Overview of Golf Techniques

By Steve Silverman

One of the most appealing aspects to the game of golf is that each shot you take is different. The technique for swinging the club will vary from one shot to the next, and for a player to become a confident and competent golfer, he must master all those techniques. By keeping your eyes open and watching your playing partners live and in person and top pros on television, you can learn the swing basics, and then it's a matter of going out and mastering them yourself.

Drive

Address the ball squarely, with your front shoulder (left for right-handed golfers) facing the target. Your left foot will be directly below your left shoulder and your feet should be shoulder-width apart. Play the ball about one ball length closer to your front foot than your back foot. Start your swing by rotating your hips to the right. Let your hands follow. When you reach the apex of your swing, turn your hips back to the left and let your hands follow again. Snap your right hand quickly and distinctly on impact, and finish with your hands up high.

Fairway Iron

You are about 200 yards from the hole in the fairway. Take your 3-iron and play the ball midway between your feet. When you swing the club, you have to concentrate on hitting down on the ball in order to make it fly down the fairway toward your target. The swing plane with an iron is far more vertical than it is with a driver. A sweeping swing with an iron will result in a shot that lacks distance and tends to slice off course.

Approach Shot

You are about 90 yards away from the flagstick and you want to send your ball to the green. The best thing to do is to take your pitching wedge and hit a high shot that lands softly on the green and stops or rolls backward shortly after landing. Make sure your knees are bent in an athletic position. Hitting the ball is accomplished by shifting your weight from the back leg to the front leg at the moment of impact. In order to finish your swing adequately, you must get your hands up to shoulder height on the follow-through in order to make the shot successful.

Greenside Bunker Play

The greenside bunker shot may be among the most misunderstood shots in golf. Because greenside bunkers are deep and cavernous, you have to hit the ball sufficiently hard to get it up and over the lip of the trap. However, you cannot hit the ball directly or the ball will fly well past the green and the flagstick. Instead, you must take your sand wedge and hit 2 to 4 inches behind the ball. You must hit the sand behind the ball, which will cause the sand to explode into the ball and carry it out of the trap. This is called an explosion shot, and it takes most new golfers several months or years to master.

Putting Stroke

The putting stroke is one of the great enigmas of the game of golf. Depending on the putt, the stroke must be firm or delicate. For example, a 20-foot uphill putt must be struck with a firm grip and an even stronger stroke. A 4-foot downhill put must be stroked with touch and subtlety. It takes time to learn how to execute these strokes, and significant practice time on the green is required.

About The Author

Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.

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