Why’d It Do That?

By • Category: Features, Improvement

lead-angrygolferEver hit a shot and wonder what the heck just happened?  Sure you have — we all go through that as we’re learning the mechanics of the trackball and the game itself, and I still ask the same question every now and then when a shot goes awry.  The worst thing that can happen, though, is you shrugging it off and not stopping to figure out why that bad shot just happened!  As you gain more experience, you’ll start to recognize the source of these problems, and then you can help your friends and yourself learn from these mistakes to become a better player.

What happened: Your shot ended up way right or left of target

Why it happened:
The first concept beginners have to master is how the trackball works.  Some people pull straight back and shoot forward left, expecting the ball to go left, when we know that creates a “schwerve” that ends up coming in left-to-right instead.  Realize that the pull-back is more important to accuracy than where the ball starts its path, so focus on pulling back correctly.

Another cause is not playing enough wind with a lofted approach shot.  Wind can be devastating on wedge shots, so often times you’ll even have to rotate once or twice to compensate enough.

What happened: Your approach shot comes up well short of the green (consider the opposite of what’s listed below if your shot just flew over the green).

Why it happened:
Several things could have gone wrong here, so I’ll list them out:
1) You didn’t compensate enough for a wind in your face or for a shot into an elevated green
2) Your playing partner hit his approach with deceptively smooth force, and your “smooth” shot really was not as strong.
3) Your playing partner is using Golden Tee golf balls that pack more distance than the ones you’re using.
4) You didn’t club up to compensate for a tough lie.  You lose a bit of distance from areas like mud and snow, but you lose about 1/3 of your distance when hitting out of tall grass.
5) You tried to put curve on a shot from the rough.  This KILLS distance.  From the rough, you have to either play it straight or club up several times if you’re attempting a cut shot.
6) You tried to carry an island green with a low-lofted club (many times it’s better to club up to the 5-wood and hit a softer shot).
7) You tried to thumb a shot too softly.  Some machines don’t read this type of shot correctly, and you’ll end up way short.  If this happens repeatedly, try pulling back 3/4 of the way and hitting a full thumbs shot.

What happened:
Your attempted A1 or C3 shot took more of an A2 or C2 path, crashing into whatever was in front of you.

Why it happened:
Sometimes the trackball reads these funny if you don’t hit a “spinny” A1 or C3.  I had problems for so long on Cypress Cove #9, where you can often play a C3 around the mountain cliff onto the green.  I would pull back towards C, let the ball stop spinning, and slam it forward towards 3.  Instead of shooting out right, it would slam right into the mountain straight ahead.  Either the way I was hitting the shot or the machine itself (or both) contributed to the problem, but once I started to keep the ball spinning on my backswing before I shot forward to 3, I saw a nice, consistent ball path.  Note that the “spinny” adds distance to your shot, so you might want to club down to help fix this problem as well.  Finally, I’ve found that using thumbs to shoot forward on a non-spinny shot works consistently most of the time also.

What happened: You miss an uphill putt by not playing enough break, and then you make matters worse by playing too much break on the comeback downhill putt.

Why it happened:
It takes a while for newer players to get used to how uphill putts essentially have more break than downhill putts.  What really causes the break is your ball slowing down as it’s going uphill, but all you need to know if that you’ll have to play as if there’s more break if putting uphill.  Practice is the remedy for this, so you really need to consider the uphill/downhill slope just as much as you consider the side-hill break if you’re going to consistently make putts.

What happened: Your chip shot from just off the green still comes up short of the green.

Why it happened:
The surface off which you’re hitting can play a big part here, as can your backswing.  There is some nasty dirt on Grand Savannah that seems to force you to hit harder than usual to get out of it and onto the green — I see many people “duff” chips off this stuff because it can kill your shot.  Secondly, you can duff a chip by not pulling back far enough.  People think they can compensate for not pulling back past their player’s ankles by hitting it forward with more force, but what you really need is the loft off the club at impact.  Pull it back a bit farther and hit forward more gently — this helps get the ball in the air and onto the green.

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is a Golden Tee addict from Chicago, IL, thirsty for tips and tricks!
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3 Responses »

  1. “Some people pull straight back and shoot forward left, expecting the ball to go left, when we know that creates a “schwerve” that ends up coming in right-to-left instead.”

    I think you might have that backwards. Pulling straight back and hitting left (B1) will send the ball left-to-right. Pretty much the opposite of where you intended (not factoring in the wind).

    Great stuff!


  2. You are right — good catch, I have updated the post. Thanks!

  3. Concerning the A1 / C3 shot, I’m not positive that keeping the ball spinning is the correct way to approach this shot. Back in the day there were no governors so putting the super spin on the ball and striking it while it was spinning backwards did give added distance. Nowadays, I notice my idiot friends still doing this shot that way, but not paying attention to the club head which sometimes drops down right before they hit the ball causing the golf ball to go very short of what was intended. I always pull the trackball back and stop it, then hit my forward shot, and I can always outdrive them, even when it appears their club head did not drop.
    I do believe that when attempting an A1 shot and the shot comes out to 2 instead of 1 that, that is the first sign of a trackball going bad. After two shots like that I call the vendor and the trackball is either disassembled and cleaned or replaced and problem solved.

    Concerning the approach shot, all I got is know what YOUR clubs and YOUR swing will do. I purposefully make it look like I’m hitting an approach shot harder than I am just to throw off my opponents, who may have similar lies.

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