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Fall Tip #2 / October 12, 2011
Hip Action:  What It’s All About
By
Danny Caverly
 
The 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.
 
#1
 
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)
#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.
 
#3
 
Use these two ‘chair drills’ to feel what correct hip action
 is all about and your shots will have more power to them.

 

Winter Golf Tip #2/ December 28, 2010
Your Golfing Gene
By
Danny Caverly
One of 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.
 
Seldom 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’.  
 
Now, 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’.
 
Much of 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.
 
As an 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
By
Danny Caverly
 
As the 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 Cup.
 
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’ until victory.
 
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 edge.  If 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
By
Danny Caverly
 
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 you.
 
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 succeed.  ‘Keep 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, and/or putting.
“Supervised Practice”:  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 intact which will lead you to a consistent set-up and a more repetitive swinging action.
“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
By
Danny Caverly
 
Before 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 swing improve.
 
1.  Grip, 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 striker.
2.  The 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 the planet).
3.  The 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.
4.  You ‘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.
5.  A 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 handle.
 
By employing some ‘old school’ fundamentals, you will give your swing a more natural motion and rhythm.

                                            Summer Tip #2
Two Interrelated Fundamentals to Focus On
By
Danny Caverly
 
As 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.
 
Try 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 PGA professional.

Summer Tip #1
Getting ‘Up & Down’ with your Sand Wedge from the Rough
by
Danny Caverly
 
 
Getting ‘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.
 
Ø                 Hazard #1:  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 green, your swing needs to be longer than you think.
Ø                 Hazard #2: 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‘ clubface. 
Ø                 Hazard #3:  The 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.
Ø                 Hazard #3: 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.
 
Once you 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.
1.                  SET-UP:  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.
2.                  SWING:  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.
3.                  Rehearse 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
By
Danny Caverly, Director of Instruction, Willow bend C.C.
 
 
Summer 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.
 
1.     Short Game Fix:  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 fundamentals:
a.     Any 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 club.
b.    Make 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.
c.    Narrow 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.
d.     And 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.
1.    Get 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:
a.     With 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.
b.    Either by your imagination or by placing 4 tees around the hole at 3 foot distances, practice 20, 30, and 40 footers for 10 minutes.  Get 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 putts. 
1.     Rhythm 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

By

Danny Caverly

 

 

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: 

 

{“It 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. 

 

Now, 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. 

 

Mr. 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 Clarke’s story.

 

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 from her:

  1. Good rhythm and tempo can overcome what some think of as an ‘unusual swing’.
  2. If something works and is repetitive, leave it alone.
  3. Once you find a teacher that works for you, stick with him/her; don’t go shopping around for the latest thing.
  4. 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

By

Danny Caverly

 

 

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.

Stage 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 scoring.

 

Stage 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.

 

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!

 

Stage 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 there.

 

Stage 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

By

Danny Caverly

 

 

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.

  1. 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?
  2. 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.) 
  3. 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 purpose.)
  4. 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 round was:

 

By 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

By

Danny Caverly

 

 

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.

 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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: 

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