Are you supposed to look away when you make a ball drop?

      — Henry, Orlando

No.

The USGA Rules of Golf require 3 things of the player when dropping. The golfer must:

1. stand erect;

2. hold the ball at shoulder height and arms length; and

3. then drop.

It does not matter whether the arm is forward or sideways or whether the golfer faces the hole — so long as the golfer’s posture is correct and the ball strikes the appropriate part of the course. If the drop is conducted improperly, or if the ball is dropped by the wrong person and the ball is played, the player incurs a one-stroke penalty.

What do you think of Inbee Park’s swing?

      — Kristine, Irvine

Inbee’s swing perfectly reflects her demeanor and personality — authentic.

Her swing is idiosyncratic because of the abbreviated backswing, slight lifting action of her body, and head rotation towards the target during follow through. But she incorporates perfect rhythm, balance, and confidence. Her swing is not as mechanically perfect as Adam Scott’s or as athletic and dynamic as Rory McIlroy’s. But her rhythm, timing, and patience is something we should all emulate.

Inbee’s swing reminds me a lot of this great champion:

What do you think of actor Oliver Hudson’s golf swing?

      — Dotty, Walnut Creek

He has a great swing. He reminds me of PGA tour player Steve Flesch — great rhythm and balance, with very good mechanics and fundamentals.

Why did Tiger Woods switch from a draw to a fade?

      — Robert, Madison

Tiger always struggled with getting stuck (some call it early extension) — hips outracing the upper body with the club trapped behind him and approaching too much from the inside. This led to blocks and big hooks.

Why does Matt Kuchar rock back on his heels just before swinging?

      — Steve, Oceanside

This is how he triggers the golf swing. A trigger is an automatic cue, to begin the motion, without any thought or tension. Some forward press their hands. Some kick the right knee in. Kuchar moves away from the ball, putting his weight into the heels.

Golf is a tough game because there is nothing to react to — like a pass or serve or catch in other sports. We initiate motion from a stand still, which is why I believe it is the toughest sport mentally. But all good players have some sort of a trigger.

How do I get your tips and tutorials?

      — Carter, Ontario

If you use a RSS reader, the easiest way is clicking the “RSS” link at the top or bottom of any webpage. This should create a feed in your preferred RSS application.

Alternatively, enter your email address in the sidebar.

get-a-grip

This creates a Google FeedBurner subscription. You will receive an email whenever new content is published. Best of all, you can easily unsubscribe — so you don’t have to fear an unwelcome email barrage.

Can you recommend an alignment stick drill to avoid coming over-the-top and keeping on (or under) plane coming down?

      — Andrew, Australia

Put the alignment stick in the ground — behind the ball, on the target line, parallel to the plane of the club shaft you are hitting. This should discourage an over-the-top motion.

Here’s an example:

Alignment Stick Drill

What do you think about cross handed chipping?

      — Lou, San Diego

Cross handed chipping is a great option for someone struggling to execute a conventional chip shot (probably because of the chipping yips). Changing the grip in this fashion is an excellent way to “restore the system.”

Chris Couch is a great example of a PGA Tour player who rebuilt his career around a cross handed chipping change. Couch won his first tour victory by chipping in cross handed (2:18 into video) at the 2006 Zurich Classic.

How long do golf balls last?

      — Steve, Chicago

As long as you can keep them in play!

But seriously, today’s golf balls last longer than ever — up to seven rounds according to Golf Digest… and in my experience, even longer.

As long as your ball has no serious scuffs or scratches, keep using it.