Our local golf pro answers your questions!

How can I adjust quickly to playing golf in a new place?  
Angela T., Camdenton

When you arrive at a new location, particularly when you change climates, you need to spend a little time on the range and practice area before you play. I would spend at least an hour practicing on the range and chipping area. The grass you are accustomed to playing off of at home can be significantly different, especially when chipping and pitching the ball. The wedges and shots you are used to playing at home may not work on this new surface; it may take a while to get used to it. Better to find out before you hit the course and have a frustrating time. The elevation is probably different and the ball will fly differently so see how far the ball is traveling on the range and adjust accordingly. Finally, hit the practice green. Most greens in the midwest are Bent grass and a good majority in warmer climates are Bermuda. Bermuda tends to be very grainy which leads to very slow putts going against the grain and faster ones going with the grain. Plan accordingly and have a great time exploring and playing new facilities.

How far back should I swing the golf club?  
John P., Sunrise Beach

What you need to consider is not how far the backswing goes but how solidly you hit the shot. Hitting the ball solid and on the center of the face is more important than how long the swing is. In an effort to take a long backswing you need to look at your balance and also your spine angle. If you lose your balance even a little bit your club head speed will be negatively affected and you are less likely to hit the ball in the center of the clubface. The other area to be aware of is keeping your spine angle throughout the swing. Flexibility plays a part in this. Once we take the club back and we reach our flexibility point, the swing starts to break down and typically are legs straighten, the arms collapse, and the whole body raises. This sequence of events makes it more difficult to get the club back to the ball in a consistent manner and thus increases the likelihood of decreased club head speed and off-center shots.  

How often should I replace my grips?  
Jack W., Jefferson City  

Most experts recommend to change your grips at the start of each season, but there are other factors to consider as well. The amount you play has a lot to do with wear and tear. The more you play, the more oil and dirt infiltrates the grips. Take a nail brush and some soap and water regularly to the grips to keep them free of oil and debris. Pat your grips dry with a towel, avoid rubbing them dry. Keep them in your house where they can stay at a constant temperature. Also avoid leaving them in your car for long periods of time as this will shorten the lifespan of the grips. When the grips become slick and hard it is time to change them. These slick grips will also make you grip the club tighter which is a club head speed killer. You want to be able to hold the club lightly, and fresh tacky grips make it much easier to do so.    


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