NAPLES — The British Open is this week, and one thing you can always depend upon is windy conditions.
When you tune into the Open Championship, make sure you are aware of how different the conditions are as compared to the PGA Tour. The course will be firm and fast, and the pros will be quietly complaining under their breath.
There are a number of shots that are necessary for these conditions, and many of them will require trajectory control and the need to hit run-up shots to the green.
When the wind is in your face here are some things that might help:
■ Decide if it is a one-club wind or a two-club wind. Generally, for every 10-mph wind you would take one more club. For example, a 30-mph wind would be a two-club wind and a 20- mph wind would be a one-club wind.
■ Choke down on the club.
■ Play the ball slightly right of the center of your stance.
■ Set up with slightly more weight on the front leg. It will feel like the weight stays there throughout the entire swing.
■ Keep the swing short with a minimum amount of wrist cock. Less wrist cock will help eliminate excessive spin on the ball that tends to throw it up in the air.
■ Try to swing easier using more club, rather than swinging harder using more club. Again, the easier you swing using more club, the less spin you will put on the ball.
■ Try to trap the ball by getting the hands ahead of the clubhead at impact. The farther you can get your hands ahead of the clubhead at impact, the more you will deloft the club and the lower the ball will go.
■ Finish low to hit it low. Your follow-through should be abbreviated as you will trying to minimize hand action through impact.
Traditionally, low-ball hitters play well in the British Open.
But don't be surprised if a guy who hits a slight hook ends up in the winner's circle. A natural hook bores into the wind better, and fits the hard and fast conditions.
The other shot that you will see a lot is the "bump-and-run" shot. This shot requires a lot of creativity as the golfer has to land the ball short of the green and have it run up to the pin. If you put any kind of backspin on the ball, the ball will get caught up in the grass and come up short of the pin. This shot is generally performed with a 7-, 8- or 9-iron. For that matter, you can really do this shot with any club, even a hybrid.
Some of the same fundamentals should be applied which include:
■ Play the ball back off your right toe,
■ Lean the shaft forward at address so that the hands are ahead of the ball,
■ Set up with the sternum even with the ball. This will put most of your weight on your front leg.
■ Take a 9 o'clock-to-3 o'clock swing with a minimum amount of wrist action,
■ Feel the body turn through the hitting area as the arms extend at the target.
■ Try to let the club release a little through the impact area so the ball will run after it hits.
Controlling your trajectory and your spin will allow you to keep your ball closer to the ground. The eventual champion of this year's British Open most likely will do this better than anyone else.
Dr. Jim Suttie, 2000 National PGA Teacher of the Year, is available for lessons at Suttie Golf at the Club at Twin Eagles North Naples and Cog Hill Golf Club, Lemont, Ill. For lessons and program information call 800-765-3838 or Jmsuttie@aol.com