Rob Labritz, director of Golf at GlenArbor GC in Bedford and member of the PGA Tour Champions, isn’t just a top competitor; he’s one of the best instructors around, which is why he was chosen Met PGA Instructor of the Year in 2021. We asked him to give us the keys to the three basic swings you need to master to go low.
“The most important goal off the tee isn’t distance; it’s putting the ball into the fairway to set up your next shot,” Labritz says. “Unless you’re Bryson DeChambeau, you’re not going to win gouging your approach shots out of the rough.”
Labritz recommends working on two things to get the best results with your driver. First, set up so you will be hitting up on the ball. “Keep your right hand lower and tilt your body away from the target.”
Second, “Don’t try to swing so hard! Distance comes from hitting the ball squarely. It will roll a lot farther in the fairway than in the rough.”
Accuracy is obviously the name of the game for irons. Labritz says, “The first step is to choose your target based on how aggressive you need or want to be.” In other words, can you (or must you) take dead aim at the pin, or should you play for the center of the green?
“Clubface control is the key to accuracy,” according to Labritz. “Keep your hands on the club with the same pressure and position throughout the swing. It will feel like you’re shortening your swing, but you’re not, so stay with it. If you let go even just a little at any point, the clubface will flip open or closed, and there goes your accuracy.”
Another good practice, he says, is to “complete the swing and hold the finish, even if you’re hitting a half- or three-quarter swing.”
Labritz had no three-putts during eight pressure-packed rounds of the two stages of PGA Tour Champions qualifying, so his putting advice is well-founded. “People think putting is all about feel, but it’s not,” he says. “Putting is about data.”
Labritz walks off every putt before he hits it. “Speed changes, but distance doesn’t. Pacing it off also gives me a feel for the slope of the green,” he says.
“Alignment is the second key to good putting,” he continues. Labritz recommends using any one of several alignment aids during practice, to make sure you are set up on the line you want. “You would be surprised how often you feel you’re aimed in one direction, but you’re actually set up to hit the putt somewhere else.”