Orlando PGA Show 2013

I have just returned from the 2013 PGA Show in Orlando and as per usual it has fired me up for the upcoming year. I'm not sure what happens, but I am always motivated and excited to get down to providing a better, more informed product for my students by the time I leave.

This year was my best show for education and networking purposes. I attended my second TrackMan University workshop where TrackMan founder Fredrik Tuxen shared some invaluable knowledge. Here I also met Jeff Ritter, Terry Rowles, Martin Chuck and Josh Zander - already great teachers looking to broaden their knowledge base with TrackMan data.

I also attended the very first (of many I believe!) Facebook Golf Teaching Professionals Live Forum on Wednesday night. Talk about a loaded room - there were 150 of the brightest and most cutting edge minds in the game in attendance. From fitting to fitness, from old school to cutting edge and from scientist to psychologist, they were all there. The evening made for great theater and was very well moderated by Nick Chertock, Chris Como and Michael Michaelides.

On Thursday the actual show got started and I spoke to and met some extremely smart people. They included, but were not limited to: Brian Manzella, Joseph Mayo, Kirk Oguri, Tim Cutshall, Tom Patri, Lorin Anderson and Mike Shannon. I have a tremendous amount of respect for all these folks and their expertise in their field is second to none.

On Thursday night I attended my first TweetUp. Ten years ago I would never have thought I would go to a strange place to meet up with strange people I had only met and conversed with online, but here I was hanging out with a large group of extremely talented instructors and I had a blast. If you do not currently use Twitter I would encourage you to get going and once you do hit me up for who to follow. I have learned so much from my affiliation with these teachers through Twitter this year! Thanks to Sara Dickson and Mike Fay for setting this up - I wish I could have stayed longer.

All in all I felt like a learned more than I ever have at the PGA Show and I am inspired to go out and do more research and do a better job for my students than ever before. I am really looking forward to a fantastic 2013 - stay tuned....

An Interview with Yours Truly

I was recently interviewed by social media guru, Ricky Lee Potts.  Ricky really did his research and asked some interesting and different questions. I thought you may want to give it a read:

He lives down in South Carolina, and teaches at the Berkeley Hall Golf Club. Oh, and he went to Harvard. (He didn’t go to Harvard… but we will get to that later.) Did I mention he drinks wine? Anyway, I met this guy on Twitter and we have stayed in touch ever since. I love working with the PGA teaching professionals because they all teach folks how to play golf… but they all have their own approach. Did I forget to mention he is from South Africa? There are some pretty big PGA TOUR players from South Africa including Ernie Els. He has actually played with Ernie… but we will get to that later. I am pretty excited to be sitting with Andrew Rice. He is all about impact… and in the game of golf, impact is pretty important!

Here is an excerpt....

A lot of guys are getting away from teaching, and bridging the gap to coaching. Is there a difference to you personally? If so, what do you think the difference is?

I too am trying to become more of a coach and less of a teacher/instructor. In my opinion, a coach is there for the long haul – they cover all the bases from swing to fitness to nutrition to equipment, the mental side and even scheduling. Coaching is so much more than golf instruction.

What’s in your golf bag?

I’m a Titleist guy and use all Titleist clubs except my 10 year old 36” Odyssey 2-ball putter. I love the Titleist D3 driver…

Do you ever do playing lessons with your students?

All the time! There is so much that golfers can learn in a playing lesson that saves strokes automatically. Course management (or lack of) is a big reason why many golfers have the handicap they do.

You went to Harvard. Tell me about that experience… that’s not an easy school.

(Laughs) You must have been on my personal Facebook page. I went to Central Florida, but with Facebook I can be a graduate of any school in the world in less than a minute! I have had some fun with my friends with that one…

What’s the best round you have ever shot?

I have shot 63 on numerous occasions, but the problem was that it was always in the pro-am before the real event!

Who is in your dream foursome?

I’ve thought about this many times – Seve Ballesteros (my favorite player), Bobby Jones (IMO the best of all time) and Arnold Palmer. I think my Dad would understand…

I am Tiger’s biggest fan. Honestly, do you think he will break Jack’s record?

I like to say this concerning Tiger, “The genie has left the lamp!” I think Tiger will win another major or two, but will ultimately fall short of Jack’s record. His greatest challenge is that he, and all the other players, realize he is fallible. When he dominated in the past, both parties thought he was indestructible.

There are a lot of young guys out there giving Tiger a run for his money. Who are some of your favorite players to watch?

You’ve got to love Rory and his wholesome vibe – just a good, talented, hardworking kid whose making the most of his opportunity.  I also like Charl Schwartzel. He performed the best in the majors last year and I look forward to seeing how he handles things at Augusta in a couple of weeks.

I read Golf DigestGlobal Golf PostGolf Magazine… they all promise to help “fix my slice” in 5 minutes or less! Do tips like that help or hurt an average player? Do you read any of those golf publications?

I do and I believe the quality of information they provide to their readers has improved dramatically in the past few years. The world has changed and many people no longer have the time to spend 15 minutes reading an in depth article to help them improve. Quick tips like that, while not optimal, work for more people than not. We’re all looking for something to give us a little hope for this weekend’s upcoming round…

You use TrackMan?

Yes, and it is worth every penny!

When I play, I play by “winter rules”. If we played 18 together, would you let me roll the ball or would we stick to the USGA rules of golf?

We’re out there having fun, Ricky – whatever your pleasure! My father emigrated to the U.S. a few years ago and was taken back with the way many Americans played the game – they didn’t know the rules and seemed to not even try to follow them. It took him a while, but now he loves it. People are out there just having fun. That’s the way it should be, shouldn’t it?

Speaking of the rules, there have been some changes to the rules of golf lately. What are your thoughts with all the recent changes?

The powers that be are doing all they (legally) can to protect the game. I would like for the powers that be to consider changing the rule that eliminated Brian Davis from the playoff at HarbourTown in 2010.

What are you doing when you are not playing or teaching?

I have two fantastic young sons (11 and 13) who play baseball. I coach a team and most of my evenings are spent at a ball field somewhere in the South Carolina Lowcountry.

Read more....

2012 PGA Show

I have just returned from the annual PGA Show in Orlando, Florida and I am pleased to share that the economic side of the game appears to be in fine shape. In previous years I have left the show feeling somewhat dejected, yet after this year's experience I am really excited for what 2012 holds.

Every year I look around for ideas that might be game changers - something fresh, new and different. I also keep an eye out for what I call "headscratchers" - something so far out it makes me wonder how it could ever help a golfer get better. Here are a few things that piqued my interest:


This tiny, lightweight device attaches to the shaft of your club from where it captures your swing and transmits it to your smartphone (Apple or Android) or tablet. It offers relatively accurate data on swing path, speed and launch angle amongst others, but the developer did stress to me that once swing speeds exceeded 90mph the accuracy got a little "sloppy". It also allows you to share the information with your coach or golf buddies. This product comes highly recommended for the vast majority of golfers out there ($149; swingbyte.com).

Snag Golf

Face it - kids absolutely love to hit balls at a moving target and they love it even more if that moving target happens to be you. If you're looking to give your kids or grandkids a reason to play golf and have a ball while doing it - all you have to do is suit up in the sticky suit and let the fun begin. It's a velcro suit that, when used with Snag's sticky balls and plastic golf clubs, turns you into a moving target thats far more appealing than even the guy in the range picker. Big time fun factor ($230, snaggolf.com).

SuperFlex Bands

SuperFlex offers a great Golf Kit that includes five exercise bands made specifically for golfers Each kit includes an exercise program that's designed to help with mobility, stability, flexibility, core strength and more. Anyone here need that? ($99; superflexbands.com)

Iliac Leather Head Covers

These leather headcovers have been around for a while, but there is nothing that makes a statement quite like a customized set of these protecting your big sticks.  I have some (that I paid for!) and every round I play somebody asks about them. I love old school and these have old school written all over them. For the golfer who has almost everything (from $58 ea; iliacgolf.com)

How about these two items? I have a hard enough time making putts with a flat face - how does anybody suppose I'm going to make more putts with a putter that has a curved face?

This second "headscratcher" I simply called the Putting Guillotine! Is this device really going to help me on a downhill left to right slider on the final green for the win....? I rest my case. While I selected these two items to show you, there were many more instances where ideas, products and teaching aids caused me to simply turn and walk away.

The best booth at the show had to go to TaylorMade - again. Here's an interesting stat for you: TaylorMade currently controls a 55% share of the metalwood market. If you compare to when Titleist golf balls where at their peak - they only controlled a 48% share of the ball market! And remember - golf clubs cost a lot more than golf balls.

Best Clothing Booth - Travis Mathew - the old convertible was a great touch.

Best Hosiery (socks!) - Kentwool - they claim to be the world's best golf sock and I have no reason to dispute that. These socks rock!

Best Teaching Technology - Swing Catalyst - I may be biased here, as I own one, but this technology is ahead of it's time.

As per usual there were many golf personalities there and I happened to see Scotty Cameron, Michael Breed, Lee Trevino, Paula Creamer, Wally Uihlein, Gary Gilchrist and Erik Barzeski amongst others, but I'm still trying to figure out what Flava Flav was doing there? If that's not a "headscratcher" then I don't know what is?

If you have not had an opportunity to visit the PGA Show then this video might give you an idea of what the experience is like. Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Weight Transfer and Positioning

Having the use of the Swing Catalyst system has almost been like being able to look behind the curtain to see what truly happens to a golfers' weight when they swing the club. Guesswork and perception are taken out of the equation and the information you read in the following post is based purely on fact. 

Weight shift is a poor term.  Similar to the term "takeaway" it does not convey the appropriate sensation.  My research has shown that the term "weight transfer" would be far better.  And here's why: When I think of shifting my weight I make a conscious move to get my body over to my back foot for example.  Not good!  The weight transfers in the swing purely due to the motion in the arms hands and club as they travel away from the target.  Think of it this way - if I swing my arms, which each weigh 15 lbs, and a club  in my backswing you can be sure that I am transferring weight onto my back foot. There is however no conscious shifting or body move that gets the weight over there. This is exactly why the 84 degree  rule (as illustrated below) holds true.

There should be no lateral body move in the backswing, yet many players often wrote or spoke about a sense of weight transfer. The body stays centered while the weight is transferred by the motion in the arms and the club. Video HERE

I found that very good golfers (college and touring professionals) had a maximum percentage of 80% of their weight on their back foot slightly beyond halfway back.  This was achieved with almost no lateral movement in the upper body.

Click to Enlarge

In the screen shot above notice how the center of gravity indicator between my feet (top right) is almost as far to the right as it goes. This should be the furthest point to the right the weight moves and from here it starts moving back to the front foot.

I did find that a reverse weight shift (reverse pivot) was almost impossible for me to achieve. With the arms and club swinging to the right it made it very difficult to get the weight to favor the front foot in the backswing.

In the screen shot below I have positioned my weight 70/30 on the front foot (with the 84 line as a reference) at the top of my swing as advocated by some teachers. While the numbers may be difficult to achieve I did find that for many people the idea of keeping their body left and sensing the weight being 70/30 in favor of the front foot proved to be very helpful. This helped me to seperate the difference between what a student felt and what was real.  Many times it was better for a student to work towards a feeling than the actual reality.

Click to Enlarge

At the start of the downswing, when the left arm (for right handers) gets parallel to the ground the majority of top tour professionals displayed a weight distribution of 50/50.  Sam Snead illustrated this beautifully!

I did notice that with single figure handicap golfers there seemed to be a tendency to get their weight too far forward (75/25) at this point. This led to a situation where, when they got to the delivery point (shaft parallel to the ground), they very often had more than 90% of their weight on their front foot and had to back up through impact.  This seemed to be a contributing factor to hooks and blocks - the better golfers most common malady!

All the best ball strikers studied displayed a tendency to transfer the weight to the front foot in a smooth and continuous flow with no backing up or slowing of the transfer. The more straight and direct the CoG trace moved the better. This meant that they arrived at impact with an 80/20 split favoring the front foot and the weight continued to move smoothly over to the front side beyond impact.

Click to Enlarge

Notice the continuous and smooth CoG trace into the front foot here by Billy Hurley.  His weight was more than likely 85% on the front foot at impact.

The tendency with higher handicap golfers (above 18) was for the weight to get too far back and then remain there all the way through impact. It was not unusual to see one of these golfers have a split of 70/30 favoring the back foot at impact.

In summary:

  • The weight should start at 50/50
  • Somewhere between halfway back and the top of the backswing the player should max out weight on the back foot at 80/20
  • At halfway down (arm parallel to the ground) the weight should once again be 50/50
  • The weight should make a continuous tranfer to the front foot in the downswing with an 80/20 split occuring at impact. 

A few more screen shots:

Geoff Ogilvy passing through impact (shaft bend is due to camera lens)

Click to Enlarge


Peter Uihlein at impact

Click to Enlarge

Please keep two things in mind as you process the above information: due to the relative newness of this technology there is not a huge sample group of golfers to study and that all percentages are a mean or "ballpark" number.

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The Weight Shift

The photo of Sam Snead above perfectly illustrates where the weight should be positioned at these three key points in the golf swing:

  • Just prior to the top of the backswing the weight is almost always in the vicinity of 80/20 favoring the back side.
  • At the half way down point top players always seem to position their weight equally here (50/50).
  • At impact the weight is always in the vicinity of 20/80 favoring the front side.

The amazing technology from Swing Catalyst has been instrumental in educating me further on this important information. If you'd like to learn more about your weight shift please give me a call to book your session at some point within the next two weeks.

I will be posting at great detail on this topic later in the week so stand by. The evidence is clear!

2011 Orlando PGA Golf Show

I have recently returned from the 2011 Orlando PGA Golf Show and I wanted to share a few of my impressions with you. Firstly, if you are an avid golfer, you simply must make a plan to attend this show - it is literally the Disney World of golf! Talk to your golf professional, a friend in the biz, beg, steal, but find a way to get there. Plan on two full days (preferably Thursday and Friday) to soak it all up.

This year there seemed to be a positive vibe at the Show. All the major club companies were represented with Taylormade commanding a huge portion of the floor. My four high points of the Show were:

Swing Catalyst


Once again I have nominated this product as one of my highlights. It might be costly, but this machine dispenses invaluable information for any golf coach. It shows where a golfers weight is positioned throughout the swing, how much rotational force is being generated, all while synchronizing with video and either Trackman or Flightscope. Talk about an all in one package! This is the G5 of golf instruction technology.



The new and improved Flightscope X2 portable launch monitors do not offer anything groundbreaking relative to what Trackman has always offered, but where they crush the competition is price point - $11,000 vs $30,000+! The accuracy of the Flightscope has always been brought into question, however after meeting with them and seeing the new X2 in action I am sold. Not new technology, but definitely a new price point at which to consider the technology.

Nuun Hydration Tablets

Nuun tablets are optimal hydration and I believe the future of hydration in sports. The taste is light and refreshing and I really like the "green" aspect of this product - you carry your own Nuun waterbottle, fill it with water and add a tablet without loading up the landfills with plastic bottles from everything you drink on the golf course. The speed of absorbtion, electrolyte content and lack of carbohydrates (sugar!) is what sets this product apart. It tastes really good too.

Speed Woosh from Momentus

In an almost unnoticed about face by Momentus (which has always promoted heavy clubs) they are now promoting the Speed Woosh to increase your clubhead speed. Well what about all those heavy clubs I bought that are lying in my garage? Sorry, no good - at least if you want more speed! This device is great fun to swing and as an added bonus it works. It gets the fast twitch muscle fibers to fire and that can only help you add distance to your tee balls. I like it!

In additon to these four highlights I saw a little bit of everything - from six different types of golf tee designs to a device to keep your head still in the swing (it actually worked!) There were also the usual cast of golf celebs from Greg Norman to Hank Haney (hi Hank!) to Natalie and Paula. I also attended a few excellent seminars  by AMF and noted golf instructor Jeff Ritter. Jeff gave an inspirational talk on marketing golf instruction in the modern society.

After leaving the show I felt excited and enthusiastic about the future of our game. We seem to be turning the corner and I am really looking forward to 2011.

Thanks for reading and feel free to post your questions and comments.

A Highlight from the 2010 PGA Show in Orlando

I have just returned from the PGA Golf Show and came back with a very positive vibe. While it is always good to catch up with friends, old and new I feel that the game of golf is doing just fine even without Tiger. Here are a few notes on what I found to be the highlight of my trip:

Even though this is their second year at the show I found Swing Catalyst Studio to be the most exciting and positive piece of technology involving golf instruction. Last year I reported on the Swingia Balance Plate, but the Swing Catalyst takes the same idea to a new level.

The Swing Catalyst Force Plate seamlessly integrates with video analysis software and an optional launch monitor (TrackMan). The force plate is housed in a tee unit covered with artificial turf.

The Swing Catalyst Force Plate enables the teacher to view a student’s centre of gravity, stance and pressure distribution both live and recorded, in real time and in slow motion. Additional data on rotational force, tempo and rhythm are also available once the swing has been captured.

The best feature shows what percentage of a golfers' weight is on each foot. Many systems have this option, but none go so far as to indicate what part of the foot the weight is located on.

When integrated with a TrackMan system and 300 fps cameras, Swing Catalyst provides the optimal in instructional tools - an upper level viewing experience, all the numbers pertaining to the club and ball flight and now all the numbers pertaining to the body, force and weight positioning.

With integration this really is the Rolls Royce system available on the market today.

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