#9, 10 AND 11 Golf myths and truths


There are many types of advice golfers receive which are detrimental and could be called golf myths.  Here are three examples:  keep your left arm perfectly straight, keep your head still and shift your weight.

I am going to talk about problems these three things cause and the truth rather than the myth.

Many, but not all tour players do keep their left arms perfectly straight.  Annika Sorenstam is one of those players.   The average golfer is not in the physical condition that tour players maintain and lack the ability to do so.  If you lack flexibility or have a bulky torso and arms, you will not be able to keep the left arm perfectly straight.

Attempting to do so will create tension and stiffness, sometimes injury to the shoulder area due to extending beyond what your shoulder can tolerate.  A more appropriate thought is keeping your arm extended without locking it.  Bob Toski refers to this as a soft extension.

The truth about the head is we do not want excessive head sway, but attempting to keep the head from moving at all prevents weight transfer and a proper turn.  You need to make an athletic pivot which causes the head to move.

The head rotates and moves behind the ball during the back swing.  The average tour player moves 2-4 inches and has several degrees of head rotation.

Thinking of shifting your weight often causes the hips to sway laterally. Joanne Carner called this the kiss of death. The truth is you need to make an athletic pivot which causes the weight to move.

An athletic pivot is what a basketball player will do in pivoting around the plant leg, as will a tennis player, when they need to change directions.  Planting the leg and trying to shift onto it usually causes the hips to move laterally.  Basketball, tennis and golf all need the pivot to transfer weight.

Golfers who combine these three thoughts are setting themselves up for a very upright, outside in, slice prone golf swing.  Keep the head perfectly still, left arm locked and stiff, and shift the weight is a prescription for frustration.

Learn to make the pivot which causes the head to rotate and move a little while keeping the left arm extended, and you will automatically transfer your weight which will allow you to create a flatter, wider, more powerful golf swing and better golf shots.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

#8 Quotes about golf


Today I want to take you on a journey of what some of the most famous personalities have to say abut the game of golf.  The purpose is to give you insight into what these great minds had to say about the game.

Jack Nicklaus:              “Don’t be too proud to take lessons.  I’m not.”

                                    “I think I fail a little less than everyone else.”

ArnoldPalmer: “Practice is the only golf advice that is good for everybody.”

Bobby Knight:              “The will to win is not so nearly important as the will to prepare to win.”

Jim McLean:                 “Of all games, golf exposes fraud and self-delusion most efficiently.”

Bruce Crampton:          “Golf is a compromise between what your ego wants you to do, what experience tells you to do, and what your nerves let you do.”

Leonard Finkel:            “Golf is not fair.  Like life, it seems we get more bad breaks than good.  How we handle them is what matters.”

                                    “We pay so much attention to the bottom line, the scorecard, our score, that we miss out on the game itself.  In golf as in life, it’s not so much the scoreboard, but enjoying the journey that really counts.  Don’t miss it.”

Dr. Bob Rotella:           “Golf is a game played by human beings.  Therefore, it is a game of mistakes.  The best golfers strive to minimize mistakes, but they don’t expect to eliminate them.  And they understand that it’s most important to respond well to the mistakes they inevitably make.”

John Wooden:              “Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”

                                    “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”

Yogi Berra:                   “I can’t think and hit at the same time.”

Anonymous:                 “Those who believe they can and those who believe they can’t are both right.”

These quotes are from “The secrets to the game of golf & life” by Leonard Finkel.  I hope you enjoy them and that they might help you put your golf game into a different perspective because our perspective, to a great deal, dictates our outcome.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

#7 Impact, the most important moment in the golf swing


The moment of truth in the golf swing is at impact, the moment the club-head meets the golf ball.  This is when the result of your shot is decided.

Nothing else matters at this moment.  It does not matter whether you have an upright or a flat golf swing.  It does not matter if you have a swing path that is inside/out or outside/in.  It does not matter whether you use an overlap grip or an interlocking one.  It does not matter if you prefer a forward ball position or a rear one.  It does not matter if you set up open to the target or closed to it.

All good players have this one thing in common.  At impact the left arm (for a right handed golfer) is fully extended and the left wrist is in line with the forearm.  This is frequently called a flat left wrist at impact.

History shows us great golfers with very unique looking golf swings.  Arnold Palmer with his lashing attack at the golf ball resulting in a lunging look at the finish.  Look at Jack Nicklaus with his upright back-swing and big leg drive on the down-swing.  Gary Player putting his all into every shot in which he would actually take a step forward after the shot.  Jim Furyck has his unique up and out back-swing, and then re-routing the club to come from the inside path to strike the golf ball.

They all get to impact with the left arm solid and the left wrist solid.

Most amateurs arrive at impact with their left arm and wrist broken down and in a collapsed position.

There are many reasons this happens, but one of the biggest is the false impression that the golf ball must be scooped or lifted into the air.  This type of hitting action causes the breakdown of the left arm and wrist.

What you really want to do is hit through the golf ball, much as you might swing through a baseball or a tennis ball, with no thought of trying to lift the ball up.  The design of the golf club will cause the ball to lift.

Here is a drill to help you feel the correct impact.  Stand next to an object you can strike such as a punching bag or an upholstered chair.  Assume your golf stance.  Swing your left arm away from the object, and then swing at it feeling your left arm and wrist straight at impact.  You can view this drill and correct and incorrect impact positions on my website www.golflessonsorangecounty.com.

Improving this key principle is the secret to vastly improving your golf game.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

#6 The Masters

My favorite golf event of the year.  DVR record hours of the best golfers on a demanding and exciting golf course.  Get to fast forward past the commercials and boring parts.

If you love golf you should put this on your bucket list to one day go to the Masters ( I did 3 years ago) and you will view the course and the greens very differenbtly after having walked the grounds yourself and see  how well they play shots when the ball is 2 feet above their feet, the greens are about a 14 on the Stimp and sometimes missing their landing spot on the green by 1 yard gives them an almost imposible next shot.  Not to mention that sometimes they have to play a rediculous amount of break on their putts and chips.

Remember Tiger’s chip in on the par 3 when he went on to win?  I wont miss it and hope you don’t either.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Make golf fun for a new golfer

The purpose of this week’s blog is to share with you something that has been a re-occurring theme in my twenty years of teaching golf, which is making the game too difficult for a beginner.  It is targeted to the men out there who are going to introduce their wife or a female friend who is not very strong or athletic to the game of golf. 

While there are many women who are strong and athletic and will have no problem picking the game up quickly and being competitive, there are many women have not played a sport which helped them develop the hand eye co-ordination that is necessary to hit a small ball with a small club head on the end of a very long bat. This column is to educate you to help that woman (juniors also) enjoy their early golf experiences.

I have some suggestions to make it is an enjoyable experience rather that an ordeal that she will not want to experience again. Ladies, if you are learning on your own, follow the same suggestions. 

Consider having her take some basic lessons first so that she can learn to hit the ball and have it go somewhere.  Nothing is more frustration that swinging and missing.  Because this woman lacks upper body strength, proper technique is more important to her.  You may be able to muscle the ball a long way based on strength and prior athletic experience, but she likely will not be able to hit the ball very far to begin with.

She might feel frustrated if you take her to the golf course, and show her the ladies tees, and expect her to keep up with you from there.  She will have to hit several times to get to where your drive is and probably wind up just picking up her ball and not finishing many holes.

Don’t worry about forcing the new golfer to play by the “rules of golf”.  Allow her to play by these beginner rules.  This would be like teaching her to ski on the “bunny” slope versus a blue diamond ski slope.

Have her start at the 100 yard marker on a regulation course.  Every hole would be played as a par 3.  Better yet take her to a par 3 golf course which is a good learning environment.

If the golf ball is not on the green in three strokes (par), have her place the ball a few feet from the edge of the green and chip the ball onto the green.  Have her take no more than three putts, and then pick up and go to the next hole.  This will give her the feel of “playing” the entire hole.

When she is able to score 50 or better from the 100 yard maker, have her move back to the 150 yard marker and play from there until she can shot 50 or better.  The next progression is the 200 yard marker and finally the forward or ladies tees. 

Following this advice will speed up the pace of play for the new golfer, make it a more interesting, enjoyable and positive learning experience. They will be able to finish holes without having to pick up as often and be less frustrated.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Swing changes take time

I was asked the other day which is hardest, to teach a golfer who has played for a long time to change his swing or to teach a beginning golfer.

That depends largely on the individual, but with a new golfer you are working on developing new habits, not trying to change old ones. Changing a golf swing can be difficult. Why is this?

We often say that muscle memory needs to be developed. In fact, muscles have no memory of their own. The truth is, the brain creates muscle-firing patterns. It tells the body what to do.

Change can be difficult if the habit you are trying to change has been ingrained for quite some time. The brain has established what is called a firing link, which activates a group of muscles to work together in a certain pattern.

A new link must be established before the swing change can be consistent. The longer the habit has been around, the more repetitions of that firing pattern are stored in memory. The more stored in memory, the longer the change will take.

A golfer has to be willing to take the time required to give the brain enough repetitions with the new movement patterns until they start to become the habit. We don’t know for sure how many repetitions change takes, but it can be in the thousands.

There are other issues involved in making changes, such as being under stress or fatigued. The brain will revert to old, familiar patterns it knows best. This is just the way the brain and the body are wired.

Stress is when we are particularly anxious about a shot, or feel more pressure than usual. All golfers know these feelings.

Incorrect swing repetitions will set you back. With effective practice  the change will come faster, because you will have more correct swings storing up in your memory bank.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Back 9 Blahs

Back nine blahs

Many golfers have a loss of energy, concentration, and focus during the back nine of their round of golf.

Many factors can influence this including physical condition, hydration, rest, and fuel.

If you do not have the physical stamina to perform at the level you want to for 18 holes, you must face up to that fact and incorporate some fitness training into your weekly regime.  Every top player at professional, colligate, and amateur levels train in order to compete at a level they desire.

The most ineffective training is going to the gym and using different machines to strengthen body parts separate from the other body parts.  Muscle groups which need to work together in the golf swing need to be trained together

Functional training, which incorporates many different body parts, in a manner that is replicating the golf motion, is the best and most effective training you can do.

I recommend that you hire a fitness professional, to put together a program that is efficient and effective for golf.  Check for the proper training and credentials as there is a big difference between the training and experience level of fitness trainers, just as there is in golf instructors.

One credential that is excellent is CSCS (certified strength and conditioning coach).  A bachelor’s degree is required prior to receiving this certification.   

A Master’s in Kinesiology indicates a greater understanding of how the body operates.

ACE. stands for Certified Athletic Trainer.  This includes training for injury treatment and prevention. 

All of the above certifications take years of study to achieve, and these trainers have the necessary skills to help you maximize your workout and prevent injuries.

You should be trained a few times on the program to be sure that you are doing the exercises correctly.  You will benefit the most when exercises are done correctly to train the appropriate muscle groups.

I also recommend that you get reevaluated after a few weeks.  If you have not been working out regularly it is quite probable that you will need to start on one program and progress to another as you gain some strength and flexibility.

The best way to find a professional is through personal recommendation.  You are welcome to check with me for my trainer recommendations.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

To Hit Your Target You Must Aim Correctly

Aim has two components – the aim of the club face and the alignment of the body.

For a shot that you plan to fly straight (rather than having a fade or draw), the club face must be aimed square, or at a 90-degree angle to the target line.

The target line is where you choose to aim. This may not be directly at the pin. For instance, if I know that the green has a large amount of right-to-left slope, I will aim right of the pin and allow the green to feed my ball back toward the hole.

The next step is to get the body properly aligned. Ideally, the body will be in synch with itself, meaning that shoulders, hips, feet and eyes are all aiming in the same direction. These body parts should be aligned so that they all point to a line parallel to the intended target line.

Imagine a railroad track. There is a right rail and a leftrail, which always run parallel to each other. The club head is aimed down the outer track, and the body is aligned parallel with the inner track. You can view this on my Web site – http://www.golflessonsorangecounty.com – on the drills page.

Often, the eyes are aimed incorrectly and are frequently not parallel to the body. If the eyes are aimed either right or left of the body, it influences the swing path. It also creates tension, as this sets the head off-center to the spine and will cause the neck muscles to work too hard.

We want to eliminate unnecessary tension to increase our swing efficiency.

Correct alignment also will allow the body to rotate properly in the swing. This is important for the correct swing path, which is a key to consistent golf.

Expert golfers may choose to vary a little from this alignment, but I recommend that the average golfer practice to aim the club face and align the body square to your intended target line.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Use Routines to Calm Yourself

Use Routines to Calm Yourself.

Performance anxiety affects golfers of all ability levels.  Although you might think of it as a problem, it sometimes can help your game.  The extra energy that anxiety creates can help us have more intensity of focus which helps performance.  Think about one of your successful recovery shots.  You hit an errant drive and need to hit your next shot through a very narrow opening in the trees.   If you can pull the shot off, you can reach the green, but a mistake will be costly.  This shot often is one of the best of the day.  You had extra intensity of focus for this shot. 

 The opposite is lack of intensity.  After a perfect and long drive down the middle, with only a short iron left to the green and you miss the green entirely.  Often because this shot is taken for granted, there is not enough focus.

 Anxiety that creates tension is the kind which hurts performance when we get tense and play in a negative mode.  You try to avoid mistakes instead of focusing on the results you want.  I experienced this kind of anxiety in the last tournament I played in.  I was not very confident about my game and found myself creating a lot of tension and worrying to much about errors.

In order to change my mindset, I did three things:

First, I made sure that my nutritional needs were taken care of so my brain had the necessary fuel to have clarity and my body had the necessary energy.  Next, I made sure to drink plenty of water and electrolyte replacements since this also leads to poor performance.

Last, I made myself follow a routine that I have discovered really helps to get me out of the anxiety state and into a performance state.  The routine is as follows:

  • · Get my target line from behind the ball fixed firmly in my mind
  • · Take one practice swing
  • · Take a deep breath and let tension out with it while exhaling
  • · Go through my setup routine which includes getting the target again firmly fixed in my mind
  • · Take another deep breath and start my stroke right after exhaling it
  • · Sing a song when I swing that helps me have good rhythm and tempo

Going through these steps each shot allowed me stop worrying about the results and focus on my routine.

Tour players know the routine is so vital to performance that they will start the whole process over again if something disrupts it or if they have left out a step.

In the recent British Open I observed the winner Louis Oosthuizen follow his routine on every shot.  He had a red circle on his glove which he stared at for a few seconds.  I am sure this is something he practiced to be a focusing and calming technique. 

 Having a routine can help you as well.  Just be sure to practice your routine so that it can help and not hinder you.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment