Category: Golf Instruction

What makes a good putter good? Golf Science Lab

Podcast, Season 4, Swing

What makes a good putter good? w/ Dr Rob Neal

We’ve all heard a lot of tips and tricks about putting, but what actually makes a good putter good. Today we talk with leading biomechanist Dr Rob Neal as he shares his research and experience working with the best players and putting coaches in the world.

What makes a good putter?

The key to being a successful putter is to deliver the putter head with the right energy at impact and the club face pointing in the right direction and do that consistently well.

You cannot on one stroke be perfect and on the next, nowhere near the mark. What you will see with expertise in putting is really high levels of consistency with putter head delivery.

If you measure them on a SAM or a GBD system you will find that the standard deviations of face angles, dynamic loft, etc are approximately 0.3 of a degree. That is very low and that might be over 10 or 15 putting strokes. The levels of variability or the standard deviations as you move proximally at expert players, increases a little bit and this is their mechanism of coordinating the stroke.

Good putters are also able to coordinate their movement and compensate if need be.

Good putters are also able to coordinate their movement and compensate if need be. If they pull a little bit too hard with the lead arm they can compensate by doing something different with the forearm and the hand in order to deliver the club or the putter, with the precision necessary to make the putt. If you didn’t have this subtle coordination amongst the body segments involved in a stroke, then if one part of the body made an error on the stroke, then that would be it. It will be all over.

All of the putting coaches that Dr Rob Neal works with (David Orr, Paul Hurrion and Phil Kenyon) strongly argue that this coordination of the body segments is one of the things that separate the good putter from the really good putters.

Really good putters have the ability to compensate or modify what they are doing within the stroke in order to produce the right outcome in the putter head.

Evaluating putting

The process that I would typically go through is examine what someone does with the putter first. What the stroke mechanics look like,face angle, dynamic loft, putter path, rise angle, etc and then work my way from the putter back to what the body was doing in order to produce that particular pattern of movement.

The process that I would typically go through is examine what someone does with the putter first.

The challenge then is to find good elements in anyone’s putting stroke and then be able to modify those things and maybe disruptive in their technique and really make a difference for them putting reasonably well, and putting poorly.

There is no one solution that we would dictate is right for everyone because it’s to change a motor pattern, so we are looking for things that have the maximum impact with the minimum change.

Sometimes, that might be changing the putter or changing the loft and lie on the putter. If the stroke itself is really consistent but there is too much dynamic loft, at impact then the simple solution would be to change the loft on the putter, reduce it by a couple of degrees or if there is not enough dynamic loft at impact, then maybe the ball needs to be put further forward in the stance so that you could make the same stroke but catch it at a different point during the arc that the putter is making.

I can tell you as opposed to what some people think, “try to keep the hands out of your putting stroke”, every person we have measured has hand action during their stroke. So it’s not like you can get rid of it, in fact, it’s probably a good thing to have in there.

About our guest

Dr Rob Neal

Dr. Robert NealDr Robert Neal, CEO, established golf biodynamics (GBD) in 2000 with the intention of providing the best possible biomechanics service available to golfers and teaching professionals alike. A unique skill set has made this a reality.

Today, the GBD philosophy towards performance enhancement has not changed, we are proponents of an integrated approach to supporting “the golf athlete”. That is, we combine a scientific approach with the practical skills necessary to bring about technical change, all of which is performed in conjunction with the teaching professional and athlete’s own support network (which may include the athletic development specialist, physical therapist, podiatrist, nutritionist etc).

The diverse nature of our clientele reflects the extensive skill set that rob and others in our GBD team bring to the table. While GBD regularly works with golfers of all playing abilities (playing professionals and recreational golfers) we also consult to teaching professionals and organizations such as the Jim McLean golf schools, the Titleist Performances Institute (TPI), the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), various PGA’s worldwide (Australia, New Zealand, US, UK, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, and Switzerland), The Danish Golf Union, The German National Team and more.

Links / Resources

Golf Biodynamics

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Creating a top junior golfer with K-VEST

PGA Instructor, Patrick Gocklin recently wrote a great article for golfwrx.com about the use of K-vest golf instruction wearable technology . Golf WRX is a wonderful source of information for junior golf performance.

 

Enjoy,

 

CGC Staff

Creating a top junior golfer with K-VEST golf system & K-PLAYER

In the fall of 2014, Brandon Gillis, a high school sophomore, walked into my facility for a K-VEST golf evaluation session. Brandon was referred by a K-VEST-certified fitness professional, Scott Prunier. Averaging in the low- to mid-70s in tournament competition, Brandon had just won the New Hampshire State Junior title, but he was barely getting any attention from colleges around New England — never mind top Division I programs — because of his history playing in bigger regional and national events on tougher, longer courses. His ambition was to play college golf at the highest possible level, and he was willing to work hard to achieve this goal.

To give you some background, Brandon was averaging 270 yards off the tee, was a slender 5-foot 10-inches tall, 160 pounds, and occasionally fought back pain. A couple of close friends had helped Brandon reach that point in his golfing career by using videos to assist him with his swing and overall golf game, but Brandon was stuck. He no longer knew what to do to improve his swing. To play at a higher level, he knew that he needed to gain more distance off the tee, add consistency with his irons and learn how to eliminate his back pain.

k-vest golf evaluation
Brandon’s original K-VEST readings.

I suited Brandon up in K-VEST golf wearable technolory system and captured his swing. When I looked at the swing summary reports and the graphs of his kinematic sequence, I identified a few red flags that indicated why he was losing distance, had issues with iron consistency and had some back pain. First, at address, Brandon would set up in C-Posture. Second, at the top of his backswing, his pelvis bend increased too much. Third, he had too much upper body rotation and upper body bend at the top of his backswing, which put him into a reverse spine angle, creating his occasional back pain. As a talented player, Brandon found ways to compensate for these challenges in his swing. However, to achieve the level of golf at which he wanted to play, it was important we address these aspects of his swing right away.

After assessing Brandon’s swing, I developed a program using the biofeedback function that’s a part of both K-VEST and K-PLAYER. As with all players who have more than one issue — and most do — I had to pick a starting point. As a rule, I work from setup through impact unless an area is screaming out for attention. In Brandon’s case, I was concerned about the injury risk from the reverse spine angle, but I decided to work on posture first, as I thought that could also help change the reverse spine angle.

Where a player starts a swing has a lot to do with where the swing goes, in my experience, so I worked on his posture first, getting him more athletic and feeling engaged through his feet and lower body with a neutral spine. To do this, while suited up in the K-VEST, I set him in the exact posture I wanted him to learn and hit the “set live” button on the K-VEST to save it as our model going forward. We then worked for some time setting him up in this position. Our work process was first without a club, then with a club, and then hitting balls.

After Brandon was comfortable in his new athletic posture, I trained Brandon’s pelvis bend by building a program that helped us train his pelvis bend at setup, impact, and the top. I used a number of variations and added difficulty as we went along. We followed the same work path as with the setup: no club, club and then hitting balls.

Watch the video below to learn more about how biofeedback works.

Once Brandon had mastered his new pelvis mechanics, we addressed the upper body side bend with biofeedback, following the same workflow. The greatest value to Brandon was using the biofeedback program I designed. He was quite pleased to know how it enabled him to consistently execute perfect reps to more quickly develop a more efficient and powerful swing. He could see and feel the improvement as we worked, and that increased his motivation.

Our work experience was like that of many of my students with K-VEST golf and K-PLAYER evaluations. After the first lesson, when we captured Brandon’s motion, we saw the efficiency and red flags that we had identified had already improved greatly. In one lesson, Brandon had learned to swing without creating reverse spine angle at the top of his swing (eliminating the risk of back injury), and most importantly to him he was able to swing faster with more control. However, to really make the new move permanent and enable him to perform when under pressure in tournaments, Brandon stayed dedicated to the training throughout the off-season. Session one was the “wow.” Then came the months of hard work. In my experience, the wow is not to be under-appreciated, as it provides inspiration for the hard work to come.

In order to feel prepared to have his best competitive season yet in 2015, Brandon came to see me about once a week through the winter. We worked mostly in the supervised form of coaching. We always used the biofeedback in K-VEST and K-PLAYER to train him and then captured swings at least two times per month to make sure he was progressing. Since he is a very competitive and talented player, I wanted to be sure I was supervising him consistently.

Once Brandon began his competitive season and he was traveling around the country, we would only meet once or twice per month to capture his swing with K-VEST to see if there were any red flags in his technique that we needed to improve quickly. Often, we were continuing to train what we worked on from our initial sessions, making sure he was not reverting to any of his previous poor swing patterns.

Key in training these high-level players in a competitive season is to not have them feeling as if they must change their motion under the pressure of competition, which leads to poor performance. So, during the competitive season, it was most important to help him manage his already-improved swing. In the offseason, we could attack the changes we wanted to make in a more intensive manner. This is a pattern we have stuck to ever since. We make changes in the offseason and maintain and build on that progress during the competitive season.

In the summer of 2015, Brandon finished third in the Southern Junior Amateur Championship at Olde Stone Golf Club in Kansas. After this event, his phone started to ring, calls coming from schools such as Wake Forest, North Carolina, Clemson and Virginia. His game had really improved. He hit a few drives over 300 yards, showing an improvement of more than 30 yards from the year before in this event, and he did so while under the pressure of playing in front of the coaches of these programs who could evaluate his new swing.

K Vest GolfIn the fall of 2015, Brandon received an early scholarship offer from Wake Forest, currently the No. 12-ranked team in the country, and accepted it. In the summer of 2016, he was a quarterfinalist in the U.S. Junior Amateur and is now the No. 16-ranked junior golfer in the world according to Golfweek. He is currently a senior in high school and will attend Wake Forest in the fall.

As a coach, I can say that using K-VEST golf technology and K-PLAYER with Brandon immensely accelerated our improvement process toward achieving his goals. We were never guessing how to improve; instead, we had designed our program to maximize Brandon’s swing efficiency, and he put in the effort. The ability for him to know he was making perfect practice reps every session and being able to capture swings to validate our program’s success, tracking his progress from start to finish, gave us great confidence that Brandon was continuing to improve as a player.

I have found that the use of K-VEST and K-PLAYER in different ways during the on- and off-seasons has added great value to how Brandon and all my players train and play. We use it to make big changes in the offseason and to maintain those changes during the competitive season. And when anything is starting to slide, we return to the setup first, using a setup we saved by “setting live” in biofeedback on a day when a player was swinging really well and confidently.

I am proud of the progress Brandon has made and look forward to being a part of his journey as he continues to grow as a golfer.

Patrick Gocklin

Patrick Gocklin is a Junior Performance Coach in New England, running a year-round Golf Channel Academy in Manchester, NH. As the founder of KGOLF360, Patrick utilizes 3D technology, Titleist Performance Institute’s golf-specific fitness programs, high-speed video, ground force and ball flight data. Patrick is recognized as one of the top Junior Golf coaches in New England for developing students who have played at the highest level of Division I Golf.

Dr. Nick Molinaro – How to Enter the Flow State in Golf

Dr. Nick recently wrote a great article for womensgolf.com  Dr. Nick is a frequent guest speaker at College Golf Camps of America.  We love this article because simply explains how performance is not forced.  Enjoy the information from our friend Dr. Nick.

CGC Staff

How to Enter the Flow State in Golf

Sport psychologist, Dr. Nick Molinaro explains how the right pre-competition preparation can help golfers get into the ‘zone’ or ‘flow’ state to achieve their highest levels of performance.

One of the most frequent questions I am asked by golfers of all abilities, coaches and parents is how to enter the zone or flow state in golf. The profession of sports psychology has different opinions about the ability to enter this highest level of performance. Some believe it is random and more serendipity-like while others believe it can be experienced by effective decision making of selective attentional shifting. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a Hungarian Psychologist, noted in his study on Happiness:

“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times…The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” (1990, p. 3).

I believe that an athlete can proactively set the stage for entering “Flow” states by utilizing the model Csikszentmihalyi designed.

Every moment in practice and competition a golfer has the opportunity to choose where to place their attention. I will provide a more in-depth discussion in the future about how this system is employed so, for now, we will make it simple.

The golfer should identify a challenge they want to stretch themselves towards. It is not simply the number of fairway hits, coming through the ball, etc. It is the mental process that demands attention. Some great examples are remaining focused, relaxed and present prior to making contact with the ball. If the player has some basic skills in each of these areas than the challenge is to do it more effectively.

Using a scale of 1-10 for Focused Effort (FE) the player identifies the specific mental skill and assigns a challenge level to it for their FE target. Attaining the target score of FE as frequently as possible for the entire round would be the challenge. The targeted skill is to employ it with the target FE each time they hit a shot. For example, being focused, relaxed and present with an FE of 8. Initially, this may appear easy, but I can assure you, it will take lots of practice to do so.

Here is the model Csikszentmihalyi developed:

How to enter the flow state in golf

Note that:

  • low skills and low challenge produce APATHY;

  • high skills and low challenge produce BOREDOM;

  • low skills and high challenge produce ANXIETY; and

  • high skills and high challenge produce FLOW.

Setting up a Challenge-Skills Balance for each competition helps in reaching flow states. Refer to Process Goals from my previous article to familiarize yourself with them.

I highly recommend this exercise:  identify a process goal for the skills and FE on a scale of 1-10 for the Challenge. Be sure to construct the Challenge-Skills Balance before each of your competitions as well as for your practice sessions.

Flow State in Golf

Channing Hensley’s Pre-tournament and Practice Notes

I asked one of my very talented high school juniors, Channing Hensley, who has committed to UNC Wilmington, how she prepares for her competitions and practice sessions and she kindly provided the following notes.

1Tournament Play Preparation

  • When possible, always play a practice round to familiarize myself with the course layout and greens.
  • If not possible, do course research and map out via web and diagram into yardage book.
  • Go through each hole and visualize strategy based on hole layout, yardage and map strategy into the yardage book. Develop my game plan.
  • Do a hole-by-hole visualization and see myself playing the hole.
  • When playing the practice round, drop balls from various locations around each green to practice chipping/pitching. Do the same on the greens for putting.
  • Work on pre-shot routine (cadence and visualization) techniques.

2Preparation for Practice

  • Never practice without a plan or goal.
  • Write down objective for the day before arriving at the course.
  • All drills will have outcome based results that I can track to help create a similar to tournament fee.
  • Dedicate a certain amount of time for practice sessions and take breaks every 30 minutes to stay mentally sharp.
  • Place heavy emphasis on process and pre-shot routine and implement before each shot during practice.
  • Finally, and certainly not last, make it fun! Realize how much I enjoy the game and be thankful for the opportunity I have to play it.

More recommendations for pre-competition preparation to come in future articles.

I would love to hear from you about your ideas, comments or questions below.

Dr. Nick.


 

dr-nick-molinaro-womens-golfOur contributing writer in Sport Psychology, Dr. Nick Molinaro is a licensed psychologist with specialties in Counseling, Human Development, and Sport Psychology.

Although his clients have ranged from the NASCAR, NBA, NFL, USA Ski and Gymnastic Team members, he is mostly known for his work with golfers. Dr. Nick has worked with players on PGA, LPGA, Symetra, LET tours as well as collegiate players at some of America’s most prestigious colleges including Oregon, Notre Dame, U Arizona, and U Texas,

Dr. Nick is the Mental Coach for the Michael Breed Golf Academy at Trump Golf Links, Fiddler’s Elbow Golf Academy, NJ and is an Advisory Board Member on WorldJuniorGolf.com and the Fellowship for Christian Athletes. He is frequently a guest on The Golf Fix on The Golf Channel and the 19th Hole Weekend Edition on CBS Sport Radio.

Find out more about golf psychology at Dr. Nick’s website, and follow him online on Twitter and Facebook.

Score Better Through Proper Golf Course Management

To commit to improving your game through course management, the first step is to quit working on your swing for a while. That doesn’t mean you should stop practicing, just stop tinkering or making any technical changes (at least for the time being). For now, stick with the swing you currently have, and get to work lowering your scores through better thinking on the course.

This seemingly simple step might be a little bit harder than you realize to take to heart. For many golfers, making changes to their swing is a continual process that never really stops. This is especially true for amateur golfers who haven’t quite yet found a swing they are comfortable with, but have faith in the process. You can always return to tinkering with your swing once you’ve begun to understand how course management works. In the meantime, it will likely take some concerted effort to get your mind out of the “swing fix” mode and into a place where you just trust your technique and go play the game.

Do What You Do Best

At the heart of the matter, golf course management is really about putting yourself in situations that play to your strengths, and avoiding situations that expose your weaknesses. Think about the golf course like the defense of a football team. The bunkers, water hazards, slopes, trees, etc., are all defenders that are trying to stop you from shooting good scores. It is your job to beat that defense with a solid game plan. Just like the QB of a football team who looks over the defense and picks out the weak spots, you should be analyzing the course and picking shots that give you the best scoring opportunities.

Before you decide where the weaknesses in the golf course are, you need to understand fully the strengths and weaknesses in your own game. What is your favorite ball flight? Alternatively, what ball flight can you just not hit at all?

Simply, don’t hit the shots you aren’t comfortable with, and find ways to hit the shots you love. Regardless of what the kind of shots the course is encouraging you to hit, try not to stray too far from what comes natural to you.

For example, if the only way to hit a protected green is to play a high fade around the tree line, and you know your game well enough to understand that you’re just not capable of making the shot, simply don’t try it! One day you might add that specific skill set to your arsenal but for now it’s not worth the aggravation (and bad score) that will result from not executing the shot. Instead try a shot path that you have a better chance of executing. In this case it may be a low punch shot or even a layup that gets you close enough to setup a chip shot.

Remember, there is always time to go back and learn new shots on the range. The time to push the limits of your capability is not when you’re on the course and trying to score well.

Build a Conservative Plan

Many golfers choose to use a more-aggressive golf course management strategy simply because it sounds like more fun. After all, who doesn’t want to try for all of the par five greens in two shots, or try to drive the green on a short par four? Aggressive shots might be exciting, but they are rarely the smart play. If you are like most amateur golfers, you don’t possess the consistency in your ball striking to take on challenging shots hole after hole and escape without doing some major damage to your scorecard.

How to Score Better Through Proper Golf Course Management

PHOTO BY WAYNE BOLAND ON FLICKR.

When you are putting together your game plan for a given round, look for the most conservative path first. Once you have figured out the safest clubs to hit on each hole, and the safest targets to pick, then you can mix in a few more aggressive decisions if the opportunity presents itself.

When it doubt, always opt for the safer shot – your score at the end of the round will thank you.

How to Score Better Through Proper Golf Course Management

Golficity. “How to Score Better Through Golf Course Management.” Golficity. COPYRIGHT 2016 GOLFICITY LLC, 09 Apr. 2015. Web. 03 Nov. 2016.

How to Practice “The Shot”

 

The Golf Shot Tips

In this article, Andrew Rice (Director of Instruction at The Club at Savannah Harbor),  bridges the gap between the practice ground and the course by turning our attention purely towards results (SHOT).

With this mode of practice there should be a constant changing of clubs, targets, lies and intent. Here the golfer should incorporate their pre-shot routine as they hit specific and on-course styled shots.

Rice is a big fan of hitting irons to a specific side of a flag or target. Creating scenarios in your head as you execute each unique shot.  There’s a deep pot bunker just in front and slightly right of this pin. Thinking “I’ve got to keep this eight iron about twenty feet left…” Drivers should be played down imaginary fairways from Augusta, Pebble Beach and Royal Troon, with trouble invariably looming on one side or both. Get into each shot just like you would on the golf course. Be sure to:

·      Change clubs after no more than two shots

·      Switch targets for every shot

·      Use your pre-shot routine just as you would on the course

·      Be specific with your intent for each shot

the Golf shot

Don’t attempt crazy or unusual shots; we’ve already done that in our skill session. It’s time to step back inside the lines and play your go-to ball flight. For an added challenge you could even keep yourself accountable and see how many consecutive shots you can hit to the appropriate side of a target. Everything about this practice mode should simulate real, on-course golf. Play golf!

http://www.andrewricegolf.com/andrew-rice-golf/2016/10/how-to-practice-3-shot

Rice, Andrew. “How to Practice: 3. SHOT.” RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Nov. 2016.

Short Game Practice Drills

Here are four practice drills for you junior golfers (also used by Tour players) to start honing your short game and making more up and downs.

1. ONE CLUB, TWO DISTANCES

In order to become a genius from 100 yards and in (the scoring zone), you need to develop your feel.

A great way to practice feel is to hit the same club several distances (you can try this with your long game too). With this drill the aim is to make it instinctive how far the pin is away from you (from within 100 yards), something you’ll need to do to get to low single figures.

  1. Start at 125 yards and hit one ball to the target
  2. Move to 115 and use the same club to hit to that same target
  3. Move to 105 and change to whatever club you hit from this distance
  4. Move to 95 and hit the same club as you did from 105
  5. Move to 85 and hit whatever club you would from this distance
  6. Finish by hitting your 85 yard club from the 75 yard position.

So…you’ll have played from 6 distances and used your 3 wedges twice each, to 2 different distances.

Some players choke down on the club and change their ball position for distance control and others use swing length and tempo. Experiment with both and see what works for you. You can also repeat this drill and create more distances by using 5 yard increments.

2. REAL SHORT GAME PRACTICE

It is very important to instill the “practice as you play” philosophy. What this means is that you simulate the golf course as much as you can.

One great short game drill is to take 20 balls and drop them around the practice green from different lies and positions. For each shot, you go through your routine just as you would on the golf course and imagine you are playing in a competition on whatever golf course you normally play (or perhaps where your next competition may be). If the ball comes to rest outside of gimme range (2ft), go through your pre-putt routine, just as you would on the course or in a competition and try to hole the putt.

When you’ve made the up and down, move onto the next ball until you’ve holed all 20. This exercise might take 40-50 minutes to perform, but it makes practice very meaningful.

What this does is:

  • Practice your routine – getting your process the same and focusing on it should be consistent no matter what the shot or situation
  • Work on your imagination and visualization
  • Simulate pressure while you practice
  • Makes practice fun, playing from different lies and trying different shots
  • Gives every shot a purpose, instead of being just another practice ball

3. SEE IT, FEEL IT, TRUST IT

This is great drill for improving your chipping quickly and works on using a variety of clubs from the same distance, so you can see the benefit of using less lofted clubs from around the green.

  1. From the edge of the green, pick a hole on the practice green that’s about 20-25 ft away.
  2. Take your 6-iron and go through your pre-shot routine
  3. Your pre-shot should have 3 main steps: Visualization, Feel and Trust. When you’re visualizing your shot ask yourself, where the ball will land and how it will roll out to the hole and where on the hole it will go in. When you’ve seen the shot in your mind’s eye, feel the swing you need to produce that shot. When you’re standing over the ball, say to yourself “trust it” and do exactly that.
  4. When you’ve holed your 6-iron, repeat the process your 7-iron and move all the way through to your PW. That’s a minimum of 5 shots, so see how close you can get to a score of 5 each time.

4. PAR 18 GAME FOR THE SHORT GAME

This game was devised by Mind coach, Karl Morris.

  1. From around the green, you’re going to pick 9 locations to play from, 3 easy, 3 medium and 3 difficult.
  2. Each mini hole is a par 2 and by playing all 9 holes your make the total “Par 18”
  3. Play all 9 holes and keep your score and make 18 your target.

You want to create the same pressure as if you were on the golf course, whereas on the golf course we want to reduce pressure. By thinking about your score while practicing (and trying to beat it), you get closer to the pressure you feel on the course.

-http://www.facebook.com/golfstateofmind. “4 Awesome Short Game Practice Drills – Free Instruction For The Mental Game of Golf.” Free Instruction For The Mental Game of Golf. David Mackenzie, 14 Oct. 2016. Web. 24 Oct. 2016.

How to Practice Skill – With Andrew Rice

In this article Andrew Rice, Director of Instruction at The Club at Savannah Harbor (also named one of the Top Five Golf Instructors in the State of South Carolina by Golf Digest), specifically speaks to junior golfers on how to practice “skill.”

Rice states: “Boys are typically much better chippers than girls! And it’s not because they’re more creative or the fact that they’re stronger physically which allows them to hit a broader variety of shots. It’s because they love to practice ‘dumb’ and crazy shots! Boys continually strive to outdo one another and I believe it’s via this innate behavior that they learn to hit those amazing and skillful shots around the green. Ever seen a female trick shot artist? Hmmm…

My approach to developing skill is that we take this ‘outside the lines’ approach to practicing the shortgame and apply it to every element of golf. From driving to putting we can develop our skill and our ability to control the golf ball by spending time purposefully hitting ‘abnormal’ golf shots. (Watch in the video above)

When practicing to develop your skill, challenge yourself to become better at intentionally controlling the following elements of a golf shots:

  • Distance
  • Launch direction
  • Peak height
  • Curvature of the ball flight
  • Where you strike the ball on the face

When practicing ‘outside the lines’ change your intent after every second shot. Use a variety of clubs, targets and lies. Keep in mind it’s really easy and fun to practice these elements when you have a TrackMan, but they are entirely doable without any technology. Here are a few ideas:

1. THE 3 BALL STRIKE POINT CHALLENGE

This drill is great fun for golfers of all abilities and ages.  All you need is a can of Dr. Scholl’s Odor X foot spray. I firmly believe we become better at completing any task when we learn to complete it a variety of different ways. Shot 1 is outside the vertical line, shot 2 inside it and shot 3 is on the line.

The 3 Ball Strike Point Challenge

2. THE SPIN AXIS CHALLENGE

When taking on this challenge you want to use a 6 iron and try to hit the biggest hook or slice possible for your opening shot. From there the objective is to progressively reduce the amount of curvature until you get to a straight shot. If you can get 9 shots, as in the example above, you’re doing very well.

The Spin Axis Challenge

When practicing to develop skill I cannot encourage you enough be creative, have fun and think outside the box. You can even hit one-handed or one-legged shots! Close your eyes, change your grip, hit it out of divots – anything goes. Come up with your very own, out of the ordinary practice session. Now get out there and start spending some time practicing like a teenage boy…”

-Rice, Andrew. “How to Practice: 2. SKILL.” RSS. Andrew Rice Golf, 5 Sept. 2016. Web. 18 Oct. 2016.

How Much Should a Junior Golfer Practice?

Let the Coaches Coach

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how frequently a junior golfer should practice. Jeff Troesch, longtime director of mental training for David Leadbetter’s golf academies, advises parents to allow a golfer’s coach to set up a practice schedule suitable for the junior player. Troesch further advises that it’s vitally important that the coach, player and the player’s family all agree to the schedule. With everyone on the same page there is less chance of anyone forming a resentment to the schedule that may hamper the young golfer’s progress.

Quantity Vs. Quality

Quantity of practice is often less significant than the quality of a golfer’s practice time. While many aspects of a younger golfer’s game require improvement, that doesn’t mean he must work on each area every day. Varying workouts can add interest and enjoyment. Woods advises golfers of all ages against judging the quality of their workouts by the time they spend practicing or the number of balls they hit. “Some of my most productive practice sessions have lasted all of 20 minutes,” he says.

Focus on Weaker Areas

The Junior Golf Scoreboard website advises junior golfers to analyze their playing results to help determine how much practice time to devote to specific areas of their games. The site notes the best college players typically invest about two-thirds of their practice time on their short games. A quick check of your scorecards will reveal how many putts you used on each hole, which can help you judge how much time to spend on putting practice. By keeping more detailed notes on each competitive shot you can determine how successful your other shots have been. You can then allot the appropriate amount of time to each activity.

General Guidelines

As a general rule, the Junior Golf Scoreboard site recommends that young players practice short putts every day, with the goal of sinking 50 or more 3-foot putts in a row. Juniors should use one or two practice sessions per week to work on drills, with the remaining sessions focusing on shotmaking skills. When practicing real-life shots, players may work on areas such as the short game, hitting fades and draws, bunker play or developing the proper trajectories to keep a variety of approach shots on the green.

-Rose, M.L. “How Much Should a Junior Golfer Practice.” Golf Tips. Demand Media, n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.

Harness the Power of Uphill

One of the keys to effective course management is to harness the power of uphill.  Once you are inside 50 yards or so from the green, ideally you want to be playing uphill as often as possible. Short shots are almost always easier to negotiate when they are played uphill toward the hole, as opposed to down the slope running away. Speed control is key on short shots, and you will have more of a margin for error when you are playing up the slope.  Uphill putts are easier than downhill putts, because players instinctively have a tendency to decelerate through the ball, fearing it will otherwise finish well pass the hole. So, leaving yourself an uphill putt where you can be aggressive is a better choice.

So what does this have to do with golf course management? Simply put, it’s your job to position your ball below the hole as often as possible throughout the round. Try picking targets that error on the side of being below the hole, so you can enjoy the benefit of chipping and putting uphill more often. You won’t always be able to position your ball successfully in this way – but the more you can do it, the better off you will be.

-Golficity. “How to Score Better Through Golf Course Management.” Golficity. Golficity LLC, 09 Apr. 2015. Web. 13 Oct. 2016.

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