Editor’s note: first of a three-part series.
BANGOR, Maine — As spring creeps slowly into the Pine Tree State, golfers have started to get their clubs out and head to the courses across the state to get some fresh air and hit the little white ball after the seemingly endless winter.
Golf pros will be busy giving lessons as golfers try to improve their games to make their experience that much more enjoyable.
Rob Jarvis, the assistant pro at the Bangor Municipal Golf Course, has offered a number of useful tips designed to shave strokes off scores and enhance the golf outing.
The stance: “The stance should be a little wider than it would be for an iron shot. What I like to tell my students is that we want to be shoulder-width apart, only we’re going to measure the inside of our feet to the outside of our shoulders. If we measure the outside of our feet to the outside of our shoulders, it’s too narrow. Then we want the weight to feel like it’s in the middle of our feet. We want to be fairly athletic. We don’t want to be back on our heels or on top of our toes.
“The most important part of our stance is when we establish our angle … when we lean toward the golf ball. The best way to do it is to feel like you’re folding your body in half. We don’t bend at the waist. That creates a curling motion. We want to feel like we fold or we push our back side out a little bit. That’s going to keep my spine angle straighter and help me make a good shoulder turn and body rotation throughout the swing.”
The swing: “Most players would do well to use two fixed points: their feet and their head. It’s more difficult to keep the head still. If we use those two points and think about everything rotating in between, it is going to make it lot easier for me to return the club back to where I started it. You should swing the club as long as your flexibility allows. If you can make a full shoulder turn so your back is toward the target, the club is going to be parallel to the ground. If you can’t make a full shoulder turn, then your arms need to stop when your shoulders stop.”
Jarvis said it is important for golfers to stretch out their hamstrings at least once a day because it will help them rotate their bodies and increase the length of their swings.
He said the “through swing” is the most important part of the swing and that golfers need to track the ball with their eyes through the hitting zone.
“Elite players watch the impact and their head is rotating in line with their spine. They see the ball very quickly after it comes off the golf club and it enables them to retain their spine angle, which helps them stay in the original set-up position and return the club back to square. They see the golf ball a long time. Inexperienced golfers won’t know where their ball went.
“Most golfers would do well to think about hitting the ball on the upswing with the driver. If you hit it with a one-degree descending blow instead of a three-degree ascending blow, the result is 25-30 yards of distance lost.”
He said slicing the ball is the most common problem for players off the tee. That means a right-handed golfer would be spraying the drive to the right.
Hooking the ball, or pulling it, is preferable “because that means they’ve released everything in a circle and in a rotary motion which is a lot closer to [eventually] hitting good shots than bad shots.”
He said a hook could mean “the ball is too far forward, the top hand is too much on top of the club or the bottom hand is too far underneath it.”
Up next: chipping.