like I recommended, it's easy to get into this trophy pose. Or should I say, your club-championship trophy pose?

Source: GolfDigest.com

Stickney: Plane shifts used by the pros

Stickney: Plane shifts used by the pros

Written by: Tom Stickney II

One of the most perplexing aspects of golf for the average player is how the club should transition. In fact, the “over the top” motion is what keeps all of the teaching professionals in business! On Tour, you see many different ways to move the club on the way down and Homer Kelley, in his book, The Golfing Machine, identified seven different ways to transition the club. In this article, we’ll only discuss a few of them.

The first two shifts we’ll examine are the extremes of up and around.

Up and Under

This swing model is made famous by Jim Furyk and obviously there are many levels of up and under but the basic idea is to lift the club to the top which gives you more room to “drop it under” on the way down. Some people love this feeling and it is quite simple when practiced a time or two.

One of the most perplexing aspects of golf for the average player is how the club should transition. In fact, the “over the top” motion is what keeps all of the teaching professionals in business! On Tour, you see many different ways to move the club on the way down and Homer Kelley, in his book, The Golfing Machine, identified seven different ways to transition the club. In this article, we’ll only discuss a few of them.

The first two shifts we’ll examine are the extremes of up and around.

Up and Under

This swing model is made famous by Jim Furyk and obviously there are many levels of up and under but the basic idea is to lift the club to the top which gives you more room to “drop it under” on the way down. Some people love this feeling and it is quite simple when practiced a time or two.

You will notice a takeaway that is slightly lifted and outside moving the arms into a more upright position at the top. From there the arms fall down and behind the player allowing the club to be delivered from the inside.

Around and Under

The opposite player of the Up and Under player takes the club more around the body into a short, flat, and tight position like Matt Kucher. It is here that some players feel that it is much simpler to come from the inside when the club is in a lower and more rounded position at the top.

This swing model is exemplified with a takeaway that works around the body off the start and continues all the way to the top placing the club in a “flatter” condition. From there the club basically returns from the inside as a slight shift is made to the inside. Some players feel this is the easiest way to move the club to the inside.

Now that we have covered the two extreme positions of Up and Around, the rest of the world is somewhere in the middle of these two positions. Personally, it does not matter where you play from as long as the club moves into a solid position on the way down.

Let’s discuss the middle positions and how to transition the club from there…

Reverse Shift

The Reverse Shift is shown best by Nick Faldo back in his hey-day. The club is taken to the top and the entire triangle formed by the arms is shifted rearward to begin the downswing thus moving the club into an inside delivery position.

When the entire triangle falls rearward it allows the club to flatten and the club to move from the inside. Transitional tempo is the key to this move because it won’t work if you get too fast.

Flatten the Shaft

Most of the players today on Tour are subscribing to this type of plane shift as the club shaft flattens out behind the player allowing the hands to move down the correct path. If the hands get too far behind the player then the path can easily shift too rightward in the above swing pattern but not with this swing model.

Here you can see that the club shaft flattened and the clubhead fell behind my hands lowering the center of mass and this places the club in an inside delivery position with the hands in the correct position at belt-high. This is a great way to transition the club for people who tend to get “stuck” on the way down.

So now that we’ve seen the most common plane shift models that move the club back to the inside which one is the best or the easiest? Basically, the one that makes the most sense to you as a player. One of these styles will feel “easier” than the other ones and allow you to shift your swing path more rightward during impact so you can move the ball right to left easier (for the right-handed player).

Enjoy trying these shifts and remember that all four can work for you at any given time!

Source: GolfWRX.com