Ball Position

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I am asked on a weekly basis where should i position the ball in my stance. It is a question that has a very simple answer, it should be in the same place for all the irons and woods that are hit from the ground, moving forward towards the target only with the driver or a wood played from a tee.

Ball position is fundamental to a consistent strike on the ball, yet people fiddle around  with ball position with regularity. Almost as though they actually have no idea where to play the ball from. Each golfer is different but with the full swing the ball should be positioned at the lowest point of the golf swing, for anything played from the ground.

It is my belief that this promotes far more consistent golf shots than moving the ball backwards or forwards depending on the club that you are hitting. If we think about this logically, the lowest point of our swing arch is always going to be in the same spot, if we swing the club in the same way, regardless of whether we have a 9 iron or a hybrid. By moving the ball, we are encouraging ourselves to make a different swing, and I for one can not be consistent enough if I need to learn a different swing for each club that I am going to be hitting.

Ball position only changes when we change to a shot from a tee with a wood or driver. Why? Because with the driver we want to impact the golf ball on the upswing, rather than the downswing to help generate launch angle and ultimately achieve longer drives. To do this we move the ball closer to the target by a half ball or full ball width at most.

The same is true of chipping, we want to play all chip shots from the same place in our stance. Unlike with the full swing where we are stood parallel to the target line, many golfers choose to stand slightly open when chipping which means the ball needs to be placed in relation to the body, rather than the position between the feet (optical illusion), so we paly the ball from the sternum.

For putting we place the ball underneath our target eye, to ensure that the ball is always positioned correctly to encourage a strike that is slightly on the upswing.

Ball position always stays constant, remember to be consistent we need to prepare consistently.

The Top 5 Mistakes Made By Beginners

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1 – Learning the game; All beginners have the preconceived image that they should start learning to hit the ball on the range, using a full swing , like they see on the tele. But in truth every single golfer should start as close to the hole as possible. Learn to putt the ball into the hole from just half a meter, using the clock drill. Place a ball at each hour of a clock face around the hole and hole them, once you can do all twelve move further away. Gaining confidence in this area of the game will serve you for years to come.

2 – Avoiding tournaments; There are a lot of beginners, that have ventured out onto the course a few times to achieve a handicap, only to avoid playing in competitive rounds due to lack of confidence or fear. I say go and play in tournaments as soon as you have your handicap. Playing under pressure from the start will help you to build a solid mental game and increase your drive to become better. Remember the longer you wait to play a tournament the more nerve racking it will be. There always has to be a first time.

3 – Starting to play because a loved one or friend plays and wants you to join them. Beginning under obligation is a sure-fire way to stop you before you even got started. You must want to try golf for yourself, not because people are badgering you to give it a go.  Golf demands a lot of its players, you have to dedicate time and a lot of effort in the pursuit of achieving a level suitable to head onto the golf course, and if you are not happy trying to achieve that goal for yourself, then golf is the wrong sport for you.

4 – Believing everything you hear to be true; Myths are abundant in golf and the biggest is the one that creates the most problems for new golfers. You will be drilled into thinking that your head must not move, under any circumstance until you look to see where the ball has gone. FORGET THIS PIECE OF ADVICE! Beginners who try desperately to keep their head still will suffer. The head can move, it is only natural for the head to move, instead REMEMBER TO WATCH THE BALL at all times.

5 – Finally and almost as bad as believing everything you hear is trying to hit the ball too hard. A swing thought that most beginners have is “if I hit the ball harder, it will go further” WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! Make sure you swing with rhythm, a smooth swing will create better, longer golf shots.

Doesn’t make any sense? Try this exercise.

Hit 10 balls, and take down the distance of each shot. Remove the shortest and longest shots and calculate the average of the remaining balls.

Once you have completed the exercise, repeat it, only this time swing with only 65% of your “normal” power, take down the distances and work out the average as you did before.

Was that surprising? I believe it was!

Tips To Avoid Golf Slice

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Learning how to play golf comes with a lot of sacrifices and constant practicing. Slice, unfortunately, is a part of most golfers’ games. Even the professionals and top golfers sometimes find themselves making a golf slice. 

What is a Golf Slice?

The simplest way to explain a golf slice is a shot that goes completely off the target. A golf slice goes to the left for left-handed golf player and to the right for right-handed golf players. A golf slice can be frustrating, especially for new golfers, and kill the enthusiasm for the game. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize or altogether avoid golf slice

Tips to Avoid Golf Slice

  • Ensure that in the buildup and engaging of a swing, there is proper body motion. Keep the back straight while bringing the clubhead in a backswing. Reaching out or pulling in too quickly can result in an improper spine angle. This, of course, will result in a fatal slice. It is also essential to keep a distance between the hands and the chest as if they are too close; it is sure to cause a golf slice.
  • Keep it straight on the body. Some golfers try to go in one direction powerfully, hoping the slice will “even out” and land on the fairway. While this may work on occasion, a golfer will overcompensate more often than not, and either hook a ball even further off target or “over slice” and end up with an unfortunate result.
  • Keep a correct form during the follow-through. A surefire way to check a swing’s correct angle is to look at the hands and arms after a swing is done. Golfers should release the swing straight down, and the body should not be in an inappropriate or spinning movement. As such, after contact is made the hands and arms will stay straight and point directly outward.
  • Check Your Feet: One of a slice’s primary causes is that your feet and shoulders are not in line and square to the goal when you assume your stance. Your shoulders should point straight to the target. If your feet are put back on the ground from the club, then you might be in danger of slicing your shot. Work to align your feet and shoulders properly, and you can start curing your slice.
  • Step Away from the Ball: A golf swing with the pin in a straight line should be on target. Getting too close to the swing ball will result in outside-in. That happens when a golfer is moving the clubhead on the backswing outside the swing plane and then bringing it inside the swing plane just before contact. To make sure that you are the right distance from the ball, when you are addressing the ball, extend your arms completely. If your arms are spread, and when the club is behind the player, your back is straight, you are the right distance from the ball. Flex your knees to change position.
  • Watch for Contact: Sometimes a slice occurs because of something as easy as the club’s contact with the ball outside the sweet spot of the club (the club’s center). If you close too much of the clubface and make bad contact, you’ll slice. One of the best ways to cure this problem is to make sure you keep your head down and watch the ball come into contact with the clubface. Good coordination between the hand-eyes can help to eliminate a slice.

Learn to play the right way. If you follow the above tips and practice constantly, you are sure to overcome slice on a short while. Good luck

Top Ten Golf Gifts For Golfers

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Golfers are individuals who seem to have everything and can treat themselves to anything they want. This can make it very difficult to give them a gift they would value and really cherish. If you have a golfer and you want to make them feel special, the following are great ideas you can use. As a pro tip, try to do things differently. As golfers, they already have golf clubs, golf balls, and other general accessories. Think of something they would value and get to use often as they play the beautiful game.

  1. Golf Cart Cooler: Playing a game of golf can be really tiring and can get golfers dehydrated. Everyone would need a cooler that can keep the drinks cool and refreshing. Getting a golf cooler for your golfer friend would come in handy and would be really appreciated.
  2. Commuter Pants: Golfers tend to forget about their looks on the golf course. Getting a pair of good looking sports pants that fit well would be highly appreciated. Golf pants keep you looking smart on the golf course and makes playing easier.
  3. Golf Polo and T-shirts: the same applies to golf pants. Good looking and smart polo shirts would make you look smarter and would be perfect for hot weather conditions. Every golf lover would appreciate fitting shirts for his golf activities.
  4. Golf gloves: You can purchase a pair of fitting gloves. A leather golf glove that has a luxurious feel would be a great gift for a golfer.
  5. Golf Essential Oils: Good golf essential oils are capable of curing any kind of ailment and can be a good first aid for them. You can get weather resistant oils or ointments with a fresh smell guaranteed to keep the golfer smelling nice all day.
  6. Golf Frames: You can get your golf obsessed friend, some golf paintings, wallpaper, or framed photos to beautify his interior. Golf lovers always want to feel closer to the game, and having golf pictures would be sure to give them that.
  7. Golf Ball Marker: Cheap ball markers are gradually being phased out. Get your golf friend a monogram golf marker or some quality golf ball marker. Get a sleek, elegant, and personalized golf marker, and you will remain valued by the recipient.
  8. Golf Watch: This is perhaps one of the most valuable golf gifts you can give to a friend. Watches are naturally expensive, golf watches are customized and nice fitting and would be a great gift to give to any golf lover.
  9. Golf Umbrella: Under the scorching sun, golf umbrellas would come in handy. An easily collapsible umbrella would be perfect for golfing under the hot sun.
  10. Golf Notebook: A golf notebook would be perfect for keeping track of your golf record and getting better in the game.

Getting the perfect gift for your golf obsessed friend is something you should really consider. Always make sure your gift is something they would really value and cherish for a long time to come. Good luck in your search.

An Overview of Golf Injuries

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Golf is a low impact sport that can strain the body and become injurious as compared to sports like soccer, basketball, and rugby; nevertheless, a notable number of injuries are associated with the sport. Most golf injuries are usually caused by overused muscles due to continuous strain placed on them but are all very avoidable.

Golf injuries can be caused by incorrect swings, wearing inappropriate shoes, rotational stress on the spine, and also by repeated movements.

Common golf injuries

1. Golfer’s Elbow/Elbow Tendinitis
This is caused by inflammation of the forearm muscles: the muscles responsible for bending the wrist and fingers. This affects the tendons and supporting tissues present at the elbow. Tiny tears occur in the tendon as a result of pulls from repeated bending, flexing, or swinging.

2. Rotator Cuff injury
This is due to repeated stress on the shoulder joints. This affects the tendons and muscles surrounding the joint and can cause severe pain in some cases. The pressure on the muscles can lead to partial or complete tear of the rotator cuff (the muscle network between the shoulder blade and upper arm) from the bone.

3. Back pain
Most golfers spend over 4 hours in a bending position and repeat the same motion over and over again.  This leads to muscle strains and sprains in the back. People who regularly suffer from back pain might find it harder to play golf as it hinders their full abilities while playing the sport. Sciatic back pain also happens in some cases due to damage to the sciatic nerve present in the lower region of the spine.

4. Knee pain
When trying to balance the rotation of the hip axis at the beginning of a swing, the strain is placed on the knee. In cases where the pressure placed becomes extreme, it can lead to tearing of the ligaments. This can even be worse for people suffering from arthritis

5. Wrist pain
Accumulation of fatigue in the wrist can also cause inflammation of the muscles in the wrist, just as in the elbow, which can lead to an inability to hold the club with a firm grip.

How to avoid some common injuries:

  • The use of proper swing techniques is extremely useful in treating Golf’s elbow/ Elbow tendinitis.
  • Strength training, muscle stretching, and exercises for the back can help prevent rotator cuff injury.
  • Activities that focus on the pectoral and trapezoid muscles are ideal for preventing back pain injury.
  • Stretching of calves, thighs, hamstrings, and the wearing of fitted shows can be useful in preventing knee pain.
  • Wrist pain can be prevented by conditioning the wrists.

How to treat common injuries in golf:

  • Use of pain medicines such as Ibuprofen and Aspirin.
  • Deep massage of tissues                 
  • Taking steroid injections
  • Switching between hot packs and cold packs
  • You can also visit a chiropractor.

Golf has improved over time, and many medications can help lessen the pain of injuries. Do not allow anything to affect you when you play the beautiful game. Stay safe!!!

Golf Seen As a Sport, Hobby, and Lifestyle

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Golf has evolved to become one of the most challenging, exciting and intriguing sports played worldwide today. While some individuals take it as a life career, others take is as a sport and some others take it as their lifestyle. For the beginner golfer, golf can prove to be very challenging. This is due to the many rules and complicated playing methods. For the sportsman, maximum concentration and practice is needed compete among the best, beat the best and become the best.

For professional sportsmen and athlete, there are several golf events, tournaments or competitions organized every year. These tournaments offer the winners opportunity to battle it out  for a chance to win the Champions Cup in the grand finale. Professional golf tours are owned and managed by independent golf tour organizations. It is however difficult to become a member of those tours. Golf when looked at as a sport is divided into three major categories of championship: The Men’s Major Championship, The Senior Major Championship and the Women’s Major Championship.

The major focus when it comes to golf is on how to hit the ball longer, and how to make straight shots. This has led to individuals missing out on the fun in playing the game as the focus on gaining perfection. However, others prefer to a more modern and laidback approach to enjoying the beautiful game. These sets of people are known as lifestyle golfers. They take out time to hang out with each other, make new friends, meet people and socialize. For lifestyle golfers, golf is more than just a game. It is a lifestyle and they take it more seriously than they take themselves. The focus is on the hospitality that golf brings and how it can bring relief and fun to them

What comes to mind when we hear the word hobby is some indoor activity to have fun. One would think of something like reading, playing chess and other indoor activities. Some would watch a movie, listen to music or play video games. This doesn’t change the fact that strenuous activities that require strength and muscle such as hiking and of course golf can be a hobby. You might not want to consider playing golf strenuous, but, playing the game for hours, walking on the golf course for the same period of time and hitting a golf club continuously would definitely take its toll on you. Golf can become addicting or better still become a hobby. The beautiful landscape, the trees, water and the perfectly trimmed grasses one gets exposed to can really draw attention and keep you coming back. The beautiful part of playing golf as a hobby is that you can bend the rules and enjoy the game all you want.

There might be environmental restrictions when it comes to playing golf as well as other issues. However, the spot still holds a place as a noble and fascinating game. The right attitude one must possess to play the game makes it all the more fascinating. The game can help grow social networks and create new opportunities for people. Golf indeed is more than a game and there are endless possibilities attached to it.

The Texas Wedge

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This endearing term is for those that use the putter or “Texas wedge” from off the green. It is a fall back to the need to use a putter when off the green and faced with no obstacles on route to the green. Considered by many to be the go-to club when faced with such a shot, amateur golfers worldwide are falling foul to the temptation of reaching for the putter.

But I feel that this reliance on the texas wedge is holding so many amateur golfers back from achieving their true potential.

We have all heard the old adage that a bad putt is always better than a bad chip, but I have to disagree with that statement to an extent, because that surely must depend on your ability to both chip and putt. However, if you are never willing to try chipping the ball, and instead reach for the putter, then how are you ever going to know how good the results could be?

During the off season, I have often asked my clients to refuse to use their putter unless they are on the putting surface in an attempt to make them have to test their abilities chipping with a wedge or an 8 iron. The client is often very dubious, as they feel their scores will not improve and in fact probably get worse. But it is not about scoring, the closed season is the perfect time to work on improving your game ready for the season.

What you need to be aware of is that if improve your chipping and can choose the shot which is correct for the moment then you are going to start shooting better scores. It is this that is important, you need to be able to play a variety of shots from around the green rather than being scared of hitting a poor chip and reaching for the putter, which let´s be honest from the thicker rough around the green is a lottery as to whether you can achieve a decent or acceptable result.

Improving scores is about giving yourself the best chances to do so, meaning you need to have an arsenal of shots to call upon, when the time comes. If you are not a good chipper then you obviously need to head down to the chipping green and dedicate a few hours a week to improving your technique and feel, both with chipping and pitching.

You cannot rely on a putter from 5 or 6 metres short of a green, it is not as consistent as you have been told. If it was you would see all the professionals doing the same thing, it was created as an excuse not to have to hone your skills around the green.

Rule Change – Was it Necessary?

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Golf is steeped in tradition, but with the growing problem of slow play, the Powers that control our wonderful game have come up with some “new” ideas to speed up play. I want to talk about one of those ideas that for me has done nothing to speed the game up, instead it may have made it even slower.

This rule change in question?

Having the option to leave the flagstick in the hole when putting if you so choose.

Now I am a traditionalist, and I have been blessed with a fine short game, that I have honed to a level that I am more than happy with.

Since I began playing the game, I have felt the same way. The hole is always bigger when the flagstick has been removed. So, I personally advise my clients to think about their decision logically when they are chipping or putting.

Please don´t think for a minute that I am saying you should never leave the flagstick in, but those of you that are putting from just a few feet away, insisting the flag stays in the hole, you are slowing down the game, as the flag gets removed then replaced and then removed and replaced again.

I recount a story I heard just yesterday. A friend of mine was playing in a league that I help to organize, but unfortunately, I am not in a position to take part. Playing as a four-ball they reached the first green and began to putt, obviously in order of the furthest to nearest. The first played putted with the flag in, the second from a similar distance opted for the flag to be removed, the third my friend putted with the flag out, but then the fourth guy required it replacing. He was no more than 6 feet from the hole. He missed and elected not to tap in. Instead standing aside for the other players to finish. This is just ridiculous to my mind and will slow the game down.

I can understand why many people would want to leave the flag in the hole, I mean it is easier to see, aim at, but is it conducive to helping reduce your score, I doubt it, after all the hole area has been reduced and unless you hit the dead centre of the flag stick the ball will not drop down into the hole, instead it will ricochet off.

To be honest the rule for putting with the flagstick in, should have been changed so that if you putted before the flag was attended by your playing partner, then you would not be penalised if your ball struck the flag. This way players would be able to save a little bit of time by putting before their playing partners arrived on the green.

A rule that for me has created more issues than it has solved.

Build a Routine

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If there is one thing that separates a consistent golfer and an inconsistent performer it is their routine. A routine is fundamental to play consistent golf, it is paramount that you have one and that it is consistent and reliable. Without a routine golf becomes guess work.

The routine has a few sections that you need to be able to separate, so that you can prepare in the best way for you to execute the shot that you are hoping to hit.

Preparation is key and your pre-routine should start as you approach your ball; you should be judging wind conditions, lie, distance to clear hazards, distance to the flag and which club you will require. Once you have completed the initial phase of your routine, the next phase is the most important, as here you prepare to execute the shot to the best of your ability.

The in-shot routine begins once the club has been selected and you are readying yourself to hit the shot. A sound routine will include visualization of the shot that you are about to play, it will include a moment of calm aimed at reducing any pressure or nerves that you may be feeling as you stand over the ball. But above and beyond anything else a good pre-shot routine will include a step to remove any swing thoughts and direct your focus solely on reaching your target. A couple of practice swings to feel the required swing and to release any pent-up tension and you are ready to play the shot.

Finally, the last and for many amateur golfers the most important part of any routine, the post-shot routine. Your post routine is vital, especially if you tend to carry around the disappointment of the previous shot allowing it to affect you for more than the shot it should. In a post-shot routine, I would include some time for reflection, a time for reaction and a time to store the shot for future reference and a time to forget and move on to the task at hand.

Reflection is your chance to decide whether you took the necessary steps to hit the shot that you wanted to and whether you achieved it, and if not why not? Reaction is your immediate emotions towards the shot, it can be joy or anger. Your processing and storage time is so that you can feedback to yourself or your coach, so that you can work on what may be going wrong. Forgetting, this is the key and the hardest part of a routine. You must be able to move on and continue with the next shot, without the memory of the previous or previous shots plaguing you.

A great finish to a routine is to wipe the clubface and wipe away the immediate memory of the shot, giving yourself time to prepare for the next and most important shot of your round.

Putting – It’s All in the Grip

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For years putting has been considered to be the game within the game, a skill that seperates the great from the legendary, but becomming a great putter doesn´t require much more than great feel and an ability to read the line, line reading like most skills in golf can be taught, honed and improved, but feel and touch are much harder to teach and instill in a student. Finding your touch requires a great deal of patience, but even more so a desire to enjoy putting.

Teaching a Swedish lady last week, reminded me of something that I was taught when I first took up the sport. Your grip needs to reflect you as a person, it needs to allow you to feel the contact with the ball, and looking at todays modern thought process, this jewel of information has been superseeded with the need to quieten the hands, through the use of large grips and unorthodox grips that are referred to as the pencil grip or the claw.

Now this lady was struggling with her putting, she had recently fitted a well-known thick grip to her oversized large headed putter and she kept commenting on how she didn´t feel comfortable, and was unable to control the line or length of her putts. This hadn´t started with the change of grip, she changed because of this, but to no avail.

Having played for almost two decades, I asked the lady if she would try to recreate the grip that she used when she first began playing, she couldn´t, which was a sign to me that she had never actually found a grip that she was comfortable with. So taking a look at her overall posture and position I decided that we needed to try a number of different grips, but we would use my putter as it has a standard pistol putter grip.

We tried holding the right hand cupping the left, all ten fingers on the grip and a host of other methods of holding the putter. None felt right, with each she fiddled to try and get comfortable. I was down to my favoured method of holding the putter; cack-handed or left hand below right (for a right hander). We tried resting the right index finger over the finger of the left hand, she didn´t like that, so we placed all 8 fingers on the grip, with the little finger of the left and the index finger of the right hand touching.

EUREKA! She felt great, it reminded her of how she had held the hockey stick when she first started playing hockey in her early teens. She immediately felt the weight and balance of the putter. Her eyes lit up and she started rolling putt after putt to the hole.

Putting is a personal thing and because of that I teach very little technique, until the client and I have found a grip that suits the client and feels correct. Successful putting starts from a comfortable grip.