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Digital Instruction A U S T R A L I A ’ S

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Guide 2011

Basics • Driving • Bunkers • Short game Putting • Game management • Mind • Nutrition Health • Fitness • Drills & Quick tips • The Croker System

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Contents

3 Contributors Basics 6 Back to basics 8 The angle of attack Driving 9 Longdrive power tips 10 Driving your score down part 1 12 Driving your score down part 2 13 Attention all faders and slicers Bunkers 14 Bunker shots made easy 15 Bunkers basics part 2: poor lies 16 When it comes to bunkers, make a splash 18 Greenside bunkers Short game 20 5 greenside shots every golfer should know 23 Bump and run 24 Chip better to putt better 26 Pitching tips 27 H.O.W. to chip 28 Watch and learn Putting 29 Long putt drill 30 Putting with less technique 31 The keys to being a great putter 32 Reading a green 34 Improving distance control when putting 35 The highs and lows of putting 36 Reading slopes on greens and the key drill

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Fitness Game management 69 Aerobic fitness is good for golf 37 Your checklist for success 70 Getting to the core of it 38 Trouble shots part 1 71 You are what you do 40 Trouble shots part 2 42 Assess, decide, rehearse, commit 72 Exercising: take it one leg at a time 44 Fairway woods and hybrids 46 It’s what you measure that matters 73 A fitting start to the new year 74 Take your medicine (balls) Mind 75 Your mum was right: good 47 The power of the mind posture is everything 48 Overcoming the fear to succeed 76 Russian twist 50 Is this Tom Watson’s mental 77 Post round recovery tips game secret? 78 Better safe than sorry 51 The $11m mental lesson 52 Poulter twitters mental toughness 79 Sit-ups and dumbbells 53 Free your mind and the putts will 80 Warm up for the winter stretch follow Drills and Quick tips 82 Drills 1: Full swing technique 54 Your go-to swing key 84 Make the hole look as big as a 55 The switch to success 56 Practice, patience and persistence bucket & Ladder and compass drill 57 Controlling your emotions on the course 85 The pro’s putting drill & Pitch it in the air every time Nutrition 86 Ball sitting in long grass, Chipping 58 Battling dehydration drill: The Ladder & Don’t look at 59 What is the ‘shot cost’ of your food? the ball in the bunker 60 Fuelling up for the round 87 Are you a slow starter? & Where Health should your ball positions be? 61 Fix your slice before you swing 88 Pitching 62 Golf and low back injuries 89 Don’t keep your head down, Your 64 Six principles of health to lower credit card can earn you $$$ & your scores Balance and the right shoes 66 Thinking outside the box 90 Tips for senior golfers 68 Does stretching provide control 92 Junior golfers - their first steps for your swing? www.insidegolf.com.au

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Biomechanics 93 Muscular loading 94 Ground forces and lower body mechanics The Croker System 95 The grip 96 Stance 98 About hitting a golf ball 100 The hit: part 1 102 The hit: part 2 104 The hit: part 3 106 Building a backswing: part 1 108 Building a backswing: part 2 110 The hit: part 5 111 The hit: part 6 112 The hit: part 7 113 The hit: part 8 114 The hit: part 9 115 Hit freely - don’t steer 116 Source of structure 117 Building structure 118 Source of time 119 Sources of motion in golf


A U S T R A L I A ’ S

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Greg Ashton

Greg Ashton has been a PGA Professional for 35 years. He plays the PGA Legends Tour whilst living and coaching at Palm Meadows on the Gold Coast. Greg works with golfers of all skill levels from very experienced players to intermediate golfers and newcomers to the game. He coaches local and international golfers at the Gold Coast Golf School where Greg can be contacted on: 0414 660 030 or greg@goldcoastgolfschool.com.au

Mike Bury

Mike Bury is an Australian PGA professional, living in Dallas Texas. Mike’s proven coaching style has been extensively crafted through his exposure to some of the greatest teachers in the world including Dale Lynch, Steve Bann and Jim Mclean. www.mikebury.com

Darren Chapman

Darren Chapman is a AAA Member of the Australian PGA, and teaches at The Ridge Golf Course and Driving Range in Barden Ridge, NSW. www.theridgegolf.com.au or (02) 9541 4960

Peter Croker

Peter Croker has been a PGA member since 1971 and has given lessons with his Croker Golf System to professionals including Vijay Singh, Arnold Palmer, Roco Mediate, Fred Funk, Olin Browne, and Bob Charles. Based at The Dunes Golf Links, he also runs a unique online golf academy: www.crokergolfsystem.com

Brent German

Brent German is an AAA Accredited PGA Golf Teaching Professional at Albert Park Driving Range in Melbourne. Visit www.BrentGermanGolf.com or call Brent on

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Featured contributors

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0412 533 555 for more infor mat ion. For online bookings visit: http://ignitegolf.com.au/brent_german

Jamie Glazier

Jamie Glazier is a Practioner of NeuroLinguistic Programming. Through his business Dare2Dream Peak Performance based in Melbourne, Jamie works as a Mental Conditioning coach to some of Australia’s up and coming professional and amateur golfers such as Adam Bland, David Lutterus, Steve Jones, Stacey Keating, Bryden Macpheron and Grace Lennon. For more information on the Dare2Dream Video Coaching Program, you can visit their website at www.dare2dream.com.au

Lee Harrington

Lee is a PGA Member and is also the Development Officer at Golf Queensland. Her passion for teaching and an eye for detail is recognised in her reputation as a leading female teacher in Australia. Lee’s experience in teaching provide a basis for programs delivered The Golf School, a Queensland-based teaching facility. Lee teaches at both the Gold Coast Carrara and Oxley facility weekly. www.thegolfschool.com.au. Email: admin@thegolfschool.com.au, or phone (07) 5596 3373.

Dr Mike Martin

Dr Mike Martin is a golf psychologist who works with middle and low handicappers who struggle with loss of focus, self-doubt and inconsistency in their game. He has worked at the US Masters and British Open. Mike teaches at The Ridge Golf Course. To get a copy of his FREE mental game report “Five Embarrassingly Simple Secrets” go to www.mentalgolfer.com

Richard Mercer

Richard Mercer has been a member of the Australian Professional Golfer Association since 1977. For the past seven years, he has served as the Head Golf Professional at The Vintage Golf Club in the Hunter Valley. www.richardmercergolf.com

Lisa Newling and Loraine Lambert

Lisa Newling and Loraine Lambert are the club professionals at Eden Gardens Country Club as well as Bega Country Club on the far South Coast of NSW. Both Eden and Bega have beautiful 18-hole Championship Golf Courses and the area is a great holiday destination. Lisa and Loraine have extensive Playing and Teaching experience. For more information, phone: (02) 6496 1054 or visit sapphirecoastgolfschool.com.au

Richard Nizielski

Richard Nizielski is a Brisbane-based golf fitness expert and the Director of Golf Fit Solutions. A three-time Olympian and medallist in the sport of short track speed skating, Richard is a qualified sports and personal trainer designing individual fitness and nutrition programs for both professional and amateur golfers here in Australia and overseas. Richard Nizielski from Golf Fit Solutions can be reached on 0438 027 768 or richard@ golffitsolutions.com. golffitsolutions.com

Anne Rollo

Anne Rollo is an ALPG golf professional residing in Sydney. She is a European Tour tournament winner and record holder, and she teaches golf at Muirfield Golf Club. www.fixmygolfswing.com.au

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Kurt Stegbauer

Kurt Stegbauer is the 2009 NSW PGA Coach of the Year, and is the Head Professional and Director of Coaching at The Ridge Golf Course and Driving Range. Ph 02 9541 4960 or visit www.theridgegolf.com.au

Mark Victorsen

Mark Victorsen is the Senior Teacher at Pacific Golf Club Brisbane, and was QLD PGA Teacher of the Year in 2008. www.pacificgolf.com.au

Glenn Whittle

Glenn Whittle is a AAA PGA Member, and is the Head Coach of the NSW Institute of Sport. He was the 2008 NSW PGA Teacher of the Year and is currently the coach to over 20 elite amateur and professionals. Glenn gives golf lessons to players of all skill levels at The Ridge Golf Course and driving range (near Menai in Sydney). To book a time please phone (02) 9541 4960. For more information visit www.whittlegolf.com

David Williams

D av i d Wi l l i a m s i s a P G A Professional, and Manager of Lang Lang Golf Club. He is also the Director of Willow Golf (willowgolf.com. au) and Master Instructor of the Medicus Golf Institute. He can be contacted at david@ willowgolf.com.au, or at (03) 5659 6284.

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Contents may not be reproduced without written permission. All material © Inside Golf 2011.


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The basics

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Back to basics CarlieButler I see a lot of amateur golfers warming up on the range and even working on their technique without putting a club down or alignment sticks to help them aim in the direction of their target. Many right-handed amateur golfers tend to aim to the right of their target. This creates faults in the golf swing. When I’m practicing on the driving range, you will see my alignment sticks lying on the ground in front of my toes, pointing towards my target. I do this religiously, because I want to stand up and hit every shot where I want to. Most of the problems in my swing were caused by neglecting the basics, like alignment and posture. If I started to aim a little to the right, I found I would overcompensate and hit the ball straight left. One of the first things I look at when I start to veer off track are my fundamentals. This includes the grip, stance, posture and alignment.

The grip

Ben Hogan wrote, “Good golf begins with a good grip”. How you grip the club can determine the club face at impact. Start with your left hand. The grip should run from the base of your little finger diagonally across the palm to the first joint of your index finger. Once you have your left hand on the club, your thumb should run straight down the grip.

Now it’s time to add your right hand. Rest the club along the base of your middle two fingers and close your hand around the grip as if you were shaking hands with someone. Your right index finger and thumb should almost touch and the base of your right thumb sits snugly over your left thumb. I like to use a neutral grip where a V is created by the thumbs and index fingers of each hand. The V on your right hand should point between your chin and right shoulder.

Stance

The width of your stance is very important in creating a solid foundation at address to support the swinging motion of your upper body. The longer the club, the longer the arc of your swing will be therefore the wider your stance must be. The shorter the club, the shorter the arc, the narrower your stance will be. With my driver, fairway woods and long irons, my feet will be about shoulder width apart (measured from the inside of the heels to the outside of the shoulders). For my short irons, I will take a narrower stance (the outside of the feet the same width as the outside of my shoulders. The stance for my mid irons will vary between the two outlined. Your ball position will vary depending on the club you are using. When using my driver, I play the ball from the inside of my left heel (for left handed golfers, the inside of your right heel.) For my fairway woods and long irons,

The grip (inset: left hand position) my ball position will be between the middle of my stance and my left heel. My mid irons will be an inch or two forward of centre and for my short irons and wedges, I will play the ball in the centre of my stance. I also like to have my right foot turned out slightly so that I feel that I can turn onto my right side better.

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Posture The correct posture gives you the ability to swing the club on the correct plane. A great drill for you to use while on the practice range will be to stand up straight with your feet in the correct stance position and your arms out at shoulder height with your


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The basics

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Driver stance and ball position

Mid iron stance and ball position

Alignment

palms facing away from your body. Move your arms down to your side making sure your back is still straight. Bend from the hips approximately 30 degrees, sticking your butt out as if you were perching on the edge of a chair. Flex your knees slightly and let your arms hang down naturally and then grip the club. This drill will help you to get into the correct posture position. You can also do this drill at home in front of a mirror so that

you can see exactly what good posture should look and feel like at address.

ball and your feet and parallel to your target. I will always set up my clubface to my target and then I would take my stance and align my body (shoulders, hips, knees and feet) on a parallel plane to the left of my target line. Many players take their stance first before aiming the clubface. When doing this, you will find you align your body to the target but when it comes to lining up the club face, you

Alignment Ok, we now have a good grip, stance and posture, now we need to get properly lined up to the target. Put a club, alignment sticks or an umbrella on the ground between the

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will be set up to the right of your target line. If you aim correctly, you have a better chance of hitting your ball a lot straighter. The basic fundamentals of the golf swing should not be taken for granted. Try not to fiddle with your golf swing when things aren’t going well. Go back to the basic fundamentals and always remember that practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. 


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The basics

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The angle of attack CarlieButler The average golfer tries to get the ball in the air by lifting it. In iron play, you must hit down on the ball to make it go up. A descending blow into the ball makes the ball rebound off the clubface with a tremendous amount of backspin which makes the ball rise. You’ll notice that all good players’ divots are always on the target side of the ball. When the average golfer tries to scoop the ball up, the clubhead will bottom out too soon, and the shot will come out heavy more often than not. If you want a more descending blow we will have to start with ball position. As discussed in last month’s instructional piece, I play the ball an inch forward of the centre of my stance with mid irons and between the centre and my left heel for my long irons. Each position represents the low point in my golf swing, which is where the club should bottom out. If you’re not sure where the low point in your golf swing is, take note of where your divots are on the driving range and adjust your ball position accordingly. Another way to get a more descending blow is the step drill. The step drill helps you to shift your weight more onto your left side on the downswing and through swing, which will stop you bottoming out too early. Using a mid-iron, put your feet together and swing to the top of your swing. Your next move will be to step out with your left foot making sure you are in the correct stance position, and then swing through to the finish. Make sure on your finish position

Step drill position 1

Step drill position 2

Impact position

that your weight is all on your left side and your body has rotated round to your target.

my body and club (particularly my left leg, left arm, hips and my weight) are at impact. At impact, the majority of my weight is on my front foot; my hips are open, my left leg is braced for the hit and my left arm and shaft are nearly in a straight line. When I say nearly in a straight line, the shaft is actually leaning slightly forward, towards the target. The club is moving down into the ball,

accelerating forward and applying maximum force. The sequencing of the downswing is so important. If you try and lift the ball, your wrists will unhinge early and the clubhead will lose speed which will result in a weak strike. This is why the impact bag is so important. Hitting into the impact bag will help you strengthen the most crucial moment in your golf swing.

Impact Position

The impact position is the moment in the golf swing that matters the most. On the practice range I use an impact bag to simulate impact positions. By using this training aid I get a better feel of where

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Driving

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Longdrive power tips Grab these secret tips from former Australian Longdrive Champion John Noble

JasonGruber You’ve heard the saying “Drive for Show, and Putt for Dough”? Well in the sport of Longdrive Golf, there’s no putter to be seen, nor do you have to remain absolutely still while the golfer addresses his shot. It’s a sport of loud grunts and blaring music. Yeah, if you love Twenty20 Cricket you’ll love Longdrive Golf. (By the way, in this sport we “Drive for Dough”! ) The place to watch this sport is at the RE/MAX World Longdrive Championship Australia (www.longdrive.com.au); with an extensive 2010 schedule there will be an event coming to your city soon. Former Australian Longdrive Champion John Noble has always been known for being the most consistent Longdriver in the country, when the pressure has been on, he’s been there to take the title. If you want to become the next RE/MAX World Longdrive Championship Australian Champion – or if you simply just want to get a few extra metres off the tee — read these tips from John on how to turn that 280m bomb into a 350m monster!

Longdrive Tip No. 1 Balance The key to hitting the ball a long way is to make sure you hit the centre of the clubface. I achieve this by having good balance and great tempo. Quite often at golf days, I see people who swing it well all day, yet when they stand on the tee of the longdrive hole they try to swing it 20kph faster than they have all day. The result being a wayward tee shot. Maintaining good balance and tempo throughout the swing will help towards hitting that sweetspot and creating more distance.

Longdrive Tip No. 2 Weight transfer and club release

Former Australian Longdrive Champion John Noble

You don’t need to have an aggressive swing to hit it long — you just need a strong swing. By using the transfer of weight during the downswing and the late release of the club through impact you can achieve good distance with minimal effort. At the top of the backswing I like to see the weight stored on the right side with a shoulder turn that has my back facing the target. From this

position you can now fire your weight forward by clearing the left hip away. This will create lag in the hands giving you extra speed at impact. Through impact your hips should almost be facing the target and left arm and the shaft should be in a straight line. I believe when the left arm and the shaft first make a straight line that this is the fastest point

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of clubhead speed. So if you can achieve this at the point of impact you should gain maximum distance with minimal effort. For more info on the RE/MAX World Longdrive Championship Australia, or to ask John a question, visit: www.longdrive.com.au, or email info@longdrive.com.au


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Driving your score down part 1 GregAshton We all know that a sharp short game is a key to getting lower scores but if you have to start using your short game too early on a hole, your score will blow out. In other words if you have to chip the ball sideways to get your drive back into play a few times per round, then it is difficult to achieve the scores you want. The thing that gets me is that, despite the incredible advances in golf driver technology, they have not largely improved the normal golfer’s performance -- just as the major improvements in automobile technology has not reduced the road toll, in fact it has probably increased it. The question is, WHY? New technology, old skills! Here we have equipment designed and crafted for high performance, so you have to design and craft your skills to suit. Just like jumping into a high-performance motor vehicle and driving it to the car’s capabilities would be dangerous if you did not learn to handle that performance. Firstly, get your hands on a driver that suits you. In nearly all cases, offthe-shelf drivers are too long at 45+

Pic 1 inches. The average driver length for the top tour players is between 43.5 inches to 44.5 inches. Sergio and Tiger use 43.5 inch drivers, so if these guys can’t use 45 inch plus drivers, how can you? Personally, since I went back to a 43.5 inch graphite shaft with a 460cc head, I hit my drives longer and straighter now

Pic 2 than any time in my past (Pic 1: driver length comparison). The second thing to look at is the connection between you and your driver. Hold the club in the power position with your left hand by positioning the handle of the club in your fingers with the heel pad sitting

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Pic 3 on the top of the handle. When you are in your address position you will see at least 2 or 3 knuckles on your left hand and the line formed by your thumb and forefinger will line up with the tip of your right shoulder. Try this, pick up a bucket by the handle and note where the handle

sits in your hand, that’s right, across the fingers where your driver should be. (Pic 2) Now lay your driver on the bucket and pick up your driver the same way in the fingers, it’s a very natural action (Pic 3). Finally, fit the handle of your golf club into the fingers of your right hand with


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Pic 4

Pic 5

Pic 6

the lifeline of your right hand fitting over the thumb of your left hand. This will keep the line formed by your thumb and forefinger pointing straight up your right forearm to the tip of your right shoulder (Pic 4). In the December issue, I showed you the basics of setting up and posture for

your driver, now in addition to that, set the bicep of your left arm on top of your chest, not on the side of your chest. This will help you get your shoulders and spine at the correct angle and also allows your left arm to slide across your chest as you take your backswing instead of around your chest. If you

start your swing with it to the side of your chest your arms tend to swing outside the line (Pic 5). Now you are ready to address the ball. For the last bit of part 1, lay 3 clubs on the ground, the first one just outside your golf ball on your target line and

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Pic 7 the second one on your toe line parallel to your target line, with the third one, an extension of the second club (Pic 6). The clubs on your toe line will help you get the club away on line. With the clubs lying on the ground in this position you can easily see whether you are swinging the club back correctly. Your

hands will swing down your toe line on the takeaway, not outside it (Pic 7). Next month, we’ll cover keeping your driver on the right path with the clubface at the correct angle and moving the clubhead at a high speed. That is how you make a good impact with the golf ball. 


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Driving your score down part 2 GregAshton Here we are at the moment of truth, getting the club path, face angle and club head speed all working together at the same time. So what is the most important part of executing a golf shot? The setup? The backswing? The downswing? All these things are important, but IMPACT is definitely the most critical. That is the only time the club has an influence on the golf ball. After you have started the driver back, it starts elevating when your left arm gets to about 45’ across your chest. With your left arm extended and parallel to the ground your hands will be in front of the centre of your chest and the butt end of the shaft will point down to the target line of your golf ball. Also in this position you will have a 90’ angle with your left arm and club shaft. (Pic 1) Keep both feet firmly on the ground, this helps you get good coil, building resistance between your hips and shoulders – your hips should ultimately turn half as much as your shoulders which helps with the storage of power. When your left heel lifts up and the left knee moves behind the ball you will tend to overswing and lose a lot of power. (Pic 2) Start the downswing with a simultaneous dropping of your arms and loading of the left hip with a feeling of downward pressure through the middle of your left foot — your left leg should be perpendicular to the ground. When your arms drop into the “slot” you will be able to

pic1

pic3

pic2

maintain the 90’ angle between your left arm and shaft you set up on your backswing, this creates lag, the power position (Pic 3). You will also note in this picture that the butt end of my driver shaft is pointing at the ball. When your hands start swinging the club

pic4

at the ball from the top you will lose that 90’ degree angle and the club will start outside your swing plane and outside the target line with a great loss of power. (Pic 4) At impact both feet will remain flat on the ground even though your weight is now in your

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pic5

pic6

left hip and leg which is now set as a solid wall ready for impact. (Pic 5) Now as both arms straighten to a full extension just after impact the right foot is pulled off the ground as you rotate to an upright follow through. (Pic 6)


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Attention

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all faders and slicers

KurtStegbauer Spending hours out on the teaching tee allows the coach to improve players faster. The best coaches use the least amount of words, yet bring forth the biggest amount of improvement. I once heard how 80% of the world’s golfers are faders or slicers. Now, a lot of golfers don’t think they fade or slice, however they really do. The best way to figure out if you are a fader or a slicer is to hit 20 golf balls with a 5-iron and write down what each shot does, I guarantee you that there will be a pattern to your 20 shots, and this will allow you to see what your shot pattern is. A great drill to get a player hitting the ball straighter or even to understand how to hit a draw or hook is to have a player grab a tennis racquet and take a golf set up position. If you’ve played a couple of games of tennis then the concept should be fine. If you don’t have a tennis background, then you may need your local golf pro to assist. The concept of hitting the ball with a draw or hook is very similar to hitting a topspin forehand, you will feel as though you are hitting the ball to the right and then have the ball curve back in. Looking at pictures 1

and 2 you can clearly see the correct images for a top spinner, these then relate back to how you can hit a draw or hook shot. Looking at pictures 3 and 4 will show you how these match up to a player who cut-spins the ball – an out-to-in shot that relates to hitting a slice or a fade. In teaching students of all levels, I insist that — to be the player that you want to be — you need to be able to hit a ball deliberately with a fade or draw at will. Using the tennis racquet and adopting a hybrid tennis/golf swing will allow you to achieve shaping your golf shots at will. And finally, a short story to finish with. A client of mine (we’ll call him “Fred”) has recently been on fire, dropping 8 shots from his handicap in a couple of months. I used the tennis racquet concept a couple of times with Fred during a lesson. Fred now has regular warm up sessions in his garage using the tennis racquet to get the feel of a top spin/draw shot. Fred now hits the ball further and straighter, partly by using this drill. My suggestion is that if you are a fader or slicer, dig out the old tennis racquet and practice some top spinners to achieve a draw or hook shot.

To hit a draw, imagine hitting a topspin forehand shot in tennis (i.e. in-to-out, with a roll)

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Faders and slicers tend to hit shots similar to a cut-spin stroke in tennis (i.e. out-to-in)

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14 Bunkers

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Bunker shots made easy KurtStegbauer While giving short game lessons, I often watch other golfers practicing in the bunker and think to myself, “If they only knew the concepts about these shots, they would play these shots a lot easier.” I look at the amount of effort people put into the shot for such little reward. When I hear a golfer say “I just want to get the ball out,” I realise that they haven’t got the basic fundamentals for these shots. Here’s how bunker shots can be made easier. The first thing that we are going to look at is the set-up position for a bunker shot; namely the clubface and the body position. As the lie in a bunker dictates how we play these shots, we are going to assume that we have a good lie in the bunker (in the next issue we will look at how to play from a poor lie in the bunker.) Looking at the clubface, we need to make it more “user friendly” for the bunker shot. To do this, we need to change the way the club sits, thereby creating more loft and more bounce. In picture 1, you will see how the clubface normally sits; in picture 2 you will see how it should sit, with the face more open. Doing this will allow the club to move through the sand easier, taking less sand. Next, let’s look at our body position. Our aim is to have the club taking a small amount of sand, thus allowing the ball to come out high and soft-and even with some spin. Ensure that the ball is forward in our stance, and that our pressure is forward on our front leg.

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Get your body lower to the sand. This will allow the club to swing shallower. You will notice in photo 3 that my bum is closer to the ground than for a normal set-up. This gives me a shallower shaft position. From here, a shallower swing will help you take a shallower divot. A shallow swing will allow the ball to come out high and soft. Have you noticed that I haven’t talked about

aiming your body away from the target? That’s because I personally disagree with this method, and in fact I believe that most problems are caused by aiming your body away from the target. Next time you are out practicing, ensure that you have these basic fundamentals, and I’m sure that you will notice a difference. If you still have issues with bunkers, why not contact your local pro? Or, if you are really

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interested in short game improvement, we have just launched our own Short Game golf school, which will certainly unlock your short game scoring potential, for more information go to http://www.theridgegolf.com.au/coaching/ short_game_golf_schools.html 


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Bunker basics Part 2: Poor lies KurtStegbauer In the last issue we looked at how to play a bunker shot from a good lie. This month, we are going to explore a couple of options of playing from poor lies in the bunker. As the lies in bunkers can vary dramatically dependent upon what course you play, we will look at how to play from a plugged lie, a downhill lie and an uphill lie. The first lie that we are going to consider is a plugged lie in the bunker. This lie can often make a grown man cry. While there are some limitations as to what you can and can’t do from one of these lies, with a sound concept of how play these shots, I’m sure that we can make them easier for you. From a plugged lie it is almost impossible to get any spin on your ball. The key to these shots is to have the club come from a steep path into the ball. To do this, place the ball in the middle of your stance. The club face doesn’t have to be open; it can be straight onto the ball. When making a swing at this lie you need to pick the club up on the back swing, which will enable the club to have steep downswing path into the ball. The

A plugged lie path of the club will feel as though it is chopping into the sand as you can see in picture 1. If you get a chance to practice this before you play, that would certainly help. The second lie that we are going look at is the downhill lie in the bunker. These shots can be extremely difficult to get good height and spin on the ball. The first thing to look at is the angle of your body in relation to the slope. Most players tilt their

For a downhill lie, match your shoulders to the downhill slope body the wrong way for these shots. The key, I believe, to these shots is to make your shoulders match the downhill slope as seen in picture 2. Matching your shoulders to the slope will ensure that the path of your club will hit the sand where you want it to. Most players tilt their shoulders the other way — which makes them hit way too far behind the ball. And finally the last lie that we are going to look at is the uphill lie. These

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For uphill lies, match your shoulders to the uphill slope and take a full swing

lies tend to be the easiest of the three mentioned, however a lot of golfers can get themselves into a real mess with these shots. The first thing to know about these shots is that the ball will fly out on a very high flight as the angle of the uphill lie will cause this. As we did in the downhill bunker lie, we need to match our shoulders to the slope as seen in picture 3. Matching your shoulders to the slope will ensure that

the path of your club comes through the sand on a good path. If you don’t have your shoulders matching the slope, the club will tend to dig into the sand too much. When you play these shots you will need a full swing to help you get the distance required. I hope these pointers have helped you with your bunker shots, if you are still having some difficulty contact your local OnCourse professional for some more assistance.


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When it comes to bunkers, make a splash You’ve heard it before but I’m going to say it again: even though the greenside bunker shot causes enormous anxiety among amateur players, it is actually one of the easiest shots in golf to play. Once you understand and feel some of the things required to ensure the ball comes out of the sand every time, you’ll be amazed at how quickly your confidence will grow. One good practise session, keeping in mind some of the things I’m going to point out over the next two pages, should see not only your bunker play improve dramatically but your scores as well.

ScottCubis As a golf professional you get to see lots of students of all different abilities and over the years you start to see patterns emerging in areas where people seem to go wrong. I couldn’t tell you how many times over the years I’ve had a golfer come and ask me for help with their bunker play and when they show me their technique, it’s immediately apparent why they have so much trouble. Even otherwise quite capable

players sometimes struggle with their technique in the sand. The first thing to remember about sand shots, and the reason they’re one of the easiest to get competent at, is that the club (which is specifically designed for the purpose) never touches the ball. The whole idea of a bunker shot is to send the ball out on a cushion of sand. The flange on the bottom of the sand wedge glides under the ball and throws out sand and ball together.

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1 2 3

Pic 3 One of the great things about this is it gives you a margin for error. If you hit a little bit too far behind the ball it will still come out and the same if you hit a little too close to it (to a point). However, this knowledge has also led many people astray and one of the most common problems I see with amateurs is “digging” the club into the sand (PIC 1). This player has probably heard exactly what I outlined above (that the club doesn’t need to

Pic 4 touch the ball) but has neglected the vital piece of information that you also need to follow through. The results with this technique are erratic at best. The ball will sometimes come out of the sand and sometimes not. Either way, you’ll never play a controlled bunker shot if you’re a “digger”. The second most common mistake I see with amateurs is the player who feels they need to “scoop” the ball

out of the sand. In an effort to do this they get their weight on the back foot (PIC 2) and have almost no chance of delivering the club to the ball in a controlled fashion. The result for the “scooper” is invariably a bladed shot that scurries across the green (often into another bunker on the other side). With these two main problems in mind I’m going to show you a couple of easy drills to break these habits.

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Pic 5 First, you need to understand the concept of an open club face. The easiest way to do this is to draw some lines in the sand to guide us (PIC 3). The first line shows where your feet will aim. The second shows the line you will swing the club along (the same direction as the first) and the third line shows where the clubface will aim. This is as simple an explanation of an open clubface as you’re ever likely to see.

Pic 6 Take your set up using these lines as a guide (PIC 4) and your weight favouring your front foot. It will probably feel uncomfortable so a great exercise to learn what to do from here is practise without a ball. I get all my students to get the feel of splashing the sand out of the bunker (PIC 5) and following through (PIC 6). After a while introduce the ball and see what the results are like. You might be amazed at how simple it is. 


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Greenside bunkers LisaNewling LoraineLambert

Many amateur golfers fear bunkers, thinking things like ‘what if I can’t get my ball out?’ or ‘what if I hit it over the green?’ Often golfers are very annoyed about hitting the ball in the bunker in the first place; they storm over to the bunker, mutter a few words and start thrashing at the ball. This is usually dominated by the arms, causing a very steep angle of attack — taking too much sand. The other thing we often see are golfers swinging so hard trying to lift the ball out of the bunker, falling backwards striking the ball first not the sand. This causes a low thin shot catching the lip of the bunker or sailing over the green into another bunker! The next time you’re in the bunker, take a moment outside the bunker to have a practise swing and think about which of the following techniques suits your lie. Give yourself a consistent pre shot routine to rehearse your shot and feel the correct tempo. The aim is to slide the club through the sand taking a shallow divot.

Do I open the clubface or not?

An open clubface doesn’t suit everyone. We prefer our students to learn to play a square clubface shot first and then advance to playing an open clubface shot. Many people are put off by the look of the clubface lying open.

Do I look at the sand or the ball?

Many amateur golfers are told to hit behind the ball; This is inconsistent. We encourage people to watch the ball and change the ball position to vary the amount of sand they take. To hit a high soft shot - play the ball off your left heel this will allow you to take some sand. To play a longer bunker shot - Play the ball further back in your stance to take less sand. It all depends on the lie you have and how far you need to hit the shot: • Just get the ball onto the green – Square clubface technique. • High short shot – Open Clubface. • More Distance – Square clubface, play the ball middle to back in your stance, depending on how far you wish to hit it. The further back you play the ball the less sand will be taken, this will also cause a lower shot and the ball will roll more. Square clubface – basic bunker shot (right handed golfer) • Feet slightly wider than your shoulders or hips. • Establish firm footing. • We like to see 60% of weight on left side • Ball position left heel. • Lower body needs to stay stable, feeling like you are going to stay low with the knees flexed. • Allow wrists to cock early in the backswing. • ¾ swing or hands shoulder high on the back swing. • Maintain your wrist cock as you rotate your upper body on the follow through.

60% weight to the left side of the ball position • Tempo is important, slow back swing and accelerate through the sand. Open clubface. • All principles apply as described in the basic bunker shot, with the addition of the open clubface and open stance swinging along your toe line, outside the target line to inside the target line. • Opening the clubface - Hold the club lightly in your left hand with and the clubface square. Use your right hand to rotate the club in your fingers, so the clubface aims to the right of

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your target. Look at the leading edge of the club or the bottom groove on your club to determine how far open the clubface is. The higher you wish to hit the shot the more open the clubface. • Swing path – This is a common mistake. You must swing along your toe line, out to in like you are trying to slice the shot. Often we see golfers setting up open and using a normal back swing. This can be disastrous. • Follow through – Rotate upper body, clubface should be facing the sky on the follow through.


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Shoulder high on the backswing Sand texture Depending on where you play golf, the sand can vary quite a bit. In fluffy bunkers with fine sand the club head tends to dig. • Fluffy bunkers - Open the clubface as this helps to slide the club through the sand using the bounce on the sole of the club. • Hard bunkers with not much sand or wet sand - The club tends to bounce when it hits the sand. In hard bunkers keep the clubface square, and use the square faced technique. This will help the club dig, and in really bad lies you can close the club face slightly

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Swing along your toe line to help the club dig even more. With this technique you will get less height and the ball will roll further. Equipment, loft and bounce Loft - There are different degrees of loft on a Sand Wedge most commonly ranging between 55 degrees and 60 degrees depending on what you intend to use the club for. The loft of the club is usually written on the sole of the club. Bounce - Bounce is the angle of club head’s sole, measured from the trailing edge of the club. Bounce helps the club slide through the sand. The bounce is usually written on the back of the

Momentum drill club, the higher the number the greater the angle of bounce ranging from 4 degrees to 14 degrees. 8 -14 degrees of bounce suits most bunker play. If the courses you play regularly have fluffy bunkers you would be better to have a Sand Wedge that has 10 – 14 degrees of bounce. Ask your local PGA Professional for advice on what kind of Sand Wedge best suits the courses you play. Women looking to buy a new Sand Wedge should try a light weight steel shaft in a standard head or even a graphite shaft. Many female golfers aren’t strong enough to generate enough

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club speed through the sand as the club is too heavy for them. Bunker drill – to help with momentum Draw a line in the sand about 6 meters long parallel to the green, place 10 balls along the line about 50cm apart. Place the balls on the target side of the line, in other words the line should be behind the ball. Line your left heel up with the line in the sand, set up as if you are going to play the shot, with out stopping walk your way along the line hitting each shot. This is a great drill for freeing up tension and feeling a good tempo.


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5 green-side shots every golfer should know DavidWilliams The short game makes up the majority of shots in our overall score. Learning to play 5 different shots around the green will give you the ability to get up and down from just about any situation. Playing the most efficient shot when required should yield the most consistent results. The following shots can be played with a 7 iron down to a 60 degree Lob Wedge; they will all just fly and roll different distances and have a different amount of backspin. Firstly, learning the 5 shots in order will ensure we know how to impact the ball properly. A downward blow on the back of the ball ensures we compress the ball on the sweet spot of the clubface. Once that is achieved and then maintained for each of the shots, we should be able to perform all of the shots with consistency.

Shot 1: The Bump and Run

A shot which flies low, carries less than 3 metres and has little backspin on the green is the most useful shot when close to the green’s edge. The ball carries the uneven ground and lands on the putting surface rolling. The Set Up: With a narrow stance and the front foot turned out, the ball is positioned toward the rear of your stance. Your weight and hands forwards so the club is de-lofted. You should feel like your head, hands and weight are directly over your front foot.

Shot 1: The bump & run

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Shot 2: The carry & run The Swing: Maintaining the angle of your wrists and keeping your body and head nice and still, draw the club back and hit down on the back of the ball. The hands always stay well ahead of the clubhead. It will not require much power to get the ball rolling all the way to the pin. When to use: When you are within 3 metres of green’s edge when there is a fair distance between you and the hole. If putting from off the green, the ball can be affected by the longer grass and uneven ground so hitting a low shot

Shot 3: The pitch which lands just on the green and then rolling can be much more effective.

Shot 2: The Carry and Run

A shot which flies higher and longer than the previous shot but still has little backspin and will roll when it lands on the putting surface. The Set Up: With a narrow stance and the front foot turned out, the ball is positioned toward the front of your stance. The weight and hands forwards but now the club has more

loft than the previous shot. The Swing: Like the last shot, maintain the angle of your wrists and keep your body and head nice and still, draw the club back and hit down on the back of the ball. The hands always stay well ahead of the clubhead. The ball will now take off higher than the previous shot but still roll. When to use: When you are 3 – 10 metres from the green’s edge and when there is a lot of green to work with. This is basically the same as the previous shot but with a forwards

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ball position the ball will fly higher and a little further to carry the longer grass but then still roll up the length of the green.

Shot 3: The Pitch

A shot which has a mid-trajectory but will have a moderate amount of backspin when it hits the green. The Set Up: The stance is now a little wider than the previous two shots and the front foot is still turned out, the ball is positioned toward


22 Short game the middle of your stance. The weight and hands forwards a little to ensure a downward hit on the back of the ball. The Swing: Instead of maintaining the angle of your wrists like the first two shots, we now cock and roll the wrists so the clubhead travels a little further around the swing arc. Still keeping our body and head nice and still, hit down on the back of the ball. As the wrists uncock through impact you will impart more backspin on the ball as long as you hit down. The result should be a flighted shot with spin. When to use: With a lofted club, you can use this with a small swing from close range to produce a shot which checks up or from further out with a bigger swing to achieve some distance which should also check up.

Shot 4: The Lob

A shot which flies high and short and will have a fair degree of spin. The Set Up: The ball is positioned toward the front of your stance. The weight is forwards a little but the hands will be central. The shaft will be vertical, not leaning forwards. The club face can be square or open but aiming left if the face is open. The Swing: For this shot we are thrusting the clubhead well past our hands through impact and making sure the clubface points toward the sky on the follow though. The idea is to use the bounce of the club on this shot. We need to try and thrust the back edge of the bottom of the club down into the ground under the ball. Remember: As long as you are

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hitting down to a point under the ball, you will not blade this shot across the green. When to use: I only ever use this when the only way is up and I have to stop the ball fairly quickly. Over bunkers or mounds close to the green.

Shot 5: The Delicate Shot

A shot which comes off the face very soft and with maximum spin. Not for the feint-hearted, it is quite a difficult shot but one that can get you out of a very tight situation. The Set Up: Similar to the Lob Shot. The ball is played forwards but this shot does require an open face. The shaft is kept vertical so there is maximum amount of loft. The Swing: To execute this shot we play with “dead arms”. If I take my backswing and then let the hands drop as if I had “dead arms” the clubhead would hit the ground a foot behind the ball, there is no arm thrust at all. We simply now turn the body and feel like we are dragging the clubhead through the ball while my arms just drop. The hands will end up leading the clubhead thus the feeling of dragging the clubhead. The clubface needs to remain open through impact and the clubhead will not follow through much at all. If executed correctly, the result will be a mid trajectory ball flight that stops pretty quickly. When to use: If you have short sided yourself and have very little green to work with this shot can work wonders. The downside is however that it takes a lot of practice and precision to get it right.

Shot 4: The lob

Shot 5: The delicate shot

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The bump and run LisaNewling LoraineLambert Everyone should have this shot in their bag. Bump and Run is a similar shot to a Chip and Run, the difference between the two shots is that in a Chip and Run, we land the ball on the green and it will roll up to the hole. Converseley, in the Bump and Run we land the ball before the green and let it roll up to the hole.

When to play a Bump and Run:

• If you are in a position that is a similar distance to a Pitch Shot, but because of your lie or your position it would be difficult to stop the ball on the green. • If you are in a situation where the ground is very firm with not much grass under the ball. It’s easier to play a running shot than risk trying to play a lofted shot and the club bounce on the hard ground, resulting in a shot flying over the green. • If you are buried in the rough and it would be difficult to get height and back spin. • If you have missed the green and there is a tree obstructing your pitch shot and you need to keep the ball low under the branches and let it roll up to the green.

Technique

It is best to use 8, 7 or 6-iron, some people also have success using a hybrid. • Start with an Open Stance – This means your feet knees and hips aim left of target. If

• • • • • • •

you are a beginner you can use your normal square stance. Grip the club a little shorter for better control. Ball Position – keep the ball back in your stance. Hands ahead of the ball or level with the inside of your left thigh. Weight Distribution – 60% of your weight should be on your front foot. For right handed golfers this is on your left foot. Lower body stays very stable. Back swing – Shoulders and arms need to move back together there should be a small amount of wrist hinge. Low follow through – Keep the wrists firm through impact and the club going through to your target.

High flop shot

Bump and run

In many cases, a high flop shot can have a low percentage of success — with a small landing area or the potential of a hard bounce. The Bump and Run can have a higher success rate by punching the ball on/into the bank, and leaving yourself a definite putt

Tips

• Use your imagination; look at your lie and where the hole is, look at the lie of the land, look at your landing area and choose your most confident option. • The further you want to hit the shot the longer your swing. • If you are in the rough and the ball is sitting down in the grass take a more lofted club to help it get up out of the grass, play it back in your stance, allow your wrists to hinge on the backswing and hit down into the grass with a short follow through, in other words punch it. When you play this shot a hold the club a bit tighter, so the club doesn’t twist in your hands.

When playing a Bump and Run, play the ball back in your stance, hands forward

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Chip Better to Putt Better One of the most common questions I am asked when I play golf with amateurs after a few nerve induced errant shots is “what am I doing wrong”? I immediately say “Why do you want me to tell you that? How is that going to help you?” Then I think back to my school days where there was a bigger emphasis on what I got wrong rather than what I got right and I got far greater recognition at home for what I did wrong. It is far more productive to know and understand what to do right than what you are doing wrong. Then there is the “I can’t putt” and “I am a terrible putter” outbursts sometimes followed by “what do I have to do to be a better putter”? Now we are getting somewhere. Wanting to know what to do right is a far better place to start the improvement cycle. GregAshton The first thing to do to be a better putter is get the ball closer to the hole before you have to putt. Have you ever had the experience of getting the ball three metres from the edge of the green for two and walking off with a six or seven? I think everyone has done that and it is usually a result of

poor chipping rather than poor putting. Remember, in chipping the ball spends less time in the air and more time on the ground. Some of the most common faults in chipping is your weight being placed more on the back foot, the ball positioned off the front foot, the shaft of the club leaning backwards away from your target and choosing the wrong landing zone.

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(Pic #1) This setup causes a scooping or lifting action of the club thinking it will get the ball in the air much easier when in fact it is a downward path of the clubhead to the ball the elevates the ball into the air. Ok, Ok I know, I’m telling you what you are doing wrong but most of the time that is all you get. Now the right stuff.

Place your f ive iron on the ground perpendicular to your target line, put the inside of your back foot against the shaft, now position the ball 10cm off the end of the shaft. This will help you get the ball in the correct position for a good chipping technique. Feel your weight more on your front foot by keeping your front foot firmly on the ground

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and tilt your back foot up on your big toe. I call this the stork drill. (Pic #2) By keeping your hands about 10cm to 12cm off your front thigh and the cludhead behind the ball (Pic #3) you will see that the shaft is now leaning towards your target, the club is now in the right position to swing down to the ball. (Pic #3a) Make sure you maintain the angle created by

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your lower wrist throughout the stroke, it is very important that you do this. There is no wrist movement in your chip shots.(Pic #4) Last but not least is the landing zone. For the benefit of learning this skill practice this with an eight iron two metres off the edge of the green and choose a landing zone between one and two metres onto the green surface. Place two clubs

on the ground a metre apart parallel with your target line. Land the ball in this zone allowing the ball to roll about eight metres to the hole. (Pic #5) To get the feeling of this action use a piece of timber (70 x 35 x 200mm) and place it about 15cm behind the ball on the target line. This will tell you immediately if the club is on the

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Pic 6 correct path or not. If it’s not you will make contact with the timber. (Pic #6) You can practise all this at home, at the office or at the range. When practising at home, use a soft or aerated practice ball for safety. Working on these basic steps for your short game will definitely get you closer to the hole and improve the amount of putts you have. 


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Pitching tips

LeeHarrington Many people attempt to pitch like they are taking a small version of their full swing. This is not correct and will lead to poor contact, distance control and directional issues. The lofted pitch shot is played with a lot less moving parts than the full swing. The main points to consider next time you practice are: Setup 1. Your weight starts and stays on the front leg during the entire shot.

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Tee off to success MarkVictorsen

2. The left hand is in a weaker position (left thumb pointing down shaft as shown) to stop the club head releasing and closing. 3. Align body open to the target, clubhead remains pointing at the target. Ball position is inside left heel (which is where your body centre of gravity is situated through weight being forward in setup). The Pitching Action 1. The Club path travels parallel to your body alignment, which is left

of the target. 2. In the takeaway, check clubface at about hip height to make sure you have not shut the loft down (this will lead to shots going low and left). 3. In the downswing the club head trails the shaft, which comes by clearing the left hip as the first move back to the ball. A good way to think of the finish is to see if you can sit a glass on the clubface at the finish. This means you have created the right angles to slide the clubface under the ball and achieve

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I managed to interview Steve Williams when Tiger Woods came to Australia in 2009 and Steve had some very interesting things to say about how Tiger plans his way around the course. He said that Tiger plays the course the way the designer had intended. That is, if the hole requires a draw off the tee he hits a draw; if the hole needs a fade tee shot that’s what he tries to do. To hit a draw/hook tee shot, tee the ball up higher than normal, play the ball more forward (i.e towards the target) and get the feeling that you are keeping the body well “behind the ball” through impact. This will allow the arms/clubface to cross over early through impact a soft high pitched shot. and produce hook or draw spin. Short game skills can save you Remember to adjust your aim to many shots so do not neglect this allow the draw to finish at your target. part of your game when practicing. Getting a short game lesson from To hit a fade/slice tee shot, tee your local professional will make the ball much lower than normal (this will force you to keep the putting all these angles into practice a lot easier. face open) as the instinctive thing to do is add loft and the open the clubface, creating the shot shape you need. Try to resist the rotation Proudly supportingthrough the benefits of the arm/clubface impact of go and remember to aim and allow for Tel:the (07) 3252 8155 | Email: info@g fade.

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H.O.W. to chip ScottSimons When chipping, I see a lot of players trying to scoop the ball to try and get it into the air. One of the main reasons people tend to chip poorly is because they tend to flick their wrists or try and scoop the ball into the air. When teaching students, the one thing I tell them all to remember is DOWN = UP. To explain this, if you try and keep a firm left wrist and hit down on the back of the ball, the loft of the golf club will lift the ball into the air. The method I like to use with juniors in particular is called the HOW method, and we use the letters H.O.W. to help them remember the chipping technique. First of all you can chip with any club you like but make sure you practice with the technique and clubs before you take it onto the golf course. Choose a club that you feel comfortable with, and start chipping with that. When chipping, place the ball in the middle of your stance and stand with your feet a little closer together. They do not need to be shoulder width apart. The HOW method works as follows: ands Forward - your hands need to be forward of the ball. For right-handed players, your hands will cover your left knee. pen stance - you should open you stance and body to the target just a little so you can see down your target line better. This will give you a better feel for the chip shot.

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eight forward - for right-handed players you should have about 60% of your body weight on your left leg so feel like you’re leaning towards your target just a little bit. Once you have run through this sequence your arms and your golf club will create the letter “Y”. Without moving your wrist, rock your letter Y backwards and forwards. Remember we are only chipping, so the golf club should not go backwards or forwards any more than your hip height. As explained earlier, you can chip with any golf club you like. The only thing to remember is that each club will give you a different result, depending on the chip shot you are playing, i.e. a 7-iron will result in the ball running along the ground a lot more (perfect for the chip and run) whereas using a sand wedge will result in the ball moving higher in the air and not running as much (perfect for trying to chip the ball over a bunker.) Remember, you need to practice this chipping method and use different clubs to see what results each club produces. If you practice this method it will allow you to take an easy but effective chipping method out on to the golf course and will help you lower your scores. If you are still having problems with your chipping, please go and see you local PGA Golf Professional and they will help you out. So until next time, see you on the fairways!

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Weight forward

Firm left wrist Hands cover the forward knee

Open stance

Ball in centre of stance


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Watch and learn DarrenChapman How often have you hit a chip shot and said “that felt great”, yet it ended up nowhere near where you expected it to? Ask yourself: did you have a definite area where you wanted to land the ball, allowing for roll? If you answered ‘no’ then you are missing out on one of the best aspects of golf, the opportunity to learn from each shot you play and then improve with the knowledge you have gained. The best way to learn is from experience. To get the most out of your practice time, you need to be very specific. Set up a landing area on the practice green and then practice hitting different clubs from the same position into this landing zone. With each club, watch how the ball lands and then watch it until it finishes rolling. By practicing with a landing area, you can better understand how the bounce and roll of the ball will contribute to the end result. All you need to set up your landing area is four coins. Any coin is fine but if you use twenty-cent or fifty-cent pieces, they are easier to see on the green. Depending on your skill level, start by creating a square with each side around one metre, then practice trying to get each shot to have its first bounce in the box. Once you can consistently land each shot in the box, make the box smaller, even if it is

only by 10cm on each side. The best thing about practicing this way is that you learn so much from each shot. By consistently landing the ball in the box you will discover how to control the length of your swing to achieve the desired distance. Then by varying the clubs you practice with, you will learn how far each shot will go and where best to use these shots on the golf course. When you take this knowledge onto the course and set a definite landing area, you can evaluate each shot by where your ball lands and where it finishes. If you land the ball short of your target and it finishes short of the hole, then you know the landing area was a good one. The chances are the shot will still have finished in a good spot and you can aim to execute better next time around. If you land in your selected landing area and the ball doesn’t roll to where you thought it would, then you can store this experience. Next time you have a similar shot you can make the necessary adjustments for success by either shifting the landing area or using a different club. The biggest adjustment for most people in to have the landing area as your chipping target instead of the hole. This simple target change will improve your consistency and ultimately lower your scores. Aim to get the most out of each shot. Select Place four coins on the green to make a “Landing Zone”. Try to get each chip to have its first bounce in the box

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Quick Tips with Richard Mercer

Playing a side-hill lie

Long putt drill GregAshton Putting makes up a large part of this game so let’s get good at it. When you consider that the average length of the first putt on each hole for a tour player is around 30ft, this means that we as amateurs are going to have a lot of really long putts. The “ladder drill” is all about speed. There are many factors that make up a successful putt but none more important than speed, especially on long putts.

For this drill you will need 7 long tees and five golf balls of the same make and model. Stick a tee in the practice putting green and step out 8 metres from that tee and stick another tee in the green. Continue the line of tees down the green now at 1 metre apart so you end up with an 8 metre space and five 1 metre spaces. Your first putts will be between 8 and 9 metres, your second putts between 9 and 10 metres and so on till your fifth putts are between 12 and 13 metres.

Your first drill is to putt all five balls to the first distance then five balls to the second distance and so on to all five distances. That is five sets of five balls to each distance. Your second drill is to putt one ball to each distance in succession, repeating the exercise five times. When you get good at this drill you will see your scores improve out on the course. Most golfers have 3+ putts on greens because of a mis-judgement in the speed of the putt not so much from mis-reading the line of the putt. 

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When the ball is below your feet… When you get in a position where the ball is below the level of your feet, it will generally make you slice or fade the ball. First, make sure to aim your feet to the left of your target if you are a right handed golfer. Secondly, you must bend your knees more than normal to get the desired shot from this awkward stance. When the ball is above your feet… When you get in a position where your feet are below the position of the ball, it will generally cause you to create a draw or a hook. The first thing to do is grip the club lower down on the grip which will nullify the slope. Secondly, it is best to aim to the right of the target (if you are a right handed golfer) with both your feet and the club face. For more tips, visit: www.richardmercergolf.com


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Putting with less technique Straight back and through or rounded? Wrist hinge or stiff? When putting, it’s usually best to keep it simple. Here are some quick Do’s and Don’ts to improve your performance with the putter

KurtStegbauer There are dozens of putting techniques, grips and styles out there – from the claw grip to reverse overlap and everything in between. With so many choices, it’s easy to become so engrossed with technique that you can effectively overthink it all. Instead, when analysing your putting technique try to focus on being less technical. To begin with, take a look at the following do’s and don’ts for putting; they may surprise you, but they will give you a better understanding on why some of the world’s best putters are so successful. The best putters aren’t technical at all; they are simply trying to putt the ball on a good line at a good holing speed.

Here are three things that I believe you should and shouldn’t do as a putter:

The Do’s

• Do allow your wrists to release/hinge on the way back and through • Do have your eyes inside the ball • Do let the putter swing with roundness

The Don’ts

• Don’t keep your wrists locked • Don’t have your eyes directly over the ball • Don’t swing the putter straight back and straight through

Now, these points may surprise you. But some of the Tour’s great putters – including Tiger Woods, Aaron Baddeley and (for the older guys out there) Ben Crenshaw — all follow these points. They all possess the do’s: they do have their eyes inside the ball, they do putt with roundness and they do have some release/hinge with their wrists. To help you achieve these 3 do’s, here are a couple of simple drills that should help you. 1. Sp e nd 1 0 mi nute s a we ek

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practicing your putting with a 3-wood. This will show you that you can putt well with your eyes well inside the ball, while it will also show you that putting with roundness is quite effective. Once you get over the fact that you may get some odd looks from other golfers, you will soon notice how well you can putt with a 3-wood and then take this and apply it to your putter. 2. Another drill that will teach you to hinge/release the putter head is to practice some longer putts over

30 feet using only your bottom hand on the putter. This will give you an enormous amount of feel and control. This was a drill that we used to do at The Australian Institute of Sport, it will allow you to see that having your putterhead release a small amount on the backstroke and through-stroke is beneficial. The next time that you are out on the practicing putting green give these drills a go. I’m sure that you will notice an improvement.


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The keys to being a great putter Part 1: Reading a green KurtStegbauer One saying I teach my juniors is: “to be a great putter, you have to putt the ball on a good line at a good speed” In this coaching instruction piece we are going to look at how we can get a good line. To do that, we need to know how to read the green. Reading the green properly is something that I don’t see players do enough, I think too many players spend too much time practicing their technique and not enough time learning how to read a green. Below are my top 7 pointers to help you get a better understanding of how to read a green. 1. Reading the green starts the moment your ball is on the green – which may be well before YOU are on the green. Most greens are raised higher than the fairway, so when you are approaching the green your eyes will be the same level as the green. This is a great opportunity to get a good understanding of the slope on the green. When walking onto the green take a moment to observe the undulations: this is the starting point

for getting the correct line. 2. Once you are on the green, have an overall look of the entire green to identify the general slope, this will help you have a better feel for the overall green. Note any high points, low points or slants. 3. Some things to look out for: most greens often slope towards water. Also watch other players in your group who are further away to see what their ball does once they have putted or chipped onto the green; if another player is in similar position they can often show you if there is any break or slope. 4. Good putters always look at the putt from more than just behind their ball. In fact, good putters circumnavigate the putt trying to get as much information as possible about their putt. I realise that doing this is quite time consuming, so I encourage you to be busy while you are on the green: look at your putt while other players are putting (instead of simply waiting for your turn to begin reading the break) 5. Another tip that may help is to look to see which side of the hole is higher,

Walking to the green is the first (and maybe the best) opportunity to check out the slope of the green, and identify any undulations that may affect your putt it may only be subtle but sometimes one side of the hole is higher than the other. 6. Getting down low so your eyes are as close to green level will help you see the undulations better, obviously the best example is ‘Spider-man’ Camilo Villegas. But for those that can’t do that, crouching down on both knees

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DRILL: at the practice green, a simple game of lawn bowls golf can help you get a feeling for reading breaks during a putt.

should be sufficient. 7. And finally, a simple practice drill to really give you a better understanding of slope is to play a game on the practice green called lawn bowls golf – where you simply roll balls underhand as if you were bowling them towards the hole. As seen in the picture, this simple drill

allows you to solely focus on the line and allows you to get a better understanding of what the green does. Next time you are out playing, try and adopt some of the following techniques and I am sure that you will hole more putts.


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Reading a green Part 2: Speed

KurtStegbauer In the last issue, I spoke about the two keys to becoming a great putter which are: 1) Putting the ball on a correct line, and 2) hitting it at the correct speed. Now that you know how to read the green to get the correct line, we can move on to speed. There are a number of factors that make a putting green faster or slower. Knowing these things before you play a round will help you know what to look for when you are heading out onto the course. The first factor that influences the speed of a green is the type of grass. Golf courses use different types of grass based on the different types of climates or weather conditions. As an example, golf courses in Victoria – where the climate is generally cool — tend to use more bent grass greens, as bent grass grows better in cooler conditions. As the bent grass has a finer leaf, it is naturally easier to get up to a faster speed. In Queensland, however, where the climate is warmer, they tend to use more couch-based greens, as couch’s broader leaf can better handle the

heat, but it is, however, harder to keep at a fast speed like bent greens. So knowing what type of grass you are putting on will allow you to gain an understanding if it will be faster or slower. Next time you are about to play ask your local pro what type of grass is on the greens to help you get a better gauge of the speed. The next factor that we are going to look at is what type of “look” the grass has. By this, I mean is it shiny or is it a bit dull? If you have ever watched a Golf tournament played in Victoria the commentators often talk about how the grass is starting to look shiny; the shiny look on the green comes from the greens being cut low and they are also starting to dry out — and when it is dry it tends to be faster. The classic example of shiny dry greens was during the 2002 Australian Open at Victoria Golf Club won by Steve Allen. The first round was cancelled due to the greens being too fast. Remembering the footage from that day the greens looked shiny, brown and dry, some of the golfers were unable to keep the ball on the green due to the conditions. When the greens are a bit slower they will tend to be duller which is due to

the grass leaf being longer. Also, if there has been a lot of rain, the greens will generally be slower as they are holding a lot of water (and because the greens are often not cut when it is raining.) Dryer conditions, however, do allow the greens to be faster. Another factor affecting the speed of the green is simply how low the green

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is cut. Group 1 or private courses tend to have better greens as they tend to have less traffic and they can also spend more money maintaining the greens. Conversely, public courses have more traffic and have to keep the grass longer to sustain the amount of wear and tear from having so many players. So the height of the grass definitely does affect

the speed on the greens. The final factor that we need to look for is whether you have an uphill or downhill putt on a green. Most greens slope from the back to the front. A technique that I use when I have a downhill putt is that I will putt the ball from the toe of the putter (pictured here). Putting the ball from the toe of


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the putter deadens the putt and makes it come out a lot slower and softer. Next time that you are on a practice putting green, find a quick downhill putt and have a try of putting the ball off the toe of the putter to see if you like it. Now that we have an understanding on what affects the speed of a green, I would like to show you some simple drills that will help you develop a better understanding for getting a good speed for your putts. Firstly, getting the correct speed does take practice and patience, however I believe if you can practice these next two drills regularly, you will get a better understanding of how to properly putt the ball at different distances when you are required during a round. The first drill that I would like you to consider is a drill that I call “The speed drill”. To practice this drill you will need four balls and four tees. Simply place the four tees as seen in picture 1 — roughly four -metres apart on the green. Then, practice putting each ball to a different tee. Do it from both ends a couple of times. Try not to be too concerned with the line of the putt, simply try to get the ball the same distance as the tee. Once you have developed a good feel for each putt, then mix it up by putting to the first tee and then the fourth tee. Doing this will help you get a better feel for longer and then shorter putts. Before you finish doing

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this drill you can challenge yourself by only finishing when you have done four great putts to each tee from both ends. If you can practice this drill for only 20 minutes a week, I’m sure that you will have more confidence at putting the ball at a good speed once you are out playing in your next event. The second drill that will help you is very simple one. I call it the “Goldilocks Drill” Simply line up to a putt from over two metres, and then have a practice stroke that you think would make the putt go too far past the hole. Next, have a practice stroke that you feel would make the putt go well short of the hole. For the third stroke I want you to line up to the ball and have a stroke that you feel will be in the middle of those two strokes and then putt the ball to the hole. Quite often your putt will roll very close to the hole. This drill reminds me of the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, where Goldilocks tries each of the beds; one is too hard, the other is too soft, but the third is just right (can you tell that I have kids?). If you can practice this drill from different lengths on the putting green I’m sure that you will gain a better understanding of getting the speed correct. So, the next time you are out practicing on the putting green try these two simple drills and I’m sure that they will help you improve.

The Speed Drill will help you generate a good feel for putts of different lengths and speeds

Too long Too short

Just right The “Goldilocks drill” will help you develop the right stroke for longer putts

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Improving distance control when putting BrentGerman There is nothing worse than having your putt start out on line, set to go in but then coming up short. As they say, the only bad putt is one that comes up short. Here are some putting tips which will help you focus on getting better contact with the ball and therefore improving your distance control.

Watch the 10 cent coin

This is to encourage you to keep your head still during the entire stroke. If you tend to watch the putter face go back into the backswing, and then ‘thin’ the putt by catching the putt off the bottom of the putter face (and thus consistently leave the putt short), this drill will help. What to do: Place a 10 cent coin on the putting green, without a ball. Make some strokes watching the 10 cent piece only. Then, when you feel comfortable, place a ball on top of the coin approximately 8 feet from the hole. Hit some putts, and be sure to focus on watching the coin for 3 seconds after the ball has been struck. You will find that your contact will improve when you focus solely on the coin.

Golf ball against forearm

This is used to eliminate the wrists from the putting stroke.

What to do: Take your stance and grip the putter. Place a ball between the butt of the club and the inside of your leading arm (i.e. for right-handers: your right forearm). Hit several putts focusing on keeping the ball in place throughout the entire stroke. This drill will help promote a unified upper body/ hands/arms stroke.

Hit the sweet spot

A putt that comes out of the centre of the putter will improve your distance control. What to do: Apply masking tape, rubber bands or Blu-Tak on the toe and heel end of the putter. Test it is in the correct spot so the ball can be cleanly hit without touching the tape or Blu-Tack. Hit some putts simply trying to find the centre

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of the putter face – do not worry about distance when starting with this drill, pure contact is the key. Putts that are hit off-centre will either stick to the Blu-Tak/tape, or kick off the rubber bands. If you are a beginner golfer, I would suggest a wider gap between the tape/rubber bands/BluTack. You can then begin narrowing the gap as you get better at the drill.


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The highs and lows of putting

KurtStegbauer

There are so many things that I enjoy about coaching. One of those is that I am continually learning and improving on how we can make golfers better. Just recently in between lessons I decided to watch a few groups putt out on the last hole to see what were the common denominators for them on the putting green. After watching four groups it was clear that the common denominator for them all was that they missed more putts on the low side of the hole than on the high side. Now I’m sure that you have all heard the saying of “Pros miss on the high side of the hole, while amateurs miss on the low side of the hole”. What this is referring to is that better putters take into consideration the slope of the green more, while those that aren’t as good putters don’t use as much slope and aim more at the hole. This in turn led me to think of how can players be more aware of why they are missing on the low side and how can they improve. In looking at why players miss on the low side of the hole, I believe the reason is that we are taught to aim at the flag or the hole, which makes perfect sense. However, on the putting green we need to learn that often we aim away from the hole with the end result of wanting the ball to finish in the hole. This is a challenge for most golfers as the lure of putting at the hole is so strong. A couple of strategies to help you develop a better understanding of what are your common denominators on the putting green are: 1. A lot of golfers count how many putts they have

for a round. Another way to measure putts is to count how many putts you miss on the low side of the hole and how many putts you miss on the high side of the hole. This will show you what are your common denominators on the putting green, high or low. Once you have done this you can then develop a strategy of how you can improve your putting based on your common denominators.

2. Secondly, if you are like most golfers and your putts do finish on the low side of the hole you should consider where the centre of the hole actually is for your putt. If you look at the pictures on this page you will notice that the centre of the hole is not in a straight line; in reality it is on the high side of the hole, as this putt was on a side slope on the green. Thus, when visualising the putt, you should think of

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the high side as the “centre” of the hole. This is critical to sinking more putts, especially on sloped greens. Once again I hope that these pointers will improve your putting.


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Reading slopes on greens

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The ‘Key’ drill

C

Target line Actual ball path

Aiming point 4 feet 30 feet

25 feet

20 feet

15 feet

B

10 feet A

A downhill putt will break more than an uphill putt, as gravity affects the ball earlier in the putt

BrentGerman Have you ever wondered why some putts turn or break more than others? Here are a few quick tips to help you on your way to reading the greens better and improving your score. Uphill versus Downhill Downhill Putts (Less speed equals more break) With less momentum on a downhill putt, gravity acts upon the ball sooner and forces the ball down the direction of the true downslope. On downhill putts, therefore, we need to allow for more break. Uphill Putts (More speed equals less break)

Uphill putts break less when the ball is travelling faster, and then gradually break more as the ball slows down

Uphill putts are a lot easier than downhill putts as they have less break. This is because we are hitting an uphill putt much harder than a downhill putt, and thereby eliminating the break in the early part of the putt. The ball will take any break when it starts to “die” (i.e. loses speed). Gravity starts to take over and the ball will follow the true slope. Side Slope Putts Putts hit across any side slope are generally uphill on the first part of the putt, and then downhill on the second part. Once you have assessed whether the put is uphill or downhill (to help you determine the pace of the putt and initial starting line), then focus on the area around the hole where the ball

will die. This will help you to gain an understanding of the direction of the true downslope; as this is where the slope will have the greatest influence on your putt. By building up a picture of the contours, you will build up a picture of the line and pace you will need to hit the ball on for it to go in the hole. Summary If you practice reading putts and build it into your pre-shot routine and practice putting from different spots on the green on your home course, it will help you to assess the effects that different slopes and speeds have on your putts. Building up such experience will make you more decisive and improve your confidence and putting on the course and hopefully improve your score.

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MikeBury You Need: 2 golf balls The Set Up: Place 8 tees in the following positions: • One level with the hole, 3 feet from the cup (A) • One 4 feet behind the cup (B) • One 5 feet level with the cup (C) • Five in a straight line at 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 feet

The Drill

Start with the 3-foot putt. You must finish within the semi-circle

twice to move on. If only one putt finishes within the semi-circle, stay on the same tee. Next, move to the 4-foot and 5-foot putts. You must make both twice to move to the 10-foot putt. The putts from 10 to 30 feet must finish between the cup and the 4-foot tee (B). If you are short or past the tee, you are outside the range. You must make both putts to move to the next tee, if you miss both you go back to the previous tee. If only one putt finishes within the semicircle, stay on the same tee.


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Your checklist for success

MarkVictorsen

Most golfers are in search of the perfect swing, but as we all know that’s an impossible ask. Stats show that the best ball strikers on the PGA TOUR last year only got it right 71% of the time — so most of us who play only once a week are probably going to have stats significantly lower than that! Golfers wanting to lower their scores can achieve this through things like fitness, mental preparation and better course management — as the number of ‘wasted’ shots in a round has a significant influence on your handicap. In order to start bringing that handicap down, and getting your game into gear, here is my 9-point checklist for success. By following this checklist prior to every round, you will likely see significant improvement in your overall game. 1. Warm up properly Many golfers arrive at the course and rush to the first tee with very little time for a proper warm up. So be sure to always hit a few warm up shots at the range/net, work on chipping and have some putts on the putting green to get a feel for the green speed. 2. Plan your round Have a plan for your game and allocate your handicap shots in a realistic fashion. For more on this see last month’s article on Course Management.

3. Energise Have two bananas (one on the 6th tee and another on the 12th tee ) so you dont “Hit the wall” and run out of energy during the later stages of the round. Most importantly: NO BEER OR PIES! (Have that post round!) 4. Hydrate Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the round, as well as a hydrating drink like Gatorade (sip this – don’t guzzle — as it has a high sugar content ) 5. Carefully plan each hole Look at each tee box strategically prior to teeing up. Identify any trouble down the fairway. Position your ball on the tee on the same side of the tee as the trouble (i.e. if there is a bunker or OOB on the left, then tee up on the left so that you are hitting away from trouble – and not towards it) Remember golf is like Tennisthe game doesn’t start till the ball goes in! 6. Be realistic with approach shots Take one more club with your approaches. Most golfers have a habit of selecting a club based on their longest ever shot with that club (Chances are, you won’t hit it that far again!) 7. Avoid Sucker Pins Aim for the middle of the green as it’s never far from a front or rear flag. Unless you have excellent control with your irons, going for a

Warming up is critical to success. Tour pros like Tiger Woods spend an hour or more in the practise area prior to a round. You should too. tight pin placement is asking for trouble. 8. Stay Positive Keep your eyes “above the flag” as you walk up the fairway so you don’t engage the negative self talk! A positive attitude will do more for your game than you might expect. 9. Stay in the present Resist the temptation to add up your scorecard

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mid-round – as this has little benefit: If you’re doing well, you may get overly excited; If you’re playing poorly, it will only add to frustration. By staying in the present, you can more easily focus on each shot at each hole. The time to see how you went is at the end of the round! This all probably sounds like straightforward common sense, but the great thing about common sense is that it’s not very common!


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Trouble shots How to tackle the dreaded (and misunderstood) uphill, downhill and sidehill lies LisaNewling LoraineLambert Wouldn’t it be great if we had a perfect lie every time? This rarely happens, of course, so it’s important to know how to play a shot from lessthan-perfect conditions. This month, we look at how to play a shot from a sidehill, uphill or downhill lie. While these tips should be very helpful for your next comp or social round , we strongly recommend that you practice these shots prior to being faced with them on the course. We suggest you go to your driving range and try and re-create these lies or, even better, go to your golf course where you are faced with these shots and, at a quiet time, practice these shots. The two most important things to remember when you are hitting from a hill are: 1) Maintain your posture

With a downhill lie, adjust your hips and shoulders to match the slope of the lie. Take a more lofted club, and aim a bit to the left of target and 2) Stay balanced. Remember that gravity will want to pull you down the hill – thus throwing you off balance and resulting in poor shots. So it will be important to have a solid stance with plenty of balance to counteract gravity.

Uphill lie

• When faced with an uphill lie, the

ball will fly higher, so make sure you take an extra club or two depending on how much slope you have. In other words if you normally hit a 7-iron that particular distance, take a 6- or a 5 iron to allow for the higher ball flight off the slope of the hill. • The ball will fly right to left; so, aim your shot to the right of your target to allow for this.

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With an uphill lie, adjust your hips and shoulders to match the slope of the lie. Take a less lofted club, and aim a bit to the right of target • This part is crucial: make sure your shoulders and your hips are sloping the same way as the hill. • Widen your stance slightly for better balance. • Keep your knees bent. • Keep your weight on the inside of your right foot (for right-handed players) as you take your back swing, if you allow the weight to shift to the outside of your foot you

will get stuck on your back foot and probably hit on top of the ball. • Use a ¾ length swing — it will help you keep your balance.

Downhill lie

• The ball will fly lower, so make sure you take a more lofted club. In other words if you normally hit a 7-iron that particular distance, take an 8- or a 9iron to allow for the lower ball flight


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When the ball is above your feet, shorten your grip, take a more lofted club and aim to the right

from the slope of the hill, and the ball will a roll a bit further too. • The ball will fly left to right, so aim left of your target to allow for this. • Like the uphill lie, the following is crucial: Make sure your shoulders and hips are sloping the same way as the hill; you will probably feel like you have slightly more weight on your front foot. • Use a ¾ length swing to help you keep your balance.

Sidehill lies

(ball below your feet, or ball above your feet) An important point to note is that a sidehill lie will affect the flight of your ball – either right-to-left or left-toright. If you forget which way the ball is going to move in the air for your sidehill shots, imagine rolling your ball along the ground from the lie you

When the ball is below your feet, aim more to the left, keep your knees bent, and push the weight onto your heels

have. Your ball will move the same way in the air as it would rolling your ball along the ground.

Ball above your feet

• The ball will fly right to left (for right-handed players), so aim your shot to the right of your target to allow for this. • The ball will often fly lower, and run

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further. Take a more lofted club to allow for this. • With the ball above your feet, the ground is now closer to you; grip the club slightly shorter than you normally would to avoid digging into the ground. • Use a ¾ length swing — it will help you keep your balance.

Ball below your feet

• The ball will fly left to right (for righthanded players), so aim to the left of your target to allow for this. • To keep balanced, keep your knees bent — pushing the weight into the heels; this will help you maintain your posture throughout your swing, (Remember: gravity will want to pull you down the hill.) • Use a ¾ length swing it will help you keep your balance.


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Getting out of trouble LisaNewling LoraineLambert Let’s face it, we’re not always fortunate enough to play from a nice, clean fairway lie all the time. In fact, for many of us, we’re more used to playing out of thick rough, in the trees or other “off the beaten track” locations. The next time you find yourself in a bit of a pickle, use these tips to get your game back on track.

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Ball in the rough

1st Cut of rough: If you’ve just missed the fairway and your ball is sitting down in the light rough, take a more lofted club to help you get the ball up and out. Quite often, you will get a ‘flyer’ from this type of lie— this is where grass gets between the clubface and the ball and thus prevents backspin. The ball will usually travel a bit further because of this (often about one club further). 2nd Cut of rough (thicker stuff): if you are deeper in the rough, and the ball is sitting deep in the grass, don’t get greedy; just get the ball back in play: • Choose a more lofted club like a pitching wedge or 9-iron; the deeper the ball is buried, the more lofted

In the rough (left), in a grass tussock (inset) and from the trees (right)

club you should use to get it out. • Remember: when you strike the ball, the grass will tend to grab the club and twist the clubface. • When you start your backswing, cock your wrists a little more than normal and chop down, keeping your wrists firm through impact. The steeper backswing will help you hit down on the ball, making it easier to get the ball up in the air.

Grass Tussock

The way you play this shot depends on how the ball is sitting. If it is difficult to get the club to the ball (i.e. if the

grass will stop the club before impact) you will risk hitting the ball deeper into the tussock (and a wasted shot). So we would suggest you “take your medicine” and take a penalty drop. If, however, you can make solid contact, then proceed with caution: your aim should be just to get the ball onto the fairway.

Low shots under trees

When you are stuck in the trees, it’s always best to take the easiest way out, and just get the ball back in play. I know you see professionals like Phil

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Mickelson on TV playing miraculous shots through tiny gaps in the trees; but remember that they do this for a living, and they are extremely accurate. For the average golfer, trying to play a miracle shot will often compound your situation and result in wasted strokes. Instead, take the safer option: • Have a good look at your options; your best bet may not necessarily be towards the pin. Pick the biggest gap that will allow you the highest percentage chance to get the ball back onto the fairway. • Choose a club that will help keep

the ball low, like a 5- or 6-iron. Play the ball back in your stance (towards your right foot for right-handed golfers). Playing the ball back will help take loft off the club at impact, keeping the ball flight low under the branches.

Hard pan, soft soil or sand, hitting out of a sand-filled divot With all of these types of lies you need to hit the ball first before the ground. • Play the ball back in your stance. • Keep your hands ahead of the ball


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or level with the inside of your left thigh. • Keep your wrists firm through impact.

Hitting out of an unfilled divot If you are unfortunate enough to land in an unfilled divot, don’t let it beat you. It is really rewarding when you play these shots well. • Depending on the distance you are trying to hit the shot, choose a club that has enough loft to get you up and out of the divot. • You need to hit the ball first before the ground. To do this, play the ball back in your stance. • Keep your hands ahead of the ball or level with the inside of your left thigh. • Have a slightly steeper backswing and keep your wrists firm through impact. The ball will fly lower than normal because the ball is sitting down and you are playing the ball back in your stance. Allow for a bit more roll or run.

Hitting off pine needles or sticks

• Move whatever you can without disturbing the ball, or breaching the rules (i.e. if you are in a hazard). • Play the ball back in your stance to ensure you hit the ball first.

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• Swing easy, and keep your tempo smooth.

Tree roots

Be really careful when your ball is resting on or near a tree root. I know several golfers that have seriously injured themselves—usually their wrists—trying to play these shots. • Have a look at the angles you can get club to ball without hitting the tree root. Make sure you consider what will happen after impact with the ball. • You may even be able to use your putter, and putt the ball away from the tree root back into play. • If you can’t come up with a safe solution, take a penalty drop and accept the fact that you probably shouldn’t have been there in the first place!

Shot Shaping

When shaping your shots (i.e. to “bend” a shot around a tree or obstacle) always remember to aim your feet where you want the ball to start and your clubface where you want the ball to finish. Then, simply swing along your toe line. Low Draws • Aim your clubface to your target and aim your feet to the right of your target (for right-handed golfers). This will ensure your ball flight starts to the right. • Play the ball back in your stance. • Swing the club along your toe line, with a more “in to in” swing path.

(Clockwise from left) In a sand-filled divot; near a tree root; in an unrepaired divot; in the sticks In other words, a flatter swing plane around your body. • Keep your wrist movement loose and allow your wrists and hands to release. Low Fades • Aim your clubface to your target and aim your feet to the left of your target, (for right-handed golfers). This will ensure your ball flight starts to the left. • Play the ball back in your stance. • Swing the club along your toe line, with a more “out to in” swing path.

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• When you start your downswing, keep your wrists firm; feel like your left side is doing more work pulling the club through impact, keeping the clubface open.

Playing in the wind

“When it’s breezy swing it easy”. The reason we say this little mantra is because when we are playing in the wind, it is harder to keep your balance and tempo. The worst thing you can do is to try and hit it harder when playing in the wind.

• Grip the club slightly shorter for better control. • Take an extra club or two and swing with the same tempo as you normally would. Use a ¾-length backswing to help keep your balance and ensure a low followthrough. • A tip for putting in the wind: widen your stance for better balance, and remember the wind will influence what your ball does on the putting green. 


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Assess, decide, rehearse & commit GlennWhittle Golf is difficult enough as it is, we need to do everything we can to make it easier to play consistently and score well. The four step process below is related to what I suggest you do prior to each shot. Note that this is NOT a pre-shot routine (which focuses on the physical things you do at the ball, like aim, adjust your posture, look at the target, number of waggles, etc) but instead, these are the things to do before you hit any shot on the golf course. Let’s take a closer look at these steps and how they can increase your confidence and help you play better golf. The first step is to ASSESS things such as: • Distance you are from the hole • The lie of the ball • The wind • The pin position • Where the trouble is near the green Next, you should DECIDE on which shot you are going to play, i.e are you going to hit your normal fade or are you going to try and hit a draw against the wind? A very important question to ask is: If I were to hit ten balls right here right now, which shot could I safely hit eight out of ten times? From my experience too many players question the shot they are playing when they are over the ball about to take the club away. That’s too late! Let’s be honest, how can you commit to a golf

shot if you have not made your mind up as to which shot you are going to hit? In the photos above, I am assessing my shot ahead, thinking about my lie, the wind and deciding between my 8, 7 or 6-iron.

Now an important step: I encourage you to rehearse what you have decided to do. There are two steps to rehearsing: 1. The physical rehearsal where you make a few swings trying to improve your feel for

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the shot, and 2. The mental rehearsal where you stand behind the ball and visualize (mentally rehearse) the shot, the more vivid the rehearsal the better. Picture yourself in the clothes you have on


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today, the wind, hear the sound of the ball hitting the centre of the clubface and see your playing partners telling you how good of a shot it was. Now you have assessed, decided and rehearsed both physically and mentally so you are ready to use your PSR (pre shot routine) and Commit to the shot at hand. If you have done the previous three steps correctly the commitment stage should be a little easier. Commitment means using your pre-shot routine, which should include a deep breath and a few soft waggles of the club at address to release the tension from your body and mind. The auto pilot then kicks in and, before you know it, you are watching that round white

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missile flying towards your target. It may seem that this is a lot of work to go through prior to hitting each shot, but I can assure you that if you want to play more consistent golf you need to follow this process every time. If you are anything like me you will notice, when breaking down a round on the way home, that you wasted several shots not so much due to execution (even if they were less than desirable shots) but because you chose the wrong shot to play in the first place.

The Knock Down One of my favorite shots in golf is the knock down. To be honest I don’t know why more

club golfers don’t practice and use it during a round. It requires a shorter swing, which makes it easier to repeat, while the clubhead speed is normally slower than a full shot, therefore ball is less likely to slice or hook as much as a bad shot. Let’s take a closer look at how we set up and swing to hit this shot effectively. SET UP – Hands ahead of the ball, ball slightly back from centre, approximately 60% of your weight leaning into your target side (left for a right hander) IN SWING – Feel like your weight stays forward on your target foot even though you turn your hips and shoulders, swing your hands back to approximately chest height in the backswing and hip height at the finish position

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One thing I really like about this shot is if the player has poor impact alignments (hand and club head position when you contact the ball) then finishing with your hands low (hip height) is virtually impossible, but the positive is if you practice these shots in between rounds your impact position will improve and your ability to hit this shot should also improve — therefore increasing your confidence KEY POINTS – Swing slow, the slower you swing, the lower the ball will go and the less the ball will spin off line (slice or hook). Also, try to feel like your hands finish low to the ground. Also notice in the last photo that my club face is square to my body and has not been flipped over.


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De-mystifying fairway woods and hybrids For most golfers, they are a godsend. For others, they are a conundrum. This month, we look at the right – and wrong ways to hit the mysterious fairway woods and hybrids LisaNewling LoraineLambert For many club golfers it’s important to be able to play fairway woods and hybrids, as proper distance is often required for a second or third shots into the green. Modern technology has changed the shape and weighting of these utility clubs, making them much easier to hit. When purchasing a new Fairway Wood or Hybrid, lofts can vary between companies and models, so be sure to check the loft of the club — not just the number of the club has on it. Many people get confused about where the hybrids fit in to their bag. Here is an outline of which clubs are equivalent. How the lofts equate with Fairway Woods and Hybrids (Note: Women’s golf clubs usually have a extra degree or two of loft) DEGREE 15° 18° 21° 24° 28° 32°

HYBRID 1-iron/hybrid 2-iron/hybrid 3-iron/hybrid 4-iron/hybrid 5-iron/hybrid 6-iron/hybrid

WOOD 3/4-wood 5-wood 7-wood 9-wood

In theory, the 3-Wood should go the furthest, but this is not always the case. There are several things besides the loft of the club that can influence your ball flight. • Your Lie: When you decide to hit a fairway shot you must consider your lie first. Your 3-wood may not always be the best club for your lie. A way you can check this is to place your club behind the ball: if the top of the ball sits below the top of your club, then don’t hit with that club. Go back to your 4- or 5-wood. With a bit more loft, these are more forgiving and will have a higher success rate. When you think about it, there is probably only going to be about 10-15 meters distance between a well-struck 3-wood and a well-struck 5-wood anyway – but the risk of mis-hitting or flubbing the shot with your 3-wood is higher. • Your swing: Do you have a swing that de-lofts the club at impact? This can be caused by grip, ball position, aim and other swing fundamentals. If you are having trouble with only your 3-wood off the fairway this could be the case. You are probably better to hit a 4- or 5-wood. If you hit all of your other clubs well, then maybe get rid of your 3-wood. It’s easier than reconstructing

Bend forward from your hips; knees slightly flexed, weight on the balls of your feet. Your hands should hang underneath your chin. Keep your arms and shoulders relaxed. (Don’t stand too upright, nor should you be reaching for the club) your swing for the sake of one club. • Swing speed: Many golfers over the age of 65 don’t generate enough speed in their swing to hit a 15-degree 3-wood off the fairway. If this is the case, stick to your 5-wood or 7-wood off the

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fairway. Or purchase a more modern fairway wood that has more than 15 degrees of loft.

Fairway Wood Technique:

The length of the shaft and the shape of the clubhead encourage you to sweep the ball off


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If the ball is sitting down below the club, take a more lofted club the ground rather than hit down on it like an iron or hybrid. Having consistent posture and set up routine is extremely important. • Posture is critical to help achieve the correct swing plane and maintain your balance. You must bend forward from your hips; knees slightly flexed. You should feel balanced with your weight on the balls of your feet. • Your hands should hang underneath your chin. You shouldn’t be reaching for the ball as this will make your arms tense. Keep your arms and shoulders relaxed.

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Play the ball ahead of centre in your stance, with the shaft level with the ball (not slanting forward, or behind)

• Ball position. Play the ball ahead of centre in your stance; this will help the sweep the ball off the ground and have a square club face at impact. • When you set up, the club shaft should be level with the ball, not behind and not in front. • Tempo is crucial; if you try and swing too hard you will lose your balance, and the ball could go anywhere. • Make a good turn to the top of your swing, swing through to your target and finish in a balanced position. NB: A common mistake we see is golfers standing too upright, this restricts your turn and forces you

to lift your body up and down to try and get any power. This is very inconsistent.

Hybrids

Hybrids are great clubs to have in your golf bag. Hybrids most commonly replace your long irons, especially the 2, 3 and 4-irons. The hybrids are much easier to hit because of the design of the club head. The club face is wider and the sole of the club is deeper than an iron. There is more weight further back in the head of the hybrid helping you get the ball in the air. Hybrids have similar length shaft to your irons; having a shorter

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shaft will encourage a steeper angle of attack. Play the hybrid the same way you would play the equivalent iron. The ball position should be just ahead of centre in your stance, for righthanded golfers this is towards your left foot. If it is a 6 or 7- hybrid, play it more in the centre of your stance like you would a 6 or 7-iron. For golfers with a slower swing speed, hybrids can be a great benefit. Often golfers who feel their woods are too long and harder to control will have more success with a shorter club with more loft.


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It’s what you measure that matters MarkVictorsen Good course management is an area that I see a lot of amateurs struggling with. Too often, golfers are having a great round and when told at halfway that “they are going really well today”, they fall in a heap on the back nine! Or they get off to a bad start and then try every risky shot in the book for the rest of the round trying to shoot a decent score. If you fall into this trap, try the following: Budget your handicap strokes effectively by splitting the 18 holes into 6 sectors of 3 holes. Look at every 3-hole sector and devise a plan for each of those holes within that sector and allocate your strokes by the degree of difficulty you experience on those given holes. The idea is to break down the course, and then STICK TO YOUR PLAN! All the sport psychologists say to “Stay in the present” and that is a very hard thing to do when your mind is trying to work out your acceptance speech on the 15th tee! Stick to your game plan, and don’t get ahead of yourself (i.e. thinking “If I can just play like this for the next 9 holes I will have my best ever score”.) And don’t dwell on the past — we have all been guilty of thinking how we “screwed up the 8th” when we are walking up the 12th. STAY IN THE PRESENT! I interviewed Steve Williams (Tiger’s caddy) last year and it was very interesting to hear, for example, how they worked out how to play

Hoylake in the British Open (which Tiger won). Hoylake has these little pot bunkers in the fairway that mean instant bogey or double bogey if you go in one. Tiger hit his driver only 3 times in 72

holes and showed the rest of the golfers how to dissect a course and manage the trouble. I think it’s nice to plan for success but we all need to be realists as well.

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This plan has helped many of my members reduce their handicaps and plot their handicap reductions. Hope it helps!


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The power of the mind JamieGlazier Golf is one sport that is highly dominated by your mind and the thought patterns that are created within that weird and wacky few inches between your ears. Some people think that our golf is affected by our minds more than any other sport, and I would have to agree. We have seen it with Tiger time and time again. Whenever he is in a pressure situation in a tournament, it’s like he switches into a trance and begins to play unbelievable golf under the most extreme circumstances. That is because his subconscious floats up images and memories of pulling off these shots under extreme pressure. Tiger is one of the best at emotionalising the positive aspects of his game. Conversely, let’s look at the 2006 US Open, the final hole of the last round with Phil Mickelson leading by a shot over Geoff Ogilvy. When Phil teed up the ball, he looked almost the opposite of what Tiger would look in that position. Phil looked a little uneasy and lacked the self belief that he could finish it off. It was no surprise that Phil ended up hitting the shot that has been plaguing his career for quite a while.

This has a lot to do with how Phil has emotionalised some of the collapses that he has had in the past with major championships. The brain stores images and memories in the front of the brain, like stacking dominoes. The events and experiences we emotionalise the most are the images that get stacked at the forefront of the brain. Therefore, when we are put in a similar situation in the future, the subconscious will float up the experience you have emotionalised the most. When I first work with athletes, one of the first things I notice is how athletes have been conditioned to amplify the negative results and to almost ignore the positive aspects of their performance. Their reasons for doing this are many and varied. Sometimes it might be to ensure that the people watching, including coaches and playing partners, know that the way they just performed was less than satisfactory and that they are a much better player than what they have just demonstrated. Other times, they think that showing negative emotion to an unsatisfactory result is what they have to do in order to demonstrate their disappointment.

Tiger Woods is a master of the mental game Take the example of a player driving it into the trees or missing an easy 3-foot putt. Generally speaking, the player’s natural response is to react in ways that show the world how unhappy they are with the result. It’s a reaction we see from players ranging from club level all the way through to the top of the game. Now, what do you do when you drive it in the middle of the fairway or hole a good putt? Most of the time players

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just let it go without emotionalising the situation. This can be for a variety of reasons; including an effort to show playing partners that hitting that shot was no big deal. But by choosing not to react, you miss an opportunity to stack a positive experience and emotion in front of the many negative images that are currently sitting at the forefront of the mind. So you are in control of what domino

you stack in the front of your brain, and by having control over that, you will also be in control of what memory your subconscious chooses to recall in future situations on the course. This is one of the most powerful tools to have available to you as a golfer, so emotionalise the positive, learn from the unsatisfactory, and you will be on your way to controlling the images that just seem to pop-up in your brain before pressure shots.


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Overcoming the fear to succeed MatHowe We often hear about the fear of failure but the fear of success does as much damage if not more to the aspiring golfer. Most people are unaware that they have problems in this area until someone comes along and points it out to them.

What is the fear of success?

The “Fear of Winning” affects even elite athletes like Annika.

Firstly, let us get clear on what fear is. False evidence appearing real is a great way to remember what it is most of the time. Fears tend to lurk behind the scenes in the subconscious part of our mind and come up to greet us right when we don’t need it the most. Fear can also be from a physical danger like seeing a shark in the water! This type of fear is helpful because it makes us take action and maybe swim out of the water quickly so we are not eaten for lunch. Mainly though, most of mankind’s fears we face in today’s times are mentally based. E.g. Fear of not being able to

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pay the bills, fear of what others will think of you etc. The fear of success can be seen in someone being afraid to win. People who experience this describe it as being like a force that overwhelms them and they lose control of the situation. In the golfing world this relates to events such as someone doing all the right things with their preparation physically but then mentally folding just as they look like things are starting to go their way. Some past champions like Annika Sorenstam and Sophie Gustafsen apparently were so afraid of giving winning speeches that they would find themselves consistently performing poorly towards the end of a great tournament. For the social golfer, it could be things like not putting in practise because somewhere in their mind they have a belief that if they get their handicap down too low then they will have to put in more work to keep it there and that will take away time from other things they enjoy in life.

How does it differ from the fear of failure? Fear of failure works its destruction by having you not taking the risks you need to take to get the job done. Because you are so afraid of what might happen you never really have a go. This can be seen from the golfer that has desires of being great but never really fully commits so that they can say to themselves ‘oh well I wasn’t even giving it my all so it doesn’t really matter… I could do it if I tried. The main difference is that the fear of success is a serious concern about being recognized and praised for all you can do. Some people fear that if they achieve all their goals it will still never be enough and they won’t ever truly be happy. A few of the things that a fear of success may look like in your golf game are: Sabotaging your momentum of when you do have a win by not feeling like you deserve it and stuffing up the very next round.


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Being an underachiever for the work you’ve put in over a long period of time. Maybe you’re a 12 marker but really you think you should realistically be a 6 marker. Not being able to accept praise for good rounds and your work ethic. E.g. You shoot 40 points and someone says ‘great round’ and instead of saying thanks, you go on to talk about all the things you stuffed up. A few of the thoughts you might experience frequently while playing or practising golf if fear of success has got you in its grip are:

How can people like me if I succeed in reaching my goals in life? E.g. The tall poppy syndrome of people wanting to see you come back to the pack. There are always more demands and more needs that have to be met in order for me to be successful, no matter what I do it will never be enough.

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when you do succeed be the first one to reward yourself so that your brain remembers a strong positive experience for next time. Asking yourself better questions is a really good way to change your thinking, habits and actions. Some great questions for this topic that I found from psychologist James J Messina, PhD, Director of Psychological Services at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Tampa, Fla. are: • What do I think will happen if I achieve success here? • What are my biggest concerns about succeeding in this area? • What evidence is there that I have not sustained enough effort to achieve my goals in this area? • Have I ever feared losing people’s attention, sympathy or concern if I achieved success here? • Have I ever put myself down for achieving success in this area?

How to overcome the fear of success?

How can you turn your fear into a mental strength?

The main thing you want to work on is learning to accept that everything that comes along with success is a good thing! It may not actually be that way in reality but that is a belief you need to lock into. Start accepting praise more and

One of the greatest things you can do for your mental bank account is to turn a weakness into strength. It may be time to look into subconscious tools of mental improvement such as: visualization, hypnosis, affirmations, neuro

Imagine yourself taking the bikkies, and feeling comfortable with the praise that comes with your success associative conditioning, one-on-one coaching and self image remodeling. These terms may sound complicated and awkward but there are technologies out there to help you work on your mind just like there are better mobile phones these days. You will know when your turnaround will be complete when your results are different and you feel normal in how it all happens. That’s when you know fear is not living in your mind and body any more. In the short term, some good questions to reflect over are:

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• How can I improve the ways in which I reward myself? • How can I eliminate all excuses for being unsuccessful? • How can I monitor my level of commitment and motivation to succeed? • How can I improve the ways I visualize what it will be like when I achieve my goals? • How can I improve my self-talk to assist me in achieving my goals? • How can I learn to accept the compliments and recognition of others for my success? 

3 things to overcome the fear of success! 1. Get all the excuses out of the way before you tee off 2. R e m i n d you r s e l f re g u l ar l y throughout the day of why you deserve to play well. 3. Imagine yourself succeeding and being comfortable with all the little things that go with that.


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Is this Tom Watson’s mental game secret? DrMikeMartin On the Turnberry links at the 1977 British Open, Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus — 10 strokes ahead of the field and paired together for the final two rounds — had an epic shot-for-shot battle for the “claret jug.” The “Duel in the Sun” ended in a one stroke victory to Tom after Nicklaus went 65-66 against Watson’s 65-65. Thirty-two years later and back at Turnberry, Watson needed only par on the 72nd hole to capture a sixth Open title. A bogey sent him into a playoff with Stewart Cink, who eventually prevailed. But along the way, Watson had marched into the history books as both the oldest golfer to lead after any round of a major, and the oldest player to lead a major going into the last round. 59-year-old Watson has an artificial hip and can reasonably expect to be outdriven by young players, but it is his irrepressibly positive attitude, developed over four decades that keeps him in contention. Let’s have a look at Watson’s mental game secret. He is a master at focusing on what is working in his game. This is one of the most important ways to build self-belief and playing confidence.

Here’s an example of Watson demonstrating his “focus on the positives” approach in part of his interview after the 3rd round of the Open this year. “Frankly, when I finished the practise round on Wednesday, I really felt good about my chances to do well in the tournament. And so far so good. I’ve played well. I’ve kept the ball in play off the tee. I was driving the ball in the fairway and, you know, the most important thing is to drive the ball in the fairway. Tiger is gone because he couldn’t drive the ball in the fairway; he couldn’t get it there. But for some of us it’s been a good week that way.” See how Watson supports his self-belief by finding evidence of what is working in his game? Read it again and see if you can count at least four pieces of positive evidence that he uses in this interview snippet. One – he had a good practise round on the Wednesday. Two – he’s been playing well in the tournament over the last three days (“so far, so good” and “I’ve played well.”) Three – He’s “kept the ball in play off the tee.” Four - He’s been “driving the ball in the fairway.” Even when asked about his one over for the front nine that morning (a birdie and two bogeys) Watson focuses in on what is working in his game, and he even reinforces his mental philosophy – no negative thoughts!

Accentuating the positives helps keep Tom Watson mentally strong “Well, what I did today, you know, I scrambled really well today. And when you have that feel around the greens, that keeps you going. You know, you’re not thinking any negative thoughts. If I hit it in a bad place I’ll get it up-and-down.” Again Watson refuses to accept the negative implication in the journalist’s question and goes on to talk about what is working – his feel around the greens, and the need to avoid negative thoughts. So next time you play, take some mental game

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advice from Tom Watson. Before you tee it up, spend a little time reflecting on what is working and what you’ve been doing well. Once you are on the course think about what’s working in your game. Not only will it improve your game and your attitude, but it will also help you defend yourself against others disparaging criticisms and your own negative thoughts. Photo: Copyright USGA/John Mummert


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The $11million

mental lesson

DrMikeMartin When Jim Furyk won the season-ending Tour Championship at the East Lake Golf Course in Atlanta, Georgia, he pocketed the $1.35 million first prize. For winning the season-long point score, the FedEx Cup, another cool $10 million. His $11-million-dollar-plus pay day revolved around an up-and-down from a green side bunker on the 72nd hole. Furyk splashed out to four feet and knocked in his par putt to do the job, overcoming some emotionally crippling pressure and self-doubt along the way. Furyk had come close to winning at the East Lake course before: “I missed a playoff when Hal Sutton won here by one, was second to Adam Scott here one year. I’ve had my opportunities and haven’t got over the hump,” he said. No doubt Furyk was pondering if this was going to be another failure. Especially when his earlier three-shot cushion dissolved in just three holes. Still, Furyk had a one-shot lead coming down 17 when he fatted his chip right of the green. He got up-and-down for bogey. “I was pissed at myself going to the 18th tee making bogey on 17,” Furyk said. Now he had to make par to win, and the weather was only making matters worse. “There was a lot riding on my round today,

a lot riding down the stretch in some terrible weather... The rain threw me for a loop,” he said. When Furyk stood up on the 18th tee the demons really kicked in. This was the exact hole and the exact situation he was in when he missed the playoff with Hal Sutton. “I had to make a par to get in a playoff, and I hit it too hard and it ran through the back left of the green and you’ve got nothing there, and I remembered that from probably six, seven, eight years ago.” Furyk ended up hitting it weak right and into the greenside bunker. Just to add a little more pressure to the occasion: “Coming up 18 I assumed I was playing for the FedExCup,” Furyk added. Does it get any tougher than this? How do you deal with all that pressure and selfdoubt? Terrible weather... a history of failure at this exact hole... a tournament in the balance...the chance to win the season point score and pocket an extra $10 million... ...and the ball in a bunker, requiring an upand-down to win. “I knew I left it in a spot that I could get the ball up-and-down,” Furyk said. But why was Furyk so confident he could do the job from the bunker? He simply searched his mind for answers. How could he do it? He found plenty of reasons to believe.

Jim Furyk “This was probably my best bunker week of my career this week. I don’t know what I was in up-and-downs, but I bet I was probably 80 percent or more.” (Actually he was nine from nine, 100%.) Walking into the bunker, Furyk let all the pressure and self-doubt go. He just looked for reasons why he could play the shot. He intuitively knew his up-and-downs were good and so he was confident to play the shot for what it was. “If you take the situation out, the sand is nice and firm, ball is sitting up perfect, I had plenty

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of green to work with. You know, it wasn’t an overly hard shot.” This was textbook mental toughness! He stayed focused on the job and kept looking for reasons why he would deliver. Typically most players with no mental skills training tend to do the opposite. They focus on—and are haunted by—their mistakes when they go to play critical shots. Well here’s Jim Furyk’s “battled-tested” $11 million mental skills training lesson so you don’t make that error... and you can get it for free. Photo courtesy USGA/Steve Gibbons


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Poulter Twitters

Mental toughness

DrMikeMartin If you are a golf fan who uses Twitter, then you should check out @ianjamespoulter. In between Ian Poulter’s funny quips, family anecdotes and English Premier League fanaticism you get an insight into the mind of a top flight professional. The day after the US Masters, where Poulter finished 6 shots behind Mickleson and tied 10th, he tweeted that he was “very, very disappointed with that finish.” At Augusta, Poulter was disappointed with his driver which was surprisingly going left all weekend. “I felt my golf game was in shape Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday of Augusta. I played great Thursday (68), Friday (68), and then hit a tee shot a little left off the 1st, which is really unusual for me. And from that point I wasn’t happy with the driver. Not that there’s anything wrong with the driver, but I wasn’t comfortable standing on the tee. And from that moment on, it starts playing in your mind.” A few minutes after Poulter tweeted his post-round disappointment, he tweeted again “but I guess you learn from mistakes made.” For many players “you learn from your mistakes” is just a feel-good statement to give hope for the future when you’re feeling down. But for Poulter it began his fact-finding mission to rebuild shattered confidence.

“I go to the range (the next week)... and I look on video at a number of things very closely, and I wasn’t happy with a couple of segments. I found something on camera... my left heel was coming off the ground at the top of my backswing, so, therefore, I felt I was unstable. I couldn’t then plant it and transfer my weight onto the left side properly... And by feeling that left heel on the ground for longer, I’ve got more height at the top of my backswing, I’m releasing the club better, and my whole golf swing feels better, feels more solid.” “Within 15 minutes, I’m hitting the ball as good as I’ve ever hit it. I mean, it can be that quick! So it literally could be within three shots you can find something which takes you through a week or takes you through six months or the whole season.” Poulter understands something that golfers intuitively know – confidence is based on competence. That is, if you can’t consistently start the ball out where you want it to go, then it is impossible to feel confident in your ability. So the question every player needs to ask is “how hard am I going after that swing competence”. Admittedly, when you’re hitting balls all day every day it’s easier to feel and understand your swing, but that doesn’t stop every golfer from making a concerted effort

to identify a key swing thought. That key swing thought allows you to be focused and confident. It’s your mental game blueprint for every shot you hit and an “anchor in the storm” when your game is falling apart. It’s your “go to” thought that works! Here’s Poulter again: “You know, the discussion four weeks ago would have been how poor a season Mickelson had had to that point, which everybody was talking about... Mickelson has turned his year

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around very quickly. He found something in his swing on the range, and he goes out and wins the Masters.” You mightn’t be able to turn your swing on as quickly as Poulter or Mickelson. However if you are committed to working with your teaching professional on identifying your key swing thoughts, then you are in the process of building self-confidence. This confidence will flow and every part of your game will improve!


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Free your mind and the putts will follow DrMikeMartin It was a “choke” — pure and simple — when Miguel Angel Jimenez squandered his two-shot lead with a double-bogey six on the 72nd hole of the European PGA French Open. Jimenez admitted “Well, you know, we are human, and I feel a little pressure there and I feel tense and maybe I swing not like I’m doing all day long.” Under the pressure of winning, the top-flight Spaniard knew what to do, but he just could not do it. “The only thing I needed to do is hit a good shot there. I feel like the pressure is getting to me and I say, have a good swing... But we are human, I made the shot... I lose my rhythm... I hit the ball a little bit behind and hit into the water and that’s what happened... That’s probably the very bad shot I hit all day.” That “tighten-up-and-stab–the-ball” happens to everyone at some time. Just ask fellow Spaniard, Alejandro Canizares who, after 72 holes, had tied for the championship at 11-under with Italian Francesco Molinari and Jimenez. Canzinares folded under the pressure of the threeway play-off. He triple-bogeyed the par-4 after twice finding the water. “In the playoff, I just didn’t play the way I should have played” Carnzinares said. While Canzinares was racking up his seven,

Jimenez and Molinari had a championship to fight. Jimenez was under pressure again, with the playoff being run on the 18th— the hole he had just double-bogeyed. After his playoff drive and a wayward 7-iron, Jimenez was left with a very tough chip, which he played into the bank and ran 10 feet past the hole. It was a critical chip, but Jimenez did not make the mistake of losing focus a second time. “The ball is below my feet. I’m thinking, go through the ball, have a good contact with my hands. And after, I hit a good chip. It’s not easy there because the ball is very close to the semirough there, I had to pitch the ball from the semirough to the green.” Jimenez coached himself through the pressure, telling himself exactly what he needed to do to get close to the pin. A perfect lesson in focus under pressure. Molinari sank his 15-footer for bogey, leaving Jimenez a 10-footer for par and the win. Here Jimenez revealed a putting mental game secret, learned from 22 years experience on Tour: “Sometimes you try to push and get the ball in the hole. But no, the main thing when you are on the greens is focus, and whatever you see there, hit to there, and free your mind. Sometimes it’s very difficult. We are not machines, and sometimes you start trying to put the ball in the hole and

you start pushing too hard and go on the other side. The most important thing is to have a good swing, keep in the moment and see what happens.” Have a look again at what Jimenez says – see the putt and hit it there. Simple and sweet, but as he says its’not always that easy. Sometimes — overly keen to get a result — you want to steer the ball. So how exactly did Jimenez free his mind to play that right-to-left 10-footer... that never looked

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like missing...right into the centre of the cup... to win the Open de France? “One of most important things is keep breathing and tell yourself to relax, breathe.” So there is the Jimenez putting mental game strategy, “breathe, see the putt and hit it”. Twentytwo years of tour experience and 17 European Tour wins can’t be wrong! Photo: USGA/John Mummert


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Your go-to swing key MichaelMartin Struggling with golf ’s mental game? Rather than spending your money on another golf psychology book, your first stop should be your local PGA teaching professional. Why? The bedrock of conquering your mental game is your golf swing. And you need to be creating consistent ball flights if you are to have any chance at confidently dealing with golf ’s emotional roller coaster. If your swing can’t get the ball consistently flying in one direction, then you have no basis for predicting where your next shot will go. Therefore, you have no reason to feel confident in the shot you are about to play, and that is not how you want to feel standing over the ball. No amount of golf psychology, positive talk, use of routines, smart course management or emotional control strategies will help you overcome the confidence-sapping inconsistency of poor swing mechanics. From a mental game perspective, the goal of your golf lesson is to walk away with one main swing key. Something that you can focus on that will build some consistency and confidence into your swing, and ultimately your game. Recently Tiger Woods made the mistake of focusing on too many things at once with his swing. According to Woods, his triple-bogey 3-wood on the first tee of the third round at The Barclays PGA event in New Jersey “probably cost me the chance to win the tournament.”

“I got caught between two swings and I wasn’t committed to what I was doing,” Woods said. “I wasn’t focused on exactly what I should have been doing; what I’ve been doing on the range; what I’ve been doing for the last couple of weeks. And it backfired.” Even for golf ’s rock stars, a simple swing key is the start a great mental game. So once you’ve got your swing key, then you need to make sure that you actually use it. That is, you need to try to focus on using your swing key when you play – just like Woods was trying to do. For example, if your teaching professional wants you to “get wider at the top” of your swing, then make sure you are working on that while you are playing. In between shots, take time to do a few practice swings, just focusing on using your swing key – you’ll not only increase the likelihood of a better ball strike, you’ll also increase your confidence when you are standing over your shot. Once Woods got clear in his mind about his swing key, his confidence and consistency returned. He rallied after his poor start and finished with a 1-over 72. “I’m pleased how I sucked it up and got it back the rest of the day, when it easily could have gone the other way,” he said. “Hitting a ball like that can derail you. And it didn’t. I got it right back.” Why wasn’t Woods derailed by his wayward drive? Because he knew his swing key – the one he’d been working on at the range; the one he’d been playing with the last few weeks. It was

Even for golf ’s top players, a simple swing key can help you refocus after a bad shot – and avoid derailing an entire round possible for Woods to “suck it up” because he knew what he was doing. Sure it was a costly mistake, but he was able to mentally get it back on track because he knew what he needed to focus on.

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So if you start “spraying” the ball, do you have your go-to swing key to get refocused and back on track? If not, then it’s time to call your local PGA teaching professional and book a lesson.


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The switch to

success

JamieGlazier

It has long been said that Tiger Woods is one of the most focused athletes the world has ever seen. I believe that there are few athletes that have the quality of focus that Tiger possesses, and he is obviously in a class above all amateur golfers that enjoy the challenges that the game of golf offers. But what if I said that it wasn’t the quality of focus where Tiger stands heads and shoulders above his competitors; but rather it is his ability to switch his focus ON and OFF during the course of a round. This enables Tiger to have the same quality of focus for the last 6 holes of a round that he had in the first 6 holes. During Tiger’s teen years, he learnt to be able to switch his focus ON and OFF for each shot, helping him stay in the present and give himself the best possible chance of hitting a great shot “right now”. A lot of players believe that switching your focus ON is the most important aspect to achieving a consistent high level of focus. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The switching OFF after each shot is the most important component

to being able to store enough focus for the latter stages of a round so that you can eliminate those late round mistakes. Tiger worked extensively with a Sports Psychologist in his teen years and one of the important mental game components that helped Tiger store this much needed focus, was to create what he called the “Ten Yard Line”. The “Ten Yard Line” came from the National Football League (NFL) in the US, whereby there are incremental lines on field every 10 yards. When Tiger was on the course, for every shot he would visualize his golf ball in the middle of two Ten Yard Lines. When he walked over the first line heading toward the ball, this would be his mental trigger to switch ON for the shot he was about to play. Once he had finished his shot, he would cross the second Ten Yard Line, and this would be his mental trigger to switch his focus OFF and enjoy the time in between shots, not analyzing or worrying about the next shot until it was time to switch ON. This is where Tiger has an edge over the competition in being able to sustain a high level of

Switch off

Switch on

your ball

Using the Ten Yard Line method can help you control your focus while on the course (Photo by Andy Shaffer) focus on the last 9 holes on Sunday as this is generally where his competitors begin to run out of that all-important focus energy. If the gridiron image isn’t to your liking, there is an even easier trigger to help you switch your focus ON and OFF during the round. The golf glove has been used as a trigger to help golfers all over the world switch on and off, as it is the one piece of equipment that a high percentage of golfers use for every shot. Another aspect to why the golf glove is a great trigger is that it uses 3

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out of the 5 different sensory systems, which means it can be developed as an extremely powerful trigger: you SEE, FEEL and HEAR the glove being put ON and also taken OFF. The next time you head out to the range or practice fairway, I want you to use your glove as a trigger to switch your focus ON and OFF for every shot. A great exercise to help you achieve this is to pretend you are playing the first 6-9 holes of a course, changing clubs for each shot until you have reached the green, and then moving onto the next hole. This exercise will

help you to create the golf glove as a specific trigger to help you switch your focus ON and OFF for each shot, as well as helping you to better prepare for what you will experience in competition. If you can train your mind to use the golf glove to be a trigger to switch your mind ON and OFF for each shot, you will begin to see the quality of your focus be sustained and available to you over the crucial finishing holes that seem to play an enormous role in whether your handicap drops, or your frustration levels rise!


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Practice, patience and persistence Unlike PGA Tour players, the average golfer can’t afford to spend hours at the range every day. So what can we do to get the most out of our limited practice time? RichardNizielski I am sure we all agree that every avid golfer desires to spend more time at the golf course practicing and playing golf. Imagine having more time to iron out the swing faults, perfecting the putting routine and working on aspects of the short game. Imagine, all that extra time at the range and on the course would make a major difference to the way we play, right? Well it might, however that luxury is not a reality for many of us and until that day comes, well, the truth may never be known. Time spent at the driving range is precious, so arriving with an idea of what needs to be worked on is important. Many of the golf professionals on the tour make sure they are aware of how long they are practicing and what they are there to practice. As well, professional players are working as hard off the course as on it.

Like athletes of other sports, they spend considerably more time training with other methods (vs just playing golf) than previous eras of the game. Every year the tours become more competitive and the need to stay in shape and compete well every week is paramount to all the players. Just as important to the players is the ability to keep improving and have a long and successful career. While many of us don’t have to rely on our golf swing to provide us with an income, we do all want to keep improving. Identifying what needs to be done to make improvements is often the easy part of the equation, finding the time to work on the solution is a lot harder. When you are time constrained for your golf fitness there are steps to take which can help save time and produce results. Focus on the areas which are the most needed and the most beneficial. For example: If it’s flexibility that is holding back your improvement, try

You don’t need to be at the course to work on your golf game. Whether at home or at work, there is always time to focus on golf fitness to incorporate simple stretches into your daily routine or while you are at work. Stretching while watching tv offers a great opportunity. If it’s your golf-specific strength that is lacking, then modifying gym exercises that require weights by using stretch/resistance bands at home or work during lunch time for a few

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minutes each day can be an easy way to exercise. Wi t h o u t t r y i n g t o s o u n d obsessive (and honestly, what golfer isn’t obsessed?) there are ample opportunities to incorporate an activity or two into the daily routine that can help with your golf. Just think of how many times you have caught yourself

practicing an imaginary golf swing or putt at some point during the day. So whether an amateur or a professional, improving takes practice, patience and persistence and paying attention to what needs to be done and what can be done will help to make the journey easier. Happy Golfing.


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Controlling your emotions on the course JamieGlazier In just about every round of golf you play, you will at one time or another react to the result of one of your shots. A high percentage of times when you experience these reactions, it will be in a negative form after an unsatisfactory shot. These reactions can be on a variety of emotional levels, which will have an immediate impact on the state of mind, as well as state of physiology that you will experience over the following 5-10 minutes. If you look closely at those golfers that are perceived to have the best emotional control in the game-players like Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Fred Couples and the like --you will notice that they have a great ability to be able to show NO reaction to shots. No matter how severe the result is, you very rarely see them react, which helps them greatly in being able to stay calm and free from negative emotional states over the following few holes. I perceive this to be one of the biggest factors in players getting on the bogey train during a round, as they hit one poor shot, react to it and then find it difficult to recover before their next shot.

One thing that you can do in 2011 to help lower your handicap greatly is focus on what I call “Not Reacting To Stimuli”. Stimuli are the large number of internal and external factors that triggers us to react in a negative way. Stimuli such as: • Bad Lie • Bad Bounce • Missed Putt • Poor Shot • Playing Partners • Course Conditions • Weather Conditions And the list goes on and on! One of the important aspects in regards to staying in control of your emotions during the ups and downs of a round of golf is being aware of specifically which triggers seem to have the biggest influence on your ability to show no reaction to the result of a shot. Most players will have between 1-3 triggers that seem to consistently pop up during a round of golf; the first step is to learn specifically what your triggers are. These triggers are the beginning of the negative process that places you in a disempowering emotional state that gets in the way of you being able to play your best golf, so what we

Good shot or bad? Great players like Ernie Els stay in control of their emotions throughout the round, and don’t dwell on the negatives

are wanting to do is to re-program your neural pathways to create new, empowering behaviors when these triggers are activated. The best way to begin the reprogramming process is to put aside set time each week that will help train new behaviours. Time is spent on the

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practice facilities, focusing on showing NO reaction at all to the result of a shot, as well as time spent playing holes showing NO reaction at all, will help create and strengthen new behaviors that will help you stay in a more empowering emotional state during the round.

The more time you can spend focusing on standing there after every shot, with no verbal or physical response, will help you maintain a more empowering emotional state during rounds and give you the best chance of staying off the dreaded Bogey Train!!


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Battling dehydration RichardNizielski A game of golf should be a relaxing and enjoyable day spent in the great outdoors, particularly when you are hitting the ball well and sinking putts. However many players give themselves an uphill battle in their round by neglecting some of the simplest of fundamentals. One such fundamental is not drinking enough fluid – something that is exacerbated by the fact that golf is played outdoors and more often than not, in warm temperatures. Dehydration can have a dramatic effect on both your physical and mental performance. Just a loss of 2% of the body’s optimal fluid levels is considered dehydration in its mildest form. This small amount of dehydration can cause a player to experience physical discomfort, fatigue and drop in judgment and concentration — none of which are ideal when trying to aim at the flag and improve your handicap. If you are someone who does not drink much fluid while on the course, try weighing yourself immediately before and after your game - the drop in weight due to a loss of body fluid may surprise you. Because even a small loss of water can be destructive to an athletic performance, a good

hydration plan is vital. Dehydration occurs when the body’s fluid loss exceeds the fluids being taken in, and, apart from an illness, the most common reason for dehydration is not drinking enough fluids or drinking the wrong types of fluids. Everyone is different when it comes to hydration, however here are some simple strategies that may help you: An easy calculation to work out your minimal daily fluid intake (when not engaged in physical activity) is: Body weight in kg x 0.03 = Litres of water per day. Avoid drinks which have a diuretic effect on the body. These include drinks that contain caffeine, including the so-called ‘energy’ drinks and alcoholic drinks. Both of these will cause you to go to the toilet more often, resulting in a quicker loss of fluid. Approximately half an hour before Tee-off have a drink of around 300 – 500ml. Most sports drinks and sports waters are ideal as they contain approximately 6-10% of carbohydrate and are convenient. (But watch the sugar!) Take enough water with you to last the whole round, and aim to drink a minimum of 250ml per hour as you move around the course. Every third hole, have a small amount of sports drink. This will

Keeping hydrated on course is critical to your performance provide a source of carbohydrate fuel — and water — and also help replace the electrolytes that have been lost. The sodium in these drinks encourages fluid intake by stimulating the thirst mechanism and enhances fluid absorption and retention. Following your game, make sure you keep

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replacing the fluids and the carbohydrates which will assist in refueling the body and aid recovery. Many players like to enjoy a relaxing beer or two after the game, and this is fine as long as you remember to drink a glass of water between each beer.


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What is the ‘shot cost’ of your food? What you consume on and off the course can significantly affect your performance and score. Here are a few tips. PeterMcConnell Most golfers I know have a keen interest in finding ways to improve their game and score. I have been fortunate enough to play golf in many areas of Australia, the USA, and even Scotland. I have noticed that regardless of where I play, the food selections are relatively very similar. Understanding that the topic of Nutrition is both enormously diverse and mostly confusing, I will put some concepts forward here with the intention of showing that what you consume on and off the course will directly affect your performance, and then you can try some things out for yourself. Firstly, the quality of what you eat is at least as important as the quality of any other product you choose to buy. Routinely, the majority of people will be very careful in choosing a car, a house, a computer, and obviously their golf clubs. Yet

choosing food is mostly around “whatever is cheap and filling”. If I suggested you could shoot consistent scores using the cheapest, lowest-quality clubs and balls you could find, you’d probably laugh. So why think any differently about the food you eat? In the same way that alcohol has an obvious effect on the body, regular food and drink also affect the body’s systems, but in a far more subtle fashion. Nevertheless, they still play a strong role in determining your mood, energy level, focus, blood sugar balance, and ultimately, your performance. For example, if you stimulate your system by consuming too much sugar, good

decisions become harder to make, you will tend to over-swing the club, and then react more strongly to your poor play than you normally would, which then affects your next few shots as well. After the sugar rush you will go into an energy slump and find it difficult to concentrate for a while, also adversely affecting your performance. Generally people reach for more sugar, and the process starts again. This doesn’t sound like a great platform to shoot a good score from. We all know golf is a fine mixture of power, finesse and patience. Eating just any food will give you the same inconsistent result as playing with just any club or ball. Here are a few simple rules to “eat by”: 1. Drink lots of water – if you are concerned about electrolyte loss, simply drop a pinch of Celtic Sea Salt in a litre of water. Though I can assure you the dehydrative effects from a lack of water are far more severe than the effects of less electrolytes. Water is the only fluid that will reverse dehydration. I drink at least 1.5 litres through a round, more on hot days. 2. Eat balanced portions of foods – e.g. if you have an apple, eat some cheese or nuts with it, same for a

The good, the bad and the ugly - how does your diet really affect your game?

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banana. The idea is to keep the blood sugar levels constant to maintain a consistent swing and thinking pattern. The game is difficult enough without compromising your mental and emotional balance. 3. Bring your own home-cooked food with a similar balance of Fat / Protein & Carbohydrate (Fat content generally comes with the Protein). I like to eat things like chicken or lamb with brown rice or sweet potato. Each person has their own ideal ‘fuel mix’ that suits them, but a 50% Carbs to 50% Fat/Protein ratio is a great place to start. 4. Become more aware of how your body feels an hour after consuming ‘anything’ on the course – you will see what foods you do not react well to.


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Fuelling up for the round RichardNizielski It happens to so many golfers while playing a round of golf. A great start for the first few holes, then it all starts heading south. The technique becomes harder to maintain, straightforward shots get fluffed and easy putts are missed. It was all working so well on the driving range and the practice green, so where did it go wrong? So many golfers spend countless hours and dollars to get the best out of their game, but often neglect the simplest, most important contributing factor to improvement – nutrition. It is easy to see how energy-intensive sports like road cycling or marathon running require athletes to eat well, but golfers often overlook their needs to do the same. The nutritional requirements for golfers are no less important than athletes pushing the boundaries of human physical limits. They are just different. Golfers can benefit and improve their performance from a good nutrition plan. Here are some simple and easy ways to help fuel up and blast through your next round. 1. Eat smaller, balanced meals spaced

about 3 hours apart: Eating smaller meals helps to keep enough fuel in the body to keep going throughout the day. 2. Have a good breakfast: What you have heard and read is true, breakfast IS the most important meal of the day. Well actually, to be precise, a GOOD breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Having a good breakfast will kick-start the metabolism, get the body moving and provide the initial fuel for the day’s activities. It doesn’t need to be big, something like a couple of boiled eggs and whole meal toast and some fruit is good. If you like cereal in the morning, then try to pick one that is low in sugar and fat, add some protein powder to give your cereal a more balanced nutrient content. 3. B efore the round: Depending on your tee off time you might want to eat a sandwich for a mid morning snack. A sandwich made with whole meal bread, a lean protein like chicken, tinned tuna or salmon with some salad is a good choice. 4. On the course: Bring snacks with you to take on the course. Some good choices are fruit, mixed raw nuts and seeds and snack bars, they’re

easy to carry and are a great energy source. Another easy way to take a snack on the course with you is a meal replacement powder mix, it’s easy to carry and easy to eat. Make sure you get something into you every 4-5 holes. 5. Playing through the last nine holes: Quick energy-releasing foods like bananas, raisins or quick energy food bars are good for giving you a

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boost through the last hour of play 6. After the game: It’s not over yet. Exercise breaks down muscle and uses up energy stores. A good post game meal will help you recover from the day’s efforts, and if you are playing the following day a good meal will give you the nutrients to repair and prepare for the next day’s round. Include proteins like lean meats or fish and complex

carbohydrates such as vegetables and whole meal pasta in your meal Golf is challenging enough, it places demands on a player’s endurance and stamina both mentally and physically. Don’t make it any tougher through something as simple as food. A good golf nutrition plan just may be the break-through you need to tackle the back nine. 


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Fix your slice before you swing MichaelJones From a fitness aspect, the golfer’s slice may be a direct result of the body being too strong on one side and too weak on the other. Most right-handed golfers show adequate strength on their dominant side but have trouble activating their less dominant left side. The right-handed golfer is generally too strong on one side and as a result their setup usually has the right shoulder taking over the address position. The left shoulder is then shoved to left side producing an open set-up. As a result, the club path works outside and across at the impact position. To combat this, many say to “just move your left shoulder across”. This is easier said than done. The physical problem is the left side of the right-handed golfer is less active and often has limited strength. Therefore it is often spun out of the way on the downswing or impact position. To change the technique of your swing you have to change the physical fault. This doesn’t mean complete postural analysis – but just pinpointing the weak area. Slicers have weak left side muscles, so we design single-side exercises to help balance the equation and improve the functionality of both sides of the golf anatomy.

With today’s lifestyle of sitting for long periods, driving your car for hours to-and-from work, etc., there is little chance that your posture will be perfect. To change what you have developed over your lifetime is a tall order, especially through generic stretches and exercises. So pinpointing specific strength limitations in your golf swing is the way to go. Many of my first-time clients look at me very sceptically when we start exercises to re-train those left side muscles. But they are usually shocked when, after a few minutes of exercises, their set-up position has started to show signs of improvements. All golfers, regardless of age, can complete exercises to improve their strength and golf muscles. It’s just a matter of adjusting the intensity and type of exercise. A good exercise at the range is to hit some balls, analyse ball flight and swing path, then activate your dormant muscles which are causing your setup to be open at address. After 5 or 10 minutes of exercise, check your address position again, then hit some balls to reassess the flight and swing path. This exercise-based solution to establishing improved address position will give you instant feedback pertaining to ball flight and path, and will also change the neurological signals from the brain to the weak muscles, and tell them to “wake up!”

This exercise involves activating the left side muscle groups and works the balance on the right side. Keep hips square/level, chest up and right leg straight behind you (not across). Try to keep the left knee behind your toes. This exercise focuses on those less dominant slice happy muscles. Beginners: 1 to 2 sets and 6 to 10 repetitions with a light band tensile. Advanced: 3 to 4 sets and 8 to 12 repetitions with medium to heavy band tensile.

When pulling up the band, maintain good posture and do not straighten your body or lean back. Maintain good stability with both sides of the body but intentionally try to be more active with the left. Beginners: 1 to 2 sets and 6 to 10 repetitions with a light band tensile. Advanced: 3 to 4 sets and 8 to 12 repetitions with medium to heavy band tensile.

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Golf and low back injuries

Lower back injuries are a common ailment for many golfers. Here are a few general tips and stretches to help you prevent injury, and develop a “spine-friendly” golf swing. Dr.MarkDimotsos Golf is fast becoming one of the most commonly played sports in the world and whether you play golf on a social basis or are working enthusiastically to lower your handicap, suffering a low back injury is one sure way to slow you down. Common low back ailments that occur during golf include musculoskeletal sprain/strain injuries and spinal disc lesions. Most sprain/strain injuries occur due to overuse of the spine and involve damage to the joints, muscles and tendons that support the back. Whilst disc injuries can occur during golf, they are often exacerbations of preexisting disc lesions that become inflamed due to poor preparation and incorrect movements. When looking to prevent low back injuries, there are 4 key areas that should be addressed. 1. Warming up and stretching prior to the first tee. 2. Utilising the correct golf swing. 3. Understanding spinal function. 4. Carrying your golf bag correctly.

Warm up Arriving at the first tee and trying to hit the cover off the ball without warming up is just asking for back pain to pay you a visit and most likely set up camp for a while. Stretches for your shoulders, torso, hips and hamstrings are imperative before every game. Simply placing your club behind your neck and shoulders and gently rotating your torso will start to loosen stiff joints and tight muscles. Rolling your shoulders forwards and backwards with your arms by your side will also facilitate your warm up. Bringing your knees to your chest one at a time will help to mobilise the hips and gently bending forward from the hips whilst seated will give the hamstrings a good stretch. Every warm up would not be complete without performing some easy swings of the club to allow the body and spine to prepare itself for the force and torsion required during the golf swing. Make sure that you stay flexible throughout the swing motion and remember that gentle motion is far safer to begin with.

Keeping your posture nice and tall, place a club along your shoulders and gently rotate your torso to loosen stiff joints and tight muscles. Be sure to keep your head and neck in line with your torso

In either a standing or sitting position, bring your knees to your chest one at a time mobilise the hips. Keep your posture tall, and your shoulders square.

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In either a standing or sitting position, gently bend forward from the hips to stretch the hamstrings Correct swing The objective of the golf swing is to provide clubhead speed and accuracy when making contact with the ball. This action places pressure onto the low back muscles and joints and correct technique is imperative to minimise excessive joint stress. The initial setup for a golf swing involves

correct balance. This is achieved by utilizing a slight bend in the knees, keeping feet shoulder width apart and placing pressure more towards the ball of the feet. The spine should remain straight, and a slight forward bend from the hips will place you over the ball in a stable position. Maintaining a smooth rhythm during the swing is far safer than a forceful, stressful swing.

With a proper swing there should be rotation of the shoulders, hips and middle back to enable a more even distribution of the force and torque during the swing phase. Utilising shoulder and hip rotation with a controlled wrist snap will produce far better clubhead velocity than a stiff back and arm swing. Whilst most golfers understand the benefit of a ‘healthy’ golf swing to the value of their game, very few understand the importance it provides to their spinal health. Working with a golf pro or investing in some lessons would be a wise choice. Spinal function Some of the most commonly affected regions of the spine during golf involve the L5/S1 (lowest disc joint in the spine) and the sacrum (base of the spine). Whereas most of the low back joints have good flexion/extension capabilities, L5/S1 is responsible for most of the low back rotation. As a result, a poor or stiff swing will cause uneven pressure on the facet and disc joints of L5/S1 and result in torsion of the sacrum and pelvis. Anyone who has suffered an acute low back injury will understand the pain that can be associated with musculoskeletal distress of the spine and involved nerve compression and irritation. Golf bag Whilst carrying your golf bag around for 9 or 18 holes may seem like an easy way to exercise, it can place uneven stress on your body and spine. It is recommended to use a golf buggy to assist you around the course and to swap arms whilst guiding it. If you need to carry a bag, choose a bag that has dual straps that can place the bag evenly onto your back and avoid carrying the heavy bag on one shoulder. It is also advisable to select a bag that can stand open

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by itself and therefore minimise the need for repetitive bending to select appropriate clubs. As with any sport and exercise, regular stretches will promote further spinal health and partaking in programs such as Gym, Pilates or Yoga will strengthen the body to cope with the forces encountered during golf. In the event of a painful acute low back injury, an ice pack to the affected area can reduce inflammation for the first 24-48 hours. Chronic low back pain may benefit from the application of a heat pack but, as with the ice pack, this needs to be used safely. If you experience pain whilst playing, don’t try to push through the pain barrier and continue as your body is sending you a signal to stop and listen. When low back pain is persistent or recurrent, it is important to consult a musculoskeletal professional such as a Chiropractor, Physiotherapist, Osteopath, etc to assess the cause of the pain and seek advice regarding treatment and further prevention.

A note on antiinflammatories

With the easy access to anti-inflammatories, some golfers are taking tablets before a round as a presumed preventative measure. This practice should be strongly discouraged as anti-inflammatories can have many sideeffects and regular or consistent usage may lead to various health concerns. Taking antiinflammatory tablets should never replace an effective warm up.


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Six principles of health to lower your scores PeterMcConnell There are six Foundational Principles of Health to improve anything you do. This, unequivocally, includes golf. The following principles play a vital role in determining a good day or a not-so-good day: 1. Thoughts 2. Breathing 3. Hydration 4. Nutrition 5. Exercise 6. Sleep These principles are in hierarchal order. As you can see, as important as exercise and sleep are to our state of mind, they are also at the mercy of the 4 Principles above them. For example – if your mind is running nonstop and you breathe through the mouth in an inverted pattern, known as chest breathing, it’s quite likely your sleep quality will be severely compromised. Similarly, if you want to exercise to feel better, but your hydration and nutrition are of a poor standard, then your ability to exercise safely, recover well, and not injure connective tissue will also be severely compromised.

Exercise and sleep are important, but in order to get the most out of your game, you must focus on other factors first The body is a system of systems, and everything affects everything. In golf, you can now imagine how your swing may be affected by an unrelaxed mind, incorrect breathing, dehydration and malnutrition, poor muscle function and little sleep! You can also see how stress in any combination of these principles lead to stress of the other principles. There are some golfers on the professional circuits who have much less than optimal conditioning in these areas. They have a great

game, but all things being equal, if that’s ever possible in golf, in my opinion any golfer who also addresses these principles will have a far better chance of winning. Simple ways to start addressing each of the Principles:

Thoughts

• Rather than thinking about where you don’t want the ball to go, focus on what line you want and what the shot will look like.

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• Stay in the present by focussing on the shot at hand rather than being dictated by your expectations and the after effects of any poor shot you may have just played.

Breathing

• Breathe through your nose – breathing through the mouth causes the body to prefer a forward head posture to increase airflow. Forward head posture decreases the rotational ability of the spine. • Breathe diaphragmatically - where the tummy expands and contracts. This is easiest to do at


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first by laying on your back and relaxing with the hands on the tummy. Practice this way until you can breathe with ease. The chest should never rise.

Hydration

• Drink filtered water regularly rather than soft drinks, sports drinks, coffee, or alcohol – these actually have a dehydrative effect. Also the sugar content of these other drinks can spike your blood sugar levels which will adversely affect your decision-making and consistency. • I drink between 2 to 4 litres a day depending upon the weather and my activity levels. Golf and water go really well together.

Nutrition

• The number one priority for food is the quality. I wrote about this in the january ’10 issue. The better quality food you eat, the better your brain works, the better your game goes. The opposite is also true. For me, quality food means organic – free of chemicals, additives, sweeteners, colourings, flavourings, and toxins. • The next important issue is balancing fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. As a starting rule, have equal proportions of carbohydrates to proteins and fats. Personally i love snacks like an apple and some nuts on the course. If i eat meat, i want some potatoes and other vegetables to balance the meal out. The whole idea is to keep your mind at an even temperament. I do this best through water and balanced food.

Exercise

• Like it or not, the golf swing is vigorous exercise with high precision. The more you can stabilise the body in movement, and keep a good balance of strength and flexibility, the more consistently you will play, and the longer you will play. Again, aside from the odd examples

on tour, the best golfers are training in the gym as much as possible. Some programs are great, some not, but the point is they recognise the necessity of a strong stable body for golf.

Sleep

• Sleep quality is dependent upon the quality of the five factors above. You can also improve your sleep quality by not having the TV on in bed, or working on the computer late at night, or even

exercising late at night. These activities stimulate cortisol production when the body needs to increase melatonin production. They can’t both happen simultaneously. Reading before bed is a great way to relax into a good sleep. I have just touched on these diverse but important subjects with the intent of shedding a little light on areas rarely considered as

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fundamental or even consequential in their effect on golf. Hopefully now you can see how all these principles can greatly vary our scores, not just our swing problems or club manufacturers. As always, if you have any questions in the realm of golf fitness you would like me to discuss, please email me at the address below and I will endeavour to answer you in a future issue. Healthy Golfing!


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Thinking outside the box

From juniors to amateurs to seasoned Tour pros – warming up for a round should be more than just the lazy first-tee stretch and a cup of coffee. Golf-specific exercises will help get your body in tune while helping your balance, coordination and swing adaptability. MichaelJones With the exception of technique advice, many tour pros seem reluctant to try something different — maybe out of fear or being told by coaches not to step out of the controlled environment. I think in any professional sport athletes need to take some control of their own destiny; if it’s not working or if you do not seem to be improving, then maybe look at things from a holistic approach. As a tour pro there are so many variables you must consider: mental training, technique training, organizational training etc. I think golf fitness is just another variable that tour pros should consider when they have a schedule for tournaments and travel. Even the greatest sceptic of golf fitness would have to acknowledge that if you are in better shape then you travel and recover better, your immune system remains active and you handle those

4am wake calls with more of a positive attitude. Some of the pros I speak to at tournaments tell me they think they’re doing ok even if they don’t train. My response is usually “maybe you’re not working towards your optimal potential.” They’re happy with that, but who knows: they may be a major winner in the making if they just started to think outside the box. It seems like golf is such a conservative sport: tour pros may think completing golf fitness training or any kind of non-traditional training which is not encouraged by coaches may result in them being seen as “not part of the norm”; and this may have an effect on their image or popularity. They have failed to consider that the top ten players in the world could not give two hoots if they’re doing training that’s not trendy — it’s the result they’re concerned with at the end of the tournament. Static stretching is archaic, and there is lots

Push up on two Swiss Balls: Some exercises stimulate the mind or create a positive distraction for tour pros while at the same time work at improving balance, strength, stability and co-ordination. of scientific evidence and studies that prove that static stretching in relation to golf can have a negative impact on the golf swing. Studies completed by human movement and bio-mechanic professionals support this opinion. It is crazy to think that, as a leading nation in many world sports, the science behind optimizing an athlete’s ability always encompasses physical development through some overloaded training regime outside the play aspect of the particular sport. Golf, on the other hand, still relies on repetitive swing training — which is the biggest cause of injury in the game. It then relies on

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non-specific stretching to neutralise the hours and hours of unilateral non-symmetrical swing action which builds one side of your body more than the other side. Considering the money involved in the sport, it’s astonishing to see it so far behind all other sports. If stretching is so important to tour pros and their coaches, why don’t coaches get their students to stretch while they’re having a lesson instead of just hitting balls? I have watched lots of tour pros for years – for many of them, their physical game preparation was minimal. Some did static stretching but no warm-up. Others started by drinking a coffee or energy


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Kevin Morley is a well-known PGA teaching professional who looks after tour pros and many talented juniors. He agrees with the new ways of including golf fitness training into teaching and developing new skills as a result

Daiki, Jayson and Mitch are all 16-year-old juniors with lots of talent and are a part of EGFA’s Junior Golf Fitness Squad. They all agree by completing individual activation golf-specific exercises and related stretches, their swing adaptability, balance and sequencing skills have improved

drink – or even light up a cigarette. Of course, they can do what they like, but it was hardly inspiring. This may be a contributing reason why they are still playing the same events and have not moved on to bigger and better tournaments. I know some players think the world is against them and they should get more breaks. I think the evidence put forward is that we seem to base all of our standards on the abilities and results of players like Adam Scott, Robert Allenby or Geoff Ogilvy. But middle-of-the-road players trying to get up the ladder must use every option available

EGFA has started junior golf fitness classes with positive feedback from students and parents. We cover all requirements juniors need to develop physically and create positive patterns to reduce risk of injury and enhance weaknesses. I have been to a junior tournament in the last week and conducted dynamic warm-ups for our students plus golf specific stretching — the looks were surprising but many parents who talked to me afterwards commented that they thought juniors should complete golf fitness training. EGFA is slowly trying to change this way of thinking. Within the next 3 years our target

to them to make up for their lack of natural ability others possess. Golf fitness can be one of those options. Unfortunately many pros see the examples like John Daly or Jarrod Lyle who do things their own way — but these guys may possess so much natural ability or DNA, that they find the competitive nature of golf easy. If you go to the footy, you see the teams warm up and complete dynamic stretching and activation exercises for around 20 to 30 minutes before the game starts. In golf, we see the old stretch on the first tee or nothing at all. I think its rife right through from tour pros to juniors.

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is give tour pros and their coaches the most practical scientifically-proven information in an effort to at least encourage players of all levels to not have so much tunnel vision when assessing their own abilities or creating development or practice programs. I believe the next generation of 16-year-old golfers are creating new systems and activating them to enhance their physical strength and technique improvement. I think some tour pros should have a look at the new ways of doing things and see whether they are really putting their best efforts forward and thinking outside the box.


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Does stretching provide control for your swing? Stretching is an important part of your golf routine but it must be specific to your swing issues. Adding a specific strength training routine for your swing issues is the first step in reducing that handicap and playing at your best. MichaelJones As a golf fitness trainer I am amazed by students I teach when they ask why they are not more consistent and are not hitting it further, despite lots of stretching but not necessarily using golfspecific activating exercises. For decades, health professionals have saturated us with the idea that stretching is the main priority for all golfers. While stretching is important, when it comes to developing control and muscle endurance, golf-specific exercise is the key to changing your swing dynamics and performance results. When you look at a golf swing as a whole, it’s a dynamic movement that roughly takes only 1 second, so you need your golf muscles to activate quickly. Stretching can make you feel loose or relaxed but sometimes can upset your normal golf swing’s range of motion or affect your timing mechanisms. If you were to combine the stretching and golf-specific activating exercises (vs stretching only as a form of pseudo activating golf exercises) you would find vast improvements in swing control and muscle endurance. Think of the benefits of going to the practice range or sitting in the locker room and completing

a 15 minute combined strengthening and stretching program, all based around your swing faults and focusing on balance and coordination. Touring professionals under the tuition of Elite Golf Fitness Australia do most of their warm-up and activation exercises on the same spot where they hit balls and then return to the locker room to stretch once the previous tasks have been completed. While their practice time has been reduced, their quality of work has improved. Remember golfers usually spend 4 to 5 hours out on the course so I would rather have strong muscles and endurance versus soft and fatigued muscles. Simply stretching your muscles physiologically provides increased range of motion, guards against injury and is essential in your warm up and cool down routines in your golf performance. However, long loose muscles do not provide control if not strengthened. In fact stretching has the opposite effect, producing less control and in the golf swing provides more chance of error. To obtain the best result, a specific exercise routine for your swing problems should be combined with a stretching routine that enhances your swing rather than changing its swing pattern.

Lunges on Bosu: Stretching groin and hip flexor trunk. Strengthening Legs hips back abs shoulders. Beginner: 1 to 2 sets, 8 to 10 reps. Intermediate: 2 to 3 sets, 10 to 15 reps.

Bosu squat and rotate: Stretching gluts and hamstrings, strengthening legs back shoulders abs, Beginner: 1 to 2 sets, 8 to 10 reps. Intermediate: 2 to 3 sets, 10 to 15 reps.

Stretching alone will not increase power by increasing your ability to produce more club head speed through a larger swing arc. Without increasing the strength of the muscle, you provide less muscle control and stability — compounding

any existing golf swing issues you already have. By complementing your stretching with muscle activation or muscle endurance exercises, you can increase strength and control in your golf swing and extend your longevity in the game.

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Aerobic fitness is good for golf RichardNizielski Last week I was on the golf course watching a friend play in a tournament. While her coach and I walked the course together, it struck me: of all the areas of golf fitness, the one area that is often the most neglected—and may seem the least important—is aerobic fitness. Generally, all the sporting activities I have previously participated in have been largely influenced by the need for good aerobic capacity and recovery, but to what extent does aerobic fitness influence the ability to play golf? I had my thoughts on the subject, but walking the course with a leading PGA coach who works with several professional players both here and on the international circuits, I really wanted to know what his thoughts were. Generally, the golfers I work with are concerned about golf-specific fitness issues such as flexibility, stability or strength. Aerobic fitness often runs a distant last on the list. The question is then: what benefit, if any, does aerobic fitness have for a golfer? Aerobic capacity is the ability to transport oxygen around the body and to the cells to produce energy—particularly in activities that require prolonged levels of elevated energy output. In addition, having an efficient aerobic system increases the ability to recover from activity.

So the more efficiently the body can do this, the better the body can function. Of course, some sports need this more than others, and golf is one of those activities at the low end of the scale. For sure, playing the game of golf will never require the same aerobic capacity as would playing tennis or marathon running, so why then would training for better aerobic capacity and reserve help with playing golf? As a trainer, I advocate fitness and health for everyone, so while watching the players tee off and walking up the fairway, I asked the coach if he thought golfers benefit from aerobic fitness training and why. Here is his answer…well, more or less. Golf requires a relaxed concentration while playing a shot. Imagine teeing off last, walking up an uphill fairway and then being the first in your group to play the next shot—essentially giving you the shortest time between shots. The brisk walk uphill has contributed to elevating the heart rate and raising the blood pressure. Now the challenge is to get the heart rate back down to a suitable rate conducive to performing the required golf shot. Couple this with the need to concentrate on making the next shot—plus a drop in energy as the round goes on—and it becomes apparent that appropriate training of functional aerobic capacity

Aerobic fitness will not only boost your energy levels on the course—aiding in quicker recovery between shots—but it can also improve your overall ability to play better golf to aid recovery between golf shots will play a part in playing good golf. This explanation made me smile. I thought to myself about the many golfers I see who want quiet around them so they may concentrate on playing the shot, but at the same time are struggling to recover from the walk. There is plenty of evidence available that confirms having a healthy cardiovascular system and aerobic function will boost the ability to

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perform everyday tasks, so perhaps an increase in aerobic fitness may then help with producing better golf. If you regularly play eighteen holes in a golf cart, and the longest walk is from the Pro-shop to the car-park, you may not see the value or need for aerobic fitness. Though I am sure you could find another area in life just as important as golf that would benefit from being fit and healthy. Happy golfing. 


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Getting to the core of it PeterMcConnell For many years, the ubiquitous finale to any exercise program was all about training your abs. Actually, it still is – but now it’s more commonly referred to as training your core. In reality, there’s not too much that has changed in my opinion. This observation is particularly important when it comes to golf. If you are diligently working on your fitness and strength, and you diligently complete your ab workout at the end by doing sit-ups, crunches, leg raises, obliques etc, then you may or may not be improving your golfing body. Hopefully I can impart some knowledge here that will improve and streamline your workouts. Although there are various ways of teaching the golf swing, and there are a great variety of successful swings out on tour, they will all have certain characteristics in common. For example: 1. All good golfers rotate around their body to create the coiling effect. 2. All good golfers strive to achieve the same position at impact. 3. All good golfers drive their weight through the ball and finish their swing on the front foot. In terms of abdominal training, the core section of the body is crucial to golf for natural swing consistency and power. The drum of the torso links the arms and legs and is therefore responsible for upper and lower body co-ordination and timing. So when you compare these observations with the

standard ‘core’ training — which is mostly bashed out on the floor — you will see the limited benefit and even detriment to regulating your swing patterns properly. When training clients, I prefer to challenge multiple areas of the body at the same time. This is more beneficial to training for golf, it greatly challenges the nervous system, and in today’s world, it can save you precious time to complete your other daily tasks. If you look at the bench press, which is the standard chest exercise in gyms, you will notice most of the body is not doing much at all. I see golfers doing this in order to get stronger for golf, but what are they really accomplishing? Does having bigger stronger pectoral muscles improve your swing? Perhaps. It’s definitely not guaranteed and in many cases can change your whole swing plane. The idea is to get the whole body stronger, and in a way that forces it to work as a combined unit rather than performing several isolated and simple movements. So, by changing the bench press to a more complex exercise, you will gain far more benefit for your nervous system, co-ordination, stability and core power. Firstly, there is no point in making something stronger if you do not also increase its stability – it’s akin to getting something like a Ford Fiesta and shoving a V8 in it and hoping it will hold together. So while working on your strength and power, let’s practice stability at the same time. Secondly, always know that although the exercise shown here is relatively difficult, there are always versions of all exercises to make them easier or

harder. The idea is that you can make any exercise as challenging as possible in its complexity rather than simply settling for very simple isolated exercises that are strongly derived from bodybuilding techniques. In the photo I am doing a challenging version of the bench press: I have chosen a single arm chest press on the ball with a rotational drive upwards. Although the weight used here is less than I may use on a bench or a regular press on the ball with 2 dumbells, I am forcing my body to stabilise while I rotate. In order to complete this properly, I have to drive up from my right foot and through the hip, drive the left elbow into the ball, rotate the shoulders and press the weight up and then stay balanced in that position for a second or so before returning to my starting position, which is slightly to the right of centre with the apex of the ball at my shoulder blades. This may sound more difficult than it is – the really important ingredient here is stability. You will notice in my explanation that I have almost described the downswing in golf. I suggest you see where you are at before attempting this version – as its value lies in the ability to get up onto the elbow while maintaining good shoulder position and keeping the torso from collapsing. So to simplify this exercise, I suggest you start by laying on the ball with the apex between the shoulder blades so your head can rest comfortably on the ball. Using one dumbell, keep hips and shoulders stable while pressing the dumbbell upwards. You may notice a pull on your opposing

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oblique abdominal muscles – this is your torso trying to stabilise as you change your centre of gravity. To make it a bit harder, if you are holding the dumbbell in your right hand, shift a few centimetres to the right and perform the same exercise – you will notice more of a pull on your left side. The idea here is to keep the body completely still – just like if you were laying on a bench, except you are forcing your body to do the work rather than the bench. When you feel like tackling the harder version, practise the motion first without weight and get used to the rotation and balance. As a side note, it’s also important to train the abdominals in a more explosive pattern, as that is what you will do when you swing a golf club. So aim to use a weight that allows you to do 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions on each side with one minute rest. Always complete one side first – do not alternate each repetition. Remember that to get up onto the elbow properly, you must be slightly off centre towards the side you are pressing up. I can promise you this exercise is very taxing on your body and brain! Have fun!


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You are what you ‘do’ RichardNizielski The first half of this year has been a busy one for me; new clients, new business ventures, extra travel overseas and working on a university degree have filled my days and often my nights as well. Needless to say, I let a few things slide while taking on these extra activities, my own fitness training being one area. So, while my mind has been busy, my body has not. And it shows. I had become a victim of the “use it or lose it” syndrome Just as much as I believe “you are what you eat”, I also believe “you are what you do,” and having not done much for the past 6 months I have been given a taste of what many of my clients experience: a body that just won’t do what it was once able to do. This was really brought home to me when I went to demonstrate a functional exercise to one of the players I work with… and had trouble doing it. So many times I have heard my clients say, “I have no flexibility”, or “I’m not as strong as I once was” and “I can’t believe how unfit I am!”. Well, now it was me saying this. It’s a fact we cannot ignore (and obviously I did): what we do in our daily lives -- or in this case what we DON’T do -- will affect our body. A daily routine of hours spent sitting at an office desk and not moving too much will affect our ability to perform a powerful and complete golf swing.

I am sure you are aware that inactivity such as sitting for long periods of time contributes to muscle shortening and joint stiffness. This is not so bad if it is only occasionally; but day in and day out it can really create some problems. Short, tight muscles make a short, tight golf swing. And this makes us more prone to injuries. But, there is another real problem that you should be aware of. If your muscles are short and tight it won’t matter how many golf lessons you have, your golf coach will be fighting an uphill battle to get you to swing the club the way you want to unless you address the problem. Just like all other sports, golf is no different in that it requires a certain skill set and physical ability to perform well. Incorporating stretching into your daily routine is something I would recommend for everyone and a good place to start, though having a sports-specific, individualised fitness program is the most efficient way to improving your golf. For my clients I have them perform a Physical Competency Test to assist in assembling a picture of the golfer’s movement competency and identifying problems in their Fundamental Movement Skills that may require further investigation. The Fundamental Movement Skills underpin the physical literacy essential for technical development of golf-specific skills. Matched with an individualised training program, consistency and little bit of work, everyone can improve their golf fitness.

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Exercising: take it one leg at a time Squats and leg presses are fine, but single leg exercises are equally important for building functional lower body strength for golf RichardNizielski From my perspective, it is wonderful to see golfers improving their performance through strengthtraining programs. However, strength training is only effective if it produces the desired results. Strength for golf doesn’t necessarily require lifting like a body builder, what should be a priority is how functional the exercise is to the activity. The majority of the time in golf we stand on two feet to play a shot, so it may make sense then to train leg strength the same way, using both legs at the same time with the weight evenly distributed between both feet. More than likely you would have seen or done many of the traditional leg workout exercises, squats and leg press are two that come to mind straight away, both are great for building leg strength and have a place in golf strength training. However, often neglected for building functional lower body strength for golf are the single leg exercises. Whichever method or system of golf swing you use, inevitably somewhere in there you will put more weight on one leg than the other,

The single leg box squat accelerate the club through from the back swing to the follow-through and come to a stop poised on the front leg. Having stronger single leg strength can enhance your ability to shift and control the weight transition and help generate speed for the golf swing. The single leg box squat is an effective and simple leg strength exercise that will increase lower body strength, control and stability. All of which help to create a stronger base for you your golf swing. To perform this exercise you will need a box, step or bench that’s about knee height that you can stand on. Stand on the bench or box on one foot and hold your arms out in front of you. Keep your torso

A lunge squat as upright as possible and bend evenly from your hip, knee and ankle slowly lowering your body. Keeping your knee and foot aligned, lightly touch your heel to the floor or as far as your knee and foot remain aligned. Pause for 1 second, then return to the start position. If you are struggling with keeping your balance, you may like to start this exercise by lightly holding onto the wall or a pole. Progressively, as you get stronger, you can move away from the wall and begin to increase the range of movement, getting into a lower position. For those who have knee injuries or damage that causes pain when doing this exercise you may find a static single leg squat helpful. Put yourself

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A static single-leg squat into the squat position and hold for 5 -10 seconds, maintaining alignment and control. Again, if you need to use the wall for assistance, do so. Alternatively, a split squat with the rear foot on a bench or box will help with taking some of the weight of the working leg and provide extra stability. As with the single leg box squat keep your torso upright and the hip, knee and foot aligned. Whatever your golfing ability, strength training can aid in your quest to be a better player. With just a few pieces of equipment, your game can benefit from a functional fitness and conditioning program. Happy Golfing!  Images provided by The Golf Athlete


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A fitting start to the new year RichardNizielski Welcome back! I hope you all enjoyed the Christmas break. So, how many of you are looking in the mirror and contemplating all that Christmas cheer? Have you made a New Year’s resolution to get to the gym, get fit and shed the extra kilos? If so, that’s great, but before you go charging to the gym ready to sign-up for the “too good to believe” post-Christmas deals being offered, contemplate this: 80% of people who join a gym in January don’t keep going regularly much past February. For whatever reason, this is what happens. And after 29 years of training and working at gyms, I can confirm that this statement is still true. Getting to gym and training will take up your time, so if you are still keen to get fit for your golf, then a simple home-based gym set-up may be an alternative to consider. Many of my clients train effectively in their own home, with great results. For most of my clients I recommend they need to complete their training program at least three times a week to see benefits and improve. Training at home makes that commitment so much easier for them. A basic home gym set-up doesn’t require too much equipment or space. Here is what I recommend as a starting point for a home gym. All of the equipment can be purchased at a fitness or sports store. 1. Set of spinlock Dumbbells and 35 kg of weight plates: There is enough weight here

for the majority of resistance exercises for golf and using spinlock dumbbells saves on storage space. You can buy these as a prepackaged set. 2. Straight spinlock barbell: Make sure the barbell you buy is compatible with the weights set as some of the bars and weights won’t fit with each other. 3. Adjustable weights bench: A weights bench is a necessity if you are going to train effectively. Having a bench with an adjustable backrest increases the range of exercises your can do in your home gym. 4. 2kg and 3kg Rubber Med-balls: Golf has really embraced the medicine ball as a training tool. They are particularly useful for sequencing drills and increasing power for the golf swing. 5. Fit ball: Sometimes called a Swiss ball, it is commonly used for core stability and abdominal exercises. The Fit ball is a great tool for adding another element to challenge traditional exercises. My advice is to get a good quality Fit ball, one that is anti-burst and holds its shape under load. As a rule, when I buy a Fit ball for a client I order it through my sport physiotherapist’s clinic to make sure I get a quality product. 6. Gym mat: You want to be comfortable while doing floor based exercises, a yoga mat is great as it provides the comfort and rolls up for easy storage One other item I would include is a mirror for

checking form when performing the exercises. Do the sums and weigh up your options; perhaps a home gym set-up combined with a golf fitness training program suitable for your

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needs will be just the thing needed to achieving your New Year’s resolution. Happy golfing


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Take your medicine (balls) RichardNizielski Last month I gave a rundown of the gym equipment I recommend to my clients if they are doing their golf fitness training at home. Amongst the equipment listed, I mentioned medicine balls as part of a home gym set up. Medicine balls — or medballs — have become increasingly popular with golf fitness training and can be used for a variety of exercises and drills. Medballs come in a variety of sizes and constructions. The type I find particularly good are the rubber “live” medballs; live because they have air inside and rebound off a hard surface when thrown against it. That quality makes this type of medball great for throw and catch exercises and these types of exercises are great for increasing power in the golf swing. Here are a several medball throwing exercises to help develop power in your swing. Depending on your experience and strength, a medball of between 1-4 kg will be sufficient for the majority of the throw and catch exercises shown here. You can purchase a medball from most sports equipment stores or ask a physiotherapist clinic if they have can order one for you. If you still have no luck then

feel free to email me and I will send you the details of some suppliers I deal with. 
 The first two exercises require you to kneel, this will isolate the lower body, demanding the muscles of the mid-section to do the majority of the work in the throwing action. If kneeling is a problem, these exercises can be done from a seated position on a chair or bench. 1. Kneeling alternate side throws: In a kneeling position facing the wall, hold the ball with two hands on one side of your body. Rotate the waist as if making a back swing, Begin the throwing action releasing the ball at the wall in front of you. From the rebound, catch the ball on the opposite side of your body (like in a follow-through) and repeat the movement from the opposite side. Repeat for 10 repetitions. 2. Kneeling lateral throws: In a kneeling position hold the ball out in front of you and rotate from the waist into a backswing. Without hesitation move into the throwing action and release the ball so it hits the wall on your side. Catch the ball on its return and immediately go into the backswing again. Repeat the catch and throw action for 10 continuous repetitions. Repeat on the opposite side. 3. Lunge lateral throws:

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Assume a lunge position parallel to the wall. Holding the medball in both hands rotate from the waist and move into a backswing. Begin the throwing action releasing the ball at the wall. From the rebound, catch the ball and repeat the movement for 10 repetitions. Repeat the drill facing the opposite direction.
 Taking a lunge position narrows the base from which you are performing the throwing action which challenges your balance and stability muscles.
 Single leg exercises add another element to exercises including balance and add requirements of stabilisation and control. 4. Single leg lateral throws:

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In a golf posture stand on one leg holding the ball out in front of you. Rotate from the torso into the backswing. Throw the ball at the wall and from the rebound, catch the ball and return to the backswing position. Repeat for 10 repetitions continuously. Switch to the other foot to repeat the exercise once completed, face the opposite direction and repeat the repetitions on each foot. These are just a few of the exercises I use with my clients to develop swing power. As with all exercise, start easy while focusing on good form and control.


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Your mum was right: good posture is everything RichardNizielski Hands up all of us who were ear-bashed by our parents for slouching. My mother would be giving gold stars out to the golfing community if she knew how important good posture is to the golf swing. You only have to watch the PGA television coverage to see how important a good posture is, nearly all the top professionals look like they have had a straight edge surgically fused to their spines when they are over the ball at address. We often term this spine position ‘neutral spine’ or ‘neutral posture’. This position is not only a basic requirement for golf, it features in many golf fitness drills and exercises as well. Dead-lifts, good mornings, bent over flies and rows are a few that rely on good spinal alignment and postural control. All of these exercises can be a benefit to your golf fitness – yet unless you maintain a good posture and support it with the correct muscles, you may do yourself more harm than good. To help my clients with understanding the term, ‘neutral posture’ and how to find it, I use a step-by-step procedure they can follow when they are in the gym or at the golf course. Doing the following procedure in front of a full-length mirror really helps so if you can get in front of one then do so. To find neutral posture: Stand with your feet hip/shoulder width apart and with your weight evenly distributed on both feet. Look forward at the horizon, lifting your

head up from the crown and drawing your chin slightly in. Imagine a string attached to the crown of your head (the soft spot on a newborn) that is lifting you up. Next, place your hands on your hips and begin to rock your pelvis back and forth creating anterior and posterior pelvic tilt. Imagine inside the pelvis is a bowl of water. As you rock back and forth the water splashes out the front and back. You should be using only your lower abdominal muscles and lower back muscles to create this movement, so try to keep the rest of your body fairly still. Once you have found the extremes of the pelvic tilts, begin to rock less each way until coming to a stop equidistant to both extremes. In your mind see the bowl becoming still, balanced and the water in the bowl coming to rest. When you have found this halfway point for the pelvis it should feel like you have partially engaged your tummy muscles. To help with this, imagine doing up your belt buckle one extra notch by drawing in your lower abdominal muscles slightly. Once you understand where this position is and what is feels like, try reproducing it bent forward in golf address posture. Maintaining posture and control of the golf swing relies on optimal control of the tummy and low back muscles, without this, stability and weight transfer in your golf swing is that much harder, and robbing you of power and distance.

Posterior tilt

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Neutral position

Anterior tilt


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Яussian twist PeterMcConnell There are literally dozens of ‘good’ exercises for golf. However, those exercises are not all necessarily good for all golfers. Conversely, some exercises are wonderful for all golfers, but unfortunately their power is lost in the translation from observation to execution. This can occur from lack of body awareness from the exerciser, or from lack of attention to detail from the teacher, or both. One of these special exercises that is good for all golfers is the Russian Twist on an exercise ball. I have seen this exercise demonstrated and performed many times by Personal Trainers, Golf Coaches and golfers, but rarely have I seen it executed in a way that would allow the exerciser to gain any real benefit. The issue arises in the springloading and torque creation of the body, and subsequent acceleration, uncoiling, and deceleration of the movement. As all golfers are aware, the angular change between hips and shoulders from address position to the top of the backswing creates that coiled feeling to then unwind in all sorts of manners and styles. If you

excessively turn your hips in the backswing you will lose both power and consistency. The same goes for the Russian Twist. As you can see in the photo of the Starting Position, I have maintained a strong triangle shape of my chest and arms; the centre of my chest points at my hands; and my hips have turned relatively little. This will give you the same coiled feeling as the top of the backswing. The next movement is derived from driving through the right foot and rotating the hips. This creates good acceleration for the torso and ultimately the hands to sling over the ball 180° and just as importantly, decelerate to a strong finishing position on the left side. Then you proceed as a left-hander and accelerate to the right and decelerate to the original starting point. The other 2 photos show (1) a weak upper body position where the arms have collapsed across the chest, and (2) a weak position for the hips to gain proper rotational drive from the right foot. Hold as heavy a dumbbell as you can without losing form and position. This gives maximum ability for power generation. If you are new to

Starting position

Finishing position

Collapsed arms

Over-rotated hips

an exercise ball, practice the feeling of rotating over the ball from side to side without trying to generate speed, but making sure you hold your upper body triangle correctly; you’ll get the feel of coiling the body by only having a small rotation in the hips. Your starting and finishing positions are mirrored images of each other. If you have used an exercise ball to a moderate level, then start by using

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something like a 4kg medicine ball in your hands and practice the rhythm of moderate power generation from the right foot and hip turn. Get the feel of what it’s like to have the lower body drive the upper body and arms from side to side. Always practice the deceleration as well – this is an integral part of consistency and longevity for power movements, and the golf swing.

Once you feel comfortable with this movement, find a weight where you can complete 2 – 4 sets of 6 – 10 repetitions on each side. Remember the most important condition of any exercise for any reason is the quality of movement. If you sacrifice quality by instilling only quantity, you will most likely train your body to perform incorrect movement patterns which becomes detrimental to whatever you are doing.


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Post-round recovery tips RichardNizielski Summer is back! Personally, this is my favorite time of the year. It’s a great time to get outdoors and onto the golf course; but all those extra rounds can be taxing on the body. Recovery from exercise is an important aspect of an overall health and fitness program that should be considered, if you want to get the best out of your golf game. There are a variety of ways to help in recovering from a day on the course. First and foremost, how you fuel your body will greatly affect how you recover. So getting enough fluids and having a good diet is important. It’s not necessary to be pious in your approach, but rather give consideration to having a wellbalanced meal plan and plenty of variety. That and plenty of water to replace what you have lost from being out in the hot weather. After a round, many players feel the benefits of a warm-down and a stretch. Just 5-10 minutes of regular stretching after a round will help the muscles relax and increase mobility. Concentrate on the big muscle groups like the legs, back, chest and neck, holding each stretch for around 20-30 seconds or until you feel a change. Massage is a great way to help tired muscles relax and recover. The pressure of the massage on the muscles helps flush out built-up waste products

and make way for a fresh blood supply. If you can afford a therapeutic sports massage once a week you will really feel the benefits for your golf. Alternatively, if a massage every week is too much on the hip pocket, try using a foam roller and doing a bit of self massage. Foam rollers are relatively cheap; you can order one from a physiotherapist or try your local sporting store. They come in a variety of lengths and diameters and using them on tight muscles— much like you would a rolling pin on dough— can really help work out the knots. A versatile piece of equipment, foam rollers can be helpful as a stretching aid as well. A simple relaxing stretch is to lie on the roller lengthwise, let the arms hang and focus on deep relaxed breathing. With each breath let the chest open and the shoulders sink back further. Adding a gentle rock side-to-side will help to relax the muscles along either side of the spine. Hot/Cold hydrotherapy has been a favorite of many athletes for a long time. The theory is that rapidly warming and cooling the muscles will cause vasodilatation and constriction, which assists to push out wastes and bring in a fresh blood supply to the muscles. I have seen a variety of protocols used for this recovery method, but somewhere in the vicinity of 2-3 minutes of hot and then cold repeated 4-6 times is good. The best method of rapid warming and cooling is sitting

Working with a foam roller is a great way to work out knots and stretch your muscles in a hot spa bath followed by getting into an ice bath for the required time. If this isn’t available, then alternating between hot and cold showers works pretty well. Lastly, Epsom salts is a proven effective way of relaxing tired, overworked muscles and aiding in recovery. Adding Epsom salts or Radox as some may know it, to a hot bath replaces many of the mineral salts need to aid recovery. Epsom salts can be bought at most chemists with the instructions

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on how to use them on the packaging. Recover and relaxation is essential to any fitness program, as you can see it doesn’t have to be complex nor does it have to be time consuming. Some of the methods listed here are merely an extension of a daily routine, but with a bit of modification and regular, consistent application, they can provide powerful benefits for recovery and for your game of golf.


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Better safe than sorry RichardNizielski The majority of the time, the articles we write are aimed at improving golf fitness. We aim to point out the importance of increasing overall specific golf strength, stability and flexibility to improve the golf swing. By now I am sure you get where we are coming from, that being the healthier you are the better you can enjoy your golf game and lessen the chance of injury. However, so many players I meet— professionals and amateurs alike—have had or currently have an injury of some description. The most common golf injuries are of the back and neck, which you would expect, given the nature of the sport’s one-sided rotational, wound up action. Another common injury for golfers, especially those who hit off mats the majority of the time, is the wrist and elbow. The use of mats doesn’t allow a divot to be taken during the ball strike; instead the action sends a jarring reverberation back into the joints of the arm, leading to a higher chance

for injury to those joints. Having injuries of any type — whether they be from golf or other activities — are not going to help your golf swing. Injuries tend to make people favour that area and modify their swing. This generally compounds the problem, opening another can of worms and the possibility of more injuries occurring. What may seem to be a fix, then, may be more harmful in the long run. So what should you do? Well, firstly, if your livelihood is not dependent on having to play every day, then stop and rest the injury. That sounds like sacrilege to some of you I know, but wait and hear me out. Rest the injury and seek professional advice. It is important to talk to the people who know what they are doing and have experience with golf related injuries. Believe me when I say Australia has some of the best allied health professionals in the world that specialise in the sport of golf. These include Sports Doctors, Sports Physiotherapists, Exercise Sports Physiologists and Trainers, which are all accessible and

A healthy body is a happy body all wanting to get your body right and pain free. I recently visited a country where the game of golf is exploding but the willingness to get proper advice on swing technique and golf fitness is next to nil — even though it is right there for them. I witnessed so many unorthodox (by that I mean dangerous to one’s health) golf swings, all self-taught and

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all bordering on a physical disaster. What makes it worse is that the coaches available to these golfers are all PGA certified and not being utilised! It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see the future pain and misery many of these golfers will have through a lack of improvement and injuries occurred from golf. If you are experiencing pain or have a reoccurring injury, perhaps then you

need to get in touch with one of the aforementioned specialists and get some answers. Golf should be an experience where you learn and challenge yourself, not one where you worry if you can function without pain the next day. You may be surprised as their advice may just be the thing. Happy Golfing, Richard


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Sit-ups and dumbbells RichardNizielski Recently I was at the driving range with a college mate and we got into a conversation with a fellow golfer about functional exercises for golf. The topic turned to chest muscle exercises — in particular push-ups — and their place in developing a golf-ready body. His address position was typical of what I see with many of my clients, rounded upper back and shoulders forward, which in this case indicated tight, short chest muscles and some stiffness in the upper-back area, both of which were hindering his ability to perform a full backswing and follow through. I asked what he did for a living and what he did for improving his golf fitness? The answer was a common response I get from many of my clients: A predominantly desk-bound career and “I do some cardio training as well as some pushups and some abs training”. Without getting into a full on training session with him, I suggested incorporating some stretching for his chest and upper back area and dropping the push-ups. Now please don’t misunderstand, push-ups are a great exercise perhaps even a classic when it comes to general fitness training, but are they for everyone? Well, like most things there is not a yes/no answer to this question.

Push-ups as I mentioned are a great exercise, they practically incorporate the whole body; strengthening the muscles of the chest and the front of the shoulders, the anterior deltoid muscles and can be modified for a variety of ability levels. However, for some players they are just not the right exercise to do when it comes to improving their golf swing. Generally, many of the players I work with don’t need more chest strength to improve their golf swing. More often, it is mobility and stability that is needed. In fact, very little chest strength is required when swinging the golf club. A great exercise for encouraging more mobility and stability in the chest and anterior shoulder muscles as well as improve functional strength is the Dumb-bell Chest Fly exercise. This exercise provides not only a strengthening element, but a functional stretch component as well. Lie on a flat or incline bench with the dumb bells above the chest. Due to the nature of the movement the dumb bells do not have to be too heavy. Engage the shoulder blades down and slightly back holding them “flat” to the bench, stabilising the shoulders. With your arms slightly bent at the elbows, lower them out to the side, keeping your elbows slightly bent as you do. Go to your full range of

motion and, as you do this, you will more than likely begin to feel a stretch in the muscles of the chest and front of the shoulders. At the bottom of the movement, hold for a moment and begin to return to the start position by ‘squeezing’ the chest muscles together while keeping the shoulder blades flat on the bench. Note: When you have completed the exercise repetitions, lower the weights to your body and sit up before placing the weights on the floor; it’s a safer way to get the weights back to floor and to save your shoulders from any excessive strain. A couple of other points: Start with a relatively light weight and work on increasing

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your range of motion, if that is your area of need, and work slowly to avoid injury. It goes without saying that any exercises and drills you adopt for your golf fitness should aim to have a positive impact on your ability to perform your golf swing. As I mentioned, push-ups are a great exercise, but perhaps not for everyone, however neither is the dumbbell chest fly exercise. It is merely an alternative and a possible solution to a problem. Often it is not so much the exercise that is the problem; it is whether that particular exercise is helping achieve a positive change in the golf swing. Happy Golfing.


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Warm-up for the winter stretch PeterMcConnell There are many views regarding stretching and warm-up routines for golf and every other sport. However, one thing that is universal is the fact that performance and longevity require sensible physical preparation prior to playing any game. Golf is especially important because the seemingly simple motion of the swing can mask the true physical load on the body. There are also many reasons for stretching. These include warming up, warming down, correcting muscle imbalances, relaxing an overfacilitated muscle, or gaining greater overall flexibility. The techniques required for any of these are quite varied, so the term ‘stretching’ refers to many different methods just as ‘exercise’ encompasses a tremendous range of training systems. During our winter months, it’s vitally important to make sure your body is fully ready to swing the club properly. This will reduce the risk of injury, improve performance, and make your golf more enjoyable. You can accomplish this by spending 5 to 10 minutes doing some dynamic stretches that cover all your golfing

muscles. Dynamic stretching (as opposed to static stretching) is necessary for warming up to awaken the muscles and stimulate the brain. If you simply stretch statically, you are helping the muscles shut down further into a slumber, which certainly does not help your chances of firing a solid drive off the first tee. You can see from these photos that I am covering muscle groups throughout the whole body. Rather than stretching one muscle in isolation (which also takes longer to complete the whole body), you can stretch lines of muscles —or muscle slings — that are connected by their role of creating any position or motion for the body. There are 3 stretches in this program, each to be completed on the left and right sides. By doing this program you will actually feel like you have exercised more than stretched, and you will be ready to start your game in good stead even if you can’t access a driving range. With all the following stretches it is very important to move smoothly and effectively through the full ranges of motion. If you feel like holding any end range positions, do so for no more than 3 to 5 seconds. It’s preferable to keep moving, completing 3 to 5 stretches on

Stretch 1

Stretch 2 Extension

each side. Stretch #1 is a lateral motion: When stretching to the right, you will be targeting your right inner thigh and the left side of your torso, all the way up through to your left tricep. To accomplish this you must have your feet a bit wider than shoulder-width apart or you will not feel the inner thigh stretch. Notice the direction my left forefinger is pointing – this is the direction you must reach for. If you just allow your arm

to relax rather than reaching away from the body, you will only feel a moderate stretch in the mid-torso area. Move smoothly from side to side reaching out each time. Stretch #2 is a flexion / extension movement that requires good focus and control of your end positions. Start with one foot forward, arms in the air. The flexion portion requires you to bow down while rocking back on your back foot and lifting the toes of the front foot.

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Stretch 2 Flexion Reach back with your hands as though you are getting ready to dive into a pool. This position should give you stretches from the front calf and hamstring, up through the back and into the arms. Notice the direction of the fingers again. As you rise up into the extension position, rock forward onto your front foot, raising the back heel, and driving the hips forward – similar to the finishing position of a swing. You can see I am now reaching up

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Stretch 3 Finish

Stretch 3 Start as high as possible while also reaching back. In the correct position, you will feel stretches in the front of the hip of the back leg, up through the abdominals and perhaps into the shoulders. Move through these positions with care and strength. If you only lean back without reaching up, you will feel far more pressure on your lower back, which is not advisable. This is a very powerful stretch. Stretch #3 is a combination of the first two.

You can see my starting position has a split stance at about 45°, weight on the back foot with opposite arm reaching around the back leg. This is similar to the top of the backswing except for the squat. Drive across and up onto the front foot, reaching all the way around and most importantly, up into the air as high as possible while still rotating. This is also a very powerful stretch when done correctly. You will feel this all the way through the rotational

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sling you have moved through from the back hip, through the abdominals and back and into the arms. Again, notice the direction of the fingers. If you do not feel the power of these stretches, please make sure you look at each position carefully and follow the most important rule: Always reach out and away from the body, not around the body – you will feel the difference if you try them both.


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Drills

Part 1: Full swing technique LisaNewling LoraineLambert Drills are used to improve specific areas of your technique; they can be used for full swing technique, pitching, chipping, bunker play and putting. There are hundreds of drills you can use; you just have to use the drills that you can relate to, to give you the correct feeling and correct positions. Over the next few months, we will demonstrate some of the drills that we use at Sapphire Coast Golf School to help our students improve their technique.

Problem: Poor posture & set up

If you have poor posture, it is hard to maintain a repetitive swing and good balance. You need a consistent routine to help you set up correctly. Watch your favorite players on TV; their swings might vary but they will all have a consistent setup routine. Many players have had tips from friends about setting up, like “sit on the bar stool” or “stick your backside out”. We find that people who “sit on the bar stool” are more likely to become too vertical with too much knee bend. As for the “stick your backside out”; this can cause a tilt in your pelvis and a bad arch in your spine, locking your vertebrae together. These ‘tips’ have been around for years and can be dangerous as they can cause injuries to your body.

Fix: Posture drill

Here is a routine to help you achieve the correct posture: • Stand up tall with your feet together, holding the club in front of you. • Bend forward from your hips about 30 degrees; allow your arms to hang down in front of you, your hands should be hanging underneath your mouth. • Allow your head to sit in its natural position. • Take a sideways step with each foot so that your feet are shoulder-width apart. If you are female, quite often your hips are wider than your shoulders; if so have your feet hip-width apart. This will help with your balance, giving you a stable base for your swing. • When you move your feet apart, this is where you need to have a slight knee bend and feel the weight distributed towards the balls of your feet. This helps with balance and the transfer of your weight during your swing. • Once you are in position, tilt your spine slightly away from your target. Be very careful you don’t move your weight onto your back foot. You should start your swing with slightly more weight on your front foot. • Keep moving either with a waggle of the club or moving your feet in your shoes, or very slightly moving on the spot. Be careful not to change your aim whilst doing this. This movement or waggle is important as it releases tension in your hands and body.

Your mate’s advice to get your “Backside out” (left) or “Sit on a bar stool” (right) can actually be dangerous to your body.

Club down your back drill

Use this drill to check your posture: • With a club in your hands stand up tall and dangle the club down your back, in line with your spine. • Hold the grip end of the club against the back of your head and the club head against your tailbone. • Tilt forward to look at the ball without the club coming away from your spine, allow your head to sit in its natural position; you should

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be able to fit 2 or 3 fingers between your club and your head.

Problem: Poor shoulder turn

Many players make the mistake of turning down towards the ball instead of across. An incorrect shoulder turn makes it impossible to make consistent contact with the ball.

Fix: Shoulder turn drill

• Without a club take your set up and place your arms across your chest.


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Club path inside the toe line

Club path outside the toe line Clubface pointing forward Correct swing plane

To check your posture, hold a club along your spine and tilt forward slightly, without the club coming away from your spine • Keeping your knees bent, try and turn your will be making compensations throughout your left (or front) shoulder towards your right (or swing— making it difficult to consistently square back) toe. up the clubface at impact. • If you aren’t that flexible, just turn as far as you feel comfortable, some turn is better than Fix: Square club face drill none at all. This is our favorite drill; it has helped so many Problem: Inconsistent swing plane of our students when they leave us to go and As you start your backswing and your upper practise by themselves. It gives you a visual body starts to rotate back, your wrists need to guide to where the club should be positioned early in the backswing. hinge, (cock or bend — whichever term you • Using a mid-to-short iron, pick a target on have been taught it just means adding movement the range. to the wrists to allows you to lever the club and • Place a club along your toe line to help you keep the club on the correct swing plane). If you aim. have an incorrect start to your back swing, you

Early in your backswing, your shaft should be parallel to your toe line, with your clubface pointing in front of you • Start your swing and stop when your hands Problem: Strangulation of the club are level with the outside of your right (or We all know what it feels like to strangle back) thigh. the golf club with your arms and shoulders so • If you are on the correct path the club shaft tensely that you can hardly take the club away. should be parallel to your toe line, with the As stated earlier, this can cause tension and clubface facing out in front of you. thus hinder the effectiveness of your swing.

Feet together drill

To practise the path of the back swing, use the feet together drill. • Using a 9-iron, stand with your feet together and knees slightly flexed. Hit some half shots. If you get a good ball flight with this drill you will know you have the club on plane.

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Fix: Grip pressure drill

When you are set up over the ball and you can see your knuckles turning white, try this tip. • Squeeze the club as tight as you can, then relax and give it a waggle. • This is a good release of tension.


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Make the hole look as big as a bucket

KurtStegbauer As a junior golfer I once read an article written by Colin Montgomerie about how he practices putting with a tennis ball. The very next day we had junior pennants on, so what do I do? I got out onto the practice putting green using a tennis ball to warm up with. Little did I realise that my fellow junior golfers were looking at me oddly and wondering if I had mistaken the golf clubhouse for the tennis clubhouse. Not knowing what other golfers were saying I continued to practice and then went back to the golf ball. On going back to the golf ball I was pleasantly surprised to see that in fact the hole did look bigger and that I was putting better.

During the round, I holed a number of putts with ease as the hole looked huge in comparison to my tiny white golf ball. Doing the drill is quite simple. All you need to do is take a tennis ball out onto the practice putting green, from inside 6 feet practice hitting 40 putts with the tennis ball from different positions around the hole. After 40 putts with the tennis ball go back to using a golf ball from the same distance. The reason that Montgomerie practiced with a tennis ball was so that when he went back to a golf ball it made the hole look bigger. Now, we all know that the hole isn’t bigger, it simply appears that way. Doing this drill will give you confidence to putt the ball with purpose.

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Ladder and Compass drill MarkVictorsen Putting is 46% of the score, but if you go to most golf clubs the driving range is full and the putting green is empty! I’ll bet if Kerrie Packer was designing a business deal like the game of golf he would look at this statistic and marshall his troops to focus in on the biggest profit centre: putting! The problem with putting is that it’s not as much fun as hitting! To get over this boredom set the putting green up with many drills and change activity after 5 minutes. Try these drills:

Ladder drill:

Use golf tees to create 5 boxes that look like a ladder laying on the ground (About 300x300) and hit balls from 5 meters into the first box (don’t proceed till the ball finishes in the box!), then the second box and so on. This will give you good distance control and you can put some pressure on yourself by working your way up the ladder and see if you can consecutively work up the ladder without missing. If you do miss, it’s back to box 1!

Compass drill:

You need 13 tees needed for this drill. Determine the 4 points of the compass,

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Compass drill with the hole in the center. (To do this, measure with the putterhead in the cup and place the first tee at the end of the grip at n/s/e/w). Then measure off and set a second tee a grip length further, then repeat for number 3 tee. Number 13 tee is placed so you know

where you started! The task here is to hole 12 putts in a row without missing! If you miss it’s back to your starting point and the score is reset! As you get better, you can start extending the length of the compass points further from the hole.


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AnneRollo The pros’ putting drill

Wouldn’t you love to know how the pros putt so consistently well? The bottom line is, of course, they spend so much time practising. But they have a few tricks that can help you improve your own putting, particularly the short ones. Most problems with short putts come from poor alignment. Poor alignment causes you to compensate by swinging across the line of the putt to get the ball into the hole. This drill fixes

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both the problem and the compensation because it gets your clubface aligned well — and if you cut across the line you will hit the clubs, providing instant feedback. This putting drill is one the pros use in their hotel rooms each night. This is a short putt drill so set your target (an upturned cup is a good one) about one metre away. Put two of your longer irons (say a 3-iron and 4-iron) on the ground parallel slightly wider than your putter so that the putter can move freely back and forth (about one cm of leeway on either side is sufficient).

Line the clubs up straight at your target and place your golf ball in between the clubs. Practise using this drill for 10 minutes a day and in a couple of weeks your putting will have improved out of sight – especially those short knee-knocker putts.

Pitch the ball in the air every time

Do you create the V on your backswing? A lot of golfers don’t have enough wrist break on their backswing when pitching. A proper backswing will create a V shape between the left arm and the club (see photo)

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The wrist break on the backswing encourages you to hit down to the bottom of the ball which lifts the ball into the air. If you don’t get wrist break on the backswing you will struggle to lift the ball and then try and scoop it up instead. The biggest mistake you can make when pitching is trying to scoop the ball up into the air. The more you try and scoop the ball up the more you will hit it along the ground... generally straight over the back of the green. So, check your backswing for the V next time you are pitching to help you hit DOWN to the bottom of the ball.


86 Quick tips

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Zone 1

Zone 2

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Zone 3

Start

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Ball sitting in long grass

Don’t look at the ball in the bunker

RichardMercer

AnneRollo

When the ball is sitting in long grass and you can only see half or just the top of your ball, the following tips will help get you back into play. First, make sure to select a lofted club that will get you out of the trouble and get the ball back on the fairway. Next, move the ball back in your stance and lean a little onto your front foot. During your swing, try to make your wrists break earlier than normal. This will make the club move away from the ball on a steeper angle, allowing the club to come down and slice through the grass.

When playing bunker shots, do you tend to send the ball straight over the back of the green? More often than not, this is caused by hitting the ball first, rather than splashing down into the sand. To fix this, try this quick tip: Next time, don’t even look at the ball. Instead, concentrate on a spot about 2 inches behind the ball. Splash down into the sand and make sure to FOLLOW THROUGH. (Remember: The number-1 reason for poor bunker shots is failing to follow through!)

Chipping drill: ‘The ladder’ • About 20 golf balls • 4 rods or shafts

• Create a ladder on the green using the rods or shafts. The first rod should be on the green about a yard from the edge • Place the remaining rods at 1-yard intervals

The Set Up

The Drill

MikeBury You Need

• Place your balls on the fringe of the green, approximately 2 yards from the edge

• Begin by chipping to Zone 1. Your ball must land in the zone. (It won’t stay there)

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• You must land three balls in a row to move on to the next zone • Once you have moved through all three zones, work your way up and down the ladder with one ball. (Land the ball in Zone 1, then Zone 2, Zone 3, Zone 2 and back to Zone 1) • Try the drill with various clubs Taken From “Train Like a Champion: 15 Drills and a Practice Plan to Keep You on Target”


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Are you a slow starter? MarkVictorsen

In today’s busy world, we often get to the course, go straight to the first tee and hit off without any warm-up whatsoever. If this is the case for you, 9 times out of 10 you will spend the first 3-5 holes finding your rhythm and by then your chances of a decent round are over! To get your body (and mind) prepared for a round, make provision to do some stretching to get the muscles to “wake up”, and then be sure to hit some balls before play. At the range, start with some small pitch shots to get your rhythm started, and to get the feeling of solid contact. Follow this up with some full wedges – be sure to aim at a target, versus just hitting blindly. After the wedge shots, hit 2-3 shots each with an 8-iron, 6-iron, 3-wood and finally your driver. As you hit your last drive, visualise the tee shot you will encounter on the first tee. Then go to the chipping green (if your club/course has one). Hit a few chip and run shots, a few lob shots and a couple of bunker shots to dial in your touch around the greens. Finish with some putting to get a speed for the greens, as they change from day to day

Your ball position is different for each club...but not that much

Quick tips: Where should your ball positions be? AnneRollo

To get the most out of your game – especially the first few holes — make sure you do a proper warmup at the range and chipping area and morning to afternoon. I like to do this drill before play: hit all your short putts to a tee and all your long putts to the green’s edge. Leave the holes for the other folks who seem

intent on practicing missing before they play! Putting is 46% of the score and confidence plays a huge part in your success on the green. Wait and see how big the hole looks on the first

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Driver Ball Position is in line with the inside of your left (or front) heel, this helps sweep the ball up and away which is suited to the driver swing. Fairway woods: about half an inch closer to the middle than the driver as you are still sweeping with this club. Iron Ball Position: This varies. The 4-iron (commonly the longest iron most people carry) is played about two inches left of centre as seen in the

picture; all the other irons are placed progressively back until you hit the 9-iron which is positioned in the centre of the stance. With an iron you are ideally hitting down onto the back of the ball so having it more centred suits this type of shot. Quick Tips: Never play your wedge any further forward than the middle of your stance. For Putting, the ball should be just left of centre, this allows your shoulders


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Pitching AnneRollo Start with a basic pitching distance When the pros pitch, they have a different length swing for each distance. From 20m to about 100m, the pros are “dialled in” with an exact swing for that distance. This is obviously impractical for most club golfers, as they simply don’t have the time it takes to practise this kind of accuracy. Here’s a way of using this method but simplifying it to suit your own game: Instead of having a different length swing for each distance, pick one distance and then get extremely good at that. For women, I would suggest 30 metres and for men 50 metres. If you practise this distance and get to know what length swing you need (say...hands level with your hips on the backswing) then you can go up or down from there as the distances change. So, ladies, if you find yourself at 40 metres, then swing a little longer...or if at 20 metres swing a little shorter. Once you master the one distance you can use it as a starting point and vary the length of your swing up or down from there.

Quick Tip:

It is very tempting to try and scoop the ball

Finding an ideal swing length for your pitches is critical to improving around the green when pitching. If you do, it will often run across the green and over the back. Instead, focus on hitting down to the bottom of the ball and brush the grass under the ball. And be sure to keep the left wrist straight as you sweep through the shot.

Do you finish with your weight on your back foot? Finishing with your weight on the back foot is a very common fault and causes you to mis-hit shots, lose distance and even ‘skull’ the ball over the green. It’s basically caused by physically trying to

Placing a golf ball under the outside of your back heel is a great drill to help you keep your weight on the front foot

lift the ball in to the air instead of allowing the loft of the club to do the work for you. Unfortunately the higher you try and hit the ball, the lower it will generally go — leaving your weight back will cause you to top the ball along the ground. A quick way to get the feeling of keeping your weight on the front foot—especially on the short ones like chips and pitches—is to put a golf ball under the outside of your back heel when practising. This forces you to keep the weight forward during your shot. After a while you can remove the ball and you will know the correct feeling of the weight staying forward. Try it first in

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the back yard; it feels a bit awkward to start with, but it will soon work a treat.

Quick Tip:

If you finish your long shots on the back foot too, you can also use this drill for your longer shots. Try it with a 7-iron but keep the swing down to a half-length swing, because your weight should first be centred for your long shots. Hit some half shots off a low tee and really feel the weight finishing on your front foot.


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Your credit card can earn you $$$ BrentGerman When you are out practicing an 8-foot putt, line up a dead-straight putt. When you think you have aimed correctly, get a friend to place a credit card under the ball in parallel alignment with the putter face on your initial intended line of the putt. The card gives you direct feedback on where you have aimed your putter face. Then when striking the putt, place the credit card under the ball.

Balance and the right shoes DON’T keep your head down AnneRollo I’ll bet you have been told, more than once, that you ‘lifted your head during a shot’ or you’ve been given the advice to ‘keep your head down’. Next time you hear it, ignore it. It’s basically an old wives tale and an old-fashioned piece of advice that causes more problems than it fixes. Most golfers do not lift their heads as they hit the ball. In fact most are so conscious of keeping their heads down they often keep it down so much that they get crumpled up over the ball causing the arms to bend to create space, thus

MarkVictorsen

promoting a topped shot. The more you try and keep your head down the more likely you are to top the ball as your arms collapse to give you room. Instead, follow the Stuart Appleby example. He sees the ball being hit and then slightly turns his head as his shoulders turn, allowing him to keep his arms straight and extend beautifully out after the ball. Notice that Apples is turning his head towards the target as he hits the ball, allowing his body to turn and accelerate through the shot. So the key is to SEE the ball being hit but then come up and through to a nice full high

I don’t know any sport where the most powerful and skilful players are out of balance. Golf, like all games, requires a solid base so you can transfer the energy developed in the swing to the ball. We all tend to focus on the swing styles of the great players but one element very rarely spoken of is the player’s footwork. Force or balance plates can now give us an indication as to weight distribution front foot or back foot. With these balance or force plates a measurement can also show the balance — be it toes, ball of foot or heel — both at address and during the swing. The example I use is a tug-of-war stance.

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Analyse how you stand when you are pulling on the rope. Most people say they can really feel themselves “gripping the ground” when force is applied to the rope. This connection with the ground allows the upper body to transfer the energy to the rope. Martial Arts exponents take great care with the stance and understand the importance of a solid base. Most club golfers have very poor control over their feet and as a consequence roll all over the place during the swing. Good golf shoes also help in giving stability during the swing. A good pair of shoes should offer little twist laterally but of course be flexible enough to be comfortable. Ask your PGA pro what he uses and follow his lead! Take a video of your feet and compare with a tour


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Tips for senior golfers LisaNewling LoraineLambert

It’s important to keep playing golf throughout your senior years; golf has huge health benefits, both physically and mentally. Some golfers play for the challenge of competition and some play for exercise and social interaction. In a perfect world it would be great to be able to change our bodies to become more golf fit; some golfers will work on becoming stronger and more flexible and some won’t. Strength and flexibility deteriorates as we age. Old injuries from other sports and arthritis inhibit movement, and many have had some form of major operation. When a golfer comes to us for help we look to make sure there aren’t any movements in the swing that could cause an injury. We look at the swing to see what kind of ball flight they have and how repetitive the swing is. The swing doesn’t have to be ‘textbook perfect’, but it needs to be repetitive with consistent contact to the ball and a consistent shape in the air. We look to see what is causing the biggest problem, and we fix it! The most common problems we see that affect our senior golfers are: Not warming up, Posture, Balance, Stability, Tempo and Equipment. Here are some tips on how you can improve these areas.

A balanced swing is important for golfers of all ages, but as we get older it becomes more critical to success (Top right) Stretching and warming up is very important prior to your round (and can save you many shots especially in the first few holes) (Bottom Right) The “Squashing a grape between your shoulder blades” stretch helps open up the muscles in your chest and shoulder area

Warm up

Before you hit off, allow some time to warm up. It is best if you can go for a brisk walk to get the heart rate up a little, maybe a walk to the driving range? Stretch and hit some shots either in the practise nets or on the range. This will help you get your body moving, rather than using the first five holes to warm up and damaging your score!

Posture

In very simple terms, as we age our posture

changes. We become more curved in the upper part of our back, detrition often occurs in our spine, we can be carrying a bit of extra weight around our tummy and our butt, and our leg muscles aren’t as strong as they used to be. Some golfers will be able to adapt to improve their golf posture through strength and stretching programs, others will struggle. Try this simple stretch: stand tall with your arms close to your side, keeping your arms close to your side and your palms facing out, pretend

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you have a grape between your shoulder blades and try and squash it, drawing your shoulder blades closer together. This is a really nice stretch to help open up the muscles in your chest and shoulder area.

Balance and stability

A good golf swing has a stable base. It is very important to feel balanced throughout the swing. If you take your golf seriously we would strongly recommend you take the time


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to work on your strength and flexibility. We will always recommend you to go and see your physiotherapist first, tell them that you want to improve your golf and have a screening so that you don’t work on the wrong things. This will help you use your time effectively. If you don’t wish to exercise to improve your golf or you have injuries that limit what you can do, try this little drill. Balancing on one foot with your other knee flexed in the air try and stay balanced (without wobbling) for 30 seconds (or as long as you can). Swap legs and do the same. One side will always be better or stronger. You can use a wall, golf club or a friend as help until you can balance on your own. When you think you are really good at this, do the same but SHUT your eyes. Wow, what a difference then! Professional golfers generally can balance one legged, eyes shut for 30+ seconds. Many amateurs are lucky to make 5 seconds.

Tempo

The quicker the swing is the harder it is to keep your balance. If you find it hard to keep your balance when you swing, try having a slower three-quarter-length back swing, in other words your hands should be about shoulder high at the top of your back swing. This can help reduce the amount that your body lifts up and down in your swing, allowing you to have better control over your movements and make it easier to keep your balance.

Equipment

Having the correct equipment is very important. Technology has certainly made golf a lot easier for people with a slower swing speed.

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(Left) Balancing on one foot with your other knee flexed in the air is a great drill to improve your your overall balance. (Right) A three-quarter-length backswing can give better control over your movements and make it easier to keep your balance. High launch drivers and hybrids in particular have allowed much more forgiveness and helped increase the distances hit compared to the older clubs. We strongly recommend when you buy clubs that you are correctly fitted for them. Your local PGA Professional can help you with this. Alternatively keep an eye out for Demo Days. All major companies have these days (check out the Demo Day Guide in every issue of Inside Golf), they are a great opportunity to speak to an expert about their product and discuss what would be suitable for you.

Loft

It is important to consider having more lofts in your driver, fairway woods and hybrids. These lofts will vary between golfers depending on their technique. The slower someone’s swing speed is the more loft required to help get the distance.

Shaft Flex

There are many golf shafts on the market. Choosing the correct shaft really depends on your swing speed and ball flight. Golf shafts have different weights, flexes and kick points. Senior shafts are generally lighter in weight and more flexible than a men’s regular golf shaft. You can

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really see a difference in your ball flight when you have the correct shaft to match your swing speed.

Length

If you have back problems and you can’t bend forward into the correct golf posture, having longer clubs will make it much easier for you to strike the ball more consistently. Just make sure you are fitted correctly.

Grip thickness and grip type

Did you know there are different grips on the market? Rubber, cord, multi compound, junior, Ladies, size 58, 60, midsize, oversize and even


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Junior Golf Series – their first steps in golf

1 LeeHarrington The Grip

If an adult golfer wants to teach a junior to play golf, and they want them to develop and enjoy hitting the ball well, they must encourage the junior to grip the club in the right way. When young kids first pick up a golf club they tend to place their hands apart on the grip. This creates

2

two levers and no control of the club for the junior. Do not be too concerned with a perfect grip but do encourage their hands to be touching and together. Some kids can also do better with a twohanded, ten-finger grip rather than learning the overlapping or interlocking finger grip. What is important is the palms of each hand face each other to create a neutral grip. It is also well worth investing in a junior golf

club to get the right grip size. Cutting down your old golf club will not allow the hands to get in this position on the club as the thickness will be too big for their little hands. In addition, the club will be out of balance, and the heavier weight may be an additional burden.

Swing Routine

Developing a solid practice routine with Juniors

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gives them fantastic structure with their golf at an early age. A simple routine I use for Juniors starting out is: 1. Grip the club (as in tip 1 above), Club face behind the ball, feet together 2. Step–Step (to position their feet apart) 3. Bounce knees keeping weight on balls of feet 4. Turn your back to the target as you swing 5. Swing through to finish, facing the target, with


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Muscular loading ScottBeaumont In last month’s issue we wrote about the physics and physiology behind generating optimal power and efficient movement in the golf swing. This month we’ll focus on physiology of the muscles and the laws of physics. When we amateurs watch a professional golfer’s swing, we often marvel at how effortless the motion seems and how far the ball travels. Regardless of the size and shape of the professional golfer or his/her personal style, the swing we see — and the ball flight — is something all amateurs endlessly strive to achieve. What most of us don’t realise is that one of the primary reasons the golf professional is so proficient is that his/her body works in complete coordination, optimizing the physiology of the muscles and the laws of physics. Underneath all the variances we see from swing to swing, each professional optimizes his/her kinetic link. How power is generated in the golf swing is a combination of two things: 1) Conservation of momentum and 2) Muscular loading. Muscular loading refers to the stretch-shorten effect of producing potential energy by pre-stretching (or eccentrically firing) the muscles prior to shortening. This stretch-shorten action creates potential energy which is then used to enhance the muscular contraction.

During the kinetic link, this action plays two import roles: the first is to provide more energy to the muscular contraction that will accelerate body segments, and the second is to act to decelerate the heavier adjacent body segment in the Kinetic Link; thus facilitating “momentum transfer” at the lighter body segment next in the chain (for more on this, see last month’s issue, available online at insidegolf.com.au). In order to effectively utilize both of these benefits, muscular loading or stretch-shorten must occur as a function of the bigger/heavier body segment accelerating while the lighter adjacent segment momentarily lags. The stretch occurs as a function of the resulting separation. Once the muscles begin to shorten the potential energy created in the eccentric stretch is then used to enhance the contraction, which in turn accelerates the lighter segment. AND at the same time this action decelerates the heavier segment facilitating “momentum transfer” to the lighter segment and promoting segmental summation of speed.

Applying this to your golf swing

How this applies in the golf swing is on the downswing: the hips generate anti-clockwise acceleration around the axis of the spine towards impact, creating dynamic loading of the muscles of the upper body. These muscles are stretched, creating energy that is then used to transfer energy to the shoulder segment. The shoulder

Professional like Steve Elkington make their swings look effortless by generating anti-clockwise acceleration of the hips (red) around the axis of the spine, thus creating dynamic loading of the muscles of the upper body (blue) segment then follows the lead of the hips in an anti-clockwise motion. At this time the hip segment begins to decelerate. This action “passes” energy as the muscles of the upper body contract to accelerate the shoulder segment. The result is the creation of power and rotational speed of the shoulders which is twice that of the hips. The same applies for the upper body and arms;

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the muscles in the arms and lats are stretched, creating energy that is then used to transfer energy to the arms. The arms begin to follow the lead of the upper body anti-clockwise. At this time the upper body begins to decelerate. This action “passes” energy as the muscles of lats and arms contract to accelerate the arms into impact. The result is creation of power and


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Ground forces and lower body mechanics ScottBeaumont In last month’s issue we explained muscular loading. This month we are going to explain the most important foundation of the kinetic link which initiates muscular loading: Ground Forces. No singles link in the process of creating clubhead speed is considered more important than any other; however, your swing is only as strong as your “weakest link”. During the golf swing, the transfer of energy and power from the lower body to the upper body is certainly the most pivotal, and thus the most common “weakest link”. The role of the trunk musculature in the golf swing is the same as the role of a crank shaft in an automobile. Just like the crankshaft turns horsepower created at the drive wheels, the trunk musculature turns energy created by the lower body into power at the upper body. This in turn creates clubhead speed. With maximum energy transfer comes maximum power. Just like a house, a solid golf swing must be built on a solid foundation. That foundation is lower body mechanics or ground forces. The movement of the lower body is composed of both Linear components and rotational components. It is this proper interaction between the two that creates a stable basis for the rest of the swing. Your feet generate forces when they push against the ground. These forces act to propel your body and create motion. There are two

the golf swing and can be the most directly related to ultimate clubhead speed.

Faults in Energy Transfer

Fig A: Normal forces

Figure B: Shearing forces

kinds of forces that are important to the golf swing: Normal and Shear forces. Normal forces are used to define the linear component of the swing. Shear forces are used to define rotational forces of the swing.

the linear component of movement. The linear component of the lower body during the swing is very important, because from this movement that the body develops momentum and enhances the rotational speed and power the hips.

The Linear Component

Rotational Forces

Normal force is applied by the feet downward or perpendicular to the ground (see Figure A). Weight is transferred to the back foot during the backswing and to the front foot during the downswing. When weight is shifted to one foot, the amount of normal force applied by that foot increases, while the normal force applied by the other foot decreases. This action defines

Shear force is applied by the feet along the surface or parallel to the ground (See Figure B). Throughout the swing, shear forces are being applied by both feet. These shear forces create torque that turn the hips around the axis of the trunk. This defines the rotational component of the lower body movement. The rotational component provides the basis for power during

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The most two common breakdowns in transferring energy from the lower body to the upper body originate with the hip segment. The first of these is called sliding hips, which occurs when the hips move laterally to the left without rotating. No rotational speed is created. Muscles aren’t properly loaded and there is diminished energy created to be passed to the upper body. In many cases, sliding hips also indicates an excessive spine tilt. When the spine tilts, muscles that work to rotate segments around the axis of the spine become asymmetrical in that one shortens and the other side lengthens. This asymmetry cause inefficient generation of power or speed and can cause increased stress on the back and joints, resulting in back injuries. The second is called “spinning hips” which occurs when the golfer forces the hip segment through the swing too quickly. This creates excusive lag between the lower body and the upper body. The upper body typically never catches up. The trunk musculature is never used to pass energy created by the hip segment rotation to the shoulder segment which means lost power and lower club head speed. By building a solid foundation from the ground up, and then working on the efficient transfer of energy from the lower body towards the upper body, you can effectively increase power, distance and accuracy throughout your game.


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The complete golf swing Part 1: The grip This month Inside Golf begins a comprehensive instructional series on the complete golf swing, from start to finish. We’re thrilled to have Peter Croker – 2007 Victorian PGA Teaching Professional of the Year — deliver this in-depth series. PeterCroker Take the time to learn and understand the grip and it will be one thing that will totally help your game, promoting the accuracy and distance of every shot.

Left Hand

1. Allow the end of the club to protrude to the crease where your hand meets your wrist. 2. The grip of the club runs diagonally across the left hand from the crease in your palm between your little finger and heel pad of your hand to the second knuckle joint of your index finger.

3. The fingers, not the palm, wrap around the grip. 4. The grip wedges under the heel pad of the left hand. The left wrist is vertical and on top of the grip. 5. Left thumb is positioned on the top right hand side of the grip at 1:30. (1:30 refers to time position on a clock). 6. The V between your thumb and index finger points at your right shoulder.

Right Hand 1. The middle fingers and forefinger wrap

around the grip predominantly in the fingers. 2. The little finger of your right hand can either overlap or interlock the left forefinger (depending on which feels more natural). 3. T h e h o l l o w of t he p a lm of t he r ig ht hand along the lifeline, is directly behind your left thumb. 4. The right thumb sits on the top left hand side of the grip at 10:30. 5. The V between your thumb and index finger points at your right shoulder.

push & swing the club up in front of you and place your right hand on the grip. You communicate to the club through your hands. An improper grip will lay in future failure until the ‘mystery’ is traced back to an improper grip and corrected. 

Left hand exercise

Gripping the club

1. Standing straight with your weight resting on your left leg, let your left hand hang down beside your left hip. Take the grip of the club in your left hand. 2. With your left hand,

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Grip the club in your left hand only and swing it with a vertical chopping motion, up and down in front of you. When going from cocked to fully uncocked, the left wrist and the heel pad of the left hand must be vertical and on top of the club. The club is wedged between the fingers and the heel pad. This would be a very secure and strong, anti-slip, left hand position. Work through this exercise with the left hand only and then later with the right hand on the club to see how the right hand supports this. Watch a free video clip on The Grip at www.crokergolfsystem.com/free_first_step.htm


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The complete golf swing Part 2: Stance PeterCroker Alignment

Three point set exercise

Starting from an erect & good posture: Point 1 - Bend at hips (not waist) allowing buttocks to push out, then Point 2 - Unlock knees, then Point 3 - A) Slide hips slightly left B) Tilt backbone (not just shoulders) slightly right.

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Ball position exercise

Inside Golf continues our comprehensive instructional series on the complete golf swing.This month Peter Croker delivers an in-depth look at stance.

Feet, knees, hips & shoulders should be parallel to the target line. Periodically place a club across your toes after you have set up for your shot. Then step back and check this alignment. Keep at it until you can get it right. Have someone else check your shoulder and hip alignment by placing a club across your shoulders and then hips. You could sometimes swear these alignments are parallel to the target line, only to find them not even close!

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Foot and Ball Position

For a golfer who is 5 foot 8 inches tall, stance measured from outside the heels may vary from about 20 inches (shoulder width) for a driver down to about 16 inches apart (hip width) for shorter irons. For a taller golfer these measurements might be a bit wider, for a shorter golfer these measurements might be a bit narrower. Your feet would be ‘toed out a bit’ (about 15 degrees). Because you are pushing through impact and will therefore get more extension, the ball is played opposite the toe side of center of your clubface. This will allow you to be just that bit more aggressive through your shots.

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Ball position is critical and can vary a bit for different golfers and maybe for an individual golfer over time. Hit a ball off a tight fairway lie (very closely cut grass) and then note where the ground has been first contacted in relation to your stance. It may be a couple of inches inside of your left heel, or vary from this. Repeat the process placing the ball immediately behind where you first contacted the ground until you find the location where you are able to reliably hit crisp shots, striking the ball first and ground immediately afterward. This is where you should position the ball for your future shots with that club. This position may vary a bit from long irons to short irons. Perform this test to determine ball position for chipping as well. After completing the above, you could also place some powder on your clubface and make some shots, ensuring you are striking the ball on the center of the clubface. You might find that you have to correct the ball position in terms of how close you stand to the ball.

Hands & Arms

You have bent over at the hips so that your shoulders are over the balls of your feet and your buttocks is out for balance. Your hands should hang straight down. Now when you hold a club as the clubshaft lengthens your hands will ride a bit higher to accommodate the additional length. For structure, your hands would be pushing downward and out the clubshaft, but not so much that this pressure would move your hands any further out in front of you.


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Extra Tips Your Head

Because of your tilt, your right forearm would be a bit lower than your left forearm and your right elbow is pointing down at your right hip - not out. Your left arm hangs extended and your right arm is bent. For a standard full shot the butt of the club will be pointing at your belt buckle (center of your body). This will place your hands level with the clubhead to just behind the clubhead when you are using your driver.

Athletic Feeling

A basketball player, a wrestler or a football player, ...all take a similar athletic neutral position. This position allows them to move in any direction: left, right, up, down, backward or forward. Have this feeling in your stance. Your upper body is loose & relaxed. Lower body has a heavy/springy feeling. Your weight is distributed evenly between your heels and the balls of your feet. You can easily tap your toes. Your body feels in an athletic & balanced position.

your hands pulled in a bit or pushed out a bit at address and you are asking for ‘hidden’ swing problems from the start.

Looking from the front, have someone check that your neck & head is in line with your spine. Another factor to consider is that your head is pretty heavy and you do have to compensate for its weight leaning forward. Your buttocks should feel stuck out further than you at first think would be correct.

A stance that is too wide will tend to restrict a natural body turn and reduce the amount of power you can generate.

Clubface Alignment

Hunch

Always aim the clubface first and then align your feet, knees, hips and shoulders to fall in line parallel to the target line.

Don’t Reach / Don’t Pull In

The section ‘Hands & Arms’ is exact. Have

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Too Wide a Stance

Your shoulders and back must not ‘hunch over’ to compensate for standing too upright. Correct shaft length is imperative. For instance, if your clubs are short, it can make for a very awkward setup indeed.


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About hitting a golf ball While building solid grip, stance, and backswing forms the foundation for hitting the golf ball effectively, you will not arrive at consistent hitting of the ball without understanding and applying the following concepts as defined in this lesson. PeterCroker Intention is senior to mechanics and you need to “intend” to hit (compress) that ball - even to “Enjoy the Hit!” Please relax and test drive the following and be patient and kind to yourself as the process will require you to be “comfortably there, hitting that ball” shot after shot. There are three key principles you need to understand about hitting a golf ball, before you can have success learning how to hit a golf ball: 1. Deliberate Hit ( A to B) - You are not for instance, trying to make some lower body motion first or delay the hit or other such action. You are just hitting that ball. 2. Direction of The Hit - You are throwing the clubhead down, out and through the ball and to the right of the target line. Golf is a two target game - The Club head’s target is the ball and the ball’s target is the flag or other intended target.

3. Follow Through - It is interesting to note that seemingly correcting what you do just after you have struck the ball is the key to striking the ball well. Tiger Woods is constantly making practice swings where he maintains the “thumbs down” attitude well into follow through and thus maintains full extension of both arms and the club shaft in line with the left arm for much of the follow through. The actual action of hitting that ball will be made easy for you, through a full understanding of these three principles.

1) A Deliberate hit

You Hit That Ball Never, Never, Never forget that you are hitting that ball. It is a very deliberate (A to B) action like hitting a nail on the head. You are not getting into positions or making

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some motion near the ball in the hope that all will go well. Work on what you like when making practice swings, but any and every time you hit

that ball, you are hitting that ball, not turning your hip,. keeping your foot down, etc ... you are there and doing nothing else but just plain and simple, hitting that ball! A to B Hitting That Ball as outlined, is a very deliberate action that when viewed with stop action would reveal a beautiful golf swing with loads of things to analyse on the way down. A) The top of the swing B) The ball (impact) Take the clubhead back and just hit that ball. Throw the clubhead directly into the back of it. A to B. Play Golf You are playing golf when your entire attention is solely on hitting that ball. Putting something extra into a long drive, finessing an approach shot into a tight pin placement, and so on ... You are not playing golf if you have any attention on swing mechanics. Think about what you like during a practice swing, but starting right now, never again think about swing mechanics when you hit that ball. You must confront that what you are doing is hitting that ball. At the start and throughout your entire career as a golfer, you must make the decision that whenever you


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hit a ball, what you will be doing is hitting that ball. The game of golf and the fun of golf really begins when, what you naturally do to hit that ball long and straight actually works. There is no time to make an indirect motion before you hit that ball. Working with any indirect motion or position on the way down is always destructive.

2) Direction of the hit

It is interesting to note that the clubhead begins inside the target line and if you do not have an orientation to push (throw) it down and out through the ball and to the right of the target line, you will end up in a very difficult and un-natural situation indeed. Because the clubhead is attached to you via the clubshaft, when the clubhe a d has been thrown down and out across the target line, it will then pull you up

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to a full finish. You will think that the ball would go to the right of the target, but you will soon find that it goes straight and long!

3) Follow through

It is interesting that the key to learning how to hit the ball well is contained in a full understanding of what happens just after the ball has been struck. There is a condition just after you have struck the ball that is called Follow Through: You have pushed the clubhead deep out past your left shoulder* * This is a feeling and relative position. What will characterise Follow Through is: 1. B o t h a r m s a r e straight. 2. Both wrists are fully uncocked. 3. Clubshaft is in a straight line with the left arm. 4. The left wrist is flat to slightly arched (like Ben Hogan). 5. Shoulder line about parallel to target line. 6. The clubface will have been pushed slightly closed (as a result of both wrists being fully uncocked). There are two ‘pulling’ conditions that can stop you from hitting

through to Follow Through Position: 1. Your hands have pulled ahead of the clubhead, blocking any Follow Through. 2. Your hands have pulled back, stop-ping the clubhead from being pushed out deep. Every shot is hit down and out through Follow Through. You don’t try and hold this position but it is a position you will pass through just after you have struck the ball. It represents a condition of having pushed everything totally into the shot. Anything less than this is an indication of some pulling or bailing out of the shot.

Follow through exercise

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Take some shorter shots and then, as you gain proficiency, gradually longer shots. Keep at it until your whole full swing is a smooth unencumbered motion. Work to see that each swing contains a full and complete Follow through. Tiger Woods practices this as an exercise often while waiting to play his shot during play on the course. If it is good enough for Tiger, it is worth doing besides it helps stretch the muscles to avoid hurting your back or other body parts. Once you fully appreciate and understand hitting out through Follow Through,

any mystery to the game will have ended. The natural way you would hit the ball will now work. Commit to the HIT! Staying in The Swing or Bailing Out To really stay in the swing: Extend deep down, out & through into ‘Follow Through’ away from the right hip and right knee which get pushed back. To the degree you fall short of this, you are bailing out of the swing. The anatomy of any ‘Bailing Out’ of the shot is Pulling and a lack of resolve to push (uncock fully) deep into Follow Through and Complete The Swing.


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The hit: part 1

1) Power Exercise

The Hit Exercises

PeterCroker As pictured above, it would be a workable analogy to regard the clubhead as rocket driven and your body as the launch pad. You throw the clubhead down, out and through the ball to a full finish using your body as a base to release down, out and away from. The hips and shoulders will respond to this throwing action by the hands and add power and control to support this “hand action” for all shots from chip to pitch to full swing. This is a viewpoint we will be building on when working through the exercises in the lessons that follow.

In the golf swing you want ‘Clubhead Awareness’not ‘Hand Awareness’. But, since your hands are the Source of Motion for your golf swing, it is the means through which you will learn to reliably hit that ball. Educated hands will be needed to develop clubhead awareness and control. Learning how to hit a golf ball will now be accomplished through a few exercises. Each exercise is designed for you to learn something and build on what was learned in the previous exercise(s). It may take some a bit longer and some shorter, but with honest work, at the completion of these exercises you will know how to effortlessly hit a golf ball long and straight.

The 4 Hit Exercises for this lesson

1. Power Exercise (How to generate Power in the golf swing) 2. Accuracy Exercise (How to guarantee Accuracy in the golf swing) 3. Power &Accuracy Impact Push Exercise (How to apply Power & Accuracy in the golf swing at impact) 4. Impact Exercise (Defining and drilling in the impact area of the full swing)

Purpose: To show you how to generate power in the golf swing. Take a golf club and stand opposite another person. Hold the club about chest high: 1. Place the clubhead against the chest of the person standing sideways to you and push to the left. Not much power there. 2. Place the clubhead pointing directly in front of you against the chest of a person facing you. Have some bend in your arms. Now push forward on the club. Some real power there, and you could do some real damage. This is to demonstrate the all important principle that for power in golf, you must push out down the clubshaft. Your hands, by pushing out down the clubshaft, push the clubhead.

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1. Assume position (B) and Pull the club back into position (A). 2. Assume position (B) and Pull the club forward into position (C). 3. Assume position (A) and then Push the club into a straight line with your left arm, position (B). 4. Assume position (C) and then Push the club into a straight line with your left arm, position (B). The above 4 examples are to demonstrate how the club will push straight, for an accurate shot.

3) Impact Push - Power & Accuracy Exercise 2) Accuracy Exercise

Purpose: To show how to generate accuracy in the golf swing. It is interesting that what guarantees power is also what guarantees accuracy in the golf swing. Just after impact you want your left arm to be in line with the clubshaft (Picture B). Pictures (A) & (C) demonstrate impact positions that would cause you to A) hit the ball to the left and C) hit the ball to the right. Picture (B) would demonstrate a straight hit.

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Purpose: To give you the feeling for how to apply Power & Accuracy at Impact. Taking a club, set up with the clubhead a few inches behind the ball position and get someone to hold firmly onto the clubhead. If necessary, move your hands back a bit (but not behind the clubhead) and really get the feeling your hands are behind the clubhead. Then, pushing out down and against the clubshaft, push the clubhead through impact. This is a short exercise but absolutely essential


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that the golfer get it exactly right before continuing on. It is the precisely completing of this exercise, that will lay in the foundation for success in the Impact (Gradient) exercise.

4) Impact (Gradient Exercise)

Purpose: To get comfortable with and learn how to execute the impact part of the golf swing flawlessly. Action Definition of Impact The clubhead stays on the ball less than one thousandth of a second, but it is unworkable to regard impact as merely this small instant. This results in golfers hitting ‘at’the ball and not ‘through’the ball. This produces glancing blows and not compressing the ball. The only really workable viewpoint is to regard impact as the point from when the ball is first contacted until Follow Through. Instead of hitting at the ball, this will result in you hitting through the ball. It is interesting that what happens after the ball has been struck determines how it will have been struck. If you do not hit through to Follow Through, you will have not first contacted the

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ball solidly. This is a highly workable viewpoint and the defining of impact follows. In order to make the above an ‘Action Definition’, the word Impact is further defined through a brief exercise so that you can get the proper feeling of it. Drill this in until it becomes second nature. This is what you are doing and how you feel through impact in all of your shots: With a 3 iron (or least lofted club), set up to a ball at address and place the clubhead directly against the back of the ball. Your left arm is straight and the right arm is slightly bent with the elbows pointing down at your hips. Your right shoulder is slightly lower than your left (for right handed golfers). Place all your weight solidly on both feet. The action of your hands uncocking (thumbs pointing downward) and pushing the clubhead down, out and through the ball will turn the left hip and the weight will move towards the left heel while the right foot remains planted and heavy in the ground. You will feel the full extension of both arms as the clubhead moves deep down and out away from your right shoulder and your steady head. The shoulders remain square and parallel to the target line at this stage of the

drill. This expansion through the ball here helps produce the compression on the ball and is defined as the “Impact Zone.” Your left shoulder is not turning with the shot at this stage. You are attempting to push the ball to the right of the target line. Start very slow, and gradually build up the speed at which you can drive the ball forward. You are attempting to keep the ball against the clubface for as long as possible. The club shaft will move fully into line with the left arm and remain in line with the left arm as you extend deep into impact and beyond. As you move further into “Follow Through” the club shaft remains fully in line with the left arm and the shoulders turn, releasing the right foot out of the ground and up on the toe. The right knee and hip also move as you come up to balance on your left side. The right knee moves in to touch the left as the left leg fully straightens. You will extend deep into Follow Through. This exercise will help get you through the shot from pitch to full swing and is well worth the effort to get it right as it helps build a positive hit, more control, and consistency. You are trying to do something that will never happen. You are trying to Push the ball to the right of the target line. The club

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has a ‘hook face’ designed into it that will cause your attempt to push the ball to the right, to result in the ball going dead straight - so long as you push into Follow Through. Work with the above until you really gain a feeling for impact. Impact (Gradient) Exercise You can learn anything if you break it down into small enough pieces, where you move at your own pace and gradually acquire personal certainty in the action of hitting a golf ball. When you work with a short stroke, the impact action is just as it is with a full swing. Once you learn how and get comfortable with the hitting action around impact, your entire stroke becomes far easier to learn and it becomes far easier to drill in consistency with a full swing. A full swing is just a bunch of activity tacked onto this exact action, with the aim of making this action more powerful. But it is still the same simple action. Remember and apply precisely the ‘Action Definition’of impact from the start of this step. No matter what the length the swing is, you must accelerate through that ball - never decelerate. Begin this exercise with a Pitching Wedge. When you have completed steps A & B - move on to a 9 iron and move through the same steps. In this way, continue on with your 8, 7 and 6 irons: A) Hit a ball 3 yards (distance in the air). B) Gradually increase the distance you hit the ball until your backswing will go back as far as to where your right forearm is parallel to the ground at the top of the backswing. Get so you can reliably execute impact in this exercise and you will gain a feeling for impact, to build a full swing around!


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The hit: part 2

This month in our continuing series on the complete golf swing, Peter looks at the part 2 of hitting the golf ball. To read more, or to catch up with the rest of the series, visit our website. PeterCroker “The Hands are the Source of Motion” in an efficient and orthodox golf swing. Golf is also a two handed game. Therefore both hands need to do their fair share of the work. If one hand is “uneducated” or “wrongly educated” it will negatively impact what the other hand can do. In this issue we are going to look more closely to the role of the right hand in the golf swing. Right Hand: ‘Swoosh’ Exercise Purpose: 1) To demonstrate the great amount of clubhead speed that can be generated with your right hand. (Listen to the sound of the swoosh) 2) To show how your right hand can direct your body in the golf swing. You can use a clubshaft with a grip but no clubhead for this exercise. You can hold a regular club by the shaft near the clubhead end, but it is best to execute the exercise properly, using a clubshaft with no clubhead.

Part 1

Much of the mystery of the mechanics of golf will fade away when the right hand participation is understood.

Hold your right arm out in front of you and do the following: 1. Bend your right hand back (it does not cock up). This is the work your right hand does in the backswing. 2. Uncock your right hand - resisting any unbending as long as possible, This is the work your right hand does in the downswing and follow through. 3. Repeat 1 and 2 above until it becomes natural.

Part 2

This part of the exercise is performed while keeping your left arm extended out in front of you. This will give you the feeling for what it is like to swing the club with your right hand and arm with your body turned back & left shoulder out (very important!). Hold the grip in your right hand only and stand at address position. Tum your right hip and push your right hand bent to a correct position at the top of the backswing. Now, swing down very slowly (stopping at impact) with your right hand, keeping your left hand out in front and your body turned away from the target.

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Your right hand works exactly as in Part 1 note how the right elbow moves down in front of the right hip as the arm moves in close to the body. Repeat this exercise until you groove in the feeling of your right hand and arm hitting toward impact with your shoulders remaining stationary with your back facing the target. As a final action, continue to push out down the clubshaft deep towards the ball and note how the hips rotate through and the shoulders rock with the right shoulder moving in the direction of the ball.

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Continue to push out down the shaft to a full finish over the left shoulder. Note how the body responds to this right hand continuous “pushing” action.

Part 3 Same as Part 2 but leave your left arm at your side and swing and ‘swoosh’ the end of the shaft as fast as you can. Your body stays back and your left shoulder out until you push deep into impact, then your body is carried forward by the

momentum of your right hand and arm to a full ‘face the target’ finish. It is as though there are 3 stages in this motion: 1) Swoosh, 2) Pause at the end of the Swoosh (you have pushed the clubhead deep, down into impact and away from you as far as you can), 3) Momentum of the Swoosh (clubhead) carries the body forward to the finish. Notice from the sound of the ‘swoosh’ the incredible amount of clubhead speed that can be reliably generated using your hands. This is an extremely important exercise that will get your

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body moving correctly as dictated to by your hands. You could work with this exercise a lot, until you really groove in the feeling of 1) then 2) and then 3). Remember in 1) you are pushing against and away from a very quiet body. WARNING: Be careful not to overdo this exercise so as to protect your shoulder and arm! For a video demonstration of the “Right Hand Swoosh Drill”, visit: http://www.crokergolfsystem.com/Right-HandSwoosh-Drill.wmv


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The hit: part 3 PeterCroker As mentioned in the previous article - “The Hands are the Source of Motion” and are the “key” in turning on the power, control, and consistency in an orthodox golf swing. In this issue we will study “How the left hand works in the golf swing?” As the leading hand for a right handed golfer, the left hand has several important functions to perform during the swing and when combined with an educated right hand bring control and structure to your swing.

Purposes of the left hand:

1. To give structure to the left arm and help maintain the maximum radius in the golf swing. As you push down on the club shaft with the left “heel pad” and rotate the left forearm in the backswing the left arm locks into an extended position which is maintained throughout the downswing and into impact by the completion of the “thumbs down - uncocking action of the left hand. Towards the end of the “impact zone” the left wrist rotates anti-clockwise and both wrists remain fully “uncocked” well into the “follow through.” 2. To control the left shoulder from the “start” of the golf swing through “impact.” Your left hand pushing the handle back in the

start of the backswing causes the left shoulder to rotate backward without any dipping down and in turn promotes a flat rotation of the shoulders and hips without swaying. On the downswing the left hand uncocking the clubhead down through the ball causes your left shoulder to support this pushing action by working up and back as the left wrist uncocks and rotates through the impact area and into follow through. This can be felt when you do the drills with the left hand and arm only action 3. To control the club shaft from start to finish in the golf swing. Study the illustrations of the left hand and arm action to see how the club shaft works into line with the left arm through the “impact zone.” 4. To control the opening and closing of the club face throughout the swing. Note the open and closing clubface in the illustrations. 5. To help the hip turn through impact by providing a firm left hand and left side to hit against. The left hand maintains a fully uncocked action while rotating anti-clockwise through impact and follow through. This structure helps push the left hip through the ball ahead of the hands and clubhead.

Part 1

A balanced hit will force your left shoulder up and back toward your chin Hold a club at the top of a one third backswing position in your left hand only. Another person will push the clubhead forward in the throughswing. At the same time they will apply light pressure up the clubshaft toward you. You must keep a light pressure against this push, going out down the clubshaft for structure. To maintain a position of power, you must not allow your hand to pull forward or pull backward. You must push from your centre right out in front of you for the entire throughswing.

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Part 2 At Address Position, hold a club in your left hand only. Imagine the dial of a clock, where 6 o’clock is right in front of you. Allow the club to swing back and forth in front of you from about 8 o’clock to 4 o’clock. Get so that what generates the motion on the downswing, is your left hand uncocking and pushing the clubhead on the forward part of the swing.


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Pushing the club by uncocking the left hand (thumbs down) produces a constant rate of clubface closing

Thumbs down – Toe down for solid Impact

Toe Down

“Thumbs down” hand position

Your left thumb pushing the toe of the clubhead down as you drive the clubhead through the ball on the throughswing, will force your left shoulder up and out through impact. Here we are referring to the toe of the club and when you maintain the “thumbs down” action throughout the down and out hitting action, the left shoulder remains stable and out as the clubshaft moves into line with the left arm and

as the club face squares up and closes through impact and into follow through. Pushing out the clubshaft is what causes the clubface to have a constant rate of closing through impact. There is no need to attempt to roll the club face closed with the right hand when you maintain the “thumbs down uncocking action with the left hand through the ball. Consciously pushing with your left thumb is

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not something you think or worry about when you play golf, but working with pushing the toe of the clubhead down and through impact is the most successful feeling you can initially acquire as you learn golf. To gain further understanding of the role of the left hand in the golf swing please view this video - http://www.crokergolfsystem.com/lefthand.htm


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Building a backswing: part 1 PeterCroker The “Backswing” is the key to power, control, and consistency. When done correctly, it sets the golfer up to execute a golf shot of “effortless power” – not “powerless effort.” The word “Backswing” is what it says it should be - “A swing back.” To have a clear picture of “backswing” let us further define both “back” and “swing.” “Back” is “the direction directly opposite the ball’s intended line of flight.” “Swing” is “to move to and fro or rotate about a fixed point.” The backswing is a composition of body rotation and hand and arm wind-up and for ease of learning; it is best done by drilling in separately the “body pivot” and the “hand and arm actions’ and then blending them together into one integrated whole. Ultimately it becomes a seamless part of the complete swing but when building a swing you will need to separate out and to drill in the “backswing” and its component parts.

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At the start we need to look at the simple basic structure and what follows will give you the foundation of a solid and repeatable “backswing.”

Get set at the top

For ease of learning, the backswing is broken down into two separate exercises: - one for the body pivot and one for the hand and arm action. 1) Body Pivot Drill 2) Push Your Right Hand Bent Once both drills are completed to a high level of accuracy, you can blend them together in sequence to create a powerful, yet effortless, backswing. The purpose of the Backswing is for you to ‘Get Set At The Top’. You will be fully and comfortably turned, with your back facing the target. You will know right where the clubhead is and will be ‘Set’ to push (throw) the clubhead down and out into the ball.

Body pivot drill

For this exercise you will need a table with a flat edge that is about hip high: 1. Take your ‘3 Point Set Stance’. Move so


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that your right foot is just under the table and your hip is against the table edge. The table edge is angled at about 20 degrees to the target line - the same as the right foot is open to that line.

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2. Practice making a complete 30 to 40 degree hip turn keeping your right hip against the table edge, to a position where you are ‘sitting’ comfortably on both legs. Your right knee remains flexed as at address position.

The left knee bends out towards the toes, but no further. This helps anchor the feet and legs to coil the hips and shoulder against. 3. As in 2, except have your arms folded out in front of you as above. Beginning with a full 30

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to 40 degree hip turn, allowing the shoulders to out turn the hips to a position where: a) A line through your elbows would be approximately parallel to the ground and b) would be at right angles to the target line.


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Building a backswing: part 2 Following on from developing a powerful and balanced body pivot, the golfer is now ready to build a correct “hand and arm” swinging motion to help fully load the backswing to help launch the downswing release into and through the golf ball. PeterCroker Stand at address with a club. Pushing your right hand bent will provide the impetus (momentum) to reach the following position. Do not allow your hips or shoulders to turn. You will end up in the following position: 1. Your hands are as high as and opposite the inside of your right shoulder (maximum). 2. The dynamic part is your right palm heel pad pushing out and bending your right hand back fully. 3. There is no right wrist cock but the right hand has pushed bent with your right elbow pointing down in front of your right hip. 4. The butt of the club is pointing at the target line. 5. The clubshaft is leaning about 45 degrees away from the target. 6. Pushing out with your right hand has fully extended your left arm. 7. Both wrists will rotate clockwise approximately 45 degrees. 8. Your left wrist is fully cocked and slightly bent.

clubhead back - Then (2) Push is completed. The momentum completely created by the ‘Turn ’ will allow ‘Push’ to occur easily. These two parts will flow into a single natural motion after you work with them for a while. A successful viewpoint for learning to apply the backswing would be in 3 parts: 1. Pushing against the clubshaft turns your responsive hips. Your hip turn then causes the clubhead to drag back. 2. Continuing to push against the clubshaft, along with the momentum of the swinging clubhead, bends your right wrist back early in the backswing rather than late .

Putting It All Together

The two parts of the backswing as outlined are initiated in sequence. 1. Turn - The Hips Turn a full 30 to 40 degrees. 2. Push - Following the initial push back of the hands in the takeaway to initate the hip and shoulder turn, apply the “Push Your Right Hand Bent” action. Left arm remains straight & left hand fully cocks (1) The hands initiated hip turn, swings the

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3. Continuing to push against and out on the clubshaft completes the backswing. Soon this 1,2,3 will blend into just (1) of - Backswing. For a really full and complete backswing, push out with the heel pads of both your left and right hands. At the completion of your backswing your hips have turned a full 40 degrees and your shoulders have made a full 90 degree turn so that your back is facing the target. You are just getting the clubhead into a position where you can directly push (throw) it into the back of the ball. Your hands are still the source of motion during the backswing and your hips, shoulders, and arms move in response to the intended hand motion. The source of control in the backswing is knowing exactly where the clubhead is the entire backswing. In a correct backswing, a ‘heavy’ clubhead is felt via the “pushing” hands all the way to the top. You will know exactly where the clubhead is, giving you good control. There is no way around the fact that you will have to make a slow, deliberate and comfortable backswing, so as to get set at the top. It is not difficult when you drill in the component parts separately to start and then blend them together.

Drill your backswing

Drill your backswing until it becomes one fluid motion. Again the two parts (Turn & Push) must be properly sequenced.


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Occasionally hold your hand and arm position at the top of the backswing and turn your hips and shoulders back parallel to the target line. Your hands, arms and club should be in the same position as you would be at the end of the ‘Push Your Right Hand Bent Exercise’. You can also go from the end of the ‘Push Your Right Hand Bent Exercise’ and turn your right hip to get a better idea of where you should be at the top of the backswing.

Overswinging

In the Croker Golf System, hitting that ball is essentially a pushing or throwing action. You are throwing the clubhead through the ball. The

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backswing is simply taking the clubhead back so that you can throw it through the ball. Overswinging will put you out of position for the throw. Overswinging occurs because, at the top of the backswing: 1. Your right hand is pulling in instead of pushing out. 2. Your right hand is cocking instead of just bending backward. In the backswing your right hand only bends backward and never cocks upward. The right elbow bend supports and adds to the cocking of the left wrist upward in the backswing. The right hand does not cock and it is not this action that cocks the left hand. The important action

of the right hand working to bend back is what keeps the right elbow pointing downward in the backswing. Overswinging is a collapsing caused by cocking your right hand and pulling in on your right hand in a misguided attempt to get a ‘bigger is better’ backswing. It is the attempted cocking of the right hand that is the source of left arm bend in the backswing. The heel of your right hand providing constant pushing out structure, operates with the clubshaft as a lever assembly: 1. Straightening your left arm, and 2. causing the momentum of the backswing to add to the upswing part of the backswing. It is interesting to note from the ‘Push Your Right Hand Bent Exercise’, that it is in fact a backswing and not an up-swing or cross-swing. There is no attempt to swing your hands above your right shoulder (up-swing) or past your right shoulder (cross- swing) .

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Working with the ‘Push Your Right Hand Bent Exercise’, demonstrate these points to yourself. This is an extremely important little section of information; one that opens the door to a new world of golf. A half hour spent really getting these points can save you a lifetime of hassle. You will know where you are going so you can easily get there.

Set Yourself Up To Win

There is no place in the grip, stance, or backswing for any tension: Any Tension Destroys Any Mechanics Stay Fluid The importance of the Grip, Set-up and Backswing is that they put you in a position to hit that ball . A great amount of research and technology has gone into these simple steps. Allow our research to save you a tremendous amount of time and trouble and make the Grip, Stance and Backswing as outlined your own.


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The hit: part 5 PeterCroker This drill defines the downswing path best and how the hands direct not only the clubhead, but also the arms and body on the “A to B” path towards the ball. This exercise has been the most effective in helping golfers remove the “Outside - in” downswing, and replace it with a powerful and direct hit of the ball.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Hands direct clubhead and body exercise Purpose: To remove any illusions as to how the hands direct the clubhead and the body. Uncock the clubhead under (not over) your hands from the top. You are pushing the clubhead directly at the ball (A to B). Work with both to know right from wrong. Un-cocking under has a very distinct feeling. Uncocking in line with Left Arm. Do this very slowly to start and you will see how as the thumbs move downward, the clubshaft wants to move more in line with the left forearm and under the right forearm. (Fig 1)

Part 1

Freeze your body at the top of the backswing position and do not let it move at all through this part of the exercise. Attempt to uncock your hands under, pushing the clubhead directly at the ball. Because you are

Figure 4

Figure 3 pushing out down the clubshaft, your hands will automatically uncock over through impact. Drill this in. It is the “thumbs down - uncocking action” first beforethe left wrist and forearm rotate squaring the clubface to tand maintains the pressure from the heel pad area against the thumb-pad area of the left hand. (Fig 2)

Part 2

Without a club, freeze your body at the top of the

backswing position and do not allow your body to move at all during this part of the exercise. Uncock your hands directly at the ball. Drill this in. (Fig 3)

Part 4

Part 3

Hit some balls retaining the ‘feeling’ you had from Part 3. This exercise in total really develops “Path” and “Power” and the feeling of a free wheeling and complete release of the clubhead down, out, and through the golf ball. Enjoy the Hit!

As in Part 2 above - with your body frozen in position. But after impact, allow the momentum of your hands to pull your body up to a full finish. Drill this in with a really aggressive swing. (Fig 4)

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Take some full practice swings with a club retaining the ‘feeling’ you had from Part 3.

Part 5


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The hit: part 6 Clubhead and body release exercise PeterCroker Following on from the last lesson this exercise promotes freedom to go after the shot and get body, hands and arms accelerating when they should.

Purpose

1. At start of downswing, it is the primary purpose of the hands to release the clubhead on the correct path with an accelerating throwing action. 2. Through the “Impact Zone”, it is the primary purpose of the hands to release the clubhead, clubface, arms, and body so that the clubhead release assists in the complete release of hands, arms, and body to a balanced finish position. You need to get through every shot. This exercise gets the clubhead down and out past the head so that you can get the correct feeling for hitting through every shot.

Push

Address a ball with an 8 iron. Make gradually fuller and fuller swings. Do not allow your shoulders to turn past parallel to the target line. This is just a hands and arms hit. Look at the following picture. We typically call this the ‘Propeller Exercise’.

Pull

As in the above ‘Push’ section of the exercise, only allow the clubhead to pull you up to a full finish after you have hit deep, down and out through impact and well into follow through. Feel how the hips and shoulders snap up to a full rotated and balanced finish. There should be little stress on the back or any other body parts. This is not a sloppy exercise, but designed to get you through every shot. For any golfer that experiences difficulty in “releasing” the clubhead on the correct path, this exercise will help build a positive “A to B” downswing and a “free wheeling” swing.

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The hit: part 7

The slow swing exercise

PeterCroker Following the step by step process to build certainty in your swing, the “Slow Swing Exercise” is a valuable drill to perform for the following reasons. 1. It dispels any illusions as to how the hands direct the body as well as the golf club throughout the swing. 2. Doing such a motion with the hands controlling the club, arms, and body develops an accurate use of the hands in moving the club on the right path from start-up, through transition, start down, impact, and all the way through follow through to a complete finish. (see the video on YouTube to clarify this) It was this exercise that helped us realize how to use the hands plus the speed of the swing that created the “lag” of the clubhead in the downswing and the illusion of a “pulling motion” in the downswing. The reason the golf swing has been so difficult to understand and teach is because: 1. What happens in the downswing and follow through is not what you are

trying to do. 2. What it looks like you are doing is not what you are really doing. A high speed camera gives a “pulling illusion” in the downswing when you look at slow motion or stop frame images of the swing of good players. 3. What you feel is going on in the hitting action is not what is happening. When you attempt to hit the golf ball with some force, the weight of the clubhead creates a “pull” on the muscles and joints of the lead arm and body. This “pulling” feeling has then been interpreted as a “pulling action” when it is in fact a “pushing - throwing” action from the hands that is the cause of this “body” feeling. The best way to overcome any illusions in hitting a golf ball is to swing the club slowly. Then, when you gradually increase the speed of the swing, the dynamics and what happens in the swing begin to make sense. Through this exercise you will be able to see for yourself how it is that your hands direct your arms and body in the golf swing. It is in this exercise that you can re-orient and re-educate yourself into

Left is the slow swing. Right is the full speed swing. In both swings you are trying to do exactly the same thing (push the clubhead directly into the ball) but the dynamics created by the speed of the faster swing make it appear totally different a natural ability to hit a golf ball. Two key points learned from previous lessons presented in Inside Golf are 1. It is the principal responsibility of your left hand to push out down the clubshaft. 2. It is the principal responsibility of your right hand to push against the clubshaft. From the top of your backswing, very slowly push the clubhead down and out through Impact and into Follow Through and then to a full finish over the left shoulder. You are trying to throw (push) the clubhead first down and out through the ball and to the right of the target line.

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Initially it can be helpful when working through this exercise to alternately concentrate on your right hand and then your left hand, per the above statements. Once you see for yourself how both hands work in the shot, you can then forget this distinction and just with your hands, push the clubhead through the ball. This exercise is done without a ball, by very gradually increasing the speed at which you execute the downswing until you finally reach full speed. If you begin to have any trouble, back up to a very slow swing and work your way forward. The set of pictures demonstrates first, a full swing done slowly and then a swing done at full speed. You are still trying to

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do the same exact things in the swing but it is the speed that changes the whole dynamics. People get into trouble trying to do at a slow speed, what it looks like a golfer is trying to do in a full speed swing. But, what it looks like you are doing is not in fact what you are trying to do. The faster you swing, the later your hands uncock. The slower you swing, the earlier your hands naturally uncock. In the series of pictures in this section, you are trying to do or it feels like you are doing the action in the top set of pictures. What naturally happens as you increase the speed of the shots is that you end up looking like the last set of pictures when captured on a high speed camera and then replayed in slow motion or stop frame. You are not trying to get into these positions, it is just a natural result of your hands throwing (pushing) the clubhead in the correct direction down and out into and through the ball. One of the things you will come across as you graduate from a slow swing is: When you swing slow the clubshaft and your left arm will go into a straight line well before impact. As you swing faster, the clubshaft will begin to retain a 90 degree angle with your left arm much ‘deeper’ into the shot. With no deliberate attempt of your own, as you increase the speed of trying to get rid of the clubhead and push it over your left shoulder to a full finish, the ‘deeper’ the angle will get (the longer the left wrist remains cocked prior to impact).


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The Hit: Part 8 Full Swing/Release Exercise PeterCroker Purpose: To build a positive “on path” release of the clubhead for the full swing. What we want is a natural hit of a ball. A good analogy to throwing the clubhead at the ball would be throwing a ball at the ball. When you throw something (ball, clubhead) you are trying to get rid of it. A consistent hit requires “educated hands” and the following drill helps develop this.

Throw the Ball Drill

From a standard address, throw the ball as outlined below: 1. Left Hand - Leave your right hand at your side and from the top of the backswing position, throw a ball at the ball in front of you (Ball First - Body Second). The left hand action from the start of the downswing has the wrist uncocking (fingers and thumb down) – practice this action in slow motion to start. Following a positive and smooth start down with the left hand and arm; allow the left wrist to full rotate “anti-clockwise” once the wrist has full “uncocked.” Aim the left hand at the ball on the ground with the thumb ending up pointing at the ball as you

throw the ball to hit the ball on the ground. This is how the left hand works with the club in the hand as well. 2. Right Hand - Leave your left hand at your side and from the top of the backswing position, throw the ball at the ball on the ground. Similar to the left hand action; throw by uncocking the wrist (fingers and thumb down) towards the ball. Follow this “thumb down” uncocking action by allowing the right wrist and forearm to rotate fully anti-clockwise - the thumb ending up pointing at the ball as you throw the ball to hit the ball on the ground. 3. From now on, when you are hitting a ball you are trying to get rid of the clubhead: You are trying to throw the clubhead down and out into the ball with of your hands! You are attempting to drive the clubhead first ahead of the hands but it is not possible to do so while the direction of the throw is “A to B”, but trying to do so will give you a nice aggressive ‘Clubhead First’ hit through the ball. Instead of throwing a ball at the ball, you are going to throw the clubhead at and through the ball. Now just hit a ball ‘Clubhead First’.

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The Hit: Part 9

The Full Swing / 1, 2, 3 Exercise PeterCroker From a stable stance and grip make a slow and smooth practice backswing and transition into a downswing. This transition into the downswing has the hands and arms releasing downward and then outward towards the ball as the hips and shoulders respond to this “hands initiated” action. The wrists fully uncock and the clubshaft moves fully into line with the left arm. Make sure the arms drop down close to the body as the wrists fully uncock (feel the gravity). Repeat this abbreviated practice swing two times. On the third practice swing make a full release of the clubhead through the ball to a complete and balanced finish. Repeat this “3 practice swing set” several times before introducing the ball. When the ball is introduced hit the ball on the count of 3 after the first two abbreviated swings.

How to Complete the Full Swing / 1, 2, 3 Exercise How you do this full swing exercise is almost as important as what you do in this key exercise. It is through this exercise

where you finally discover a Natural Swing for yourself. There are 5 principles that you need to apply in order to ensure success with this exercise. 1. Keep Your Attention Out There When you hit a ball and it does not go perfectly, the wrong thing to do is put your attention on yourself and get analytical and try and work out what went wrong. Keep your attention out there (on clubhead and ball – not hands, arms, or body) and just hit another shot and don’t allow your attention to come off of what you are doing (hitting that ball) and back onto yourself. Providing you have been following the previous Croker Golf lessons and done the drills at each step it is now time to make that “leap of faith” and complete this exercise fully. The way out is not to ‘figure out’ what went wrong in any missed shot. The way out is to fire the clubhead to a complete finish over your left shoulder until it is a smooth unencumbered motion and put that same swing on a ball. You just step back and fire some more practice swings in one attention span and then walk up to a ball and fire the clubhead the same way. Keep at it until the balls just start going well.

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2. You have to be willing to Miss It to Hit It In this exercise you have to be willing to miss the ball in order to learn to hit it solidly and with authority. If you are not willing to miss the ball you will get careful and manipulate the clubface around impact. When the Croker Golf basics are ‘in’ and this section describes how you work through this exercise, sooner rather than later the balls will just start going straight on their own. But initially it requires you have this ‘leap of faith’ here. You have not seen this swing really work and this exercise does not benefit from any doubts, carefulness or lack of confidence you may have. Don’t be positive about it. Don’t be negative about it. Just keep throwing the clubhead and in the end, without any conscious manipulation, you won’t believe your eyes at the incredible results. Golfers typically slow down and analyse their mistakes. They start analysing their elbow position, turning their hip, etc... That is the exact opposite of the emphasis of this exercise - there is nothing to analyse on the way down to that ball. There is no ‘holding on to’, there is only ‘getting rid of ’ 3. Don’t Change When the Result is Poor Initially when you learned to ride a bike, you didn’t get all analytical. Just by keeping at it, you got it naturally. The responsibility of this exercise is to get you ‘riding the bike’. Get analytical

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about it and you will never make it. You are not going to analytically ‘figure out’ how to ride a bike, you are going to keep at it until it comes straight of its own accord. And it will. The same applies here:

Anatomy of Failure

1. Mistake 2. Doubt - attention on swing mechanics 3. ‘Figure out’ why and make some adjustment 4. Try again

Anatomy of Success

1. Mistake 2. Back up & fire the clubhead until you expect the next one to go well 3. Fire the clubhead through another ball to a complete finish.

4. Complete Every Shot Every full shot should finish with you having fired the clubhead over your left shoulder and you looking out over your right arm, watching the ball fly to the target. It may seem that the reason the shot didn’t finish is that you didn’t hit it well when in actual fact, the only successful viewpoint is just the opposite - the shot didn’t go well because you didn’t finish it! 5. Bullet Out of a Gun You are firing the clubhead like a bullet out of a gun. Fire the clubhead (bullet) and keep your body (gun) stable and acting as a base to hit down, out, and away from. Please visit our YouTube video demonstrating this exercise to gain


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Hit freely don’t steer PeterCroker The pressure of playing a tee shot down a tight fairway unfortunately can place a golfer in a frame of mind of trying to steer the clubhead rather than hitting freely. The Croker Golf System lessons as have been laid out in previous issues will give you a very reliable way of hitting that ball with power and accuracy. You can break any habit of steering once you recognise that any remnants of this killer habit is what now stands between you and a consistent ability to play the game in the real world - out on the course under varying degrees of pressure. The action of hitting a golf ball should be a smooth unencumbered motion. Remember that golf is a Two Target Game – 1. The clubhead’s target is the ball. 2. The ball’s target is the fairway or hole. You simply must be able to: Throw the clubhead down, out, and through the ball without concern over the outcome. Warning! – Do not “try” to make the clubhead or clubface go towards the ball’s intended target! This is steering and will not give you the accuracy you are looking for. Following are two Exercises that are designed to get you through any tendency that you may have to “steering” the ball and help build trust in your swing.

“Hit That Ball – Anti-Steering” Exercise When on the practice fairway or driving range line up a number of balls in a row (say 5 to start). 1. Take a short iron (9 or wedge) and make a few practice swings where you focus on an easy swing with complete release of the clubhead to a full and balanced finish where the clubhead releases fully over the left shoulder. 2. Now with this easy and balanced feeling for the swing step up to the first ball and “without concern for the outcome” fire the clubhead down and out through the ball to a calm and balanced finish. See the ball land and finish rolling and without further delay step up and do the same for the remaining balls. Stay hitting the short iron until you feel good about the outcome. 3. Repeat this exercise with a mid iron (5 or 6),

fairway woods, and finally driver. Continue hitting balls in this manner until you feel relaxed about the outcome and feel you have little to no thoughts on “swing mechanics.” 4. Next take this feeling and “non-thought” to the golf course and “Enjoy the Hit!” with no concern over the outcome. Warning! – if the ball is not going within an acceptable tolerance range for you, return to polishing your swing mechanics as laid out in previous lessons. It is recommended to visit your PGA Instructor/Coach for “hands on” coaching to help build these “basics.”

Power Swing or “Swing Kite” Exercise The ‘Power Swing/Swing Kite’ is a teaching aid

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that offers more resistance the faster you attempt to swing it. At the same time it only offers resistance to the amount of effort you “push” against it as you swing and therefore is safer to use in building “swing” strength than using a “heavy” club. The added benefit is that it helps overcoming any tendency to “steer” throughout the swing as you fire the “clubhead end” down and out through the “impact zone” and all the way through to a full finish over the left shoulder. Take the Power Swing/Swing Kite and in a full swing, attempt to throw what would be the ‘clubhead’ end first, pushing it aggressively deep through the impact area to a full finish. The ‘Power Swing/Swing Kite’ works magic in unlocking and freeing up a student’s motion and hit through the ball. It just peels away any carefulness and leaves a fearless ability to just hit that ball and complete the swing to a full finish.


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Source of structure The first two pushes

PeterCroker Setting up and maintaining strong body structure throughout your shots is a very important factor in building a stroke that produces big distance and real accuracy with a high level of consistency. Learn all about golf and play with poor structure and you have entered a wild variable into your game. In this lesson you will find out about 2 of the major areas of structure that will allow you to naturally acquire strong structure and a more consistent strike on the ball: 1. Push down on the grip 2. Push out down the clubshaft Controlling these two will help prevent “chicken wing” either in the backswing with the right elbow or down through impact and into follow-through with the left elbow. This will have a major influence on the building of a consistent and solid impact. When you are swinging with these 2 points of good structure as outlined in this lesson, you are really protecting your elbows and shoulder joints as the arms stay more closely connected to the body throughout the swing.

1) Push down on the grip

By pushing down (against) at all times on the grip, you are guaranteed of having good arm structure. Your left wrist is located vertically on top of the

grip so that when you push down on the grip of the club the left arm is straight. At address, pushing down on the grip is the oppositie of pulling up on the grip. Down vs Up: Pulling on the grip at any point in the shot with either hand will collapse any arm structure. Rope exercise: Purpose: The purpose of this exercise is to give you the feeling for the source of good arm structure in the swing. Address position: Take a length of rope and tie it around your left shoulder or top of your left arm. Wrap the other end around the grip of a club and with your right hand, hold the grip with the rope stretched in place. Place your left arm at your side and assume address position. Continuously push down and against the side of the handle as you push outward down the clubshaft towards the clubhead. Backswing: Allow your right hip to turn back as you continuously push the handle out and up in front of your chest. Hitting that ball: Continuously push against and out on the handle as you push the clubhead down and through the ball and through the follow through position - thumbs down. Push out structure exercise:

Take some practice swings and then hit some balls concentrating on having good extension at address, during the backswing, on the way down and when hitting that ball through to the finish.

2) Push out down the clubshaft

Pushing out down the clubshaft is the key to consistency, distance and accuracy. At address your hands are exerting a bit of pressure, pushing out down the clubshaft. This pressure is maintained throughout the shot. This is a major factor in maintaining good and strong structure throughout the swing. Pushing out down the clubshaft is the opposite of pulling on the clubshaft. Out vs In: You hit a golf ball while pushing out down the clubshaft the entire time from address, through the backswing and throughout the downswing all the way through followthrough to the finish. Push out down the clubshaft exercise: Make some practice swings, maintaining pressure pushing out down the clubshaft

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throughout the entire swing - from address through to the finish. Now, make some swings and at various points deliberately pull on the clubshaft with your hands. At the points where you do this, your swing will collapse and you will lose any sense of where the clubhead is in a swing.

3) Push your knees apart

Your knees should have a light pressure pushing them apart, so as to have a more solid base to hit from. At setup and throughout the swing, this source of structure is fundamental in providing a firm base to hit from. Knees apart exercise: Take some practise swings with your knees bowed in a bit from setup and throughout the swing. Notice the wobbly feeling this generates. Now take some practice swings with your knees having a light amount of pressure pushing them apart. Notice the greater feeling of power and stability: 1) At setup, 2) In the backswing, 3) On the way down to the ball. This is the feeling you want in your golf swing.


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Building structure–Part 2 PeterCroker Adding to our last lesson on “Building Structure”–we are starting from the ground up and once we have all points of good structure in at address we will see how important these basics are in building a consistent and powerful swing.

The ADDRESS POSITION:

1. The feet flat and heavy in the ground, toes pointing out 20–30 degrees 2. Knees slightly flexed, 3. Pelvis tucked under slightly to create only a slight arch in the lower back. 4. Note in this illustration the straight back and the arms hanging extended down. 5. The balance is even in both feet. 6. While you will feel solid and heavy in the feet and springy in the legs, the chest is comfortably out and the muscles in the arms and back are soft and relaxed. There is extension but little tension in the arms. This is structure in the stance.

Push Back from the Hips for Good Posture Pulling your hips up and in at set-up restricts you and makes turning very cumbersome. By pushing your hips back a bit, you are really ensuring that you bend at the hips and not at the waist. This is paramount in maintaining a straight spine during your swing and promoting good structure.

Bending at your hips, not your waist and allowing your buttocks to go back for balance and equilibrium, is another way of saying: Push Your Buttocks Out. You will feel a hollow at the base of your back when you are set up correctly. Initially setting up like this may feel awkward, but surprisingly soon this position will become very comfortable and natural.

Address position

Incorrect posture, shoulders hunched

Correct posture, swing proud!

Push Your Buttocks Out Exercise

Take some practice swings with your buttocks pulled in under you. Notice how awkward it is to turn back and forward in your swing. Now, push your buttocks out and notice how much easier and more natural it is in allowing your body to turn back and forward.

Shoulders Pushed Back

The stance is begun from a position of good posture,which is then maintained throughout the swing. Posture is defined in Croker Golf System as both: 1. Shoulders Comfortably Back 2. Bend at Hips Not Waist You should not allow your shoulders to be hunched forward. By bending from your hips it promotes having your shoulders comfortably back–not hunched. Maintaining balance goes along with this posture. Try hunching your back and your shoulders. Now by bending from the hips, it is not easy to maintain good balance without having this action

at the same time push your shoulders back and ‘un-hunch’ them. This is what comfortably pushes your shoulders back.

Swing Proud

The pictures depict good and bad posture in the golf swing. Good posture is a key to the dynamics of a powerful and accurate swing. Good posture is Pushing Out. Bad posture is Pulling In. Swing Proud, have good posture the entire swing.

Swing Proud Exercise

Stand at address totally collapsed: 1. Pulling in on the clubshaft 2. Pulling up on the grip 3. Pull your knees in together

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4. Pull your buttocks in 5. Shoulders hunched Take a couple of practice swings from this position. Now: 1. Push down on the grip 2. Push out down the clubshaft 3. Push your knees apart 4. Bend at the hips 5. Shoulders should be comfortably pushed back. From and maintaining this strong structure, take a practice swing. You may additionally try just collapsing one of the 5 points of structure and then alternately try a practice swing with that point collapsed and with that point fully in. Note the difference in fee1 for yourself so that you get the feeling for each of the 5 points of good structure and then acquire naturally good structure. Swing Proud!


118 The Croker System

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Source of Time (An un-rushed Swing) PeterCroker Left Shoulder for the Downswing

It has been remarked by a great baseball slugger that when he was in the ‘zone’ it was as if the ball was being pitched slowly and it was about the size of a watermelon (making it easy to hit). Another remarked that he could actually see the stitches on the ball as it was being pitched to him. For these great athletes it was not so much that they had incredible speed but that from their viewpoint, everything was just moving slower. Thus, they seemed to have more time. For a duffer, the shot is almost over before it has even started. For a pro like Sam Snead or Ernie Els, they seems to have all the time in the world. If there was a part of your body which defines time, it would be your left shoulder. You can waste the time you have or you can acquire more time for your swing, depending on how well you employ the following fundamental.

Source of Time–Exercise for the Downswing Take a golf club and go to the top of your backswing. With an absolute minimum of turn in your left shoulder, using your hands, very slowly push the clubhead down towards impact by uncocking the

wrists (thumbs down). OK. Now do the same as above only as your hands bring the clubhead down into impact, pull your left shoulder back. Feel rushed? See time disappear? Pulling on the left shoulder to generate speed (spinning out), generates a false sense of power. A rushed swing by definition is one where the left shoulder is pulling your hands forward and not allowing them to release the clubhead down and out through impact You have no time hit the ball!

Source of Time–Exercise for the Backswing If you find yourself “rushing” the backswing then there is one sure way to help slow the start of your swing down and that is to “PUSH” on the handle with your left hand (for right hander players) at the start of the “Takeaway” while the right hand provides a slight resistance to “PUSH” against. This action will cause the “Handle end” of the club to start away first, dragging the clubhead back low and straight for the first 30

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centimeters. From here the clubhead takes on a “swinging” motion and a smooth and slower backswing will result. Using the “hands” in a correct “PUSHING” action both at the start of the backswing and at the transition from backswing to downswing is at the source of giving you all the time you need to hit long and straight on a consistent basis. Walter Hagen once said: Never hurry and never worry and take “TIME” to smell the flowers along the way. Time is on your side and the ball is not going anywhere until you hit it.


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Sources of motion in golf PeterCroker

Source is a word that identifies where something comes from. In golf, if you took the viewpoint that there are actual sources for the following important parts of the golf swing, you can gain a more professional viewpoint and natural understanding of the action of `Hitting That Ball’: Motion (Source of Motion) Stability (Source of Stability) Control (Source of Control) Time (Source of Time) Power (Source of Power) Balance (Source of Balance) Structure (Source of Structure) By clearing up and understanding the definitions of these words, you will really be in a position to appreciate the importance of building a Grip, Stance, Backswing and Hit. Please review the past lessons as set out in Inside Golf in a new unit of time and I am sure you will gain much more from these lessons now. They are all available now on the following link: http://www.crokergolfsystem.com/media_ center.htm

Hands

Improper use of hands in golf is what is causing the game to be so ‘difficult’. Golfers are trying to fix everything under the sun, but the real cause

– the use of their hands – is rarely in question. In sports, more feeling more easily emanates from your hands. Your body naturally adjusts to support and align with the action of your hands. You hit with your hands. A golfer’s hands are what direct their body and the club in the golf swing. The clubhead is something the hands use to hit the ball with and the body is something that aligns with and supports the action of the hands. This is true in tennis, hockey, baseball, eating spaghetti... it is also true in golf and is the key to playing good golf! Your body should remain as inactive and as ‘quiet’ as possible throughout the downswing. Your body may appear to move first, but it is a result of first trying to hit with your hands. The whole idea is not to allow the body to react independent of the movement of your hands, but support that movement naturally and work in harmony with it.

Throw a Ball Exercise

Pick up a ball and throw it using each of the following procedures : 1. Turn away from your target. Now plant your left heel hard, and allow your hips to slide and turn forward towards the target. Make sure your right elbow gets to a position ‘deep’ ahead of your hand as you pull the ball forward. Allow your hand to be dragged ahead of your head. As soon as your hand passes your head, open it to release the ball.

Fig 1 Hand positions 2. Pick up the ball and throw it at a target with your hand. This exercise is not as ridiculous as it may seem. Example 1) above is typically how golf instruction can end up being received by the student, whether the instructor meant it that way or not. Example 2) is the correct orientation and shouldn’t be considered novel, but in today’s world is all too often New News!

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Fig 2 Body follows hand exercise

Hand positions

Figure 1 above defines right hand positions that are used in the Croker Golf System program when discussing the work your hands do.

Body Follows Hands Exercise

Stand at address without a club, but with your palms facing each other. Now move your right hand to the top of the backswing position. Then move your left hand to top of backswing

2011 Digital Instruction Guide  

The 2011 Inside Golf Digital Instruction Guide, featuring a full range of tips drills and instruction covering every part of the game. From...

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