Time to Call In a Professional

Steve Bosdosh
PGA pro Steve Bosdosh, right, gives Nick Demas advice on his swing during a lesson at Four Streams Golf Club. (Ricky Carioti - The Washington Post)
By Thomas Heleba
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 4, 2007

Steve Bosdosh grew up in Norvelt, Pa., across the street from a golf course and roughly 10 miles from Arnold Palmer's home. Sometime during his early life, an aunt gave him a set of kiddie clubs as a gift. No one else in his family played, but Bosdosh often would make his way across the street in an effort to practice his game.

Now 45, Bosdosh is rated by Golf magazine as one of the top 100 teachers in the United States. He is a PGA golf professional and director of instruction at Four Streams golf club in Beallsville, and some of his students have included LPGA Tour players Jackie Gallagher-Smith and Katie Peterson-Parker.

We sat down with Bosdosh and presented him with a list of scenarios that recreational golfers often face from tee to green but don't necessarily know how to rectify. He told us the best way to handle such situations and gave a few suggestions that might make for a better round.

Don't be so tense

The most common problem for a golfer off the tee is the slice. The biggest reason for this, according to Bosdosh, is too much tension. Players tend to hold the handle of a club in their palms, which results in a tighter grip. The more a golfer feels the handle in the fingers, he or she will be a little more relaxed and the club will turn over on its own, cutting down on the banana ball.

Bosdosh went on to say that if your ball hooks off the tee, you probably are on your way to becoming a better player. "I would much rather see a hook, because you're doing some stuff correctly; just maybe overdoing it."

Trouble in the fairway

Even golfers who do not hook or slice still can find a heap of trouble in the form of a fairway bunker. Assuming you are 150 yards from the green and normally hit a 7-iron, Bosdosh said to go one club longer and choke down about an inch.

He also suggested more of an arm swing while keeping the lower part of your body more quiet.

Lift it or punch it?

En route to the hole, golfers might find themselves about 30 to 40 yards from the green, a distance that can be played a couple of ways. Bosdosh said that generally speaking, the lower shot -- one that's made with a 7- or 8-iron using a chipping or putting stroke -- is safer and more consistent than a higher shot using a lob wedge.

"I think that the average player needs to learn both," he said. "Both require a lot of sensitivity and feel for the club head. They are fairly simple strokes, like a big putt."

Going downhill

Bosdosh said that no matter if it's a chip, pitch or full swing, when the ball is beneath your feet it is farther away from you.

Players can only choke back on their club so much in an effort to reach the ball, so Bosdosh recommended tilting yourself throughout the stroke in order to make decent contact. He said the ball will tend to curve or fly in the direction of the slope, so that it would be best to aim a little right or left to compensate.

Greenside options

Golfers might feel more comfortable putting the ball if they have a decent lie but still are 10 to 15 feet off the green. Bosdosh said he liked the idea of putting in this instance, and added that the 5-wood or hybrid might be the best choice of club.

"The reason is they have a little more loft than the putter does and the sweet spot is bigger," Bosdosh said. "The hybrid is not as long as the wood, so your contact has to be a little bit more consistent."

The flop shot

Working with very little green between yourself and the pin takes the right tool and touch. Bosdosh recommended using your most lofted club -- the lob wedge at 60 degrees -- and said to hit this shot much like the way you would hit from a greenside bunker.

The secret is to be slightly farther from the ball than normal, allowing your hands to drop a little flatter. Players need to open up the club a little bit, and with the ball forward in their stance they must try to "thump" the turf underneath the ball or slightly behind it with the back of the club.

"It's a fuller swing than what you might think," Bosdosh said. "It's a fairly full motion to go a short distance."


Too many times, players give away strokes on the green, turning a potential par into a double bogey within seconds.

Bosdosh said that as you approach the green, look at the overall slope of the land. Architects will build the green to drain water and all putts will break in that direction. Distance control -- which is gained by a player's feel -- is critical.

"Most players are way too mechanical, thinking about everything but speed," he said. "If you forget mechanics and think only about speed you will putt better and shoot lower scores.

"Holding the putter lightly will help greatly with this speed control. If you think about it, all of golf is about distance control. It becomes more critical as you get closer to the green."

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