Sink or Swim

Check out the latest issue of Golf Infuzion Magazine!

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.

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.

New Year, New Game

January is a busy month for us at the Jeff Ritter Golf / Tour Striker Golf Academy at the Raven Golf Club – Phoenix!  Here’s a preview of everything we have going on.  Whether it’s ladies, juniors, tour players, range rats, or beginners, we have you covered!

2012 Programs at Raven Golf Club - Phoenix

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.

Green Light Divots!

One thing that I feel separates better players from poorer players is the ability to hit the ground in the same spot every time, and to hit the ground forward enough to ensure solid contact, consistent trajectory, and a predictable curve.

I’ve been fortunate enough to learn from two brilliant instructors, Mike Bennett and Andy Plummer, and their way of measuring the golf swing, named Stack and Tilt.  Andy and Mike presented this ability to control where the club hits the ground as Fundamental #1, and it’s a great place to start assessing your game.  I am also thrilled to be working alongside Martin Chuck, inventor of the Tour Striker Training Aid.  Martin’s teachings, along with the Tour Striker, promote a forward leaning shaft, the correct angle descent into the ground, and a consistent low point in front of the golf ball.

At all of our golf schools we test the players ability to do this by scratching or painting a line on the ground, and have the students hit balls to see how their low point control is.

The picture below is from our last Tour Striker Golf School at the Raven Golf Club – Phoenix.  This is a divot patch from one of the students at the beginning of the school.  Notice how some are back behind the line, in the red light zone, while some are right on the yellow line, and others are in front of the line, in the green light zone.  Our goal by the end of the school is to get every divot in front of the painted line, all in the green!

Compare the higher handicap picture above, to the lower handicap picture below.  Notice the consistency of the divot pattern in the green light zone!  As handicaps get lower, the ability to control the centers of the swing and angle of the shaft at impact lead to consistent contact.  To make this point more clear, check out the video at the bottom of the page, and notice where the club is hitting the ground.



Next time you go out to the range, scratch a line in the ground and see how your low point stacks up.  You can even do this without a ball in your backyard, just OK it with your husband or wife beforehand!  If you’re hitting behind the line in the red light zone frequently, or not hitting the ground at all, then you’ve got some work to do.  Check out next Wednesday’s blog where I discuss some important factors in controlling the bottom of your golf swing, so we can move all of your divots into the green light zone!

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.