Golf column: The battle to break 90

Chilliwack Golf Club instructor Jennifer Greggain offers tips on how to smash through the barrier and get below 90.

Many golfers are looking to break 90 on a more regular basis.

These players may have been playing golf for a number of years now, but have hit a plateau that they can’t seem to overcome. Here are a few areas of focus that should help get your game in shape for breaking 90 consistently.

You have likely started striking the ball more consistently solid, but may have run into some difficulties with direction. Many golfers trying to break 90 may be struggling with the dreaded slice to the right, or hook to the left.

Understanding the root causes for direction issues is key in defeating this challenge.

As with any swing issue, look first to your setup position. Be sure your club-face is aimed square to your intended starting direction, and that your feet and shoulders are also square to this target line. Either have someone check this for you or use a mirror or alignment sticks at your next practice session.

Also be sure you are holding the club with a neutral grip. Holding the club with a ‘weak’ grip can cause pushed shots, whereas a ‘strong’ grip can cause pulled shots.

Many golfers who slice the ball do not know how to square up the club face with the hands during the swing, causing the ‘over the top’ swing plane to occur. So look first at how to square up the club face, and your direction should start to straighten out.  Allow your hands to square up the club face as you turn through the shot. This should be a natural motion, with relatively relaxed grip pressure.

If you hold the club too tight, this could impede your ability to square up the club face.

Next, a golfer looking to break 90 should spend some time learning and practicing the sand game. For a green-side bunker shot, use a high-lofted sand wedge. Set up with an ‘open’ stance and club face, which exposes the ‘bounce’ of the club.

Stand a little wider than usual, and place the ball closer to the front of your stance with your weight distributed slightly more to your lead foot.

Start the swing with a steep backswing, letting the club ‘slide’ under the ball. This will cause an explosion of sand, allowing the ball to pop up high and land softly on the green.

Be sure to look at a piece of sand two inches behind the ball, as this is where you want the club to enter the sand.

Practice this by evaluating your sand divots, ensuring that you are not taking too much or too little sand. Too little sand will cause the ball to fly too far, and too much sand will not allow the ball to fly far enough.

Finally, learning how to properly read greens can also help to dramatically lower scores. Remember that reading a green is mostly about looking for slope. This includes uphill or downhill slope which effects distance, and also side hill slope which effects direction.

You can do this simply by looking at the green, taking most consideration in to the overall slope of the green first, then smaller slopes. If needed, crouch down closer to the ground to look for slope, and also by walking around the green to look from different directions. You can also use your feet to feel for slope. Sometimes the eyes can deceive you.

As your scores begin to lower, breaking the next scoring barrier can become trickier.

Remember that at least 40 per cent of strokes taken are with the short game, and only 15 per cent with the long game. So if your goal is to start consistently breaking 90 this season, be sure your practice time is devoted to short-game over long game.

 

Jennifer played professionally on tour for over 10 years, including two seasons on the LPGA. She is the 2015 Pepsi Norhwest Open Champion and 2015 PGA of BC Women’s Champion, and is now the lead instructor of the Sardis Golf Academy.  She can be contacted at 604-798-9805, chilliwackgolfacademy.com, or at Jennifer@chilliwackgolf.com