Oomph Shots

Faced with a tough shot? Here's what to do.

Tiger Recoil Shot
By now, you’ve probably seen footage of Tiger Woods snapping his 4-iron against a tree in the 2007 Masters. If you haven’t, it happened on the 11th hole when he found his ball at the base of a tree. Tiger had three choices: hit it backward or backhanded (two choices that would have probably led to a bogey) or advance it down the fairway. Of course, Tiger chose the latter, but to pull it off, he had to sacrifice his 4-iron.

As cool as it was to see him do that, I don’t recommend trying it (unless you have Tiger-like strength). After all, it’s expensive to break a club and easy to injure your hand.

oomph To pull off a similar shot (without breaking your club or hurting yourself), you need to have a stable base—in particular, your legs and core muscles. Once you have that, make some half swings and try to feel your hands slap or explode into the back of the ball. After you make contact, feel your forearm and core muscles slow down the club’s acceleration so it recoils backward.

Over-The-Tree Shot

Oomph! Why punch out when you can hit over that tree and save par?_Ê
To get the golf ball airborne quickly, finish your swing like Jack Nicklaus used to, in a reverse C.

Your ball has come to rest behind a big tree. To make matters worse, you still have a long way to the green. Punching out is too safe for the strong hitter and probably will lead to an extra stroke or two. It’s time to think high so your ball will kiss the sky.

As you address the ball, look high in the sky. This effectively will drop your right shoulder (top, left photo) and put a little more weight on your back foot. Also, make sure to slide the ball forward in your stance.

From here, you need three things: speed, speed and more speed. Then, make a big swing and finish in an old-school Jack Nicklaus position (far right photo). This creates a more upward hit through the ball and, hence, an even higher launch.

My final sneaky tip is to try to hit some shots with the pinkie of your left hand off the club (photo at right). This slight lack of control will help the clubhead zip past the hands at impact for an even higher launch. It’s a little tough and requires some practice, but, man, does it work! One final note: Make sure there’s a little cushion beneath your ball or this shot will be a disaster!

Driver Off The Deck

oomphNothing says you’re a golf stud like hitting your driver off the deck, and to pull off this shot you need two things: a good lie and a little extra snap in your hand action.

Check out the drill at left. I’m making a left-arm-only motion to get the blood in my hands rushing to my fingertips. I can even hear the whoosh as my hand cuts through the air. Do this before you try a D.O.D.

oomphOnce you ingrain that feeling, just stay in your posture. Since your driver doesn’t have a lot of loft, your tendency will be to try to lift it off the turf. Don’t! Keep your chest down and try to pinch the grass with a slightly descending blow.

Downhill Bunker Lie
oomph This is a nasty lie, but there’s no way you’re not going to play to the flag! To pull off this shot, you have to find a stable base from which to swing. Spread your feet wide, with your back foot behind and up the slope. Notice how my shoulders are working with the slope, too. This helps the club move vertically so it doesn’t catch the lip.

Next, feel some pressure in your legs and firmness in your core. These are the stabilizers that allow you to pull off this shot without falling over. The tendency with this shot is to lose your posture, which makes it even more difficult to make good contact. Commit to the shot and swing with the slope.

Q&A with Jeff Ritter
Golf Tips: You prepared for this article by training with Athletes’ Performance. What was your favorite exercise?

Jeff Ritter: The Russian Twist. It utilized a cable system and an inflatable Physioball. It helps build rotational strength and flexibility while increasing what’s commonly referred to in golf as the X-Factor [the differentiation between the hips and shoulders].

Golf Tips: The Tiger Recoil shot looks pretty risky. What exercises did you do to pull it off?

Ritter: A lot of medicine-ball throws against a huge concrete wall. I stood in my golf posture and would wind up and unload the ball using the rotation of my body in an explosive manner. The ball would bounce back off the wall, and I’d catch it and slow it down using my core muscles.

Golf Tips: Why is it important that golfers work out?

Ritter: Golf is tough on the body, and training helps you enjoy the sport forever._Ê

Athletes’ Performance’s book, Core Performance Golf, is available at bookstores.

The Vijay Drill
oomph Vijay Singh is, without question, the PGA Tour’s Iron Man. Long known for his marathon practice sessions, the 45-year-old Fijian also hits the gym twice a day. It’s just one of the many reasons he continues to outdrive and outperform golfers half his age.

To stretch his muscles and get his body loose, Vijay likes to start his practice sessions by making big swings with multiple clubs. It’s a simple drill that doesn’t involve anything other than what’s already in your bag (so there’s no excuse not to do it)!

To loosen up, grab two clubs and hold them like a baseball bat. Make some big, right-handed swings and try to elongate and stretch out your muscles. Don’t worry about your normal golfing form; just swing big, slow and long. Once you stretch out one side, flip over to the other side and make some more swings. It’s easy to do, and you’ll notice its benefits on and off the course!

Jeff Ritter is a longtime Golf Tips Senior Instruction Editor and the Director of Instruction at the ASU Karsten Golf Academy in Tempe, Ariz._Ê

Leave a Reply