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Your golf questions answered
Golf coach Nick Bradley was on hand to answer your queries on the Five Live message boards.

Below is a transcript of the discussion. He will be answering more of your questions soon.

How do I improve my chipping around the greens? Despite practising hard, I lose confidence in the actual game and either decelerate the club and stub it into the ball, or alternatively, "thin" the ball miles thru - any advice gratefully received.

NB: Learn the art of club selection and the golden rule of the short game is to get the ball low and running as soon as possible. The key is to picture a scenario where the ball lands one third onto the green and then rolls out two thirds.

Previous questions answered
Are you on target?

What practice techniques would you recommend, because I usually find practising (especially the short game) boring?

NB: Monty, if you've got some friends down the club, get them involved. One such game with a partner is to find two golf holes six foot apart on the putting green, and you stay at one hole and your friend goes to the other one. See who can hole the putt first and take it in turns. Generally you need practice with a purpose and even with Tour players they practice their long game one third of the time and their short game two thirds of the time.

I find I lose my concentration after 12 holes - any ideas on how to keep going for the whole round?

NB: 1. Nutrition. Get slow releasing sugars into his body i.e. bananas or eat some porridge in the morning. You look at Tour players, they're always eating on the course. 2. You should play a round in three sixes. Break your scores into thirds for each round of six holes you play. 3. Put a tight elastic band around your wrist and when you feel you are losing your focus, pull it hard and let it snap against your skin. This will bring you back into the present.

Mick V
What would be a good way to get an average player to stay more focused on the course?

NB: People lose focus because they try and concentrate for the whole round. Simply learn a good pre-shot routine in which after the shot has completed you can put your mind onto something else like what you're having for dinner or Kylie Minogue!

I can't seem to get a good contact on my mid irons. Although I'm hitting them all pretty straight and high they don't seem to have a great ball flight. Any tips would be much appreciated.

NB: Sounds to me like you have little or no divot pattern. This means you're probably scooping the ball. Start to learn to hit the ball low by strengthening your glove hand showing two to three knuckles, move the ball slightly more towards the middle of your stance, and make some swings without the ball and either try and get a good thump on the range mat or a nice divot from the grass. That should help!

Do you think a typical 2/3 handicapper could turn themselves to a tour standard pro over a period of a few years (with hard work and coaching of course!)? I'm talking about becoming a Phil Archer standard rather than a Tiger Woods!

NB: Yes. Ian Poulter had a handicap of four when he turned pro, so it is possible. The defining qualities would be physical strength and mental aptitude. Desire, motivation, grittiness - there's many pieces of the cake that make up even a standard challenge tour player. This may seem strange coming from a coach but there are some things that can't be coached.

I've been told by my local pro that I've started spinning my left hip out of the way far too early and far too aggressively and therefore shanking the ball. Please help me stop it.

NB: If this hasn't happened before, then something has changed in your swing. To get rid of it the perfect exercise is what I call the step in drill. To do the drill, address the ball with a seven iron with your feet close together make a regular backswing, but as you start down take a big step to the left with your left foot and then follow through. It's just like taking a step when you're walking.

The purpose of this is to ensure that we have some lateral motion from the knees before they turn out of the way into the follow through. With the exercise, you'll be able to feel your downswing initiate from the ground upwards. On your way down you must make a lateral move rather than rotational (spinning).

I'm a left-handed golfer and would like to know how to lower my ball flight especially with the shorter irons? At the moment I hit my PW about 85 yards.

NB: You're obviously hitting it way up in the air or moonballing it as I call it! So the first thing to do is change your grip. It sounds like it's really weak. Make sure gloved hand is showing two and a half or three knuckles.

Whenever you try and hit a short iron hard, you hit it higher and with less distance. So when you're faced with a PW, you should go to a nine iron and make a three quarter swing rather than hit the wedge hard. You should make a more controlled shot and swing that way. And lastly when you're setting up to the ball, make sure that your breast bone is ahead of the ball as you look down. This will drive the ball on a lower trajectory.

Ty Webb
The shakes have filtered into my long putting. It only ever seems to happen when I have to hit it as opposed to stroke it and some days it's worse than others. Any advice on how to deal with it would be most helpful.

NB: From a physical perspective what I'd like you to do is ensure that your backswing calibrates (matches up) with the shot in hand. It sounds like you're hitting the ball from a short backswing. Mentally, it sounds like you've got too much time to think. Make your practice strokes next to the ball getting a sense for the exact stroke you want, and then place the putter head behind the ball. Take one last look at the hole and before your eyes come back to the ball you should start the stroke. You need to change from a narrow internal focus (your body), to a narrow external focus (small target by the hole).

I want to get stronger and fitter for my golf but I'm not sure what exercises I should be doing, can you help? I am 35 years old. My handicap is six.

NB: 1. Continually work on your flexibility as I well know. 2. Do aerobic work outs; swimming and cycling are the best. 3. At the gym it's very difficult to over work your legs so don't be shy to do plenty of stomach and core stability exercises. Forearm exercises with squeeze balls are useful too! Do not over do your pecs and your biceps as you don't really need them for golf.

I am a 20 handicapper and can shoot 86 or 106 - what is the key to better consistency?

NB: 1. Fundamentals. If you have a great grip, posture, simple body motion that rotates back and through, and a consistent rhythm, that will be good for ten shots. 2. Understand course design i.e. focus from the tee on solely putting it in play and then focus solely on placing it on the green or when the green is missed to miss it in the best place. Every green gives you a bail out option.

How do you convince a very talented young golfer to resist the temptation to blast their way round the course. Course management advice doesn't seem to be getting thru'?

NB: Very good question! I've got three answers. 1. Continue what you're doing! After every game sit down and go through the round and work out where the lost balls, out of bounds shots and the triple bogeys have come from. 2. Work on your swing to bring it under control. 3. Ask yourself how many how many birdies do you make from the rough as opposed to the fairway?

Good luck with it but keep the aggressive attitude - it's good!


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