Rip One Golf- Golf Instruction, Golf Coaching, Golf Classes and Golf Lessons in Austin, TX

Garry Rippy Golf offers golf lessons, golf coaching, golf instruction, golf classes and golf schools in Austin, TX. This blog contains golf instruction articles, golf tips and golf instruction videos by Garry Rippy, PGA.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

How to Make the Most of a Demo Day

Demo days can be overwhelming!  There will be many vendors with literally hundreds of clubs just waiting to be hit.  I get excited just thinking about all the extra distance I am going to find from the hottest driver!  This article will hopefully keep you from getting buyers remorse.  I will provide some information which will keep that new driver or set of irons in your bag for the long term.

                                                              Where do you start?

The problem is all the equipment is good.  I suggest you do a little homework before you attend.  Go online and look at the vendor's websites.  This will at least provide you with some basic knowledge and maybe narrow your list of clubs you want to try.  There will also be plenty of reviews online.  Read those but do keep an open mind. 

Let's discuss drivers first.  As a demo day rep for Nike for two years I quickly discovered that golfers are usually most interested in hitting the driver first.  Now, do not just go to the vendor tent and start hitting without talking with the representative.  Nike had over 40 shaft selections and this is probably the most important part of the club.  I can almost guarantee the first club you grab will not fit your swing.  The demo day reps are highly trained and will help you choose the correct driver and shaft combination.  You must have the correct loft, shaft flex, shaft weight and shaft torque to maximaize your distance and accuracy. To help me become a better club fitter, I would try all the shafts and it was amazing the difference.  Since most demo days last for 3-6 hours, I recommend spending quality time with each vendor.  I think most reps should be able to get you in the correct shaft in a matter of minutes.  Once you get the correct shaft then you can start making the clubhead adjustments that are now available.  THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT INFORMATION I CAN GIVE not base your driver decision on the one shot you really hit well.  It's not about the "one" shot, but it's about what your "misses" look like.  If the misses are short and way off line, this is not the club for you.  Be sure you have your driver with you so you can really determine if the new driver you are trying is indeed better than what you have.  Once you hit them back to back you will know.  If looking for hybrids or fairway woods, repeat the process.  You might find you need to go to two or more demo days before you make your final decision. 

If you are in the market for new irons be sure you get properly fit.  You must have the correct length, lie and shaft flex.  It was a benefit that I was an instructor when fitting clubs.  I found when fitting irons I had to get the golfer in the correct position first.  Once the golfer is set up properly I could better determine where to start with length and lie. Once you get the right fit, it is really personal preference if you want steel vs. graphite shafts.  Graphite is lighter than steel but they are making some very good lightweight steel shafts now too.  For irons, think more of accuracy than distance.  One thing to keep in mind for some models of irons, the manufactures are making the lofts much stronger.  Just because the #7 is on the bottom of the club, the loft could be that of a 6 iron.  Obviously you are going to hit it farther, but do you hit it straighter?  Again, spend a little time with each vendor and choose the iron which will help you hit more greens in regulation.

Wedges seem to be on the radar now.  If you are not carrying at least three wedges you are limiting your shot selection around the green.  In actualality you need four wedges if you include the pitching wedge which comes with the set.  You need to determine the loft of your pitching wedge before you decide on the other wedges you need.  I like to keep the loft difference between my wedges consistent. For example, if your PW is 47 degrees in loft, I would recommend lofts of 50, 54 and 58 for your next three wedges.  If your PW is 48 degrees in loft you might go to lofts of 52, 56 and 60 for your next three wedges.  The most common problem is most golfers carry a PW of 47 degrees and a sand wedge with 58 degrees of loft.  With a difference of 11 degrees, you are very limited in your shot making.
Once you decide which lofts to carry, you have to decide which bounces will need.  If you look at the imprints on most wedges there will be two numbers.  For example you might see 58/10.  The 58 is the loft in degrees and the 10 is the bounce in degrees.  Just to keep it simple, if you play off firm fairways and firm sand, you are usually better off with less bounce.  If you play on soft turf and fluffy sand, more bounce is better.  With a little experimentation you will see which works better for you. 

Good luck with your decision process and I hope this information helps you.  Please leave a comment if you have any questions.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Pitching...Hit the Simplest Shot for the Situation

Controlling your ball around the green is the best way to save shots.  It's all about choosing the correct technique and club which will give you the best success consistently.  You have two choices when hitting shots from around the green.  You can either go high, or you can go low.  Going "high" means you are going to hit a standard pitch shot.  Going "low" means you are going to hit the pitch and run shot.  I will always take the low route when possible as this is a safer shot due to the minimum amount of swing needed.

I am going to explain the difference in a standard pitch shot and a pitch and run shot.  I think you will see from the pictures when to pitch and when to pitch and run. 

A pitch shot is used when you need to carry the ball all the way onto the green and then have very little roll.  This shot is most handy when you either have to carry a bunker, or the hole location may be near the edge of the green and there is no other way to get to the hole but go high.  This shot requires you to use your most lofted wedge and I recommend you carry a wedge with at least 56 degrees loft.  Any wedge with a loft of 56-60 degrees will be best.

As you can see in this photo, the pin is located near the edge of the green so you have to hit the pitch shot. 

The main focus for the pitch shot is to let the wrists hinge upward on the backswing, and then re-hinge on the forward swing.  At the bottom of the swing, you will clip the ball and turf at the same time.  I highly recommend taking a practice swing and try to clip the turf.  I have found it works if you "hear" the shot.  In other words, when you take your practice swing, listen for the club sweeping the turf.  Then, when you hit the shot, try to emulate the sound you just heard.  You will know immediately if it sounds correct or not.  When you think of sound instead of technique, there will be less thinking and your shots will be improved.

The pitch and run shot is best used when you have some green to work with.  In this photo, the hole location is in the middle of the green and there is no reason to fly the ball deep into the green.  The pitch and run shot is much more safer as there is less swing and follow through.  The goal is to land the ball about two steps onto the green and then let it roll to the hole.

For this shot you club of choice is a wedge with 50-55 degrees loft depending on how much roll out you need.  The less the amount of loft on your wedge, the more roll you will have.  Here are a couple of pictures of the proper technique for a pitch and run.  The backswing and follow through are much more compact.  There is very little wrist hinge on the backswing and none on the follow through.  The goal is to strike the ball first then the turf just as you would for a chip shot.

There is one more significant difference in the two shots...the ball position in your stance.  The ball position for the pitch shot is slightly in front of center and the position for the pitch and run is off the big toe of your back foot.

A question which might arise is what is the difference in a pitch and run and a chip shot?  For the most part, a chip shot is for shots located one to three steps from the green.  The club of choice may be a five iron through a pitching wedge depending on how much roll out you need.  A pitch and run is used when the ball is located four or more steps from the green.  The maximum distance for a pitch and run could be seven to eight steps from the green.  Any longer and a pitch shot is probably the best choice.

To become a well rounded golfer you must have an arsenal of shots which fit the situation!  Try to spend at least half of your practice sessions hitting these type of shots.