Posts Tagged ‘The First Tee’

Junior Golf: When A Foot Reminds You of Phil’s Wedge

In this Friday Flop Shot we’ll look at how a foot, or certain feet, may remind you of Phil Mickelson and his wedge.

In the golf world’s list of short-game masters, Phil is certainly at or near the top of the list. He loves the artistry involved in hitting those special shots that seem so easy for him.

Easy because he spends hours practicing different kinds of shots he might face on a particular golf course. The sand, the rough, the cuts around the green, the green itself, all are unique to each course. So, the shots may differ slightly from week to week.

It requires the ability to visualize the shot/shots that have the best chance for success in a specific situation. Is a putt, a chip, a pitch or a flop shot called for? An experienced golfer understands that perhaps all of these shots may be used during a round of golf. Hours of practice and hard work are the keys to being able to attempt a desirable shot.

So where does a foot/feet come in? I’m not talking distance, like feet or yards. I’m talking feet, like at the bottom of your leg, what you walk on, what you put your shoes on, a piece of your anatomy.

Yes, I’m talking soccer. What do soccer/futbol and golf have in common? Some sports fans find both difficult or boring to watch: soccer because of low scores and golf because it’s slow. Ignore that.

Let’s go to why both are exciting to watch. You and your junior golfer know about golf so I’ll offer a compelling reason to spend some time watching soccer, as in World Cup soccer.

Think of all the magical things Phil can do with his wedge, ok? Now think of the soccer teams currently playing on their biggest stage, the World Cup. Every soccer player on every team has 2 wedges, his 2 feet that can do things as magical as Phil does with his wedge.

These guys have a zillion ways to pass or shoot the ball. They use their toe, the inside of the foot, the outside of the foot, the top of the foot, the heel and the cleats. Through many hours of practice over a lot of years, these men have worked to elevate their foot skills to a world-class level. Below are 2 minutes of Brazil highlights. Neymar will blow your mind at the 1:40 mark as he passes to himself by grabbing the ball with his feet and by using more pressure with his right foot he brings the ball from behind, throwing it over his left shoulder so it lands in front of him and he can resume his attack. This is creativity and execution to the max!

All World Cup players have ridiculous abilities, but some are superstars. Messi of Argentina, Ronaldo of Portugal, Neymar of Brazil and Suarez and Cavani of Uruguay are names to pay particular attention to. If you can’t watch a whole game, skip to the goal-scoring. Some are things of beauty, some are bizarre and some are accidents. All are worth watching! The different ways these men use their feet to contact the ball are crazy and they’re doing it while running at full speed!

The point is Mom and Dad, great skills don’t come about without hours of proper effort. Phil and these World Cup players have all worked hard to get their skills to the highest level. And they keep working on improving their game!

Fox and FS1 broadcast all the World Cup games. Set the TiVo. The WC continues for a couple more weeks. Use this as an inspiration, an encouragement to practice and learn to be more creative about it!

See you on #1 tee ready to create… Sam

Junior Golf: 3 Tips For Summer Golf Success

In this Friday Flop Shot we’ll look at 3 simple ways for your junior golfer to have a successful summer of golf.

Ok, school is out for just about everybody so let’s get after some fun summer golf planning!

1. Start with getting the whole family together to go over summer calendars. Prep for this by having dates of tournaments and golf camps on hand. If you’re planning a major vacation for the family, be sure to include the golf clubs.

2. Mom and Dad, review the summer budget. Then decide how much discretionary money can go towards golf. Know costs of tournaments, golf camps, clubs and lessons. Remember that summer is a time when major advances in skill levels can occur.

3. Be aware that your non-golfing kids need attention too. Balance your time and money as best it’s possible, among the youngsters.

There you go, quick and easy. If college golf is a goal, I encourage you to spend as much time and money as you can, in a prudent way, to immerse your kiddo in summer golf. Amazing things happen with immersion!

S3 took this photo of my shot on this par 3 at the beautiful Nicklaus Ocean Course at the Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast, Florida. This was during his college graduation trip in 2016.

The summer between his junior and senior years of high school, S3 had 23 days of tournaments. Yes, this is a lot of golf but we had budgeted for it and he played some of the best golf of his life. It was fun!

See you on #1 tee with a better game… Sam

Junior Golf: Please Get Your 7-iron

In this Wednesday Waggle we’re going to use your child’s 7-iron to put us on an informative and educational path.

Today’s point is that our clubs, for this post, our irons, may not always be what they seem. If you’re asking yourself, “Where on earth is he going?”, fear not, clarity is on the way.

You may recall my post of May 25, “Use Demo Days to Lower Your Scores”, where I described the excellent club fitting I received from a Wilson Staff rep. I filed his suggestions for future use as I decided to continue to explore more options rather than buying a new set of irons, although it was very tempting.

Upon returning to San Antonio I went to see Ben, a highly recommended club fitter. I told him my 7-iron didn’t go anywhere. It was at least 15 yards shorter than it’s predecessor and I really didn’t have confidence in any of my irons, even though this set was made for me by a good friend.

As he put it on the loft/lie machine, Ben found my 7-iron to have a loft of 37-degrees, basically an 8-iron’s loft. That’s why it didn’t go anywhere. Once corrected to the typical 34-degree loft and along with a lie adjustment of 1-degree upright, I went to the adjacent range to hit. My “new” 7-iron was wonderful, the ball flew beautifully and carried much farther than before.

Photocredit: bettershotgolf.com

For the record, all my irons were off and Ben put them back to typical specs and a 1-degree upright lie. Then I thought about my driving iron I’d never been comfortable with. It was too flat/strong and he fixed that. On my first swing I hit that driving iron better than ever!

So this is a bit embarrassing that I hadn’t done this before but at least it’s done now. Out of the 10 irons in my bag, only my 2 Cleveland wedges were the correct loft, requiring just the lie adjustment. My driving iron and 4-p all needed a loft correction plus the 1-degree upright adjustment. No wonder I couldn’t get any confidence with those clubs!

My investigation into what to do with my irons has taken a fun turn. Instead of spending big money on new irons, I’m hitting these for a few weeks to see how I like distance, ball flight and feel. Then Ben and I will discuss whether a change of shafts or heads might be beneficial.

Parents, please ask around about recommendations for club fitters in your area. Then take your kiddo’s irons in for a loft and lie checkup. You may be surprised at what you learn. You and your son/daughter will at the least leave with confidence that those irons are now the correct loft and lie. Go hit ’em!

See you on #1 tee with proper lofts… Sam

Junior Golf: Use Demo Days To Lower Your Scores

In this Friday Flop Shot we’ll look at the benefits of Demo Days and how you and your junior golfer can use them to shoot lower scores.

Demo Days are regularly scheduled at nearly every golf course and at some golf academies and learning centers. All the major manufacturers have representatives who put on Demo Days. Please check with the golf facilities in your area for dates of upcoming Demo Days and plan to attend.

Don’t be concerned if you’re not familiar with a certain club manufacturer. Go anyway. It’s great fun! There’s always something to be learned. It will pay off. It’s a free education!

Before you go, you and your kiddo briefly discuss any specific clubs you may want to evaluate. Whether it’s the driver, irons or wedges, have some thoughts ready ahead of time.

Put his/her full set of clubs in the car with you and then take the club you are most interested in with you when you walk up to the rep. If it’s irons, take the 7-iron.

Most reps today have numerous different weight/length/flex shafts that they can immediately screw on to any head. They do it right there and it only takes a few seconds. Let the Demo Day rep look at the current 7-iron and ask for suggestions of what shaft/head combo he has that might improve distance and accuracy.

Recently I was with Wilson Staff master fitter, Jeff Pittillo, at River Falls Plantation in South Carolina. I showed him my current 7-iron and mentioned I wasn’t happy with it because the ball didn’t go anywhere. I’ve lost a bunch of distance. His analysis: the shaft is too heavy. It’s stiff flex and I need regular. And the heads are almost blades and I need a more forgiving cavity-back style club. Wow!

Here’s what we did. We tried a couple of different weight shafts, all regular flex and ultimately Jeff recommended the KBS 90 gram regular flex shaft for more speed. We put it on the new Wilson Staff C300 Forged heads and the C300 Cast heads. The C300 Cast went further, felt better and had a beautiful ball flight. And the Cast is cheaper than the Forged. They’re great!

You can duplicate this scenario with your youngster at every Demo Day. Attend as many DD’s as possible so your son/daughter can get opinions from several club fitters and get a feel for different makes of clubs. At some point, you will hear, “Dad, those xxxxxx’s really felt good and they increased my distance!”

Now it’s up to the golf budget guru to see what can be done. Remember, the PGA publishes golf club trade-in values so you may get some bucks from the current clubs. A few times each year most facilities offer extra value on your trade-ins. Ask and they should be able to tell you when the next extra value trade-in period is and plan accordingly.

In order for your junior to be competitive, it is critical that Dad and Mom plan and commit to provide golf clubs that are correct for your child’s size, strength, athletic ability and skill level. This is a great way to get quality input from multiple sources!

See you on #1 tee with the right clubs… Sam

Junior Golf: 3 PreSummer Checks For Irons That Fit

In today’s Monday Mulligan we’ll look at 3 aspects of your junior golfer’s irons so you can be sure he/she has the correct equipment for maximum summer golf benefits.

Your youngster is growing, needing bigger shoes, new pants, shirts, tops and bottoms. Remember Mom and Dad, that getting taller, faster and stronger likely means different golf clubs.

Irons and all golf clubs that are mismatched to any golfer are a handicap. Your kiddo’s chance of success is poor if he/she is using improper equipment.

Start by asking for the name of the best club-fitter in your area. It’s best to ask the really good adult golfers, the ones who seriously compete and win in amateur events in your area. They know! Not being judgemental, but if you ask your swing coach, he/she will say they can do it. Now, this may be true or not. Perhaps they are the best swing coach around and are capable of doing a club fitting, but are they the best club-fitter, I don’t know. If you ask a junior or their parents, they may say they use their swing coach.

The swing coach will recommend that your child needs this, that and the other in the next set of irons, which should be soon. The club-fitter makes that happen with their own unique set of skills. And the best club fitter is a very talented and well-respected person!

Here’s what should be evaluated and acted upon now, with the current set of irons, to make the best use of your summer golf investment:

1. Iron shafts: are they the correct length, weight and flex? For example: “x” inches long, 100 grams and regular flex.

2. Iron heads: are they matched to the skill level. For example: lighter or heavier weight, cast or forged construction and best for beginner, intermediate or advanced skill level junior golfers.

3. Iron grips: are they correct for your young golfer’s hand size and “feel” preference? For example: too small/skinny, too big/fat, just right/perfect and do they “feel” hard/slick, rough/coarse or pleasant, meaning slightly tacky/grabby.

There will be more than one club fitter in your town. The reality is that most are ok, but one or two are genuinely talented. Those are the folks you want to find.

A simple equation is that as your child’s skill level advances, they require more highly-skilled professionals, including swing coaches and club-fitters. Find out who the best are so you can go to them when you need them. You will need them!

See you on #1 tee with a proper set of irons… Sam

Junior Golf: 4 Thoughts On Skin Protection

In this Wednesday Waggle we’ll look at some new ways to help protect your family’s skin.

Sunscreen is not on today’s agenda. It will get plenty of discussion in another post. It’s complicated.

Proper sun exposure is essential for good health but for golfers, the issue is perhaps too much sun rather than too little. More very interesting information on sun exposure will be presented in its own future post.

So your skin is your largest organ, let’s look at some ways to protect it.

1. Healthy skin starts with a healthy intestinal tract. A simple way to help your skin from the inside out is to make sure your whole family is getting enough quality omega 3’s. Lean, grass-fed beef, fatty fish such as mackerel or sardines, krill oil, flax seed, coconut oil and cod liver oil are good sources. For convenience, krill oil, coconut oil and cod liver oil are perfect. All are available in capsules most children should be able to swallow and no taste or smell. Fish oil caps are not usually your best choice.

2. Hydrate. Drink extra water starting 3 days before a tournament.

3. Cover up. Adidas, among others makes long-sleeve polo shirts for women and men. The new wicking/cooling technology makes these shirts very comfortable in hot weather. There are also the “sleeve” add-ons you see some LPGA ladies wearing. Collared shirts protect the back of the neck. Long hair and floppy hats can cover the ears, neck and forehead. When in doubt, cover.

4. Make a habit of conditioning your skin regularly, not just the day before a tournament. Mom, you’re likely way more informed than Dad on skin care products, but I’ll help cut through the maze of confusing options and offer some inexpensive, very low risk choices. We use Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion. Costco carries 2-packs. It is extremely clean and we love it. Another very beneficial skin care item is organic unrefined coconut oil. This has so many benefits I can’t begin to list them here. Coconut oil is widely available. Make sure it’s organic and unrefined. For a slightly pricier, but amazing 3rd option try Dr Mercola’s Organic Moisturizing Body Butter. It’s top-quality at a reasonable price. Try any or all of these and choose one for your daily moisturizer. Most experts recommend applying it after a warm shower. You’ll figure it out.

See you on #1 tee protecting your skin… Sam

6 Reasons To Make College Golf The Goal

In this Monday Mulligan we’ll look at college golf and why parents of junior golfers should seriously consider it as the long-term goal.

S3 started playing golf at age 5 and once we understood that he enjoyed golf and was developing a passion for it, we had a family meeting to make some short-term and long-term goals with the ultimate goal being a college golf scholarship. Everything we did was in harmony with all of S3’s goals.

If you have not considered college golf, here’s why you should:

1. Make college golf a goal, a dream. Life is about goals and dreams. Without them why are you doing anything?

2. This gives your youngster and the whole family a sense of purpose. It’s the major reason the smaller goals exist.

3. Not every kiddo needs to go to college to be successful. We have $70,000 tech jobs here in San Antonio that can’t be filled, but if your son/daughter is competitive in high school golf, they have a chance to attend college on a golf scholarship. It’s a blessing, accept it and pursue it.

4. A golf scholarship helps pay part of the cost of going to college. Men’s scholarships are partial, commonly paying perhaps 20-30% of the costs. Women have more scholarships available than the guys so they can usually get a higher percentage of their costs covered.

5. S3’s college golf experience was amazing, something no amount of money could buy! He saw parts of the country he’d never seen, played on fabulous golf courses and made lifelong friends from Australia, Zimbabwe, Spain and Mexico. Our family believes the absolute best way to attend college is as a college golfer. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience!

6. Now to the real world. Most college golfers will not play golf professionally. Here’s the big bonus of college golf: when your graduate’s resume hits the HR desk at a prospective employer, the first thing they’ll notice is that your child was a scholarship athlete who got a degree on time. The resume should go way up the list because a sharp HR person will understand that doing both of those things well requires excellent time-management skills. A great bonus!

Mom and Dad, please consider putting college golf on your kiddo’s radar. It is an achievable goal for both young men and young women.

See you on #1 tee wearing those college colors… Sam

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