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Today's word on journalism

September 18, 2008

Partisan politics:

"Say 'conservative' and they wag their tails. Say 'liberal' and they bare their fangs. More to the point, say either and all thinking ceases. . . . [P]eople hear this doublespeak and cheer. Why not? They have been taught that words mean what you need them to in a given moment. Turns out, all it requires is a limitless supply of gall and the inherent belief that people are dumber than a bag of hammers."

--Leonard Pitts Jr., Pulitzer-winning columnist. The Miami Herald, 2008 (Thanks to alert WORDster Jerry Vonderbrink)

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Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Tips for Better Golf: Short game savers

Editor's note: This is the second in a series of five columns on common golf problems.

By Josh Perry

July 9, 2008 | Getting up and down for par out of the rough, bunker, or even the fairway is not always easy if your short game is off. Everyone has had that shot just off the green where they needed to get it up and down to save par and they chunk it short. Bunker shots can be left short and rough shots hit thin. All of these can be frustrating if you don't know how to correct them. There are a few tricks to stop making these mistakes.

When chipping around a green it is crucial not to leave it short and have another shot to get on the green for a putt. One way to stop chunking it short is to move the ball back in your stance. You will need to close the club face a little more and make sure that your hands are ahead of the ball. To do this you will need to choke down to the bottom of the club grip. Stand so that the ball is positioned off your back foot and address the club. Instead of having your hands just over the ball when addressed, push your wrists so that your hands are ahead of the ball. When you swing back, do not break your wrists or snap through the shot like you would with an iron. You chip like you would putt a ball. Be sure to hit the ground with your club. When trying this you may chunk a few or thin some shots, but if you practice, it should eliminate those thinned or chunked chips. The most important thing with chipping or putting is making sure you keep your head down through the shot. The tendency for most people is to look up to see where the ball is going before it is hit and that is when disaster strikes. Put the ball in the back of your stance, choke down, hands in front of the ball and head down through you shot and this will help with those short chips around the green.

Green side bunker shots are probably the most feared shots in golf. Most people thin them or leave themselves with another bunker shot. These can be avoided. First with bunker shots you need to have a good stance. Your feet should be open to your targeting. If you are right-handed, your feet should be aimed just to the left of the pin. Play the ball in the middle of your stance. Your club face should be a little more open than usual if the sand is soft. Your swing will be a little different than your normal swing. You should swing the club a little bit more steep than normal. Try to swing more vertical and come down hard just behind the ball. Do not stop your swing after you hit the shot. If you stop your follow-through swing, than there is a good chance you won't get the ball where you needed it to go. If the sand is hard, close the face to make sure you dig under the ball and avoid hitting the ball thin. Don't be afraid to swing at the ball. It is better to be a little long in most cases than to leave yourself back in the bunker. It's better to be putting a ball than trying to chip it in the hole.

Shots out of the rough around the green are pretty similar to playing bunker shots. The key with hitting balls out of the rough is to always follow through with your swing. Whatever distance needed to get to the green, make sure that you follow through. If the shot is close to the green play it like you would a short chip shot from the fairway. Hands need to be in front of the ball and the ball must be played in the back of your stance. When you swing, make sure to hit underneath the ball to get it up and out of the tall grass. With this shot expect the ball to run a little faster on the green. The long grass stops that backwards spin on the ball which slows the ball down a little. If you are in the rough and the pin is close to the edge of the green, I would recommend playing a flop shot.

Flop shots are pretty difficult to control at first. Play flop shots almost exactly like you would a bunker shot except for the ball position. The ball in a flop shot is played off the inside of your front foot. Make sure that when you hit this shot you really commit to it. If there is any hesitation, then the shot will not turn out the way you wanted. The purpose of this shot is to hit the ball high and land it soft so it stays close to where it landed. Use this shot if you need to get over water to a green, to get over a tree, or to clear a bunker with the pin close to the fringe of the green. It can be used for other situations but if it can be avoided, it's probably better to use a different shot.

The key to any of these shots is practice. Spend a couple days working on these techniques and see how it will improve your game. Like any new shot that you try, you may hit a few bad before it gets good. I recommend trying these shots out on the course when you get into certain situations. The thing to remember when you are trying these shots is confidence. Make sure you have it set in your mind that you are going to make the shot happen. Try to get all of your thoughts out of your head before you attempt any shot that may present itself. If you can get these shots down it will help you to lower your score and make those par savers.


Copyright 1997-2008 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-3292
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