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Getting Off the Ground
Over the past 15 years of playing this game, it is apparent that if we all approached life with the same strength and vigor that we approach our golf games, there would only be two types of people left on the planet -- the self-proclaimed severely confused and those who are in denial.

I am glad that golf is only a small part of life, even though it may seem more significant at times. However, the one thing that we all need to remember is that there are many lessons that we learn every day, on and off the course, that will help us maintain our sanity in this "keep your head still, keep your back straight, bend your knees and RELAX!" kind of world.

Dear Dr. Golf,

I am a 20 handicap golfer and I have a great deal of trouble around the greens. All of my shots are either along the ground or I hit the turf first and the ball doesn't go anywhere. Could you please help me with this annoying headache?

Dear Friend,

The inconsistency that you are experiencing can stem from a couple of different things -- your physical position when you go to hit the ball or your mental approach toward conquering this green side anxiety. As the golf swing in these shorter shots is comprised of less moving parts than in a full swing, one would assume that they are easier. This belief also elevates the level of tension and confusion because we cannot comprehend why we fail on the short shots and not on the long ones.

I would encourage you to get comfortable when preparing to hit this chip shot by standing to the ball with your arms relaxed -- feel that the club is an extension of your arms down to the back of the ball. Look to the portion of the green that you would like the ball to land on. Then keep that picture in your mind's eye and smoothly swing back and through, sweeping the club across the blades of grass that are supporting the ball, almost like a pendulum or your putting stroke. Focus on the ball and feel the weight of the club in your fingers, not the palms of your hands.

Myth: When around the green, you should only use your sand iron.

Correction: Remember that the name of the game is to get the ball in the hole and that there isn't enough room on the scorecard to write how you did it. I suggest using a 7, 9 and SW. Get comfortable with these clubs and learn what they do with the same golf swing!

Good luck in golf and life, and remember...

"Fairways and greens, pards! Fairways and greens!"

 ©0000 Craig Hocknull
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