Class Notes

For students who have taken Barbara’s beginning golf classes, these are reminders of some of the things they have heard in class.


  • When to putt:  on the green, or on the fringe of the green if the grass is short enough.  Always putt if you can; if you can’t putt, then chip.
  • An easy way to remember the proper stance:  Stand up straight with your putter horizontal and pointing at your belt buckle.  Keeping your back straight, bend at the waist until the club head touches the ground.
  • The stroke:  The back stroke and the follow through should be the same distance. Imagine that there are a pair of eyes painted on the face of your putter.  The eyes should always be looking at the ball.  Hold your position at the end of your stroke and make sure this is true.


  • When to chip:  when you are within a couple of yards of the green, but the grass is too thick to make putting possible.
  • What club to use:  a pitching wedge (P)
  • The stroke:  straight back and straight through.  To practice, lay a club between your feet and the ball.  Your club head should not cross that line.
  • The hands always stay ahead of the ball.
  • The follow through:  The club head finishes low to the ground.  Again, imagine a pair of eyes on the club face that must constantly be looking at the ball.
  • Imagine you are chipping the ball under a fence.  If you swing through too far or too high, you will hit the fence rail.


  • When to pitch:  when you are within 50 yards of the green, but you are not close enough to chip.
  • What club to use:  a sand wedge (S).  If you don’t own a sand wedge, use a pitching wedge.
  • The back swing:  Imagine someone is standing behind you, and you are turning back to shake hands with them.  The club goes halfway back, not above horizontal.
  • The swing:  Think “clip the grass,” so you’re sure to get under the ball.  Imagine sweeping leaves off the grass.
  • Head movement:  Remind yourself to keep looking down longer than you think you should.  Remember the saying  “If you see your shot, you won’t like what you see!”
  • Body movement:  Turn your chest instead of your arms.  Practice swinging while holding a towel under your arms.  Let your weight shift from the inside of your right foot to your left foot.  The weight shift will guarantee you won’t hit the ground with your club.
  • Follow through:  Use a full follow-through.

Full Swing

  • The grip:  See the diagram here.  Your grip should look like the picture on the left, not on the right.
  • The back swing:  While the back swing is a single motion, you can think of it as having three parts.
    1. Take the club head straight back and low to the ground.
    2. Raise the club until the shaft is pointing toward the ground, at a spot about a foot behind the ball.
    3. Finally, rotate your shoulders fully back, until your left shoulder is under your chin.
  • The chest takes the club back.  When the chest stops, so do the arms.
  • As you swing, turn your right knee (men) or hips (women) toward the fairway.  Concentrate on breaking the tee (or an imaginary tee under the ball).

Using Woods

  • When to use a wood:  On tee shots, except for short, par 3 holes.
  • When hitting a wood, use the same swing as described above (under Full Swing).
  • The ball should be teed up high.  2 3/4″ tees are available for use with woods.
  • The ball should be forward in your stance, closer to your left foot (if you’re right handed).  Your head and your hands should be slightly behind the ball.
  • Remember to turn your hips fast.

How to Practice Putting

Time spent on the practice green can be fun as well as rewarding.  Remember that on the course, you will be using your putter more than any other club in your bag.

  • Make yourself sink three three-foot putts in a row.  If you can’t sink these, there’s no point in moving on to longer putts.
  • Take one ball and putt from hole to hole.  This will let you practice a variety of distances and lies.
  • Putt from hole to hole, with the goal of two-putting every hole.  Your first putt should position the ball within three feet of the hole.

If you’re practicing with a friend, set up a competition.  Putt from hole to hole, with the person getting closest to the hole (the winner) choosing the next hole.  Or, take turns trying to make a fairly long putt.  The first person to sink their putt is the winner.