Sunday, April 9, 2017

Sergio Wins! Acceptance

Congrats to Sergio Garcia, The 2017 Masters Champion!

Sergio wins his 1st major after 74 career starts with a birdie on #18 in a playoff with Justin Rose.

I think all of golf is happy for Sergio overcoming his difficulty in winning a major. It has been a tough road and ironically his 1st victory may very well be a result of accepting the possibility of defeat.

His post tournament press conference was extraordinary in describing his mentality and character throughout his tournament, final round and the playoff hole. Video - Sergio Press Conference

His initial comments: "I knew I was playing well, I was very calm (more so than previously), I knew what I was capable of doing, I believed I could do it and today I was able to do it."

Sergio knew his game, it was strong and he executed.

He describes the turning point in the round after two bogeys on #10 and #11.

"I was playing well, there were some tough holes to come, but there were some I could go after and unless Justin started making birdies left and right, I knew I would have some chances."

He credits the par putt on #13, "more than anything", for sparking his play coming down the stretch.

"I hit great shots except the putt on #16 but played #17, #18 very well, under the gun with pressure, not that easy to do. That gave me a lot of belief and I, for some reason in playoffs, feel quite comfortable. I've already had a great week and can free wheel it. I hit two great shots and won the tournament."

The extraordinary part of the conference comes at the 5:48 mark in describing his thoughts on #13.

He credits how positive he stayed. In the past he would have turned negative and complained about the results of a bad shot. But today, he chose an accepting attitude and a positive mental direction.

"Well, if that's what is suppose to happen, let it happen. Let's make a great 5 here and see if we can put on a hell of a finish to have a chance. If not, we will shake Justin's hand and congratulate him for winning."

From that point on he makes birdie on #14, eagle on #15, pars on #16,  #17, #18 and birdies the playoff hole #18. He doesn't miss a shot (other than the putt for birdie on #16) and wins the tournament.

Ironically, he accepted the possibility of losing and then won.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Improve your Putting through Ball Skills

After an extra cup of coffee this morning I had this random thought: "Good putting equals reading the green and good ball skills."

Where did that come from and what the heck does that mean?

I was watching a professional warm up and became frustrated on the amount of attention he was paying to his stroke and it just came to me. Brilliance? Obviously not but I think it holds true. On the green, what the ball does is all that matters.

Green reading, for most, is simply gained by experience. There are systems which are successful but for the masses, it just takes time on the green. Practicing on large greens with a variety of slopes is very beneficial.

Good ball skills is defined as the ability to roll the ball on an intended line a specific distance. These are a tremendous skills and I believe advantageous to your game.

This is a different mentality than "trying to make the putt" or "trying to lag it.". It's a more specific strategy to give every putt the opportunity to go in the hole. Its something you can improve upon and hold yourself accountable for in your game.

Rolling the ball is different than hitting or forcing it towards the hole. Knowing, envisioning and rolling the ball on that line is necessary for the ball to go towards the hole and controlling the distance the ball rolls is required in order for gravity to ultimately pull it in the hole. All are ball skills.

We can all relate to these skills in our daily lives. In fact, most of us developed ball skills as children. Check out the following short article on the importance of ball skills for children, it's relative: How Ball Skills Train Attention

The following excerpt relates well to putting and the approach you take towards putting and improvement.
"....practicing  ball skills is a really good way to train attention, persistence, and willingness to fail and try again. A carefully graded  ball skills training program allows the child to succeed at a valued task and also teaches that repeated practice leads to improvement in task performance.."
Whether you are a child or an adult, would "training attention, persistence, and willingness to fail and try again" help you in your pursuit of more made putts?

Would implementing a "graded balls skills training program that allows you to succeed and also teaches that repeated practice leads to improvement" help your putting?

To both questions, yes, I believe so.

A lot of people hold themselves accountable for making or missing a putt. This is a heavy burden, especially for those lacking the skills or those who do not understand the lower probability of making putts of distance.

So, how would you grade your ball skills?

How do they compare with those of a child throwing a ball? From the article:

Ball throwing skills 

The child of 5-6 years should be able to:
  • Throw a beanbag underhand onto a 16" X 16" mat from a distance of 6'
  • Throw a tennis ball at a 16" diameter target at head height on a wall at a distance of 9'.
  • Throw a soccer sized ball from above the head a distance of 13'.
  • Use a sidearm patterns to throw a soccer sized ball straight ahead a distance of 13'. 
  • Throw a tennis ball up past the face and catch it again.
  • Bounce a tennis ball in front of the body and catch it again with 2 hands. 
  • Repeatedly bounce a soccer-sized ball on the floor 5-10 times with one or two hands.
In putting, are you able to:
  • Roll the ball vs. hit it?
  • Roll it on your intended line?
  • Control where the ball stops with varying distances?
  • Do each of the above skills uphill, downhill, across a slope and from the fringe.
  • Adapt quickly to unfamiliar greens.
These are some specific and basic skills to develop that will improve your putting. Consider them, experiment and test yourself. Hold yourself accountable for these abilities.

Then, with your development, you can also say good putting equals green reading and good ball skills.

All for an easier game,

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


Coaching, as I've perceived it, is changing. 

For most of my experience it's been hands on, technique, mental and course management driven.

Though those elements will always be part of game improvement, I'm finding my role is more centered on simply getting people to play more, especially with younger players. 

No amount of information can replace the experience learned by playing. Information is the supplement not the main ingredient. 

So, in the interest of better golf; I'm going to learn to motivate more play. 

For a better game,

Monday, April 25, 2016

Manuel de la Torre

Manuel de la Torre, October 6, 1921 - April 24, 2016.

The first National PGA of America 
Teacher of the Year (1986)

PGA of America Hall of Famer

World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame 

Milwaukee Country Club Head Golf Professional and Instructor 1951-2016

Manuel was a fine and gentle man. Humble, kind and giving. 

He treated every person he encountered as No. 1.

He was a man of detail. Especially in the use of words.  Both in his instruction of others and as clues to a student's intent in the use of a golf club. 

His communication skills were superior to any instructor I've witnessed. Especially in listening. 

Students and instructors he worked with can attest. 

I'll never forget him asking me and others "What are you trying to do?"

From that simple question the lesson and the improvement began. 

His lesson tee was art on display. I've never seen anything like it. So few words and such vast improvement. 

His concept to game improvement is time tested but his search for a better game never ended. His passion was infinite. 

Because of it, his impact on the game is monumental. Thankfully it will perpetuate from his example and inspiring nature.

It will continue.

Today is a sad day but I rejoice and am grateful. 

Thank you Manuel. 


Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Stock Flop Shot

The flop shot may be one of most enjoyable shots in the game. It is very rewarding to see a ball fly high that lands next to a tight pin. So much so, that I've witnessed players use it for all their green side shots. 

So, what are you to do for this shot? 

Techniques vary. The typical method is to open the club face, open the stance and swing left while holding the face open (right hand player). 

This method works but it leaves the player wondering about how much to open the face, where to aim it once it's open, how open the stance should be, how far left should the club be swinging and how can it's flight be predicted to account for any given shot. 

The avid player can learn these variables through experience but there is an alternative method that is effective on grass or sand and provides some specifics. 

1. Open the face from 10-30 degrees all depending on how much loft you need. By my trial, 30 degrees seems to be the limit for the procedure that follows. (Vokey SM 5 M-grind)

Rotating the bade 10° is roughly a half inch at the toe.  

2. Aim the face an equal degree right of the target and address the club the same degree left. 

When the club is placed you'll notice the shaft shifts proportiately to the degree the face is aimed right. 

The club should be centered at address; meaning the shaft is entirely in line with the center of your body. 

The swing can be the same as your normal swing if you swing it back toe up, return it square while brushing the grass and continue to toe up forward. This motion should be uninterrupted. 

In principle, because the club was rotated open, the toe will be past vertical back (club horizontal to the ground), the face should be open to the target line at impact and the toe short of vertical forward (club horizontal to the ground).

The direction of the forward swing is to be made towards the line parallel to your alignment. Remember, brush the grass and continue swinging so the whole club points towards this line. 

I have not yet learned the precise face alignments or path directions at impact with sophisticated radar. 

The results though are interesting. 

On six shots with a 56 degree SW, two swings each with 10°, 20°, 30° set ups, all but one started straight. They split the difference of this 1:1 ratio in the set-up
and presumed impact condition. 

The launch angles in a larger sample of each range from 40 to 47 degrees. The 10 shot average data from a monitor is as follows: 

10°, 20° and 30° flop shots respectively:

If I use this procedure and execute the swing in my intended direction then the launch direction becomes fairly predictable. 

It's been a game changer and provides great versatility as it works for both my 56 and 60 degree wedges (10°-30°). 

Earlier I qualified that the precise face alignments and path directions at impact had not been measured with sophisticated radar. I believe this is necessary to determine why the ball flies in such a predictable way.  

In the meantime, I'm going to continue to utilize this shot and it's results. It's a fun shot and I'm tempted to use it for all my green side shots and maybe you'll discover this as well. 

So please consider and experiment with it in your own game. Try it and Enjoy. 

All for a better game,


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Pre-School Golf Field Trips

Golf Courses can benefit by hosting a local Pre-School to a field trip at their facility. They can be an important part in introducing golf and a course to kids 4-5 years of age, orientating their parents to a facility and thus benefiting the game.

Two Rivers Golf Club, Dakota Dunes, SD schedules two field trip days with the local “Little Scholars Pre-School.” Their school has 4 classes with each making a 1 to 1.5 hour visit, two classes attend per day. Teachers and parents volunteer to assist our staff in all aspects for the 60 total students. 

Each trip begins with an enthusiastic welcome and a caravan cart tour of the golf course. The tour stops at a tee, a green and a bunker to show off the grass and sand. There is a lot to "show off" to these young juniors, such as wildlife, trees and friendly patrons. For most students, this is their first exposure to a golf course and a cart ride is always fun.

The tour ends at the practice area where we present putting, chipping and the full swing with our US Kids 39” demo clubs. 

Each student has the opportunity to make their 1st putt, their 1st chip and their 1st full swing with a ball. Safety and Fun are the priority as well as each student given a chance to experience these three aspects of the game. The smiles are priceless.

We conclude with snack time in the food and beverage area. We thank everyone and present each student a score card, pencil and logo golf ball.  The volunteer parents typically have a lot of questions about golf, the facility, rates and services. It is an invaluable marketing opportunity.

This program is one of our strategies to grow our Junior TEAM golf program and to involve more families at our facility. It is working despite the competition from other activities like baseball, soccer, basketball, etc... Golf has a lot to offer and we find it helpful to expose it at this age.

We believe this can be a long term solution to grow our club and also envision it as a model for other facilities to benefit the game.  

We encourage all facilities to consider and try this program. It’s proving to be successful at Two Rivers and the smiles are priceless!

All for a better game,

Friday, February 12, 2016

Replace the Whole Club 3" Forward on the Grass

Replacing the whole club 3" forward (target side) of the ball on the grass is an effective technique for solid ball striking. This applies to full and short swings alike. 

Start with the whole club centered on your body at address. The ball should be just ahead of the face. See picture:

This procedure can be used for all level lies and regular shots, full swings or short swings. 

Then swing the club back and replace the whole club 3" forward or target side of the ball.. 

The motion produces an arc on the back swing and one on the forward swing. The latter is forward of the other. And preferably in the same direction. 

The club displays part of the radius of each arc. One ahead of the other. The following illustrates the two arcs with the club as the radius for each.

The following pictures display this illustration in motion. 

Two more:

The examples are numerous and are all a result of the club's swinging properties. The phrase "replacing the whole club" is just different language that produces the same result as swinging.

Here are some additional images. 

These are full swing examples but the technique is also very effective on chipping and pitching. Maybe even easier than the full swing due to speed. It especially helps the player who thins and chunks shots. The strike is very solid.

I encourage to you experiment with it. There is evidence of it in skilled player's swings and it could be your means to improve your own game.

Start with it around the greens, chipping and pitching. Be sure you are concerned with the "whole club" aspect. The club head only is a recipe for poor shots. 

Then carry it into your full swing practice. If you've learned and can execute this motion of the whole club then put it into play. Enjoy.

All for a better game,

Credit for this technique and it's language should all go to Manuel de la Torre. World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame 2005.