Mark Croft's

"Let's Talk Golf"

 

Let’s Talk Golf Pitching Hello members and guests and welcome to week four of Let’s Talk Golf. This week we are discovering and understanding the golf term pitch shot.

In golf there is a saying “putt when you can putt, chip when you can’t putt and only pitch when you have too”

We have spent the last two weeks discussing putting and chipping and I hope you have been practicing and done some of the drills suggested. Today we discuss the dreaded pitch shot.

A pitch shot has very high trajectory and when it lands only rolls a very short distance. It is a shot that you would play over a greenside bunker or any other obstacle hazard greenside or possibly to a front hole location.

The club normally used to make this shot is generally referred to as a sand wedge. I find the term sand wedge a bit fuzzy because most golfers really don’t understand the reference to a sand wedge. If you are not in the sand then why are using a sand wedge? So for future reference we will refer to this club as a utility wedge. A lofted club is essential for a pitch shot and your sand wedge usually will have 52- 56 degrees of loft and is a club designed to bounce, not dig depending on the manufacture and their specifications. Complicated- the pitch shot for most golfers especially women is very difficult and frustrating because they don’t usually have the proper tool for the shot to begin with. The face loft and the digging lead edge is what lifts the ball in the air and the pitch shot would require a club with a digging loft design of 56 degrees or more.

The best utility wedges are made by Vokey and Cleveland. They are milled heads and come in a variety of bounce soles. My feeling is that all utility wedges should have a steel shaft in either a regular of stiff flex. This includes men, women and juniors. Utility wedges are a lot like putters…once you find one that you like and trust you will never settle for anything else.

YGCC has a great short game area to practice and sharpen your pitching skills.

Best Practices

▪ Make sure you have the proper equipment
▪ Practice pitching over both bunkers to both flags on the practice green
▪ Hit pitch shots from the 40 and 50 yard markers
▪ Some sound advice for practice is to pitch to forward, middle and back hole locations. (You will quickly discover when to use your utility wedge to pitch and when to use a less lofted club to chip).

I am always available for a demonstration or advice on the pitch shot. The pitch shot is a part of your game that demands practice. With some good advice and good understanding of how to use the utility wedge you will improve this skill in a very short period of time.

▪ In the next two weeks I will be sharing with you training videos and drills for Putting, Chipping and Pitching.


If you have any questions for me please reach out to mark@markcroftgolf.com or call or text 928-304-1008. I am always available on the range for any questions or discussion


April 15, 2020

Hello YGCC members and guests and welcome to Let’s Talk Golf.

Last week I discussed Putting and several great drills for practicing your direction and distance.  This week we are going to discuss Chipping and I will give you some valuable ideas and drills on how to improve your chipping skills.
Some of us are at and hopefully eventually all of us will get to that point in our golfing lives where we just can’t get to a majority of greens in regulation (ball on the green in 2 on a par4) any longer, it is unfortunate but inevitable. ( Don’t despair please remember not even the tour players hit every green in regulation).  We can get inside 50 yards but just not quite on the green. We are always 10, 20 or 30 yards short. Because of this situation you will score better if you know and understand how to chip properly and practice it properly.

First let’s define the golf term Chip shot which is also referred to as a bump and run style golf shot. A chip is a golf shot played from around the green (edge of green to approximately 20-30 yards of the green) directed toward a target beginning with very low trajectory that spends approximately 30% of its time in the air and 70% remaining rolling on the ground toward the target.

 A few years ago a new saying was coined on the professional tours for shots from around the greens; “Loft is Liability” or LIL. More and more tour players are playing chip shots that are greenside because, a chip shot is easier to control  direction and distance and produces better results on a much higher percentage of shots. Around the green the faster you can get the ball on the ground rolling directly at the target with proper direction and distance the greater your opportunities of being closer to the target/hole for a one putt or actually holing the shot. Just as in putting direction and distance are two very important factors in your chipping success.

When I am giving private short game lessons or group lessons I will always ask my student or students “What club do you use for chipping?” the answer is almost always a pitching wedge or a sand wedge. Wedges are made with higher lofted faces designed to create higher trajectory or high ball flight results.

When chipping you should be focused on your target and using a lower trajectory club face to get the ball on the ground rolling as soon as possible toward the target. So may I suggest that you try chipping with several different clubs when you are practicing or playing. 

  • 9-iron
  • 8-iron
  • 7-irpon
  • 6-iron
  • 4 or 5 hybrid

When you practice chipping create a 12 foot circle around the hole using ball markers-pennies work great. With nine balls for each club, try using each of the clubs above and measure your success by how many balls you get inside the circle and their proximity to the target. Any ball inside the circle will be a 6 foot or shorter putt which may improve your one putting skills. This practice routine should be done by chipping to front, middle and back hole locations. After your nine shots per club putt each ball that is inside the circle and keep track of the number of putts.

In a very short time you will discover the club or clubs from this list that work best for you.
Now that you have chosen the club or clubs you are most comfortable using, with your balls markers create a 3 foot circle or a circle about the size of a hula hoop. Once again 9 balls with each club intending to get your shots to rest inside the circle. The longest putt you will have inside the circle will be 18 inches or shorter. I know for a fact that your one putt average per round will increase dramatically from inside that circle. Once again be sure to practice to front, middle and back hole locations.  

Everybody loves chipping one in from the collar.  By using these chipping practice disciplines you should begin to see a substantial improvement in your direction and distance control yielding lower scores.
If you have any questions or would like to speak to Mark concerning your golf game please feel free to contact Mark at mark@markcroftgolf.com or 928-304-1008. You can always stop and see him on the practice range.


4/9/2020

Hello YGCC members and friends welcome to Let’s Talk Golf April 9, 2020 I would like to take the next three weeks to discuss the short game and discuss Putting, Chipping and Pitching. This week we will discuss Putting.

The next sentence is an excellent spring board to get started on discussing putting, chipping and pitching. In the game of golf there is wise and sage advice about the short game that unfortunately, most golfers do not pay much attention to or consider. That saying is; “Always putt when you can, always chip when you can’t putt and always pitch only when you must and you have no other choice or opportunity. Playing the high “I hope it stops or doesn’t roll very far shot” is a extremely low percentage shot and must be understood and practiced to use properly.

Putting is a skill that is easy to master with proper practice and a well defined purpose. So what is proper practice and what is your purpose? First, what is the one thing everyone wants in putting? They want to make putts. Therefore they are constantly trying to make putts. This kind of thinking is not such a good idea.

Explanation: If you try to make a putt, especially a shorter putt you often misjudge the speed and direction. If you use your putter to roll the ball on the proper line and proper distance to a target, the ball must go in the direction and to the target. Actually a very simple idea that is very easy to practice. Line and Distance are everything and the only thing that matters in putting.

Collectively golfers miss a lot of putts from 5 feet and in. Even the tour players hate 5 feet and under putts. A tour player would rather have a 10 foot putt that they know they will only make 60% of the time rather than a 5 footer they know they should make 100% of the time but they don’t.

Nowhere in golf is it more important to apply the 5 Essential Fundamentals (3/25 Blog) than its applications during putting.

Practice with a Purpose: begin to start a practice routine with 3, 5 and 7 foot putts. With each putt choose a line the putter will roll the ball on and the proper putter speed to get the ball to the target-not short of the target and not passed it. This type of putting practice will begin to reinforce the thought process of line and speed. The more you think about line and speed the more you will begin to do it every time and you will begin to make more putts. Often putting to a tee, teaches line and speed better rather than practicing to a hole. Practicing to a hole can get the mind back into thinking about making putts rather than thinking about proper line and speed. During you practice time be sure that you putt flat surface, uphill, downhill, right to left and left to right putts, this will also help you to learn how to read the slope and speed of greens. My suggestion for putting practice is twice a week and 25 putts from 3,5and 7 feet per practice.

Thanks for reading the blog this week and next week we will be discussing chipping.

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact Mark at any of the following: markcroftgolf.com mark@markcroftgolf.com
928-304-1008 or visit with Mark on the lesson tee at Yuma Golf and Country Club




4/2/20

 

Hello YGCC members and guests and welcome to Let’s Talk Golf.

This week I would like to share with everyone the true meaning of direction and distance and how these 2 skills are so very important in the game of golf other than the obvious of course.  

Direction  

Jack Nicklaus was once asked why he was such a better player than everyone else on the tour. Nicklaus response was “I don’t play better than any other player; I just miss better than the other players”. Yes, even tour players miss shots even though their intent is to be perfect every time.  

I like to observe ball flight as a pie shape area where ball flight direction creates a pie shape pattern. How big is your piece of pie? If your miss is similar to the pie on the left you will suffer from many lost opportunities and if your miss is similar to the pie on the right many opportunities will still be available to you. This is exactly what Nicklaus was talking about when he said he missed better than everyone else… the pie to the right.   

If your pie is close to the shape on the left you are sometimes on the fairway or green but seldom and not consistent. If your pie is more like the shape on the right you’re in the fairway or on the green a good percentage of the time.  

 Last week I gave you the 5 Essentials to a perfectly straight golf shot. Even though we try to be perfect every swing, because we are humans we cannot be perfect with machine like results every time. The important thing is that we strive for perfection every time we swing. That perfection must be bound by a purpose and action.  

A review of the 5 Essential Fundamentals; 

  1. Alignment 

  1. Swing the club to the target 

  1. Club face square to target line at impact 

  1. Center strike on the club face 

  1. Using the proper club for the distance desired 

If you strive to do these 5 Essentials every time your direction will improve and your pie will begin to look more like the shape on the right. Your shots will be more consistent and offer greater opportunities for the next shot. Translated; lower scores.  

Distance 

I feel that distance is one of the most overused and misunderstood words in the game of golf. Distance is a measurement whether it is 1 inch or 250 yards.  In golf when we talk about distance we must include the term accuracy. Example; Sending a golf ball 250 yard using the pie on the left demonstrates inconsistency and really does not achieve much of a positive outcome for you the golfer. Sending a golf ball 250yards using the pie on the right is a high percentage positive outcome which is better for you the golfer. In the game of golf distance without accuracy is useless.  

Using another example of distance; sending a ball 10 yards ( chip shot) using the pie on the left would yield a very undesirable result versus sending a ball 10 yards ( chip shot) using the pie on the right which yields a very positive result.  

Learning to send shots further is futile without accuracy and sending shots toward a target is impossible without proper distance and direction control. Hence the use and application of the 5 Essential Fundamentals drastically improves your distance, direction and accuracy immediately. Distance is a measurement from a starting point to the desired finishing point which is the target. Distance control is extremely important especially around the green and putting. More on this subject next week 

So in conclusion distance + direction= accuracy or a smaller piece of pie.  Hello lower scores!!!! 

Keep up the good work and if you would like to have a copy of the 5 Essentials please grab one of my business cards out of the shop or see me for one. Four of the 5 Essentials are on the back of my card. (I left off #5 on purpose) 

Thanks for reading and sharing and I look forward to joining you again next week, 

Mark 

If you would like to book a lesson to discover the 5 Essentials or have any questions or comments please reach out to me at mark@markcroftgolf.com, cell# 928-304-1008 or stop by and talk with me on the range.  






3/26/20



Hello YGCC members and welcome to Let’s Talk Golf
99% of students who come and see me universally ask these two questions at sometime during their lesson;

  1. How do I hit the ball straighter and gain more consistency?
  2. How do I hit the ball farther?
My answer is very simple and easy for anyone to understand.
If it is your desire to play straighter and more consistent golf shots; there are five basic fundamentals that should happen every time you swing a golf club. I preface this with every swing you make should have a TARGET (the ball is never the target). Golf is a game of targets whether your swing is simply a practice swing or addressing the ball.
Direction, accuracy and distance of a golf shot are determined by Path (direction the club is swinging), Face (position of club face at impact; square, open or closed), Centeredness of Hit (where the ball is struck on the club face) and Speed (swing speed of the golf club)
If you simply do the five things listed below with every club in your bag you will make more accurate and better distance controlled golf shots.  I guarantee it!
  1. Alignment; shoulders should be parallel with the target line –Path/Direction
  2.  Club must be swinging toward the target- Path/Direction/Accuracy
  3. Club face must be square at impact- Direction/Accuracy
  4. Centeredness of hit on the club face- Direction/Maximum Distance
  5. Swinging the proper club at the proper speed- Distance

Now I know that when you read 5 things, you immediately thought oh no not 5 more things to remember, but these 5 simple things are easy to remember and easy to do simply because they all happen during a golf swing. In other words these are things you need to know and understand and once you have that knowledge and understanding your awareness will heighten and they will be very simple to do. Just do these five simple things during your swing and you will begin to enjoy the benefits of better Direction, Consistency, Accuracy and Distance.
Thank you for reading this week’s “Let’s Talk Golf” and please pass it on,
Mark
If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact Mark at any of the following: markcroftgolf.com mark@markcroftgolf.com 928-304-1008 or on the lesson tee at Yuma Golf and Country Club


















Congratulations to the winners of the 65th Annual Yuma Best Ball Tournament! 
Gabe Plaza and Tony Solina: winners in the Gross division. 
Bob Stull and Allen Hook: 
winners in the Net division.



GROSS RESULTS
/golf/emailer2020/img/ygcc/Best_Ball_Gross_Results_2018.pdf

NET RESULTS
/golf/emailer2020/img/ygcc/Best_Ball_Net_Results_2018.pdf