Sink or Swim

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Aaron Olson is Staff Teaching Professional with JRG/TSGA programs at the Raven Golf Club Phoenix. In addition, he is Assistant Director of Nike Junior Golf Camps hosted at the Pebble Beach Resorts on the Monterey Peninsula.  Click Here for more information on private and group coaching with Aaron and the entire JRG/TSGA Staff.

Grip It and Rip It

Today’s blog post is for an avid student of the game from New York that sent along some clips of his full swing to me for review.  He also included pictures of his grip.  Thank you Phil, for providing today’s topic,  I hope this tip helps you control the clubface better to hit more accurate shots.

Here is Phil’s Grip for full swing shots in the left hand.

The key to a creating leverage and allowing the face to rotate naturally is to hold the grip in your fingers and under the pad of the left hand.  Phil your grip is very much in the palm of your hand, which means you have a lot of potential to hit it longer, straighter and with ease! In the putting stroke, I would like your grip completely in your palms and the shaft running through your forearms, but this palm position is a killer to the full swing.  The goal for putting and full swing is very different, therefore a completely different grip is required.  The following is a drill that I use with students to get their grip more in their fingers and less in the palm for full swing shots.

In this picture the student is pinching a tee in between the gap of the left hand (for a right handed golfer).  This pinch forces the grip to get more into the fingers.  My preference is to see a slightly stronger left hand and a neutral right hand.  Try taking the grip with your left hand to the side of your body and then hinge the club up.  The up and down hinge motion is like a hammer,  this is the same motion you will use to hit the golf ball.  Finally, add a couple of waggles to loosen tension and get the hands ready to move.  In athletic motion you never want to freeze of the ball,  you always want a little bit of motion to get you started.   Best of luck Phil and please keep those great questions coming.

Megan Padua is a PGA Certified Instructor, LPGA Member, TPI Level 2 Junior Golf Certified, a TPI Level 1 Golf Professional, Coutour Certified Putter Fitting Professional,  and a Staff Teaching Professional with JRG/TSGA programs at the Raven Golf Club Phoenix

Smash 101

In this video is a great tip that Martin Chuck demonstrated during a Tour Striker Golf School at The Raven.  Many people make the mistake of setting up too close to the ball on the driver.   This is due to the optical illusion of the club sitting on the ground versus when it  is up in the air (which is where it will be during the strike).   If the ball were teed up at the height of a tee ball tee,  it would be necessary to set up much further away in order to hit the sweet spot at impact.   This tip will help you get more yardage off the tee and keep your driver in the fairway.

Megan Padua is a PGA Certified Instructor, LPGA Member, TPI Level 2 Junior Golf Certified, a TPI Level 1 Golf Professional, Coutour Certified Putter Fitting Professional,  and a Staff Teaching Professional with JRG/TSGA programs at the Raven Golf Club Phoenix

Get Better STAT!

I’m proud to say that, I played golf for Penn State in college.  The best golfer to graduate from the Penn State Women’s golf team is currently on the LPGA Tour, her name is Katie Futcher.   My college coach, Denise St. Pierre,  shared this visual with me, it’s the one that Katie uses. Ever since I have used it to evaluate my game. 

If you did not get a chance, my last two postings were titled “the need for speed” and “hit your mark”.
In this visual, the red box represents the fairway and the circle represents the green.  In conjunction with the accuracy/distance blog,  the red line down the middle of the fairway represents the accuracy line (how accurate are you hitting your tee shot?)  The end of the box bisects the middle of the green. This portion of the box will represent your distance control on the green. Since the diagram is a circle, every green will not look like this,measure your statistics as if the center of the circle is in relation to the hole.  From here, plot each shot you take during the round.

This is an example of 9 holes,  the numbers with astricks  *  represent your approach shots.   At the end of your round you can evaluate which area you tend to miss a shot.  

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Megan Padua is a PGA Certified Instructor, LPGA Member, TPI Level 2 Junior Golf Certified, a TPI Level 1 Golf Professional, Coutour Certified Putter Fitting Professional,  and a Staff Teaching Professional with JRG/TSGA programs at the Raven Golf Club Phoenix

Tour Striker Impact Drill Thanks To Ben Doyle And Guest, Dan Gallivan

This is a great drill I learned from Ben Doyle. He uses a shadow to help people understand where the ball line is and how the hands need to pass the shadow and vertical plane (yellow dowel rod) of the ball in order to strike the ball solidly and take a divot post impact.

Special thanks to my student, Dan Gallivan, for participating in this video. He worked really hard on improving his impact alignments and had the courage to change.

Martin Chuck is the Inventor/Instructor of the Tour Striker Training Products and Tour Striker Golf Academy. Click Here to learn more about programs with Martin Chuck, Jeff Ritter and the entire JRG/TSGA Staff at the Raven Golf Club Phoenix!

A Public Split

Hank Haney and Tiger Woods

There’s a bit of a buzz around the golf world with the news of Hank Haney’s book release chronicling their time spent together as player and coach.  Scheduled to release the week before The Masters in, Haney’s book should give great insight on the day to day practice regimen that Woods has been noted for, but never allowed the public to see.  Only Hank and a handful of others have ever been inside of Tiger’s inner circle, and it will be interesting to see Woods’ reaction to what Haney feels is a “fair” representation of their relationship together.

There are a few people out there calling Haney unprofessional, unethical, and untrustworthy for breaking the client/patient privacy agreement.  Haney claims that he didn’t even have a contract with Tiger regarding their coaching agreement, so no harm done.  I for one am very interested to find out what’s in the book, and commend Haney for telling a story that many would like to hear.  Is he capitalizing financially on his relationship with one of the most popular figures on the planet?  Of course he is, and I don’t blame him for one second.  What are your thoughts?  Will you read it?  Do you think it’s unethical?

Aaron Olson is Staff Teaching Professional with JRG/TSGA programs at the Raven Golf Club Phoenix. In addition, he is Assistant Director of Nike Junior Golf Camps hosted at the Pebble Beach Resorts on the Monterey Peninsula.  Click Here for more information on private and group coaching with Aaron and the entire JRG/TSGA Staff.

Hone your Cone

Hone in on your target!

The idea of a shot cone was first introduced to me by PGA Tour instructors Andy Plummer and Mike Bennett.  They often have their tour players practice with a 20 to 30 yard rope extended out towards their target.  Using this rope not only helps you align yourself and visually connect with your target, it also helps determine what kind of shot dispersion, or cone you have.  It’s been said that golfers are only as good as their misses, and players at the highest level tend to have a tighter cone of shots, with fewer outliers, than the average weekend warrior.

Using rope allows you to analyze each shot in terms of starting direction and curve.  Being left handed, and a drawer of the golf ball, I like to see my golf balls start slightly left of the target, and curving back to the target while staying in the green zone of the cone pictured above.  Any shot that begins in the red areas are bad, unless I’m purposefully trying to curve a ball around an object on the course (and I never hit it in the trees;-).  Since we know that the clubface angle is the primary factor in where the golf ball starts, anything in the red zone lets me know that my clubface is too open or too closed for the standard shot I’m trying to hit.

What if I’m starting the ball in the green zone, but it’s curving across the target line and landing in the yellow, or worse yet, the red zone on the right.  Or even worse, the dreaded slice landing in the red zone on the left! (For a left handed golfer, of course).  Since we know that the clubface is fine (because the ball is starting on a good line), the path of the club into the ball must be out of whack.  When player’s ball starts fairly straight and slices off in to outlier land, I often here them say “I didn’t release the toe of the club on that one.”  This really isn’t the problem, as the face of their club was aimed pretty close to where they wanted it at impact.  The correct analysis would be, “My clubface was pretty good, but I cut across the ball with my path putting that slice spin on the ball.”

Hopefully you can start to see the benefits of practicing with a rope, and how it helps you determine what is at fault for some of those shots that don’t fall within your shot cone.  Since golf is a side-on game, determining your shot shapes and starting lines can sometimes be tricky, so bring a friend out to the range with you to confirm what you’re seeing.  And as always, stop out and see us at the Raven with any questions you may have!

Aaron Olson is a Staff Teaching Professional with JRG/TSGA programs at the Raven Golf Club Phoenix. In addition, he is Assistant Director of Nike Junior Golf Camps hosted at the Pebble Beach Resorts on the Monterey Peninsula.  Click Here for more information on private and group coaching with Aaron and the entire JRG/TSGA Staff.

Made for TV

Johnny Miller and Nick Faldo

Nick Faldo and Johnny Miller in the booth together for Golf Channel coverage.

As the 2012 PGA Tour season is underway in Hawaii, the Golf Channel has added Johnny Miller as part of their broadcast team.  He joins Nick Faldo in the booth, forming a partnership that consists of 8 major championship wins.  When it comes to winning tournaments, describing the pressures that players may be feeling, and sharing their thoughts on how to PLAY golf at a high level, these guys are the best.  They have experiences and stories that very few golfers in the world could ever have, and I hope to hear many of them as they share the booth in 2012.

Notice how I emphasized the word PLAY.  Both of these guys were world class players.  At times, however, I feel that good players can mislead others by describing their feels, or what worked for them as players.  This can be a slippery slope for the viewing public for two reasons.  First, feels can be misleading, and feels in a golf swing are very personal.  My feels in my golf swing are very different than Martin Chuck’s, Jeff Ritter’s, or Megan Padua’s.  And second, things you feel in your golf swing very rarely match what is actually happening, even for the best players in the world.  I hope that given their platform, which is millions of viewers, Miller and Faldo can educate golfers on handling pressure, course strategy, and decision making, all the while making it fun and interesting.

Aaron Olson is Staff Teaching Professional with JRG/TSGA programs at the Raven Golf Club Phoenix. In addition, he is Assistant Director of Nike Junior Golf Camps hosted at the Pebble Beach Resorts on the Monterey Peninsula.  Click Here for more information on private and group coaching with Aaron and the entire JRG/TSGA Staff.

Fats and Tops No More!

Today’s post will focus on two large pieces that I focus on with students who are having trouble controlling their low point, or where the club is bottoming out and hitting the ground.  I talked last week about the order in which a player should learn how to play the game, or where a player should look first when they are struggling to make solid contact with the golf ball.  The easiest way to check this or practice this first fundamental to playing the game of golf is to scratch or paint a line on the ground, and see if you can take small divots on the forward or target side of that line.  If you’re having trouble doing this, or not hitting the ground at all, here’s two tips to get you on the right track.

Where’s the Weight?

Often times golfers shift their lower body, upper body, or their overall weight profile too far back or away from the target in the backswing, and fail to return their centers of gravity far enough forward in the downswing.  The golfer on the left in the picture below is a great example of this.  He has shifted everything back behind the ball, severely complicating contact.  The golfer on the right has kept his weight centered, and turned his shoulders in a circle without moving them back behind the ball.  He is poised in a position to make contact with the ground slightly ahead of the golf ball, over, and over again.

Weight Forward

Now let’s take these two golfers just past the impact position.  Our higher handicap golfer on the left has failed to transfer his weight back to the golf ball, and hasn’t made contact with the ground at all.  Although he makes contact with the golf ball and gets this shot airborne, it’s not a reliable way to move your ball around a golf course.  Our centered golfer on the right has continued to push his lower body weight onto the target side of the golf ball, helping ensure a correct downward strike, and a nice shallow divot in the green light zone!

Golf Impact

 

Lean it Forward!

We’ve covered the weight portion which helps control the low point of the golf swing, but there’s one other major piece that I look for when a golfer is hitting fat or thin shots and struggling with contact.  You can see in the picture above how there’s a nice angle formed between the right forearm and the clubshaft in the lower handicap golfer on the right.  He hasn’t scooped, flipped, or tried to lift the ball up into the air like the golfer on the left.  Now let’s fast forward a few frames and take a look at the picture below.  Our green light divot golfer on the right has maintained that angle, and by doing that helped control the low point of his swing.  The scooper on the left has dumped out that angle, and combining that flipping motion with his weight behind the golf ball has bottomed his swing out well behind the golf ball.  To combat this move, most golfers will start to lift up or pull their arms apart so they don’t hit it fat.

Handle Forward

Armed with a better understanding of these concepts, see if you can better control your low point during your next range session.  If you’re one of those golfers who moves off of the ball in the backswing, try to keep more weight on your front foot and make a centered shoulder turn.  If you’re a flipper or scooper at impact, setup with the handle of your club leaning a little more forward, keep pushing your weight towards the target, and hit some half shots trying to maintain that angle through impact.

Aaron Olson is a Staff Teaching Professional with JRG/TSGA programs at the Raven Golf Club Phoenix. In addition, he is Assistant Director of Nike Junior Golf Camps hosted at the Pebble Beach Resorts on the Monterey Peninsula.  Aaron has been fortunate to learn from PGA Tour Instructors Mike Bennett and Andy Plummer.  Click Here for more information on private and group coaching with Aaron and the entire JRG/TSGA Staff.

Happy Holidays!

Click Here for a Special Gift from the JRG/TSGA Staff (another silly video)

Happy Holidays from Jeff Ritter, Martin Chuck, Megan Padua and Aaron Olson!