Golf Wisdom

I would like to share with you, my thoughts about the golf swing and how to play better golf. Playing better golf is not always about the swing as there are many areas of the game that need to be addressed to play better golf. In this article I will provide answers to questions I often get asked by my students, and I will also try to give you a better understanding of elements of the game based on my 30 plus years of experience as a player and teacher of this great game.

Let’s first talk about consistency. Weather I’m working with one of my students or fine tuning my own swing, I will never make a swing change as result of one or two shots. I’ve seen people hit a bad shot on the range and immediately change something in their swing for the next shot. This can send you down a long road of tinkering with your swing until you are so far off the right path you forget what your proper fundamentals were as you struggle to get your swing back. Now if I hit 5 or 10 bad shots in a row there would be reason for concern.

About making changes in your swing. Changes should always come in baby steps. For instance, if you are hitting weak fades and consistently losing your shots to the right (for right handed players), and you feel you need to strengthen your grip. Start with rotating both hands clockwise on the club a fraction instead of jumping to a very strong grip.

First things first. If you are fairly new to the game or if you live in a colder climate like I do. You need to work on certain things first to get your swing in order so that you can build from there and get into mid season form. At the beginning of every season I make it a goal to just make solid contact on the ball consistently before I go deeper into my swing. This may mean correcting some minor flaws in my fundamentals due to a long winter off but nothing too heavy or any major changes in my swing. Secondly, alignment and ball position. Before your swing gets too grooved with compensating moves because of bad alignment and ball position. Lay a couple of golf clubs on the ground to help you line up to your target and keep your ball position correct. For the first 3 weeks of the season, I always practice with clubs on the ground to help me with alignment and ball position until I can trust my eyes to get me in the right positions. These two fundamentals are very important. Here’s an example of what can happen when you practice in the wrong order. I’m hitting shots on the range and I am missing my target 10 yards to the right every time. I finally start hitting my target somewhat consistently. I go to practice the next day and decide to start my session by checking my alignment and discover I am aiming 10 yards to the right. I have just realized that I spent all of yesterday grooving a swing that pulls my shots 10 yards to the left!

About playing the game. There is a way of getting yourself around the golf course without getting yourself into too much trouble. It’s called playing the percentages. To start with, most people have a natural shape to their shots. Weather it’s a draw or a fade go with it, don’t try to fight it or do too much if you’re not capable of shaping your shots both ways. Also, get a good handle on what your misses are. If for instance, your natural shot is a fade but you tend to pull it straight to the left once in a while you may want to aim accordingly to give yourself room for error on certain shots. Let’s say you have a mid iron into a large green that has the flag on the left side. You can aim slightly right of the flag so the if you hit your usual fade you are still on the green and if you pull your shot it will go right at the flag.

You can also play the percentages when it comes to distance. Let’s say you are on a par 3 that has a long green, the flag is at the back and there is all kinds of trouble behind the green. The distance to the back of the green is 180 yards. Choose the club that you hit 170 yards. If you hit your usual shot you will have a medium length putt. If you don’t get all of it you will have a long putt or maybe a chip but still have a chance at par. Even if you strike it perfectly and it goes a little further than usual, you will be at the back end of the green with a good chance at a birdie. This is a better choice than choosing the club that goes 180 yards and trickles off the back of the green or flies into deep trouble if you strike it perfectly.

I hope this helps you play better golf.

Enjoy your game!

Back 9 List: How To Combat Golfer’s Withdrawal

We’ve made the turn and are on the back 9 of winter. Here is my Back 9 List™ to help you get through this tough stretch of holes. Let’s see if we can par out!

  • Hole #10 Watch Golf Movies: This is a Back 9 List™ in itself! 9 of my favourite golf movies in no particular order. Tin cup, Dead Solid Perfect, Happy Gilmore, Follow The Sun, Caddyshack, The Legend of Bagger Vance, Bobby Jones-Stroke of Genius, The Greatest Game Ever Played, Babe. Watching one per week will get you to April!
  • Hole #11 Play Golf: That’s right, play golf! Find some old orange golf balls, grab a 7 iron and make a course out of your front yard, your back yard and your driveway! (this ones for the true die hard golfer)
  • Hole #12 Go South: Take a trip south and play some real golf. This is a great way to get the rust off and tune up for the spring. You will come back refreshed and ready for your season!
  • Hole #13 Attend a Golf Show: There are Golf & Travel Shows in northern cities at this time of year. You can see all the new products that are out for this season and there is usually a driving range area for you to hit balls and try out the newest equipment. You can also find some great deals for your golf trip!
  • Hole #14 Yell FORE!: You can do this anytime, anywhere! Whenever you feel the urge, yell FORE at the top of your lungs! This is a great stress reliever! (ok, I’m losing it now)
  • Hole #15 Have a Party With a Golf Theme: Putting tournaments, video golf games, wear golf clothes, Shooters (Broken Down Golf Carts are my fav!). Every hole is the 19th. hole!
  • Hole #16 Golf Books With Pictures: There are some great books out there about golf courses, golf course architecture etc. with beautiful big pictures and interesting information.
  • Hole #17 Go Shopping: A little retail therapy always helps. Buy a putter, play on the indoor putting green, maybe some new clothes, hit balls into a net, anything to get you out of the house!
  • Hole #18 Talk Golf: What golfer doesn’t enjoy talking about golf. Share golfing stories, discuss current affairs about golf. Talk about how you are going to play a lot of golf this year, work on your game, all those golf courses you are going to play that you haven’t played yet. Tweet about Golf!

It’s almost February (only 28 days in February!). March will fly by and you will be golfing before you know it!

I hope my Back 9 List™ helps you get through the final stretch of winter!

Front 9 List: How To Combat Golfer’s Withdrawal

Do you find yourself longing to smell the freshly cut grass on a golf course? Do you forget what it feels like to make contact on a golf ball with a club? My Front 9 List™ will help you get through the dog days of winter and ease the effects of Golfer’s Withdrawal.

  • Hole # 1 Watch Golf On TV: Blue skies, green grass, soothing commentary. I can see the snow melting already!
  • Hole # 2  Practice Your Putting: You get to feel contact with a golf ball. A glass, a ball, a putter and carpet are all you need!
  • Hole # 3  Play Wii Golf: Don’t get wrapped up in swing mechanics. Look at it as exercise and have fun! Oh ya! Keep your head down and your left arm straight!
  • Hole # 4  Plumb Bob Your House: You can find out if your house is level. If you can do the spider man pose, go for it!
  • Hole # 5  Indoor Golf Simulator: Play any course in the world. Every hole is the 19th. hole!
  • Hole # 6  Wear Your Golf Shoes: If you walk as carefully on your hardwood as you do on the greens, you’ll be ok. This will also fluff up your carpet!
  • Hole # 7  Clean Your Clubs: You can wash off all the bad shots from last season and you get to look at and play with your clubs!
  • Hole # 8  Make A Putting Green In The Snow: Start off with snow angels and before you know it you have a putting green in your backyard. A little water should get your green running at about 44 on the stimp meter!
  • Hole # 9  Use A Golf Calendar: Pictures of golf courses to look at every day. 3 more pictures and it will be spring!

Stay tuned for my Back 9 List™. More help is on the way!

If you have your own ways of dealing with Golfer’s Withdrawal, please share them with us by adding a comment.

I hope this helps you get through the winter!

Walk To The Beat Of Your Own Swing

The difference between a good round and a bad round can be found in an often over looked area of the golf swing. You hear Pros talk about rythm, tempo and timing but how do you practice that?

On those days when you are striking the ball just right, take a mental note of the speed to the start of your back swing, the transition to your downswing through impact and into your follow through. You will find that it is fairly consistent throughout your round.

Here are 3 ways you can find that sweet rythm and keep it for the rest of the day.

Don’t Rush: It starts when you get out of bed. Give yourself plenty of time to do everything you need to do before your round. Shower, breakfast, travel to the course, check in, warm up, practice. Do everything from brushing your teeth to driving the speed limit at a comfortable pace for you.

Warm Up: When you arrive at the practice tee, take time to stretch. Start with a few easy swings with a mid to short iron and be aware of the speed of your whole swing from beginning to end, gradually speeding it up or slowing it down until you feel like your swinging at about 90% of your real swing. When you are ready to hit shots, start with your wedges hitting 3/4 shots working your way up slowly to full shots. Then you can move on to mid irons then long irons, fairway woods and finishing off with your driver. This will prevent you from snatching the club away in the takeaway and swinging out of your shoes which could happen if you start off with your driver.

Walking: This one should be easy but can get away from you if you don’t apply yourself, especially if you are riding in a cart. Walk at the same comfortable pace throughout your round keeping your pre shot routine consistent.

Your ball striking will be more crisp, your distance control more accurate and your misses will be smaller.

From One Game to Another

Hello friends! Welcome back. From time to time in this space I will drift away from my passion of helping others “Enjoy their Game” to other stories about golf and the people who love the game. Something funny or interesting, even a little something about myself just to get personal.

I would like to share a story with you about how I almost did not become a Golf Professional. To explain how I got my start as a Golf Professional I have to go back a little. Kind of a mini life story. Since I was about 15, I aspired to be a professional snooker player (billiards). I gave myself 10 years to pursue this and was willing to “get a real job” if I had not turned pro by the age of 25. I became one of Canada’s top amateurs and would be heading to England in the fall of 1987 to turn pro at the age of 22. Ironically that summer, on my way to a golf course to play golf with a friend my pick up truck was struck by an oncoming car trying to pass on a hill. The accident caused me to be bed ridden for about six months with injuries to my back, neck and left shoulder. Lucky to survive actually. I spent almost three years rehabilitating. Realizing I could not pursue my snooker career because bending over a snooker table was too painful on my back, I went back to school not knowing what I wanted to do with my life although I always knew I was cut out to be a professional athlete of some kind. I had just started school when I saw a golf course being built near where I lived. I thought I could work there part time while I went to school. I had played golf since I was a kid but not seriously, although I approach anything I do seriously and want to be the best I can be. I got the job but they wanted me full time so I thought I would work for the summer and go back to school in the fall. On opening day the person that was hired to cover the other shift quit. I took the bull by the horns and worked both shifts everyday for three months. I received a generous raise every month and eventually was running the operation. I was thoroughly enjoying it and decided to pursue golf as a career. I continued to work there for three years working on my game and learning as much as I could about the golf business. Three years later I turned pro and secured a job at another golf club. I have been a Golf Professional for 16 years now. I love my career and am very passionate about teaching others to golf!

I would like to thank my Father for instilling a strong work ethic in me, introducing me to golf, teaching me many things as well as to play golf and showing me how to win with grace and lose with dignity. I would also like to thank my sister Patricia for her guidance and inspiration.

How Did Golf Become So Complicated?

Did you ever wonder what golf was like in it’s infancy? There were no swing coaches, short game gurus, sports psychologists, personal trainers or high tech equipment. It was simple, hit the ball and get it in the hole.

Many of us are guilty of paralysis by analysis. Too many thoughts, too mechanical. In an effort to get better, we get worse. We even try very hard to clear our mind and keep things simple. There is swing speed, ball speed, club head speed, spin rate, launch angle, spine angle, swing plane, flying elbows, ball position, supination, pronation and the x factor to name a few.  I could go on and on!

The golf swing happens too fast for the mind to have any thoughts. A golfer should rely on feel when addressing the ball and keep his or her thoughts to a minimum. One or two thoughts before you swing is all you need. Aligning to your target and a key thought to start your swing is enough to keep you focused. Practicing a pre shot routine until it becomes second nature will go a long way to keeping your thoughts to a minimum. Leave most of your thinking to practicing on the range and trust your feel when on the golf course.

When practicing on the range, work on one swing component at a time until it is working consistently then move on to another part of your swing. This will help you to build your swing methodically, keep your focus and prevent you from jumping from one swing thought to another.

Learn From Watching Women

In this age of power golf and high tech equipment, we sometimes forget to swing the club. I mean truly SWING and let the high tech golf club do more of the work for us. Some Men have big egos and some Men have big muscles. Some Men have both! For most, cranking the ball out there a country mile is the most important thing. Believe me! I love to hit the ball far, but I am much happier shooting a 72 than an 82.

We can all learn from watching others, using what we think is useful and discarding what we don’t like. Men! Leave your egos at the club drop long enough to realize we can learn a great deal from Woman watching. That is, watching Women on the LPGA Tour.

They are not as big as us and some are not as strong as us but they are more flexible than us and a lot of them can hit the ball as far and some farther than us. How do they do it? They swing the club and let it do more of the work.

I have studied Women on the LPGA tour and I can tell you that the majority of them have impeccable fundamentals. Starting with the grip, posture, stance, ball position and alignment. They also have great balance, partly because the don’t swing out of their shoes but also because of a sound, balanced set up at address. All these factors contribute to them making solid contact on the ball with the sweet spot of the club face. That right away, is going to make the ball go further and more importantly straighter!

Their swings are so smooth with great tempo and timing that it helps them to generate their maximum club head speed where it is needed the most, at impact. They do not try to muscle it from the top of their swing.

Their short games and course management are great as well! They will not let their egos make them try to go for that long second shot to reach a par five in two if they have to swing out of their comfort zone to do it. They will play to their strengths and lay up to a yardage that they can stick a wedge in there close and still make their birdie.

So the next time you are channel surfing hoping to catch The Long Drive Championship, stop on the channel showing an LPGA event long enough to learn from these great women that are hitting the ball straighter than you and as far if not farther than you.