Archive for August, 2016

Junior Golf: It’s Your Serve

In this Wednesday Waggle you may be wondering if I have forgotten what sport this post is about. Certainly junior golf is the target but today will will use some analogies to other sports to make our points. (Dufner photo golfdigest.com)img_0102

Volleyball and tennis are 2 sports that have serves. What is the purpose of a serve? It starts the action and gives the server an opportunity to force the opponent to make a play. Is there a similar situation in golf? Yes, there is, it’s the tee shot which occurs, hopefully, only 18 times during a round. It puts the ball in action, against the course in stroke play and against the opponent in match play.

Your son’s tee shot is the ONLY time during an event that he has complete control over everything prior to taking his club back. It begins the action on every hole. Once he sees the safe zone for the tee shot he can then plan and visualize it. He can tee the ball up anywhere on the tee box within 2 club lengths behind the tee markers and between the markers of course. He can use a tee to stabilize the lie of his ball and place it on the right side if he wants to hit a fade or on the left side if a draw is his choice. A common tactic is to tee the ball up in line with a previous divot or a blade of grass that is on the line that your son wants his ball to take off of the clubface.

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So serves and tee shots start the action and servers and golfers are in 100% control until they begin their swing. This is an opportunity for your son to learn how to make a plan, shot by shot for each hole. There are really only 2 steps required to make a good golf shot: the plan and the execution. (photo sh-dz.com)

A serve out of bounds or into the net is a point for the other side and it is an unforced error. So is a tee shot that goes astray into the rough, a hazard or out-of-bounds. Unforced errors must be minimized in order to be competitive. Encourage your son that having a good plan for tee shots is a great confidence builder for executing that shot and setting himself up to make more good shots on that hole.

See you on #1 tee with a plan… Sam

Junior Golf: Unforced Errors

In today’s Monday Mulligan we’ll take a look at something that happens in every sport, it just tends to happen less among the players and teams who are properly prepared mentally. (photo jennleforge.com)img_0135

Unforced errors are our topic today. What are they? Simply put, it’s making a mistake when you should not have. In golf, it’s hitting a poor shot when your ball was in a decent position for you to have hit the proper shot, a good result. You had no extraordinary degree of difficulty or challenges required to hit the good shot. Missing short putts or hitting poor chip shots from a good lie are also valid examples.

In volleyball, service errors are 1 example of unforced errors. If the serve is merely in play, it forces the receiving team to make a play. If the serve is not in play the receiving team gets a free point. The #1-ranked US Women’s Volleyball team entered their semifinal match against Serbia as the Gold Medal favorite. 18 US service errors later-read 18 points for Serbia-our ladies lost 15-13 in the 5th set. In fact 2 of Serbia’s last 4 points to win the match were US service errors. The final point was a block going off of 1 of our girls and ending up out of play, Serbia wins 15-13. Serbia played great, in fact they peaked in this game because China blew them out 3-1 in the Gold Medal match.

How on earth does our team of this caliber commit 18 service errors in 1 match? I mean that’s 18 points and Serbia only beat us by a total of 11 points in the 3 sets that they won! Is it lack of practice/preparation, poor coaching, lack of focus during the game, folding to the pressure of The Olympics or just having a bad night? I don’t know the answer, only the result. Unforced errors took our team out of the Gold Medal Match. To the ladies’ credit they did bring home the Bronze Medal and had a lot fewer service errors! (photo 14-05-1994.blogspot.com)image

Golf’s latest example of unforced errors was yesterday when Rickie Fowler took himself out of contention shooting 5 strokes over par on his last 8 holes, after going 55 holes without a bogey. With a final round 74, Rickie’s fluid swing from earlier in the week disappeared and he could not maintain his great scoring. So he ended up T-7 in The Barclay’s. He needed to be T-3 or better for an automatic Ryder Cup spot. Surely he is still in the running for a Captain’s pick.

Errant tee shots-read unforced errors-led to more difficult following shots, which made pars very challenging on this very tough golf course.

What happened? No telling. Was it really old-fashioned pressure of too many high-value goals dependent on the last few holes? Sure, the pros feel pressure just like the rest of us, but they’re usually better than we are at dealing with it.

Minimizing unforced errors is critical for your daughter. Depending on her age and skill level, confidence is a good place to start eliminating mistakes. Get her off the range and onto the course. Encourage her to remember how it felt to hit that good shot, chip or putt. Ask her how she can feel her muscles soaking up the memory of a great shot. Put these positives in her mind. Pressure is coming and proper preparation and a solid level of confidence are important foundations to be able to handle it.

See you on #1 tee, properly prepared… Sam

Junior Golf: Rio Points To Ponder

In this Friday Flop Shot we will look at some of the amazing takeaways from The Olympics, our points to ponder from Rio, things to get you thinking. (photo offcoursegolf.com)img_0106-1

1st what does it mean, if anything, that the 2 Golf Gold Medalists shot exactly the same score, on the same course, 16 strokes under par? Does it show that course designers Gil Hanse and Amy Alcott did a brilliant job allowing both men and women to have relatively equal opportunities on the Olympic course? Yes, I think so!

From the don’t judge a book by its cover realm, how many of you wondered as you watched the only Russian female golfer tee off Wednesday morning, “Wow, that’s a big hat and an unusual wardrobe for the golf course! Can she actually play dressed like that?” Well, in case you hadn’t noticed, Maria Verchenova finished T-16 at 280, 4-under par. Oh, did I fail to mention she shot a course record 62 on her final round! Yes, she can play. Don’t be distracted by trivial things like the clothes or the swing, look at the scorecard at the end of the round!

Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades! This old saying is particularly applicable in The Olympics because only the 1st 3 places count. 4th place and beyond are all equal, equal to zero, that is! Let’s look at Gerina Pillar whose 1st 54 holes were excellent as she began her final round 2 shots off the lead and in the thick of the medal hunt. For whatever reasons she was unable to stay with the leaders and finished well off the pace. She was in tears after and stated, “I need to work harder.” Pressure, pressure, handling pressure is key to winning and Gerina’s really tough pressure came in the final round of her Olympic tournament and she did not perform good enough to place. (Kuchar photo reuters.com)

Golf - Men's Individual Stroke Play

Continuing with the Close doesn’t count theme…, let’s look at Stacy Lewis whose 76 on day 3 left her with a lot of space to make up to contend for a medal. She had a great final round of 66 and her birdie putt hung on the lip on #18, keeping her in 4th place 1 shot out of 3rd. So Stacy was as close as you could get without medalling, the dreaded 4th place…and by 1 shot. Wow!

What does this mean for your junior golfer? Yes, the ladies can play this game very well, too. Encourage your daughter and your son that everyone can play good golf. It takes commitment! Also your kiddos should work on maintaining their game focus so to not be easily distracted by unimportant things. And please emphasize that EVERY STROKE COUNTS! That 2-inch tap-in putt counts just the same as her/his longest tee shot ever. And the last stroke on the 18th hole counts just as much as the 1st shot on #1 tee.

See you on #1 tee looking focused… Sam

Junior Golf: Life Lessons From Rio

It’s always a little sad in our house when the Olympics end and we realize we have to wait 2 years for the Winter Olympics and 4 long years for the next Summer Olympics. Enjoying these amazing athletes always exposes us to major life lessons, so let’s look at what Rio 2016 offered. (Dufner photo golfdigest.com)img_0102

In no particular order and certainly not an all-inclusive list: 1st, virtually every athlete interviewed for more than 5 seconds mentioned that being an Olympian was a dream come true/living out their lifelong dream. As a dear friend of ours stated, “If you don’t have any dreams, why do you bother to get out of bed?” What a true statement! Please encourage your junior golfer to dream and dream big!

2nd, no athlete, well hopefully no one, was just given a spot on any country’s team. These places are earned through competition in most cases as tough as, or even tougher than the Olympic events. Competition is the fire that tempers the steel of an athlete and the tougher the competitors the better. Dad and Mom enter your young golfer in as many tournaments as budget and schedule will afford. Feel free to enter him/her up 1 level of competition. For example, enter your beginner in an intermediate level and see what happens. And put your intermediate golfer in an advanced event, perhaps not in every tournament, but once in a while to understand the higher level of competition. It’s important to get used to playing with the best! (photo Rio2016.com)image

Pressure is a fact of life. Nearly every pro golfer will tell you they sense some extra pressure on #1 tee at the start of every event and feel even more pressure at the majors. Well, by their own admission, every golfer at The Olympics felt pressure on #1 tee every round. I mean they were the 1st Olympic golfers in over 100 years and they were vying for the rarest trophy in golf! They were in the most special place they could possibly be and worst case scenario they would always be Olympians! Put together a plan to begin teaching your young one how to handle pressure. Depending on the personality, there are different approaches for each kiddo.

Parents, if your junior golfer is going to be competitive and have a passion for our wonderful game, it’s important that dreams, a serious work ethic and learning how to properly handle pressure become integral parts of daily life.

See you on #1 tee looking ahead to the next Olympics… Sam

Junior Golf: Ladies’ Exciting Finish

In today’s Monday Mulligan we will review the action from Saturday’s final round of the Rio Olympics Women’s Golf. (photo jennleforge.com)img_0135-1

The day started with Inbee Park in the lead and she was joined by Lydia Ko and Gerina Pillar in the final 3-some. Stacy Lewis had a terrible round on Friday and had left herself a fairly long chance at medalling. Lexi Thompson, after a solid round on Day 1, never was able to get back into the trophy hunt.

There was considerable drama, but not really as to who would win the gold. Inbee started out making some birdies and increased her lead where only a major collapse on her part would knock her out of 1st place. While she made a couple of bogeys on the back 9, she also made more birdies and she just wasn’t letting go of that Gold Medal.

The great battle was for the other 2 spots, silver and bronze. Remember in The Olympics there are only 3 spots that matter. 4th through 60 all are the same and are meaningless other than having the excellent distinction of being able to call oneself, an Olympian.

Lexi Thompson had her best 18 holes at Rio with a 66. It was however, a case of too little, too late. Her total of 281 left her T-19, 13 shots out of the lead. Good for her shooting a low final round!

Gerina Pillar was paired with 2 # 1’s and got outplayed. Birdies were required on these last 18 holes and Gerina just couldn’t get the birdie train rolling. She had a 74, her worst Olympic round by 5 shots, while watching Indee and Lydia make birdies. This was an opportunity to really learn some things about pressure-packed final rounds! She finished T-11, 278, 10 shots out of 1st and 4 shots from 3rd.

Stacy Lewis and about 7 other players were where the action was! She started making some birdies and climbed into contention at 1 point for a possible silver or bronze. Knocking heads with Stacy were Lydia Ko, ShanShan Feng, Haru Nomura, Amy Yang, Brooke Henderson, Minjee Lee and Charley Hull.

After a disastrous 76 on Friday, Stacy shot a final round 66 putting her in the bubble spot of maybe 3rd, probably 4th. Her birdie putt on 18 literally hung on the lip, just 1/16th of a roll and it would have gone in and likely put her in a bronze medal playoff. So close! (photo bbc.com)image

Stacy Lewis finished T-4, 275, 1shot from bronze and 2 shots from silver. She was joined by Haru Nomura and Amy Yang. Brooke Henderson, Minjee Lee and Charley Hull all were T-7, 276.

This was a very exciting final round because we actually had 10 ladies with a legitimate chance to medal, and the final 2 places weren’t decided until the end of play. And they were all fighting hard because again, only 3 places count! These are the rarest trophies in golf and must be fought for with every ounce of energy and skill! Thanks ladies for some great entertainment!

See you on #1 tee looking entertaining… Sam

Junior Golf: USA! USA!

In today’s Friday Flop Shot we will look at the ladies golf standings at the Rio Olympics. It looks like the women may give us a great finish just as the men did last week.img_0106-1

Things are heating up in Rio as Stacy Lewis fired an 8-under par, 63 in a round that had 11 birdies, a double-bogey and 1 bogey to put her 1 shot out of the lead after the 1st 2 rounds. Gerina Pillar shot 67 putting her 4 shots back and Lexi Thompson had an even par round to end up 6 strokes out of 1st place. All our ladies are still in a position to medal, partially because of the unique format for this event. (photo offcoursegolf.com)

On the list of things I think are great for golf, in this instance, women’s golf, here are a couple: 1st, the ladies are playing the same course the men played, they are playing it at 6,245 yards, about 900 yards shorter than the men. But it’s cool to see how their games compare to the men. Remember, 16-under was the gold medal score for Justin Rose. And it’s a 72-hole tournament, common for the women, but there is more mental and physical effort required to medal here in Rio. It’s good for them to be out of their comfort zone, I mean it’s The Olympics! (photo sbnation.com)image

Today will be interesting because players will be trying to get in a position to be in the top 3 at the end of the day tomorrow. Another way Olympic golf is different from Tour golf is that on tour, players are rewarded in some fashion for a Top 10 or maybe Top 25 fashion. Perhaps it’s ranking points or money. Here in Rio it’s 1st, 2nd, 3rd and then NOTHING! So the mentality is play to win!

1more time, please record, record, record! Set that TiVo! Let’s watch some golf. Go USA!

See you on #1 tee, ready to win… Sam

Junior Golf: Ladies Begin Play

In this Wednesday Waggle we will take a look at the Ladies Golf at the Rio Olympics. Play begins today and ends Saturday. The format is 72-hole stroke play, same as the men’s event won by Justin Rose of Great Britain. (Dufner photo golfdigest.com)img_0102-1

The women have pretty much all of their top stars on hand so the competition should be excellent. Our Team USA includes Stacy Lewis, Lexi Thompson and Gerina Pillar and it will be most interesting to hear from them about all the ramifications of being an Olympian and being the 1st women Olympic golfers since 1900.

1 of the things not mentioned often enough is that Olympic medals are the rarest of them all, being up for competition only once every 4 years. I’ll leave it up to you math wizards out there to compute the odds, but the factors involved in winning an Olympic gold medal vs a major would be: a golfer has 16x the chances to play in a major based on frequency of occurrence, every year for majors and every 4 years for The Olympics. Then majors likely have about 156 entries each and there are many different ways to be eligible to enter each major, oh and there are 4 majors each year all of which have extremely high levels of prestige, although different. Olympic golf has a maximum of 4 entries per country, based on rankings. So math folks, go crazy here and give me a number of how rare an Olympic golf medal is compared to winning a major, please!

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The point I’m trying to make is that Olympic medals in golf are very rare birds. In fact, golf’s future after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where golf is included, will be determined at a meeting in 2017. So it is possible that golf could again be eliminated at the 2017 meeting and starting at the 2024 Olympics, it would be gone. Who knows for how long? Maybe medals from Rio and Tokyo would be the ONLY Olympic golf medals for another 100 years, Wow! So after Tokyo you would have a maximum of 6 different men and 6 different women who would have Olympic golf medals and all the other great players would be looking at that vacant spot in their trophy case never knowing if there would ever be another chance for them to win an Olympic medal to fill in that spot. (photo golfnewsnet.com)

The coverage begins at 5:30am today on The Golf Channel. All rounds are replayed several times throughout the day. Please, set your TiVo. This is golf history and it will excite your daughter and give her some opportunities to dream big! Can’t wait!

See you on #1 tee looking like an Olympian… Sam

Junior Golf: Thrilling Olympic Battle

In today’s Monday Mulligan we look at the thrilling final 18 holes of the 2016 Rio Olympics Men’s Golf Competition. It was a classic battle which had a ton a drama and surprises! (photo jennleforge.com)img_0135

Yesterday started off with Justin Rose 1 shot ahead of Henrik Stensen and everybody else was basically fighting for 3rd in theory, at least, because these 2 guys were in good form. Rose appeared unflappable as he had been playing well for the 1st 3 rounds and Stensen had been playing good for weeks and recently won The Open Championship. Probably neither 1 was going to collapse during the final round. Bubba Watson was T4, 6 shots back and Matt Kuchar was T7, 7 shots behind Rose and Rickie Fowler was 9 behind and Patrick Reed was 13 shots down in the pack. Medal hopes for the Americans were not looking good.

With Rose and Stensen trading birdies nobody gave much thought to 3rd place until someone saw that Matt Kuchar, playing a couple of groups ahead of the leaders, had gone 6-under par on holes 5 through 10 and was blasting past people on his way up the leaderboard. Getting a bronze was looking good but a silver or gold was needing 3-under at least on the 3 easier finishing holes. After driving the par 4 16th, Kooch 3-putted for a par. Stuck his tee shot on the par 3 17th to less than 3 feet and made a birdie and just did not hit his 3rd shot close enough on the par 5 18th and made par, so he finished 13-under and locked up the bronze medal.

Meanwhile back in the last group, Stensen pulled even to Rose with a birdie on #17. Now they’re tied going into the par 5 72nd hole. Lead NBC announcer legendary US golfer Johnny Miller said,
“I think whoever birdies this hole wins! I don’t expect both guys will make birdies, the nerves are just too great!” All of the announcers made reference as to how everybody on the course, not just the players was feeling the intense pressure of being the 1st Olympic Golf Gold Medalist in 112 years!

So Henrik was 1st to hit to the 18th green leaving his approach almost 30 feet short of the hole. Then Justin stuck his 3rd shot to maybe 2 feet, pressure, what pressure? Henrik missed his birdie putt so that meant a 2-footer was all that Justin needed to win the gold medal and yes, he made it. Coming down to the final shots on the last hole, what a finish for golf!image

Gold Medal-Justin Rose, Silver Medal-Henrik Stensen, Bronze Medal-Matt Kuchar. Great job guys!

Let me close with some quotes from Matt Kuchar and his USA teammate Bubba Watson. “I can assure you I’ve never been so excited to finish in the top three in my life,” Kuchar told Golf Channel’s Steve Sands. “I can’t explain to you the pride I feel just burning out of my chest. It’s something I haven’t felt before.” Watson, who was in contention for a medal at the start of Sunday’s round, was excited for Kuchar. “I was grinning from ear to ear every time I looked at the leaderboard and saw he was making pars and making birdies, he was going to get a medal. As long as he signed the scorecard the right way, he was going to get a medal.” Can you say team sport?

See you on #1 tee looking to be a part of something bigger than yourself… Sam

Junior Golf: Olympic Golf Dreams

In today’s Friday Flop Shot we will hear the words of some of the golfers competing in the Rio Olympics. So many of the golfers have a lot in common with the other athletes even though they play different sports. (photo offcoursegolf.com)img_0106

Ricky Fowler in an interview earlier this week said, “Growing up I’d always watch The Olympics and think about how cool it would be to play in them. But then I knew I might not ever get to do it, because my sport, golf, was not an Olympic sport. But things have changed and now I’m here!” Announcer, “What is it like being here?” Paraphrasing Ricky, “It’s absolutely unbelievable, walking into the stadium and representing the USA and being around all these great athletes! My Olympic Dream is coming true.”

Bubba Watson in his post-round interview after shooting a 73 on Thursday, was asked about being part of The Olympics, he replied, “It’s been absolutely amazing. The sad thing is, I shouldn’t say this, but golf gets in the way. I want to go to every event. What a thrill of a lifetime. What a dream come true. I get to be an athlete, but I also get to be a spectator. This is the greatest sporting event around the world. We have every different sport here and now golf is in it. So it is an absolutely amazing, amazing time and I wouldn’t change it for the world. And like I said before, golf gets in the way. I am giving golf my best effort. I had 1 bad swing today and 2 3-putts, but now I get to be a fan and support the USA.” (photo cliffhawkins/gettyimages)

So Mom and Dad what does this mean for your son and daughter? Now they can add the dream of being an Olympic golfer to their dream list! It has been over 100 years since golf was last played in The Olympics and now it’s back! Your junior golfer has a brand new dream! Some of the greatest golfers of all-time NEVER had a chance to play Olympic golf, but now your junior golfer does.

Encourage your kids to dream and dream big!

See you on #1 tee dreaming of Olympic gold… Sam

Junior Golf: Do This With Nike

img_0102In today’s Wednesday Waggle we will look at some ways to take advantage of a major change happening in the world of golf. We’re talking about Nike’s recently announced decision to exit the golf equipment and golf ball business.

Dad and Mom, please don’t fret over Nike’s new direction. It is just part of an economic cycle, the company made a business decision and it really should have no impact on your junior golfer at all. (Dufner photo golfdigest.com)

There are however, a couple of ways you can benefit from the new status quo. 1st, if you’re a collector-type of person, you might want to seek out a new high-end, Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy edition set of irons, driver or putter and buy it and lock it up. Who knows, in 10 or 20 years it might be very collectible and worth several times what you paid. Be aware, there is always risk in collecting anything, but I have a few golfing friends who are surely going to do exactly this.

More realistic for most of us is to be patient and wait until all the other companies release their new clubs late this year and early next year. By then the retailers will likely be ditching their remaining Nike stock at very low prices and you could save a bunch of money. There are going to be Nike golf clubs for sale at very low prices at some point.

And Nike golf clubs are good. In fact we have had several sets among us and we are keeping S3’s Nike Slingshot irons, which are at least 10-years old, because they are fabulous clubs for beginner/intermediate players, young or old, male or female. I have in my bag 1 of my and S3’s all-time favorite clubs, a Nike Ignite 5-wood, stiff shaft. It’s easy to hit and he and I both love this club! It’s just 1 of those that will always be in 1 of our bags! (photo sandbox8.com)image

We like Nike balls as well. My only hole-in-one was with a Nike One Platinum, a favorite ball in our family. I could compress those balls and they had such a sweet feeling coming off the clubface. In fact, that was the last time I shot even-par and I played that ball all 9 holes. Yep, 2-over standing on #9 tee and smacked a 6-iron 175 yards right into the cup to finish even par, 36. What fun!

Watch for sales on Nike clubs and balls and golf gloves too! Save some money and enjoy doing it!

See you on #1 tee with something Nike in your bag… Sam

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