How To Fix A Golf Hook

The most infuriating problem faced by good golfers around the world is the hook and therefore it isn’t surprisingly that they will hunt high and low for a cure or at least a way to reduce the damage this frustrating swing fault can cause. Luckily by purely following the simple pointers below you will be able to easily implement the right adjustments to prevent any further hooks in your game. Without doubt the right golf swing corrections will see you hit lazer beam straight shots, with no fear whatsoever of ever snap hooking again.

What is a hook?

A hook is where the golf ball will start straight and curve to the left, assuming you are a right handed golfer, or start out slightly to the right and then curve to the left. This type of shot is due to two factors.

The two main causes for hooking the golf ball

One the golfer is swinging with an inside to out golf swing and two at impact the club face is closed. By this I mean the golf club face is closed in relation to the direction the club head is following at the moment of impact. If you were to draw a line perpendicular to the face you would notice it goes to the left of where the player intends to hit the ball.

Your natural assumption may therefore be that with a closed club face, shouldn’t the ball fly to the left of the intended line of flight in a straight line. In actual fact with the force of the club head being applied with an inside to out swing the closed face will result in the ball curving to the left. When you see the ball come off the face to the right and then curve in a wide arc to the left you can guarantee the player has swung far too much from the inside.

If the force of the club head is applied with an outside to in swing the ball may hook to the left or effectively stay straight. If it goes left of the target in a straight line this is a pull and at the moment of impact the face will be square to the path of the club head.

Sometimes a player can close the face so much that the ball immediately curves to the left, this is called a snap hook. If the club face is closed even further the golfer actually smothers the ball, resulting in a shot that hardly leaves the ground.

How to cure your golf hook

Thus to cure your golf hook you need to fix your closed club face.

Fixing your closed club face

All golfers should aim to have a square club face (parallel to your left forearm, at a 45-degree angle to the ground) at the top of their golf swing. A closed club face at the top will almost inevitably mean a closed one at impact. A fully closed face will cause a hook.

Therefore I recommend if you are suffering from a hook you should ask yourself what is causing you to have a closed face at the top of the swing. Fortunately I have the answer for you, it is caused by one or a combination of three things. They are poor grip, bad backswing and a domination right hand.

Three steps to curing your golf hook

Let’s study each of these points in order to fix your hook.

1. How to fix a poor grip

All too often a closed club face is caused when you can see more than three knuckles on your right hand at address. This results in the right hand being too prominently on top of the shaft. Equally you need to check whether the left hand is under the shaft too much because again this will also lead to a closed club face.

Whilst you may set up with this faulty grip and address the ball with a square club face, you will find as soon as you start your backswing your hands will instinctively rotate to the left to regain a more natural comfortable position. In doing so your club face will close and remain so all the way to the top of your golf swing. So at the top your hands have returned to a relaxed position but the clubhead has turned in such a manner that the face is closed.

As a consequence the club face remains closed on the downswing unless the wrists are rolled to right on the downswing.

To fix this problem simply read how to grip a golf club correctly.

2. How to fix a bad backswing

Let’s look in detail at how your bad backswing is causing you to have a closed club face at the top of your golf swing.

Typically there are two types of backswing that cause this problem.

The first bad backswing is one that starts too flat. In these circumstances the golfer will open the club face quickly and then follow this by closing it just as quickly. This results in the face being closed tight. Compare this to a batter in baseball where the wrists are rolled to the right as he swings around his body. Typically though the golfer will roll his hands back too much to the left on his downswing and hence close the club face. Thus if you find yourself hooking the ball take a moment to check your backswing is not too flat.

The second bad backswing is one where will see golfers pick up the club with a dominate right hand and cast the club over their right shoulder. This action will result in a closed face. This kind of swing more than most makes it far too easy for the right hand to dominate at the top of a golf swing. Generally though this is a beginner’s fault where the player has a complete lack of understanding of how the golf swing should move in one piece.

3. How to fix right hand domination

A third reason after poor grip and bad backswing as to why you may hook the ball is you could have a dominate right hand on your downswing. This will happen when you have a weak position at the top with your left wrist sitting under the shaft. In this position the right hand will control the downswing.

When you hook you will notice your right hand gripping more than your left hand. When in actual fact the left hand should grip more than the right because this is the one hand that dominates in the golf swing. This happens naturally with the grip we teach because left palm does the majority of the gripping. The left hand should always make a stronger golf grip than the right.

A dominate right hand is prone to make you swing outside to in with a rolling of the wrists. It is vitally important to work on maintaining a strong left hand position with the right hand under the shaft to avoid a pulled hook.

To cure your hook always check that your right wrist is under the shaft and that the left hand is strong at the top of your swing.

In conclusion to stop hooking and to cure this fault you need to be aware of the shape of your swing, your grip and the angle of your club face. The reality is you may need to work on all three of these factors or just the one in order to cure your golf hook.

Golf Slice Correction – How To Fix Your Slice Today

Walk into any golf clubhouse around the world and more often than not the conversation will focus on how golfers can make that all important golf slice correction in one or two simple moves. Too many golfers are plagued by a slice that all too often wrecks their scorecard and personal hopes of ever playing better. To be frank the thought of correcting their golf slice seems a country mile away, simply a dream that will never be realised. Luckily by addressing just two quick and easy aspects of your swing you will be able to correct your slice and see your handicap go into freefall.

Fundamentally you need to initially take on board the principle that if you are slicing it is safe to assume that at impact you are striking the ball with an open club face. Obviously you want it to be square but the truth is that at impact your club face is open regardless of whether you swing outside to in or inside to out. Except though in one case and this is when you push the ball and you see it go straight right. In these circumstances the club face is open but square to the direction of the club head as it moves through impact.

Before describing the exact golf slice corrections you need to be making, it is important for you to acknowledge you are swinging with an outside to in swing. This is easy to do and simply involves teeing up a golf ball and then next placing a tee in the ground approximately five inches to the left of it, but about three and half inches inside the direction line of the golf shot. Once you have set this up, set up and hit the golf ball. With an outside to in swing you will strike the second tee. If you make the corrections and start swinging with an inside to out swing you will notice how you stop hitting the second tee. This is a simple drill that really addresses why all too often you are slicing your shots.

Furthermore take the time to time to see if you are quickly pulling your hands to the left as you strike the ball and as a result finding they are wound up around your left shoulder. This is the typical action of a slicer and once you correct your slice you will notice how your hands will swing straight out after the ball, caused ultimately by an inside to outside golf swing.

Whilst you may not always suffer from a slice, you may still be keen to fix the milder form called the fade. This happens when the golfer does hit the ball along the direction line but due to an open club face they impart left to right spin resulting in it curving to the right.

It is critical to understand that an outside to inside swing will result in the majority of the force being applied to the ball in a right to left direction. Such a swing will result in the ball going left to begin with but end up curving to the right as a result of the spin imparted by the open clubface.

For centuries this has been the most common fault in golf, namely an outside to inside swing with an open clubface, and not surprising the reason why a successful correction is most sought after.

Thus for a golfer to correct their slice they need to address two key aspects of their swing. These are swinging with an outside to inside swing and having an open club face at impact.

Golf Slice Correction Tip 1 : How to correct your open club face

We can assume if you are suffering from an open club face at impact you more than likely to have had it open when you reached the top of your swing. It is safe to say that the angle of the club face at impact is directly affected by its position at the top. An open club face at the top of your swing is typically due to a poor grip or your hands being in the wrong position. We can therefore assume that the grip will be incorrect at setup before the golfer has made their backswing.

Therefore a golfer wishing to cure their slice must take time to check their grip. You need to ensure you only see two knuckles on the left hand as you take your stance and hold the club. If three knuckles are visible you will be prone to opening the club face. Furthermore once you place your right hand on the grip you should check to see a V formed by the forefinger and thumb that points up to your right shoulder. If the V points directly up you should take measures to correct this.

Now you need to review your hand position at the top of your golf swing. Look up to your hands and ideally you will only see two knuckles on your left hand and one on the right. Moveover there should either be a straight line along the wrist and the back of the left hand, or perhaps a small inward bend of the left hand with the right wrist sitting firmly under the shaft. If you find the left wrist under the shaft you will have inadvertently opened the club face.

Once you have the correct grip and the right wrist under the shaft you can guarantee you will have a square club face. Furthermore this correct position will lead to a square club face at impact.

Golf Slice Correction Tip 2 : How to correct your outside in swing

If you are you correct your golf slice you must learn to stop swinging from the outside to inside. If you don’t do this it is safe to make the following two statements:

1. At the top of the swing you were in the incorrect position.

2. From the top of your swing your first movement was with your hands and not correctly with your hips.

By moving your hips first you make room for your hands to come straight down on the inside. This lateral movement of the hips from right to left is pivotal to making an inside to out swing.

Thus if we look at the two statements above in more detail you will gain further insights into making that all important correction to your golf slice.

At the top of your swing you should have more weight on the right hand side than the left. If you find yourself with more weight on the left side, this is incorrect, and it will move to the right as you start your swing creating an outside to inside swing. This all important weight transference can be hindered by dipping your left shoulder and thus make sure you aren’t doing this.

Another checkpoint is to ensure you perform a full 90 degree turn of your shoulders. If you don’t it becomes a lot more difficult to start your club down on the inside. Equally without making a 45 degree hip turn you will struggle to start the club head on the correct plane.

Further pointers include checking that your right elbow points down. If you notice it beginning to fly out you may want to check whether the right wrist is under the shaft where should ideally be. Taking up this weak position for the right hand is perfect in terms of preventing it from becoming the dominate hand. If it becomes too dominate the club is easily thrown outside the line, to counter this make sure you have a firm left hand grip.

As you make the necessary corrections to fix your golf slice you need to be aware of maintaining your inside out swing on a fixed axis. This means no head swaying unless you are confident you can return to the the exact same position you were in before you hit the ball. We would recommend you simply learn not to sway.

Next ensure your swing plane is neither too upright or too flat, this will be the case if your hands at the top of your golf swing are even with the top of your head.

In conclusion to make the necessary corrections to your golf slice you need to need aware of your club face, is it open or square and the plane and direction of your swing. You may need to look at both of these issues or just the one in order to cure your golf slice.

How To Fix A Golf Slice

The biggest problem faced by golfers throughout the world is the slice, and naturally as a result everyone is looking for a quick fix to this game crippling fault. Fortunately by simply following these easy steps you will be able to make the necessary corrections and start hitting perfect straight shots.

If you have a golf slice I can safely say that you are hitting the ball at impact with an open club face when it should be square.

In most situations this is true whether you are swinging the club inside to out or outside to in. The exception to this rule is the push where your ball goes straight right. When you push a shot the club face is open, though it is square to the direction the club head is moving. This results in a straight shot to the right.

If you aren’t convinced you are swinging outside to in, even though you are slicing the ball, I recommend you perform this quick drill and then practice this fix. Tee up a ball and then place another tee in the ground about 5 inches to the left of the ball and about 3.5 inches inside the direction line of the shot. Now hit the ball, with an outside in swing you will follow through and hit the second tee. You will miss the second tee if you have an inside out swing.

Another surefire sign of an outside in swing is finding you are pulling your hands quickly to the left as you hit the ball, finishing with them wound up near your left shoulder, as you see your ball slice to the right. If your hands swing straight out after the ball you will be hitting with an inside to out swing.

A golfer may strike a ball along the direction line but still produce a mild form of a slice, namely a fade, if they have an open club face. This produces left to right spin and leads to the curve to the right.

If a golfer swings with an outside in swing the main force is applied in a right to left direction thus resulting in a ball that goes to left. It will then curve to the right due to the spin imparted by the open club face at impact. This is the most common form of slice and the most popular fault golfers need fixing.

So in order to fix a slice there are two key points that must be looked at and corrected, namely having an open club face at impact and swinging outside to in.

How to fix your open club face

In most cases if you have an open club face at impact it will have also been open at the top of your swing. If we analysis the club face at the top it’s clear this is caused by a poor grip or the wrong hand position at the top of the swing. There is a direct correlation between the angle of the club face at the top of the swing and that at impact.

A poor grip at the top of the swing will be the result of gripping incorrectly at the start of the swing. Thus it is important to always check your grip. When you take your stance it is essential you make sure that only two knuckles of the left hand are visible when the hand is holding the club. If you can see more than three knuckles this will produce an open face. Also check that when you place your right hand onto the club a V is formed by the thumb and forefinger and it points to the right shoulder. It shouldn’t point up, if it does you should correct this immediately.

As part of this fix you also need to check the position of your hands at the top of your swing. At the top look at your hands, you should see only two knuckles of the left hand and one on the right and either a straight line along the back of the left hand and wrist or even a slight inward bend of the left hand, with the right hand firmly under the shaft. If left wrist is under the shaft this results in an open club face. By ensuring the right wrist is under the shaft with the correct grip, you can be sure the club face will be square.

It is critical the club face is square at the top of the swing. If it isn’t you will find when you swing down the face at impact will be open.

Secondly lets look at the outside in swing.

How to correct your outside to in swing

If you hit with an outside in swing you can guarantee these two events took place:

1. That you were not in the correct position at the top of the swing.

2. The first movement from the top was with the hands and not with the hips. It is crucial that the club comes down on the inside and this can only be achieved by making room for the hands to start straight down with the hips out of the way. The inside out swing happens with a lateral movement of the hips from right to left.

Let’s look at these two points in more detail.

The correct position at the top of the swing means you will have more weight on the right side than the left at the top of the swing. If you find most of your weight is on the left, it will move to the right as you begin your downswing and create an outside in swing. Make sure you aren’t dipping the left shoulder as this can make it difficult to perform the weight transfer properly.

It is recommended you make a full 90 degree shoulder turn because if you don’t it becomes a lot harder to bring the club down on the inside and cure your slice. This movement can be difficult to perform if you don’t turn your hips 45 degrees.

Check that your right elbow points down, if it flies out this suggests the right wrist is not under the shaft. You should keep the right wrist under the shaft as this maintains a weak position, this is perfect as it ensures it doesn’t become too dominate,

Likewise having a firm left grip is good pointer, this way it isn’t over powered by the right hand. A dominate right hand can easily throw the club outside the line.

If you are to fix your slice you need to also make sure your inside out swing has a fixed axis. A golfer that sways his head will find this almost impossible to maintain unless they can return exactly to the position they started at before hitting the ball. It is far easier to simply not sway your head.

Furthermore you need to be certain that your swing plane is nether too flat or upright. This is generally the case and everything is in good order if your hands are even with the top of your head at the top of your back swing.

In conclusion to stop slicing and fix this fault you need to be aware of your club face and the shape of your swing. You may need to address both of these points or just the one in order to fix your golf slice.

Proper Golf Alignment Tips And Drills

Far too often the average golfer will struggle to ensure their golf swing alignment is correct and actually find themselves with an open body. They will have slouched their body and found themselves turned towards the target. These tips and drills will ensure you don’t misalign and give yourself the best chance of getting a shot on target.

The truth of the matter is that golfers naturally open their body and it happens unconsciously when they set up their alignment to the target. If you imagine gripping the club, where the right hand is lower down than our left one, you will notice that your right shoulder tilts down slightly and a touch forward. Likewise with your right hip, this will be forward a fraction. Admittedly these movements are slight but you are in fact opening your body to the golf ball.

To appreciate a golfer’s open body more clearly you can drop your right hand further down the golf club. By having the right hand a foot below your left hand by about a foot you can exaggerate what happens to the body and the way in which it naturally opens. Just by doing this you can see how easy it is to incorrectly align your body squarely to the direction line.

As a result of opening our body it causes the following three conditions to happen:

* Your aim is to the left

* You set up in a position to hit from outside to inside before you have started the backswing

* Your shoulder turn and backswing are restricted

Golf Alignment Drill

The next time you address the golf ball ask a friend to hold a club against the front of your shoulders. They will then be able to see exactly where you are aiming. The vast number of golfers will point to the left of the target. This simple drill will pinpoint the degree to which you are incorrectly aiming at the target.

Fortunately golfers can improve this position and aim at the target by making a conscious effort to alter their alignment. In doing so this has to become a habit and to begin with they will have the feeling that they are looking at the target over their left shoulder.

Golf Alignment Checkpoints

In correcting your alignment to need to consider these check points:

The hips need to positioned so that they are parallel to the direction line. As the player looks down at his grip the club shaft should be to the left of the fly of his trousers by two inches

If the hips aren’t repositioned and remain open, the club and the fly will be in the same line – or in worst cases the fly a little more to the left.

Be mindful to not stick your rear out and ensure it is under your trunk and if anything pushed a touch forward.

If a golfer has an open foot stance it can be difficult to square the shoulders and hips. We look for a square position but in actual fact it is easiest if the stance is closed. As an aside this is why a golfer can hook a shot far easier from a closed stance, as opposed to an open one. As the body is square to the ball or facing slightly to the right the club comes farther from the inside.

Once a golfer has squared their hips and shoulders they will begin to take straight divots, if not inside to out ones.

So finally, remember these checkpoints and drills to ensure you don’t have an incorrect alignment. Golf is hard enough as it is without handicapping yourself before you have even started your back swing.

Proper Golf Stance Setup Tips

The first rule of thumb for setting up the perfect golf stance alignment is to ensure that your feet at your instep are about as far apart as the width of your shoulders. This leads to good balance and helps enormously with getting your weight distribution set up properly.

We recommend a square stance in terms of the position of the feet in relation to the direction line you are hitting. Thus the distance from each foot to the direction line should be equal, particularly for any full shot with a 5 iron through to the driver. When the average person takes a square stance they will have enough freedom to generate a full backswing and freely swing forward.

It is easier to make a full backswing on a flat plane with a closed stance, where the right foot is positioned back a couple of more inches than the left one. Typically though this places restrictions on producing a full forward swing. The opposite effect happens with an open stance, where the left foot is placed father back than the right one. In this case the player is forced into a more upright position make the backswing difficult and the forward swing a lot easier.

Whilst there are specific shots that call for either an open of closed stance we will just concentrate on the square stance as it is problem free and there is no requirement to make any small adjustments.

Both feet should be slightly pointed outwards and not exactly exactly perpendicular to the direction line. The left foot should be point outward a touch more than the right. If the right foot is perpendicular the backswing becomes restricted and there can be some difficulty in getting the club back properly.

It is natural to point the left foot to the left and as a result makes the forward swing a lot easier

The beginner will have a tendency to put his weight forward on the balls of his feet when taking up his stance. As the body is bent forward with hunched shoulders it is natural to do this.

It is important though to not let the weight go forward, but instead to keep balanced between the heel of each foot and the ball with a slight favouring towards the heel. This isn’t always easy to remember as it isn’t a natural decision to make, but in time it will become a habit with practice. We don’t want to swing back with the club on an upright arc and by having our weight forward we only promote this. In addition this incorrect setup can also lead to swinging outside the line on the forward swing. Ultimately we are looking for a a flatter place and this is easier when our weight is more on our heels.

As you take your stance, ensure your arms are close to being straight, but not locked. The elbows should point down to the ground, definitely not loose and pointing out to the sides left and right. By doing this your arms and elbow become closer together, exactly as required to create a company swing. Always make a point of having the elbow depressions pointing up rather than in.

How to Grip a Golf Club Correctly

The single most important factor in hitting a true and accurate golf shot is the grip. The grip largely determines the position of the club face and thus to a large degree affects whether it will be square to the direction line. If the clubface is open or closed, it will be responsible for sliced and hooked shots respectively. Just a small change of millimeters in the golf grip can make a substantial difference in the angle of the clubface striking the ball and hence the distance hit.

All too often beginners will make the common fault of holding the club entirely in the fingers of the left hand. This leads to the left hand being too much on top of the grip, with the right hand positioned too much under it.

One of the most common faults with the grip relates to holding the club entirely in the fingers of the left hand, placing it too much on top of the shaft, and placing the right hand under the shaft. This can feel natural because it feels more powerful but the tendency with this incorrect grip is to roll the left hand over as the club makes impact with the ball. This results in a closed face and leads to a hook.

There’s also a tendency for the left hand to be bent back at the top of the swing with the left wrist under the shaft. In this position the clubface is open at the top of the swing leading to a sliced shot. Equally a slice will manifest itself when the player tries to prevent the clubface from turning as he hits through the ball.

The correct grip is based on having the palms squarely face each other. As the player takes hold of the golf club with his left hand it should make diagonal contact acrosss the palm from the crook of the index finger. In closing the hand around the shaft it’s held in the first two fingers and palm. At this point one will see a fold of flesh between the club and the little finger. Known as the palm and finger grip you can use the appearance of the fold as a check point.

The next check point is to ensure that when the left hand is closed tightly on the club you can only see the two knuckles at the base of the index finger and the big finger.

Once the left hand is in place on the club the right hand can be slide under the shaft with the palm up and fingers extended. Then close the hand, moving it so as the third finger of the right hand fits against the left hand index finger. The right hand little finger should lie on top or overlap the left index finger.

The right hand holds the club with the root of the second and third fingers. This prevents the hand from loosening at the top of the swing. The index finger hooks low around the club, being separated slightly from the middle finger.

This overlapping grip is formed by opposing hands where the left one has palm and finger contact, and the right is solely a finger grip

It is important to ensure that the crook made by the right index finger is father down the club that the end of the right thumb. Also there should be definite contact between the right hand forefinger and the tip of the thumb.

This grip will allow you to maintain a tight contact with both hands at all stages of the golf swing. This is achieved by practically having all the fingers on the club, specifically the last three of the left hand and the first threee of the right hand.

Golf Rules Test – Eleven Questions And Answers

Golf rules expert and author of “999 Questions on the Rules of Golf” Barry Rhodes answers eleven questions on the rules of golf below.

If you would like you can read through and test yourself on each one and let me know how you did in the comments section below. There are no prizes, it would just be fun to know what answers came as a surprise, if any of them did.

Here goes with the first question:


Is it OK for a player to stick a lump of lead tape on her driver, for the purpose of adjusting its weight, before starting her round?


Yes, but not during her round. Decision 4-1/4.


If your ball lies in a red staked hazard – can the stake be removed if it’s obstructing your swing?


Yes, stakes defining water hazards, whether red (lateral water hazards) or yellow (water hazards), may be removed providing that they can be moved without unreasonable effort, without unduly delaying play and without causing damage. If the Committee intends that the hazard stakes should not be removed (which is unusual) they will impose a Local Rule that states that they are immovable obstructions.


Do you have to make a reasonable effort to find a ball that may be lost or out of bounds if you would prefer to continue play with a provisional ball that you have played to the middle of the fairway?


No, there is nothing in the Rules to say that a player must search for their ball. However, if the original ball is found on the course before the player has played their next stroke with the provisional ball they have to continue play with it, even if it is unplayable (Rule 27-2c). If they do deem their original ball unplayable they are penalised one stroke and must choose one of the three relief options available under Rule 28.


If you think that your ball is lost so you play another ball (not a provisional) are you permitted to search quickly for the original ball?


Decision 27/9 directly answers your question;
Q. According to Rule 27, if a player hits his tee shot into the woods and tees up and plays another ball without announcing it as a provisional ball, the second ball becomes the ball in play and the original ball is lost. In such a case, is the player precluded from searching for his original ball?
A. No. But the player may not play the ball if he finds it and must not unduly delay play.


You are on the putting green and your opponent in match play, or playing partner in a monthly medal stroke competition, makes a putt to the hole. Whilst his ball is in motion on its way to the hole, you bend down and mark your ball, are you penalised? Note, your ball is not interfering with his line of putt, you just happen to be standing over it and decide it maybe needs a bit of a clean etc. So in short, is there a penalty for you marking your ball on the putting green whilst another ball is in motion?


If, as you say, a ball is not interfering with the line of putt (which includes a reasonable distance on either side of the intended line) then there is no penalty for marking and lifting it while another ball is in motion. Part of Rule 24-1 states;

“When a ball is in motion, an obstruction that might influence the movement of the ball, other than equipment of any player or the flagstick when attended, removed or held up, must not be moved.”

Note that the lifted ball must not have been in a position to influence the movement of the ball in motion; otherwise there is a penalty under Rule 1-2, Exerting Influence on Ball. Also, the Definition of ‘Equipment’ makes it clear that a player’s ball in play is not part of his equipment for this situation.


I have always understood that you cannot clean the ball by wiping it on the putting green but a fellow competitor disagrees. What is the correct ruling?


Decision 16-1d/5 states that a ball may be cleaned by rubbing it on the putting green provided the act is not for the purpose of testing the surface of the putting green. However, it is recommended that a ball be cleaned in other ways to eliminate any question as to the player’s intentions and to protect the playing surface of the putting green.


Today in stroke play I placed my club behind my ball and the ball moved. I replaced the ball and then took my shot. One of my paying partners said that was a penalty. Please what is the ruling?


Yes, you definitely incurred a penalty of either one or two strokes, depending on whether you had addressed your ball, or not. If you had completed your address, that is you had taken your stance and had also grounded your club, then you are deemed to have moved the ball and must replace it under penalty of one stroke, Rule 18-2b. If you had not addressed your ball and did not cause it to move (e.g. it had been moved by the wind or gravity) then you should have played the ball from where it came to rest. By replacing the ball you incorrectly touched a ball in play (a one stroke penalty) and then played from the wrong place (a two stroke penalty, but the penalty for touching your ball is overridden, making two strokes in total) – Rule 20-7c.


In a four-ball match my partner and I had teed off on the 18th hole when our opponents claimed that we had played out of turn, as they won the 16th and we had halved the 17th. They then claimed that we had lost the hole for playing out of turn. We asked them if they wanted to tee off and then we will play again but they insisted they had won the hole. Is this correct? The club has a Local Rule to play ‘as ready’ golf.


Your opponents did not win the hole. In stroke play there is no penalty for paying out of turn, which is why so many Clubs encourage their members to play ‘as ready’. In match play there is no penalty, but there is an important difference, which is explained in Rule 10-1c;

“If a player plays when his opponent should have played, there is no penalty, but the opponent may immediately require the player to cancel the stroke so made and, in correct order, play a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played (see Rule 20-5).”


Players A and B are involved in a match. A enters the teeing ground with two clubs, decides on one and places the other at one side, but inside both the tee markers. After A has holed out B informs him that he transgressed on the teeing ground and has incurred a loss of hole penalty. Is this right?


Well this is one of the strangest (wrong) rulings that I have heard. No, there is categorically no Rule that prevents a player taking two clubs, ten clubs, or even a trolley containing a bag of clubs onto the teeing ground, though obviously I do not recommend the latter! Therefore, no penalty was incurred


A player hits his approach shot to a wrong green by mistake (shank, wrong alignment, etc,), and this wrong green is about 100m or so away from the intended green. I believe the player may not chip or play an iron shot from the green. Should the player putt his ball off that wrong green and then play a normal approach shot to the intended green or can he pick up his ball, drop it on the apron of the wrong green, nearest to the point of entry to this green?


The answer to your question is in Rule 20-7b, which states;

If a player’s ball lies on a wrong putting green, he must not play the ball as it lies. He must take relief, without penalty, as follows:

The player must lift the ball and drop it within one club-length of and not nearer the hole than the nearest point of relief. The nearest point of relief must not be in a hazard or on a putting green. When dropping the ball within one club-length of the nearest point of relief, the ball must first strike a part of the course at a spot that avoids interference by the wrong putting green and is not in a hazard and not on a putting green. The ball may be cleaned when lifted under this Rule.

Penalty for Breach of Rule:
Match play – Loss of hole; Stroke play – Two strokes.


On leaving the putting green in a stroke play competition can you play your ball to the next tee? I had heard that this incurs a penalty. Please can you advise?


Part of Rule 7-2 states that players are permitted to practice putting or chipping on or near the putting green of the hole last played, any practice putting green, or the teeing ground of the next hole to be played in the round, provided a practice stroke is not made from a hazard and does not unduly delay play. The reason that some players think that these actions incur a penalty is because most Pro Tour events have a Condition of Competition that prohibits players from practising between holes.

I hope that I can encourage you to visit my blog on the Rules of Golf at If you are interested in Rules situations I think that you will find it informative and will learn from it. You can ensure that you are notified of any new posting on this blog by subscribing at the top right corner of the home page. I promise that your email address will remain confidential and will never be shared with anyone else.

Visit here for more Rules of Golf questions.

Disclaimer: Whilst every attempt has been made to ensure the accuracy and reliability of this information on the Rules of Golf I am human and have been known to be wrong! Neither I, nor anyone connected with, shall be held responsible for any losses caused by reliance upon the accuracy or reliability of such information. Readers should refer to the full text of the rules and decisions as published in the official publications of the R&A and the USGA, The Rules of Golf 2008-2011 and Decisions on the Rules of Golf 2008-2009.

Inside The Ropes At The Ryder Cup

It’s countdown to the Ryder Cup and I can’t believe it was two years since I was at Valhalla.

Some of my best memories were hanging around in the team rooms at the opulent Brown’s Hotel in the heart of Louisville.

Having been given VIP tickets by my good friend Nick Faldo I made sure I cherished every moment. It really was a fly on the wall experience and I thought it would be fun to share some of my times during Ryder Cup week.

One thing that really struck in my mind is how full on the whole event is for the players and the incredible attention to detail. At one stage I went down to where the players and wives get fitted in the hotel and there were four people frantically stitching away making last minute alterations. This is unlike any other event, and I’m not sure what Samuel Ryder would make of it now. Things have certainly changed since Walter Hagen’s team beat Ted Ray’s 9½ – GB 2½ at Worcester Country Club in Massachusetts back in 1927.

It really is a frenzy of activity and you would be forgiven for thinking the players finish playing, make a few interviews and go back to the hotel to relax from early on in the evening. The truth is that it can be approaching 10pm and later before their commitments at the golf course are over. The whole week is one long media circus, more so than ever before.

The US players were on the floor above the Europeans and whilst I never went up to that floor, I did find myself in the lift with some of them, though in a way it was more fun to be with the likes of Lee Trevino and Ben Crenshaw (some of my heros from childhood) My wife Elle was more interested in speaking to Boo Weekley, and I guess we had a great way to start up a conversation because we had been speaking to his dad earlier in the day. Nice guy.

This week it will be different to a degree with the players staying on the course at Celtic Manor – there won’t be the 40 minute to an hour journey back to the hotel in Louisville. Having said that the logistics of moving in and out of the hotel will have to be staged like a military operation considering everyone including hotel and golf course staff are getting bussed in from nearby towns.

Over the weekend I spoke to someone who had volunteered to marshall on the first hole, but now having been accepted has declined because of the extra time in the day he will need and hadn’t bargained for. I don’t blame him considering he has significant commitments either side of the day he was going to marshall. In the UK it’s probably best to sit back and watch it on Sky, that’s what I will be doing!

Where will you be watching the Ryder Cup?

Back in 2008 I got the chance to ride one of the team buggies inside the ropes, I don’t suppose I will ever get a better view than that. I always remember a friend texting me the week after the Ryder Cup saying they aren’t sure, but did they really see me driving down the first hole during the Sunday singles – yep that was me. Totally surreal as you can imagine. I have a photo somewhere and will have to show you one day.

One of my fondest memories was sitting with friends on the bank behind the 14th with a view of the 15th and 16th late on the Saturday. The difference in points was yo yoing, would it be a difference of 1, 2, or 3 points at the close of play. Would the Europeans claw back to within touching distance. Those few hours really captured the excitement we come to expect and enjoy at the Ryder Cup.

As I say a lot goes into planning a Ryder Cup and behind the scenes the pressure is on to make sure everything comes together. My mate Matt Sturt has designed the course plan artwork and another great friend Ross McMurray has actually designed the golf course. I used to work with both of them back in my golf course architect days. They still have great banter in the office and I really miss that.

I last saw Ross at the Open, though to be honest I nearly missed him in the crowds as he looked more like a drowned rat on the Wednesday afternoon. The weather cleared up, but it was too late and the past champions 4 hole competition over holes 1, 2, 17 and 18 never took place. This was the event that Seve planned to play in but pulled out about a week before.

This week I would be surprised if too many players are working on swing changes or even making tweaks. Instead I imagine they are just trying to find their groove. How anyone can play under that kind of pressure I have no idea, except to say when they stand on that first tee it will be the ultimate test of their mental game.

Do you remember how well Louis Oosthuizen fared in the last round of the Open Championship at St Andrews? His mental toughness came down to his work with my friend Karl Morris about a month before the event.

Do you remember how well Louis Oosthuizen fared in the last round of the Karl is great and the first time I met him at the St Andrews Fairmont Hotel I learnt so much. We recorded everything on video and then when I got home I had one of those sinking feelings in the pit of my stomach when I realised all of our footage was too dark. To his absolute credit Karl made time to run through everything again the next day, even though he was on holiday there. Karl was a true gent

I dreaded calling him to say look we didn’t realise the indoor lighting was too dim and would he mind recording again. Lesson learnt there – always thoroughly research your location before filming. It has since turned into a life lesson, simply never underestimate the power of preparation.

Here’s to a great event

Do You Know These Six Rules of Golf?

Golf rules expert and author of “999 Questions on the Rules of Golf” Barry Rhodes answers six questions on the rules of golf below.


I wonder if you would be able to solve a problem we are having within the club in regard to the Rules of Golf. The rule which is causing concern and some discussion is regarding ‘using the back of a club to hit a ball’. Whilst it states that a club may only have one hitting surface except in the case of a Putter which is so designed to have two parallel surfaces, I am unable to find a specific rule that states it is illegal to use the back of a club to hit a ball. Others differ and interpret the ‘one hitting surface’ as a rule in this regard. I would appreciate clarification in this regard, advising which particular rule applies and the appropriate penalty.


I can confirm that it is within the Rules to make a stroke with the back, toe, or heel of any club, including the putter. However, it is not permitted to make a stroke with the grip end of the club. Decision 14-1 confirms this;

“Q. May a player play a left-handed stroke with the back of the head of a right-handed club?
A. Yes. A player may play a stroke with any part of the clubhead, provided the ball is fairly struck at (Rule 14-1) and the club conforms with Rule 4-1.”


What happens if you accidentally mark your ball on the apron of the green but do not clean it and then realise that it was not on the green and replace it? In stroke play and in match play with the Rule no. please.


In either stroke play or match play there is a penalty of one stroke for touching your ball while it is in play, Rule 18-2a(i). There is no further penalty, even if the player does clean their ball, Decision 18-2a/13.


I have been using a distance measuring device for the past few monthly games as it was granted a go ahead since the USGA allows such device. However, during the last game, the Tournament Director announced over the loud hailer before the shot gun start that this device is not allowed; unfortunately I was busy and never hear the announcement. So, my questions are as follows;
a. Does breach of rules for stroke play in above situation is 2 strokes penalty (by default) or immediate DQ?
b. Does the Committee have the right to over-rule the decision of the Tournament Director?


You are correct in saying that the USGA permits the use of distance measuring devices, but only if the Committee makes a Local Rule allowing players to use them (Rule 14-3). The penalty for breaching this Rule is disqualification. I assume that the Tournament Director knew that the Committee had not introduced the Local Rule before he made the announcement.


Wind is an outside agency and the ball must be played where it ends up, but what if a ball at rest on the green moves due to gravity (from being on a slight slope) or due to falling into a small indentation in the green underneath the ball – and before the player has addressed it?


No, wind is not an Outside Agency. Part of the Definition states,
“Neither wind nor water is an outside agency.”

So, if a player’s ball moves before they have addressed it, but they did not cause it to move, there is no penalty and it has to be played from where it comes to rest, whether this is nearer or further away from the hole. It does not matter whether the ball moved due to wind, gravity or some other natural source.

You may find these two blogs of mine on similar subjects interesting;


Please inform me of what the following ruling would be. I thought I knew but somehow this eludes me. My ball is beside the green (in the fairway or rough) I have not addressed the ball, but make a practice swing and accidentally hit my ball. What do I do? Next, my ball is on the green and moves in the same manner. I am taking a practice putt and accidentally hit my ball. What do I do?

I know of instances of replacing the ball on the green and need clarification as when this happens.


In both your scenarios when a player’s ball is in play, if he causes it to move, except as permitted by a Rule, the player incurs a penalty of one stroke and the ball must be replaced, (Rule 18-2a).


I really want to know what is the Rule of play for two scenarios below concerning order of play;
1. When two players are at different locations, one 20m from the hole but on the green and the other is 5m from the hole but off the green. What is the order of play?

2. Two players playing a par-5, index 2 in a stableford competition, one player, with a handicap of 1, holes out with 5 strokes resulting in 2 points and the other player, with a handicap of 20, holes out with 6 getting 3 points. Who will get the honour on the next tee? Does the honour depend on the points or strokes made for that particular hole?


In answer to your first question, Rule 10-2b states that in stroke play,
“The ball farthest from the hole is played first. If two or more balls are equidistant from the hole or their positions relative to the hole are not determinable, the ball to be played first should be decided by lot.”

Therefore, the player whose ball is 20m from the hole plays first.

In answer to your second question, in a Stableford competition the person who scored the most points on the hole has the honour on the next teeing ground. Part of Rule 32-1 states;

“In handicap bogey, par and Stableford competitions, the competitor with the lowest net score at a hole takes the honour at the next teeing ground.”

So, in any competition where handicaps are taken into account on each hole the honour is determined by the net score for the hole. In a pure strokes competition, where the handicap is deducted at the end of the stipulated round, it is the gross score that determines the honour.

I hope that I can encourage you to visit my blog on the Rules of Golf at If you are interested in Rules situations I think that you will find it informative and will learn from it. You can ensure that you are notified of any new posting on this blog by subscribing at the top right corner of the home page. I promise that your email address will remain confidential and will never be shared with anyone else.” – Miscellaneous content on the Rules of Golf.

Visit here for more Rules of Golf questions.

Disclaimer: Whilst every attempt has been made to ensure the accuracy and reliability of this information on the Rules of Golf I am human and have been known to be wrong! Neither I, nor anyone connected with, shall be held responsible for any losses caused by reliance upon the accuracy or reliability of such information. Readers should refer to the full text of the rules and decisions as published in the official publications of the R&A and the USGA, The Rules of Golf 2008-2011 and Decisions on the Rules of Golf 2008-2009.

Whisky Tasting At St Andrews During The Open Championship

My friends Andrew Dubber and Clutch Daisy (otherwise know as Dubber and Clutch) are excited to announce that they will be doing a couple of tasting events in St Andrews during the Open next week. Essentially it will be two nights of the very best of Scottish culture, taking in the history and folklore surrounding some of Scotland’s finest drams.

In addition exclusive to this blog they are giving away a couple of FREE tickets to each of the tasting nights. The tickets are £39 each.

All you need to do is answer two simple questions:

1) How old is the Laphroaig we’ll be tasting on Thursday night?
2) How old is the Whyte & Mackay blend we’ll be tasting on Friday night?

Here’s a hint, the answers can be found on the Dubber and Clutch website here

Entries close at 6pm Tuesday, and they will draw the two winners that evening. One will win a double pass to Thursday night’s tasting, the other will win a double pass to Friday night’s tasting.

Answers should be sent to them and not me using the contact page on our site. You can access it by clicking here

Good luck


Eight Golf Rules About The Golf Ball

Golf rules expert and author of “999 Questions on the Rules of Golf” Barry Rhodes answers eight questions relating to the golf ball and the rules of golf below.

But first I wanted to report that I’m very happy to announce that Barry will personally sign your own copy of “999 Questions on the Rules of Golf” and post it to you anywhere in the world for free!

Grab your copy here, remember no shipping fees.

In fact if you order 3 copies you will receive a great 20% discount, and even better 25% discount for an order of 5 copies.

Please email Barry direct at if you would like to order more than 3 copies (e.g. for your Golf Club). Take a look here, to find out how this outstanding book will save you many shots as I can highly recommend it.

The book contains:

* 999 questions in 3 sections; easy, moderate and harder
* 3 formats for the questions; true/false, open ended, multiple choice
* Reference to the relevant Definition, Rule or Decision for every answer
* Explanations to aid readers understanding of the Rule
* An easy, look-up index to resolve the myriad situations that occur on the course
* Questions on all 34 Rules and 126 sub-sections

Here are the 8 questions on the rules of golf:


I take address on a T-box. On my downswing a gust of wind blows the ball off the tee and it rolls about an inch away. I am unable to stop the swing and strike the ball. Do I incur a penalty stoke? What is the ruling?


This is an interesting question that is answered by Rule 11-3, which states;

“If a ball, when not in play, falls off a tee or is knocked off a tee by the player in addressing it, it may be re-teed, without penalty. However, if a stroke is made at the ball in these circumstances, whether the ball is moving or not, the stroke counts, but there is no penalty.”


Regarding GPS systems on golf buggies, many clubs are now allowing these in competitions but I cannot see where this has been sanctioned by the rules of golf. Can you advise, thanks


The Note to Rule 14-3, Artificial Devices, Unusual Equipment and Unusual Use of Equipment, states,

“The Committee may make a Local Rule allowing players to use devices that measure or gauge distance only.”

So, GPS devices may only be used in competition if there is a Local Rule permitting their use. It is important to check this before the competition starts as the penalty for a breach of Rule 14-3 is disqualification.


What is meant by casual water being an abnormal ground condition?


An Abnormal Ground Condition is defined in the opening pages of the Rules book as follows;

“An abnormal ground condition is any casual water, ground under repair or hole, cast or runway on the course made by a burrowing animal, a reptile or a bird.”

Casual water is further defined as follows;

“Casual water is any temporary accumulation of water on the course that is not in a water hazard and is visible before or after the player takes his stance. Snow and natural ice, other than frost, are either casual water or loose impediments, at the option of the player. Manufactured ice is an obstruction. Dew and frost are not casual water.

A ball is in casual water when it lies in or any part of it touches the casual water.”

Decision 25/1, relating to casual water, states;
“Q. Is soft, mushy earth casual water?

A. No. Soft, mushy earth is not casual water unless water is visible on the surface before or after the player takes his stance — see Definition of “Casual Water.”


My wife was playing in a singles stableford competition and began playing with a Titleist ball. However, she had two balls in her pocket and inadvertently teed off with a Nike ball on the 4th tee without informing her playing partners. She only realised her mistake when she located her ball just off the fairway. Neither her playing partner nor herself were aware of the Rule and she continued to play the Nike ball finishing with a 4. She then announced that she was going to tee off with the Titleist, which she played with until the end of the round. She submitted her card duly signed by one of her playing partners. However she is now concerned that she acted incorrectly and should advise the club secretary and effectively disqualify herself for submitting an incorrect card. What is the appropriate Rule in this situation and what action should she take?


You can tell your wife that she can relax as she did not break any Rule of Golf. Players may change their ball, and brand of ball, between holes unless the competition has a one ball rule, which is typically only used in tour events. Whilst it is courteous to tell your fellow competitors that you have changed balls there is no Rule that requires you to do so. Of course you cannot substitute a ball during the play of a hole. Rule 15-1 states;

“A player must hole out with the ball played from the teeing ground unless the ball is lost or out of bounds or the player substitutes another ball, whether or not substitution is permitted (see 15-2). If a player plays a wrong ball, see Rule 15-3.”


Please advise under what circumstances a player would declare his ball as “unplayable”?


Rule 28 states;
“The player may deem his ball unplayable at any place on the course, except when the ball is in a water hazard. The player is the sole judge as to whether his ball is unplayable.”

Usually, a player invoke this Rule when their ball is in a place where they would have trouble in making their next stroke and it is probably better for them to incur a penalty stroke and drop under one of the three options available under this Rule. Examples would be when your ball lies deep in a bush, or in very thick rough, or in the roots of a tree.


After a tee shot a player’s ball crosses the course boundary, hits a tree that is wholly out of bounds and then bounces back onto the fairway. What is the ruling on this?


It is of no consequence if a player’s ball travels out of bounds providing it lands back on the course. They play their ball as it lies without penalty.


In a foursome, player A’s tee ball could not be found, but it might have entered a lateral water hazard. No one in the foursome saw the ball enter the hazard. Can an assumption be made that the ball entered the hazard, and then is Player A allowed to drop within 2 club lengths of where the ball is thought to have entered the hazard, and incur a one stroke penalty?


Rule 26-1, Relief From Water Hazard (which includes a lateral water hazard) states;

“It is a question of fact whether a ball that has not been found after having been struck toward a water hazard is in the hazard. In order to apply this Rule, it must be known or virtually certain that the ball is in the hazard. In the absence of such knowledge or certainty, the player must proceed under Rule 27-1.”

So, where it is only likely that a ball might have come to rest in a lateral water hazard the only way to proceed is to go back to where the last stroke was made and drop a ball under penalty of stroke and distance (Rule 27-1, Ball Lost or Out of Bounds).


After a stroke a player’s ball ends near, or maybe even touching, a white stake. Can you take relief without a penalty or do you play ball from where it lies?


White stakes identifying out of bounds are not obstructions and are deemed to be fixed (see Definition of Out of Bounds). There is no relief from them. Therefore, the player must either play their ball as it lies or deem it unplayable and drop it according to one of the three options available under Rule 28, under penalty of one stroke.

You can access another 999 golf questions and answers here: – Miscellaneous content on the Rules of Golf.
Author of the book ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’

Gain instant access to “The Rules Of Golf Course” – Club secretaries have been praying For – for decades!

Visit here for more Rules of Golf questions.

Disclaimer: Whilst every attempt has been made to ensure the accuracy and reliability of this information on the Rules of Golf I am human and have been known to be wrong! Neither I, nor anyone connected with, shall be held responsible for any losses caused by reliance upon the accuracy or reliability of such information. Readers should refer to the full text of the rules and decisions as published in the official publications of the R&A and the USGA, The Rules of Golf 2008-2011 and Decisions on the Rules of Golf 2008-2009.

NEWS FLASH: Gutta Percha Ball to be used at The St Andrews Open

Good news … at long last the R&A have decided to halt the advancement of technology and the need for longer and longer golf courses. Finally we can get back to how golf used to be played.

Last week I spoke to some of my golf course architect friends during the European Institute of Golf Course Architects conference held in St Andrews and many said if things carry on the way they were going, they would be designing 9000 yard courses by 2015!

Experts around the world have said for the last 20 years, that changes have to be made to the ball, and that’s exactly what has happened.

This morning the R&A will announce the reintroduction of the Gutta Percha ball, effective from Thursday 15th July 2010.

To begin with only professionals playing in R&A sanctioned events will be forced to play the affectionately known “Gutty”.

Interestingly this type of ball is made by boiling and then molding the latex-like sap from trees native to the Maylay peninsula. Rumour has it that Titleist have been working closely with a supplier in South East Asia, in a bid to secure the best crop of Sapodilla trees.

Robert Adams, CEO of Titleist, has already said on their Facebook page that they welcome this move by the game’s governing body and will be launching the new Titleist Gutty V1 in early May.

On a personal level it will great to see holes such as the par 5 5th hole ( “Hole O’Cross” ) on the Old Course play as a real 3 shoter during the Open in July.

Expect to see the full press release on the official R&A site later today at

Let me know your reaction by leaving a comment below. I understand not everyone will be happy with this new move.

Win A Copy of Learn to Win: A Major by Dr Morris Pickens

Here’s a bit of fun!

Recently Stewart Cink, Zach Johnson and Lucas Glover got together at Frederica Golf Club for a photo shoot for Dr Morris Pickens’ new book “Learn to Win: A Major”.

Whilst there are some great photos with the Claret Jug, the 2007 Masters trophy and the 2009 US Open trophy – there’s a problem, and I hope you can help! He’s unsure as to what photo should go on the front cover.

Dr Morris Pickens would like you to choose your favourite photo for the book cover. All you have to do is make your selection from 5 amazing photos here.

You can read about the whole day here, sounds like it was a lot of fun.

So go ahead tap here and tell us which photo you like the best.

Finally Dr Morris Pickens is giving away 4 autographed copies at random from his list of subscribers to his newsletter. It costs nothing to join and it’s packed with lots of tips to help your mental game.

Controlling the Distance of Your Greenside Bunker Shots

I recently saw a comment on an older post that asked — “How do you control the distance on greenside bunker shots?” I thought this was a very good question and one I’ve been asked a lot over the years. So I thought I would address that question and hopefully reduce some of your sand trap anxiety.

First, let me say that really good bunker play requires more than just the knowledge I’m about to offer. It requires thoughtful practice and some experience reading different lies and situations. That said, to hit the ball different distances requires nothing more than knowing the technique I’ll write about in the following paragraphs. So, although you may not turn into Gary Player over night — you will, after reading this post, have a basic philosophy on controlling the distance of your bunker shots.

Okay, to start, there are two basic fundamentals that you must understand to control the length of your bunker shots. Without these two fundamentals, the rest is worthless. Just as is reading all the golf magazine articles that tell you how easy bunker shots are supposed to be. The two fundamentals you must understand and control are — entry point and depth of divot. These two things are vital to good bunker play and needed if you’re going to hit short and long shots on command.

Lets start with entry point, which simply means the point where your club enters the sand behind the ball. This is important because — if one time you enter 4 inches behind the ball and the next time you enter 1 inch behind the ball — your ball is going to travel different distances. Assuming the force of your swing is the same that is. What is the proper entry point? Well, to me, it’s 2 inches behind the ball on normal bunker shots. And…when I am instructing someone in the bunker, I really don’t let them move on from this step until they can do it consistently. It doesn’t make sense to try an comprehend point C if you still can’t get past point A. And in bunker play, delivering the club to a consistent point behind the ball is definitely point A. It really is quite simple to practice and you can do so without a ball, which is probably preferable. This way you won’t focus too much on the ball and swing to it, as opposed to the point in the sand.

Here’s the drill: Draw a long line across the bunker and then straddle that line with your stance. The line should fall two inches behind the left heel in your stance. Do not use a ball at first. Once set up, I want you to take practice strokes swinging through the sand. But each time, do your best to enter the sand right on that line two inches behind your left heel. Remember, make sure to swing through the sand. We don’t want to groove a stroke that hits at the sand…so pay attention to that. Take a number of practice swings making your way down that line in the sand. But make sure the line stays in the same spot in your stance. Don’t let it get too far back or too far forward. For now, don’t worry about aim so much. Just worry about swinging through that line two inches behind your left heel. You’ll see where your club enters, so make any needed adjustments. Once you get to the point where you can enter the sand at the same spot every time, put a ball down directly off your left heel. Then, continue to do the drill, except this time with a ball down. Remember, still enter two inches behind your left heel (or from where your ball is placed) right on that line. You’ll quickly get the feeling of the sand taking your ball onto the green. That is an easy way to understand the first fundamental of entry point and should take you about 10-15 minutes.

For the second fundamental, I want to you look at the big flange on the bottom of your sand wedge. This is designed specifically for bunkers. That flange translates into bounce as you swing the club into the sand. What is bounce? Bounce is exactly what it sounds like, your club bouncing off the ground into the ball. If you have ever sculled a sand wedge from a tight lie in the fairway because your club skimmed off the ground, you know what bounce is. The manufacturer put that big flange on the club so it would bounce off the ground. The great thing about bunkers is that they are made of soft sand so, as the club strikes the sand it digs slightly and then bounces. This guarantees that you take the right amount of sand every time.

Still confused? It’s okay, I am going to show you how to use the bounce to your advantage. Raise the bottom of your sand wedge up to your face, right at eye level. Set it so the face of the club is looking at you. Now push the grip end of the club away from you while keeping the face in the same position. You are opening the clubface by in essence moving the shaft backwards. Notice what is happening to the bottom of the club and its flange. It’s getting bigger and you are seeing more of it. Next, bring the handle closer to you and watch what happens. The more you close the clubface, the more the flange disappears. You are decreasing the bounce by closing the face. From this experiment, you learn that a square clubface produces normal bounce, an open clubface produces more bounce, and a closed clubface produces less bounce.

Now the trick is to know when to use each degree of bounce. Just think about what you are trying to accomplish in a normal sand shot. Your goal is to splash the ball out softly riding on a thin blanket of sand. The amount of sand you take will determine the distance your ball travels – not necessarily the amount of sand you take behind the ball, but the amount you take under the ball. This has to be consistent to hit good bunker shots. If you skim the top of the sand on one shot and then dig five inches deep on the next one, you will never know how hard to swing. Knowing how to use the bounce of your wedge is the key to controlling the depth of your divots. The more bounce you use, the more shallow the divot. The less bounce you use, the deeper the divot. And because your goal is to splash the ball out on a thin layer of sand, you want a shallow divot, and will use an open face on your wedge to hit this shot. In fact, you should use an open face anytime you have a good lie in the bunker. One note however: Make sure to open the face of your sand wedge and then grip it. Don’t grip it then open it, as it will likely return to square at the bottom of your swing.

Okay — I know that was a lot of technical information…but some golfers really need that. But to make it simple in review — before your do anything else in a bunker — you want to control your entry point and the depth of your divot. This way the amount of sand taken will always be consistent and then you can control distance by effort of swing. This is the simplest way to get the ball close when having a long way to travel across a big green.

So, now on to controlling your distances. And believe it or not, this gets very easy if you do the first two things correctly. All that is required to control your distances in greenside bunkers is to modify your follow through. For a short shot — follow through short. For a medium bunker shot — follow through to a medium level. And for a long shot — follow through all the way. There is no need to adjust your backswing, as this will happen naturally and should, for all intensive purposes, stay consistent with all shots anyway. By controlling your finish, you will control the amount of acceleration through the ball, which will control how far the ball carries. It really is that simple. Don’t make it any more complicated then that. Yes, for specialty bunker shots, there is more required. But for a garden variety bunker shot, from a good lie, this is it.

In review…

Control your entry point by practicing swinging the club into the sand on an exact point.

Control the depth of your divot by controlling the angle of your face. An open face will create more bounce, which will create a more desired shallow divot. **Make sure to open the face, then grip it.

Control the length of your shot by controlling the length of your follow through. Have three finishes in your bag for short, medium and long shots. To get really close, you’ll have to practice — but to get reasonably close, you’ll just need to understand this concept.

A couple things about equipment and set-up. First, 90% of your greenside bunker shots should be hit with a sand-wedge that has between 56-60 degrees of loft and 8-12 degrees of bounce. To me, the perfect club for most situations is a 58 degree wedge with about 10 degrees of bounce. Most of the wedges today will say how much bounce they have on the bottom of the club. If you don’t see it there — ask your pro and they should be able to help you out. Second, you should hit 90% of all your greenside bunker shots with open feet and shoulders. That way, your open club will be aiming properly at the target. From there, just swing aggressively down your body line, and the ball will bleed a little to the right (for a right-handed golfer) directly at your target.

You can learn more about improving your bunker play in our free illustrated 60 page PDF Report, 14 mins video and 19 mins audio. To receive a copy and play better bunker shots simply fill in your name and email here.

Good luck and have fun!

Planes, Trains & Automobiles to St Andrews

On Tuesday I travelled back up to St Andrews.

Sometimes I drive and sometimes I fly but a few days ago I chose the train from London Kings Cross.

Infact I was an hour early and so I wandered over to St Pancras International station next door as I wanted to see the redevelopment in the flesh.

Why I love rail travel.

Quite simply rail travel means I don’t lose a day of work. The East Coast trains comes with WiFi allowing me to work throughout my journey. I also have a Vodafone datacard as backup.

I do marvel at how easy internet access is becoming, soon everywhere will be one massive hotspot!

Only today I was reading that Alaska Airlines will be offering WiFi on all their flights. You may have already experienced this whilst flying on American, United, Delta, and AirTran.

So there I was … checking the time on my phone … 10:29

My train was due to leave at 10:30

A second later it eased out of the platform and I wondered if I’m the only one that gets a pleasant buzz whenever a train leaves on time.

I know there are no guarantees but somehow you are optimistic that all being well you will arrive on time.

I was due to arrive at 16:00 in Leuchars.

Up until the early 1960s St Andrews had its own railway station, but the government’s Beeching report put paid to that.

If you are ever in the Dunvegan Hotel and Restaurant, a 9 iron from the 18th green on the Old Course, you can see some great photos of how the line used to run adjacent to the 16th fairway.

Leuchars (pronounced more like “lookers”) is a 10 minute bus ride from St Andrews and so the remainder of the jorney has to be by bus or taxi.

It’s always so cool to look up from my laptop and take in the breathtaking scenery as the train travels from England to Scotland through Berwick-upon-Tweed.

At points you are so close to the waves you can imagine you are riding them – or maybe that’s just me!

As my own journey came to its end, it was a pleasure to reflect back on the fact that during the five and half hours of my journey I had completed the new renovation of

Now it might not be on a par of the fine work at St Pancras International station but nevertheless I’m proud there is now one place to listen to all the great guests we have had since September last year.

I’m also very pleased to introduce this month’s guest, she is Jennifer Scott a certified clinical hypnotherapist who has appeared with Kelly Tilghman on The Golf Channel and gives 2-hour seminars on how to play in the zone at The San Diego Golf Academy.

In fact Golf Magazine rated Jennifer’s audio 2 CD Program, “Own The Zone(TM)” with its highest rating. The program includes specific methods to improve your focus and ease any anger or frustration you may feel on the course. Additionally golfers are taught proven techniques to develop a pre-shot bubble where nothing can distract you.

Please head over to to hear Jennifer speak and learn more about how her work can help your game.

Alternatively you can listen to her by clicking on the orange button below:

Listen to an excerpt from the Golf Inside Circle interview:

Jennifer teaches golfers to be free of confusing extraneous thoughts by using the power of the subconscious mind to relax and focus. These teachings put an end to your confusion and allow you to play “in the zone” for longer and longer periods of time. When you are in hypnosis you are in the zone and Jennifer teaches golfers how to get into this state effortlessly.

Discover more by visiting