Putting session I did at Linville Ridge discussing ball control on the greens. Solid contact, square clubface and signature tempo are key fundamentals to learn and train in practice sessions.
Greenside bunkers can be very frustrating for the average golfer. In this video I discuss the basic fundamentals of contact, good quality divots and distance control. Notice this method may be a little different from what you have been taught in the past. I hope the instruction is easier to understand and simple to apply to your game!
Here is a video I filmed last week at Linville Ridge CC. In this video I discuss ball control concepts for pitching, the 3 variables to control height and trajectory and a quick discussion on solid contact. The instruction is easy to understand and simple to apply to your game! #sdg #livetheridge
At first I was skeptical of this company because their prices are a little steep for putters. And I'm not one to buy a game! (My hybrids are 10 years old and I have no plans to change them anytime soon)! Until last December when I went through a fitting. I have always had trouble lining up my putter. I tend to aim right and cut across every putt. Sometimes it would go in the hole but the majority of the time I would hit a bad putt and miss the hole. And we all know this leads to a lose of confidence. My putting got so bad I just knew standing over a putt I was going to miss. I didn't stand a chance of shooting in the 70's!!!
Last year I was desperate so I went through the fitting with Scott. He was great. No pressure to buy and he fit me into a putter that my eye liked. It was amazing! I could aim the putter at the hole every time just by changing the putter head, hosel and length. It was like magic and I was sold. Maybe I can buy a game?!?!? $650 later I had a putter I could actually aim in the direction I wanted to putt the ball. (Luckily I've managed to recoup some of that money in bets this year. Hehehe).
Fast forward 12 months to this season. In the last few months I have had multiple rounds where I could make 3 to 5 birdies a round. But more exciting I would make putts to save par under pressure. It's a great feeling! It took almost 9 months for me to get that old habit out of my stroke. Today I have so much confidence and can trust my alignment. It took some time to make the adjustment but I'm convinced I will never buy another putter. This putter will go to the grave with me!!!
If you struggle with alignment and you know it's causing you to create a bad putting stroke I would strongly recommend going through the fitting process. Or maybe you just want a fun new weapon in your bag this year. Scott will fit you into a putter that works with your eyes and setup. It's custom designed for you. He will also have his custom fit wedge system available to try. We only have spots for 8 people on January 23rd so let me know asap if you are interested or need more information. Or share this email with a friend who may need some putting help this year.
Your experience with greenside bunker instruction may differ from this version. The information below is intended to be less complicated and should eliminate any confusion when hitting greenside bunker shots. Keep in mind the objective of a bunker shot and learn one skill at a time.
After you finish reading the article, click on this picture for a YouTube video of the bunker swing. There are seven swings on this video all in different speeds so you can watch the swing in slow motion and regular motion. I also included a visual of a good quality divot.
Objective of a greenside bunker shot:
Use the clubhead to create a good quality divot of sand that will carry the ball onto the green to an intended target with the correct amount of distance and spin.
Use the clubhead…
The sand wedge was designed in the early 1930’s to help golfers “scoop” their ball out of the sand or deep rough. Today there are a variety of wedges with different degrees of loft and bounce. You will want to play with a set of wedges that works best with your playing ability and course conditions. Contact me for wedge fitting help.
Loft is measured in degrees and is the angle the club is tilted back relative to the ground. The golf ball will respond to the amount of loft at impact. Higher loft produces a higher shot; lower loft produces a lower shot.
Bounce is also measured in degrees and is the angle the leading edge sits off the ground. Bounce prevents the leading edge from digging into the ground and allows the sand wedge to slid through the sand. Bounce is great for creating good quality divots.
In the setup position open the clubface a few degrees so the bounce of the club will be used instead of the leading edge. The golf ball will not fly in the direction the club is facing because you will be contacting the sand, not the ball. Once the face is slightly open, take your grip. The handle of the club will be in a neutral position with the end of the club pointing towards your belt buckle. The hands and club position at the moment of impact will also look different than the moment of impact for an iron swing. Because you are using the bounce of the clubhead and not the leading edge, the moment of impact will also have a neutral position.
To create a good quality divot...
Once you understand the design of the golf club and how to use the golf club to create a divot, it’s time to work on the quality of your divot. Start by drawing a line through the center of your feet. Setup with the club on the line. Take a normal golf swing that would produce about a 50-yard shot. A good quality divot will be long, shallow and through the line. It does not need to be the same exact size every time. Pay attention to the feeling of the swing that produces this good quality divot. This is the swing you will use to produce a great bunker shot. Do not worry about hitting a specific spot in the sand. Focus on making an aggressive 50-yard swing and allow the swing to create a divot.
Here are a few thoughts on the quality of your divot.
If the divot...
happens before the line you may be trying to scoop the ball.
happens after the line you may be trying to push the ball.
is too deep, open the clubface to use more of the bounce.
is too thin, you may have incorrect fundamentals in the golf swing causing you to loose your width or pulling the arms in.
Carry the ball onto the green…
After you understand and feel comfortable creating good quality divots and you can feel the swing, it’s time to add the golf ball. As you learned, the divot starts slightly before the line and ends slightly after the line. The ball position should be just in front of the line or where it would sit in the middle of the divot. (See picture above.) Depending on the characteristics of your divot, the ball position may need to be adjusted.
To an intended target…
Your intended target is where you want the golf ball to land and come to rest. First start with your clubface aiming in the direction of your target. Then set your body to the club. At this point you can open the face a few degrees and take your grip. The swing path of the clubhead will be similar to a short iron full swing.
The correct amount of distance…
In the bunker, energy or momentum of the clubhead is what will produce a good bunker shot. Now that you understand the setup, the quality of your divot and the swing, it’s time to control distance. Controlling distance in the bunker is a lot like controlling distance with your wedges. The amount of backswing will change the distance of the shot. Remember to develop a signature tempo and use the same tempo for every shot. Instead of hitting harder or softer, change the amount of golf swing and keep the tempo consistent. You can always learn how to use other clubs like the gap wedge or pitching wedge to control distance with longer shots. *Notice the rhythm and tempo in the video.*
Practicing in the bunker can get become frustrating if you're not careful. Remember the objective is to create good quality divots that are long, shallow and through the line. So why not practice without a golf ball! Spend 5 to 10 minutes working on the quality of your divot by taking 3 practice swings paying attention to the divot and feeling of the swing. Then hit one shot with a golf ball. Repeat this pattern for a few minutes. Then try using three other clubs, your choice. Pay attention to the difference in ball flight and amount of roll. And to finish up the session, take the sand wedge and alternate hitting shots to the front of the green and then back of the green.
If not, don’t feel bad. It’s really not your fault. Chances are you are trying to improve your game under a system that simply does not work. If you are looking for more out of your game, please read this article. My goal is to change the way you think about your golf program going forward. In this article, I want to share with you important information you need to know about improving your game and how to get started on a better training program today. Grab a large glass of your favorite beverage and get comfortable on the couch. This article is a little long but I promise it’s worth your time. And as always, if you have questions about your game and need some guidance, contact me. I look forward to helping you get started in the right direction.
Even with all the fancy technology today it seems to me golfers are still frustrated with their lack of improvement and inabilities to be consistent. Research shows golf is on the decline, especially among young kids, and adults are participating less and less. Of course, there are many factors to consider with this research, but why is golf losing momentum? And why do you feel your game never gets better? Perhaps we need to take a deeper look into how skills are being developed, trained and acquired. Because we all know it’s not fun to play bad golf.
Golf is a sport consisting of many different acquired motor skills that need to transfer to a playing field made up of a variety of conditions. Baseball, hockey, tennis, football and golf all have one thing in common. In order to play or compete, a person needs to develop skills and athletic moves that can move an object to an intended target. And if we can all agree on this statement, then golf should be taught the same way you would learn to play hockey. For example, if your child wanted to play hockey would you give them a few lessons and then throw them in the game? Absolutely not! They would get killed. You would sign them up for a hockey league that holds regular practice sessions where they can spend a few years learning and developing skills to play in a game or competition. For most golfers who are learning or have goals to improve, you’re current training program or lack there of is probably killing your game.
What does a productive training program look like?
The priority for any golfer looking to improve is to reach the stage of unconscious competence. If you are unfamiliar with the four stages of mastery, this is the final stage where an individual can perform a task without thinking. Imagine a firefighter learning a new skill and never reaching this final stage of mastery. Going into a burning building would be a scary task. This may even be the feeling some of you have when you show up to the golf course! Nerves that keep you up all night or a heart rate that beats twice as fast when you’re chipping all stem from one major problem. You have not trained your skills properly and your brain knows you’re not prepared. Here’s a new plan for your game. Design a program that trains your brain to process information and then execute the desired shot without any thoughts. How nice would that feel when you’re standing over a 6-foot putt you NEED to make.
Stages of Skill Development
Stage 1 is the understanding clear concepts phase. This is when a golfer participates in lessons, reads a book or watches a video. Information from an instructor will help the golfer build a clear concept of what needs to be accomplished. This is also the stage where you learn about ball control and how to move the ball to an intended target. To become more consistent you need to understand how to make good contract with the golf ball, how the clubhead affects the ball flight and what athletic moves feel like in the golf swing. Remember in this phase you are training your brain. So your attention needs to be on club delivery and ball flight reactions. You DO NOT want to be concerned with what your right elbow is doing for example. If your brain is concerned with keeping your head down then your brain thinks golf is all about keeping your head down. And it’s not! Have you ever seen Annika Sorenstam hit a golf ball? Her eyes were moving in the direction of the target before she hit the ball. In this phase be very careful what information you are going to accept and disregard. Instead of picking up new swing thoughts, focus on skill building and ball control.
For many golfers this is where progress stops for a number of reasons. First of all, we live in a world of information overload. Between the Golf Channel, Golf Digest and the latest swing thought from your playing partners, your brain is confused on what to do and how to do it. After every swing we tend to fix what went wrong instead of sticking to the skills required to perform the shot. And instead of mastering skills we search for the next miracle swing thought. Also, research shows the day after we listen to a seminar or perhaps your golf instructor, the next day you will forget 50% of what you learned and the following week you will only remember 5%. To retain information and build a skill, take good notes that can be reviewed constantly and participate in hours of practice. Once you develop clear concepts and understand ball flight, it’s time to take the skills and train them through the phases of mastery.
Stage 2 is the practice or learning phase. This is where you take the knowledge and information and train the skill to perform under a variety of conditions. According to the book, Make it Stick, “learning is acquiring knowledge and skills and having them readily available from memory so you can make sense of future problems and opportunities.” Here is where it gets tricky for the average golfer. Understanding the purpose of a practice session, how to practice and how many hours should I practice? And to remember that during a practice session you are “learning” not perfecting.
"I Can Do This"
Practice sessions should be designed to give your brain memories of “I can do this.” A productive practice session includes activities that have a task or a goal to accomplish and when the task is completed move on to another activity. Your brain learns best with short bursts of different activities. For instance, take 10 balls and hit 1 shot around the chipping green. If you want to be a 10-handicap golfer, set a goal of making 8 out of 10 balls in a 6-foot circle (3 feet on each side.) After hitting 10 balls move onto a different shot. Do this rotation 10 times hitting 10 different shots. Do not try and perfect one particular shot. Keep your score to see how you improve over a 6-week program. After 6 weeks your brain will remember all the times you hit 8 out of 10 balls in the circle and your confidence will be extremely high when you are under pressure on the golf course.
During a practice session you also want to train your decision-making skills. Use the time to figure out club selection, shot variety and risk-reward situations. Remember you will never have the same shot on the golf course so you need to be prepared to hit any shot if you want to play your best golf. Visualization is an important part of decision-making skills. When your brain knows the desired ball flight it will tell the muscles in your body what to do. In your practice sessions you are training your brain to make decisions based on a variety of course conditions. Keep in mind when you are on the golf course and say, “don’t snap hook this.” Your brain only hears "snap hook this." And your muscles will make a move to snap hook the ball. Visualizing the desired ball flight, especially around the greens, is crucial to get the brain and body working together in a positive way. During the practice session pay attention to the height of the ball and the carry distance to create memories for later use.
And finally practice sessions should include self-management skills. For example, learning to cope with failure. The reality is golf is a game of constant failures. 90% of the time you will not execute the exact shot you intended to hit and you need to learn how to deal with this degree of failure. And for many of us, failure and imperfection is not something we have been trained to accept. Ask any good golfer how many shots a round they hit that are executed exactly how they imagined and you may get a number around 10. Managing yourself means remembering you are human and will never be perfect. A post shot routine that includes judgment, should of, whining and a negative attitude will only disturb the learning process and in time stall out your progress of achieving your desire level of performance.
Take it to The Course
Reaching the final stages of mastery and skill acquisition does not happen without hours of hard work. Most golfers don’t get here because they don’t wait for this stage. If you are serious about improving and taking your game to the course, pick one concept and build it through hours of repetition. Make the concept part of your daily routine. Eventually you will reach the stage of unconscious competence and your skills will become second nature. And you will finally get to enjoy a round of golf without frustration, confusion and too many swing thoughts!
I hope you take away from this article a new perspective on learning golf and improving your skills. Instead of showing up to a lesson looking to be “fixed,” participate in a program that will encourage skill development. Get with your coach and together the two of you can design a long-term plan for your game that includes instruction and practice sessions. And remember, your desired results will not happen over night. The process takes time and patience. If you have a major tournament coming up, don’t start the week before. Build your skills over at least a 6-month period so your brain is fully prepared for any situation that may arise.
A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to guest teach at Linville Ridge C.C. in North Carolina. I want to thank the Lutgerts for their generous hospitality and to all the members who participated in clinics and coaching sessions. During my visit I held an indoor session on how to 'Master the Mental Skills'. In honor of the participants and my new followers in North Carolina, today's article covers one of the topics we discussed in the class, 'identifying your interference'.
Performance = Skills - Interference +/- Luck
This formula is the most simple way to describe how our performance is affected and what leads to low performance and lack of improvement. To perform at your highest level, you must be able to identify and manage your skill set AND your level of interference. Let's start by breaking down the formula.
Skills include all the different areas of your game you learn, practice and perform on the golf course. Full swing, pitching, bunker shots, putting, uneven lies, chipping, etc. You also have mental skills which include focus of energy, intensity management, attention control and thought control. Your current skill level can and will affect your performance if you don't learn clear fundamental concepts in your golf game. This is where a really great coach comes into play.
Interference is defined as any internal or external factors that "interfere" with your ability to transfer your skills from your brain to your muscles.
Luck. It's part of golf whether you want to accept it or not. You're going to get bad breaks and good bounces. You will shoot low and high scores. You will hit horrible shots and amazing shots. Learn to accept the uncertainty and inconsistency in golf and you will be a much happier golfer. I promise!
So why do skills NOT transfer to the golf course?
Why are you a 5 handicap on the driving range and a 15 on the golf course? Why do your skills change under pressure? Why do you play great for a few holes and then lose it completely? Simple. Interference. So to improve your level of performance you have two tasks; increase your skill level and eliminate the interference.
So let's first identify your interference. Take out a piece of paper and write down everything that mentally interferes with your current skill level. Your list may include things like slow play, a specific hole, playing partners, your laundry list of swing thoughts, negative self talk, hazards, nerves, letting others down, lack of focus. You know yourself best and hopefully it's easy to identify what mentally interferes with your skill set.
Now here's the thing about interference. Many of the items on your list may not be able to go away. Picture this scenario. You're standing on hole #4. It's a small green surrounded by difficult bunkers and out of bounds left. You're hitting a long club over a deep valley of weeds and heavy grass. And to make the situation worse your playing in a match with your buddies. One bad swing and your brand new Titleist is bye bye and your partner is now playing alone. SO MUCH INTERFERENCE!!!! You can't escape the pressure of the situation. But you can control your mind and body on this ONE swing.
Managing the Interference
So how can we manage the interference? First, you must develop one or two swing feelings (triggers) you can rely on in your swing. For me I have two swing feelings. "Get back and wait for the target." This sentence probably doesn't mean anything to you, but it works for me. That little sentence reminds me what I want to feel during the swing and to stay engaged to the target. Before addressing the ball you must commit 100% to the shot, club selection and swing feelings. Remember you should only have 1 or 2 swing feelings max. This will help eliminate any extra internal interference.
Next, the majority of your attention should be on the target and the ball flight you want to execute. Your attention should be more external then internal and more narrow then broad. Meaning you want to put most of your awareness on a specific target and allow your body to execute the swing. Having narrow focus means ignoring the hazards, your playing partners, the what ifs and all the internal chatter. When you step up to the ball it's time to feel the swing and execute the shot. Of course this is not a guarantee you will hit the shot exactly how you want, but at least you gave it full commitment without letting the interference affect your swing. This should be your goal with every swing.
True Statement (according to me!): You Have TWO Golf Swings
Yes it's unfortunate but true. Every golfer has two swings that show up on the golf course. The perfect swing and the interference swing. The perfect swing is the one that works when everything is going well. It's the swing that you say "why can't I do that every time?" The swing you probably have on the range or on days when you can't miss. Your interference swing is the swing we tend to make when external and internal factors interfere with our ability to transfer skills from the brain to the muscles. So is there a way to eliminate the interference swing?
As a golf instructor, students will usually come see me when they want to "change" their interference swing. Meaning they will hit a few bad shots on the course and immediately try and "fix" what went wrong in the swing. After an entire round of golf you may end up with 10 new swing thoughts! Confusion kicks in and your performance crashes. At the risk of putting myself out of business here's a better plan. Instead of thinking something is wrong with your swing, learn to distinguish the different between your perfect swing and the interference swing. Identify the interference, improve your physical and mental skills and you will see your interference swing show up less and less on the golf course.
Contact me with questions or for help on finding the difference between your perfect swing and the interference swing.
Michelle Wie has been hot on the LPGA Tour this summer. Placing in the Top 10 multiple times and winning the Women's US Open, Wie has proven she is a competitor in the golf world. Her new putting style is unique, effective and has golfers everywhere talking. Here are a few thoughts on how you can become a better putter by following the 4 fundamentals of putting. This posture may look uncomfortable on her back but Wie told Golf Channel's Morning Drive her new posture feels great because she is now using all legs. And she can see the line better than every before.
Now, I'm not suggesting you go out and try Michelle's new posture. Although I can speak from personal experience this setup position feels amazing. What I am suggesting is you can learn from Wie's posture and how you can apply the 4 S's to your personal putting style. Still, Solid, Square, Speed. Keep in mind a good setup position can help accomplish these 4 fundamentals.
Still - Your eyes, head, neck, chest and lower body should remain extremely quiet and still through impact and after impact. When your body is still you have a better change of producing solid impact and maintaining a square putter face. If your body moves a quarter inch your putter face may be affected. The arms and shoulders should be the only body parts moving during the putting stroke. Remember wherever your eyes go the body may follow.
** Practice keeping your eyes and chest facing the ground after impact. **
Solid - There is nothing better in golf than the feeling of solid impact on the putter face. Learning to make solid contact requires a pendulum motion with the putter head. It's a tick, tock motion with a slight acceleration through impact. Be careful not to push the ball. Roll the ball.
** You can accomplish this feeling by closing your eyes and feel the weight of the putter head. **
Square - The putter face should be square to the intended target line at impact. I know this sounds simple but I see golfers, including myself, leaving the club face open or closed at impact. Trying to guide the ball into the hole can cause the putter face to move. Trust the alignment and roll the ball with solid contact.
** Looking to make more 6 foot putts under pressure? Pick a blade of grass located on the front of the cup. This is the spot you want to roll the ball over. Put your attention on that blade of grass and roll the ball over that spot. Instead of focusing on the consequences of missing the putt, focus on the part of the hole you want to roll the ball over. **
Speed - Depending on your handicap level, the majority of your putts are going to be distance putts. This means distance can be more important than alignment and accuracy. The key to becoming a great putter is learning how to control the speed of a putt. Every putting stroke should be a true pendulum with a consistent rhythm. The putter head swings back and through about the same distance. The way to adjust your speed is to change the size of your pendulum. A 5 inch backswing will produce a shorter putt than an 8 inch backswing. Keep the tempo the same for every putt. You don't need to "hit" harder or softer.
Here is a video I put together with examples from Michelle Wie and one of my students. Pay careful attention to how still her body will remain through impact. By staying still in her posture she can make solid contact, keep the putter blade square to the target and control her speed with consistent tempo.
Not sure where to start? Check your fundamentals by starting at the top of the list. Stand in front of a mirror and find a posture that will allow your body to remain very still through impact. If you are standing too upright your body may have to move during the stroke. Please feel free to contact me with any questions about your game.
This is a picture of a women executing a yoga pose called "standing bow pulling." Standing bow pulling pose is one of the most challenging poses, I think, in the hatha yoga practice. And since day 1 this pose has been my inspiration (outcome). This position requires strength, flexibility, determination, patience, integrity, stillness and breath. Basically every skill needed for an individual to "practice" yoga. If you read last week's article you are more aware that learning a skill takes hours and hours of repetition and deliberate practice. I can't remember what it was like learning golf so I thought I would share my experience learning yoga. 5 years ago a friend took me to a Bikram yoga class, a 90 minute class in 105 degree heat. Before my first class she said, "whatever you do, DO NOT leave the room" (skill #1). You can imagine my fear level went though the roof. What the heck did I get myself into. From that first day I was addicted and so my obsession to master the standing bow began. So why am I sharing this with you? Well to me golf is like yoga. It's a practice. It's an obsession we all share. It's an addiction. It's a game you show up to play and practice forever. You will never reach an end because you can always get better and shoot lower scores. Your standing bow will always be evolving.
When I first started yoga I was overwhelmed. The heat, the length of the class, the poses and the reality this would have to be a life long commitment freaked me out. I was so focused on the outcome I couldn't concentrate on the moment and the opportunity to build my foundation. (Beginners pay attention!) Luckily I started with an amazing teacher who has guided me the entire way. She broke it down into the practice of building a solid foundation comprised of specific skills I needed to slowly work towards my goal. My ever evolving standing bow pulling pose is close but not there. And it may take me another 10 years. But it's the process of practicing the skills that I have learned is where I need to stay focused. I started out learning how to breath and it's evolved into learning how to control my thoughts and emotions. At this point it's all mental. How often do you hear that in golf?
Have patience with your progress and enjoy the journey!
Golf is a game of skill building and applying motor learning science to your game. Just taking a quick fix "lesson" does not mean you will actually see long term progress. Every golfer needs a program that includes a process to master all three of the essential skills. You basically need to understand ball control, make good decisions and manage yourself on the golf course. That's it! Sounds simple right? It actually can be this simple if you apply motor learning science to your progress.
First, Motor Learning is an area of study focusing on the acquisition of skilled movements as a result of PRACTICE. Let's break this down and apply the information to your game.
To acquire a skill you first need to have a clear concept of the activity you want to perform. This is called cognitive learning or the cognitive phase. It's the same learning we did in school. It's your ability to store, recall and utilize knowledge and information. So after you take a lesson you have information that you will need to recall later. Motor learning ,on the other hand, refers to a learner's ability to store and produce motor skills. You will see in the example below that motor learning takes hours of practice and thousands of repetitions to perform this skill under pressure during competition.
The next step in skill acquisition is the associative phase. This is when a golfer will perform drills, use video and training aids, develop feelings to perform the desired skill. In this phase deliberate practice sessions are crucial. Taking the lesson and learning the information does not mean you will perform a desired movement on the golf course. You must participate in supervised practice sessions with effective feedback, self discovery and transfer training.
The final phase of skill acquisition is the autonomous phase or the transfer of the skill to the golf course. Outside interference, mental distractions or behavioral changes will affect the execution of your skill. So you wonder why you can't take your short game to the golf course? It's simply because you didn't practice under pressure with the same conditions you face on the golf course. 1 ball, 1 shot with a consequence to every swing.
Let's put this in perspective. You take a lesson on how to hit a 30 yard pitch shot. The instructor gives you good pointers and you leave happy with your results. Three days pass and you go out to the golf course to play a round with your buddies. The first time you approach a 30 yard shot you get excited and a little nervous. "Let's see if the lesson worked." You're standing over the ball with thoughts running though your head. "What did he say again?" "Was it weight on the left?" "Hands forward?" "Keep your head down." "Don't use your hands." At this point there is no way you will execute the desired shot. Your grip pressure is tight and tension has overtaken your body. The club hits the ground two inches behind the ball and your immediate reaction is "well that was a waste of a lesson." (You are probably chuckling to yourself right now because you know this familiar situation all too well).
A better approach - participate in a skill development session where you define a clear concept, have time to practice with drills and leave with a plan for future progress.
After reading this article I hope you have a better understanding of skill acquisition and why playing better golf requires skill building, not fixing. And please keep in mind it takes 50 plus hours to learn a skill like golf. My advice to you, get rid of all the interference in your game. Throw away your golf magazines, quit listening to everyone for advice and develop a clear concept for YOUR swing. Find someone you can trust to coach you through your progress. Even if it takes days, months or years.
Jack Nicholas said, "Stick with something long enough to master it." We can't ignore advice from one of the greatest golfers who ever lived. And I can't ignore what I have learned which is why I am expanding my coaching model with two new programs this year.
This is a picture of my friend Joe. He is 75 years old and in the last year Joe has managed to pick up more distance by drastically improving his posture. I took this picture when we were out playing and he was driving the ball 10 to 15 yards farther than he has in the last few years. Having good posture is a must for hitting better golf shots. Why?
First, when you tilt forward from the hip joints it fires up the leg muscles you need to generate energy, power and stability.
Second, keeping your spine long and in a straight line allows for better rotation of the upper body. A must for creating torque between the upper and lower body.
And finally, tilting from the hip joints (not the waist) will allow for proper hip rotation and allows the body to remain centered and balanced instead of swaying or shifting off the golf ball.
Remember to work on the fundamentals and build a solid foundation to your golf swing. Take the time to develop a posture that will increase power and consistency. Contact me with questions or help with your game.
This summer has been a HUGE learning and growth opportunity for me. Let’s just say I got a little side tracked in my journey. Fortunately, it only happened for a short moment in my long road to becoming the best coach and instructor I can be.
I have learned two very important lessons this summer. First, failure has become my new best friend. Actually embracing the idea that I cannot learn, succeed and reach my goals without failure. I know this may sound simple, but in my world and the people I see everyday do not like to embrace failure. Somewhere along the way we (humans who play golf) accepted an idea that we are not allowed to hit bad shots, or miss putts or choke under pressure. But without these failures, we cannot learn how to be better tomorrow.
Starting today, embrace your failures as a way to improve. Be willing to experience a bad shot or a missed putt. Be open to the possibility you may hit it sideways off the tee box. When you allow failure to be part of your game you are also allowing change to happen.
Lesson number two. “Perfection is a poison, disguised as a vitamin.”
If you have a pulse and you play golf, you know what this means. We place perfection on a pedestal like it's something we all try to achieve. Unfortunately the harder you reach for it, the further you get from achieving your goals. STOP trying to be perfect today. You are wasting precious time reaching for something you will never accomplish. Today dump your desire to be perfect, embrace your failures, learn from them and know that tomorrow is only going to be better because of your struggles today.
What failures do you need to embrace today and start improving on tomorrow?
For me it has been a dream I have been working on for the last year. As you know, I’m very motivated to help my students enjoy their golf journey. So I came up with this idea to create a website where students can learn through video coaching lessons made by me and also have a place to store lesson videos and notes for future reference. This style of learning is more productive for students who are visual learners and who may need a consistent style of instruction. I know what you're thinking. “Great idea! You should do that.” I know right! Well, little did I know how extremely difficult this process was going to be. First, after months of failing and growing frustration, I had to finally accept that I needed more practice. Failing was going to be phase 1 before I could produce videos I felt are acceptable for production. Next, I had to boot the idea of perfection out the window. Seriously the hardest thing I have ever done. And trust me, I’m still not there. But slowly the "imperfect" coaching videos are getting done. Which is better than giving up.
This weekend look at your golf game as an opportunity to learn from your failures. After your round of golf, right down three bad shots you hit or an area of your game you were not satisfied with. What can you learn from the failure? For example, I have control issues and when I get under pressure I try to control the putter head instead of letting it swing freely. And I realized it all comes from grip pressure. After months of failing I was able to embrace the bad putting stroke and start working on something productive.
The students who made a major breakthrough this season had two things in common. First their focus was to break into the next level. Second, we designed a plan on how to reach their goal. The majority of the students did not undergo a massive swing change. We started out reviewing the fundamentals of the golf swing, making sure they understood their swing path, clubface and how to generate effortless power. The majority of time was spent on the short game and on course management. Here are some guidelines to use when designing your plan for success.
Situation: Break 80 and shoot in the 70's.
Start with your short game. How many up and downs do you make during a round? Next, work to make 30 putts or less per round. Finally, become more accurate with approach shots. Work on alignment, posture and clubface awareness. Be sure to spent time developing a solid pre-shot routine for every shot.
Situation: Break 90 and shoot in the 80's.
To shoot in the 80's you need to make a lot of bogeys, a few pars and eliminate double bogeys or more. This requires a drive that hits most fairways, a stategically placed second shot and a decent short game. You do not need excessive distance to play bogey golf. Start by developing a swing you can trust under pressure. Next work very hard on your short game. There is little room to make mistakes around the greens. The goal is to get the ball on the green and always 2 putt, no 3 putts. Finally, work on your distance control with the first putt. Get it close!
Situation: Break 100 and shoot in the 90's. Break 110 and shoot low 100's.
First things first, you need to quit getting advice from everyone! The confusion and multiple swing thoughts are ruining your golf game. If you are getting unsolicited advice, do your best to ignore these people. Instead, develop basic fundamentals like how to make solid contact. Learn what your hands, arms and body should be doing in the golf swing. Discover the feeling of effortless clubhead speed. Second rule, eliminate 3 putts and 2 chips as soon as possible. Mental note: you are not trying to make every chip shot and every first putt. Your goal is to get your short game shot on the green and get the first putt close to the hole. Finally, eliminate the penalty shots because of poor course management. Learn to play for the safe area to avoid extra shots.
Every level requires a clear focus and commitment to a plan. It may take 6 months to finally stop three putting or 15 rounds of golf to finally get the driver shot in the fairway. Be patient, you will get there. Have a narrow focus, stick with your plan and commit time to practicing your short game. I promise the hard work will always pay off.
We all know Brandt Snedeker is one of the nice guys on the PGA Tour, but he surpassed his own reputation this past weekend at the Annual Champions Dinner held at the Golf Club of Tennessee. Brandt was one of the guest speakers along with Steven Fox, US Amateur Champion, and Brooke Pancake, 2012 Curtis Cup Team Member. Brandt, a member at The Golf Club of TN, spent the evening entertaining us with his humor and adorable personality. He shared his experiences from the 2012 season and the lessons he has learned that propelled him to win the 2012 TOUR Championship and FedEx Cup. Even after winning $11.4 million in one tournament, Brandt continues to be a model of humility.
I asked the participants for the one technique they use to manage their emotions during competition and how that relates to amateur golfers.
Brandt: " You have to believe in yourself." If you don't believe you can win, no one else will either. And whatever emotions you are feeling, the other guy is feeling the same way." He said this year he finally realized the one thing that was stopping him from becoming the best on tour was him.
Steven: " You have to remain positive." Even when things aren't going his way he tries to brush it off and stay focused on positive outcomes.
Brooke: "Find a way to manage your emotions that work for you." Everyone has a different personality and you need to find what technique works best for you.
Three champions, three great pieces of advice. Now, where do you stand with your mental management and emotion control on the golf course? Are you the only one standing in the way of becoming better? And do you truly believe in yourself? What will it take for you to reach your next level of improvement?
I think we all agree golf is a difficult sport to play and at times can be very frustrating. The number one complaint I hear from amateur golfers is "I just want to be more consistent." And trust me I feel your pain. For argument sake let's say we are talking about becoming more consistent with the pattern of your ball flight. For some golfers it's getting rid of the snap hook or the weak push. Others just want to make better contact and get the ball in the air. I think it's fair to say most of us want to consistently hit solid golf shots, find more fairways and approach greens with laser precision.
So here's the secret. There is one important moment in the golf swing that matters more than anything else and it is the Moment of Impact. Yes it's that important. The club head is the only part of the golf club or your body that actually makes contact with the golf ball. So it only makes sense to know how the ball flight is affected by the club face and club path.
Thanks to the latest technology, Trackman, we now have more information on the moment of impact and how the club face and path affect ball flight. Here's the scary part. Golfers have been taught for years that the path of the club head at impact is more important than the direction the face is pointing. For instance, if you want to draw the ball you would need to "roll" or "release" the face through impact to curve the ball. Unfortunately the data from Trackman reveals the moment of truth (impact) shows us a different story. Here are a few interesting facts you need to know. Please keep in mind for purposes of this article I am assuming contact happens right in the center of the club face. Off center hits bring in a new variable we will discuss at a different time.
Impact occurs in 4/10,000th of a second. The blink of an eye is 4/10th of a second. Impact happens faster than the blink of an eye! And yet we continue to look for perfection. Now we know why golf makes us crazy.
The golf ball spins in ONE direction on a tilted axis. At the moment of impact the golf club grooves grab the golf ball and cause the ball to spin backwards. This is what launches the ball in the air. The curve of the ball comes from the relationship between the club face and path at impact.
Watch the video below demonstrating contact in slow motion. Notice how the higher lofted club at the beginning of the video spins the ball more than the driver.
The club face is responsible for the initial start line 75% of the time with an iron and 90% of the time with a driver. When evaluating your ball flight always look at the initial direction the ball starts when it leaves the club face. The initial direction will come from the direction the club face is pointing at impact in relation to the target line.
The golf ball will curve in the opposite direction of the club path. If your path is moving right (inside) of the target line the ball will curve left. If you path is moving left of the target line (over the top) the ball will curve right. The amount of curve is the degree of difference between the face and path at impact. For example, if you ball keeps curving to the right you do not want to keep swinging left to try and make the ball go left. You need to actually swing more right to get the ball to curve left.
To hit a straight shot the club face and club path need to be perfectly aligned at the moment of impact. What! How often will that happen? It's a good thing we all agree we cannot be perfect! So if you are looking for more consistency, pay attention to your ball flight. Watch your ball flight and image what the face and path were doing at impact. Please feel free to contact me with questions!