DJ’s Golf Tips
SHORT GAME BASICS
Narrow your stance
Start with weight on left side
Ball position back (generally)
Hit down and through (take a divot)
Dominant right side
Use your feet
Extend right arm and hold your finish
GENERAL SWING BASICS
Keep hands soft. See 2 or 3 knuckles of left hand.
Grip sits in the fingers of the right hand, not in the palm.
Aim straight or to the left of your target, never right.
Forward of centre, (but changes with slope)
Driver = Ball Forward; Short Shots = Middle to Back.
Hands are ‘set’ going back and ‘un-set’ coming down. Train hand speed.
Club goes back on line and turn. Feel throwing position. Weight stays on inside right foot.
Transfer weight going through with footwork. Weight must go forward and finish on left side. Right foot ends on toe.
The REAL money shot with Derek James
(Compleat Golfer Aug 13)
The trick to being a consistent putter is to practise while focusing on a coin and holding your finish, reckons PGA pro Derek James.
Get up and down with Derek James
(Compleat Golfer July 08)
Known far and wide as South Africa’s short-game guru, Derek has some helpful tips to guide you through some of the key aspects of wedge-play.
Get down to basics
(SA Golfers Yearbook 2009)
Valuable pointers from Derek James, voted top PGA teaching professional in 2008.
(Compleat Golfer December 2015)
Derek James explains the importance of good weight transfer in successful bunker play.
9 Holes with Derek James
(Golfer’s Digest Aug 14)
9 valuable golf tips.
The Best Teachers 2016 / 2017
(Golf Digest December 2016)
Derek James explains the importance of good weight transfer in the short game in general.
BUNKER PLAY BASICS
Lay 2 clubs down in the sand (Picture A) with one club aiming left of your target and one to the right.
Your feet & body should be lined up with the club aiming left and your club face should aim to the right (Picture B), which means that your club face is always in an open position. From this set up, simply swing along the line of your feet.
As you can see from my address, the club head starts from the position where I will enter the sand and the ball is in line with my left heel, with my weight slightly on my left side. The biggest mistake that bad bunker players make is that they don’t transfer their weight. They hit off their back leg.
Notice in Picture C how I have totally transferred my weight onto my left side. This movement forward is the same in any shot you hit.
I have also demonstrated (in Pictures D, E & F) hitting bunker shots with my right hand only. This is the best drill that you will ever do. Simply feel as if you are throwing a ball under arm.
My set up and swing is the same with two hands. It is just that too many golfers grip far to tightly with their left hand and then pull down. Only with your right side will you create speed and it is this speed with an open face which results in getting the club head to slide through the sand.
Again, notice in both Pictures C & F how I have finished balanced on my left side.
Now trust yourself!
IMPROVING YOUR GAME
The set up:
For the straight forward chip shot, the address position should be compact – with the feet relatively close together and slightly open (parallel to a line pointing just left of target). Importantly, the weight must favour the left side, with the ball placed back in the stance. The club is very much an extension of the left arm – you are comfortably over the ball without feeling cramped or that you have to reach towards the ball.
All too often I see short backswings with a long follow through. This can cause problems – practise lengthening the backswing a bit, but keep the follow-through compact and controlled (a). Most importantly, the angle formed by the right wrist and arm must remain constant throughout the stroke (b).
The old adage, “if you have the green to work with, use it”, is quite valid. Once the correct technique for executing the chip shot has been mastered, the right club for a given situation must be selected. Experiment by playing shots from different positions near the green, with the aim being to use the available putting surface. Remember, whether using a 7-iron to produce more roll, or a wedge to carry the ball over a bunker or pond, the same basics apply.
Once chipping becomes less of a fear, you are ready to work on bunker shots. Most golfers know that to play this shot correctly, the club-head of the sand-wedge must effectively slide under the ball, entering the sand behind the ball. (The less sand trapped between the clubface and the the ball, the greater the club-head speed, therefore the further the ball will carry.)
Firstly, the clubface must be set in an open position (a) and gripped accordingly (b). Do not grip the club with the leading edge in a square position and then rotate the hands so that the face opens.
The role of the right side cannot be over-emphasised and playing right-handed chip shots is an excellent way of developing right-side control. Here the aim is to maintain the angle between the right wrist and arm throughout the shot. One of the common faults is to attempt to ‘scoop’ the ball into the air – trust the loft on the club to do the work. If the wrist angle remains constant and crisp contact is made with the ball by hitting down and through, the battle is almost won. With practise you will develop a feel for distance, but first the fundamentals must be correct.
It is a good idea when practising the chip shot to pause at the top of the backswing and check the angle of the wrist – it must remain constant from address.
The so-called ‘yips’ are a mental condition and, although psychologists are baffled by it, it is no secret that it is born out of lack of confidence. By employing a technically incorrect method, a golfer is likely to find all sorts of errors creeping into the stroke and loss of confidence will result. Moving over the ball (changing the angle of the spine) is likely to cause shots that are hi “thin” or “in the teeth” (hen the ball is struck with the leading edge of the club). or “fat” (when the leading edge of the club digs into the turf behind the ball).
PRACTISE DRILL BASICS
Use right hand only
Try different ball positions
Practise foot work
Try different clubs
Extend right arm after contact
The one-armed swing
This drill is simple enough – you grip the club as you would ordinarily and then remove the left hand. in fact, take it out of play completely by putting it in your left pocket. Continue to swing normally with the right hand only, whether for a flop shot or a bump-and-run to get a feel of how the right hand should act during the chip-shot. You should be following much the same action as throwing the ball at the hole and, as this swing forces you into a good release of the club, it shouldn’t take long before you get a feel of getting the ball up in the air quickly through cleaner contact.
The fingertips drill
In this drill, hold the club at the end of your fingers as shown and then continue your swing. Even with such a delicate grip, you should still be able to play good chip-shots after a bit of practise. You should also experience two important sensations during the drill – firstly, that you are letting the club do all the work and secondly, that you no longer need to grip the club firmly in order to get it to do what you want it to do.
The weight-transfer drill
Another common myth is that players should stay dead still over their chips, but as with any other shot, weight transfer is still hugely important. This drill simply involves practising chip-shots with exaggerated legwork in order to help you learn to transfer your weight from your right leg to the left leg correctly (as shown by my bent right leg), clearing the hips so that you can swing through the ball. A bad weight transfer, where the weight stays on the right side, cramps up the swing, restricts the arms and forces on to swing at the ball with the wrists. It can produce just about any result, but hitting it in the teeth is the most common.
COMMON ERRORS – BUNKERS
For those golfers who understand the importance of the face being open, a common fault is to ‘hang on to’ the club – trying to maintain the angle of the club-face through the shot (a), which will normally result in the shot finishing short of the target.
The opposite can also occur – the club is released (b) and, in this case, the shot will be ‘smothered’ and either come out “hot” or find the lip of the bunker.
The correct technique is (c) where much the same principles as chipping apply. The open clubface has done the work as the club is accelerated through the sand. The weight has been transferred onto the left side and the club has been released naturally.
IMPROVE YOUR CHIPPING AND IMPROVE YOUR SCORE
All things being equal, and with no real obstacles in your way, from anywhere within a few yards of the putting surface, any teacher would tell any student to make use of the Putter. Simply put, it represents the option with the lowest risk of failure.
Now put an obstacle in your path – some fringe or some rough for instance – and all of a sudden the benefits of the rolling ball start to decrease. It’s difficult to predict how a ball’s roll will be affected by the longer grass, then you have to re-calculate for its speed when it gets to the green. At times like these, clever golfers go to the chip shot.
At this point you don’t want to be thinking about the connection itself. You need to be judging the distance and trajectory control required; all aspects controlled by the right side. So try out the drill below to help you add some consistency and confidence.
Before attempting to chip, gain the feeling of throwing the ball underhand. Hold the ball in your right hand, not too tight, but as you would imagine gripping the club. Now, using an underhand action, throw the ball towards the hole.