Posts Tagged ‘Golf instruction’

Tour Championship Begins

And they’re off! The best 30 players on the PGA Tour have day 1 of The Tour Championship under their belt. And there were some surprises. (Dufner photo golfdigest.com)img_0102

Hideki Matsuyama shot a 66 to tie for the lead with Kevin Chappell and pre-event favorite Dustin Johnson. The low 11 scores feature plenty of high-powered players including Jason Day 1 shot back, then Jordan Spieth, Paul Casey and Rory McIlroy 2 shots back and finally Adam Scott and Matt Kuchar 3 shots back.

Notables who were in the back of the 30-man field were Bubba Watson at 2-over par, Patrick Reed at 3-over par and Phil Mickelson and Jimmy Walker, 4-over par. There are still 54 holes of golf to play, no 36-hole cut. The time to start shooting better scores would be now.

1 of the strategic truths of golf tournaments is that you can’t win an event during the 1st round but you can lose it. This means that if you shoot a terribly high score, putting too many strokes between you and the leaders, you have given yourself a slim to no chance to catch up and possibly take the lead.

This is an interesting field. Maybe ⅓ have won Majors/been on Ryder Cup teams/have won multiple events, about ⅓ have won maybe 1 event/no Majors or Ryder Cup but have been relatively successful and perhaps ⅓ who are young and very talented trying to elevate their success and status.

While statistically almost anyone in the field could win, the history is different. Look at the previous winners. Big names! Dominant players either historically or for the year they won. Billy Horschel is perhaps the only up-and-coming player to win and he put together a smoking hot final month of play culminating with winning The Tour Championship and FedEx Cup. He just wasn’t going to be stopped!

 

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If we can skip ahead to Sunday and look at the leaderboard before the final round begins, keep in mind what the great Jack Nicklaus said about competition during final rounds of big events. To paraphrase Jack, “I’d look at the leaderboard to see who had a chance to win. The guys who had never won a Major or big event I didn’t pay much attention to them because the pressure was too great. It was the guys who had won Majors or multiple Majors that I had to keep an eye on. They’d already done it. They’d been there.” (photo bmw-golfsport.com)

Encourage your junior golfer to stay calm and keep big numbers off the scorecard during Round 1. A bogey here and there is just fine, but the doubles, triples and quads are round killers, if not even tournament killers. There’s a time for high risk shots but remember that there are only a few pros who go for everything all the time. Safe shots are a good thing!

Set the TiVo. This should be good!

See you on #1 tee looking for the safe zone… Sam

Junior Golf: BMW Unbeatable

In this Monday Mulligan we will take a look at the best performance during the next to last event in the FedEx Cup playoffs, the unbeatable play of the BMW Championship winner. (photo jennleforge.com)img_0135-1

We’re talking about DJ, Dustin Johnson, of course. His 23-under par victory yesterday was an all-time record for lowest score in a playoff event. Paul Casey finished 2nd at 20-under which would usually win most tournaments on the PGA Tour.

There are times when your daughter will get beaten and there are times when she will be unbeatable. Sunday’s final round was pretty much a 2-man race as to who would win and included considerable drama about who would make the last cut of 30 to move on to the finals in 2 weeks in Atlanta.

Paul was hanging around within several shots of DJ and then he,Casey, eagled #15. Guess what, DJ put an eagle putt in on top of Paul’s putt on #15 and that meant that unless DJ had a major blowup during the last 3 holes, Casey would not be able to catch him.

Outdriving the field by 30 yards meant Dustin was hitting wedges into holes that other players would hit 7 or 8-iron into, several clubs longer. Big advantage to Johnson and big payoff for all the work he has recently put in with his wedges. He kept hitting big drives, close wedges and was #1 in putting for the event. This is called unbeatable!

BMW Championship - Final Round

How does this help your daughter? Please help her understand that there will be times when she plays well, perhaps very well and still gets beat by someone playing at an amazing level. It happens, but she will have her days where everything goes right and she is the unbeatable player. (DJ photo golfchannel.com)

There’s a reason legendary golf instructor Harvey Penick said the 3 most important clubs are the driver, wedge and putter. Ask your girl which 1 of those she would like to work on and set up a practice routine. Find some drills at Golf Channel Academy or get her some lessons. It will pay off and it’s fun!

See you on #1 tee looking unbeatable… Sam

Junior Golf: What’s The Difference

In today’s Wednesday Waggle will will look at what made a difference. A Tour player is back on top after being kind of in the back of the pack for most of the year. Why is he playing at a high level right now, what’s the difference? (Dufner photo golfdigest.com)img_0102

It’s Rory of course. Mr. McIlroy had a great win at last week’s Deutsche Bank Championship in the 2nd round of the playoffs. He started Monday’s final round 6 shots back of 3rd-round leader Paul Casey. So what enabled Rory to get in the winner’s spot? Putting, putting, putting. How many times have you heard someone say that to win a golf tournament, you have to make putts?

McIlroy has hit a bunch of good shots this year but his putting has not been good. So he changed from a Nike to a Scotty Cameron putter and hired Henrik Stensen’s putting coach. So basically in 1 week his putting improved dramatically to 7th in the field in strokes gained putting. In other words he made a bunch of putts, enough to win! (photo golfdigest.com)image

What does this mean for your daughter? Well, how is her putting? Does she make most of her 3-footers, like 100%? Then look at 8 feet, which she can try for 2 out of 3 and then 20 feet where the goal is to NOT 3-putt.

Remember that the short game, chipping and putting is where she can lower her score the quickest. Have her fitted for a new putter. Get a putting aid, there are a ton of them at all price ranges. And practice. Watch Golf Channel Academy putting instructional videos, they’re free. There’s a lot she can do to improve her score. And yes Dad and Mom she needs your help.

See you on #1 tee, ready to make some putts… Sam

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: 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 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: 3-Foot Putts

In this Wednesday Waggle we will look at something that occurs in every round of golf and sometimes they show up in numbers. To have any chance of winning a golf tournament your daughter must conquer these. (Dufner photo golfdigest.com)img_0102

What am I talking about, 3-foot putts of course! There’s a reason these are called knee-knockers or testers. This is a perfect in-between length where any player could casually walk up and take a swipe at the ball and likely miss. It is not a 6-inch tap-in and it’s not a 10-footer either. Watch how seriously every pro approaches these short putts. They go through their deliberate routine just as if it was a 30-footer.

Having a repeatable putting routine is critical and is an absolute necessity. The pros know the numbers and guess what, the winners of most pro events, both men and women, will be pretty much 100% makes on putts of 3-feet and less. Yep, that’s 1 of the stats that’s key to winning at any level of golf. (Doug Sanders photo utube.com)

Here’s how important it is to make these little putts. In 1970 Doug Sanders missed a 30-inch putt on the 72nd hole at St Andrews to win the British Open. He then lost an 18-hole playoff to Jack Nicklaus the next day. What happened in Sander’s own words, “I didn’t get set. I was thinking about which side (of the stands containing the British Royalty) to bow to. I saw my good friend Ben Hogan swat a bug away from his face, but later he told me he was trying to get me to walk away and reset.” Doug lost his focus, casually took the short putt for granted and missed. He said it likely cost him $200 million dollars plus the winning of a major and that was in 1970!image

Let’s look at the other side of 3-foot putts from last Sunday. Jimmy Walker had the same situation as Doug Sanders did in 1970, a 3-foot putt to win a major. And Jimmy went through his putting routine and stroked his ball into the middle of the cup. He stayed in the moment and got his 1st major.

Your daughter can get close to 100% makes on 3-footers, too. When S3 has been practicing on our favorite Dave Pelz putting aide, he makes just about everything. It’s quite clear, when he makes putts, he has practiced properly and when he misses those same putts, he has not, simple. Find a practice routine for short putts that keeps your daughter’s attention and get after it. It will pay off!

See you on #1 tee ready to make some putts… Sam

Junior Golf: Unexpected Results

In today’s Friday Flop Shot we will look at unexpected results, what happens when your son’s round of golf doesn’t look anything like you thought it would or should, or what we, his team, were expecting.img_0106

A perfect example is yesterday’s 1st round results at the PGA Championship. 2 of the biggest favorites will need to have a great round today or miss the cut. Rory McIlroy had a 4-over par 74, with 35 putts. Please note that most tour pros would love to average 27-28 putts per round, or less, so 35 is horrible. Now Dustin Johnson, winner or 2 events in a row not that long ago blew up to a 77, what’s up with that? (photo offcoursegolf.com)

Along with Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Bubba Watson, Ricky Fowler, these were most of the top names being picked to win the 4th major of 2016. Let’s see, Jimmy Walker and Martin Kaymer, who are they again? Well, Martin has won 2 majors and Jimmy has won 5 times in the previous 2 years, but neither has had a lot going on this year. How is Jimmy leading and how is Martin tied for 4th with Henrik among others, after 1 round?

Jimmy said he grew up playing a Tillighast course, I think referring to our wonderful Brackenridge Park Golf Course, Old Brack, here in San Antonio. The big greens, generous fairways and bunker placements were familiar to him. Folks, the pros favor some courses over others and pleasing to the eye, familiarity, acceptability of their preferred shot shape, etc are big deals. It’s a bonus to Jimmy that a course in a major feels comfortable to him. (Jimmy Walker photo pga.com)

PGA: PGA Championship - First Round

Jul 28, 2016; Springfield, NJ, USA; Jimmy Walker reacts to the crowd after making a putt on 17th hole during the first round of the 2016 PGA Championship golf tournament at Baltusrol GC – Lower Course. Mandatory Credit: Eric Sucar-USA TODAY Sports

And Martin Kaymer, in majors he’s either really on or really off and if it’s an on week for him, look out. He can get in a serious zone. Let’s not forget Henrik Stensen, winner of The Open Championship 2 weeks ago, he’s and Martin are only 2 shots back. No disrespect to the other players in the top 10 after round 1, but you can look up the complete leaderboard online.

What does this mean to you and your junior golfer? Competitive sports is tough, it’s like life, things happen! Good things and bad things happen and many cannot be readily explained. It’s getting back up to hit another shot that counts. Believing that the next shot will be a good shot counts even more! I can assure you that there were times S3 looked like he was ready to cry, faint or throw up after hitting a bad shot or having a bad hole. Sometimes he got over it on the next tee box and sometimes it took a few holes, but he got over it during the round, usually finishing with a strong final 3 holes, at least.

Being an encourager is 1 of the most important roles for a parent. Remember that just because your son has been playing great recently does not mean he will play great in his next event. The encouragement must be that nobody plays great all the time, but he, your son, must believe he can hit a good shot after hitting a poor 1. Positive, positive, positive! If you get knocked down, you get back up. Forget the bad, focus on the good.

Let’s enjoy this great golf weekend! The Women’s Open Championship is in progress and of course we have the rest of the Men’s PGA Championship. Get the TiVo going!

See you on #1 tee expecting good shots… Sam

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