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Fall Tip #2 / October 12, 2011
Hip Action: What It’s All About
PGA and LPGA Tour players know the importance of proper
hip action. One of the reasons they go to the gym so
often is to make sure that the muscles in their legs and
hips are supple and strong. Imagine for a moment that
you stop to help a person push their car that’s broken
down to a gas station. You get to the back of the car
with a few other strangers, and start to push. Where
does the power come from? You put your hands on the
vehicle, get into somewhat of a squat, and then push
like heck from the ground up utilizing your hip, butt,
and leg muscles. Without this power, (and a few good
Samaritans) the car is not getting to the station. Let’s
look at how the hips work and a few drills to help you
feel the correct action.
The Right Hip Doesn’t Slide –
We’re at a cocktail party and I’m standing behind you
some ten feet away. I call your name and you look back
over your right shoulder to see me. What does your right
hip do? It turns, it doesn’t slide! As an exercise, grab
a chair and put it close to your right hip, an inch or
two away. Put your trusty 7 iron in your hands and swing
to the top of your backswing making sure your shoulders
are turning as far as you can; your hip should not bump
into the chair. (Photo #1) NOTE:
Your shoulders should
turn 90 degrees while your hips turn 45 degrees.
Turning the Right Hip LOADS the Swing –
Many tour teachers talk about ‘loading the swing’. A
fancy way of saying that you’ve turned and not slid to
your right in your backswing. As you swing the club back
with your hands and arms, the shoulders start to turn as
well. You should
use your lower body as a brace against this turning
action. What this does is stretch the
muscles in your right leg from your knee to your hip,
stretch your right butt muscle, and all of your lower
back muscles. This stretching of these muscles creates a
very powerful ‘spring’ in which to move back through the
ball. CAUTION: Your right knee HAS to remain flexed to a
point where you don’t loose this tension. If the knee
straightens up or moves to the right, you loose this
‘tight coil’ in your back and legs. (Photo #2)
The Left Hip Provides a Critical Role –
Now let’s say that we’ve done the above properly. This
is where the average golfer gets into trouble. I’ve been
doing this hip action since I was a kid, so it’s ‘super
memorized’. NOT so easy for someone starting golf later
in life. That being said, understand that your left hip
has to move TOWARDS THE TARGET as it turns out of the
way. If your left hip JUST TURNS, you can’t get your
weight shifting to the left foot. Your weight has to
shift from your back foot to your front foot BEFORE YOU
STRIKE THE BALL! This is what compression of the golf
ball is all about. If your weight is still on your back
foot at impact, or worse yet, moving to your back foot,
you will be unable to take a divot past the ball. So,
again with a chair, place it about 2 inches from your
left foot. Swing to the top of your backswing, pause,
and then move
your hip laterally so that it bumps into the chair, AS
IT’S TURNING. Your hips don’t just turn,
nor do they just slide, they move towards the target as
they’re turning. (Photo #3) Notice where your 7 iron
brushes the ground when you move your left hip in this
manner: It brushes much more towards your target.
That’s because as the left hip moves towards the target,
it naturally shifts the weight to your left foot, thus
creating a brush of contact near or at the ball.
Use these two ‘chair drills’ to feel what correct hip
is all about and your shots will have more power to
Winter Golf Tip #2/ December 28, 2010
Your Golfing Gene
the interesting aspects of teaching a beginning golfer is to
see their ‘golfing gene’ reveal itself for the very first
time. When a person who has never swung a golf club comes
out for their first lesson, the usual prescription is the
‘GAP’ lesson: Grip, Aim, and Posture. Once these are
explained and established to a basic degree, I move them
through the basic swinging motion from start to finish.
Then, I let them swing on their own to feel the motion.
This is where their ‘golfing gene’ comes to life.
does the club go straight back and straight through
perfectly, actually, almost never. (i.e. – Think of Jim
Furyk’s ‘loopy’ swing.) Each person has their own
‘signature’ to their golf swing that’s theirs’; they own
it. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just is. If it
really complicates the swinging motion and thereby
potentially hurts their ability to be consistent, then I
might address it. But otherwise, I leave it alone. I guess
you could call it our ‘golfing DNA’.
other than getting your hands on the club so you can deliver
the clubface to the ball so that it flies at the target, and
creating a routine so that your body-lines facilitate this
direction, and finally creating a posture that allows a
natural turning of the body back and through, each
individual’s swing IS different. (If you go to a men’s or
women’s tour event and watch them hit balls, you’ll see this
with your own eyes.) So trying to make your swing ‘perfect’
is NOT your goal. Your long-term goal should be to learn
and understand YOUR swing, your ball flight tendencies, and
how to adjust your swing when your consistency level ‘goes
to the dogs’.
our ‘golfing gene’ is determined by who we are; just like
blond hair and blue eyes, our gene determines whether our
swing is fast or slow, our backswing is short or long, and
our finish is full or short. What we CAN control: our
pre-swing fundamentals of grip, aim, and posture, should be
put together consistently and precisely so that we can use
our golfing gene to get us around the course.
example, I have a 9-year-old student that is shooting in the
mid-40’s for nine holes from the women’s tees. HIS golfing
gene is his club position at the top of his swing. Instead
of pointing parallel to his target line, his club points
what we call ‘across the line’ or too far right. But every
shot he hits is right down the middle, and then right at the
flagstick. I leave his golfing gene alone as I continue to
make sure his grip, aim, and posture are all in order. IF
in the future his golfing gene hurts is consistency, then I
might address it.
How can this information help you? Keep working on the
fundamentals that you CAN control while seeking professional
assistance on understanding your golfing gene. The more
fundamental and consistent that you make your grip, aim, and
posture, the more likelihood that you can move the ball
around the course within the tree line and score lower.
Wishing you all a Happy New Year!
Fall Tip #1 / October 26, 2010
Lessons From the Ryder Cup
grass starts to turn brown, the leaves reveal their
brilliant color, and our thoughts turn away from golf (Is
that really possible?)
and more towards Halloween and beyond; I thought it would be
beneficial for us to look at what we learned from the Ryder
Grown Men Cry –
What makes the Ryder Cup unlike any other golf tournament is
the raw emotions we get to see. For most of the year, the
professional world plays only stroke play events. Match
play is a different animal in that each hole has an outcome:
you either win the hole or loose the hole. VERY exciting
for us to watch and VERY stressful for those that play. How
the players deal with their emotions throughout the matches
plays a big role in which team ultimately wins. Graeme
McDowell’s pressure-packed putt on the 16th hole
was awesome under “the most nervous I have ever been on the
golf course” circumstances. He just kept ‘plugging along’
Keep the Pivot Moving –
Graeme’s putt on #16 put Hunter Mahan under extreme duress.
Hunter’s swing from the tee was not fluid and fell short of
the par 3 green. He was then faced with a very dicey pitch
up the slope from a tight, wet lie. He chunked it. That
shot didn’t loose the Ryder Cup, and Hunter had a difficult
time later with his emotions, but he needed to keep his
pivot moving through that swing. If
your legs and hips don’t continue to move in your short
shots, there’s not enough club momentum to get through
difficult lies. Remember,
all your short shots from off the green need your pivot
moving through impact to the finish.
Be Prepared for the Weather -
Okay, let’s get past the point that our team’s rain-suits
didn’t work; ugh! When you play golf, you have to be
prepared for the weather. If it’s windy, play your irons a
little further back in your stance to hit the ball lower.
If it’s raining and you HAVE to play, make sure you have
some dry towels and ‘rain gloves’. By
keeping yourself and your grips dry, you can better deal
with poor weather and
by staying ‘mentally tough’, handling different playing
conditions becomes easier.
Your ‘Home’ Course IS an Advantage –
The Europeans had a home course advantage. They’ve played
the course in Wales yearly with slower greens than the
Americans are accustomed to. Time and again, the American
team came up short on their putts while the Europeans had
better control of their speed. If you play a club match
against visiting players, feel confident that you have the
you play away from your home club, make sure you know the
speed of the greens BEFORE you get to the first green.
Having an advantage on the greens is a huge plus.
Finally, if you like to play competitive golf but you feel
anxious before you play, that’s okay. EVERY player that
played during the Ryder Cup felt nerves and anxiety. Keep
putting yourself in those situations so you learn how better
to deal with them.
Have a Happy Halloween!
Fall Tip #2 / November 1, 2010
Find the Golf Lesson That’s Right For YOU
Improvement, it comes at a snail’s pace, doesn’t it? Why is
it so difficult to improve your golf game when you take
lessons, hit balls, and work on your short game? Because
improvement comes only when you take sound instruction and
practice with that information in mind. When you have a
motor skill memorized like swinging a club, that memory is
entrenched. So when a teacher is working on something as
simple as moving your right thumb one half of one inch to
the left, the memory doesn’t want to let go.
The Purpose of a Lesson –
Depending upon the type of lesson that you are taking, the
purpose can be different each time. Let’s look at a few
different types of lessons and see which one is right for
The ‘Quick Fix’: Some
lessons are put to me like this: “Fix me now before my 9:30
tee time.” You think I’m kidding? Many times I’ve had
students say, “If you can’t fix me, I’m going to quit this
stupid game.” And so, in 30 minutes or less, it’s up to me
to come up with a ‘quick fix’ to get them to the first tee.
I will then tailor my information so that it will help them
play better today. I can’t expect a student to take even
two pieces of information to the golf course and have them
it simple stupid’ relates to both the teacher and student.
The ‘Long Haul’:
Best given over the course of the summer, this lesson puts
fundamentals together ‘one piece at a time’, inter-relating
them to a whole. If a student takes eight one-half hour
lessons in two months, you can almost guarantee that they
will improve their scores; but you
have to practice and try to memorize the positive changes.
And don’t forget the ‘short game’; every lesson should have
some time related to improving your chipping, pitching,
I had a student a few years ago who said, “Danny, no
disrespect towards your teaching, but I see my lessons as
part ‘supervised practice’.” I told him that I couldn’t
agree with him more. Think of the tour players and their
coaches, they’re not always changing things in their swing,
often times they are there as a positive influence,
encouraging their student and telling him/her, “Everything
looks great; keep doing what your doing.” By having
consistent ‘supervised practices’, you
can keep your fundamentals of grip, aim, and posture
will lead you to a consistent set-up and a more repetitive
“Short-Game Excellence: One
thing that amazes me when I go to a tour tournament is how
much these professionals work on their short shots. As a
result of this practice, they are fantastic around the
greens. Think of your own game for a moment; if you had
control over ALL your short shots, wouldn’t
you shoot at least 3 strokes lower a round?
Lee Westwood recently achieved the #1 ranking in the world,
and the biggest improvement was in his short game.
The Definition of “Practice Time”: ‘Practice
time’ is not hitting
15 balls 5 minutes before your tee time. Practice time is a
dedicated period EACH and EVERY week, where you work on a
specific aspect of your game. If you put aside just 30
minutes per week, and take instruction so that you have
something fundamental to work on, you will improve. The
work that you put into memorizing your improvements will
make it less complicated when you play. The
PGA and LPGA tour players are not thinking technique on the
course. They are focused on the task at hand, the target,
and sticking to their routine. Only when you practice
weekly can you do the same.
The path to real change and improvement comes through a
combination of instruction, understanding your strengths and
weaknesses, and practice time.
It’s fun and rewarding to improve your golf skills.
Summer Tip #3
The ‘Old School’ Fundamentals
and How They Can Help You
fitness became the rage on the PGA Tour, and before video
analysis was over-utilized, the teaching of a golf swing was
more art than science. And to be honest, that’s not a bad
thing. When Jack Mackie Jr. was turning my fundamentally
flawed golf swing into a REAL swing, he used his eye and his
vast knowledge of teaching to give me a fluid motion. Let’s
review this ‘old’ swing and see if it can help your golf
Aim, and Posture:
These fundamentals have not changed over the years. You
still have to hold onto the club so that the clubface can
naturally rotate through the hitting area; aim parallel to
your target line with your feet, hips, and shoulders; and
have an athletic posture that allows your body to turn
freely. By getting these consistently correct, you at least
give yourself the chance of becoming a consistent ball
Backswing Turn Had More Movement:
The hip and leg action in the ‘old swing’ had more movement
to it. I was taught to swing my left knee behind the ball,
and allow my hips to turn freely. My left heel came well
off the ground (see Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, etc.)
allowing me to get well ‘behind the ball’. This ‘old’
fundamental (allowing your left knee and hips to move freely
back) can help you if you’re looking for more distance or
are tight in your hips and hamstrings (i.e.-every male on
Feet & Hips Led The Downswing:
Jack had me planting the left heel to start the downswing
(“Danny: Plant that left heel like your squeezing water out
of a sponge.”) with the hips following and then the arms
eventually catching up. Still the same here but a
cautionary word: The hips have their role but don’t let
them open up too much going forward; it will allow the
shoulders to open up too much and contribute to your slice.
‘Swing’ And THEN You Hit:
Once that left heel was planted, you allowed your body to
move towards the target for ‘swing’ and the hands would
naturally ‘hit’ the ball. Jack on ‘hitting’ with the hands:
“Danny, the ‘hit’ with the hands should happen naturally; no
need to be ‘active’ with them. In fact, if you TRY to hit,
it will destroy the natural swinging process.” I still see
too much hitting at the ball today; let your pivot action
control your impact area, NOT your hands.
Balanced Finish Means Control:
A balance finish is a thing of beauty. This is not stressed
enough in today’s golf instruction. Having a balanced
finish means that there is no extra tension in your body,
that your arms have swung the club freely, and that you are
swinging in a tempo and rhythm that you can control. Try
this drill: “The Free Arm Swing Drill” – Using a 7 iron and
with your feet close together, hit some balls off of a tee
where you feel in balance at your finish. If you are out of
balance at the end, then your body is either too tense or
you are swinging at a tempo and speed that you cannot
By employing some ‘old school’ fundamentals, you will give
your swing a more natural motion and rhythm.
Two Interrelated Fundamentals to Focus On
we continue to work on improving our golf games, and in
particular, our consistent striking of the ball, there
are two interrelated fundamentals that we should focus
on. Both of these fundamentals, when memorized, will
assist you in hitting the ball more solidly and crisply.
1. Keep Your ‘Swing-Center’ Stable:
How many times have your golfing friends told you to
keep your head still or down? Numerous times I would
guess. But the interesting thing is that you will never see
this piece of instruction in Golf Digest or on the Golf
Channel; it is not instruction that helps golfers
improve their swings. Your head not only moves in a
good golf swing, it should.
this exercise the next time you’re on the range to prove
it to yourself. Take a 7 iron in hand, and keeping your
head PERFECTLY still (I mean no movement whatsoever.)
and make a backswing. You will see clearly that you can
only go half way back before you have to stop. Your
head MUST move in order to make a full backswing to
create power in your swing. Watch any touring
professional on TV and you’ll see what I mean.
However, your ‘Swing-Center’ should stay VERY stable
throughout your swing. Your swing center is located at
your sternum (located in your chest below your chin).
As you move the club back in your backswing, you want to
keep this center (where the circle of your swing moves
around) from moving laterally backward. If your
swing-center moves back towards your right foot, you are
more than likely going to hit behind the ball. That’s
where a lot of ‘fat’ shots come from. So as you turn
back, allow your head to move slightly, but keep your
sternum steady. (NOTE: You can tell if your swing
center moves to the right if ball appears to move to the
left when you swing back. The
ball’s not really moving, YOU are.)
2. Stay in Your Posture:
Let’s go back to our golfing buddies and the “You lifted
your head up” advice; again, not very helpful. It’s not
your head that comes up; it’s
your entire body; what
we say in the teaching world, ‘you’ve come out of your
posture’. Once you’ve established a good golf posture
that is bending
from the hips with a relatively straight back, you
have to maintain this posture from start to finish. If
you come out of this posture just a little, you will hit
the ball ‘thin’ or top it completely. So that’s why we
instruct our students to: “Swing your left shoulder
under your chin going back, and your right shoulder
under your chin going through”. This simple swing
thought (‘shoulder to shoulder’) will help you to
maintain your starting posture so that the club gets to
the bottom of the ball more frequently.
I think you can see how these two fundamentals are so
connected. If your swing-center stays centered, AND you
stay in your posture, you can hit the bottom of the ball
more often and get rid of those annoying ‘fat’ and
‘thin’ shots. And if your golfing friends do continue
to offer the dreaded “You lifted your head” advice, tell
them what my first teacher suggested to me some years
ago: “Thank you so much, but I’m taking lessons from a
Summer Tip #1
Getting ‘Up & Down’ with your Sand Wedge from the Rough
‘Up & Down’ with a sand wedge from the rough is something
that the touring professionals on both tours do on a regular
basis, but most amateurs struggle with. It looks like an
easy shot when we see Phil and Tiger do it on television,
but there are some hazards to success. Let’s look at the
hazards of the shot and how to overcome them through simple
“KEYS TO SUCCESS” fundamentals so that we can become more
successful in this critical short game shot.
The grass is long and thick. KEY
TO SUCCESS –
This tells the advanced player that his/her swing most be
longer and more forceful than the distance to the hole
dictates. Make sure that you take a few practice swings to
feel how much the longer grass grabs and twist the face of
your club. Even though you are only a few yards from the
swing needs to be longer than you think.
Each ‘lie’ of the ball is different. KEY
TO SUCCESS - ‘Recognize
the lie’: Each
lie is different; some have a lot of grass under the ball,
and some have very little grass under the ball. Each lie
determines whether you use a ‘square’ clubface, or an ‘open’
clubface. If the ball is ‘sitting up’, use a slightly
‘open’ clubface, if it’s on a ‘bare‘ lie, use a ‘square‘
ball is ‘sitting down’ in the grass. KEY
TO SUCCESS: The
clubhead needs to get to the VERY BOTTOM of the ball.
If your practice swings are just brushing the top of the
grass blades, you are more likely to hit the ball in the
middle of it and skull it over the green. Make sure your
clubhead gets to the bottom of the grass.
The hole is located close to you. KEY
TO SUCCESS – Make
sure you make a big enough swing even if it means you have a
twenty-foot putt coming back. The
worst error you can make is trying to be too precise and
leaving your pitch shot in the rough.
understand the hazards of the shot and how to avoid them,
apply the following set-up and swing fundamentals to improve
your chances of success.
Feet close together, ball in the middle of your stance,
hands down on the grip for control, RELAX your hands, and
aim the clubface at the hole.
Small arm swing with a slight wrist hinge going back, firm
wrists through the shot, keeping the triangle of the hands,
wrists, arms, and chest intact through to the finish.
for success. Take practice swings to simulate the desired
motion and the feel of the grass.
NOTE: Every ball comes out of the rough slightly
differently. That’s why it’s important to practice these
shots once a week.
Spring Tip #3 – June 3, 2010
A “Spring Cleaning” for Your Game
Danny Caverly, Director of Instruction, Willow bend C.C.
is fast approaching and for those of us lucky enough to root
for the Celtics and Saux, it also means that the golf season
is almost upon us. Before we enter into the season, it’s
worth taking stock in your game by doing a little ‘spring
cleaning’. Open up the windows, put flowers in the flower
boxes, and fix your short game while you’re at it.
Okay, be honest; your short game stinks. It’s okay, you can
admit it. The problem is you don’t know HOW to fix it and
then practice the fix. So let’s review a few simple
time that you are not using your full swing to approach the
green, and you have chosen your pitching or sand wedge, grip
down on the handle. This gives you needed control over the
sure that your
ball is positioned in between your feet. If
the ball is positioned too far forward, you will hit the
middle of the ball and skull it over the green.
your stance by moving your feet close together.
This allows your hips and knees to move freely which is
essential to hitting the ball solid.
finally, keep your arm swing under control and maintain
the triangle throughout your short swing.
Your triangle of arms and chest must remain together to keep
your hands and wrists from becoming over-active.
Rid of the Dreaded Three-Putt:
The next time you play a round, track your total putts. If
you have 36 or more putts for 18 holes, you
need to practice your putting. Fifteen
minutes per week will help a lot so here’s what you do:
the length of your putter, (most are 34 to 35 inches)
measure 3, 6, and 9 feet. Then putt three balls from these
distances for 5 minutes working
on keeping your hips perfectly still and your wrists from
hinging. These two simple fundamentals will
keep the path of the swing online, and your putter face from
opening or closing.
by your imagination or by placing 4 tees around the hole at
3 foot distances, practice 20, 30, and 40 footers for 10
the feel of the distance that you swing the putter back and
through. It’s critical that you create feel
with these longer strokes through practice. You must roll
these balls consistently inside this circle to avoid three
and Balance with Your Driver:
Check your grip first to make sure that both “V”’s are
pointing towards your right shoulder and your stance is wide
enough (but not TOO wide) to swing fast while maintaining
your balance. With good rhythm and balance, hit 20 drivers
twice a week to instill confidence. Your goal is to get the
ball in play consistently. Don’t swing for the fences, just
go for solid contact making sure that at the end of your
swing, you are balanced totally on your front foot with your
belly-button facing the target.
The three most important clubs in your bag are your sand
wedge, putter and driver. By practicing these in the
springtime, your summer will be more enjoyable.
Winter Tip #3 / February 1, 2010
Mary Shepard’s Thirteen Second Swing
A few years ago, I heard
an interesting story about a ‘thirteen-second golf swing’ which I totally
did not believe. I mean, come on, it’s not possible to have a 13
second swing when 98% of the golfing population’s swings are between 1 and 2
seconds. But since I do believe that we really did land men on the
moon, I thought I would listen.
Let me set the stage:
We’re at Atlantis Golf Club in south Florida and Clarke George; the Head
Professional related the following story:
was my first day on the job here and Mr. Shamansky came into the golf shop
and told me that Mrs. Mary Shepard was on the practice tee and wanted a golf
lesson from me. Great I said; I’ll give her the best lesson she’s ever
had! Mr. Shamansky just gave a wry smile which I thought unusual.
the range tee is about 150 yards away from the golf shop but you can see the
tee box as you approach it. Since it was a bit chilly that early
morning, only one person was hitting range balls so I assumed it was the
aforementioned Mrs. Shepard. I excitedly hopped on a cart and as I was
driving out to the range tee, I started to see Mrs. Shepard and her swing.
Oh my Gawd I thought, she’s got something terribly wrong with her; it looks
like she’s having an epileptic fit of some type. Then I realized that
this movement that took almost thirteen seconds was her actual golf swing.
I knew something was up with Mr. Shamansky and before Mary saw me, I turned
the cart around and headed back to the shop.
Shamansky was howling with laughter. What on earth was that I asked
him? ‘Sorry Clarke, it’s a prank we’ve played on the last few pros
here. Mary’s been swinging like that for years. She took lessons
years ago when she first started the game from thirteen different teachers,
and as a result, she has a piece from each one.’ “But how does she hit
the ball?” I asked. Mr. Shamansky paused and then said, “Right down
the middle every time, 140 yards.” ‘But how does she do that?’ I
asked. Mr. Shamansky looked at me straight in the eye and said “What
else do you need to hit the ball consistently but a repetitive action,
regardless of what that action looks like, and of course, great tempo and
rhythm to go along with it?” ‘Well, of course you’re right’ I said.} .
and that was the end of
A week later on ladies
day, I got to see Mary’s swing for myself; and I have to tell you, I can
still perform an accurate rendition to this day, but for the life of me, can
NOT explain it verbally at all. But I DID learn some valuable lessons
Good rhythm and tempo
can overcome what some think of as an ‘unusual swing’.
If something works
and is repetitive,
leave it alone.
Once you find a
teacher that works for you, stick
with him/her; don’t go shopping around for the latest
When a member comes
in telling you that ‘so-and-so’ needs a lesson, BEWARE!
Fall Tip #3 / November 15, 2009
Improving Your Swing Comes in Five Stages
One of the great things
that I enjoy about the game of golf is the constant ability to improve.
Arnold Palmer at the age of 80 is still working on improving his game.
Age does not matter as much in golf as it does in other sports since it is
part skill and part sport. So keep at it and work on your golf swing;
it’s both fun and rewarding to see improvement. Let me help you be
aware of the improvement stages that one must go through to perform better
on the golf course.
1: Becoming Aware of Your Fundamental Flaw(s)
– We all have
fundamental flaws and for most amateurs, those flaws are simple to correct.
Remember, your golf professional is not trying to recreate your swing, just
correct the few flaws which will lead to better ball striking and/or
2: Learning How to Practice to Correct Your Flaws
– Once you understand your flaw, you have to learn how to practice to
correct it. For example, let’s say that your right hand is too far
‘under’ the handle of the club and it’s producing a big ‘hook’. Once
this is identified by your pro AND you understand the consequences of this
position, go to the range and hit 30 balls twice a week with your new grip.
Expect some ‘funny’ looking results because this new position is different;
but stick with it. You will see better results with improved
fundamentals so that you can get to the next stage.
3: Seeing Improvement on the Golf Course
– Now that you are seeing some positive results on the range, it doesn’t
necessarily mean that you’ll see the same results on the golf course.
Playing the game and hitting balls on the range are two ENTIRELY different
things. Too many golfers who take lessons expect IMMEDIATE results
from their lessons; it doesn’t work that way. But, if you hit great
shots that you weren’t capable of BEFORE the lesson, then that should tell
you that the change is a good one. Stick with it until your change is
COMPLETELY memorized. Remember the old adage: It takes 21 days
to remember a motor skill change!
4: Stepping up to Each Shot with Confidence
– After a swing or fundamental change, it takes time to put that change
together with your tempo and rhythm. Once it’s together, you can
actually step up to the ball with confidence. Stand over each shot and know
that your ball striking or scoring HAS actually improved. There’s
nothing more rewarding in golf than making a swing change and seeing better
results and having CONFIDENCE in the hard work you’ve put forth to get
5: Enjoying the Results
– It’s now time to collect money from your golfing buddies on your weekly
games. Since they said, “Why in the heck are you changing your grip
when you hit the ball okay.” They were just happy that your lousy grip
kept paying their bar bill. But remember, lessons don’t lead to better
results without the work that you put into your own improvement. Take
responsibility for your game and use the information that your professional
gives you to improve by putting the work in.
Fall Tip #2
The Anatomy of a Slicer
Okay, let’s pretend for
a moment that Fred Burns is a first-time golfer and we send him to the first
tee with a driver and we say, “Fred, go ahead and hit it”. Where do
you think his ball is going to go: Left rough, right rough, or right
down the middle? If you chose right rough, you would be correct 85% of
the time. Let’s look at the anatomy of a slicer, and if you fit into
this category, be more aware of your grip and aim; they both have a
tremendous effect on where your ball starts out and ends.
Fred’s Grip is Too Weak
– As a first-time golfer, Fred puts his left hand on the club in a
‘weak’ position. The ‘V’ formed by his thumb and forefinger
point up his left
forearm making it
impossible for him to get the clubface squared up at impact. This is a
comfortable position for his hand to be on the club. His first tee shot
goes dead-right into the trees. What do you suppose Fred is going to do
on the 2nd tee?
Fred Aims Too Far to the Left
– What would anyone
do but aim to the left? Fred saw that his first tee shot went into the
right woods, and with only six balls to get through eighteen holes,
he aims his clubface, feet, and
shoulders down the left rough line. That’ll fix it he
figures; and remarkably, it does! He starts the ball well left of
center, and with his weak grip, the ball curves back into the right
rough. Mission accomplished, he can find his ball. (NOTE: The more you
swing to the left, the more left-to-right sidespin you will put on the
ball, curving it to the right.)
Fred’s 5 Iron Goes Into the Left Rough
– Fred selects a 5 iron for his second shot and again aims down the left
rough line. But this time with the same ‘weak’ grip, the ball goes much
straighter than his tee shot. Now he’s confused. Where does he aim his
third shot? (NOTE: Since the 5 iron has more loft than the driver, the
curve to the right is not as accentuated and remember,
Fred is swinging the club left on
Fred’s Pitching Wedge Goes Out of Bounds Left of the Green
– Since he can still
find his ball, Fred figures he got lucky with the 5 iron and aims his
third shot with a pitching wedge well left of the green. Unfortunately,
being a new golfer, he doesn’t understand what those white stakes mean.
Since he is swinging the club left to counteract his tee shot on the
first hole, and since the wedge has LOTS of loft, his third shot goes
straight left past the Out of Bounds stakes. But since he’s unaware of
their meaning, Fred plays from Mrs. Hills’ front yard.
We can see clearly how
Fred got started with his slice. If he doesn’t get some simple things
corrected, he may live with his slice throughout this golfing career robbing
him of both distance and accuracy. So my advice to Fred after his first
Turn your left
hand to your right using your heel pad as a leverage point on top of
the grip. Your left hand ‘V’
should point towards your right shoulder. Match the
right hand ‘V’ to the left hand ‘V’. As you swing, feel your hands
and forearms naturally turning to close the clubface.
down the middle with your feet, hips, and shoulders.
Swing in this
direction with your arms.
Go to the 1st
tee with a dozen balls.
the way, his first time out, Fred ran out of balls on the sixth hole!
Fall Tip #1
The Bottom of Your Swing Arc: The Key to Solid Approach Shots
Have you ever wondered
why you can hit a great tee shot, a second shot that soars and lands within
100 yards of the green, and then have no clue as to how to get that darn
ball on the green? Well, I have the answer! You’re not
controlling the bottom of your swing arc.
In order to hit
controlled iron shots into the green from 100 yards and into the green
(anywhere that it’s not a ‘full swing’ shot) you must have control of the
arc when the club meets the ball and turf. Let’s look at three
important elements of this primary fundamental, and how you can achieve a
consistent bottom to your swing.
Understand the Design of Your Short Irons
– If you look at a short iron, you’ll see that the handle or grip end of
the club is ‘ahead’ of the clubhead when you place it on the ground.
This design naturally sets you up so that the clubhead lags BEHIND the
handle in the bottom of the swing; setting the bottom of the arc right
where the ball is located. If you use your hands to ‘hit’ at the ball
too early, the clubhead will pass the handle of the club. When you do
this, you either will hit ‘fat’ shots where the clubhead hits the turf
behind the ball; or ‘thin’ shots where the bottom of the arc is too soon
in the swing and the clubhead is actually going UP when it contacts the
ball. Either way, you have no distance control when hitting ‘early’
with your hands.
Your Set-Up Position Should Mirror Your Impact Position
– Grab a short iron (8 iron thru PW) and assume your set-up position.
If you’ve done this correctly, the ball should be
at least 2 inches inside
your left heel with the handle of the club ‘in-front’ of the ball (i.e.-
the target-side of the ball). This should be your impact position with
2 subtle changes: a) Your weight at impact should be a little more on
your left foot and b) The handle and shaft of the club should be leaning
more towards the target, NEVER
away from it.
Your Arm Swing Needs to be Smooth and Under Control
– You can’t hit good
approach iron shots without
controlling the speed of your arm swing. As you swing
back, count a long ‘onnneee’ to the top of your backswing, and as you
swing through, be your own metronome with the ‘two’ coming at impact. A
controlled arm swing insures the transition from top of your swing to
the bottom is a smooth and coordinated movement. No ‘hit’ here needed
with your hands; that’s what destroys a good impact position.
Rehearse to Succeed
– With an 8 iron in your
hands, swing back halfway (so that your left arm is parallel to the ground
and your wrists naturally hinging) and stop; now, swing back to impact.
Look at your impact position and this is what you should see and feel:
The clubhead resting on the turf.
The handle (grip) AHEAD of the clubhead.
Your weight more into your left foot.
Your left wrist flat with your arms straight.
Rehearse this impact position until it’s ingrained and natural.