Monday, January 21, 2013

Golf Advice-A Different Perspective

This past summer I have become a fan of The Dan Dakich Show on the ESPN radio affiliate in Indianapolis, 1070 The Fan WFNI. One of the reasons I enjoy his show is Dan's ability to use the sports issues and developments of the day as teachable moments to help his audience in their day to day lives. Once a coach always a coach. One of the things I hear Dan stress on a regular basis is that the key to success in sports, business or really any aspect of your life is to make a consistent effort in whatever you do, every day.

As I have thought about this over the course of the summer, I have found that not only is it great advice in how you determine to live your life, but that it has major applications in the fun, but probably less important aspect of playing a round of golf.  I have been fortunate in my life to be able to make a living by promoting a game. Currently by promoting the Pete Dye Golf Trail, but throughout the majority of my career to promote golf as an instructor.  I learned early on that the game is more fun for my students when they play better. In an effort to play better golf I have found we are tempted to try all manner of things. Often trying something new on almost every shot. So much so, that when we do hit a good shot we have no idea what we did to produce the improved results.

My suggestion is to use the Coach's advice and make a consistent effort. Do the same things every time you hit a golf shot. Even down to making the same swing in the same sequence of motion, regardless of results. Will you miss some shots? Of course, we all miss shots regardless of skill level. But by recognizing the effort and trying to repeat it in every swing, we can learn something about our swing and making educated changes as opposed to random moves.

One thing you can do in the off season to help is to try and verbalize your swing. Tell yourself how you swing the club. An example would be as a right handed player , my left arm starts the club back as my hips clear out of the way. When the club gets past my back foot I start to use my shoulders to finish the backswing. To start back to the ball, I start my downswing with my knees, clearing the way for my arms and hands to swing the club to the ball. There are countless number of combinations so the best way to start is to describe simply what you do. Don't worry about right or wrong just identify what you do. Two good things will happen. It will be easier to identify the need to make a change for improvement and when you indentify that need, you will have a guideline to base your decision. More important you will have the basis of making the consistent effort that is a key to successful golf game.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Play Swing or Play Golf

A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to attend the opening of the Harbor Shores Golf Club in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Designer Jack Nicklaus was joined by Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Johnny Miller for a clinic and a round of golf. The clinic began with Tom Watson explaining his beginnings in golf. He described how his first lesson came from his Dad. Mr. Watson showed young Tom how to hold the club, how to make the ball curve left and how to curve the ball curve to the right. He taught him how to hook and slice it on the very first day and then how to use that knowledge. Not one way to stand, or the proper positions during the swing, but how to control the clubface and make the ball curve.
As a former employee of Arnold Palmer I was well aware of the story of Mr. Palmer’s first lesson from his father that was in essence the same story. What I didn’t realize was that the first lessons for Johnny Miller and Jack Nicklaus were the same as well. They were taught to hit shots, not how to swing a club. Experiment, not with the thought of good or bad, but with the intention of gaining information by experience. All of these Hall of Famers started the game with the concept that to play successful golf requires a variety of shots.
#7 The Fort Golf Course and Resort
I think for many inexperienced players the idea of a shot curving is considered a negative thing. Poor shots curve and good shots go straight. The truth is just the opposite, most golf courses are not built to be played effectively with a straight ball. Using the member courses of The Pete Dye Golf Trail as examples, each requires different types of shots to get around the golf course successfully. The mastery of Mr. Dye's build strategy is that each hole is a puzzle to be solved and more easily solved if you can bend the ball around some of the trouble.
Over the course of the offseason we will continue this conversation of strategic play and how it will benefit your scores as you challenge the Trail next season.