Thoughts and practice drills that
help me to play my best golf – and
may also help you, too
By Charley Hull
SAVE SIX SHOTS
Whether it’s taking fewer putts, sharpening your
touch around the greens, improving your accuracy
with your irons or finding more fairways, there are
several key parts of the game where you can easily
shave six shots off your scores. Let me give you a
tip for each aspect of the game – something simple
to focus on the next time you play.
1. UP-AND-DOWN CHALLENGE
– MY ‘PAR 18’ GAME
This is a game I use when I’m practising my
short game. It’s great fun and also a way to
challenge my short game skills in a competitive
manner. It's called Par 18 because I
play 9 holes, and try to go around in level
par – i.e. a chip and a putt per hole. I take
all three wedges with me, my 50-, 56- and
60 degree, and I pick 9 different starting
points around the green, either randomly
by throwing the golf balls up in the air, or
deliberately picking certain lies I want to
practice from. The aim of the game is to
get up and down from every position. I
always keep my score. My best effort is
level par for 9 holes, but that did include a
dropped shot and a chip in!
2. THE CONFIDENT LOB SHOT
The reason I’ve picked this shot is because
it’s the one that I see club golfers, particularly
higher handicap ladies, struggle with
the most. The reason they mess it up
because they lack the commitment to making
the confident swing needed to play the
lob shot and end up quitting on the shot.
To be successful you need to hit a lob
shot positively. I don’t get too technical
with the set-up. All I do is open up my
wedge so that it sits flat and then I grip
down to the bottom of the grip and make
sure that it is in line with my sternum (centre
of my chest). From here I simply make a
confident, committed swing and the loft on
the club does the work.
I vary the length of my swing to control
the distance. I play these shots very instinctively
by looking at the hole and visualising
where I want the ball to land on the green
so that it runs out down to the hole. I
always walk up and take a look and make
sure I have the precise landing point in
mind. With a bit of practice and trust you
can learn to play a lob shot easily.
3. SHAPE YOUR TEE SHOT TO SUIT THE HOLE
Most golfers struggle to find fairways because
they are completely one-dimensional and can
only hit one shape of shot. Whether it is a
draw or a fade they inevitably come unstuck
on a hole that sets up to suit the opposite to
what comes naturally to them.
Growing up as a small girl I learned to
shape the ball in all different directions by
experimenting and I had a lot of fun on the
practice ground playing the ‘which shape
shot’ game. Now, even though a draw with
my driver is the shot that comes naturally to
me I can hit any shape tee shot I need to.
I choose the shape of shot to suit the direction of the hole and also to play away from any
trouble. For a draw I will always tee the ball up
on the left hand side of the tee so that I can
start the ball out to the right side of the fairway
and bring it back in and for a fade the opposite.
This gives me the whole width of the hole
to play with and a greater margin for error. For
a straight drive I’ll simply tee up in the centre
of the tee box and play straight down the middle.
Technically there’s not a whole lot I change
to play the two shape shots, as I’m very much
a feel player who can do it naturally. For a fade
I swing a fraction more out-to-in and for a draw
I just stay behind it a little bit more.
4. GET A ROUTINE...
AND STICK WITH IT
I always do the same thing before hitting
every shot, which is why I think I’m very
I think a repeatable pre-shot
routine really gets you into the habit of
aiming correctly and gets you focused
on visualising and playing the shot you
want to hit.
For a tee shot I’ll tee the ball
up, using the same type of wooden tee
(Bees Tees) every time to ensure I get
the same height.
Then I step back
behind the ball and visualise the shot I
want to play. I make a practice swing
and rehearse that shot, making sure that
I hold my finish and try to visualise the
shot going down the fairway.
Then I hold
the club out in front of me and trace an
imaginary line to the target and pick a
point out in front of the ball on the
ground in line with my target to aim at.
From here I step in and address the ball
with my right hand positioning the club
accurately to that target spot on the
ground before I complete my grip. One
more look at the target and then I’m
ready to pull the trigger. My final
thought is to make sure I hold my finish
for a few seconds after I’ve completed
my swing with good balance.
5. PRECISION PITCHING – THE FOLLOW-THROUGH HOLDS THE KEY
Since going out onto the LET the one thing I’ve
observed is how precise the top lady golfers are
when they practice their pitching.
practising to target flags they practice to target
distances and place cones out at regular intervals
on the practice ground – 30, 40, 50, or 35,
45, 55 yards, etc. It was something my dad
watched the Korean players doing for hours
and observed how they were getting the ball to
land at that distance without spinning back,
instead stopping dead.
I’ve been working on the same skill for the
past few months and all golfers will benefit from
learning this technique. I grip down and move
the ball slightly closer to me, then I use three
different length backswings, half, three-quarter
and full, to control the distance the ball flies.
This is very much a body swing, I focus on turning
my hips through, which leads to a very flatfooted
finish. I use no wrist hinge but have ‘dead’ wrists and simply turn my upper body
back and through. This is the key to preventing
the excess backspin on the ball and getting it
to stop on the spot it lands.
6. BE CONFIDENT
FROM THE SAND
I’ve always enjoyed bunker
shots but I honestly do not
know how I play them! My
coach Lee tells me that I have
great hands; by that he’s talking
about my natural feel and flair
for sand shots that I don’t even
have to think about how to play
the shot, I can just feel it.
All I know is that I open up
my sand wedge and hover it
above the sand and then play
the shot! While I’m fortunate
to be gifted from sand I see a
lot of ladies who aren’t and
they nearly always fail because
they don’t use a confident
swing. I think this applies to
every shot in golf but particularly
bunker shots. Hit into the
sand as hard as you can and
don’t let the club get stuck,
always finish your swing.
Do so and – like me – you’ll
soon learn to love and look
forward to these shots.
Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine