Clear as Mud...Balls!

mudballs

It's never a good feeling when you've striped one down the middle and you get to your golf ball only to see a large chunk of mud attached to one side of your golf ball. For years I had heard that mud on the right would cause the ball to go left, but I never was sure. The best way to build some clarity - do a test! Here's a sampling of what we found...

For the "Facts of Golf" series I filmed recently with Revolution Golf in conjunction with PING this was one of the first ideas we were interested in testing. Thanks to some guidance from Erik Henrikson, Director of Innovation for PING, these were our findings:

  • Mud on the left with a 'neutral' swing will almost always cause the ball to move strongly right in the air
  • Mud on the right with a 'neutral' swing will almost always cause the ball to move strongly left in the air
  • The large clumps of mud will be 'ejected' off the ball very quickly after impact, but it's the remaining small particles that alter the ball flight
  • Mud that's located on the top, front or back will cause for quite a significantly shorter shot without much directional change
  • It's hard to find good quality mud to do a test like this

Shot data for mud on the right (a fairly neutral swing) from TrackMan:

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Shot data for mud on the left (a fairly neutral swing) from TrackMan:

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As I hit each of these shots I was floored at how much the ball moved in the air relative to the feel of the shot. The feel was neutral, yet the ball seemed to take off with a mind of it's own. I hope this information helps you save a stroke or two the next time you encounter the dreaded mud ball!

Updated Pitching Thoughts

This article is an update on the many pitching and chipping articles I've written over the last few years. Not much has changed since I did the Wedge Project video, but there are certain elements I have a deeper understanding about. Experience and the smart guys at PING have gone a long way towards advancing my understanding. Let's take a look...

 Discussing pitching at a Three Day Golf School

Discussing pitching at a Three Day Golf School

  • Great pitchers typically take very little divotflight the ball low and generate high spin rates
  • Lower trajectory shots are significantly easier to gauge than higher ones
  • When struck correctly lower trajectory wedge shots will almost always have more spin than higher shots
  • Most golfers perform better when they deliver 45º-40º of loft at impact off a normal fairway. The club they use is irrelevant
  • The quality of the face to ball interaction (friction) is primary in generating spin and determining the launch angle
  • The quality of the lie plays a big role in determining the amount of friction at impact
  • Any moisture/matter that gets between the face and ball will typically decrease friction and thus increase launch angle and reduce spin. Control will be reduced
  • I used to say that sand increases friction and that is often the case, but I've found it depends on the 'angularity' of the sand
  • Cleaning the club face should be done often and with a wet towel - don't use a tee
  • The primary role of grooves is to disperse moisture and matter from between the face and the ball, not generate spin
  • Older clubs with worn down grooves will not spin the ball as much as a fresh wedge (all else being equal)
  • Premium golf balls, when struck correctly, will always flight lower and spin more than non-premium golf balls
  • The optimal technique is primarily based around managing the club to ground interaction 
  • As the player alters trajectory so shall the club to ground interaction change. Lower shots with less loft will often lead to a steeper angle of attack
  • Controlling what the handle does through impact is integral to controlling the club to ground interaction
  • I've come to learn that there is no single ideal spin loft to generate the most spin. Every different lie, situation, golf ball and golfer would require heir own unique "optimal" spin loft
  • I've been a proponent of draws for pitch shots and I've seen too many golfers have success with fades or draws to continue advocating strictly for draws
  • For stock, and thus lower flighted, shots the bounce plays less of a role than you might imagine
  • The number one absolute worst thing to work towards with your wedge play....stay down. Please don't EVER work towards that
  • I've become a big fan of 'core' distances. Depending on the amount of time you have I'd recommend practicing two or more of these 'core' distances and really taking ownership eg. 30/50/70/90 yards
  • Incorporate variety and skill development into any and all forms of practice

I have found there to be a multitude of different, and somewhat unusual techniques that work well for certain individuals. A good general guideline that might help:

With the weight slightly forward and utilizing a narrow and square stance with the ball positioned centrally, be sure to keep your chest rotating through the strike in order to have the sole of the club skimming along the turf. Stay tall and keep the chest moving!

All the best.

Thoughts on Master's Eve

 Shubankar Sharma by David Cannon

Shubankar Sharma by David Cannon

Wow! This is going to be a good one. They all are, but this one just seems poised to be something above the norm when it comes to Augusta National and the Masters. I know you're as excited as I am and it seems everybody has their own thoughts on who will take this year's green jacket. Here are my thoughts...

If you haven't checked it out already you should jump over to Masters.com for all the news, updates and some incredible ANGC photography. Anything that's worthy of the Masters can be found there.

Here are all the players along with the tee sheet for Thursday. And in case you were wondering about TV times and channels here you go...

When and Where to watch the Masters

Date: Thursday, April 5 - Sunday, April 8  

Location: Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Georgia Time: 3 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. ET (Thurs., Fri. & Sat.), 2 p.m. - 7 p.m. ET (Sun.)  TV: ESPN (Thurs. & Fri.), CBS (Sat. & Sun.)  

Online Streaming: WatchESPN, CBS All Access, Masters.com (Holes 15 & 16, Amen Corner, Featured Groups)

Enjoy the week and please let me know who your favorites are....

Cheers!

The Value of Engagement

Engagement in learning is defined as the degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism and passion that students demonstrate. Most of the current research shows that an increase in student engagement leads to improved retention and heightened skill acquisition. What are you going to do about it and how can this impact you as a golfer?

Have you ever had a boring practice session? Headed to the range to get your ‘reps’ in? It’s time for us to move beyond rote practice regimens because when practicing, the ideal environment is one of engagement and ultimately, challenge.

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Don’t get me wrong – block practice will always have a place on my lesson tee. It just shouldn’t be the only form of practice we put in. Let’s incorporate challenges where you keep track of a score or an outcome. Let’s try to do things you previously have been unable to do. If you’re doing all you can to beat your personal best score for a particular chipping challenge, you cannot help but be passionate, interested and optimistic. That’s where the real growth occurs!

To a certain degree I’ve looked up the research to see if it aligned with what I’ve been seeing anecdotally with my students recently. I’ve created a few games to challenge some of my better golfers during their long hours on the range and the results have been promising. They find themselves spending less time on the technical aspects of their golf swing and more time trying to break ‘records’ and put up a ‘score’ and I like that. They do too!

The research and my experience agree – we get better when we’re very much into what we’re doing. Here are a few challenges that will whip you into learning shape…

16 Shot Driver Challenge

  • 4 sets of 4 balls
  • Each 4 ball set is for a different fairway you select on the practice ground
  • Shot 1 is rough both left and right
  • Shot 2 is rough left and hazard right
  • Shot 3 is hazard left and rough right
  • Shot 4 is hazard both left and right
  • Scoring is 1 for fairway, 2 for rough and 3 for hazard
  • Objective is to score 20 points or less

18 Shot 9-Club Approach Challenge

  • Use the 9 clubs between wedges and driver (3 wood to PW)
  • Hit 2 shots with each club in random order
  • Each of the 2 shots are to a different target
  • Each club hits a shot to the left and a shot to the right of the target
  • Don’t select clubs in a smooth order – keep it random
  • 30 foot zone for <5 handicap
  • 40 foot zone for >5 handicap
  • Scoring is 1 for in the zone, 2 for outside the zone on safe side, 3 for wrong side of the target
  • Scoring objectives are ability/handicap dependent

36 Shot Pitching Challenge

  • 36 different shots inside 60 yards
  • Targets can be flags, balls, divots...anything
  • You compete against your own expectations
  • Balls should be counted out prior to getting started
  • Scoring is 1 for better than expected and 0 for outside expectation

10 Ball Gate Putting Challenge

  • Select a 15 foot putt
  • Place a tee at 15' from the hole and another tee 2' behind the hole
  • After reading the green place 2 coins a putter head width apart in the mid-point of the putt
  • The coins are adjustable and indicate your start line
  • Scoring is 1 for through the gate without touching the coins, 2 for appropriate pace with the ball finishing between the front edge and the back tee and 3 for a make
  • There is the potential for 30 points and the scoring objective is dependent on putt difficulty and player ability
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These challenges are really fun to work through and they will certainly engage you in the process of executing better golf shots. I’ve even found that asking students to report there score to me via text or Edufii serves to heighten their level of engagement and thus learning.

My hope is that this article serves to cause you to institute productive changes into your practice routine. Make 2018 the year where your performance finally meets your potential.

The Art of Being Skillful

As many of you know I enjoy deciphering which elements contribute to being a great wedge player. Ever since I started with my 'Wedge Project' research in 2010 chipping and pitching have really piqued my interest.

My recent testing, and philosophy, has been aligned alongside golfers using one club and applying their skills to control the trajectory and outcome of their shots in close proximity to the green. For ease of illustration and testing I selected a 58º wedge and a 15 yard carry requirement. I then played three different trajectory shots - a high, mid and low shot. I recorded each version in slo-motion and at regular speed along with running TrackMan in the background to capture data on a handful of each type of shot.

As you can tell there is a dramatic difference in the pace required to execute each intended trajectory. The technical changes for each shot changed as follows:

High: ball positioned off front big toe, face square at address and a sense that the handle slows dramatically approaching impact as the clubhead passes the handle prior to impact. Freddie Couples is a good image here.

Mid: ball positioned centrally, face square at address, medium pace and a sense that the shaft will be vertical at impact.

Low: ball positioned off the back big toe, face square with hands forward as a result of the ball position and an upbeat pace that encourages the handle to 'beat' the clubhead to the ball at impact. Zach Johnson's brisk pace comes to mind with this type of shot

 At Impact

At Impact

The TrackMan data provides some interesting differences:

Club Speed: Low 23mph; Mid 30mph; High 37mph

Ball Speed: Low 27.8mph; Mid 28.5mph; High 28.0mph

Smash Factor: Low 1.2; Mid 1.0; High 0.8

Launch Angle: Low 29.6º; Mid 40.6º; High 51.6º

Spin Rate: Low 2230rpm; Mid 1630rpm; High 1250rpm

One thing that struck me was that the average ball speed was the same for each type of shot, yet the club speed was very different. The attack angle was steepest with the lower shot primarily due to the ball position and the shaft lean. I also found it interesting that there was roughly 10º difference in the launch angle of each version.

The numbers might be important for coaches to understand, but what can you, the player looking to save strokes take away?

  • Stick with one club around the greens - you'll become a skilled artisan with it in your hands.
  • Alter the trajectory with subtle changes at address and less subtle changes in the pace.
  • The manner in which you release the clubhead through impact will make a big difference
  • Now get to work!

Thanks for reading and please share with a friend. Happy New Year and all the best for a fabulous 2018. #birdies

Wedges: Friction and Trajectory

The other day during a Three Day Golf School I hit four demonstration pitch shots for my students. My intent was to repeat the same shot in each attempt, with the only difference being how I manipulated the amount of friction between the club face and the ball.

The amount of loft I was able to deliver for each of the four shots was between 44.3º and 45.3º - the best I've been able to do! The interesting part is that the launch angles ranged from 30.4º tall the way up to 40.0º. How does that happen?

 The Four Shots

The Four Shots

The reasons why the launch angles are different is something that too few golfers (and coaches) understand and while I've written on this before it's a mission of mine to get the good word out. My intent was to carry each shot 50 yards and they are all played in the same fashion, with the same club except for shot 4.

Shot 1 - clean, dry club face and a clean, dry range ball. Spin rate - 6246 rpm. Launch is a respectable 32.1º

Shot 2 - clean, wet club face and a clean, wet range ball. Spin rate - 2782 rpm. Launch is a whopping 40º

Shot 3 - clean, dry club face and a clean, dry premium ball. Spin rate 6923 rpm. Launch is the lowest at 30.4º

Shot 4 - clean, dry grooveless club face and a clean, dry range ball. Spin rate is 5837 rpm. Launch is decent at 33.6º

I must mention that in order to 'manage' the friction between the club face and the ball each of these shots is played off a tee so as to eliminate grass and outside matter from interfering.

While the loft is maintained the launch, spin rate and peak height can be greatly influenced by the amount of friction generated between the club face and the ball. The moral of the story here is that the best pitchers in the world hit low launching, high spinning shots when the conditions allow. There is more at play than simply the loft at impact determining the launch angle. As you can tell friction plays a massive role too. It is my hope that in understanding this you will be less likely to try and 'fix' something that isn't broken. Hope this helps and thanks for reading!

 Luke Donald

Luke Donald

 

 

Hitting Up on the Driver

I often conduct this demonstration for my Three Day Golf students where I hit back to back shots and attempt to illustrate the value of hitting up on the driver and what it could mean to their tee shots. For good measure I also throw in a little fade versus draw at the same time. 

My intent is to maintain a similar club speed from one swing to the next and if possible strike the ball in a similar location on the club face. As you'll see this was an occasion where I managed to get pretty close...

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This TrackMan screenshot illustrates the first shot where the idea was to hit down and across the target line, imparting a low launching and fading ball flight...

 The First Shot

The First Shot

This TrackMan screenshot illustrates the follow-up shot where the plan was to deliver the club head to the ball with it traveling up and outward, imparting a higher launch and gentle draw to the ball flight...

 The Second Shot

The Second Shot

Let's take a deeper look to see what some of the important differences are between these two interesting shots:

  1. Attack Angle - The 9.1º difference is the primary reason why the second shot traveled significantly further than the initial attempt. This was achieved with a change in tee height, address position and intent.
  2. Club Path - The almost 14º difference here will generally lead to a huge change in ball flight curvature. My findings have shown that when it comes to shot shape the club path plays a primary role.
  3. Launch Angle - The old adage of 'hit down to make the ball go up' takes a beating here as the shot hit with an ascending strike launches significantly higher.
  4. Club Speed - Nothing much to see here other than to verify that the club head for each shot is traveling at virtually identical speeds.
  5. Ball Speed - Another interesting nugget here is that while the carry and total distances are significantly different there is very little difference in the ball speed from shot to shot.
  6. Carry - Wow! That's amazing isn't it? While impact location for the second shot was slightly higher on the face (and a hint more toward the toe) which might lend to slightly longer carry distance the direction the club head was traveling (up and out) is the primary difference maker here.
  7. Total - As you might imagine the increase in total distance follows suit along with the increase in carry distance.

I know we could all benefit from a gain in almost 30 yards off the tee. And keep in mind that's at the same speed and with the same club! No need to hit the gym or shop for a new driver. This video gives some insight into what's required to affect the changes you've seen in this demonstration...

Thanks for reading/watching. If you need hands-on help with your game I'd love to host you in Savannah at the Westin Savannah Harbor Resort for either a lesson or a Three Day Golf School. Email terri(at)andrewricegolf.com for details.

You Need More Power

Yes! Don't we all? As with all things in life some things are easier said than done and this is no different, but it IS possible. Have you heard about using the ground to generate more power? This is what I'll be addressing in this article - pushing off the ground in order to generate greater club speeds and longer shots. Take a look...

So here's what we're looking for just prior to starting the downswing:

  • The trail knee maintains its position as the golfer starts the downswing. Just for a little while...
  • The lead side separates as the player glides into their front side. This creates some leg separation.
  • There should be a definite lowering or unweighting in the early downswing.
  • The late downswing should be characterized by an upward thrust away from the ground.

Notice in the image below how in the early downswing my belt buckle is significantly lower than it is half way through the follow through...

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This is something that all long drivers take full advantage of - that ability to really thrust up from the ground and in most cases actually push both feet off the ground. It's that push that will help to really get the clubhead moving. 

Thanks for reading/watching and if you have a friend who would really benefit from this information please share it.

Trajectory Tricks

The loft on the clubface at impact is largely responsible for the launch of the ball. When it comes to wedge play friction also plays a significant role in determining the launch angle, but the purpose of this article is to share an idea to help you improve the loft you deliver to the ball at impact.

Most of us will either hit the ball overly high or too low. This video illustrates a simple drill to get you to feel what you need to feel in order to grasp what is required to deliver either more, or less, loft.

For the high ball hitters:

  • Using a pitching wedge get set up with a narrow stance
  • Position the ball off the tip of your front foot
  • Feel the handle or butt of the club travel a long way forward into impact
  • It’s not easy but do all you can to hit low launchers

For the low ball hitters like me:

  • Stick with the PW and a narrow stance
  • The ball should be in line with the tip of your back foot
  • In the downswing you’ll feel the clubhead swinging a ton. The clubhead should feel like it outraces the hands
  • This will feel scoopy and that’s a good thing

Notice where my hands are just post impact in the image below - the low ball hitters need the hands less forward while the high ball hitters need to sense how much more forward they need to be…

It’s never easy making changes as they always feel so uncomfortable. Let’s get away from associating discomfort with ‘wrong’ as you work towards improvement. I know this exercise seems like it’s the opposite of what it should be, but as the task becomes more challenging (which this one is) we have no choice but to adapt.

The good news is that this drill applies directly to your long game too, so don’t be afraid to incorporate a few of these drills with those full swings too.

Thanks for checking in and I hope this helps you to enjoy your golf a little more.

Coach Camp London

If you're a coach or a golf professional you may have heard about Coach Camp. If you've been fortunate enough to attend one then you already know what it's about. If you haven't and would like to learn more then this 90 seconds is for you...

When the idea for Coach Camp was hatched I wanted it to be something that made a significant change in the way coaches and professionals helped students improve, operated their business and marketed what they do. It has and always will be "Two days of industry leading coaching information designed to positively enhance the course of your career."

 Chuck Cook Teaching at Coach Camp USA

Chuck Cook Teaching at Coach Camp USA

The feature presenters in London will be coaching legend Chuck Cook, putting guru David Orr, biomechanics expert Scott Cowx and myself. We will also have Dr. Scott Lynn share his presentation on ground reaction forces

There will be live lessons, Q&A sessions, putting demonstrations and perhaps best of all - the cocktail party on Monday evening where we can get down to the nitty gritty questions you might have. All so that you can be more successful on the lesson tee!

 Daily Itinerary

Daily Itinerary

We will be at the Drift Golf Club in East Horsley outside London on September 25 & 26. Our title sponsors: KVEST3DSwing CatalystTrackMan; and True Spec Golf will also have representatives on site. Not only will you be able to see this technology in action, but the company representatives will be able to answer any questions you might have. I hope you take advantage of this opportunity to learn from some of the best in our business.

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Register for Coach Camp London HERE

 

The Greatest 18 Short Holes in Golf

 10th Riviera

10th Riviera

I have often believed that a round of golf should be interesting, enjoyable and challenging at the same time. This compilation of holes are exactly that! Every hole on the list is one that a golfer would eagerly anticipate. The excitement of a possible birdie perfectly balanced with potential for disaster.

Now keep in mind this is my list and as a result it incorporates the best four short par 3's, four short par 5's and ten short par 4's according to me. Please feel free to share your thoughts and which holes you feel would make your list...

 7th Sand Hills GC

7th Sand Hills GC

Par 3’s

·      12th Augusta National GC (155yds)

·      7th Pebble Beach GC (106yds)

·      8th Royal Troon GC (123yds)

·      11th Shinnecock Hills GC (154yds)

Par 5’s

·      13th Augusta National GC (510 yds)

·      18th National Golf Links of America (502 yds)

·      9th Muirfield (505 yds)

·      3rd Old Prestwick (535 yds)

Par 4’s

·      14th Secession GC (360 yds)

·      10th Riviera GC (315 yds)

·      13th Harbourtown GL (354 yds)

·      17th TPC Scottsdale (332 yds)

·      14th Muirfield Village GC (336 yds)

·      3rd Augusta National GC (340 yds)

·      14th National Golf Links of America (341 yds)

·      15th World Woods – Pine Barrens (339 yds)

·      7th Sand Hills GC (283 yds)

·      9th Cypress Point GC (292 yds)

 11th Shinnecock Hills GC

11th Shinnecock Hills GC

The truly amazing fact about this 'golf course' is that it would only measure 5882 yards in total! There are not many of those of us who call ourselves golfers who'd be caught dead teeing it up from the 5900 yard markers. Now I'm sure some of the par 5's on the list could be stretched a little longer than what I have them listed at, but the fun part is being tempted by these great holes - and if they're any longer I simply couldn't be tempted.

I honestly cannot think of a golf course I would be more excited to play. I hope you enjoyed my list and I'm sure you'd have a few holes you could improve upon. Let me know your picks...

How to Deal with a Headwind

Controlling your golf ball in the wind is one of golf's greatest challenges. For quite a while now I have been asking my junior players to hit a 140 yard approach shot directly into whatever wind might be blowing that day and none of them have ever reached the flag! Now, part of this is ego and another part inexperience, but being a curious coach I wanted to do what I could to help them play these headwind shots effectively. At Savannah Harbor we have a double sided range and in the spring we can experience some strong winds. The double sided range means that I can hit shots into and down the same wind. Having TrackMan is a huge help here as it tracks the ball accurately throughout it's flight. Watch...

After quite a bit of testing on and off the golf course I have found that this formula produces positive results. Please keep in mind that hitting any shot in the wind is not exact science and there will always be a subjective side to selecting the appropriate club and shot.

  1. Determine how many MPH of wind are blowing in your face
  2. If its 12 MPH then add 12 yards per 100 yards of distance required
  3. Determine what club you would need to hit the ball that distance
  4. Take one additional club and play a knockdown type shot

Example scenario: For a 140 yard shot into a 20 MPH headwind. I would add 28 yards (20 yards per 100) to 140 to get to 168 which is a full 7 iron for me. I would thus take a 6 iron and hit a knockdown for this scenario.

You might wonder how you'd come to recognize the wind speed...? Experience certainly helps, but there's nothing against checking a weather app on your phone prior to going out to play to help you gauge wind speed. And remember - there is no such thing as a one club wind!

Thanks for reading and I hope this information helps you better control your ball in challenging windy conditions.

Develop Your Skills

Getting better at golf should be fun! As I become a more experienced coach I'm finally grasping the role that skill plays in lowering any golfer's score. I think of skill as what you can do with your technique. What shots can you hit? How well can you control your golf ball? That's achieved with skill. Check out this drill that I came up with to not only help you become a better golfer, but also to help you have more fun while you practice...

We all need skills. Hopefully wicked skills! By giving yourself ONE opportunity to hit each of the shots required to complete this drill you are continuously challenging your ability to adapt to the requirements of each unique situation. Something real golf requires on every shot! The seven required shots are a big slice, a medium fade, a baby fade, a straight one, a baby draw, a medium draw and a big hook. Don't hit them in order, but mix it up. Real golf doesn't work in a neat and smooth progression - neither should your practice. Keep a score too. It will help you strive to achieve full marks! 

 Add golf skills to your resume...

Add golf skills to your resume...

Give this drill a try the next time you go out to practice. In fact, any skill based challenge or drill you can come up with will help you to develop wicked golf skills that you can take out on the course with you to start shooting lower scores.

Thanks for reading.

3 Key Drills for Great Wedge Play

Far too many golfers struggle with their wedge play. I see it all the time! In this article and video I have dug deep and come up with my three favorite drills for you to practice if you'd like to get better from close range. Take a look...

Impact Drag Drill

  • Using an alignment rod in lieu of a club take your normal pitching address position
  • Place the tip of the rod on the ground about 3 feet behind where the ball would be
  • Keeping the arms extended, rotate and elevate the lead shoulder to get the rod through impact

Pitching Draw Drill

  • Tee the ball up and place an alignment rod between the ball and the target
  • The objective is to get the ball to draw around the rod
  • Have the handle traveling up and in while the clubhead travel down and out for draws

9 Ball Trajectory Drill

  • Using nine balls to develop skill and adaptability
  • Hit the first three balls to three different targets with your stock trajectory
  • The second three balls are hit with a slightly higher trajectory to different targets
  • The final three are hit with a lower trajectory to different targets as well

My hope is that these drills will help to upgrade your technique, develop your skill around the greens and ultimately help you become a more well-rounded golfer.

Thanks for reading/watching and if you enjoyed this article please share it with a friend who you feel might benefit.

Fabulous Golf in New Zealand

Terri and I have just returned from an incredible two weeks in New Zealand. I must say that when we departed on the trip I was expecting the golf to be good, but not much more. How wrong I was! I was truly blown away with not only the quality of the golf courses (design and shot-making), but also the scenery and conditioning.

 Coronet at Millbrook

Coronet at Millbrook

We started on the South Island at Millbrook. Here we played the Coronet and Remarkable nines as there are 27 holes available. Conditioning and scenery was superb and the consensus was that everybody preferred the Coronet nine. A good idea here is to tee it up relatively early and then drive 5 minutes up the road for a fantastic lunch at Amisfield Winery.

Our second course on the South Island was Jack's Point. This is the most beautiful golf course I've ever played. Not only is it beautiful, but it's a top notch layout too. A true 360º course - look in any direction, on any hole, and you'll see incredible beauty. Our group literally couldn't get enough of Jack's Point and this was the course of the trip for me. 

 Jacks Point

Jacks Point

We then moved to the North Island where the next round we played was at the mighty Kinloch Club. Our weather was perfect and we just about had the course to ourselves. A Jack Nicklaus design with a definite linksy feel to it - Kinloch delivered the goods and more. I loved how the fairways incorporated the humps and bumps and the whole look and feel of the course was interesting. The golf course is fantastic, but the Lodge at Kinloch might even be better. Contemporary accommodations along with world-class cuisine is tough to beat. 

 Kinloch Club

Kinloch Club

The day after Kinloch we ventured to Wairakei Golf Club. While the weather was a little dreary during our time there, I was pleased to see how many of the golfers in our group enjoyed the course. Wairakei is a "proper" golf course as I like to say and there was not a single hole out there that I wouldn't want on my home course. I did feel it was a little too big for the ladies as the ladies tees were not forward enough. Fabulous golf course that I could play everyday.

The course our group was most excited to play was definitely Cape Kidnapper's. Unfortunately we had horrible weather for our round there, but we all gained a sense of how much fun this course could be on a pleasant day. We caught glimpses of the stunning scenery and it seemed to whet our appetite to return one day and appreciate all this beautiful site has to offer. Beautifully designed by Tom Doak, Cape Kidnapper's allows for the influence of weather and wind without becoming too challenging. I wrote in the guest book, "A very enjoyable and wise design!" Cannot wait to get back.

 The back nine at Cape Kidnappers

The back nine at Cape Kidnappers

Each of the courses we played had exceptional practice and warm-up facilities and the staff were always friendly and accommodating. In fact at Kinloch, our lead group finished early and Paul, one of the pros, invited them to go out and play a few extra holes. This spirit of hospitality was everywhere in New Zealand and as a result we cannot wait to get back. Here are a few details regarding our trip next year...

 Click the image above to view

Click the image above to view

For information on our trip to New Zealand in February 2018 please email Terri at terri(at)syncexcursions.com

A Long Swing or a Short Swing?

The good news is that either one can get the job done, but we cannot view these two very different golf swings through the same lens. There are certain fundamental differences that we must keep in mind. Watch...

For the shorter backswing:

  • Get the wrists, arms and shaft organized early in the backswing
  • The club should favor being laid off at the top
  • The lead wrist should be flat or bowed at the top

For the longer backswing:

  • There is more freedom in the backswing as player has more time available to organize in transition and on the way down
  • The club should favor being across the line
  • The lead wrist can be either cupped or bowed

I do typically prefer slightly longer swings over shorter swings, but above all else I prefer swings that work. If you look at the greatest players of all time you'll see significantly more long swings than noticeably short swings. I have also found that longer swings will typically produce faster club speeds. Never a bad thing!

Keep in mind that these are generalized ideas that have been found to work on the students I have been fortunate to coach over the years. They have also been verified by other coaches and a scientist or two, but they are not set in stone. The objective is always improved performance.

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Saving Strokes with Science

With so many limits and restrictions being placed on golf club manufacturers these days it's amazing to see what really smart people can do, within the legal lines, to help us save strokes. This is a prime example from the engineers at Ping. Watch...

What the people at Ping found was that the depth of the grooves on the face of a putter played a tangible role in determining ball speed and thus how far the ball travelled off the face. They also knew that off-center strikes tended to travel shorter, so they used the groove depth to actually help maintain the intended ball speeds on off-center strikes.

All of the six balls pictured above were struck with a putting robot and the exact same stroke. The three circled/striped balls were hit with a variable depth grooved putter, with one being hit out the center, another 0.75" out the heel and the other 0.75" out the toe. The three non-circled balls were struck in the same fashion, but they did not have the advantage of the variable depth grooves. Notice the massive difference in dispersion!

We all hit off-center putts. We all despise three putts. The answer seems pretty simple to me! Please know, this is not a sales pitch for Ping putters, but before you go out and buy your next golf club learn about the science behind the design.

Thanks for reading.

My 3 Keys to Great Wedge Play

If you dread any form of pitch or chip shot then this article is expressly for you. If you feel like you could save a few more strokes around the greens then this article is for you. Utilizing better technique will literally make these shots easier. Here are a few straightforward improvements that will get the job done. Watch...

Key #1: Set Up

  • Feet should be close together. The most common mistake I see is a stance that's too wide.
  • Alignment should be square. Yes, square.
  • Ball position is centered to slightly forward.
  • Weight distribution is slightly favoring the front foot.
 The Proper Set Up...

The Proper Set Up...

Key #2: Wrist Action

  • Wrists should be relatively quiet in the backswing.
  • Avoid excessive cupping in the lead wrist. The left wrist for you righties out there.

Key #3: Body Pivot

  • Keep the chest rotating through the strike in order to shallow the attack angle.
  • Extend the lead side through impact.
  • Avoid thoughts of "stay down", "hit down" or "pinch the ball".

As you work towards better technique be aware that your results are not going to transition from bad to good instantaneously. Taking ownership of the upgrades will take time and patience. Get the set up correct, use the wrists properly and shallow the angle of attack with good chest rotation. Now we're talking!

If you'd like to learn more about improving your wedge play check out the Wedge Project.

 

 

How to Stop Hooking

There are literally thousands of articles pertaining to getting rid of slicing or fading the golf ball, yet not much sound information to help golfers overcome hooking (and blocking)!

The video clearly illustrates what the primary causes are...

The dispersion drill will not only get you to improve the club path, but also encourage you to get the clubface pointing to the right of the target. Exactly the opposite of what you have been struggling with! With the feel from the dispersion drill you will no longer have the:

  • club path traveling too far from in to out
  • clubface closed to the path
  • have to rely on perfect timing to quality golf shots

Give this simple drill a try if you tend to struggle with blocks and hooks. If you enjoyed this video and article please share it with a friend who you feel might benefit from it.

Thanks for tuning in!

 

Coach Camp Europe

Wow! What a fantastic ten days. Terri and I have just returned from Coach Camp Europe and we could not have been more pleased with the outcome of each event. After the success of the inaugural Coach Camp in South Carolina in February earlier this year we had received numerous requests from coaches in Europe to put on a similar event over there. We were blessed to have all the original presenters, Dana Dahlquist, Martin Chuck, Joseph Mayo and myself make the trip while managing to add brand guru and content creator extra-ordinaire, Mark Crossfield to the line-up.

On September 20th & 21st we kicked off just outside Brussels at Chateau de la Tournette hosted by teaching professional Alan McLean. There were almost 80 attendees with most of them traveling in from Holland. 

The weather was incredible and the outdoor segments were conducted in warm sunshine on both days. A highlight appeared to be the newly introduced 20-minute quick lessons that each presenter gave to golfers of various handicap levels. Or maybe it was the story Joe Mayo told about a porcupine living inside the head of a driver…

After Belgium we moved on to Dublin, Ireland where, on September 26th & 27th Stephen Ennis hosted us at Roganstown. Here there were 70 attendees with the majority being from the UK and Ireland. We did have two coaches come in from South Africa, a handful from Poland and a return attendee from Russia.

Having had some prior experience with Irish weather I was shocked when the sun came out on the first day. The second day might have been a bit chilly and windy but there was nothing we could complain about.

Each of the presenters was asked to speak on a topic of their choosing:

  • Martin Chuck: What I’ve Learned

Martin took us through his approach to giving a lesson and the factors he felt were important in putting the student at ease and developing a relationship

  • Dana Dahlquist: Swing Preferences

Dana shared a variety of swing patterns (CP & CF) with the group and spoke about what to look for from certain players

  • Joseph Mayo: Trail Shoulder External Rotation

Joe regaled us with the value of trail shoulder rotation in the swing and it’s importance in getting the shaft to lay down correctly.

  • Mark Crossfield: Coaching to Your Audience

Mark presented on his business brand and shared a number of valuable points. A highlight was his discussion on ‘exit strategy’ for golf coaches.

  • Andrew Rice: What I’ve Learned

My theme explored what can we as coaches can do to make the game easier for all golfers. I presented on the importance of hand path, the face to path relationship and skill development. 

 Dahlquist and Mayo

Dahlquist and Mayo

As per usual at these events the lunchtime and evening banter was second to none as this seemed to be the perfect opportunity to dig deeper on certain topics and swing elements.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the sponsors of both events, Foresight Europe and SwingCatalyst.  They provided the most incredible crew at each site and I do not stand alone in saying that each of the presenters was impressed with both the technology and support each company provided. In fact Dana Dahlquist purchased a SwingCatalyst.

Thank you to the sponsors, the presenters, the hosts and most of all the coaches who attended. Our objective is to make Coach Camp the premier coaching event in the world and we sincerely appreciate you joining us. It really was a blast!

I am currently working towards setting up a fresh, world-class list of feature presenters for Coach Camp 2017. The event will be held on January 30th and 31st at the Westin Savannah Harbor Resort in Savannah, Georgia. The line-up of feature presenters will be announced the week of October 24th (or sooner!). We will have 100 available spots for attendees this year, so please block off the Monday and Tuesday after the PGA Merchandise Show if you plan on attending. 

See you in Savannah…