I am often asked if there is a difference between teaching and coaching men and women. The answer is both yes and no. Yes, because there are obvious physiological differences between men and women which make teaching them a very individualistic dynamic endeavor. No, because one thing is certain, the golf ball doesn’t know what […]
I am often asked if there is a difference between teaching and coaching men and women. The answer is both yes and no.
Yes, because there are obvious physiological differences between men and women which make teaching them a very individualistic dynamic endeavor.
No, because one thing is certain, the golf ball doesn’t know what gender is striking it. Or for that matter, what age or skill level. It only reacts to the angle of attack, the direction the clubface is pointing and speed of the club at impact. The goal, male or female, is to strike the ball in the center of a square clubface each time. Getting there takes many routes.
From a physical standpoint, men in general are taller and/or have better upper body strength than women. This literally allows them to muscle the club through the ball. I see quite a few male amateurs who make only an arm swing and do not make a good turn with their shoulders. This creates a lot of inconsistency, but they can still get the ball to move fairly good distances.
For women, me included, upper-body strength is not something we are blessed with and as a result, an arm swing does not allow us to create much clubhead speed, so we must use our bigger muscles in our backs and lower body. Women are generally more flexible than men, and as a result have the ability to make a good shoulder turn. However, this is not always the case. I encourage women to use the bigger muscles of their body to move the club away from the ball and turn through to the target fully to create as much clubhead speed as possible. This keeps their hands fairly quiet in the golf swing, plus they use bigger muscles rather than small muscles of the upper body to swing the golf club.
I have watched way too many men try to hit the ball way too hard. I think this comes from watching PGA Tour golf and seeing the great distances that the pros hit it. Of course, we all aspire to hit the ball far, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to swing fast and try to hit it hard. My approach with these type of swings is to suggest slower takeaway, with the better turn that will result in getting the club into good positions throughout the swing resulting in a consistent solid strike the golf ball. A ball struck in the center of a square clubface will travel much farther (and straighter) than one that is hit with a glancing blow.
Women, especially novice players, tend to try to lift the ball up into the air rather than letting the club do that work. Perhaps it is that they are trying not to take a divot but this is in fact, what they should be trying to do. If you saw the LPGA pros play a few weeks ago here in Naples, you saw fluid swings with an impact position that is no different from the guys ? their bodies are turned through impact, their hands are ahead of the ball, and their divots start after the ball, indicating a descending angle of attack.
The golf swing is the golf swing. What really differentiates it are the physical attributes and athletic ability of whomever swinging the club. Strength plays a role, but obviously flexibility does also. An efficient golf swing has good fundamentals and is a series of simple movements that we tend to make much more difficult than they should be. If the fundamentals and sequence of events are good, then the club gets into the correct positions and results are usually good.
To get to those results, a good instructor/coach guides the player, male or female, to a simplified technique that has unique attributes based on the physicality of that player. So while the answer to my earlier question is really built around the individual student and correcting poor technique.
What do you think? I would love to hear from you to find out your thoughts on this and any other topic related to golf. Let me know what you would like to read about.
Have you ever had one of those days when you feel great about your impending game, everything seems positive and your warm up on the driving range is nothing short of perfect? You hit your targets, you feel relaxed and your tempo is smooth. You move to the putting green and you roll a few […]
Have you ever had one of those days when you feel great about your impending game, everything seems positive and your warm up on the driving range is nothing short of perfect? You hit your targets, you feel relaxed and your tempo is smooth. You move to the putting green and you roll a few putts that cozy up to the hole. Your short putts go right in the center.
And then you head to the first tee and before you know it, your game deserts you. Maybe not all at once, but as you make your way around the course, you find yourself making poor swings, hitting bad shots, making poor decisions and as a result, your scoring goes out the window.
Taking the game successfully from the practice tee to the golf course is something that has been a dilemma for every level of player for as long as the game has been played. When you have a good warm up, your expectation is that feeling will follow you to the course, but unless you plan and practice for the course, you may never be able to take that seemingly repeatable, efficient and successful swing to where it really counts.
When PGA Tour and LPGA Tour professionals prepare to play an event, there are two groups of things that they woke on. The first, is their swing preparation. This of course includes technique, but it also could include working on controlling their distance, shot shape and trajectory based on the course they are playing that week. On a course or at a time of year where the wind is a constant factor, the pros practice ?flighting? the golf ball which equates to controlling how high the ball flies. This preparation also includes learning the speed of the greens so that putting and chipping can be as precise as possible.
For the most part, players have a pretty good handle on their swings when they arrive at a tournament, so their more specific preparation is about how they approach the golf course. Are there score able holes where they can be aggressive in their play? Are there tee shots that are demanding? Is there great variety in the par threes where some require conservative play and others can be attacked?
Playing a course with the goal of scoring the best that you possibly can requires a solid game plan. And, the commitment to sticking to that plan.
Do you have a game plan when you play? Are you prepared for the shots and conditions you may face? Or, do you head to the first tee without a proper warm up and with a million swing thoughts, road rage and what you should have had for breakfast on your mind?
Let?s face it, more and more golfers approach their tee times with little or no preparation. Being a trunk slammer (meaning you run from the car to the first tee) is detrimental to your best possible performance on course. You start stiff and having tension in your swing, you lose all feel. It may take you as many as six holes to be fully warmed up if you do not spend a few minutes swinging the club before you head out.
Warming up loosens your golf muscles and allows you to swing more freely. Hitting a few balls lets you gain an understanding of what your ball flight pattern will be like It also helps you to keep your tempo smooth and easy. Aiming at a target on the range connects your body and brain to work together on making efficient golf swings.
Having a game plan is like having a good road map to playing a course well. Sticking to that plan requires a commitment on your part. Managing your game around the course is not something many recreational players think about but it certainly can help you score better. You can avoid the dangers of water hazards, greenside bunkers and overhanging trees by playing to your strengths, knowing your yardages and approaching a hole with knowledge of your best plan of attack.
A playing lesson can help you identify your on course mistakes and pitfalls and plan for the best way to play the course based on your strengths and weaknesses. Having confidence when you step to the first tee requires preparation and practice. Making a plan and sticking to it gives you the best opportunity to score better than you think you can. Having played in over 400 LPGA tournaments, planning my way around a course is something I just do ? it should be done so you can navigate your way around the course to better scores.
As I watch players like Jason Day and Lydia Ko dissect golf courses with precision I am in awe of their ball striking ability, distance and control. However, what is even more exciting to watch is their ability to turn mistakes into opportunities by having a wide array of short game shots to choose from […]
As I watch players like Jason Day and Lydia Ko dissect golf courses with precision I am in awe of their ball striking ability, distance and control. However, what is even more exciting to watch is their ability to turn mistakes into opportunities by having a wide array of short game shots to choose from as they navigate courses.
I was never the longest player on tour. But my tee shots most often found the fairway with reasonable distance so I guess you could say I was a good all-around driver of the golf ball.
What made me competitive and keeps me happy most of the time with my scores now is my short game. On the LPGA Tour of being called a ?trash queen? was a badge of honor and one that did and still keeps me scoring well. As a kid, I would play games with my brother, burying shots in bunkers, making up scenarios and scoring systems and building my repertoire of shots from 75 yards and in.
So how was your short game? Do you have a process for determining the best shot to hit or is it a guessing game? Do you chip and pitch with the same club no matter where you are because it is your favorite?
Are you confident that when your approach shot ends up just off the green on a par four that you can get that ball up-and-down to save your par? Or do you struggle with the shorter shots that are even more costly than an errant drive?
Here’s a few tips to get you going with learning and becoming proficient with scoring shots.
You first need good technique. Putting, chipping, pitching and greenside bunker shots all require simple but repetitive swing motions. Keeping it simple is important and in doing so, having a process to hit the shots makes decision-making and execution a lot easier on the golf course.
You need intention. Making the decision about what type of shot to play and what club to hit it with requires that you gather all the right information as you prepare for your shot. With that information you decide how high and how far you want the ball to fly and how much roll it will produce. You have to decide where you want that ball to land and work from there.
To do this, you need to use your imagination and this is where I think it gets fun. There is no ?one? shot that you have to hit. Being able to see in your mind?s eye how the ball will react and what you wanted to do will give you more than one option as to what type of shot to play.
You need to be open to using whatever club will produce the required shot ? not just your favorite club. A general rule of thumb for success is to get the ball on the ground as soon as possible. That may involve you taking a lower lofted club that your favorite ?go-to? club in order to give you the best percentage shot.
Finally, and probably most importantly, you need to practice. Allocating time to work on your short game will ensure that you are making the right decision on what to focus on in your game. Purposeful practice is truly the only way to build confidence and consistent ball striking when you’re hitting short shots. When you practice with a purpose, you build not only muscle memory, but feel and confidence so that when you are presented with a shot on the golf course, you will have already hit that shot hundreds of time in practice.
I love working on my short game. It is always fun to pull off shots that no one expects you to and of course to post scores that include birdies and pars made with great shots. There is a hidden benefit in working on your short game too. Developing and repeating a swing that goes from waist high to waist high also helps to groove the hitting zone of your full swing. So, if you are making good motion in your short game shots, your full swing will benefit too.
Let?s face it. Golf is hard. Golf is not a reactionary sport. By that I mean that we are not reacting to a moving ball. Instead, we are playing a target sport where we hit a ball from a stationary position. We set up to the ball in an unnatural and uncomfortable position and contort […]
Let?s face it. Golf is hard.
Golf is not a reactionary sport. By that I mean that we are not reacting to a moving ball. Instead, we are playing a target sport where we hit a ball from a stationary position. We set up to the ball in an unnatural and uncomfortable position and contort or our bodies through awkward movements to try to hit a small white ball with an implement that is made up of a stick with a blob of material on the end of it.
I am reminded of this daily as I coach and instruct, and I am struck with this concept not only as I work this week with a group of high school kids in Portland, Oregon, but every day when I hear my students and my friends talk about playing one hole great and losing it completely on the next. Or feeling one day like the hole is a bushel basket and the next a pin hole.
Teenage kids taking up the game and playing on their high school teams and who play other sports are pretty quick studies when it comes to nailing down the basics. However, much like their novice counterparts who take up the game in retirement, they find many aspects of the game of golf almost impossible.
We see it on TV and it looks so easy. Fluid golf swings and smooth putting strokes with wonderful results. We see the occasional missed shot or mishap in scoring but what we can?t fathom is what contact feels like, what swinging the club the way Lexi Thompson or Rory McIlroy does feels like, or how many hours and repetitions are needed to get to that level.
Most people wonder ?How do the pros make it so easy?? as they stand over the ball and stare at it. So how do we make the game easier for the average Joe? Well here are a few tips:
Use your eyes. The more we bring our focus to our target while we prepare for and set up to our shot, the more we become reactionary to that target and less focused on the ball. Try this. Stand behind the ball and pick your target, then pick something on the ground in front of the ball to line your clubhead up to. As you move to set up, get both hands on the club and set the club behind the ball, being sure it is aligned to that spot you picked.
Before you move your feet into your stance, look at your target and keep looking at it while you move your feet into your stance. Don?t worry, the ball will still be there when you look back down.
By using your eyes more, your brain will actually help you align naturally and correctly to wherever you have aimed your clubhead. And as a gentle reminder, it is the clubface that aligns or points to the target, not your body! Your feet, knees, hips and shoulders should be set up on a parallel line to that target line. Capeche?
In putting, look at the line of your putt and the hole as you take your rehearsal strokes. Allow your eyes to see the line, your brain to interpret and feel the distance, and direct your arms and shoulders to make a stroke with a length and fluidity that is appropriate for the distance. This also keeps you from staring at the ball and focusing on the technical aspects of the stroke itself.
Make sure that your clubface is square when you take your grip. If you start by gripping the club with the clubface too open or closed, you are putting the success of your shot in jeopardy. The brain has an uncanny knack for correcting things for us, like when we are walking on a flat surface and suddenly have to step up onto a curb ? our eyes see it, our brains interpret and deliver instruction for us to lift and bend the knee and set the foot down on the higher surface.
So, if your clubface is open or closed at address, your brain will tell your body to make compensations in the swing to try to get the clubface square at impact.
Swing to the finish. When you see players on TV hit a shot, pay attention to what they look like when the swing is complete. With a full swing, their body will be turned so it is facing the target, with the majority of their weight on the forward foot, knees fairly close together and with the back foot turned up on to the toe.
By completing the swing to this balanced position, the player knows that all of his or her energy has swung the club through impact to the target and not just to where the ball had been sitting. When you do this, the clubhead follows a path that if you imagine smoke coming from it, would draw a shape that is somewhat circular. A swing that stops its momentum at the ball often looks jagged, creating a more V-like look.
Be patient. Visit an instructor and get the fundamentals nailed down and something to work on. And then work on it! Golf is a repetitive game and you cannot build a swing that becomes repeatable if you don?t build repetitions. A smart instructor will only give you a small number (like maybe one or two) things to work on in the actual swing. Don?t feel like you are not getting enough to work on, but rather that learning the game is a never-ending process and that you need to build your quality repetitions in order to improve.