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BLOG 2020-03-04T14:59:13+00:00

Welcome to my Blog..

Welcome to my Blog. Golfers are always asking “How do I improve my golf game?” Perhaps one of my recent articles will help lower your scores.

Garden Golf

23rd March 2020 and we are in lockdown due to the coronavirus spreading around the world.  Golf courses, driving ranges and practice facilities are closed meaning NO GOLF.

So, I thought I would use my imagination, knowledge and a few accessories to launch a video series called Garden Golf.  The aim is to provide you with practice drills and challenges you can do in your garden while at home.

These videos will range from fun to functional and the aim is to keep you going with a little practice through this difficult time.  I hope you enjoy what you see, if you do make sure you subscribe to my channel and hit the notification bell.

Enjoy


Rain, Rain go away – Are you working on your golf for a sunny day?

 

As I sit here and write this Blog the rain continues to pour into my back garden.  What once looked like a well-maintained area to enjoy time with the family, is now a sodden mess flooded with water!  When will it end?

Golf is a fair-weather sport, some choose to play in less fair weather but it’s a game that cannot truly be enjoyed in poor weather let alone the wettest winter/spring ever! (or at least that’s what it feels like).  But the sun will come out and summer is on its way, so how’s your practice going during this wet spell?  What was that, you haven’t hit a golf ball in how many weeks?  Well if that’s the case I have some bad news for you come the summer - your golf is going to stink!

Whether you would normally play once or twice a week, why not replace your cancelled game of golf for some real practice.  After all, practice sessions don’t need to last 4 hours, you can’t lose any golf balls and if you hit a bad shot you get a mulligan!

So if you do decide to head to the range instead of playing golf then why not combine the two and give this game a go…..

 

US OPEN – Simulated Round of Golf

 KEY

DRIVE: Must use a driving club (wood of your choice)

APPROACH: Must be a full swing 7/8 iron

PITCH: Must play a 30-40 yard

 RULES:

1.     Use a real golf course score card to decide the holes you’re playing or play 6 of each par (3,4,5) in random order to make 18 holes.

2.     Pick two targets on the range to use as your ‘fairway’ width for your DRIVE

3.     Pick a target to aim at 7/8 iron distance for your APPROACH

4.     Pick a target of around 30 - 40 yards for your PITCH

 PLAY

PAR 3’s = 1 x APPROACH shot

PAR 4’s = 1 x DRIVE & 1 x APPROACH

PAR 5’s = 1 x DRIVE & 2 x APPROACH

Add a penalty shot every time you:

Miss the fairway (outside drive goal posts)
Miss the Green (outside approach goal posts)

Add 2 putts to complete your score for the hole.

This type of practice is called ‘random’ practice.  It’s a great way to assess your game as you only get to hit each shot once putting you under pressure as if you were on the course.  I would encourage you make a practice swing before each shot and focus as if you were on the golf course.  As you will be changing your club after each shot you will likely not perform as well as if you were hitting the same club over and over, but that’s golf!  Par is the best you can score as you will have 2 default putts every time, so see if you can score par!

Record your score and it would be great to get some feedback from you if you’ve tried it.

Good luck

Being a good player, let’s say a scratch handicap, of course requires a technically sound golf swing, good course management, correct club selection, mental strength and the list goes on but there are some habits that all good players have that the average golfer could adopt to increase their performance on the golf course.

1. Good players ALWAYS……Hit balls before playing

Walking out on the golf course and hitting your first ball of the day off the first tee just isn’t conducive to playing good golf. Good players will always hit balls, chip and putt before playing.  It’s about getting a feel for your swing, loosening your body up and mentally preparing for playing the game.  Of course playing golf is time consuming and I understand that warming up adds an extra 10-15 minutes to your time spent at the golf club.  having said that, if you want to enjoy your golf while you’re out there then it’s worth it.

2. Good players ALWAYS……Use a range finder/measuring device

Knowing your yardages is absolutely imperative in this game.  You need to know how far you have to hit for your next shot, this is an obvious statement I realise but not enough players do.  If you do not have a measuring device of some sort then you are falling behind.  It’s not all about how far you have to the pin, you need to know how far to carry the bunkers in the fairway so you can decide whether to go for it or lay up for example.  Also the difference between a flag at the front of the green to a flag at the back could be 2-3 clubs.  If you get that wrong you are in 3 putt territory, or worse!  All good players will know the distance of all hazards in front of them and this will form part of the decision making for their next shot.  Using a measuring device will also make you aware of how far you actually hit your ball, that’s quite handy to know!

3. Good players ALWAYS…… Mark the golf ball when reaching the green

Why would you NOT mark your ball at every opportunity? As soon as the ball is on the green, good players will mark it, clean it and start reading their line all part of a basic process.  If your ball is not clean it will not roll true.  Also the process of marking your ball helps you to slow down and think about your putt, something every weekend golfer needs to do!

4. Good players ALWAYS……Make practice/rehearsal swings before EVERY shot

Most amateur golfers I teach tell me that they don’t make a practice swing before they hit their shot.  The reason being for most of them is “I do a good practice swing but it’s never the same when the ball is there” Well of course not, because the ball isn’t there!!  How do you know you make a perfect practice swing, there is no outcome associated with a practice swing, no result as such.  So why bother?  Well making a practice swing is more than just swinging the club, you should be visualising the shot in hand while making a rehearsal.  For a short shot you can feel the length of swing you may need for the shot in hand and again it prepares you for your shot and stops you rushing.  It’s not technical, it’s one of the few phycological drills we can do as a golfer.  This applies to EVERY shot!  All good players will do it, bar none!

5. Good players ALWAYS……Keep their grooves clean

How often do you clean you clubs?  Or at least your wedges – you know the ones that are supposed to create the most backspin on your ball!  Well a little fact for you here – You WILL loose up to 50% of any backspin applied to your ball if your grooves are dirty.  So after hitting a wedge shot, make sure you clean out the grooves for better control on your ball next time!  i would simply use a tee peg to quickly score through the grooves on my wedge before hitting a shot, it takes 20 seconds and is another trait of all good players.

I suppose the question is, do you become a good player by being in good habits like the above or do the habits evolve as you become a better player? I’ll let you find that out for yourself.

We all want it, we all claim not to have it, but does it even exist?

Consistency.
Well I suppose it depends on the individuals interpretation of the word – the problem is that consistency in most golfers minds is hitting the “if only I could do that every time” shot – all the time!

A quick story if you don’t mind…..

A few weeks ago I played in the Hayling Island Pro Am.
Having not had lots of time to play and practice I had low expectations and to be honest I was happy to just get out and play (for just the fifth time this year!).

So my round got underway on the first hole par 3, and I missed the green from the tee, hit an average chip and then somehow holed a putt for par – A scrappy start but always good to start with a par baring in mind the first tee nerves and anxiety of competition.

Fast forward 14 holes and I had made 14 pars in a row (a personal record run of pars I
think), very consistent?… Well not exactly.  I hit maybe 10 or so shots EXACTLY how I wanted, some were just OK and others were not satisfactory at all but the reason why my score was still in tact was because the difference between my best shot and worse shot was not that big.
I didn’t hit the “if only I could do that every time” shot very often, intact one shot just made it off the ground would you believe, but it was good enough- that’s what it needs to be, good enough!

Standing on the 15th tee and I hit the worse shot of the day, I hooked the ball 50 yards off line and proceeded to make a 7! Holes 16-18 were played well and I finished my round at +4.

I played 17 holes as ‘consistent’ as I could have hoped but my inherent bad shot crept in and cost me picking up a cheque that day. My worse shot was too far away from my best shot, and it cost me. I didn’t need to hit a perfect shot on hole 15, I just needed to get it in play.

The moral of this story is that you do not need to hit your best shot every time, just focus on your absolute worse case shot and eliminate that. Lots of shots that are ‘OK’ will be good enough, those shots won’t cost you. What’s the shot that bothers you the most? What’s the shot that you fear playing? Where are the BIG mistakes happening in your game?

STOP SEARCHING FOR PERFECTION…… Close the gap between your best and your worse, we are only as good as our worse shot so make THAT one better!

Here are 10 top tips to help you improve your golf.

1. DO NOT KEEP YOUR HEAD DOWN
I can see all the bemused faces already from what is written above.  This is the single most common piece of advice I hear from amateur golfers and probably one of the most detrimental too.  The golf swing is an extremely powerful movement that encompasses the entire body – a 6 dimension lateral and rotational motion in an effort to produce maximum clubbed speed, so to think of keeping anything still is quite simply dangerous.  I promise you, you didn’t top the ball because you lifted your head – if only it were that simple!

2. AIMING IS OVERRATED
I so often see golfers who hit a wayward shot instantly look at where their feet are pointed by laying a club down along their toe line assuming that their aim was something to do with the direction of the shot.  The ball goes where the club face aims.  I can aim my body 40 degrees left and hit the ball 40 degrees right if my club face is open.  Just remember this little riddle for the direction of your ball flight, “The face sends it and the path bends it”.  This simply means the starting direction of your shot is due to where your club face is pointed at impact and the curve on the ball is due to the direction your club swings.

3. KEEP YOUR GROOVES CLEAN
We all want to see a high towering wedge shot land and stop on the green and to do so we need an element of backspin.  The grooves on your clubs are designed to disperse debris like grass and water so the ball can grip on the face and spin.  Just like tyres on a car, if you have no tread on your trees they will slide.  A sliding ball does not spin.  Clean grooves can influence your chance of backspin by 50%.  Heres a little cheat, but perfectly legal – once you’ve played from a bunker do not clean the sand off.  It increases friction on the ball and can create more spin when using it from the grass on other shots!

4. DRIVE FOR DOE
The old saying of drive for show putt for doe isn’t quite what it seems.  It may be in the professional game as the modern day professional is hitting the ball well over 300 yards on average meaning so long as the ball isn’t lost, the next shot is so short that coming out of the rough isn’t an issue (unless you’re an American Ryder Cup player in Paris).  As an 18 handicapper you increase your chance of playing a hole to your handicap by 50% if you can keep your ball in the fairway or first cut.  Higher handicappers struggle more in the rough than lower handicappers due to lack of technique so getting your ball in the fairway off the tee is worth more than you may think.

5. YOU DON’T HIT IT AS FAR AS YOU THINK (Sorry!)
How many times do you hit a good looking shot towards the green and it flyers over the top of the flag and goes too long?? Think about the last time that happened and now think how many times you approach the green and land short.  Theres a very good reason why golf course designers don’t put bunkers or hazards at the back of the green – because 99% of golfers come up short.  When measuring your distance to the green, add on 5 yards…….. 5 yards past the hole gives you a putt, 5 yards short could be the difference between being in a bunker or not.

6. ALWAYS CHECK YOUR LIE
How your ball is laying should be the first thing to consider when deciding what club to use, not just the distance or trajectory you require.  If your ball is sitting down poorly you can’t hit that 3 wood of the deck or lob your sand wedge over that bunker.  Check your lie to manage your expectations of the shot!

7. CHOOSE YOUR BALL AND STICK TO IT
Whether you play a Pro V1 golf ball for £4 a time or a 50p lake ball, please please please use the same ball each time before you complain about consistency.  If you took two different golf balls and putted them towards a hole with the exact same club speed I promise you they would travel different distances.  This is due to their make up and how hard or soft the cover is.  How can you know what to expect from your ball (when putting mainly) and gain consistency with distance control when you don’t have the same ball each time?

8. HAVE A PRE SHOT ROUTINE AND STICK TO IT
Research shows that one of the best ways to combat nerves on the golf course or worries over a particular tee shot is to make sure that every shot you play is approached in the same manner with the same routine that precedes the shot.  It keeps you in a good mental state and helps you relax.  We are all guilty of either rushing to get it ‘over with’ or over thinking the shot completely.  A routine could be something as simple as:
1. Practice swing (s)
2. Visualise the shot you want to play
3. Pick your aim point
4. Hit the shot

9. BLOCK PRACTICE FOR TECHNIQUE – RANDOM FOR PERFORMANCE
“I can do it on the range but I can’t do it on the course” how often do I hear that??  Ok but can you actually do it on the range if I give you one ball and one chance to do it with at least 5 minutes between the time you hit your last ball and then told you that your handicap would go up if you didn’t hit the intended shot? I would suggest not – the reason why, because there is a consequence attached to the outcome.

Block practice is where we hit lots of balls with the same club, good for grooving in a swing change but its not actually how we play golf.  If you want to transfer your golf from the range to the course then you need random practice.  Random or varied practice is where we hit one shot with a club and then change the club and shot for the next ball.  Imagine you are playing a golf hole, hit a driver, then hit a 7 iron then maybe a PW.  Do that again and again with a couple of minutes break in between shots.  When you can do that 18 times in a row then you will see a carry over onto the golf course.  Its not always about what we practice but how we practice!

10. TAKE A LESSON (or 10!)
If I knew what I know now, 20 years ago as a young junior golfer theres, no doubt my game would be at a different level than it is currently.  I would say that truly understanding your swing will change the way you play the game of golf. With so many poor misconceptions flying around the golf course its about being educated and understand what you actually are trying do to – not what you think is right that is probably wrong!  Come and see me for a lesson and I promise you’ll look at your swing in a whole new light with a full understanding of how to improve!

Well after such a wet wet winter this summer weather is very much welcomed.  It means we can get out and enjoy some golf and even more importantly continue the never ending journey of improving our game.

It's been a vey busy summer for me with a range of coaching activities going on - junior camps, on course lessons, 1:1 coaching and most recently a very successful and enjoyable 'Shot Game Coaching Day' with 7 keen students wanting to improve their game.  The day kicked off with Putting and a detailed look at how best to read greens and the effects of slope.  We then looked at technique and starting the putts on their intended lines.  We then moved on to chipping focussing on making good contact with the ball and the ground and learning to control the 'low point' of the swing.  Following that we moved on to pitching from 30-50 yards and bunker play.  Thank you to those who took part and each student receives a complimentary 30 minute lesson to hone their skills on any area of the game!

So after a bout of food poisoning I am finally catching up on cancelled sessions although now I'm off on holiday for a week to hopefully enjoy some of this fantastic weather!

THE OPEN & BEYOND

What an amazing Open Championship we witnessed this year, the week got off to a fast start with -6 leading after day one and by Sunday that score saw players in a tie for 3rd place.  Tiger Woods leading a major championship on a Sunday afternoon - it doesn't get much better than that for true golf fans!  Molinari coming through to win the championship was a great example of how slow and steady wins the race.  Congratulations to Francesco and his team on making history for Italian golf!

This is also great news with the Ryder Cup fast approaching, the European team is looking extremely strong and if I was a betting man (which I am) I would fully expect Europe to bring home the Cup!

Although January has been slow to get going on the golf course due to wet weather, it's been a steady month for me with many golfers starting in their quest to make 2018 their most successful year yet.

As part of my plan to grow golf participation at Blacknest, I have several schools signed up who enjoy coming to the club for their extra curricular activities and potentially to ignite a love for the game.  The Ladies and Junior Academy are in full flow with a new golf coach joining me to run the Sunday sessions.  Paul Creamer PGA Professional, will be taking these sessions on my days off so if you see Paul around the facility with the juniors please extend a warm welcome to him, he's doing a great job!

As you also will have seen, my new signage is up which helps to give my coaching business a real presence at Blacknest.  If you are yet to see my swing studio/office please pop your head in next time you are on the driving range and say hello.

 

FAKE NEWS - GOLF LESSONS CAN MAKE YOUR WORSE!!

Yes you read the headline correctly and this is what some people actually believe!  If I had a pound for every time I heard a golfer say "I'd like some lessons but I don't want to get worse" or "I'd like to improve my swing but I don't really want to change it" then I would be sunning myself in the Caribbean!

I understand that golf is a game of 'feel' and as soon as we try something knew it feels odd or different or even worse, it feels 'uncomfortable'.  However to fear that golf lessons will actually make you worse is really quite worrying to me.  I suppose it's like going to the doctors if you are ill - You show doc your symptoms, he/she prescribes the medication and after taking the meds for a few days/weeks, your symptoms improve or better still they disappear.  Well we do the same as golf coaches and the only reason you would ever get worse is if that coach (Doctor) prescribes you the wrong medicine or medicine that is not going to help your particular illness.  Now has that happened before in golf instruction? Yes. and it probably happens often if you have a poor teacher who gives all his patients the same medicine.

Unlike visiting the doctors however, your improvement in golf also depends on your ability to take your medicine (i.e practice!) and take the prescribed amount (regularity of practice).  If you do not take your medicine you will not improve.  If you do not take it correctly (practice the correct things) you will also not improve.

I can honestly say, hand on heart I have failed to help a very small percentage of golfers who stand infant of me but I can guarantee they were all given the correct medicine every time!