Tee it High and Watch it Fly

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I am amazed when I watch or read new driver reviews that manufacturers are still “indicating” that the sweet spot is both getting larger and is still in the centre of the clubface.

If we take a look at the way a golf club is designed, the modern day driver is geared towards “forgiveness”.

Changing the position of the clubs COG (Centre of gravity) and increasing the MOI (Moment of inertia) manufacturers are able to change the way the ball reacts when hit.

Lowering the centre of gravity allows for a higher launching club, paramount in increasing distance.

The more energy that can be transferred through the club face in to the ball will also help create more distance.

Add in a few other “tech” things that most golfers don´t understand and certainly don´t need to understand and you have a modern driver that will almost certainly outperform your old persimmon club.

Include into the mix the development in the shaft and you have a real recipe for success.

With all the hype and advertising that surrounds the latest models and the almost unprecedented affect they will have on the distance that you can achieve, it is no wonder so many golfers are left a little disappointed with their new purchases, especially when they were custom fit at a demo day.

But behind all the technology and the promises to make your off-centre hits straighter and longer there is an important piece of information that they are failing to pass on the to the end user.

I want you to think back to the demo day;

Were you hitting balls of a predetermined tee (plastic range tee) or were you hitting from grass?

If you were hitting from grass you were probably given a tee and I would almost guarantee that the tee was taller than the tee you normally use.

There is a reason behind this and that is to get the ball higher up on the clubface.

Why would you want to hit the ball higher than the centre of the face?

Simple, because that is where the “sweet spot” is located.

If you have hit the ball from the bottom of the club (centre or below centre) I am sure that you have felt how “dull” the club felt, a heavy contact that resulted in a loss of distance.

Do you want to hit the ball longer? Then tee the ball high and watch it fly. At least 2/3 of the ball should be visible from behind the driver.

Get rid of your plastic tees and buy a packet of the longest wooden tees you can find.

Head to the range and experiment with the height and see which yields the most positive results.

Take a Break

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Golfers across the world, at all levels of the game often come up against a brick wall and they seemingly can´t find a way to break through and come out the other side.

I have seen the tell-tale signs over and over again as I walk up and down the ranges of the local courses.

A golfer, who is disillusioned with their game, fighting just to get a feel for the club.

It is a struggle against your own determination and your ego, your determination is trying to push you forward, to beat the struggle and get you through and back to playing the game you love.

While your ego, ever shrinking is telling you how useless you are and how you should feel embarrassed about the way you are striking the golf ball.

These are the first signs for many, quickly followed by a quick fix lesson, something to work on, but the struggles continue.

You begin to take the advice of all your playing partners, entering into an abyss of torment and a place so dark that even the odd good shot feels wrong.

Lost, you consider the possibility of quitting, throwing the clubs out (or in a lake!) anything to get you away from the demoralising, blood boiling performances you are churning out week after week.

STOP!!!!

Let us take stock of a situation that really isn´t as bad as it may appear to be.

OK so you have been on a downward spiral for some time, you have lost the love for the game that over the months or years has given you so much enjoyment and pleasure.

You feel that there is no light at the end of the long, dark tunnel.

But wait; You have faced turmoil’s in golf before, and you will face them again.

What you need to do is reassess what has happened, what has changed.

And to do this effectively and objectively you need to take a break from the game.

Divorce the game in every aspect, except assessment.

No golf, no range time and definitely no golf on the TV or YouTube.

A break must eliminate every part of golf from your life.

During the first few weeks you will feel refreshed, revitalised.

After a month or so you will objectively figure out what was going wrong with your game and you will develop the “urge” to get back into it.

Wait, don´t rush, come up with a plan on how you are going to get back into golf.

Head to the range and practice your favourite area of the game.

Feel the buzz it gives you and remember this is a new beginning, a new relationship with the game, a fresh start.

A break may seem like the worst thing to do, but there are thousands of golfers across the world that are struggling just the way you did, and they continue to beat balls down the range, searching for the secret.

The secret to me is clear, and always has been;

ENJOYMENT

As soon as you lose the enjoyment and the buzz of feeling the club strike the ball you may as well step away for as long as it takes.

Stop digging yourself into a deeper, more depressing hole and walk away.

When you are ready to get back out there you will know.

Play With the Ladies

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Gents it is time to play with the ladies.

Now for some gentleman, playing with the ladies is a step too far, but honestly I cannot recommend it enough.

There are a few reasons why this should be a regular occurrence for male golfers.

1 – Ladies, in general have better course management skills.

Now, I know some may be reading this and thinking that I am talking utter rubbish, but umour me for a little while.

Women, in general do not have the firepower that male golfers have, they have to plan their way around the golf course, avoiding the obstacles to ensure that they can reach the green in handicap regulation.

Rarely when they do get it wrong and end up in trouble do they compound the error by trying to through a gap barely larger than the golf ball in a bid not to lose face.

2 – mentally women are stronger on the golf course

Women, for the most part are stronger mentally as they do not let things get to them emotionally, so a couple of bad shots or silly missed putts do not have the same effect on female golfers as male.

They just shrug it off as a miss-fire rather than a lack of ability or competitive edge.

Men, and I know some that are very poor mentally can lose their round for fault of just one or two bad shots early in their rounds, not great if you do not start well.

3 – Ladies talk

This is a bone of contention at many clubs, with women deemed to be slow players, because they are always talking, but actually this is of benefit to them, as they do not have to concentrate for 4 hours solid.

I know that men talk as well, but their talk is less meaningful and will generally be focussed around the game itself or another sport, they are always in competition mode.

When you are playing a competition you need to be able to have a cool-off or chill-out period between each shot to be able to fully concentrate on what matters.

4 – Ladies just get on with it

It is rare that a female golfer will be affected by an outside influence such as slow play or a group that is pressuring them from behind. As long as they are maintaining the correct rhythm of play a group of ladies, or a single lady playing in a group of men, rarely get worried by the surroundings. They are more focussed on their games; men allow their emotions to overtake their actions.

Playing with the ladies can help you learn to deal with your emotions and undesirable situations far more effectively and you can learn how you could plot your way down a hole more consistently.

Get out there and play with the ladies, it will help your game.

Go Old School

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There is so much to learn from the old masters of this game.

But one of the areas of the game that has become almost redundant is the use of a good old fashioned yardage book.

I am sure some of you have probably never even seen a yardage book, but it is something that you should get to know, use and love.

Technology is taking over the world and golf is no different. The internet makes it easier than ever to get a bird´s eye view of a golf course with many courses now presenting a fly-over of the course, which you can watch from the comfort of an arm-chair.

Great as they are and as useful as they can be, there is no replacement for a yardage book, especially one which you add to yourself.

Recently I visited a golf course for the first time and requested a yardage book, the young caddy master behind the desk was somewhat bemused at such a request, responding with “I am sorry we have none left, but you can look at the holes on the course website”.

This was not much help to me, I had a tournament coming up and had never set foot on the course, but I took the caddy master´s advice and headed to the bar to connect to the Wi-Fi, but not before asking for a few sheets of paper.

I entered the website, found the fly-over video of each hole and proceeded to draw the holes out on a piece of paper, marking down the most obvious trees, bunkers, water hazards and boulders.

Listening to the commentary I noted down a few things on my diagrams before heading to the course for a practice round. Now I can remember almost every hole, on every course that I have played (in order) but that is after playing it. Watching the fly-over was just not the same.

But luckily with my hand drawn diagrams, the holes “made sense” I could see the best line and what to avoid.

During the round I added in my own notes, left to right sloping fairway or prevailing wind from the left.

But it is on the greens where the old fashioned use of a yardage chart really makes the difference. A video shot from above shows little if any elevation changes. But marking tiers, or ridges that will determine where you want to try and land the ball with your approach can be recorded on your yardage chart.

Being able to determine this helps you “learn” the nuances of the course, vital if you have no experience in playing it.

 If you are likely to play the course again in the future a yardage book can remind you of things that you may otherwise had forgotten, a fly-over can´t do this. It is 2 dimensional rather than the living images and notes of a yardage chart.

Look at the Hole

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Have you ever wondered why one of the world’s greatest players looks at the hole when he is putting?

The golfer in question is Jordan Speith and even some of the commentators and swing gurus on the TV have questioned the need for him to do so.

But there is a simple answer, he feels comfortable doing so.

So what is the benefit of looking at the hole or indeed in my belief the benefits of looking at the hole when putting.

To begin with we need to look at the reasons that it may help you:

1 – Looking at the hole will allow you a clearer visual picture of what you are trying to achieve.

If you are looking at the hole when you are putting you do not have to worry about visualising the ball going into the hole. You can already see the hole, and if you have practiced enough times you will be able to memorise the vision of the ball disappearing into the cup.

2 – This is a massive benefit to golfers that may be suffering with the “yips” when putting from close range.

If you are already looking towards the hole, then you are removing one of the possible causes for the yips. MOVEMENT

The yips can be caused by various things but the most common amongst amateur golfers that I have dealt with is the movement of the head, or better explained the “need” to look at the hole before striking the ball.

If you are already looking at the hole you head does not need to move, creating a more solid and repetitive stroke and outcome.

3 – If you struggle to control the distance of a putt then looking at the hole will give you a better sense of depth.

It opens you field of vision and brings into play your subconscious.

You possess an ability to react to a situation more accurately if you are looking at your target.

If you were to take a waste paper basket in the centre of a room and try to throw a ball of paper into it, would you be more successful if you were looking at the waste paper basket or if you were looking at the wall?

The answer you already know, so why not apply the same thinking and area of your sub-conscious to your putting?

Finally, looking at the hole can remove additional distractions, which allow for clearer thinking.

If you are sceptical or think that you will not see a benefit from practicing this way, and in some cases even adopting this method, go and give it a try the next time you are on the putting green, the results I am sure will surprise you.

Length Matters

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I want to talk about the importance of length.

No! Not that!!

I am talking about the length of your putter.

With the amount of marketing and offers of free custom fitting for the driver through to the wegdes, I am amazed at the number of golfers that have never had a putter fitting.

I mean, come on it is the most-used club in the bag, and possibly the most influential club in the bag when it comes to your scores and improving your game.

Yet, I would guess that 70% (at least) of golfers are using a putter that they purchased straight off the rack.

So what is the problem with that you ask?

Well much the same as a driver being fitted to suit your swing a putter should be suited to your style of stroke when it comes to putting.

There are various styles of putters, not just in shape but also the balance of the putter face.

Heel-toe, face-balanced, face-balanced at impact.

Centre-shafted, heel shafted, angled shafts etc etc etc.

Heads come in various shapes and sizes and what suits one person may not suit another.

But perhaps the most overlooked aspect of choosing the correct putter is the length.

There are so many golfers that are using a putter that is too long for them.

But how does the length affect your putting performance?

Because it determines three things;

The distance you are from the ball

The angle of the putter shaft at address (and impact)

Your posture

If you get your posture wrong you will not be able to freely “rock” your shoulders in a way that will create a smooth motion, that leads the putter slightly inside the line on the way back and the way through. (I believe the putter should move on an arc, rather than a straight line)

The distance from the ball

If the putter is too long you will not be able to get your eyes over the ball to allow for the best view of both your ball to target line and the path of your stroke. If you are positioned to far from the ball you will have a distorted view of your intended line and also the way you swing the putter.

The angle of the putter shaft.

The shaft angle (or club lean) is important because you want to impact the ball with the centre of the putter face. (Sweet spot if you prefer).

If the putter is too long, it is more than likely that the toe will be up in the air. If you have a light grip pressure the clubface will twist during impact causing balls to start off line.

Choosing the right length of putter will allow you to get into the best position to make a good stroke, increasing your chances of holing more putts.

Get yourself fitted for a putter, it could the best decision you make this year!!

How Lasers Are Ruining Your Game

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This may come as a shock statement to many golfers that have “benefitted” from the help of a range finder (laser or GPS watch) but I believe that they are ruining the game for so many amateur golfers.

Let me explain;

A range finder is a tool that helps golfers determine the distance that they have to a given obstacle or the green (front, centre or back).

It is a tool used by caddies to help them create an in-depth yardage chart for their professional employees, but even the caddies do not rely as whole-heartedly on a range finer as the amateur golfer does.

And it is here that I believe amateur golfers are acting in a way detrimental to their games and the enjoyment of other golfers.

The first issue that I have with any type of range finder is the “necessity” to use it for every single shot that is more than a stone’s throw from the hole. Wasting time as they go about it.

I remember a certain golfer at the course where I used to work. We will call them Golfer X. Now golfer X was in the middle of the fairway some 155-yards from the green centre. They proceeded to measure the distance. After hitting an awful shot that moved a total of 3 yards, they reached for their laser and measured again. After another shot that barely moved 5 yards they again reached for the laser.

Gobsmacked that a golfer of ANY level would require the measurement after two shots that moved a total of 8 yards, I approached the golfer who informed me that they had a handicap of 29, having only started a few months previously.

It was then that I asked a question that they simply couldn´t answer; “How far do you hit your 7-iron?”

Now forgive me if I sound stupid, but for what reason would a golfer that doesn´t know the distance that they hit the ball with a certain club require a range finder?

I cannot think of any viable reason other than they have been told that it will either help their game or it is a necessity all golfers should have.

Now, please don´t take this the wrong way, but there are so many amateur golfers that would benefit from using a laser, but not on the golf course.

Oh no, the place that they should be using them is the driving range to first work out how far they are hitting each club through the air.

The appearance of the range finder has not changed one of the most common faults in the amateur game, under clubbing your approach shot, because you either think you hit the ball further than you do or you do not commit to the shot because you aren´t sure of how far you hit the ball through the air.

Range finders are ruining your game because you are becoming reliant on a tool that requires an initial understanding of your game.

Head to the range and work out your distances and then you will be able to make the most of a tool that should actually help your game rather than hinder it.

High Loft Drivers

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Perhaps the biggest mistake amateur golfers make when selecting a driver is the loft.

It has long been believed that the lower the loft of a drive the more distance you will achieve, but this thought process is slowly changing to what industry experts knew all along.

Low swing speed golfers (generally mature men, ladies and juniors) would actually benefit from having a driver that has a higher loft, and in some cases as high as 14º (which is similar to the old fashioned 2-wood).

If we take a look at the technology and thinking behind modern day drivers, we can quickly notice a pattern;

All manufacturers are trying to reduce club head weight and place the centre of gravity lower and further away from the face in an attempt to increase launch angles.

The angle at which we launch the ball into the air is paramount to the resulting distance that we can achieve.

Slow swing speeds do not compress the golf as much as higher swing speeds, which again results in a lower spinning golf ball, which affects the height that we can launch the ball at.

To help with this, low swing speed golfers should look to a club with a higher loft to increase the launch angle and inevitably increase in the distance that they achieve.

Let us look at this from another viewpoint;

Many golfers think that if they play on fast-running hard fairways then a lower loft will mean a flatter trajectory and more run, and they would be right, but they would ultimately be losing distance in thinking this way.

If you play on wet-soft fairways with little run a low lofted driver will result in no run and a game changing loss of distance as you ball will not travel any distance through the air.

And this is the reason; If you hit a ball high through the air the resistance that will affect the ball is far less than the resistance a ball will face running along the ground.

Another fundamental reason why a higher loft will help you is knowing the distance that you hit the ball, a vital piece of knowledge that will have huge effects on your game.

If you are using a low loft driver and hitting the ball varying distances, what would you do if you were faced with a carry over a pond or ravine? Hope for the best?

This is not good course management, and by using a driver that will carry the ball further through the air and a more consistent, measurable distance you will know whether you can carry the obstacle or if you have no choice but to lay-up.

Carry distance is the important factor, and increasing this number is the key to increasing your driving distance.

A high-lofted driver will do this.

Head to the range and test it out…you won´t be disappointed.

Putting With Your Eyes Closed

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Being able to sense the strength or pace of a putt is fundamental in becoming a great putter.

In truth to become a reliable putter it is imperative.

Many golfers, especially beginners will struggle with correctly judging the pace.

Mainly down to experience beginners simply have not put the hours into practice to develop their touch on and around the greens.

I have had clients, right down to single figure golfers that have a hard time determining the force they need to reach, especially from putts ranging between 25 and 65 feet and practising alone didn´t help them.

Having used this exercise for teaching and improving other aspects of the golf swing, I applied it to putting and the results were nothing more than incredible.

The “trick” was to get my students to close their eyes (after setting up) and putt towards a fixed pint (never ever a hole) and before taking a look at the ball declare whether the ball would be short, the correct distance or long.

It is important to stress the need to not use a hole for this drill, it only aids to lower confidence levels, something that we are trying to improve rather than decrease.

Instead place a tee or a putter head cover on the green, to begin with a relatively flat part of the green is the best choice.

Remember the “line” of the putt is not at all important, you are working on improving your touch and feel for the distance.

This drill is best practiced to begin with from a distance of 25 foot or so, anything shorter and the player will not gain the benefit of the exercise.

Closing the eyes results in your “touch” sense being the dominant sense that you will be using, when you couple this with the visual impact of seeing if your feelings were correct the results will be almost immediate.

It is a simple exercise that will transform your putting control in a matter of a few sessions on the putting green.

Keep practising this way and you will quickly become confident that you can get the ball to travel the require distance, reducing the number of the putts you take per round.

If you are a “looker” on the short, must-make putts the same can be applied to your short putts.

Set yourself up correctly and close your eyes.

DO NOT LOOK

Listen for the ball to drop in the hole, if you don´t hear anything then repeat, and be aware of how your stroke feels, how your hands move, or perhaps even how your head still wants to move to look at the result.

It is a great way to heighten your senses and understand why you may be missing those key putts at key times in your round.

Drink Your Way to Better Golf

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Please do not head for the alcohol cabinet, well at least until you have read the article and put into practice the advice given herein.

I want you to remember your last competitive round of golf.

Now, answer the following three questions:

Did I feel fatigued, mentally or physically during any stage of the round?

Did I lose concentration, without any real explanation?

Did my performance drop during the latter stages of the round?

If you answered yes to any, or all of the questions then you need to consider the following information.

For every 10% of bodily fluids you lose, your ability to focus on a task is affected by 20%.

Now let us imagine the following scenario;

You are on the course, the sun is shining and you are feeling great about your game…Suddenly you feel a bit thirsty. You check your bag and realise you have left your water in the car.

A few holes later you level is dropping inexplicably and you put it down to your inability to keep a score going.

Well, actually it more than likely down to the lack of fluids that you now have in your system.

Due to the great weather, concentration and generally loss of fluids (sweating, urination, salivating etc) your ability to concentrate has dwindled.

You are lucky, you have managed to hail down the drinks cart or dart into the bar to grab a bottle of water, but too late.

You are now dehydrated and glugging back a half litre of water will do very little.

Towards the end of the round your performance may pick up, this is a mix of adrenaline and the effect of replenishing some of the lost fluids but it is too little too late.

You need to replenish your fluid levels throughout the round from the very first tee.

I have had many a client believe that this was in no way related to their decline in performance, but once they tried the following, which we added to their post shot routine the results spoke for themselves.

To make taking a sip of water (or an energy drink, although you must choose your energy drink wisely) easier I suggest you add it into your post-shot routine.

Once you have played your shot, especially tee shot take your bottle out of your bag and take a decent swig of it.

Replace it in your bag and continue with your round. When you reach the next tee do the same. If the climate is hot or humid then add this to your post-shot routine for every long game shot. It is not practical to add it to your putting routine.

By increasing your fluid intake you will be amazed at how much fresher you feel.

Why do you think at tournaments and professional events there are beverage stations at every turn??

Drink more and see your results improve.