Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction and Business Development at Punta Mita, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Punta Mita is a 1,500-acre golf and beach resort located 45 minutes from Puerto Vallarta on a beautiful peninsula surrounded by the Bay of Banderas on three sides. Amenities include two Nicklaus Signature golf courses with 14 holes directly on the water, a golf academy, four private beach clubs, a Four Seasons Hotel, a St. Regis Hotel, as well as multiple private villas and homesites available. Read on to learn his top eight tips for your golf game.
One of the biggest myths in the golf swing is that you only “rotate or turn your hips” during the transition. Of course, you must rotate them at some point but, as you see Tiger here in the photo above, there is a very distinct bump as the hips begin to rotate. If you only rotate, you will tend to stay on your rear foot during the downswing causing over the top transitions and poor quality impact.
Most average players have trouble compressing the golf ball and hitting the ball solidly during impact. In fact, the thin and “clicky” shot is more often hit than not. This shot comes from the absence of longer arms through impact and whenever you “pull up” through the shot you will tend to hit the equator of the golf ball. As you look at this LPGA Tour player above, you will see long arms and more solid impact.
Attention women, you have more flexibility than 10 men, and this can be an issue when you play golf. As you can see in these photos, the LPGA player on the left has a tighter turn to the top allowing a more explosive downswing. The player on the right has wasted too much motion on the backswing and therefore will have trouble producing speed through impact.
When pitching, it’s easy to forget about using the pivot of the body and only focusing on using the arms. As you can see in the photo above, this player is rotating his rear shoulder through the shot keeping the rear wrist in a great condition for solid impact. If you only use your arms here, you will tend to “flip” at the ball and use your hands too much making quality impact a fleeting thing.
One of my favorite ways to look at the putting stroke is from the hole back to the player, as you can see Rory has hit the ball in the left frame and continues into his follow through in the right frame. What you can see is that the putter continues down the line with little twisting and turning of the blade post-impact. As we know, the stroke works in an arc and the face will close on its own but it’s not your job to “release” it or try and make it happen on your own. Just let it flow.
To be a good pitcher of the golf ball you must do two things around the green. Number one, just bruise the turf coming through impact and have some type of shaft lean forward (slight). If you possess these two things, then you will have a much better chance of hitting good solid shots around the green. If you come into the golf ball too steeply or have the shaft backing up through impact, then you will find that you will have impact quality issues.
When it comes to club fitting, most golfers have clubs that are fit to them when it pertains to the length and hopefully the lie but with putters 99 percent of all golfers don’t even consider fitting. Most putters come off the rack around 35 inches with a lie angle of 71 degrees–great if you fit this mold but if you do not your impact will tend to look like this one above. The putter is toe-up with a faulty impact location giving you inconsistent misses. Get your putter fit—length, loft, and lie and you will thank me.
If you want more distance and more consistent impact, then you should work on having more “width” at the top. When the lead arm is straighter, you will find that these things will happen automatically. If you want the lead arm in a better condition, check out your rear arm…that is the controller! If the rear arm is at 90 degrees or more then you will find the lead arm will be straighter. Try it, and you’ll be walking further down the fairway.