Hall of Famer Kathy Whitworth offers swing tips and
her golf wisdom
I'm in my 50s, and I've noticed that my swing has
lost some oomph. What can I do to hit the ball as far as
I used to? - A. Marten, Moab, UT
I know how you feel. At age 63 I can still smack the
ball out there occasionally, but I've lost some distance
too. You tend to get stiffer as you get older,
which reduces the shoulder turn that's the key to long
shots. I don't really have a problem with
flexibility, but my legs aren't as strong as they used
are fundamentals you can work on to pick up extra yards;
balance, weight, shift and stronger grip (turning your
hands to the right), which always gives you more power.
I teach several women in their 70s who still want to get
better. They have too much up-and-down motion in their
swings, so we work on a more balanced set up. This
way, they use their legs more effectively and shift
their weight better. That creates more clubhead
speed with less effort, and they end up hitting the ball
I'm pretty good at getting out of greenside bunkers,
but I'd like to have more control over how far the ball
goes. Any advice? - Rudie Clark, Milford, PA
I was a terrible trap player early on because I didn't
have access to any bunkers to practice in, so I never
learned how to hit sand shots. When I went on tour
at the age of 19, I signed with Wilson Sporting Goods.
One of the things we were required to do was give
clinics and exhibitions. Patty Berg led them, and she
made sure we knew how to play bunker shots. I
practiced a lot and learned you can control distance by
changing the size of your back swing, your clubhead
speed and the amount of sand you take. There's no
magic formula, but generally a bigger swing and less
sand will help the ball go farther; a smaller backswing
and more sand will keep it shorter. But the
texture of the sand also matters. Heavy, soft sand
was always a bugaboo for me because I had to hit it so
much harder than firmer sand. That's just
something you have to experiment with and learn.
The key of course, is always to get the ball out.
The biggest fault I see is lack of follow-through: If
the club stops after hitting the sand, you surely can't
control distance. No matter how long or short your
backswing, you must follow through.
It may seem odd, but on sunny days I'm often
distracted by my shadow. I can't focus or swing
effectively. What should I do? - Ann Heller, La
I've never been bothered by my shadow, but I know what
your talking about. It can be distracting,
particularly if your body suddenly blocks the sunlight
and casts a shadow on the ball during your backswing.
Stop thinking about it and put your attention to what
you're trying to do, which is hit the ball. Some
players actually use their shadows to see what's going
on with their swing. That's a mistake too.
You look at your shadow and think "I should be
doing this or that," and you destroy the swing.
The next time you see you shadow, say: "I see you
but I'm not going to pay attention to you." Go on
about your business and put your mind back to alignment,
the target and the ball. It takes discipline, but
you can learn to block out distractions.
more great golf info for women, check out: www.golfforwomen.com
Golf For Women, July/August 2003.