"Bite ball - Bite"

by Donald Crawley

Contributing Golf Writer and Director of Instruction for The Boulders Club Voted as a TOP 100 Teacher in Golf Magazine, and Director of Instruction at the Boulders Golf Academy, Carefree, AZ.

Donald Crawley Carefree, AZ (Sports Network) - It is a familiar war cry on the course after you've just hit a knee-high screaming, skulled wedge shot, touching down on the green and skittering into the back bunker. One of the most asked questions to avoid that is always, "how do you get the ball to bite, spin, to stop on the green?" I am going to tackle the response in a few simple, so he says, steps.

Getting the ball to 'bite'
If you want the ball to "bite" on the green, start by practicing with a pitching wedge.
First of all, who asked the question? If you are an occasional recreation golfer who shoots over 100, I would say this - the most important thing you can do, concentrate on, is to get the ball in the air. Every golf shot other than a putt should be lofted in the air. The only way to do that is for you "listen up" is to have the bottom edge of your club strike the bottom half of the ball. Simple, right? Loft is a very forgiving factor. If you have loft on the club, and every one does in one manner or the other, and you strike the bottom half of the ball, it will arch through the air and the trajectory will allow the ball to stop on the green. So, let the loft do the stopping power.

"Nah, mine does that, hits the green and then just keeps going. I even see it happen with the pros."

Try, try again...like the pros. Then comes the second stage. You break 100, can get the ball in the air but it still runs over the green.

"Didn't I just say that?"

Yes, but now check your trajectory. If the ball flight is low and boring then the ball will run. You are probably de-lofting the club or, worse still, closing the face which takes loft off of the club. Aim the club with the hands/handle in line with the ball. Stop pressing the hands too far forward at address and impact. Use the correct loft on each club by aiming the leading edge square to your target, and the sole of the club flush to the ground.

Got it? OK, read again. Still not? Send me a note and I will get back to you ... which is easier than flying out here to Scottsdale for a lesson unless you happen to be in the area on vacation or business with a break.

Third stage. You are hitting the ball on a true and high trajectory but the ball still won't spin and stop on the green. The chances are that your angle of attack is either too steep (deep divots?) or too shallow (no divots or, if there is one, it's often behind the ball). Controlling and correcting the angle of attack is one of the most difficult factors to achieve. On all approach shots, from a three iron to a lob wedge, the club should be approaching the ball, at the point of impact, on a very slight angle of descent, between 1- 4 degrees. The result would be crisp contact ... first, the bottom of the ball followed by a thin, shallow, dollar bill divot. The Tour players have it. Often, I think that is their best instinct. Regardless of different swings, just think Jim Furyk, Bubba Watson, Fred Couples, Graeme McDowell. They all approach the ball at a beautiful shallow angle of descent.

Fourth stage. You hit the ball crisp, high and it still heads for the back of the green. You, my friend, do not have enough club head speed to spin the ball enough to get it to bite and check on the green. Hit the gym, do wrist curls, practice out of thick rough to increase your club head speed and watch the difference in the authority and control of your ball striking.

Getting the ball to 'bite'
Your wrists cocked on the way up and uncock at the bottom of your swing.
  • If you want the ball to bite, check, spin and stop on the green you must do all of the following...

  • Strike the bottom of the ball, with true loft on the club, at a shallow angle of attack with the club travelling at high speed. To practice this start with a full pitching wedge shot.

  • Play the ball in the middle of your stance.

    Aim the bottom edge of the clubface square to the target, sole of club flush to the ground. When you look down at the butt end of the club the handle will be one inch forward of the ball and your pants fly. Weight is even in your stance, 50% on each foot.

  • Turn your core and swing the arms and shaft on plane. Your wrists cocked on the way up and uncock at the bottom of your swing. At impact you should come back to where you started at address with the handle one inch forward of the ball (this will give you true loft and a correct angle of attack) with the singular exception that your hips are open and you are turning hard to face the target.

    By striking the bottom of the ball with speed the ball will fly high with an anticipated backspin. When the ball hits the green it will stop and respond to, "Bite ball - bite!"

    Donald Crawley

    Donald Crawley, Director of Instruction at the Boulders Golf Academy at the Boulders Resort & Golden Door? Spa in Carefree, Ariz. Crawley, a veteran of 35 years of teaching experience, is the newest contributor to The Sports Network with regular features that range from tips on improving your game to etiquette at the course. He has established 40 golf school sites in the United States since 1980,previously as vice president and director of instruction at John Jacobs' Golf Schools.

    Crawley is recognized among the "Top 100 Teachers in America" by Golf Magazine and one of the "Best Teachers in Arizona" by Golf Digest. As both a Class A U.S. PGA member and a British PGA member, Crawley has been recognized for his outstanding teaching abilities. In 2002 & 2005, he won the Southwest Section PGA's Teacher of the Year Award. He also received the Horton Smith Award for education in 2000. In addition to teaching over 60,000 students, Crawley has co-authored video instruction tapes with John Jacobs and BBC/ABC golf telecaster Peter Alliss.

    Comments? Contact Donald Crawley at Donald.Crawley@theboulders.com.
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