Improving Your Lie – Part Two

How does the rule “play the ball as it lies” affect your ability to check a ball to ensure it’s yours? Let’s look at a few scenarios…

When playing golf, it’s key to verify before hitting a ball that it is indeed your ball. If it’s not your ball, you could incur penalty strokes. When your ball lands in the fairway, you can generally easily identify your ball by its logo and markings. In other situations, your ball may be more difficult to identify due to thick rough, fescue, or the like. The rules of golf do allow you to “touch” or “bend” the grasses around your ball to identify it. However, this must be done without improving your lie. In the event your ball is “buried” in the rough, you are permitted to lift ball to identify that it is yours. To do this without penalty, first mark the location of your ball with a tee, lift the ball, identify it, and then place the ball in the original location (identified by the “tee” marking). Before lifting your ball, tell your playing partners what you are going to do so that they can oversee your actions and eliminate any question about the possibility of improving your lie.

What’s the penalty if you don’t comply? Improving your lie by lifting the ball incurs a one-stroke penalty. If you are in a matchplay, it results in loss of the hole. So beware when you have the urge to move or lift that ball to verify it’s yours!

Lost Balls

So you hit your ball and you’re not sure where it went? Now what do you do?
If you think your ball may be lost, you should hit a provisional ball. Announce to your fellow players that you are going to hit a provisional ball. You then have 5 minutes to locate your original ball. While searching, be careful not to bump the ball to cause it to move, as this will cost you a penalty stroke. If your partner or caddie should cause your ball to move while assisting you in the search, again, that will cost you a penalty stoke. So search gingerly!
On the contrary, if your opponent should bump or move your ball accidently while helping you search for your ball, there is no penalty stroke. However, you do need to place the ball back to its original landing position.
If you are unable to find your ball within the 5-minute limitation, declare your ball lost to your fellow players and play your provisional ball. You will incur a stroke penalty as well as distance (in the event you lost some yardage when you hit your provisional ball). So take care when playing the provisional ball so that you get the most out of it should you need it!
By the way, if you hit your original ball in a water hazard, that does not qualify for a provisional ball. There are specific rules that apply for play from water hazards. So hit ‘em straight and avoid the lost ball quandary!

Pace of Play

Many a player becomes frustrated when they are not able to play the game of golf without delay. Maintaining an efficient pace of play certainly helps to make your round more enjoyable. To play 18 holes on most golf courses, the average allocated time to play is generally 4 hours and 15 minutes. Let’s look at a few pointers to keep you and your group moving…
  • Before walking to your ball, anticipate your lie and situation, bring an extra club to ensure you are prepared.
  • While others are hitting, plan your shot and be ready to hit when it’s your turn.
  • Record your score on the next tee, not on the green that you just finished playing.
  • Always keep an eye on your ball and your partner’s ball.
  • Identify a landscape marker to help you remember where yours or your partner’s ball landed.
  • If you think your ball may be lost, hit a provisional ball; avoid looking for your ball, identifying it lost, and having to go back to hit another ball.
  • A good way to judge your pace of play, is to stay in pace with the group ahead of you. If they are not in sight and the group behind you is waiting, it’s time to pick up your group’s pace.
  •  If the group behind you is a smaller group, and your group is lagging, allow the group behind to play through. It’s then your job to keep pace with that group.
  • Be aware of delays on the green. If your shot is within “making” distance, ask your fellow players if you can putt out. This will eliminate unnecessary delays to remark your ball. If you do putt out, be sure not to stand in any other players putting line.
  • When playing a casual round of golf, if your strokes exceed double the par value for that hole, pick up your ball to keep the group moving.
Following these simple guidelines, will help you and everyone else enjoy the round of golf!

Hitting Out of a Divot

Inevitably, there are unrepaired divots on the course and you may have the misfortune of landing your ball directly in the midst of one….. on the dirt. Hitting directly from dirt requires a few adjustments to get effective results.

Tips for hitting out of a divot…

  • Your stance should be centered with your weight slightly left.
  • Keep your lower body stable and avoid shifting your weight during the swing.
  • Position the ball toward the back of your stance; this will help you hit the ball with a descending stroke.
  • Position your hands slightly ahead of the ball.
  • Aim slightly left of your target; this helps you create more of a V shaped swing.
  • When taking your stroke, come down on the ball at a steeper angle so that you avoid hitting the grass at behind the divot.
  • Keep your clubface square to the ball’s path of flight.
  • Remember to hit the ball first…..not the ground. Hit the ball in the downward portion of your swing….not the upward motion.
Following these simple tips and your next divot shot should be trouble-free. And remember; repair your divots to help your fellow players avoid the challenges of a divot shot.

Stop Trying to Swing the Club too Parallel

Every week we see the greatest golfers in the world all swinging the club shaft in the general vicinity of parallel to the ground at the top of the backswing.  Some go slightly past parallel and some slightly short of parallel.  In general it is fair to say that most professional golfers swing the club shaft back to a point that is very close to parallel.  Another generalization is that most club professionals can walk down their driving range and watch many of their amateur students swinging the club shaft to a point at or past parallel to the ground at the top of the backswing.

Let us as golfers make it a goal to stop trying to swing the club shaft to parallel if we are not flexible enough to do so.  As a general rule, (if you are flexible enough) you should max out your upper body turn at around 80 degrees of rotation. Visit to find an instructor that can measure this. The arms and hinge should stop a nearly indiscernible split second after the upper body turn is complete.  If you cannot turn far enough to get the club shaft to parallel, do not try to get it there by adding unnecessary wrist hinge or arm bend.  Work towards setting your lead wrist (left for right-handed golfers) early in the backswing.  If you can have it fully hinged by the time your lead arm gets to parallel with the ground in the backswing, your chances of over swinging the backswing with your arms and hands will decrease!

The result will be a more repeatable swing that is not so dependent on perfect timing.  The percentage of solid shots will increase and the range of mis-directed shots will decrease.

Written by Scott Seifferlein, PGA Golf Guru at Grand Rapids Golf Lesson

Setting Your Golf Alignment

As you read this golf tip, please keep in mind that it may not apply to your unique needs.  Always consult with your local PGA professional before attempting to apply any golf tip you have read from a newspaper, magazine, book, internet, etc.

Most right-handed golfers aim too far to the right (left handed golfers too far left). This causes the club-head to move outside the correct plane and then across the ball in the downswing to compensate for the poor alignment.  The result is a loss of club-head speed.

To check your alignment, place a shaft along your toes or the back of your heels.  Stand ten feet behind the ball and look to see where the shaft is lined up.  It should be aligned to the left (right for left-handed players) of and parallel to your target.  The shoulders should also follow this line when set-up to the ball.

Written by Scott Seifferlein, PGA Guru at Grand Rapids Golf Lesson

Fairway Bunker Shot Technique

Mary Hafeman PGA and LPGA Professional at the Mary Hafeman Golf Experience located within the Grand Club’s Cypress Club in Palm Coast, Florida shares her Fairway Bunker Shot Techniques….


I always find the most challenging bunker shot to hit is the fairway bunker shot. The objective is to hit the ball a greater distance than a green side bunker.   A fundamental difference between the two shots is that from a greenside bunker you try to hit the sand first where in a fairway bunker you want to contact the ball first.

Be sure to select a club that has enough loft to clear the lip of the fairway bunker. Architect’s design some of the fairway bunkers with a high lip, which inhibits the player to hit the ball high enough to carry the necessary distance.  If you have had the experience of a “fairway pot bunker” you know what I am talking about.  Remember you need to get out of the bunker first before you think about the distance needed. I’ll list below some of the adjustments you need to make to produce a successful fairway bunker shot.
  1. Most importantly check the lie of the ball first. A good lie that is sitting “up” allows for a normal swing with few adjustments. A medium lie allows for more of a descending blow and a poor lie which is sitting “down” requires a player to just pitch out into the fairway.
  2. Set your feet in the bunker while addressing the ball. You have an opportunity to notice how deep the sand is as you set your feet, you also need your feet set for a good base to ensure a consistent swing.
  3. Choke or grip down on the club about an inch about the same distance as you have dug your feet into the sand.
  4. Position the ball in the middle of your stance.
  5. Move your hands ahead of the ball slightly as you cannot ground the club in a hazard without a penalty stroke.
  6. Target hitting the ball just above the sand on a good lie. If you have a poor lie take a more lofted club and hit a traditional green side bunker shot back out to the fairway.
  7. Look not at a spot behind the ball like a green side bunker but rather on the front side of the ball or just slightly ahead of the ball to help assure you hit the ball first and not the sand. It will feel like you “picked the ball” out of the sand.
Fairway bunker shots although may be tricky, the shot becomes easier with confidence and practice. Remember look at your lie in the bunker and how deep the bunker face is before you select your club. Getting out of the bunker should be your first thought and if  you can get the correct distance you are way ahead of the ball game.
If you would like to learn more about how to play better golf, contact Mary Hafeman PGA and LPGA Professional at or purchase a gift card for a lesson package here, You will enjoy your experience, learn and improve, I guarantee it!

Grip Pressure

As you read this golf tip, please keep in mind that it may not apply to your unique needs.  Always consult with your local PGA professional before attempting to apply any golf tip you have read from a newspaper, magazine, book, internet, etc.

Grip the club as hard as you can.  We will call this grip pressure a ten. Then grip it so light it falls out of your hands.  We will call this grip pressure a one.  Now grip the club with pressure in the three to five range.  This is the correct grip pressure for you to maintain for most golf shots.

It is important that after setting up with the correct grip pressure, you maintain the correct grip pressure throughout the swing. Going from a 3 grip pressure to a 7 starting the downswing will create problems.

Written by Scott Seifferlein, PGA Guru at Grand Rapids Golf Lesson

The Value of Practice Swings

What?? Practice swings you say? What difference does that make?

Well here is what the average golfer does…. the average golfer will tee up his ball and then step back and take a full 100% simulation swing of what he thinks he wants to do.

You’ll even hear a “swish” to the club going through the air. If he hits the ground too hard, he’ll take another; if not, he’ll think he’s ready.

Contrast that with the greatest players in the world. They’ll take some swings to find a rhythm and move their body. They might even rehearse a mechanical move…. but that’s it. Then they step up to the ball and use their 100% swing.

One of the best examples of this is Tiger Woods. He takes about 3-5 swings that are about 3/4 back and through and swung in slow motion. He’s preparing his body. This concept has even found it’s way into baseball.

Hideki Matsui has the most curious habit at the plate. He never takes a practice swing once he steps into the batter’s box. He saves all those meaty cuts for when he needs them. Hideki knows that practice swings suck up energy, also if you swing hard enough on a practice swing, you could hurt yourself!

Written by Scott Seifferlein, PGA Guru at Grand Rapids Golf Lesson

Doing Correct Exercises for an Effective Golf Swing

Over the years I have come across a lot of smart people in the field of rehabilitation, fitness and sports performance. Of the many things I have learned, I’m always making sure that each of my clients are doing exercises that are specific to their own unique problems and goals. With that being said I want to describe a systematic approach to exercise that will help those that do not have personal coaching.

An interesting concept I have been utilizing for the last year or so, is a joint by joint approach to rehab, fitness and performance of golfers. This concept was first discussed by Mike Boyle and Gray Cook, two leaders in the area of sports performance. The idea is that each major joint (or area of the body) has a tendency to function more as a mobile joint, or as a stable joint. Yes, they all require a certain degree of each, and joint injury plays a role, however, this concept tends to hold true.

This mobility/stability concept occurs in an alternating pattern, and if this pattern is changed then dysfunction and compensation will occur. The normal pattern is shown below.





Pelvis/Sacrum/Lumbar SpineStable

Thoracic Spine (upper back)Mobile

Scapulo/Thoracic (shoulder blade) – Stable

Gleno-humeral (shoulder)Mobile



Cervical SpineStable


Regarding dysfunction in the body, we can use the low back as an example. If you do not have good mobility in the hips and in the upper back (thoracic spine), then the low back will give up some of its stability to obtain more motion when needed in those areas. A tight upper back & hips are big causes of low back pain in golfers.

A training error I see all the time is golfers focusing on strengthening their core in a dynamic and sometimes violent manner. This will not only lead to low back injury, but in fact it’s the hips and upper back that often times need improved mobility. That would not only help prevent injury, but also improve the overall golf swing.

So take a good look at the above table and make sure you have mobility where it is needed and stability in the ares where it is needed. Then let this be a guide in your selection of golf specific exercises.

Good Luck!
Mark Tolle – Owner of Golf Fitness Chicago