Hit With The 3-Wood More Often

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Why you should be hitting the 3-wood more often.

On a regular basis, I get told of how the driver let a golfer down.

A lost ball or two, the lack of distance or a horrible slice that does not seem to go away or appear with any other club in the bag.

On occasion, the complete lack of confidence with the driver requires more drastic actions.

This more drastic action could actually be the “key” to hitting better tee shots, finding the fairway more often and hitting longer tee-shots.

If you are one of these people, that have tried everything then I want you to ditch the driver for the short term and place all of your trust in your 3-wood.

Now I am not saying that you are never going to hit the driver, but what needs to happen is a change in your mental feelings towards the driver.

You need to make a change that will help both your scores improve and allow your confidence to grow, and this is exactly what changing your driver to a 3-wood will do.

A 3-wood will be easier to hit and control, making fairways easier to find and more often than not due to the additional loft on the club you will actually increase the carry distance of your tee shots.

There is a reason why the driver is such a tricky club to hit, and one of those is the length of the shaft.

The longer the shaft, the more difficult the club is to control.

Another major contributing factor as to why a driver is harder to hit is the loft.

A vast majority of amateur golfers are using a driver that has too little loft.

To achieve more distance a golfer must improve various things, but an increase in your launch angle will send the ball further down the fairway.

Modern-day drivers have their center of gravity further back and lower, helping to increase the MOI and launch angle, but many golfers still struggle to achieve the correct launch angle, so choosing a driver with a higher loft will help.

Taking this information into account, the three wood is the perfect substitution for the misbehaving driver.

A shorter shaft improves dispersion rates.

A higher loft improves launch angle which ultimately results in longer drives and the increased control due to the shorter shaft improves accuracy.

For some of my clients, the three wood has become the go-to club, a club of confidence that allows them to tackle the toughest of tee shots with confidence and belief.

Injuries – You Can Still Play Golf

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You have been injured and believe that this is the reason you are no longer able to play golf, well it is time to think again and get back down to the range.

Serious injuries aside, many golfers that have suffered injuries have convinced themselves that they are destined to either never play again, or continue to play as they watch their handicap gentle climb and climb.

This is not true I have had clients endure major surgeries only to return to golf after given the all clear and actually improve.

I remember one gentleman who had a terrible motorbike accident, requiring major surgery to his lower back.

After months of strenuous rehabilitation, the gentleman returned to golf and after a couple of weeks he sought me out to ensure that he would be able to return to his previous level (15 handicap).

He was worried that he had lost his ability to rotate and generate enough power to be able to reach holes in regulation.

We did a couple of simple checks and found that his rotation had not suffered any ill effects, he was surprised and wondered why he was unable to reproduce the same rotation in the golf swing.

The main reason is our human instinct to protect ourselves, the conscious mind conjours up thoughts that if we make a certain move we are likely to aggravate the injury causing pain and discomfort, when actually the body is able to make the movement, unhindered.

It may seem like a reasonable thing for the conscious mind to do, but in fact our body is capable of making that decision for itself.

Having been through the very same thing, I know what happens when you stand over a shot and your conscious suddenly decides that you are going to hurt yourself if you make a certain move.

It was the bad experience of trying to protect myself and making a mess of the hole, which ultimately cost me from progressing to the next stage that taught me this invaluable lesson.

“My body will do everything it can do, without my interference”

Each person is different and some injuries will require careful monitoring from both a physiotherapist and a professional coach to ensure that the swing won´t create any unwanted discomfort or pressure on the affected area, but for the majority of people, injuries can be managed and you can continue to enjoy the game you love.

I had to rebuild my swing to cope with the injury that I suffered, but when I am playing now I am fully confident that if I let my body make the swing I will continue to play this wonderful sport to the level that I am personally happy with.

If you are suffering, then speak to your pro or healthcare specialist and I am sure that you will be able to find a solution.

Analyze Honestly For Faster Improvement

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All of my clients arrive to their first lesson with a desire to improve a particular aspect of their game, few however have actually correctly identified the major area of concern.

One of the main reasons for this is unhelpful advice.

Golf is not like other sports, golfers are always willing to lend a helping hand, or at least try to.

For many amateurs it is this bombardment of advice from friends, magazines and television that is leading to the misconceptions about their games.

I don´t want you to think that you must stop your magazine subscription or cancel the satellite package you have so that you can improve, far from it.

But I do want you to learn to honestly analyze your own game, without interference from other sources.

You have to decide where you can improve.

At the start of a new journey with a new client I always follow the same pattern. I ask them what they believe requires work, some are more detailed than others, but I never stop with just one question.

I word my questions to ensure that the client will answer honestly, which creates a new process of thinking, a new insight into their games.

My first question is always this:

During your last round how many times did you take 3 or more putts on a hole?

The initial reaction is shock, as probably only 5% of all the clients I see regard themselves as poor putters.

More often than not, the honest response of 2 or 3 at least immediately sets of some alarm bells.

The next question;

Do you lose more shots off the tee or on the green?

Generally, the answer is green, which leads to the clients’ realization that they have miss-diagnosed their weaknesses.

It is this reason that I ask you to be honest when judging your game, ignore people around you, don´t get caught up in believing what other people are telling you, it is your game and your beliefs that are important.

From here, to allow the client some reflection time we start to work on the original issue.

As the lesson draws to a close, clients will ask to try the modifications with the driver. I am fine with this, but limit the number of shots hit.

I do not want the hard work the client has already put in to be destroyed in an instance with some bad drives.

During the re-capping stage, I make sure the client understands the changes we have made and can correctly perform the practice drills that they will take away with them to the driving range.

To end the session, the client normally begins to question me about their game, but in a more honest way than in the beginning, this is already a great sign of progress.

I do not answer the questions in great detail, instead my answers are short and concise, insisting that all good things come to those that wait.

The client already has enough to think about with the changes made during the lesson, but more importantly they will arrive home with the urge to dissect their game honestly, giving them answers to their questions at the end of the lesson would only cloud their judgement.

Golf Is A Simple Game

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Honestly if we consider it, golf is a simple game, but we make it so hard for ourselves with a myriad of confusing thoughts and expectations that are serving only to create problems

I know this may sound a little weird but it is true, so hear me out.

The act of hitting a golf ball with a club is in itself SIMPLE, I mean give a child with no experience a golf club and ask them to hit a ball with it and they will, it may take a few attempts but they will achieve it in a very short space of time.

Bring this forward to the adult golfer, or even the junior golfer that has had a few lessons and experienced the joy and pain of playing the game and we can see why golf has seemingly become difficult.

Let me put it this way:

You have hit at least one “perfect” shot in your life, which is arguably your potential. But you rarely reproduce the shot.

We are aware of your potential but why can you not reach that potential on a more regular basis?

The reasons are numerous;

  • Searching for the picture perfect golf swing
  • Trying to recreate a shot
  • Living off a memory (negative)
  • Pressure

I could go on, but the single biggest reason for golfers not hitting their potential more often is EXPECTATION.

Golfers expect to be able to hit a ball to the target with consummate ease, but when things don´t turn out the way they want they curse and bemoan their inability to do so.

It is this internal chit-chat and belittling of oneself that is the cause for the bad shot, that appears with far greater regularity than the expected good shot.

If you are wanting to improve your golf, you need to expect only one thing and that is to give 100% to each and every single shot, regardless of the perceived difficulty of the shot.

Perfect in this game simply does not exist and I am pretty sure it never will, because perfection would be a hole in one every single hole every single round

Yes, basically as a golf coach I am telling you to stop searching for the perfect golf swing and instead focus on the ability you already have and how you can bring that stored potential into your game on a weekly basis.

The mental approach you take is one of the biggest steps.

As a professional, both coach and player, it may surprise you to hear that I actually don´t practice, yet I am still able to consistently shoot level par or better when I do go out and play.

This is because I accept, and I know that I won´t always hit the shot the way I had envisioned, but it doesn´t really matter. As long as I give 100% to each shot I cannot and should not be disappointed.

Club golfers should take this to heart, after all you are playing for the enjoyment of the game, rather than trying to make a living.

Your swing as it is, is more than capable of sending the ball down the fairway to the desired target, instead of trying to change it, give it a good polish and change your approach to the game from a mental perspective.

Golf Coaches

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As a golf coach I may be opening up the proverbial can of worms here, but the issue is close to my heart and I have the belief that everyone that is taken lessons should be aware of some of the aspects that every golf coach should be considering.

First of all, I think that every golf coach must do everything they can to ensure that they are working closely with the client, and creating an understanding that is more focussed on the individual golfer.

This then leads to the golfer being able to clearly see the direction that the lessons will be taking, I call this the golfer progression map or the journey on which they are about to embark.

The map should show the starting point, where the client is in the present moment, not only physically but mentally as well. Each stop on the map is a new discovery that will allow the client to reach their destination.

It is worth noting that the starting point is also a base for the coach to understand how the client think, interprets and prefers to learn.

The second is the ability of the coach to listen to the clients´ worries and possible doubts regarding their game, and the proposed changes that may have to be made.

It is my job as a coach to make the client feel at ease, not only within the lesson environment but also the action plan and map that we have drawn out for the progression of their game.

Being able to identify when a client is feeling anxious or unsure is key, it is here where the client and coach relationship becomes real.

At the end of each lesson, in truth at the end of each piece of advice given to the client it is important to receive and generate feedback about the change.

Never should the feedback be construed as criticism or an inability of the client to perform a certain task.

It must be welcomed as a tool for developing a better teaching relationship and also achieving the goals.

A client must never feel that they cannot ask a question of their coach, regardless of how silly the question may sound. There must be no fear of being judged by the coach.

Finally, the coach must be willing to adapt their coaching style.

Whether this is by communicating more concisely or altering the language used to better describe the change or new technique so that the client understands clearly what is being asked of them, or whether it is changing the way the deliver the information to better suit the traits of the client, adaptability is paramount to a coach that wishes to become successful and even more so if they are genuinely interested in each of their clients improving as well.

Ultimately, employing the services of a great golf coach should bear fruits very early on in the process, there will be times that are more taxing and where the client may find it a struggle, but as long as the coach is willing to listen, adapt and find the solution success will come.

Understanding the Engine of the Golf Club

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The golf club, as you know is made up of two main components, the club head and the shaft and it is the shaft that acts as the engine of the golf club.

Choosing the right shaft is paramount if you are looking to get the best out of your clubs.

So how do you go about choosing the right shaft?

First you need to understand the variations:

Flex

The most well-known aspect of golf shafts is the flex, and although the flex of the shaft is noted, it is extremely important that you understand that there is no industry standard when it comes to grading shaft flexes.

So just because you use a regular in say a Diamana you may not use a regular flex in a UST shaft.

As a general rule a shaft that is too soft (flexible) for your swing will result in shots that tend to go left.

A shaft that is to hard (stiff) for your swing will lead to shots that generally send the ball to the right. This is for right handed golfers, for left handers the opposite is true.

Bend point (Kick point)

The bend point is the point at which the shaft bends the most.

A shaft will have a bend point profile of either high, mid or low.

The lower the bend point the higher the launch angle of the ball.

Torque

The torque of a golf shaft is generally miss-understood. Basically put the torque is the amount the shaft will twist during impact.

If you are looking at a low torque shaft (lower degree of twisting) you are probably going to have to look for a stiffer or harder shaft, a generally the torque correlates to shaft flex.

This is not always true though so you should make sure that you check this beforehand.

A low torque rated shaft will feel harder at impact, it won´t necessarily be harder.

Once you have an understanding of golf shafts and their characteristics you will then have to consider the affect the head to which you are fitting the shaft will have.

The type of head you are installing the shaft into will yield different results with the same club.

So if you find a shaft you like, or that has been fitted to your numbers purchase a single shaft and then try it in your clubs, as you may well find that the results do not match with your expectations.

Choosing the correct shaft is tricky, especially if you are trying to do it without first trying it in the clubs you want use.

Head to your local professional for a club fitting and make a decision based not only on performance but feel as well.

Custom Fitting for Beginners

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The biggest growth area in golf is without doubt custom fitting, offered to every golfer that enters a golf store looking for a new set of clubs.

Custom fitting, although useful for many golfers is something that beginners should avoid like the plague.

The process of custom fitting is straight forward and if carried out by a consummate professional should lead to the purchase of the right set of clubs for the golfer:

Custom fitting involves basic checks that allow club fitters to “find” the clubs that best suit your game.

Custom fitting has evolved over the last few years to almost becoming a science in itself. But this again is directed far more towards the seasoned, consistent golfer rather than an amateur.

The way the club fitting is carried may vary from certain measurements being taken, the use of a lie board or impact tapes to the full on launch monitor analysis which will provide a huge amount of data regarding your swing.

The numbers that come out of the machine are varied and for many golfers they simply end up confused with the information provided.

In all honesty you will only need to take the more detailed custom fitting option if you are low, single figure handicapped golfer.

Reading this and thinking, “what on earth does all this mean?”, then join the many thousands of other readers thinking same thing.

The numbers that are crunched by the professional club fitter are varied and depending on what you are searching for will hold greater meaning than other numbers, but unless you understand the importance of spin rates, launch angles, swing paths and smash factors you will have to put your trust solely in the hands of the fitter, which in general is no bad thing.

For all the numbers, considerations and advice on clubs that you will receive the bottom line for beginners (and even higher handicapped golfers that have little experience) getting custom fit is nothing more than a waste of time and a sure way to end up spending far more money than you had either expected or wanted to.

So what should beginners do when looking for their first set?

Grab some advice about the best shaft material.

Younger, stronger players will benefit from steel shafted irons, while junior, ladies and seniors would be better off with a set of graphite shafted irons.

But the most important factor in selecting your first set, is the feel of the club. You want to be comfortable with your choice, and most importantly with your putter.

You may be better off purchasing a putter separate from the one that comes as standard in a beginners set. It is the most important club in the bag, so feeling confident with it is a great start.

A good set up would be:

Driver
3 wood
5 wood
4 hybrid
5 iron through to sand wedge
Putter

This offers plenty of options for getting into the game and will serve for at least 1 year.

Don´t be drawn into a fitting unless you are a seasoned golfer.

Ball Position

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Ball position creates a huge debate amongst both professionals and amateurs.

A general theme that does run through golf is that beginners should play each club from a position opposite the center of the stance.

This is something that I disagree with, because it creates a swing that for many would not be natural.

When I begin working with any golfer, seasoned or not I always check the position of the ball.

It is something that can greatly affect the way you strike the ball, resulting in variations in your shot shape, trajectory and distance.

In my opinion the ball, with all clubs played from the ground, should be positioned in the same place for each club.

Doing so creates consistency for both your set-up and your swing arc.

By placing the ball at the lowest point in the swing arc you are ensuring that you will make clean and proper contact with the ball.

As the old saying goes “let the ball get in the way of the golf club”.

Something that, for higher handicapped golfers is fundamental to improving is a consistent set-up.

So the method of altering ball position by either maintaining the same stance width and moving the ball towards or away from the target, or the narrowing or widening of the stance brings an additional confusion and inconsistency that is not conducive to better golf.

If you are unsure of whether your ball is in the perfect position for your swing then this simple drill will tell you.

You need to be on grass for this (unless you have an impact board).

Set up as you would normally to the ball. Once you have done this and are ready to swing take a step back so that you cannot actually hit the ball.

Take a practice swing, clipping the grass as you follow through and take a note of where the club impacts the ground.  

Where the first point of impact is noted place the ball and take a shot.

Was the impact cleaner? Did it feel different to your normal ball position?

You should repeat this multiple times to get the best results, taking a video can help if you can slow it down enough to determine the impact point.

This impact point is the bottom of your arc (unless you take incredible deep divots) and the ball should be positioned above this.

For the driver or a three wood played from a tee you want to position the ball ahead of your impact point, this is to ensure that you are impacting the ball on the “upswing” helping to launch the ball forward and up.

Ball position will differ for every person, find the right position for you.

Backspin

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As an amateur seeing the ball take a hop forward and then zip or spin backwards is the pinnacle of the game and a goal that many amateurs ask of their golf coaches.

I have been asked countless times by a client “how can I get the ball to spin back, like I see on the tele?”

My response has always been the same;

“How far past the hole are your approach shots?

Each client has then asked what does that have to do with getting back spin?

Look at it logically, if you don´t reach the hole position why would you then want to see your ball spin backwards even further away from the hole?

Being further away is not going to help you reduce your scores.

I bring to your attention a piece of Masters history, Greg Norman headed into the final round clear of Nick Faldo only to lose out. Backspin was an enemy to Norman who saw his ball spin back off the green down the slope to the fairway leaving a near impossible shot, this happened a couple of times and it cost Norman the green jacket.

So before you head to the chipping green to try and spin the ball backwards please think about how exactly it is going to help your game.

If you are still wanting to get the ball to grab and spin back then continue reading.

Creating backspin:

To create backspin you must correctly impact and compress the golf ball. A clean, pure strike is fundamental to making the golf ball spin.

Next the angle of attack at which you strike the ball must be more aggressive and vertical to “pinch” the ball from the surface and get the ball compressing against the club and grooves to create the anti-clockwise spin rotation.

Compressing the golf ball is a big part of improving your golf in general as the more you can compress the ball the more control you have over it.

Learning to correctly release the wrists at the moment of impact is crucial to generating this necessary compression and valuable added mili-seconds of contact with the clubface.

But the release must be perfectly timed with the rotation of the hips, forearms and torso to generate enough club head speed to impart the backspin on the ball.

It is not an easy thing to achieve and requires a lot of dedicated practice and some very very bad shots that will damage your confidence.

Backspin looks good, but doesn’t always lead to a better result.

My Favorite Practice Drills to Improve Your Golf

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If you run a search on the internet for golf practice drills you will come across thousands.

This makes it difficult to understand which may work for you and which would ony lead to more problems in your game.

There are however some very basic drills that are almost universal in their use.

My personal favourite and one all of my clients would have used at some point is the feet together drill. This is so simple it almost seems too good to be true but it will definitely improve your golf.

Place your feet and knees together. (If possible)
The ball should be opposite the “V” created by your feet.
Using half swings the aim of the exercise is to maintain your balance, which will mean great rhythm.
Great rhythm and improved balance will lead to better contact with the ball and more distance and accuracy to your shots.
Some golfers see a marked difference in the distance they achieve with just the half swing.

The second exercise requires a little more effort, but is great to train yourself to feel your swing and where it is. (A video or practice buddy is needed for this drill to begin with.)

Take your normal posture position.
When you reach the top of your back swing, say out loud “BACK”. When you hit the ball say out loud “HIT” and when you finish your swing say out loud “STOP”.
The aim of the drill is to say each word when the actual “act” happens.
The closer you can get each of the words to the actual event the more aware you become of your swing and what is happening at each moment.
It is a great drill to improve rhythm, but even more impressive is the drills ability to teach you to deal with pressure.

Many golfers, especially high handicap golfers or those that may not be reaching their potential handicaps is holing out and this drill is directed to improving this aspect of your game.

The Compass drill, as I call it, is a pressurized way of practicing putting and more importantly holing out. Easy to set up, the drill can take many different forms, from the distance at which you place the balls to the difficulty of the location you choose.

To begin take 12 balls to the putting green. Select your hole and place a ball on each point of the compass at a distance of 1 foot from the hole, repeat this at each point increasing the distance away from the hole by a foot each time. (So you will be practicing a 1, 2 and 3-foot putt.
Starting at the north point putt the ball into the hole, obviously starting with the ball closest to the hole.
Continue to make your war around the points in order (North, east, south and west).
To move onto the next ball, you must hole the ball. Miss and you start again.
In the long run the aim is to hole all 12 balls in a row.
To add even more pressure, do this with a friend and put a wager on it.