Secret Tips and Tricks from a Top Golf Academy Pro

Are you looking for surefire tips to improve your game? Frustrated by your lack of progress? PGA of America instructor Chris George has some solutions.

Golf Digest magazine ranked George the No. 1 golf pro in Virginia on its 50 Best Teachers in America List. Plus, the Golf Channel recently named him an inaugural instructor of the Golf Channel Academy, one of 40 of the game’s most influential and recognizable teachers.

George is the head instructor of the Golf Academy at the AAA Four Diamond Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va., one of Golf magazine’s Top 25 Golf Schools in America. A true destination golf academy, Kingsmill combines first-class lodging and two renowned public golf courses, the River and the Plantation courses, with dedicated teaching facilities including an indoor studio with hitting area, putting green, video and the K-Vest three-dimensional biomechanics analysis system. The academy also has a dedicated outdoor area and offers on-course instruction, private hourly lessons, two-hour group mini-schools and two- and three-day full immersion academies.

Chris George of the Kingsmill Resort Shows How to Improve Quickly

Here, George shares some of his most effective tips for making fast improvements.

Better ball striking: “Across the board, many players simply do not strike the ground in the right spot with their irons,” says George. This is why so many amateurs don’t take divots, while all pros do. George has a simple but very effective drill using a bunker at the practice facility—even though this is not to practice sand shots.

“The idea is to try to create a divot on the target side of the ball, to the left for right-handed players. Make a line in the sand at the center of your stance. When you swing, the club should strike the ground right on the line, and then exit to the left,” says George. You don’t need a ball, just swing over and over, with the focus on the spots of impact and exit. Since this leaves visible marks in the sand, you get instant feedback, and you’ll quickly learn how to strike the ball with a descending iron blow and create a divot.

Hitting driver: “Most players have the idea that there is one ideal swing for every shot, but when you hit a driver off of a tee, it’s a very different swing from wedges or mid-irons. The ball is sitting up, you have a different set-up, and with a driver you want to strike the ball with an ascending or at least level swing,” says George. He suggests getting a “pool noodle,” one of those soft-foam floating strips for swimming pools. Cut an 18-inch section, then split it lengthwise into an arch-shaped strip. Lay one of these halves, flat side down, across your target line, perpendicular to your setup, a foot in front of the tee.

“Most players who do this with me hit the ball then hit the foam,” he says. “But you want the club head to barely clear the foam, because the swing is ascending. Practice this drill focusing just on hitting the ball and clearing the foam and nothing else. Your body will figure out the efficiency you need without having to understand a lot of the mechanics behind it. You will get a higher ball flight and less side spin,” which are both better.

Putting: “There are three important elements to putting: speed control, direction control and green reading. But for most amateurs looking to reduce their number of three putts, speed control is most important,” says George. If you can get your distances consistent, you will have much shorter second putts even if you misread or mis-aim. But if you cannot control distance, aim and read won’t matter.

“Stick two tees in the ground on the putting green just wider than your putter face, just to use as a starting gate. Then put tees in a line going out at 5-foot intervals starting at 15 feet: 20, 25, 30, 35 40. From the gate, hit five balls to each tee, over and over, until you can start to control the speed and distance you want to hit each putt.”

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