Friday, March 6, 2015

Breaking a Slump

In a recent interview with Marty Griffin on his Podcast "Golf Strategy School", I was asked how I would help a player in a slump. I gave an adequate answer but failed to answer it as I would have liked.

If you have played well but now find yourself in a slump then something has changed.

A change can occur anywhere in a player's game and it must be discovered and corrective procedures must occur to right the ship.

The change can be obvious, maybe you have changed a grip or added a "new move". Other changes are subtle, like balance, backswing direction or a change in your mental direction.

Balance during the swing is critical and some have a tendency to allow a untimely weight shift somewhere within the swing. I believe the swing is a near perfect circle and if it's center is displaced it must be re-established. Many can develop the timing to overcome the change in balance but they can easily loose the timing which leads to a period of poor ball striking.

I believe players who take the club away inside or outside of the line often are required to re-route the club to a new path that matches their preferred ball flight. Again, this is a timing issue and easily lost for any player, especially the amateur.

If you have had a successful lesson then you undoubtedly listened and applied the positive direction offered by the professional. When on your own, it is more difficult to apply this same direction. But when you do it is easy to believe "I've got it" and this predictably ends the positive direction you have been giving yourself and all of it's positive results.

So to address the downturn in your game, look for the change that has occurred. Is it obvious or subtle. Seek out a professional to help get you back on track with some positive direction. And when it's working and feel you've "got it", look out, reapply yourself and stick with the positive direction. All to help you in breaking a slump.

For a better game,

Monday, February 16, 2015

Discover Swing

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." From the movie Princes Bride


When people use the word swing, I do not think many players think it means what they think it means.
In Ernest Jones 1952 book "Swing the Clubhead" he writes I asked "what is a swing?" of a number of leading golfers during a discussion of a famous player's "so-called swing." the answer came:
"That can mean anything."
"That," I said "is one of golf's tragedies. It should mean everything."
I would contend this is as true today as it was then.
Please consider your definition and what it means to you.
Swing is defined: Verb 1. To move to and fro or backwards and forwards.
We can learn a lot from the definition and it's application in golf:
  • It is a verb. Nothing static is suggested (positions).
  • It's a movement of an object, the golf club.
  • It is one continuous move. The word and conjoins to with fro .
  • The word hit is not inserted between back and forth.
  • It is back and forth and not up and down.
  • It is simple
Now, compare this to your concept and your swing. Does the club swing?

"As for swing, I have come to have a knowledge of it, but how many others have? Perhaps one in a hundred."

How about you, do you have a knowledge of it? No, then there is a way to discover it but you need to conceive of it properly and it must be felt or sensed.

First, he writes "the golf swing can be readily taught, and consistently performed, BUT ONLY IF IS CONCEIVED AS ONE MOVEMENT." This insures the coordination of the body and all its parts which should be "TREATED AS DISASTOUROUS LEADERS BUT AS WHOLLY ADMIRABLE FOLLOWERS OF THE ACTION..."

Next, with free wrists and no arm rigidity experiment with the motion of your club. Become aware, observe and sense it's movement. On the forward swing, does the whole club move in the same direction, at the same time and at the same rate? Does it's motion feel or sense to be the same as other objects that swing?

Then try this: Tie a weight to a string. Swing it back and forth. Then place the string under your fingers while gripping a club and the weight hanging. Start the swing with your hands by "swinging" the club and weight together with half swings. Feel this motion and replicate it with your swing and in your game. For all shots.


Pay particular attention to your wrists "which act as hinges. The unified action of the two wrists, which are flexible, permit you to expand the arc...change direction of the path of the club head without hindering the true swinging motion, without disturbing the rhythmic characteristics of the swing."

"Here you approach your goal, the ability to identify the correct action of the club head through the sense of touch, of feeling." 

"I realize how difficult, almost impossible, it is to teach a feeling. But until one gets it, he has nothing definite. A hit is one of the most indefinite things in golf. It is sometimes yes and sometimes no. A swing is definite. It is totality." It is everything.

I hope for you to have a knowledge of it, this totality, this feeling of a club truly swinging. Discover it so when you say "my swing" you have knowledge of it and the consistent, enjoyable golf it produces.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Get Fired Up for Golf - KMNS 620 Radio Interview Feb 12, 2015

Click on Link for "Get Fired Up for Golf" recent radio segment on "Your Sports Show"

Commentary on Two Rivers Golf Club, the Phoenix Open and Tiger Woods.

Fox 620 KMNS - Rodd Slater Golf Segment

All for a better game,

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Essence of Teaching

Manuel de la Torre is member of the World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame, he is a proponent of Ernest Jones' swing principles. Application of his concept and 60 plus years of experience offers great insight to the essence of teaching.

In a 2000 seminar, he said the following as he shared some thoughts on teaching:

"You do not want your players to go through a metamorphose. You want to keep the same type of swing and make it used better by that person."

"You do not want to teach a person a swing you would like to see."

"I don't care what they look like. What I want them to do is to see the ball fly the way it should fly. I don't care what they look like."

His swing instruction is based on principles of balance, geometry and physics. These three core principles apply to all golfers.

Balance - Assuming the swing is a circle. Balance during the swing allows the club to return to where it began easier because the swing's center does not need to be re-established.

Geometry - Horizontal chords of a swing's circle are parallel to the target line (tangent). If club swings back parallel to the target line when horizontal to the ground, then it is easy to swing back to target (tangent) line forward. If swing is not parallel then the club must be re-routed.

Physics - If an object is propelled with another object in a certain direction. Both objects must travel in the same direction. The whole club going there is more important than the ball going there as the ball reacts to the club.

By use of these principles his focus with any player is on the golf club rather than a player's body.  This differs with much of today's golf instruction that is focused on body action. And in some cases the club is omitted all together.

He applies these principles with all students and concluded on the topic by saying:

"If a particular player sets-up in a particular way and had played golf well like that, then I would not change him. That's his way."

"You do not say, Well you have to do this because I believe so. Example the grip, if a player hits it straight with a hook grip, do you change it? No."

"What I like to do, make him use that swing he has better. Do not change him because you like it. That's the essence of teaching. Use the assets and liabilities a person brings to you, mold those two things and make a golf swing for that person."

Monday, February 2, 2015

Pitching - Confidence is King

Tiger's errant pitch shots have drawn a lot of attention and many golfers can relate. I'll take him at his word that his issues are due to his swing change. For the average golfer, here are some cues and fixes for the thin or chunked pitch from a normal greenside lie. All to improve your confidence. Gratitude and credit goes to Manuel de la Torre for this content.

Address: Assess the terrain and adjust. Upslope: ball ahead, weight back use less loft. Downslope: ball back, weight forward use more loft. Level: club centered and weight 50/50. A suitable address sets the player up to succeed and vice versa. In all stances, swing the club so the sole brushes the grass just ahead of the ball. If you actually brush, the ball will be struck solid.

Trajectory: Have a mental picture of the ball flying low or even rolling. Especially for higher lofted clubs. Many players picture a flight higher than the club or their set up allows. This results in the player attempting to create the pictured flight and a probable thin or chunked shot.

Concept: Many have the false idea that the club is to get under the ball resting on the ground. This idea causes a vicious cycle with the 1st shot chunked, 2nd thin etc... all in an attempt to find this mythical place "under the ball." Instead, the club returns to where it began, on the grass and from a back and forth motion. The loft sends the ball up, not you.

Swing: The motion of the club is critical. Too much attention to the club head solely can cause casting or a leveraged motion. With this motion, thin and chunked shots should be expected. Instead, swing the whole club moving forward rather than just the club head. I'll instruct students to swing and replace the whole club just ahead of the ball as it was addressed. This creates a very solid strike.

Fear: Players who have thinned or chunked a shot previously from any of the above topics are increasingly subject to the interference of fear while they attempt a pitch (Yips). It is very troubling but correctable. Especially if the player holds to a positive purpose throughout the shot. The club will follow a mind that jumps ahead of the current task. So stick to what you are to do as noted above.

The pitch shot can be one of the easiest shots with it's relatively slow club speed. But because of a poor address, a high mental picture of ball flight, a poor concept, a casting club head and or the interference of fear bad pitch shots can be result. Be assured they can be eliminated if you follow these simple and positive cues and fixes. If you do, your confidence will grow and we all know "Confidence is King".

    Monday, January 26, 2015

    2015 PGA Show ~ Learning Notes

    The 2015 PGA Show trip was a tremendous experience. The knowledge gained professionally and the relationships fostered are not measurable.

    The following are some notes from my educational experience in Orlando.

    James Ridyard:
    Good wedge players control trajectory, spin and are consistent.

    They launch the ball between 25-35 with 30 degrees being a good number.

    For Wedge Shots from 40-60 yards: the club speed, ball speed and carry distance can have a 1:1:1 ratio. The smash factor of 1.0 is a good fit. Distance errors can come from errors in launch, smash factor, and /or club speed.

    At other distances the 1.0 smash factor is not practical but altering smash is an option to improve distance control.

    John Graham:
    In putting, where a player wants to aim and where they really aim rarely match.

    On a consistent slope and rolling the ball to just fall in, if a ball stops in line with the hole then the aim was correct but the distance/speed was not correct. If ball stops above or below the hole then the line was incorrect.

    A player's 1st intention in putting is to select a distance to roll the ball.

    Players with higher rates of change in acceleration struggle with distance. While players with
    decreasing acceleration struggle with short down hill putts.

    It's best to overcome rather than try to overhaul a player to "fix" their putting.

    Better putters pick better targets. They also have an even keel emotional state.

    AimPoint is based on balance and quantifies the amount of tilt for green reading.

    Morton Golf:
    There needs to be a win, win, win and win relationship between the customer, club, community and the game of golf.

    Business will go where it is appreciated.

    Trust keeps customers loyal, not tricks.

    Goal setting, training and monitoring of progress are essential in a good business culture.

    Cameron McCormick:
    Best performance comes from a player with no doubt.

    To improve a player you need to stress the player so they can grow from that experience.

    A coach and player need to be data informed, not driven. Use tech to reinforce process.

    Manage the player with incremental goals to achieve. Take active roll in tourney schedule. Manage expectations and develop a culture to win.

    Bob Vokey:
    Lower lofted wedges are better for the average player. 50/54/58 vs 52/56/60.

    Wedges are proximity clubs where swinging at 80% is beneficial using less loft and creating less spin.

    Scotty Cameron:
    In good putting strokes the butt end points to a 1" circle throughout the stroke.

    A Dual Balanced putter slows the butt end down. (Helps counter leverage).

    Pro's eyes are typically set up 1" inside the ball putting.

    Small putter heads and big grips do not mix. Bigger heads have better weight for big grips.

    These are small sample of the many notes taken over the week. I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend, learn and now apply them in our operation.  I am also very grateful to Two Rivers Golf Club, The PGA of America, Titleist, James Ridyard and John Graham for the opportunity to better myself as a professional.

    All for a Better Game,