Friday, May 27, 2011

Lesson 94-107

Lesson 94-Playing strategy. Don't let greed waste shots. Find a target within your range. Pin seeking=higher stress=potential missed shot.
Lesson 95-Short Game-Touch and feel beats perfect technique everytime! Short shots are all about clubface control and how you create speed.
Lesson 96-Trying to get better does not mean starting over. No best method! The ball doesn't care. Tweak don't overhaul is a good guideline.
Lesson 97-Patience-The most valuable personal trait for a golfer is patience. Golf is progressive-One shot leads to the next. Play them all.
Lesson 98-Patience-Patience is using your routine for every shot. Patience means not judging until the end. Patience is one shot at a time.
Lesson 99-Patience-Create a plan. Bad shot? Start new plan. I.E. Reachable par 5-easy 4. Bad tee shot? Don't make 6 trying to save the plan.
Lesson 100-Patience- Try not to anticipate a score. Easy holes can be difficult, difficult holes can be easy. One great shot can change all.
Lesson 101-Golf is a dance and not a wrestling match. Staying in rhythm while so many things are trying to take you out is a key to success.
Lesson 102- Feel-Feel is the ability to know where the club is at all points of your swing without having to look at it. Feel can be taught.
Lesson 103-Feel can be taught. Focus on the gloved hand! How far did it move and how fast was it moving? How far did the ball fly and roll?
Lesson 104-Developing feel. Focus on the top hand. Match the club to the thumb. The thumb controls the rotation of the club. Let it rotate.
Lesson 105-Feel-Make practice swings of different lengths. very slow at first, with your eyes closed. Use your hands to judge club location.
Lesson 106-Rhythm and Tempo are feel factors. How fast can you swing the club and still feel the location of the club in your hands?
Lesson 107-We all know what a good swing looks like, but can we remember what a good swing feels like? Don't let vision interfere with feel.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Arnie or Jack?


As a former employee of Arnold Palmer, the topic of golf conversation was frequently about Mr. Palmer and his greatest rival, Jack Nicklaus. What made them both so great? What were the differences between the two, not only their golf swings, but their approach to the game, and which was better? I have found that using these comparisons has helped our students at the United States Golf Academy have a deeper understanding of their own golf games. This understanding becomes a key factor in getting better. Here are some examples.

Approach to the Game.
Mr. Palmer was a “hit the ball directly at the target guy.” Nicklaus was a probability guy. Jack used his natural fade to play from a big target, like the center of the green, to a smaller one, the flag. His reasoning was if the ball didn’t curve he would not be in trouble. Mr. Palmer on the other hand never planned for a missed shot. He just made the target as small as possible and then hit the ball right at it.

Swing Mechanics
Mr. Palmer swung the golf club on a flatter plane, using his arms to lead the body on the backswing, and then reversing this motion by leading with hips and knees on the downswing while the arms followed. This technique produced a lower more boring ball flight. The most direct route to the target. Aggressive

Nicklaus was the opposite. Using his shoulders and core to start and then lifting the club in a upright plane to finish the backswing. He then started the club back to the ball by swinging the arms forward while the rest of his body reacted to the arm swing. Arms lead-body follows is how we describe it at the Academy. This produces a higher ball flight, a trajectory that aids in controlling the golf ball. It stays where it lands and reduces the chance for error.

Short Game
Both had similar strategies and techniques for their short games. Mr. Palmer used a lower more direct approach to short shots, while Jack hit the ball higher and more softly on shots around the green. Both styles matched their full swing techniques.

What was common to both was that strategy and personality lead to what swing mechanics to use, which dictates their strategy for all parts of their game. In comparison the everyday golfer tries to do too much. We ask the question, “What is the perfect technique for each segment of the game?” rather than, “How does my technique work in each segment of the game?” Each of our heroes decided early on they would play “their” way. They made a decision.

Go back to the strategy section and ask yourself, “Are you more like Arnie or Jack?” Then examine your golf game to see if technique matches your personality. It might just clear the cobwebs and make the game a little easier.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011

Golf Game Help a Little at a Time

Early on this year I took on the challenge of posting one golf tip a day on our United States Golf Academy website blog. The rules were simple. I could only use what has become the modern day limit of 140 characters and spaces or less. My challenger thought I was too “wordy” and the modern day reader was looking for smaller bits of information. So the following are the first 15 of what now numbers 100 daily tips. I hope they provide some answers to your golf game struggles.
Lesson 1-The ball goes where the clubface is pointed at impact. The clubface is controlled by the hands.
Lesson 2-Fix your grip! Top hand-shaft at base of the fingers thumb on top. Bottom hand-fingers grip shaft-palm covers the top hand thumb. No Gaps!
Lesson 3-Review. Face controls ball-hands control face. Next-arms control hands. We swing the arms. Think -lead arm leads. Rear arm follows.
Lesson 4-Position the arms. Lead arm extended on top of chest. Follow arm bent elbow points toward hip. Shoulders follow arms.
Lesson 5-Arms swing-shoulders guide. Shoulders create swing path & direction. Path to face produces spin-Shoulders control directional spin.
Lesson 6-Shoulders determine path, Path creates spin. Spin curves the ball. Fix the curve? Fix the shoulders.
Lesson 7-Hands on the club-Club behind the ball-Aim the face, arms and shoulders will follow the hands. Top half in position THEN SET FEET.
Lesson 8-Good balance = good shots. Key to Balance? Feet under shoulders! Place feet under shoulders-NOT- twist shoulders over feet. BIG DIFFERENCE.
Lesson 9- Ball position. If you build your stance-club to ball-then hands-then shoulders-then feet. Adjustments for ball position are easier.
Lesson 10- Time to swing? Time to choose. Arms around body? Or turn shoulders and lift the arms? Great players both ways. Which one are you?
Lesson 11-Arms around backswing. Left arm swings across the chest as right hip clears-turn shoulders and hinge wrists to finish backswing.
Lesson 12-Arms up backswing. Shoulders turn then arms lift to finish backswing. Downswing-lateral weight shift as arms lead forward swing.
Lesson 13- A golf swing is not as much what you do as when you do it. Sequence of motion and timing, the critcal elements of the golf swing.
Lesson 14- Arms up or arms around, the sequence of motion for each is different. Don't mix and match! Learn the correct moves for your swing.
Lesson 15- Review. Arms around. 1.Lead arm across chest 2.Turn shoulders and hinge wrists to top Downswing-Knees and hips lead-hands follow.
Lesson 16-Review Arms Up. Backswing-turn shoulders and lift arms to finish backswing. Downswing-Arms lead as body turns in sync with arms.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Short Game Methods.

The other day, during a short game session at the United States Golf Academy, I was asked who had the best short game I had ever seen. My answer was immediate, Raymond Floyd and Stan Utley. I think it is interesting that while both were equals around the green their methods that made them great were completely opposite.

For those of you who don’t remember Raymond Floyd, he was a winner of two PGA Championships, a Masters and a United States Open. 22 wins on the PGA Tour and 14 on the Champions. Raymond’s short game consisted of three different lengths of strokes. He called them putting, chipping and pitching. No real difference other than length. Putting was the shortest followed by chipping and pitching. He varied the distance the ball traveled with any of these three strokes by changing clubs, not stroke length. His decision on which swing to use was based on how far the ball was from the edge of the green and what club would fly the ball to that point. So when Raymond had a shot around the green he made two choices. What length swing to use and what club to use with it. If you wish to try this technique for yourself, start with three swings and three clubs. Maybe an 8 iron, PW and SW. Then develop three length swings. A putting stroke would be short with little wrist action. A chipping stroke- a little longer stroke with some wrist- and then the pitching stroke-longer still with some arm swing and wrist. Try these three swings, with the three clubs, and you will get 9 different shots. This is plenty of variety to get started.

The other method is that of Stan Utley. Stan is one of the top short game instructors in the world. He uses basically one club, a 57 degree sand wedge with a lot of bounce. Stan’s basic shot is one that flies about ½ the distance traveled and rolls out the rest. So for almost every shot around the green he picks a point on the green, halfway to the hole, and flies the ball to that point. I will admit that this takes some touch and feel, but his point is that when a player uses the same club around the green they develop feel for that club quite quickly. Our Director of golf Pat Bayley is a great example of using a similar strategy, except he perfected his 9 iron, a different club, but with similar results.
So how does the expert’s technique pertain to the non-expert? They all have one thing in common. They have a plan. No dependence on luck or chance. They have plan and the execute it. They never change their plan just because it doesn’t work to expectations every time. They stick with it and with some patience they got better. The same can work for you.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lessons 89-94

Lesson 94-Playing strategy. Don't let greed waste shots. Find a target within your range. Pin seeking=higher stress=potential missed shot.

Lesson 93-Short Game Secret-Maintain your knee flex on a pitch or chip. Lose the flex-top the shot. Dip the knees-hit it fat. Stay level!

Lesson 92- Short Game- Practice some without a target. Focus on how the shot feels rather than how results look. Can you repeat the feel?

Lesson 91-Short Game Strategy. Best method? There isn't one. Start here.Multiple clubs with same technique or different shots with one club?

Lesson 90-The most valuable personal asset for your golf game and short game? PATIENCE. The job is not complete until the ball is holed.

Lesson 89-Turning three shots into two is the secret to lower scores! Focus on the par 3's and inside 150 yards to lower your handicap.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

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Friday, May 6, 2011

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Understanding a Forward Press

One of the most misunderstood concepts in golf is the forward press. I can count on one hand the number of players I have seen at the United States Golf Academy who do it correctly. To count those who perform it incorrectly would take forever.

The best example of a player who used a correct forward press was Sam Snead. If you go to our blog www.usgolfacademy.blogspot.com you can see a video of Sam demonstrating and explaining a forward press. Sam’s forward press was a complete shift of weight from right to left and then as he shifted back, club and body moved away from the ball as one. There are many other examples of players who use this body press or lower body motion as a forward press. But in all cases, during the entire motion, the left arm and club remain in a straight line. Sam never, as so many do, pushed his hands forward while leaving his body still.

The most important fundamental in hitting good golf shots is to create a straight line from the shoulder, down the arm, extending all the way to the club head at impact. Mechanically, creating this straight line is the most efficient way to hit a golf ball. The club swings on an arc and if the radius of that arc is changed while the club is in motion, the chances of striking the ball are lessened. Also the timing of the strike is easier to maintain with a straight line than a bent one. Imagine how hard it would be to hit a golf ball if the golf club was bent halfway down the shaft. So, if you are a player who presses your hands forward for chips, or to hit lower shots? Don’t!

A bad forward press creates an angle from the arm to club shaft. At impact, when the club is angled in any way that differs from the arm, at best, you get a glancing and inaccurate blow. Now the problems begin. For example, rather than swinging the club back, you might lift the club up. After a couple of fat shots using this take away, a common fix is to move your head toward the target on the downswing. By moving the head forward, the bottom of the swing moves toward the target which compensates for the club angled back. Now at least, the club strikes the ball before the ground. However, the club is angled back, so the face is typically open at impact, resulting in a push, slice or shank. Some, to correct those problems, close the face of the club to the left to counter the previous open face. This creates another new layer of problems requiring another set of solutions. Eventually, you are so lost you can’t remember how to swing the club at all. My best advice? Avoid this and other problems by maintaining the straight line from shoulder to club at the start of your swing.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Lesson 84-88

Lesson 88-Long game is about decision making and repetition. Short game is about feel and imagination-Which one would require more practice?

Lesson 87-Chose a target with enough room for error. Then aim for a small target in the CENTER of that big one. This helps avoid big scores.

Lesson 86-The best advice for any golfer is to play one shot at a time! Make each shot a separate contest. Score will take care of itself.

Lesson 85-Strategy-Key to better scores? Never assume a missed shot will repeat. Never assume the next shot will be as good as the last.

Lesson 84-Pre-Shot Routine is a check list not a wish list. Focus on what you need to do now not what you hope to accomplish later.