Play better golf with Denise Hastings
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T1 PRO -- Denise's vanity car plates!
Denise showing how to unplug a golf ball from a bunker

Denise showing how to unplug a ball from a bunker

Denise teaching a group lesson

Denise teaching a group lesson

Denise teaching a group lesson

Denise teaching a group lesson

Denise teaching a group lesson

Denise teaching a group lesson

Denise teaching a group lesson

Denise teaching a group lesson

Denise teaching a group lesson

Denise teaching a group lesson

Denise teaching a group lesson

Denise teaching a group lesson

Denise teaching a group lesson

Denise teaching a group lesson

Denise teaching a group lesson

Denise teaching a group lesson

Denise teaching a group lesson

Denise teaching a group lesson

Denise showing the set up postition

Denise showing good posture

DH golf ball

Denise's tips and hints to help you get the most out of your game
June — center line

Center line: Take an alignment cane and position it approx' 10 paces in front of your ball directly on the ball to target line this cane now represents your "center line". Hit various shots either side of the cane focusing initially on initial start direction (establishes outer edge of your shot cone) before then creating the required curve (hopefully without crossing your center line). This drill is an ideal way to bring the range to life and an excellent way of developing ball control. After a session or two you will start to notice a preferred shot that is reliable and some of the weaker areas that need development.

May — how to improve your chipping

Some things to look at in improving your chipping, first LOOK and study the shot you are about to play, Secondly, what is the LIE like and what sort of shot can you play from it? Thirdly, LOW is often the easiest shot to play is a running one. Fourth, LAND whenever possible lands the ball on the green allowing the ballot roll to the hole. Fifth what is the LENGTH of the swing needed to play the shot?

April — how to improve performance

This is the time of the year to look at your performance and how to improve. This can greatly improve with a relevant action plan which includes some realistic and achievable goals.

This has to be knitted into your lifestyle and not be out of your reach.

Talk to me and we can work on a plan!!

March — practice with purpose

Your practice, I feel a vital point of all practice is to have a point, don’t just beat ball after ball aimlessly on the range — go with a purpose. This might be to change your grip, or a backswing position. Establish exactly what you want to achieve and reflect while you are practicing whether you are hitting your goal. If you are, reinforce. If not adjust and correct!

February — stop topping

A drill that will help you stop topping, a good one for the new player I think!

Ok take a penny and place it on the range mat or grass, now try and hit it in the air and see just how far you can hit it. This drill will help you stop topping the ball and give you a consistent bottom or low point to your swing. Now the next step is to hit the penny when a ball is on top of it!

January — shoulder alignment

This is one area that can go wrong so very easily without you noticing.
Just because your feet and hips are square to the ball to target line, it does not mean your shoulders are! If they are in the wrong position you will hit shots off line.
A good way to check this is to get a friend to put a pole / alignment stick across your shoulders, or you could strap a pole across your chest - take a look at the photo. This is easy to do and will help you see if your upper body is perfectly in line with your lower body.

A real must, so keep an eye on it!!

December — get square

This is the time of year to check all the basics of the set up - getting square at the set up is important, every top pro regularly checks this.
Start with using alignment poles / sticks on the ground parallel to each other. The outer pole should be pointing to the target and should mirror the aim of your club face, and the inside pole should help you check that your body is parallel to the club face.
This is important, keep checking!!

Next month will be shoulder alignment.

November — grip size

This is the time of year to give your clubs an MOT, so take time to make sure you have the right size grip.

Having an incorrect size grip immediately puts you in the wrong place. A quick check is to grip your club with just your glove hand. Take a look at where the end of your fingers are relative to your palm. They should be lightly touching each other. If your fingers are digging into your palm, your grips are too thin. If they aren’t touching at all your grips are too thick.

Incorrect grip size could hold you back when trying to deliver the club squarely at impact.

October — crisper strike for pitching

One of the things I see on the short game area is people practicing the wrong thing. A common fault is to let the club head overtake the hands, the wrists break down and the club flicks up at the ball which leads to a poor strike and bad distance control.
So here’s a drill to help you. Hold a pole in your grip, like in the photo, so it is like an extension of your club. This will help give you a sense of the angle the club should lie at when addressing the ball, with the pole pointing past your left side to create forward lean.....basically were it should be at impact.

You will soon, with a bit of practice, achieve a much improved strike.

September — connected pitching

Often I see golfers thinning their pitches or scooping them with less than desirable results. One of the main reasons for this is breaking your connection between the arms and the body. Here is a very simple but yet effective drill using a football.

Here's how this drill works
Place the football between your forearms and make a half swing keeping the ball squeezed between your arms. If you are properly connected, the ball shouldn't fall out. If you scoop or don't extend through the shot correctly, you will see the ball drop out immediately. This is a great drill to improve your ball striking ability and shot accuracy.
I have also used this drill effectively to help with the start of the full swing - being connected at the start means your timing will certainly improve.

August — promote a downward strike with pitching

When you are practicing your chipping and pitching it will help to promote a downward strike by placing a pole/cane behind your back foot (see photo) This drill will improve your angle of attack. The pole/cane will act as a barrier behind the ball that subconsciously forces the club to come in steeper with the shaft leaning forward, so this will promote the downward blow you need for better chipping and pitching.

July — static hips when putting

Now this is a drill I love which will help you “stay still” when putting.  If you have a lot of moving going on with your stroke you will lose accuracy and you will get a poor strike.
You need to keep your lower body still so here is what you do; get a pole (alignment poles which I just love are great for this as they are so versatile and a great help with your practice) and slide it through your belt loops, this will give you awareness of keeping your body still.... now make some putting strokes. The pole should not move during the stroke.  By keeping still you will have a more accurate strike and you will have a more consistent path to the stroke.

June — acceleration drill

This is a drill for players who tend to leave their putts short by trying just to get it a “dead weight”. You must always hit your putts with enough pace to get the ball past the hole by about 12 inches.  This will mean you have hit it at the right pace to hold it’s line and not just get near to the hole and bobble off line. Put a pencil on the putting green and pin it down with 4 tee pegs in front of the hole.  The pencil offers a resistance to the ball so if it slows down it will not make the hop over the pencil and drop in the hole. This should encourage you to hit the ball a little harder and give it enough momentum to hop over the pencil and drop in the hole, practice this from around 4 feet and you will improve how many short putts you will hole.

May — better contact with putting

The short game accounts for around 43% of the game and so putting is hugely important to getting your handicap down.

Here is a little tip to help you improve contact, it is so easy to make a poor stroke and hit the ball all over the putter face so this drill will help you improve that.

You need your putter, 2 elastic bands and a ball. Simply wrap an elastic band around each end of the putter head and now make your putting stroke.  You can see if you make a poor stroke as the ball will go off at a strange angle... so as this gets easier, put the bands closer together and have another go... I can guarantee your contact will improve.  It’s so important to hit the ball from the middle of the putter head!!

Good luck!

April — fun pitching practice

This is a great way of improving your imagination and feel with pitching. Most people when playing this shot (from any distance from 20 to 40 yards or so out) fail to get the ball up to or past the flag, with a good strike / shot, that is, so here is a drill to put a bit of fun into your practice, you simply put a head cover on top of an alignment pole (you know I love them!!) or a flag on the chipping green. Now challenge yourself or a friend to see who can hit the head cover first! This is a good way to help with distance control... and your imagination as you can take this feel to the course.

March — better pitching

The set up should be the same for all or most short pitch shots. The stance should be narrower than for a full shot, with your left foot turned out slightly (for the right hander’s). The ball position should be in the middle of your stance with your weight more on the front leg (say 60%-40%) and push your hands forward a little too (not too much mind, inside your left leg, for right handers). This will help you get a more ball-than-turf contact... which is so important.

I like to get people to keep their swing speed the same and change the length of the swing to dictate distance. Please make sure you maintain the hands forward (or in other words lean the shaft forward) through impact so applying a downwards force.

Through the ball you need to keep the hips and shoulders moving (rotating) through towards the target as it would be for a full shot. This keeps your body working together as one unit. At the end of the short pitch shot you want to feel that the length of the follow through is a little longer than the backswing to make sure that you do not slow down or decelerate into the ball. You should feel that the back of your left hand is facing the sky or the same way as the club face. Do not let the club head flick or flip over while hitting as this will lead to lots of miss hits.

February — putting... the importance of set up

Putting is round about 43% of the game of golf so it is important to have a good consistent solid set up every time. Here are some things for you to check over the winter months so that when we do get good weather you are ready to go.
You need a good set up that should be the same every time. You achieve this by:

  • Making sure that your stance is wide, I would say around about the width of your hips, again for stability.
  • Your shoulders, hips and feet should be square and parallel to your target line.
  • Your ball position should be just forward of centre, ie. When you look down at the floor, the ball is placed between your nose and your left eye.
  • Make sure you aim correctly, your path is neutral and the club face square to your target.

Now go and practice with some drills (like the one from January) using smaller targets is always best, as it will make the real hole look massive!!

January — indoor putting

Here is a great drill you can do indoors on a carpet or outside (when the weather and greens get better that is!)

For indoors what you need to do is place 2 tee pegs on their head about 2 inches apart (this is smaller than a hole would be) to represent the hole/ target then put an iron club approx. one foot behind the tee’s. Now from different distances away, what you do is try putting your golf balls passed the tee’s NEVER SHORT of the tee pegs but never over the club on the ground. This is a great drill to help with your speed and distance control.
So when you are able to get out onto the course, your putting will be sharp. The idea is to always get the ball PASSED the hole by about a foot as this is the best pace you can hit a putt.

My pet hate is to hit a good putt on line and as it gets to the hole and you think it’s going to drop in, it just loses it’s pace and misses the hole on the low side... .hitting it at the right pace will mean it will hold its line for longer.

December — central drill

This is a great drill and one I use with people who struggle with staying centred with their swing.

With iron shots it is so important to keep your body over the ball to help you make a downward strike and get a good contact. If you feel you move “off” the ball in your back swing or you lift your left foot (for right handed players) too much in the back swing this is the drill for you.

Practicing with your feet together and keeping them both on the ground will help you feel a bit more centred (the feeling might be that you keep your nose pointing straight down over the ball as you swing) Now swing the club from side to side what I call “L to L” stay balanced & centred as you hit shots, a great drill to use when you practice.

November — equal pressure

Gripping the golf club with the right pressure is important. Gripping with one hand tighter than the other can cause that hand to be dominant and overpower the other, causing a hook or slice. So you must have equal pressure in both hands.

Try this, hold the club in your normal grip, now grip it as TIGHT as you can, now slowly let the pressure become less in BOTH hands equally until you can feel the weight of the club head in your hands.....this grip I am sure will feel loose to you, but this is what it should feel like and you should practice like this until it feels normal.

October — show a clean pair of heels
This drill is to encourage you to check to see if your weight distribution is right at the end of your swing. I see so many people making a swing, having no balance and ending up with their weight on the wrong leg and foot.  This is what I want you to do ... make a full swing and end up with 90% of your weight on your left foot (for right hand players) your knees should be together and you should be up on your right toe, with good balance and showing all of your studs on your right shoe and as they say... showing a clean pair of heels.
September — balance and rotation drill

This is another drill for improving balance in the swing which will also help with rotation and will improve contact as you learn that you don't need a big lateral weight shift into the right side to help with your back swing. 

Moving off the ball in the back swing will lead to lots of inconsistencies in your ball striking so this drill will help with the feeling of being much more centred over the ball.  This means you have not moved your head to the right (for right handed players) in the back swing as most players do.

So here is what you do - with a 7 iron, set yourself up in your good posture and then just simply draw your RIGHT foot back and balance up on your right toe. Now start to make a swing with your left knee and thigh supporting the turn of the hips and upper body as you continue your turn and try to keep your balance on your right toe. Now go with the feeling of rotating your upper body to the left at impact and keep your balance as you feel your chest is covering or over the ball as you release the club. A great drill for rotation, contact and balance.
August — one-handed putting drill

A lot of people struggle with distance control with their long putting, so here is a drill to help you improve your distance and pace control. Simply hit a number of putts with just ONE hand and this should help you with your contact by focusing on the ball and making sure the swing is long enough. Have a go with both hands and see how the stroke feels.

Another drill you could practice to improve your distance control is to take your normal putter grip, set up to the ball and then look at the HOLE.  Now make a swing at the ball while you are looking at the hole and not the ball....a great way to help improve your distance.

NB what I always do with my practice swing is to look at the hole, this gives me a chance to make a FREE feeling with my practice swing, then I set up to the ball, check my lining up and make a solid stroke at the ball. Give these drills a go and let me know how you get on.
July — the coin putting drill

As we all know, putting plays an important part in helping you achieve a good score. Here is a nice little drill to help with a smooth putting stroke. You simply put a pound coin on the back of your putter and focus on keeping your head and eyes still and steady. Now go ahead and simply make some swings trying to keep the pound on the putter. This simple drill will help you stay smooth.

Denise Hastings golf - the coin putting drill

Another quick drill with a coin would be to put a 5 pence piece on the ground between the ball and club face (as in photo). Now stay looking down at the 5p and make some smooth strokes. This will help you keep your head and eyes still as you practice your putting, as I always say keep your head still until you HEAR the ball go in the hole. A great drill for those 4 footers!!

Denise Hastings golf - the coin putting drill

© Denise Hastings 2017
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