Glenn Deck's Golf Tips

PGA Member - Teaching Professional
Golf Tips Magazine Senior Instruction Editor
Southern California PGA "Teacher of the Year"
Metropolitan Chapter PGA "Teacher of the Year"
Golf Digest "Ranked One of Best Teachers in State"
Golf Magazine "Top 100 Teachers in America"

Golf Tips Magazine's "Top 25 Teachers in America"

Glenn Deck is the Director of Instruction for Pelican Hill Golf Club® and Oak Creek Golf Club® and offers one-on-one golf lessons weekly.

For more information or to book a lesson, call 949-467-5810 or email gdeck@pelicanhill.com

Tip 1

Better Balance = Better Shots

Most golfers are trying to acquire more distance and often ignore their balance in the golf swing. This problem leads to a struggle in controlling one's club head at impact. Your foremost objective is to have balance. If you're off balance you cannot put a lot of pressure on the ball at impact and will have little control over the direction in which the ball will travel. To improve your balance, make a practice swing with your heels two or three inches apart and your toes eight to 12 inches apart. Make sure your hips turn while your hands swing the club head and keep your balance. Finish facing the target with your right heel off the ground and hold your balance for a three count. Now take this same rhythm and balance to your golf shot at hand.

The best way to learn this technique is to practice this drill on the range where you actually hit shots with your feet close together, testing your balance. Once you have success in this drill, apply this feeling into your full swing by hitting every other ball with your feet together. Once you have the feel take this practice swing out on the course. Note: If you're on an uneven lie then take your practice swing with a wider stance.

Remember to take one practice swing with your feet close together to help control your balance and club head throughout your golf swing.


Tip 2

Feel the Path!

Every golfer from beginner to seasoned veteran should own a heavy practice golf club or swing sock. Using a weighted swing trainer is one of the best ways to learn the correct motion of the golf swing. Since the club is heavy, it will provide you with the greatest feel for where it is traveling and if everything is in sync. The secret is to focus on swinging the end of the club or trainer so that it travels smoothly. In your swing eliminate any jerking action while maintaining your balance throughout. Once you have the correct, smooth feel you will be aware of the club path and will learn how to swing it on the proper path.

Start off swinging the swing trainer slowly and work to swinging the weighted club or training aid up to 66 percent of full speed. If you practice this at home or on the range in short five minute sessions several times a week, you will be on your way to improving your golf swing. Focus on learing the proper feel. Include these swing keys or techniques in your golf swing and have fun on the golf course.


Tip 3

Improve Your Long Putts to Lower Your Scores

The weakest part of many amateurs putting game is their inability to control speed and distance. Most three-putts are due to improper speed control and not misreading the break by four to six feet. Try working on the following drill to eliminate three-putts. Remember that distance control comes from feeling the club head and (unfortunately) practicing long putts aids in acquiring the feel.

30 strokes or less drill:
Take three balls 30 feet from the cup and putt, then hole out each remaining putt. If you two-putt all three balls you have made a six on the first hole. Try practicing this from five different areas: flat-lie, uphill, downhill, side-hill left to right, side-hill right to left. After the 15 putts, total up your strokes to see how you rank. In the drill from 30 feet, try to roll the ball with the optimal speed to make the putt. If it does not go in it should roll roughly 12 - 24 inches past the cup. By the third ball, from each location, you should have the correct speed, start developing a feel for speed, and achieve better distance control.

Once you have set up and aimed your putter, the key is to forget about the line or amount of break; simply focus on the correct speed. If you find yourself struggling after several practice sessions, consider taking a putting lesson.

Your total score - Ranking
28 - or less Ready for the tour
29 - Excellent
30 - Good
31 - Acceptable
32 - Need to practice
33 - Time for a lesson


Tip 4

More Time to be On Line

One key step to becoming a better player is the ability to consistently get your club on the correct path line in the down-swing. The more time you have in the transition of starting the down-swing the greater your chances of slotting the club on the correct downswing path. The key is to start with a shift to your left and minimize shoulder rotation to allow your arms and the club to drop on the correct downswing path. Try to keep your left shoulder from turning past your left foot at the start of your down-swing. Once your left side is braced, your hips and trunk can rotate and your shoulders will follow. This move will help to insure you have more time to be in line.


Tip 5

Pivot Backward and Maintain Both Spine Tilts

PGA Tour Pros understand that the purpose of the back-swing is simply to set them up for the down-swing. At the top of the back-swing, tour professionals typically rotated onto their right side, moving their weight onto their right side, maintaining their balance. This is done while keeping structure in one's arms and hands and while controlling the club. It may sound like a lot, but it is quite simple when one breaks it down. All these will happen as a result of four key fundamentals in the backswing.

Four Fundamentals of the Backswing:

  1. Pivot - set your feet and knees, rotate your hips and shoulders
  2. Maintain your spine tilts
  3. Hands maintain radius
  4. Hands hinge and control club

The following is a simple drill to learn the first two fundamentals:

  • Take your set up and position your spine tilts both forward and to the right, this is important step.
  • Let go of the club, fold your forearms and connect your hands to your elbows; they have a slight tilt with the left side higher.
  • Set your feet and knees then rotate toward your right hip as your shoulders turn; the right knee has remained in place.- Your back is to the target and your forearms finish level to the ground because you have maintained both spine tilts.

Now you are ready to begin your transition back to the ball.

By following this drill you will perform a proper back-swing pivot while maintaining your spine tilt. Once you get the feel for this, you are ready to repeat the first two back-swing fundamentals with a club.


Tip 6

Put Time on Your Side

Warming up before teeing off is the key to a relaxing and confident round. We see it all the time: golfer rushes to the course, runs to check in and is off to the first tee without a practice swing. Failing to allow time to warm up, golfers often struggle with their swing and tempo on the first few holes.

Preparation is key, and to play one's best, it is necessary to prepare the body and mind. Most tour professional's warm-up for an hour before a round. Listed below are steps and time allowances you should take to warm up before a round. This excludes check-in time and a trip to the restroom. Allow for a few minutes to slow down, focus your mind on playing golf and arrive relaxed at the first tee.

Spend 10 minutes finding your swing on the range:

  • Perform some stretches to loosen up.
  • Using a sand wedge, hit half shots to establish tempo and feel.
  • Hit short irons working your way up to woods; focus on set-up, balance and tempo. The goal is to hit solid shots and to not make major swing changes prior to play.

Work on stroke-saving shots for five minutes:

  • With your sand wedge, hit pitch shots to different targets to get a feel for distance control.
  • Hit chip shots to get a feel for how the ball reacts once it lands on the ground and rolls to the hole.

Take five minutes to get a feel for the greens:

  • Using three balls at the putting green, hit long putts to get a feel for the speed of the greens.
  • After getting a feel for the speed, practice making three to five footers.
  • To finish it off, while creating a positive mental image, make three short putts in a row before heading to the first tee.

Now you are ready to go to the first tee calmly without feeling rushed.


Tip 7

How to Play Enough 'Break' in Your Putts!

An important fact is that up to 40% of one's golf game consists of putting and most putts have some curvature to them. Usually the average golfer underestimates the amount of break to play. However the bigger problem is that they fail to set up correctly and hit the ball on the intended line that was visualized. The mistake lies in the pre-shot set up. A reason for failure is that most golfers stand behind their ball on a direct line to the hole, instead of on a direct line to the peak point of a breaking putt. The result is that most golfers set up incorrectly for a breaking putt, never getting the ball on their intended target line.

The following routine for use on the golf course or practice green should assist in your in taking dead aim on those breaking putts:

  • Make an educated guess on which direction the ball will break. Determine the amount of break you will need to play based on the speed used to hit the putt (speed options are firm, medium or soft).
  • Visualize and select the peak point of a breaking putt. Aim the name of the ball or a line on the ball at the peak point.
  • Stand behind the ball on a direct line to the peak point to confirm aim. Walk in and aim your putter face at the peak point. Have trust in your aim and stroke the putt on the correct line.

Of course all of us are going to misread some putts. By following my suggestions, you are taking the proper steps in order to have the best chance of making a breaking putt. If you practice this routine on the putting green, I am certain you will see the benefits on the golf course.


Tip 8

Putting with a Name or Lined Ball

Putting using a name or line on your ball can really help in setting you on the correct path line. The key is to use your dominant eye so you will not struggle in correctly lining up your ball. First, to determine your dominant eye, hold both hands out in front of you clasped together and create a small hole to look at the flag. Close one eye at a time to determine which eye is still able to see the flag. The eye that you see the flag with is your dominant eye and you will want to use that eye in lining up your ball.

If you are left eye dominant you will want to aim your ball line with your left hand, if right eye dominant, use your right hand to aim your ball line at the target. Use the same hand to increase the odds of getting the ball directly in line between your dominant eye and the target. You should now find it much easier to aim the ball directly at the target.

Once your ball is all lined up, go set up to the ball and make sure the clubface alignment matches the balls. Now you are ready to stoke it at your target. Trust your aim, begin focusing on your speed and you will become a better putter. If you are having difficulty matching your putter to the line (so it feels like you are aiming at your target) you may want to change your set-up until they match. Or, you might want to see your local teaching Pro for a putting lesson.


Tip 9

Rank the Dangers and Play the Percentages!

The majority of golfers walk up to the ball with a target and distance in mind and then fire away. The only problem is that seldom is the ball hit it perfectly straight. Typically, shots are going to be a little off line therefore, it is important that they end up in a place that we can recover from and still make a par.

For tee shots simply look at the dangers on both sides of the fairway and favor the side that is more forgiving. For example, if the left side has rough and a few trees while the right side has a canyon that is a lateral hazard. If you fade the ball, your target should be the left edge of the fairway if you fade the ball, your target should be center of the fairway if you draw the ball. In other words, let's avoid the hazards that penalize us.

For an approach shot into the green I locate the pin and evaluate dangers around the green in four areas: front, back, and two sides. Rank each area with a percentage of how likely you can get it up and down from and soon you will determine where you are more likely to make a par on the hole. Make your target between the flag and the high percentage area to recover from and that should help you avoid those bogies.

Front bunker save par 33 %
Left bunker save par 33%
Right side save par 75%
Long save par 66%

I learned long ago that lower scores are achieved when you can recover from your missed shots that are in play. If I miss the green or fairway, I want to end up in the best spot to make a par. Thus, to help lower your scores, learn how to rank the dangers and play the percentages when selecting your target.


Tip 10

Where Should the Hands be Placed at the Top of Ones Backswing?

The following drill will teach you how big a backswing you should use and where your hands should be positioned at the top of your backswing based on your body structure:

  1. Take your set up position. Spread your fingers and let the club drop down to the ground.
  2. Move your right hand under your left hand, placing the back of your right hand against the back of your left hand.
  3. Make a back swing with your arms and turn your left shoulder behind the club shaft that is lying on the ground. Be sure to maintain your spine tilt and right knee flex, while your left arm is fairly straight and remains connected to the body. Don't be surprised if your backswing seems shorter than usual.
  4. The last step is to move the right hand back into position to grip the club. This is where your hands should be at the top of the backswing. Your hands and arms are in a great position for a proper downswing. Now try it with a golf club until you create the same position.

When you do this drill pay attention to feeling the path the hands travel back and where the hands finish at the top of the backswing. Realize that each individual is built differently and those golfers who are more flexible or spend more time stretching more will have a bigger backswing. When watching tour Pros you'll see their hands travel back between 9:00 o'clock to 11:00 o'clock, depending on body structure. A bigger backswing will not be better if you are out of position thus, find out where your hands should be during the backswing.


Tip 11

Side Hill Lie Where the Ball is Below Your Feet

Blame it on gravity. When hitting a ball that lies below your feet, gravity pulls your weight downward making it harder to maintain good balance. Make any necessary adjustments and take a practice swing from a similar lie to get a feel for the shot. It may seem tough, but if you adjust your setup position, you can get the ball on the green from a tricky lie.

  1. Lower your center of gravity: Widen your stance lowering the thighs so that your hips are lower. Sink your weight into your heels, which will help anchor your balance when the ball is below your feet. Lowering your center of gravity, stabilizing your knees will give you more balance throughout the swing.
  2. Aim left: Shots hit from below your feet will tend to fade right as the center of the clubface points slightly right. Anticipate this and adjust your aim accordingly based on severity of slope and amount of loft on the clubface. Adjust left until the center of the clubface is aimed directly at the target.
  3. Keep your lower body still: Your motion should be primarily in your arms and hands. Doing this will help you swing the club on a more vertical path to match the slope. Excessive lower body movement will make it more difficult to hit the ball squarely. Using a longer club, make a shorter swing, and maintaining good balance throughout your swing.

Tip 12

Select the Right Stick

When the average player stands behind his ball and looks out to the hole, distance is the first and often the last thing that enters his mind as he reaches for a club to hit. If you hit a 7 iron 150 yards and you're by the 150-yard marker is that the club you grab? Be careful, there is a lot more to consider if you are going to make the right call and hit an effective shot. Four things to consider before you reach for a club.

True Distance vs. Playing Distance - They're Not the Same Thing

  1. On a Slope: The slope of the ground has a big effect on the trajectory and distance of the ball flight. For an uphill slope take one more club. For a more severe incline, take two. On a downhill lie simply reverse the formula and take less club.
  2. Downwind and Into the Wind: The amount of club you hit in these situations depends on the speed and direction of the wind as well as the trajectory of the ball. The lower you hit the shot the less the wind will affect it. An educated approach for distance calculation is for every ten M.P.H. of wind, play the shot for 10 yards longer into the wind and 10 yards shorter downwind (10 M.P.H. wind = 1 club length for most golfers).
  3. Elevation Changes: Elevated greens call for more club, while hitting from an elevated hitting area less club is needed. For every / ten yards (30 feet) of elevation change plan on your shot playing ten yards longer up hill and 10 yards shorter down hill. Due to the trajectory of ball flight, uphill shots with lower lofted clubs are slightly more affected and play even longer, and downhill shots with slightly less lofted clubs will go slightly farther. For every yard of elevation change, simply change your yardage by your estimate of elevation change.
  4. Pin Location: Most greens are 30 to 40 yards deep which means a 2 to 4 club difference based on the distance you hit between clubs. If the pin is up front and there is no trouble on front edge of green take off 7 to 12 yards in your distance calculation. If the pin is in the back of the green add 7 to 12 yards based on the depth of the green. Always add an extra club when pin is back half of green.

Next time before you grab a club consider distance to flag, lie of ball, wind, slope where ball is and elevation change to the green. Once you add all this up, you will know your true distance and what club is required for this shot.


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