Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Junior Golf: The President’s Cup Lesson 2

imageIn this Columbus Day Monday Mulligan we will look at Lesson #2 from the President’s Cup. Watching professional golfers is always an educational experience and the amazing sights from Inchon, Korea, hosting 24 of the top male professionals provided exceptional footage!

The 1st thing I want to point out is that while, if you spend enough time with your junior golfer, playing golf yourself and watching professional events, you will always see something that you have never seen before. Some good and some bad. So let’s start with moments where the professionals did not look so great. This is to show your son that no one plays perfect golf, golfers are human with human emotions and really there is not that much difference between dedicated junior golfers and professionals. (photo

Again parents, I’m making a point here, not focusing on the negative. 1st: short putts, putts 5-feet or less. Any pro will tell you that you must be virtually 100% on making these if you want to win a golf tournament. Well, in day 2 FourBall, which is really BetterBall, meaning 2 guys from each team play in a Foursome and the low score from each of the 2 players from each team is the recorded score for that hole, Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson were playing against Jason Day and Charl Schwartzel and everybody, each of them, yes, that’s 4 of the top pros in the world, missed a 5-foot or shorter putt to win the hole, in other words these putts were on the same hole, unbelievable. The hole was halved with 4 bogies. So all this group and their caddies were shaking their heads walking to the next tee.image

Same day, 1 of the par 4’s has water all along the right side of the fairway and the wind was also blowing from left to right. 16 pros played that hole in Round 2 and 8 balls went in the water. And we saw chunked pitch shots, bad sands shots and considerable shots not going where the player wanted them to go. It got so bizarre that the announcers said it looked more like the Wednesday Pro-Am, than a professional golf tournament. (photo from

The main difference between these pros and any amateur golfer, including your junior golfer is the mental game. Pros have a short memory and after hitting a terrible shot, they will most likely hit an amazing shot, leaving you speechless. The mental game is the difference and the toughest part of the game to master. So Dad and Mom teach your son to let go of, forget the bad shot and focus on hitting the next shot well. The sooner he starts doing that, the better he will play. Every golfer hits ugly shots. It’s what your son does on the next shot that matters.

See you on #1 tee, with a short memory… Sam.

Junior Golf: The Best of Times

imageIn today’s Monday Mulligan, we will look at the Best of Times with your junior golfer. As we have mentioned before the times you are with your son during junior golf will provide some of the most wonderful experiences of your life, memories and bonding opportunities like no other.

When Charles Dickens wrote “A Tale of Two Cities” in 1859, he likely was not thinking his opening line “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”, would be used as a sports metaphor. But this line from one of the great classic novels of all-time could certainly be used to describe the life of a junior golfer and his parents. Any sport has highs and lows, but golf is different as it is an individual sport and with the few exceptions that you can have a caddy or coach during competition, life on the course is a bit isolated. (photo by

Today however, we’re talking about “It was the BEST of times”. S3 came in from college this past weekend to play with me in my high school 50th Anniversary Reunion Golf Tournament. It was a scramble at a course we have played many times. This was a progressive start-meaning tee times and we were the 1st group off. Well S3 was the talk of the tournament, being a college golfer and that he was just 21 years old, since almost everybody else’s kids were around 40 years old. This of course added to the BEST of times for me, the Proud Papa.

A bit of humility returned as I explained to S3 that our teammates each had a gpa that made my very good gpa look not so good. Tom went to Rice and is a prominent chemist/toxicologist and Leo went to UT, my alma mater, that’s The University of Texas for you non-Longhorns, and works in a prominent applied physics lab on the East Coast. Of course some Big Bang Theory jokes were in order.

On #1, I actually crushed my 3-wood right down the middle, but S3 outdrove me, of course, and we used his tee shot to begin the scramble. The first 5 holes we just could not scrape up a birdie, but finally on #6, a par 5, S3 bombed his drive and hit an 8-iron pin high so we finally 2-putted to get on the birdie train. Actually the course ran out of range balls so we had no range warmup, just chipping and putting, so it took a few holes to just loosen up. Bad form for a prominent golf course to be out of range balls by 915am on a Saturday with a tournament starting at 10am.

Now, the kinks were gone and S3 and I hit a bunch of great shots. I played the best golf, for me, in a long time and he finally relaxed and started hitting the amazing shots he is capable of. So the drill was S3 would hit 4th, expecting me or Tom or Leo to hit a decent playable shot so S3 could go for a higher risk shot. It worked. We were 9-under par for our last 13-holes. Not fabulous, but pretty doggone decent!image

The point here parents, is that my son and I got to spend 5 wonderful hours together on a really nice day, on a good golf course on a team with 2 of my high school buddies. Tom and Leo are super guys and great teammates. We all fed off of each other’s good shots. It is always a very close and special relationship between parent and child when you can each feed off of and share in each other’s good and actually quite a few great golf shots. It is just so cool to be there together: “Great shot Son!”, “Great shot Dad!” There’s nothing else like it, period! Find a way to share these moments with your son. If you don’t play golf, be his biggest encourager! That’s a big part of what Linda and I are here to help you do.

See you on #1 tee, hopefully both of you… Sam

Junior Golf: The Solheim Cup Lesson 2

imageIn this Friday Flop Shot we’ll look at another lesson to be learned from the Solheim Cup. Every golf tournament is a stage and the entrants are under scrutiny. International team competition like the Solheim Cup provides the biggest stage with a gigantic microscope for seeing and commenting on each player’s every move and shot.

In match play, such as the Solheim Cup, it is common for short putts, maybe 2-feet or less to be “conceded” or to be acknowledged by the opposition to be “good”. So if your daughter’s remaining 2-foot putt was “conceded”, she would pick her ball up and the other team would finish putting or if both teams had finished the hole they would proceed to the next tee. The key here is that your daughter must never assume a putt is conceded. Ask specifically, usually something like “Is that good?” Make certain of the response before doing anything.

So last week Alison Lee of the US thought her par putt had been conceded on #17, and picked the ball up. Well, it was not conceded and she lost the hole. Big mental error. Europe could have chosen to “give” her the putt after that fact, thus negating the loss of hole, but chose not to do so. While all this is within the match play rules, golf is a game of sportsmanship, honor, integrity and good etiquette and manners. All the women involved were very distressed by this event, some being in tears. Alison Lee felt terrible because loss of the hole contributed to losing the match in a very close team competition. The Europeans had second thoughts after they were seen by some as ruthless and not playing within the sportsmanship spirit of the game. Europe’s Suzann Pettersen apologized after the match. (photo

Or, as they say, on the other hand, let’s look at the finish of the 1969 Ryder Cup hosted by England. On the 18th hole of the final match between Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklyn, Nicklaus made his par putt and Jacklyn had a knee-knocking 2-footer left for his par. In one of the great all-time examples of good sportsmanship, Jack Nicklaus walked over and picked up Tony Jacklyn’s coin, conceding the putt, halving their match and ending the 1969 Ryder Cup in a tie. US team captain Sam Snead was furious and other US team members were surprised to say the least. Over time this gesture by golf’s greatest player has overcome the initial critics and is now seen as perhaps the greatest example of good sportsmanship of all time.

20 years from now what will be said about the European Women’s decision not to concede Alison Lee’s putt after the fact? They may be put into the Nicklaus/Jacklyn conversation, but at the other end of the scale. Please instill into your daughter that she can choose her actions but she cannot choose the consequences of her actions. Encourage her to make good decisions, because she knows what they are.

See you on #1 tee…with an attitude of good sportsmanship… Sam

Junior Golf: Solheim Cup Lesson 1

imageIn this Wednesday Waggle we will look at lessons to be learned from last week’s Solheim Cup. Your daughter can learn something from virtually everything she does in life and this women’s golf event was loaded with even more lessons than usual. (Jason Duffner photo

So what is this Lesson #1 from The Solheim Cup, simple the overriding takeaway is that you never quit. You never give up. It’s not over till it’s over. However you want to say it or hear it, your daughter must keep playing as in trying to play really good golf and keep grinding away at her opponent, human or the golf course, until the ball is in the cup on the last hole.

The US women were down 10-6 before the start of the 12 singles matches. With 2 closely matched teams, a 4-point lead is a lot so the odds were against our ladies winning the Cup. A controversial call in a 4-ball match really fired our ladies up and they played like it. Ultimately they won 8.5 of 12 points and we won the Cup 14.5-13.5. This is a great testament to squaring your shoulders, finding a little “tude” and kicking your opponent’s rear! Way to go ladies!

These cup events are unique in that they are really team events even though there is a considerable amount of individual effort required by each player. The US’s Angela Stanford said “This is probably the closest knit group we’ve ever been a part of. We never stopped believing.”

And your daughter must continue believing, yes, when she’s down 4-holes with 4-holes left to play. She must believe in each “next” shot. That she can hit enough good shots, 1-shot at a time to win that hole. Then win the next hole. Win all 4 holes so they can go to extra holes.

You can be sure that Jordan Spieth thought he was in pretty good shape in the Ryder Cup when he was 4-up on Graeme McDowell through 12-holes. Well, the seasoned pro Graeme found his game and tied the match. I don’t remember if they split or McDowell won, doesn’t matter. What does matter is the momentum of the match changed: Jordan lost his and Graeme found his. (graem’s photo

Staying positive during the whole round/game is tough. When you see the pros having trouble with it, know that your daughter and all junior golfers are going to struggle with it as well. What gets her back to being positive? There are a lot of books on this subject, but the short answer is that your daughter needs to believe that she can hit a good tee shot, hit a good approach shot and have a chance to make a birdie. And making a birdie will bring back her smile and some confidence. Encourage her!

See you on #1 tee…with a never give up attitude… Sam

Junior Golf: Who You Are Playing With

imageIn this Monday Mulligan we will look at who you are playing with. Who is in your group on the golf course and why it matters, even though really it should not matter very much, if at all. (photo

In last Wednesday’s press conference before the BMW Championship, Ricky Fowler was asked if he was looking forward to playing the first two days of the event with Jason Day and Jordan Spieth. Ricky’s response was basically, “We’re all really good friends and it’s going to be an absolute blast playing together!” Even the world’s top pros, with all their mental toughness, still are impacted by who is in their group during tournament play.

Parents, please remember that golf has all types of boys and girls playing the sport. Your junior golfer will play with kids who are: nice but not really talkative, nice and talk just the right amount for your golfer, barely tolerable to the point of unpleasant, those who have no clue about golf rules and etiquette or choose to ignore them and just plain jerks. Do not be surprised when your son is in a group with someone who is basically uncomfortable to be around. It’s going to happen, more than once, at every age and skill level.

So how does your son deal with this? It’s tough. Frankly, brutally, the only obligation, in addition to obeying the rules and etiquette, that your son has is to accurately keep 1other group member’s score and go take a look when someone hits a shot that ends up in or near a hazard, out of bounds or in a situation that may require a ruling.

Your son has no requirement to make friends during a tournament or even talk more than the minimal amount necessary for play. Our family talks. We are communicators me, Linda, S3 and our other kids too. Even in college S3 is more comfortable playing with someone who will carry on a little conversation. And sometimes he is paired with someone he already knows and it tends to relax him a bit on #1 tee. 1of S3’s teammate’s, who is a very nice and polite young man, says he is enjoys his golf the most when nobody is his group says a word, for the whole round. Well, that would drive our family crazy! Chocolate and vanilla!

So, it’s different when your son is playing with friends or family members and shoots a very nice score. Then when the “P”, Pressure switch is turned on in a tournament, it’s all more difficult.image

Reinforce in your son that the personalities of those in his group are there to help him remember to stay focused on his game and his shots. Being mentally tough is a big deal and something that he will have to cope with in every tournament. Help him learn to stay in his game and reduce the influence of distractions. It’s necessary, it’s difficult and it’s an ongoing part of improving his ability to play winning golf at the higher skill levels.  ( photo

See you on #1 tee…with some focus… Sam

Junior Golf: An Advanced Routine

imageIn this Friday Flop Shot we will look at an example of an advanced pre-shot routine for junior golfers of medium to high skill levels. With the men’s FedEx Cup resuming this week and the women’s Solheim Cup playing in Germany this week, there is a ton of great golf to watch. So get with your daughter and make a conscious decision to pay particular attention to the player’s pre-shot routines during these 2 high profile events. (photo

Jason Day is great for this lesson. His pre-shot routine is very well-defined, easy to see what he is doing and he does it on every shot. A great example! As you watch your favorite players, you will see that they all have a specific pre-shot routine. Some are more subtle and some like JD’s are very easy to identify.

Things to watch: each player will look down the course to where he wants the ball to land and then stop. Some will stand directly behind their ball for this and others may be slightly off to one side or the other. The point is the same. They are visualizing, seeing the shot in their own mind. Visualization is a key to many things in life and in this case it’s a key to playing winning golf. (Justin Leonard photo

Next they will address the ball, in other words, take their stance and place the club behind the ball as the golfer gets to the final stage of the pre-shot routine. Here you will see dramatically different styles. Jason Duffner does his famous waggles. Justin Leonard, among others, will take the club back a couple of feet to make sure his takeaway is the way it needs to be. Some guys will take a practice swing. Rory just usually addresses the ball and swings, no extra pre-shot movement.

The pros are repeating a routine which they have developed over the years to get them into their own unique and desired state of mind to have a pre-shot routine which puts their body and mind into the place where they have a high probability of hitting the desired golf shot. They are putting the odds of success in their favor.

Dads and Moms, sons and daughters, look at these professional golfers and try some of their routines. They work for pros and can work for junior golfers as well. Just try some things on the driving range: waggles, shortened takeaways, a shoulder shake/shrug to relax shoulders, arms and hands or create your own unique drill. Maybe just slightly pick each foot up separately to relax your feet and let them better feel the weight distribution and ground underneath.

This is great fun. Set the DVR. See you on #1 tee… Sam

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

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