Archive for August, 2015

Junior Golf: It Starts with the Setup

imageIn this Monday Mulligan we are going to look at the setup. The setup is the last thing your daughter does before she actually starts the golf swing. It begins when she addresses the ball, that is, places the club behind the ball and sets her stance. The swing actually begins when your daughter takes the club backward, away from the ball. The results she gets from any given swing are dependent on a number of factors, but the ability to get good results starts with a correct setup. (photo

Depending on your daughter’s skill level, she may have different setups for different shots. For today’s purpose let’s take the most common and correct setup. What are the factors involved:
1. feet proper distance apart, shoulder width for most shots
2. ball proper distance from player, usually arms hang under the chin
3. ball in correct position between feet, 7-iron in middle between feet
4. correct grip
5. shoulder, hips and knees all square to each other
6. knees slightly flexed
7. rear end sticking out…no soft way to say this…for good center of gravity and balance
8. keep chin up, look at ball with eyes, not head
9. and there are a million more setup hints, but this is enough for now

In the Barclay’s, finished yesterday, Peter Kostis, network TV analyst and legendary golf instructor, had some significant insights into some of the player’s setups. On Friday when Jordan Spieth was having his second poor round, leading to his not making the cut, Kostis analyzed his swing, beginning with Jordan’s setup: “Jordan’s feet are closed and his shoulders are open and that setup does not result in good golf shots.” So the #1 player in the world got his setup out of alignment and was unaware of it. Even the best have moments like this. (Peter Kostis photo

Yesterday Kostis took a look at Sang-moon Bae’s setup. “His shoulders, hips, and knees are in beautiful alignment and he is hitting some excellent shots” commented Kostis. Bae was having a very good tournament and a big part of his success was a proper setup.

Mom and Dad, the setup is the one and only time in the golf swing process that your daughter has 100% control over the situation. Learning the correct setup and feeling the proper positions are critically important. Without this, the chances of hitting good golf shots are very poor.

So, go back to basics. Check out the setup. Once you are both happy with it, fire away!

See you on #1 tee, and let’s see a good setup… Sam

Junior Golf: Finger Stretches, Yes, Really

imageIn today’s Friday Flop Shot we will examine finger stretches and how great a benefit they can be in helping prevent injuries. Your son’s fingers, hands and wrist are sacred territory which must be protected at all costs. Unless these body parts are close to 100% healthy, the chances of playing decent golf are greatly reduced. More focus is needed on the proper stretching of fingers, wrists, forearms and elbows. Today these are not getting the attention they deserve.

The good news is that finger stretches can be done anywhere, anytime. No special equipment, clothing or location is required. All you have to do is help remind or help your junior golfer to do them. Mom and Dad you should do them as well. Be the example. (photo from

Easy and effective finger stretches:
1. Hold both hands in front of your face with all 5 fingers spread apart and the same fingertips on each hand touching the fingertips on the other hand. Relax the fingers on the left hand and push them backwards with the fingers of your right hand. Repeat with the left hand pushing the right hand fingers rearward. You can push both hands against each other also, but the feeling when fingers are bent backward is totally different than fingers pushing forward against each other. You will feel this in your forearms and up into your shoulders.
2. Martial art stretch for hands, fingers and wrists: stand up straight with your left arm straight along your left side with the elbow locked out and palm facing forward. Maintain the left arm and swing it in front of the right quadricep muscle (right thigh). With the right hand, grab the 4 fingers of the left hand and gently pull them, while raising them up, toward the outside of the right hip. Hold for 20 seconds. Then reach under the 4 fingers of the left hand with the forefinger of the right hand to grasp the left thumb and gently pull it rearward. You and your son will really feel these, all the way into triceps and beyond. You may also do this exercise with your arm extended straight out in front of you, parallel to the floor.

Great examples of the need for these stretches include times when your son has been spending an inordinate amount of time doing schoolwork that requires lots of keying in on a computer. The hands, wrists and forearms and elbows can get almost locked in place. If you head to the range right after this, your son’s tendons and ligaments may be slightly misaligned and could be damaged unless proper stretching/warm-up takes place. (photo from

Also, in our house, S3 and I love to play Call of Duty and especially love killing zombies together. After hours of holding the PS4 controller my wrists start to ache and I feel like I almost need to crack my fingers loose to get them out of the PS4 position. We do have an absolute blast and we are big fans of parents playing video games, in moderation, with the youngsters. However, when we put down the PS4 and head to the driving range, we all know that special stretching is needed to switch over the hands, wrists, forearms and elbows from video game mode to golf mode. Injury prevention, if you please.

See you on #1 tee… and you better be stretched out… Sam

Junior Golf: More Stretching=Better Golf

imageIn this Wednesday Waggle we’ll see how more stretching equals better golf. Yes, your daughter is as nimble and flexible as a piece of string, but she will benefit from proper stretching. The best golf is a result of many things including a body that is properly stretched out. Tight muscles just cannot get into the proper positions to execute good swings.

Even with the innate agility that comes with youth, your daughter still needs to start investigating a solid stretching, strength and conditioning program. The easiest to implement is the stretching because it requires no special equipment or clothing. 40 years ago the only guy doing anything remotely resembling these things was Gary Player. Look at him today. He looks great and can allegedly outwalk the young pros on tour! It’s no accident. His years of extra conditioning work have really paid off. (Jason Duffner photo from

Where do you start with the stretches? Our family has a series of stretches that have helped 100% of the folks we know have properly used them. These were given to me by an orthopedic surgeon 20 years ago when my lower back was knotted-up. They are designed to stretch pretty much everything on your back side from the base of your skull to your Achilles’ tendon. And with a knotted-up lower back, I was pain-free and better than normal after 16 days of doing these stretches 2x daily. Now they are an integral part of my fitness regimen. And they stretch the quads and calves too!image

Today virtually everyone on the PGA/LPGA has some sort of fitness routine. The competition demands it. Sometimes kids take more readily to new things if they are fun, so here are 2 stretching situations that you can certainly make “fun” to your daughter. It is just plain “fun” to watch Miguel Ángel Jiménez do his brief stretches on the driving range. They are quick and easy, but they may not be the only warmups he does. Find a video and go for it. (photo from

Another great video from The Golf Channel, I’m sorry I don’t remember the specific show: is one of the guest instructors showing quick stretches to do when your daughter is late getting to #1 tee and there is no time for formal routines. It is great and it takes just a minute or 2.

See you on #1 tee…and your daughter better be stretched-out and ready to play… Sam

Junior Golf: The Best $100 You’ll Ever Spend

imageIn today’s Monday Mulligan we’ll look at the best $100 you’ll ever spend on your junior golfer. Yes, there is money to be spent on every athlete, but the money we will talk about today is probably something you have never heard of. Our family certainly was not aware this technique even existed.

So when S3’s knee dislocated during a high school golf tournament, he saw his orthopedic surgeon, had an MRI and it was determined that he had loose kneecaps. The requirement/rehab was to get the supporting tissue around his knees stronger, basically. His doctor told us to go to a physical therapy clinic that had a therapist certified in sports medicine. As an elite athlete, S3 needed the unique expertise the sports medicine certification brought to the table.

Our first rehab visit began with a review of the incident and an evaluation of his knee. Then we were asked if we would like to put S3 through a 7-stage test which would identify muscle imbalances throughout his body. Then a custom rehab program would be instituted to reduce his risk of future injury. Insurance wasn’t covering it and the out of pocket would be $100. We said, “Let’s do it.”

The proper name of the test is the Functional Movement Screen and when you watch your son go through it, it doesn’t look all that difficult, that is until you try to do some of the stages. Well, S3’s score was 14, out of a possible score of 21, 3 points max for each of 7 positions, which meant he had a slightly higher than average risk of future injury. A custom program was designed with the express purpose of getting his score up to 17 which would genuinely reduce his risk of future injury. After 6 weeks of rehab he scored 17 on a retake of the test. He/we were elated! Then S3 was fit to enter another 6-week super-advanced training for very elite athletes. He was in with college soccer players mostly and the instructor was basically trying to wipe everybody out during every session. Our son held his own and really benefitted from this whole process.

It is pretty much a certainty that athletes will have injuries. I encourage you to investigate the Functional Movement Screen in your area. The best exercise programs are custom programs but there are things you can do to make your son’s body stronger, more muscularly balanced and less injury-prone. Probably if your young golfer is not a teenager-read hormones-you might want to wait until he is in junior high or a freshman in high school before spending the money.image

The fact is that this test and the resulting custom rehab and then ongoing custom physical training programs have changed our son’s life. As he enters his senior year playing college golf, his legs, knees and ankles are stronger and more balanced than they have ever been. Please ask orthopedic clinics and physical therapy clinics in your area about the FMS. Someone will be familiar with it and where you can have it done. Check with your insurance and if they won’t pay, then save up until you have the cash. Knowing all this, I would have had S3 do this test before puberty because it still has value. Really, check this out!

One final word: the NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA and multiple US special operations forces spend millions of dollars every year on FMS and related custom physical training programs to keep there elite athletes and warriors healthy. What better recommendations are there?

See you on #1 tee…with strong legs… Sam

Junior Golf: Emergency Kit

imageIn this Friday Flop Shot let’s discuss what to put in the Emergency Kit for your son to carry in his golf bag. Unexpected situations happen on the golf course and having just a few items on hand can help keep him in competition. (photo from

A quart-size zipper-style bag is a perfect size to hold some items that your son probably need during one of his tournaments. The goal here is to provide some relief for weird accidents or illnesses that can show up out on the course. Remember, once your son reaches a certain age, maybe 9 or 10 years old, you can’t give him anything once he puts his ball in play. And verbal communication usually is strictly limited, as well. And if caddies are not allowed and his coach is nowhere to be seen and he gets hurt, he’s pretty much on his own unless he needs EMS.

Things we have seen that are disruptive and inconvenient, but still can be played through by your son are: blisters, headaches, seasonal allergies, stingers, bleeding-usually scratches from bushes and trees and brief periods of just not feeling right. So, please check with your medical professional, but here is what we put in the quart bag: bandaides, gauze pads-small, athletic tape, aspirin/ibuprofen, Alleve, Claritin D, small tube of antibiotic ointment and a small tube of sunscreen. Again, with the exception of coaches and caddies, once your son gets around 10 years old, he’s on his own where minor illness and injury are concerned. So the choices are only play through the discomfort or take something from this bag to help with the discomfort or the dreaded WD-withdrawal, which no youngster really ever wants to do.

Here’s our crazy real-life example: S3 was on his final hole of a high school tournament at the Ram Rock Course at Horseshoe Bay in Central Texas, always one of the Top 5 toughest courses in the state. He was playing well, maybe 2-over through 17-holes and just had this tricky par 3 to finish the round. Linda and I were looking back at the tee box from the green and watched in shock as S3 took a practice swing and collapsed on the ground. We rushed down there to find that his left knee had dislocated, causing the collapse. And it popped right back in as he stood up. I mean nobody had ever seen anything like this on the golf course. And like every true competitor, he said, “Dad, I’m finishing this round. It’s only 1-hole.”image

Well, he wasn’t going to die from a dislocation, but I can’t imagine what was going through his mind as he hit his tee shot! Anyway, he bogied the hole, to complete a pretty good round. Please, at least with golf, don’t ever think you’ve seen everything, because our family can assure you that there is always something new and interesting waiting to show up when you are on the golf course. (photo from

The total weight of the golf bag is important, so keep the contents of the emergency bag to a minimum. Your son will appreciate, especially in hot weather during the last few holes.

See you on #1 tee… Sam

Junior Golf: The Best Rehab Strategy

imageIn today’s Wednesday Waggle, we will look at the best injury rehab strategy. The goal is to get your daughter pain-free and ready to resume golf activities ASAP. A disciplined and consistent rehab program will be the key, but it includes more than just the formal rehab her medical professional has recommended. (Jason Duffner photo by

Diet is a big player in a comprehensive health and rehab program. While it seems kind and loving to provide the sugary treats and drinks that your injured youngster might ask for, sugar and cheap carbs are not helpful. Please keep these to a minimum. Perhaps the injury is an opportunity to introduce your daughter, and the rest of your family to healthier eating habits. High-quality protein shakes, clean meats, as in organic chicken or grass-fed beef and green veggies will help her body make repairs. Yes, she needs some carbs and there are ways to get them other than candy. Sweet potatoes are a very wholesome food item, give them a try. Explain that eating healthier will help her feel better faster and get back on the golf course sooner.

Be assured that Jason Day, last week’s PGA Championship winner, has been working a plan to combat his vertigo/dizziness for months. You may remember his heroic attempt to win the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, but his illness just wouldn’t let up and his final round took him out of contention. However, he and his team found a way/medicine/regimen to defeat or at least control his vertigo so he could play 4 great rounds of golf at Whistling Straits! This is no small feat since vertigo can be very difficult to overcome. Certainly Jason’s plan included medical components as well as diet and exercise. No stone could be left unturned. It took months of effort by Jason and his team to get past this illness and it may take as long or longer for your daughter. Be optimistic. ( photo

Recovering from injury is serious business and sticking with your medical professional’s rehab schedule is important. Don’t get in a hurry, as almost all youngsters do. If your daughter is ahead of schedule your therapist will let you all know.

Now, just one more thing. Let’s apply a mental aspect to her recovery. In survival training, the most important item for survival is a positive mental attitude, a can-do belief. Folks, the human mind is amazing and more and more research is proving that positive outlooks and emotions are extremely powerful and beneficial to quality and longevity of life. So Mom and Dad, you guys give your daughter positive support and thoughts and encourage her to do the same. Yes, this stuff works!

See you on #1 tee, and I had better see a good attitude… Sam

Junior Golf: The 1st Thing To Go

imageIn this Monday Mulligan we’ll take a look at the 1st thing to go when you suffer an injury. And it is the most time-consuming to get back to the previous level of proficiency.

What is it? It is what your junior golfer should be spending much of his time on, chipping and putting. The touch, feel, visualization and sheer creativity for shots around the green require a lot of practice. Golf is a sport which has many artistic requirements. And while visualization is important on every shot, the area around the green is where golf tournaments are won. (photo by

So when you son is injured, the tendency is to want to get back into playing shape as soon as possible. The problem is that most injuries don’t allow him to do any real practice. Even though chipping and putting are handsy-feely kinds of shots that use a little lower body action, your son’s whole body needs to be pain-free in order to properly set up to chip or putt.

So a sprained ankle or twisted knee obviously means no drives or approach shots will be hit for a while, but it also means discomfort when your son tries to chip or putt. This is where patience comes in and an encouraging word from Dad or Mom is very soothing. Trying to return too soon after injury is not good.image

World #1 Rory McIlroy, after the 2nd round the PGA Championship, was asked about where he thought his game was after a 2-month injury layoff. His response was that he was hitting some pretty good drives and approach shots, but his chipping and putting, his short game, just wasn’t where it needed to be. Folks, even Rory can’t snap his fingers and get his short game back. It takes work, lots of work.

You and your son can do some planning and strategizing so that once he is cleared to resume playing golf, the 2 of you have a solid plan. This gives him and you something to do to hopefully help rehab time go by more quickly.

See you on #1 tee…pain-free… Sam

Junior Golf: Stronger Hands and Wrists

imageIn today’s Friday Flop Shop we will look at why strong hands and wrists are important for golfers and recommend some exercises so your daughter can increase her strength. (photo from

Popeye’s forearms are legendary in the cartoon world. Paul Casey’s forearms are often described as Popeye-like or Popeye forearms because they are big, bigger than you see on most Tour players. But the forearms talked about more than any others in the history of professional golf are, of course, those of The King, Arnold Palmer. There was a photo of Arnold hanging in the lobby of the now defunct Pecan Valley Golf Club here in San Antonio that is certainly one of the great golfing photos of all-time. It was of Arnold hitting a shot out of a green side bunker and the cameraman caught him just after impact and you could see the size and strength of those forearms prominently in the shot. It was amazing! (Arnold Palmer art from

So why are strong forearms important? While I am not a medical professional, I can assure you that the forearms provide a bunch of support for the hands, as in grip, and the wrists, as in shock absorbers and control devices. Without strong forearms your daughter’s ability to just hit a lot of shots, much less shots from any rough, particularly deep rough are dramatically hindered. Just advancing the ball from the rough requires strong support for wrists and hands so she can hit a decent shot and continue to play without injury. A tremendous amount of strain and stress goes straight from the hands to the wrist, forearms, biceps, shoulders and more.

As Bubba Watson says, just hitting a lot more balls helps get your daughter “golf strong”, but there are a couple of simple exercises she can do at home that can quickly make her stronger.

Take a newspaper page or magazine page torn out of the periodical. Place the page in front of her. Have her place her hand flat, palm down in the middle of the page. Then draw the page into the palm of her hand by making a fist while pulling the paper into her palm, making a paper ball. Squeeze the ball as tight as possible, seeing how small she can make it. Hold the squeeze for a count of 3. I first heard of this technique from NFL players who raved about the results, as if they needed to be any stronger.image

Also you can get a wooden dowel or pvc pipe 18-24 inches long. Then get a piece of soft rope about 3 feet long. Attach an individual weight plate of 1.25, 2.5 or 5.0 pounds to one end of the rope. Attach the other end to the middle of the dowel/pvc pipe. Have her grab the dowel and hold it straight out in front of her with elbows pretty much locked and parallel to the ground. Roll the rope onto the dowel by pushing the wrists forward until the weight hits the dowel. Allow the weight to drop by slowly rolling the wrists in the opposite direction. In other words, up can be pushing the wrists forward and down can be pulling the wrists to her. Start with 2 or 3 reps of both directions. When she gets up to 10 reps, increase the weight.

OK, here are a couple of tips to increase strength and reduce risk of injury.

See you on #1 tee… Sam

Junior Golf: Protect Your Hands

imageIn today’s Wednesday Waggle we will look at how and why your junior golfer needs to protect her hands. Staying healthy is a big deal. Proper practice and play requires a healthy youngster.

Golf is a whole body sport, but no body part is more important than the hands, and let’s include the wrists since they are so closely related. Feel, feel and more feel is critical to playing good golf. The hands are the “feel” instrument. Listen to any conversation among professional golfers, men and women, and it won’t be very long until the “feel” word comes up. Feel the grip pressure. Too light or too heavy is not what you want…just right is required and you only get “just right” with feel. Putting is about feel. Feel is everywhere in golf. ( Jason Duffner photo from

So protecting the hands is a really big deal. Avoid activities that increase the risk of injury to her hands: bruising, strains, sprains, dislocated fingers, etc. Yes, this means some disappointment as certain fun activities are no longer an option, but the rewards of playing golf as a healthy athlete are great. Positive attitude from parents can transfer to your daughter. Optimism is a very contagious commodity.image

Her hands and wrists can be injured during a golf activity. S3 chunked a shot on the driving range prior to his final round at the 2014 PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship at PGA Village in Port St. Lucie, FL. He had a great round, shooting a 73. Unknown to him, his chunked shot had tweaked a tendon in his right wrist. S3 learned that as we went to the driving range after he got home from the event. He would hit a shot and about 1 second later fall to the ground in pain, excruciating pain. So here while S3 was practicing the sport he dearly loves, he super-chunked a shot on the range, but was able to play his final round pain-free because the inflammation in his right wrist had not totally set in.

Fortunately in Texas, we have our beloved AIRROSTI soft tissue chiropractors and 10 days later after 3 AIRROSTI treatments S3 was pain-free. Every injury interrupts practice and play. Golf requires considerable consistent attention if your daughter is going to improve her skills. Enough interruptions happen on their own so everything you can do to help your daughter avoid injury is really great!

Remind your daughter to protect her hands…see you on #1 tee… Sam

Junior Golf: Protect Your Body

imageIn today’s Monday Mulligan we will look at how and why junior golfers must protect their bodies. Protection and caution particularly against non-golf injuries is where we are going here.

With the PGA Championship week here, I can’t help but wonder how defending champion Rory McIlroy will do. After tearing up his ankle in a pickup soccer game with friends, his practice and physical prep has been severely limited. The 2 conversations I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall on are:
1. the call from Nike to Rory’s agent after learning that Nike’s highest paid professional golfer was going to miss 1 major tournament, The Open Championship, and could possibly miss a 2nd major, The PGA Championship.
2. the call from Rory’s agent to Rory.

While I am not a lawyer or sports agent or manager, I do know that most professional athletes have clauses in their contracts prohibiting or at least strictly limiting any physical activity outside of that required to perform at a high level in their sport. Sports teams and sports endorsement companies, Nike here, pay big bucks for an athlete to play well and bring positive attention to their product or service and every game an athlete misses means the endorser loses money. I wonder if there was a penalty clause to Rory if he missed a major championship, which he did, because of a contract violation. Wow, interesting stuff. And frankly, how embarrassing.

How does this affect your junior golfer? Simple. Please impress upon him that if golf is the sport he intends to play, then he will need to give up some other sports in order to limit the possibility of injury. S3 incurred a couple of minor injuries playing pickup basketball and throwing a football…with his golf teammates at an away tournament. Now, he was able to play, but was a bit uncomfortable. It required constantly reminding him to tell his buddies that being healthy for his golf was more important that playing pickup games. He was disappointed at first but you know, after the first couple of strains and sprains, he got the point and quit messing around.image

So, when you are at the family reunion and that traditional flag football, basketball or volleyball game starts up, remind your kiddo that the best choice is to not play and stay healthy for all the wonderful golf activities on the fall calendar. Yes, there will be some sadness, but not nearly the amount of sadness there would be if your son missed a tournament or 2 because of an injury sustained as a result of a poor choice. As the Knight’s Templar said in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, “He choose poorly.”

Enjoy PGA Championship week! Tape the tournament and the “live from PGA” that airs on The Golf Channel. There is much excellent golf wisdom dispensed during these broadcasts!

See you on #1 tee… Sam

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