Dave Pelz, one of the foremost short game and putting instructors in golf, offers schools and clinics across the U.S. Click here to find out more information.
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Your ball is between two trees and you can't make your normal swing.
You need to swing the club more upright, but trying to make yourself "thin" by standing straight up and then swinging your club vertically with your hands and arms isn't the answer. When you do that, you take your body turn out of the shot and you'll almost assuredly hit a shank. On the other hand, if you take your normal stance and posture then your backswing will be severely restricted, and you won't generate the power you need to reach the green.
Try bending over more from your hips and gripping down to make your club shorter. The closer to horizontal you get your spine, the more upright your swing plane will become as you rotate your shoulders and body through your swing. In the lower photo below, I've bent over slightly and gripped down on a 7-iron. Even though the club is shorter, you can still make a full swing with a more powerful body turn and a normal cocking of your wrists. As a result, you can generate reasonable power to move the ball a good distance.
TEST YOUR ESCAPE-SWING EFFICIENCY
Find a tree near a practice range and hit 10 shots with the tree two feet behind your ball. Use your normal posture and grip your 7-iron at full length. The tree should restrict your normal backswing to no more than three feet, and severely limit how far you can hit the shots. Next, set up in the same place, but bend over more, grip down on the shaft and stand closer to the ball. Take a slowmotion practice swing to make sure your club swings up and misses the tree. If it doesn't, bend over even more. Hit 10 shots as far as you can. In all likelihood you'll hit these both better and longer than with the limited-length swings.
Question: When I'm putting, should my primary visual focus be the ball or the spot at which I'd like to start the ball rolling? I kind of half look at both, and I think that's why I'm an inconsistent putter.
Answer: Most students in our schools putt best by first standing behind the ball and imagining the entire track they expect the ball to roll along. From this position they choose the line they want the putt to start on. Next they make practice strokes beside the ball to get a feel for distance. Finally, as they move into the putt, they aim at a point somewhere on the aim-line. Once aimed, they look at the ball as they stroke, with their mind focused solely on generating the proper speed and distance of the putt.
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