Archive for the ‘Golf Instruction’ Category

Junior Golf: It’s Cold-Lets Stay Inside And Learn Something

In this Friday Flop Shot we are going to accept the fact that this weekend it’s cold and windy with chill factors in the teens, and this is in South Texas, so this is a good time to stay inside and learn something. Get some more golf education.img_0106

All of our kids, including your junior golfer daughter, have limited attention spans, particularly if what Mom and Dad suggest is not in her highest priorities. And while she may love playing golf, sometimes watching golf or golf videos requires bringing her in and saying, “ Here’s a great video about a simple exercise to improve your driver skills.” Or “The Tournament of Champions is on TV from Hawaii. Let’s watch some of it and see if we’d like to go play that course some day.” (image offcoursegolf.com)

Put a point of reference in it for your daughter. Make it have some meaning, potentially, at least. If you and your daughter are serious about junior golf, you must have the Golf Channel included in your TV package. There is so much information on it alone, that if your family had no other digital or video media or magazines, your daughter could learn almost everything she would need to keep up with all things golf, just from this channel.

With the Web.com Tour, the PGA Tour, the LPGA Tour and the European Tour there is more golf competition than can possibly be watched. And the instructional shows and the topical and fun Morning Drive Show are loaded with an endless array of golf information and history.

Pay attention to your emails. I mean every day I get them from tgw.com, Junior Golf Magazine, Golf Digest, Golf Digest STIX, Tips @ Golf Digest, Golfweek, Golf World and more. Sit down with your daughter and open these together and read at least 1 article in each. Some are short, no more than a Tweet, while others are more in depth. There is always something interesting and helpful than can be put to use immediately.

This morning I came across a Facebook post about Jimmy Walker’s shortened driver. In the offseason he wanted to improve his driving accuracy and removed some length from his driver. Jimmy says he lost 5-20 yards in distance, but the club feels so much more natural to him at this shorter length and his fairways hit, all but 4 in yesterday’s opening round, putting him in 2nd place, provided very positive feedback. Great stuff!

The Barclays - Round Three

A couple of years ago Bubba Watson mentioned that most amateurs had drivers that were too long. He mentioned that shortening them resulted in hitting more shots on the sweet spot, giving better and more consistent results. Who’d a thunk it? Check out the length of your girl’s driver. Maybe it’s time for a trim. (Bubba image Golf Monthly)

See you on #1 tee looking educated… Sam

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Junior Golf: Thoughts From Sir Nick

In today’s Friday Flop Shot we will enjoy some thoughts from 1 of the all time great golfers, Sir Nick Faldo, winner of 6 major championships. There are some men and women in our wonderful world of golf whose thoughts and words offer great insight and advice and Sir Nick is certainly 1 of them. (photo offcoursegolf.com)img_0106

Now before we get too far along here, David Feherty asked Sir Nick about the formality, almost haughty use of the “Sir Nick” term, to which Faldo replied, well, “It’s actually a request of the Royalty that the term Sir be used to compliment and reinforce the title and tradition.” I mean this is a very big deal in Britain.

Ok, on to golf. Sir Nick is 1 of the rare announcers who offers really useful insights into what a player sees and feels and needs to do to compete at golf’s highest level. When Jason Day blew his drive left into the trees on #16 last Sunday, leading to a double-bogey which took him out of the lead, Faldo said, “Think how good he’ll be when he gets a fade. In order to be the absolute complete golfer, you must be able to fade and draw your driver.” Jason Day needed to hit a fade on #16, but didn’t/couldn’t and it cost him.

Dad and Mom you may be thinking that right now you will be pleased if your daughter just hits her tee shot in play. Yes, being able to draw and fade any club is an advanced technique, but put it on the list. Have big goals and big dreams!image

Another great insight from Sir Nick came during his appearance on Feherty. Sir Nick mentioned that he made a terribly costly mistake when he decided to tweak his swing. He went to legendary coach David Leadbetter for help. According to Sir Nick it took 2 years for the new swing to kick in. He was on the European Ryder Cup Team, who won, but he didn’t really contribute. He hit 5 buckets of balls a day, not the normal buckets, but the 300 ball buckets, you got it, 1500 balls a day for 2 years to get the new swing down. So when your girl hits 1 large bucket of 120 balls at the range, well, let’s put it in perspective, hit more balls! (photo sports.yahoo.com)

Faldo basically lost 2 prime years of opportunity in professional golf to make a swing change. When your girl is unhappy when, after a week, she is not perfectly executing the points from her last lesson, perhaps mention Sir Nick’s 2-year odyssey. Patience and hit more balls, my dear!

See you on #1 tee, using Sir Nick’s tips… Sam

Junior Golf: Fun Stretches with Miguel

imageIn today’s Monday Mulligan we will look at some really fun stretches with the most interesting golfer in the world, Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez. His very unusual and interesting stretches have been shown many times during various professional tournaments. (photo jenlefforge.com)

Flexibility is a key factor for having a healthy active life and it is absolutely essential for all athletes to maintain their competitive abilities. After all the calories of food and excessive periods of likely inactivity over the Thanksgiving holidays, it’s time to get your son back into his regular golf and fitness routine. And a great way to plug in something different as in fun and excitement is to change things up. One of the easiest ways is to introduce a new stretching regimen. Miguel Angel Jimenez serves this up in spades!

Perhaps you remember the 1st time you and your son saw MAJ doing a stretch on TV and your initial thoughts were: “Wow, I’ve not seen anything like that before!” Please know that his unorthodox routine was likely developed over a lengthy period of time with input from experts in stretching, physical fitness and/or orthopedics. So if you look at MAJ’s record and amazing flexibility for a man over 50 years old, it’s obvious he’s using these stretches to great advantage.

In an individual sport where there is limited time for parent child interaction, stretching is an area that provides a great opportunity for bonding and a MAJ’s routine provides a chance for some comedy as well. I mean, some of these exercises are just going to look silly the 1st few times you and your son do them. Take a chill pill and embarrass yourself. Show some vulnerability in front of him, it shows him it’s OK to fail.

The above link will take you to a great video demonstrating some of these moves. When you see how genuinely flexible MAJ is, you should get very motivated to master his moves. Take it easy and don’t rush things. The more proper stretching you and your son do, the more your flexibility will increase. And 1 additional inch of flexibility increases swing speed which adds distance to the shot.

See you on #1 tee, looking nice and loose… Sam.

Junior Golf: Winning Course Strategy

imageIn today’s Monday Mulligan we will take a look a winning course strategy that you and your son can use during every round of golf he plays. The pros dissect golf courses in great detail so they can have a strategic plan to effectively work their way around the course. (photo jennleforge.com)

Knowing what shot to hit and where you want it to end up is very important in order to win golf tournaments. The pros study their next tournament course in great detail and I don’t know exactly what they do or how they do it. What I do know is some elementary basic things that you and your son can start doing at virtually any skill level that can help him learn how to have a plan to attack a golf course and can help build his confidence during a round.

The ultimate goal is to shoot the lowest score possible. Part of the plan to do that is to study the course ahead of time and figure out what club to hit on every tee box and where you want the ball to end up in order to be in a good position to hit an effective next shot. Many courses have yardage books that give yardages between, from and to various points on each hole. This can include tee boxes, greens, bunkers, hazards, etc. A yardage book can be a valuable asset. Buy 1 if available, they are usually $5-$10. A practice round and range finder along with a yardage book are more than sufficient for any junior golfer to be able to “plan out” each hole.

Another benefit of having a strategy for playing a course is that it will give confidence to your son. Confidence can fluctuate during the 18 holes and every small thing to help build confidence ahead of the round is important.

Here are 2 things you can do with a junior golfer of any skill level, even a 6 or 7 year old. Look at the very first shot they will hit. If it is a progressive start-read tee times, ask if your son is starting on #1 or #10. The 2 of you decide what club he should hit based on what the 2nd shot on the hole requires. Have your son hit that 1st shot on the range before he tees off. If it is a shotgun start, find out what hole he starts on and take the same approach as above. The 2nd thing your son can do is find the 1st par 3 he will play. Determine what club he will hit and where he would like the ball to end up. Practice this shot on the range as well. Just practicing these 2 shots can do wonders for your son ‘s confidence during his round. Even the pros will tell you they are a bit nervous on #1 tee and while they would love to hit a great shot, they will be pleased with a decent shot, in play, with an OK leave for their next shot. Proper preparation is a big deal. (photo tomkitedesign.com)

imageReal-life example: S3 and I played a practice round at the beautiful Comanche Trace Golf Club in Kerrville, Texas, to prepare for a US Amateur Qualifier. There was a short par 3 that had the potential to be particularly deceptive. Prevailing winds would be helping from tee to green, but you could only tell if the wind was blowing by looking at the balconies of condos behind the green. The green itself was way downhill in a hole and was shaped running from about 11:00o’clock to 5:00 o’clock. However the back left ⅓ of the green sloped downhill into a water hazard. So the miss on this green was center to right and mercifully the pin placement was front right instead of back left. Understand how easy it could be to hit too much club, or pull a shot to the back left or have a strong wind blowing behind you that you could not feel or be aware of and suddenly you have an easy-looking tee shot over the green in a water hazard. Dad and Mom, this stuff happens to the pros and it can and will happen to your junior golfer or a member of his group. Yes, it’s golf.

See you on #1 tee looking confident… Sam

Junior Golf: Planning Ahead-Attitude

image In this Friday Flop Shot, we will look at your son’s attitude and how it affects his play in a tournament. Professional golfers have an approach to all aspects of their game, especially tournament play, that becomes a regular, repeatable routine which helps them with their attitudes too.

Ah yes, our son’s attitude, the attitude of our son, it doesn’t sound so complicated, does it, really? Until you become a parent, a child’s attitude is just a phrase you hear once in a while. As a loving, caring parent a child’s attitude can be a wonderful fun thing or a stressful, difficult and very trying time. (photo offcoursegolf.com)

Every successful athlete has a positive mental outlook and attitude. This is displayed differently in each sport. Golf is a sport where adrenaline and attitude must be managed. Sure, when a pro golfer hits a bad shot he is unhappy and some show their displeasure more strongly than others. Matt Kuchar says, “Oh Mattie”, when he hits a bad shot. Jordan Spieth says “Oh Jordan” or “No Jordan”.

The key here is that most people need to vent after a poor shot. And they need to get beyond the bad shot as quickly as possible. When caddying for S3, Nelson Blanchard, our good friend and excellent golfer, will say, “Sammie, you have until you walk by that tree over there to get over that shot and start focusing on hitting a good next shot.” Well, that tree is very close at hand, maybe 10 yards down the fairway, so S3 is allowed to vent in a quick and timely manner and reset his mind to a positive state for the next shot.

So how does a parent help the son to prepare to have a proper attitude in competition? Please remember that attitude is 1 part of the huge arena called “mental game”. Millions of words have been written on this and we are giving you some tips/cliff notes to get things started.

 You must have a conversation the week before the event. Better yet go to the range or play a few holes and make every effort to keep things on a positive note. (Matt Kuchar photo Jacksonville.com)

Attitude prep during your conversation should include: helping your son realize that he will be doing something he enjoys, he will have fun. He belongs with the other entrants and he will appreciate the tournament environment. He is going to hit a bad shot and the key is to have a very short memory and focus on hitting a good next shot. Everybody him the tournament is going to hit a bad shot. It’s how you hit the next shot that counts.

Basically, Dad and Mom, you are encouragers for your son. Lift him up. Help him believe he can recover from a bad shot. Frankly, sometimes it is tough. There will be times when your son hits a great drive, just misses the green with his approach shot, chunks a chip and 3-putts for a double bogey. All that after hitting a great drive. This is hard on adults and can be really hard on kids. All the discussions before a tournament don’t guarantee anything. They do however, plant seeds in your son’s mind that will grow fruit now and then.

Have 1 5-minute discussion several days before the event and on subsequent days give him a thumbs up and say the word, Positive or Positive Mental Attitude or just PMA. You may have 50 opportunities before he tees off. Repetition, it works!

See you on #1 tee, positively… Sam

Junior Golf: Be Yourself

imageIn today’s Monday Mulligan we will look at personalities, who our kids really are, how their disposition impacts their play. All of our junior golfers are different and “being yourself” is critical to good performance on the golf course

Great show on The Golf Channel’s Morning Drive show this morning! The cast was talking about LPGA superstar Suzann Pettersen and her attitude during Friday’s round at the LPGA Lorena Ochoa Tournament. The whole crew agreed the Suzann basically played the whole round with a scowl on her face and while she had no shows of temper, she just seemed to be in a foul mood and could not or chose not to shake it. And she shot 1-under par 71 to be in 6th place after 2 rounds. A pretty good spot to be in actually. So Suzann’s poor mood enabled the crew to take the conversation in a more positive direction. (photo jennleforge.com)

Morning Drive co-host Charlie Rymer referred to advice he was given during his professional playing days by famed sports psychologist, Dr. Bob Rotella who told Charlie: “be yourself. Charlie, you’re a talker, so talk while you’re playing.” So is your son a talker, the silent type or somewhere in between? If you have never thought about, then give yourself a moment to ponder this, but you already know.

Your son will play with every type of personality imaginable and more. Some are fun, some are pleasantly tolerable and some are jerks and the silent ones are not necessarily jerks, but maybe just the quiet type. Being yourself is important in life and important in golf. Watch your son in his next few tournament rounds and at some point things will become quite clear. What you are looking for is when does your son seem to be more relaxed and playing better? Is it when he is talking to 1 of his group when they are walking down the fairway or is it when he kind of stays by himself and doesn’t have much interaction with the other players? A trend will show itself and once you have identified his comfortable scenario, have a good discussion with him and encourage him to use his comfort zone while he is playing. It works!image

Our family is a family of talkers. I think we came right into the world talking, we didn’t wait until the normal talking age, we were all talking prodigies. That said, we, at least I don’t think we are just babbling machines, it’s just that we are communicators. It is inherent to our family. And it didn’t take long to see that S3 seemed to always be more relaxed if he could connect with someone in his group. Granted the 6 and 7 year-olds are not likely to be talking, but once your son gets into junior high the socializing will start to show up. And over time he will be paired more often than expected, with someone he already knows and can be comfortable with. The reality is that every round presents an opportunity for your son to learn to maintain his focus, not be distracted by his partner’s personality or lack of personality. Sometimes finding and maintaining his comfort zone is easier and sometimes it is difficult. It’s all part of golf. (photo by golfbytourmiss.com)

See you on #1 tee and wait until after I hit to start talking… Sam

Junior Golf: A Links Golf Tale

imageIn today’s Friday Flop Shot, I am telling a story about a recent links golf experience our family had. It will give you some insight into the intricacies involved in links golf. (photo offcoursegolf.com)

When your son heads out to play a links course, the 1st thing you both need to pay attention to is the weather. Dry means the course will play as designed and wet means lower scores because the only defense the course has is wind, terrain and hazards when it is wet. It does not play as designed, it plays much easier.

S3’s college team has played in a tournament this year and the previous 3 years at the excellent Tribute Golf Club in The Colony, north of Dallas on the shores of Lewisville Lake. When the course is dry and hard, it plays as designed with lightening fast fairways and greens. Your son would not dare put an approach shot above the pin as his downhill putt would likely roll off the green if he didn’t make it. The Tribute is a tribute to 18 of the most legendary links holes in Scotland and each hole has a plaque telling its history and it is most interesting. Folks, this is a great golf course, a wonderful golf course and if you are in the DFW area I heartily recommend your son and you too, play it.

In Texas, we don’t complain about rain because we never know the next time we’ll get some. As fate would have it, it has rained cats and dogs every year just a few days before this event. What does that mean? It means the course is pretty much defenseless and there will be some low scores. Players can shoot right at the pin because the greens are holding and are way slower than they are supposed to be. So links golf creativity is reduced and taking dead aim at the pin is in play. Really, the guys like to make birdies, but I know they were relishing the challenge of playing on a true links course with it’s fangs bared.

So let’s look at S3’s final round last Tuesday. It’s a beautiful day with temps in the 60’s at tee time and rising to the mid-70’s, mostly sunny with light winds. And the course is still wet. So this means the guys can treat this round as a regular US-type golf course rather than a links course and shoot at the pin. Now there are some intimidating holes on this course, 1 particular stretch on the front 9 comes to mind, so there aren’t just gimme pars because it’s wet.image

S3 starts on #10 and blocks his drive into a native area. Well, he did this yesterday and made a good bogey so I expect he’s not thrilled, but thinking bogey and move on. Well, he ends up with a 3-putt triple and is not happy because his team was in 5th place not that many strokes out of the top 3. But everybody needed to play at or under par. Moving ahead in his round he hit so many great shots and after missing a bunch of short putts in his 1st 9-holes, he adjusted for less break and started making putts. Now in his 1st round he had no 3-putts and was 100% on putts 7-feet and less. So in what was 1 of his wildest rounds in a long time, S3 had a 3-over par 75 with a triple on his 1st hole. So a triple, a double and 4 3-putts and 4-birdies. 4 of the putts he missed were less than 5 feet and remember, he made all of those the day before. (photo thecolonyedc.org)

Welcome to links golf, sort of. S3 had his chances to be under par. If he had putted as he did the day before he would have been at least 1-under. Dad and Mom this is golf. This is for college golfers, junior golfers and us adults too. What worked yesterday may not work today. And some of what worked yesterday may be even better today. I mean, S3 in his round of 75 hit 11 of 14 fairways (78%) and 15 of 18 greens (83%). These are great numbers! Really the difference between this 75 and being under par is 1 poor drive, 1 poor chip, 4 3-putts and 2 additional missed short putts. Ya gotta love this sport!

See you on the links, looking Scottish…kilts anyone… Sam

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