Saturday, July 30, 2011

Golf Swing Awareness

What makes a great ball striker?  Is it the crispness of the shots, the ability to hit fairways and greens or the creativity of working the ball when needed?  All of these things combine into the skills needed to be a tour level ball striker.  How are these skills developed?  The obvious answer is countless repetitions, but there is more to it than just practice.  There needs to be an awareness of what the club face is doing, how the shaft is controlled and the rhythm and tempo of the swing.  These are some specific skills that combine to produce great shots.

Ernie Els has one of the most beautiful swings on tour.  His tempo, rhythm and balance all combine to produce great power while seeming effortless.

The foundation of your swing is your balance and the balance of the club.  These have already been covered in the blog.  If you want to check them out, here are the links:  technique and technique cont.  Your balance is very reliant upon your tempo and rhythm.  All great ball strikers have a consistent tempo and can produce rhythmic swings that provide the speed and power that matches what is needed for distance and accuracy.

Here is my interpretation of rhythm and tempo in the golf swing.  Your rhythm is the pattern of your movements over time.  Your tempo is how slowly or quickly you swing the club.  Here is a youtube video of contrasting tempos:  Ai Miyazato vs. Brittany Lincicome  Brittany's tempo is much quicker than Ai's tempo.  Neither is better than the other, they are simply different.  If you want an idea of how closely linked your balance and tempo are, check out this video of Ai doing balance drills. This drill shows Ai's slow, smooth tempo, but you will notice the rhythm of her swing is a bit slower than the swing she is making in the first video.

Those links show differing tempos and here are some links showing different rhythms.  Check out these two swings by John Cook:  wedge swing and driver swing  John's tempo is the same with both swings, but the rhythm of the swings is different.  The wedge swing is shorter, making the rhythm a bit quicker than the longer driver swing.  However, if you count out a 4 beat, starting it when he takes the club away, 2 at the top, 3 at impact and 4 at finish, you will find his tempo to be the same.
Do you have rhythm?  Is your normal tempo quick or slow?  Whatever it is, don't worry about changing it.  Instead, understand that your tempo reflects how you move and shouldn't be based on your pro's preference for a slow or fast swing.

Why am I explaining rhythm and tempo instead of talking about how to hit crisp shots?  Because great ball strikers have consistent tempo and they are in control of their rhythm.  In order to have that control, you must have an awareness of your movements and where your body is in space.   How can you tune in to your swing and feel your rhythm?  Here are some drills to help you raise your awareness to become a better ball striker:

Can you swing the club in super slow motion?  This is a great drill to raise the awareness of how you want to move through a swing.  This drill is tough for even great players, but helps everyone figure out where he or she might have confusion or a lack of awareness in the swing.

Another drill that helps with awareness is to hit your driver fully and powerfully.  Now hit it at 3/4 speed, then 1/2 speed and then 1/4 speed.  How far did your shots go?  Were you able to maintain your tempo through these swings?

Find a great training aid, such as an orange whip to help you feel the weight of the club head and the transition of your swing.

Practice making swings as though your hands are the hands of the clock.  You can also use body parts as check points instead of numbers on a clock.  Start with 9:00 to 3:00 or waist high to waist high.  Now go to 11:00 to 1:00 or shoulder high.  A tougher shot for many people is 7:00 to 5:00 or hip to hip.  An important thing to remember when you are learning to control the length of your swing is, your rhythm should be smooth.  If you throw a ball in the air, it starts back down at the same speed regardless of how high you throw it.  Your swing should have the same smooth transition, no matter the size of your back swing.  Another factor to keep in mind is to match your swing back and through.  If you do this drill with a friend, they can give you feedback as to how far your hands move back and through.

In a 10 to 2 swing, your hand movement will reflect the numbers on a clock and move back to 10 and through to 2.

Hit balls with your eyes closed to feel your swing better.  Choose something to focus on when you make your swing.  For example, close your eyes, think about what the handle of the club is doing and make a swing.  Could you feel where the handle was as you swung the club?  You can think about the club head, the toe of the club, the shaft of the club, your hands or your turn.  Anything that you think about will help you gain awareness.

Can you find a four beat sentence and say it as you hit?  Or, you can simply count 1 to 4.  The trick here is to say it out loud and pronounce it smoothly.  Many amateurs I have worked with will bunch up the numbers in areas that are lacking smoothness, usually in the transition of the swing or at impact.  Start this drill with small wedges to get a feel for it.

Hit some shots while challenging your balance, as Ai Miyazato did in the link above.  You can hit by standing on one leg or by setting up on a balance board or ball.  If your range has wooden separators, you have a tool right in front of you.  If your tempo suffers, your balance will suffer in turn.  Many players spend a lot of energy in their swings fighting their balance and momentum instead of using that energy to hit crisp and powerful shots.

Finally, make some swings with just one hand on the club.  This is a great way to feel the weight of the club and its natural path in your swing.  If your club falls off balance, you will lose speed and control.  Many of the clubs manufactured for women are so light that many of my students have never really felt the club head in their swing.  That is one of the most important steps to becoming a great ball striker and it needs to be addressed in some way!

If you want to improve your ball striking, you should first increase your awareness of your swing and make your balance, rhythm and tempo rock solid.  

Here are some links to the Orange Whip and also to Fred Shoemaker's book, Extraordinary Golf.  In it, he does a great job of talking about awareness in your swing.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Golf Practice Schedule

Do you need a little direction in your practice?  Here are some fun challenges and games to help.

Practice Schedule:

Monday:

1) Putt 100 putts from 3 feet with right hand only

2) Lag putt with one ball...putt out.  Play 18 holes.  Are you under par (36)?

3) Make 20 up and downs using one ball.

4) Play an up and down game with a friend.  Find some horrendous spots and see how you do.



Tuesday:

1) Putt 100 putts from 3 feet with left hand only

2) Lag putt with one ball and get the ball within 2 feet of the hole from all distances.

3) Warm up with pitch shots at short targets on the range and vary your trajectory.

4) Go play

Wednesday:

1) Putt 100 putts from 3 feet.  How many did you make?

2) Putt from 6, 9, 12, 15 and 20 feet until you make 10.

3) Warm up on the range.

4) Play nine.

Thursday:

1) Putt 100 putts from 3 feet with your eyes closed.

2) Lag putt with one ball...putt out.  Do this until you make a putt from 20, 30 and 40 feet.

3) Chip and hit sand shots on short game practice hole

4) Hit and visualize on range

Friday:

1) Putt 100 putts from 3 feet.  How many did you make?

2) Warm up

3) Go play


Monday, July 25, 2011

More on Slopes

Tonight I turned on the Golf Channel and saw Martin Hall's School of Golf.  As luck would have it, he was talking about sloped lies.  His show is probably the best forum out there for learning about the mechanics needed to play good golf.  His material is suited to both new players and good players.  He doesn't talk down to a newbie or offer material too simplistic for good players.

One of the things Martin spoke about was the way John Jacobs used slopes to teach various moves in the swing and how much he learned from that tactic.  I, too, had the opportunity to teach at John Jacobs Golf Schools and although I never got to teach with Mr. Jacobs as Martin Hall got to do, I learned much from his philosophy and methodology.  As coincidence would have it, just two days ago, I gave a lesson and took the player to a lie with the ball above her feet to get her chest turning through the shot.  All of us who teach the game can learn from each other and hopefully, all of us continue to share.

Now, back to slopes.  If you read the last post and have a grasp of what to expect from your shots from different slopes, then today's blog will help you successfully hit the shots you face.  In the past, I have had great success by having players picture the shot using very vivid images.  For the shot above your feet, you will swing the club on a more level plane instead of up and down.  Your swing will have a very stable and quiet center and the club will move around you, much like a merry-go-round.  You don't need to go "down" to hit the ball.


If you know that you need the club to work around you in a more level plane, then you can picture standing tall, much as a baseball player stands at the plate.  Many people grip down on the club to hit this shot, but that isn't a helpful adjustment, because it immediately changes your posture and your spine angle and tilts it more.  Instead, allow yourself to feel as though you are standing tall and swinging around your chest.  If you are a player who has a hard time hitting shots when the ball is above your feet, you may either have poor chest rotation or you might be too upright with your swing.  As John Jacobs taught, if either of these things describe your swing flaw, take a bucket of balls and hit them from above your feet.  By the way, as I described in the last blog, this shot will fly lower, draw or hook and have overspin causing it to roll out.

The opposite shot is the ball below your feet.  Many players find this shot tough to hit.  Once again, lets picture a vivid image to help you understand the plane of your swing.  Tip the merry go round on its side and it becomes a ferris wheel.  You need to keep your head very still and create some bend from the waist to allow the club to swing up and down.

The set up for this shot is much like the ball above your feet in that it is counter intuitive.  You will want to make your club as long as possible, but gripping down a bit will help you get over the ball with your posture, which will help you get down and stay down on the ball through the shot.  You might want to get down to the shot with increased knee bend, but adding some bend at the waist will help you to match your posture with the shot needed, an upright swing.  This ball will fly higher, cut or slice and it will land softly and stop quickly.  The rule of thumb that is easiest to remember is, the ball will fly the same way the slope goes.  If your swing is too flat, this would be a natural way to work on becoming more upright.

Now for shots that work up and down slopes.  Once again, your posture is a key to hitting this shot well.  Match your hips, shoulders and eyes to the slope you are on and allow your weight to naturally fall where it will with this setup.  On an uphill lie, this will put more weight on your back foot.  The key to your swing is to always allow yourself to make a turn the same direction the hill runs, but not into the hill.  On the uphill lie, get setup, make a good turn away from the ball and then allow your arms to swing the club through the shot.  If you did attempt to make a good turn through and finish the swing on your left side, you will no longer have a match with your hips and shoulders to the hill.



On a downhill shot, the opposite is true.  Set up to the hill with your shoulders and hips, allow your arms to take the club back and make a full turn through the shot.  You don't want to turn away from the shot, because as soon as you do, your hips and shoulders will level out and cause you to hit behind the ball.  If you are a player who fails to stay down on the ball on your through swing, you might want to hit a bucket of balls from a down hill slope for some natural teaching.

When you watch tour players hit these shots, you will often see them fall the same direction as the slope.  They are making sure that they match their bodies and setups to the slopes and keep them there as long as possible.  As a recap, the keys to hitting great shots from slopes are to use the posture and set up that fits the situation, keep your head still and allow your chest turn to match the slope.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Playing Slopes, Valleys and Plateaus

Most of us hit balls on the driving range off of a flat lie from the perfect amount of grass.  Then we step onto the golf course and we face deep rough, downhill lies, and elevated greens.  The perfect version of golf that we learned on the range is nowhere to be found.



Experience is the best teacher in golf, but you can accelerate your learning by understanding how to approach the many variables you will face when you play.  The first trick is to pay attention to where your ball lies and where your target is compared to where you stand.  This sounds very obvious, but players often get so into what they are doing that they fail to notice when they are standing on a slope. 

Your evaluation of the situation of where your ball lies and where your target is in relationship to you is the first step to choosing the proper shot.  For example, if your ball is above your feet and the green is elevated, you will have a tough time stopping the ball on the green.  You will have to choose a landing area short of the hole if possible and visualize the shot releasing.  When you understand how geography effects your shot, you can plan successfully.

This hole at Cruden Bay presents many slopes and a target well below the level of the approach shot. 

The first step to understanding the mechanics of hitting specialty shots is to have a cooperative view of what the golf course offers you.  For example, if you have an uphill lie, you should visualize a high shot.  If you fight the tendency of the shot and attempt a low shot from an uphill lie, your mechanics will be tough to execute, because you will be going against the grain.  Go with what the course offers to you and your task of hitting a great shot will be easier.

When you cooperate with the golf course, here are the cause/effect relationships you will see on the golf course. (These are all based on right handed players).
  • Ball above your feet - This shot will generally fly lower and work left, either by pulling or hooking, depending on the club in your hand.  The shot will release and have more roll because it usually has topspin.  You can often choose one less club than the distance calls for.
  • Ball below your feet - This shot will generally fly higher and work right, either by pushing or slicing, depending on the club in your hand.  You will generally need more club than the distance calls for.
  • Ball on an uphill slope - This shot will fly higher.  You might need an extra club.  Some people find this shot easy to hook.
  • Ball on a downhill slope - This shot will fly lower and release because of the top spin.  You will probably need one less club than the distance calls for.
  • Hitting to an elevated green - This shot will release when it hits because the trajectory of the shot will still be moving forward when it hits the green instead of dropping down.  
  • Hitting to a lower green - This shot will stop very quickly because the trajectory of the shot will be straight down.  
  • Hitting to a green tilted toward you - This shot will check quickly.  Spin will be accentuated.
  • Hitting to a green tilted away from you - This shot's first bounce will be out and away from you and will not check quickly.  Many players feel the need to hit this shot high and soft, but it is best to keep it low and get it rolling quickly to offset the first bounce.
    Now, add rough or wind to any of these shots and you will compound whatever effect is normal.  If you have a natural ball flight that matches the shot at hand, you can probably triple the effect.  For example, let's say you naturally draw the ball right to left.  You are playing in a wind that is right to left.  Your ball is above your feet.  If your natural draw tells you to aim 5 yards to the right of the pin, you need to triple that and aim 15 yards right of the pin.  This might sound excessive, but it is a good start for you to understand what influences your ball flight and to cooperate with these instead of fighting them.
    Danielle McVeigh hits from a bunker to an elevated green.


    In the next blog, we will talk about how to set up to these shots and the adjustments needed in alignment and posture.  

    Sunday, July 17, 2011

    Four Hour Golf Practice

    4 hour practice – Get it in the hole! 
    • Play 9 holes and do the following:  
      • On par 4’s, divide the yardage into 2 and hit both your tee and your approach shots with the same club.  Ie. If the hole is 375, hit your 185 yard club twice.  Think about position and target selection.  
      • On par 5’s, work to get yourself on the 100 yard marker for your third shot.  How close can you get to the 100 yard marker?  
      • On par 3’s, hit the club you would hit from the tee, then hit one more club and take a little off the shot.  If you want to really challenge yourself, hit one less club and see if you can get it to the hole.  

    • When you come in from the course, go to the range and work on hitting each iron in your bag fully and then taking 5 yards off of the shot and hitting it.  Does it make it easier when you change your trajectory?  What does gripping down on the club do for the distance?
    • Go to a practice green and chip with your sand wedge to each hole on the green or put tees in the ground and then putt out.  If you didn’t get more than ½ up and down, do it again with that club. Do the same with your wedge, 9 and 8 irons. 
    • Put towels down on the pitching green on the front edge, in the middle and on the back edge.  Hit bunker shots from a good lie until you land two balls on each towel.  Now hit from the following lies until you land one ball on the towel from each lie.  Uphill lie, downhill lie, fried egg lie, ball above your feet and ball below your feet.  End your bunker session by hitting from a good lie and getting one ball to land on each towel.
    • Find someone to play 18 holes of match play against on the putting green.  Win!
    • End your session by making 20 putts in a row from 4 feet. 

    Friday, July 8, 2011

    What's Love Got To Do With It?

    What makes a successful player?  My answer to that would be love!  Nick Faldo, on today's telecast of the AT&T, said that there is now a blueprint for success and young players could copy it to earn their ways to the tour.  While it is true that there is a lot more knowledge out there of how to be a great golfer, there are still a limited number of players who make it.  Why is that if there is this so-called blue print?

    Faldo mentioned hard work and determination, but I think he left out the most important word for success, whether in golf or in any pursuit.  There must be love.  It is easy to say you love the game, but you have to love it all, good and bad, that goes with chasing success.  Today's blog is about the things you need to love to achieve the success of a Yani Tseng or a Rory McIroy.

    First, you need to love practice.  Great players are curious about how to hit shots.  Repetition doesn't bore them, but instead they get lost in the rituals and look for success on each and every shot.  Hours pass without looking at a watch.  Weather seems to be only a slight distraction, but not a reason to leave the course.  It is common for great players to spend eight hours a day at the course

    Next, you have to love competition.  Competition doesn't mean that you set out to win each and every tournament, but that you compete on each and every shot.  You give each shot your full focus and do your best.  You have a feel for when you need to generate momentum and you know when to be conservative.  The more competitive you are, the tougher it is to give up on a shot, a round or yourself.  That is the essence of competition for great players and it generally leads to beating others but need only be about producing your best.

    The next thing to love is the challenge.  Golf is a tough game and you will fail at times.  If you don't understand that each failure is a challenge to your motivation and a crucial part of learning greatness, you will fall by the wayside on your way to the tour.

    Finally and most importantly, you must love yourself and your own game.  Mark Wilson isn't the longest guy on the PGA, but he has learned that length isn't the most important thing.  He knows his strengths and plays upon them.  He won multiple times this year and he did it because he is a great wedge player and a great putter.  There may be times when his length off the tee makes it tough for him to compete, but for the most part, he makes a great score using his strengths.  He probably doesn't announce that he loves himself or his game, but his approach, his confidence and his focus on his strengths say exactly that.

    Learn to love your strengths and work hard to keep them strong.  You should also work hard on your weaknesses to bring them along, but too much focus on your weaknesses will erode your strengths.  Understand what makes you successful and capitalize on it at every turn.

    Thursday, July 7, 2011

    On Demand - Hit the Fairway

    The title of today's blog has a double meaning.  What if you absolutely have to hit the fairway?  What is your thought process?  What is your go-to shot?  Which club do you pull out of the bag?  Does increased pressure lead to increased focus or increased tension?  Can you hit the fairway "on demand"?

    The other meaning of the title is, this blog is a request from a great player who has lost her way.  Fairways appear to be ribbons instead of I-635 with four lanes.  When she begins her pre shot routine, she doesn't see her target in the fairway, she sees the trees on the right or the water on the left.  She has replaced decision making and focus with wishing and hoping.  If it can happen to a great player like her, it can happen to you, too.
    Does this narrow fairway make you nervous?  If so, read on!


    What to do?  First, answer the questions in the first paragraph.  It is important for you to understand the process you are using when your back is against the wall.  Many of us see fewer options when the pressure is increased.  The game feels forced and decision making is made from a defensive standpoint or from a stance of what you don't want instead of what you do want.  The first step is taking control of the answers to those questions in a way that makes sense to you and you can rely on under pressure.  Here is an example of a thought process.

    When I absolutely have to hit a fairway, I will hit a high cut with my driver.  I pick a point out just left of center on the fairway and visualize the ball starting on that line and working softly to the center of the fairway.  Once I have the mental picture, my routine will serve to get me aimed correctly and I will make a little practice swing to get the feel of the swing I will put on the ball.  I trust my driver to hit the shot.  With the visualization, I will be comfortable with my shot and focus on letting it happen.  

    How would you answer the questions?  I urge you to actually write it out so you can refer to it when you practice and see if it is correct or if you need to adjust it.  Here is a great article about Tom Lehman's go to shot and includes some drills by Jim Flick for better driving of the ball at the end. 


    Okay, so I hear you out there telling me you don't have a go-to shot.  In fact, the reason you don't hit fairways is because your ball goes everywhere, not just one direction or it goes one direction really hard.  Hitting fairways is tough when you don't have control of your club face or your swing in general.  Instead of writing about controlling your ball flight, you probably need to go take a lesson.  Also, it wouldn't hurt you to have a clear understanding of what you are trying to accomplish with the swing and the club face, so check out my blog on the D plane and go from there.  This blog isn't the place to fix a swing. However, it can be a place to show you what great players do to make things easier under pressure.
    How will the pros handle the obstacles at Royal St. George next week in the British Open?


    The scariest feeling in golf is standing over the ball with no clue how it will fly.  The driver is often the scariest club in the bag for just this reason.  Can you hit a 3 wood straighter?  If so, pull the 3 wood out of the bag under pressure.  If the 3 wood doesn't work, try a hybrid.  Don't let pride get in the way of your decision making.  One of the first things you notice when you look at the scorecards of touring pros is, they don't make many doubles or higher.  That is due to the fact that they keep the ball in play.

    When I was coaching at A&M, one of the guys on the men's team was Ryan Dreyer.  He was a talented player from South Africa.  I learned a lot from Ryan about doing what you can on the golf course and not trying for more.  While playing for the Aggies, Ryan played Butler National, a very long course, with a 5 iron off the tee all day long.  That was the only club he could put in play.  He made a score that helped his team by accepting what he could do and relying on his short game to score.  Ryan is now playing poker for a living and doing well with that also, so I guess his attitude of weighing risk and reward are still working for him.

    Next, if you are having trouble keeping the ball in play, are you picking a shot that you can see, feel and execute?  Prior to hitting your tee shot, you should be able to visualize the shot in some way.  Some people connect with the landing point, some see the ball flight before it happens and some see themselves successfully hitting the shot.  After seeing it in your mind's eye, now you need to feel it.  It doesn't have to be a practice swing, but can merely be you imagining that you are hitting it on target.  Imagery is such a powerful tool that you can feel your muscles twitch when you are feeling the swing.  This is the level of commitment needed prior to hitting your drive.  You need to see the shot in your mind, feel the shot and then allow the power of your visualization and imagery to let it happen.
    Did Ty have something when he said, “There’s a force in the universe that makes things happen. And all you have to do is get in touch with it, stop thinking, let things happen, and be the ball”.

    Finally, when you are working on hitting fairways, your level of "try" needs to be at its optimum for performance.  If your driver is straying from the fairway, gripping it tighter or swinging with tension will not help you.  A guided tee shot rarely works under pressure.  The next time you have a great day on the course, a great hole or even a great shot, ask yourself how hard you were trying and rate it on a scale of 1-10.  Most tour players keep their "try" level at about 4-6.  Anything lower than 4 isn't determined enough and anything above 6 often causes tension.  Learning how to recognize it when you slip from your optimal zone for trying is the first step and putting yourself in the right frame of mind for performance is the next step.  Executing the shot is the final step.


    Keep stats on your fairway hits and see if you have any trends.  Do you hit more fairways at the beginning of your rounds or at the end?  Do you miss fairways right or left?  Do you miss fairways on par 5's due to overswinging?  Learn from your tendencies and make adjustments to your game.

    Your driver sets the tone for the hole.  Learning to hit fairways is a step toward consistently scoring well.  Work on these steps of having a go-to shot, learning to keep the ball in play however possible, seeing and feeling the drive prior to hitting it and keeping your "try" level at its optimum level.

    Tuesday, July 5, 2011

    U.S. Open Prep




    Vail Golf Club Maintenance Blog

    This is a link to Stephen Sarro's blog.  He is the superintendent at the Vail Golf Club and a close friend.  In this blog, he has Zach Bauer, the superintendent at the Broadmoor West talk a bit about preparation for this week's U.S. Women's Open.  I thought you would enjoy reading it, as I have.

    Also, here is a link to the USGA's page for the Women's Open.

    Monday, July 4, 2011

    A Week of Putting Challenges

    A Week of Putting Challenges


    This is a list of challenges you can use to sharpen your putting.  These challenges will help you with your focus, distance control, confidence, technique and accuracy.  You can pick and choose which ones to do each day.  
    • 30 putt drill and let me know how many you make. You can do it up to 3 times but no more!  Put tees in the ground every foot from one foot to ten feet.  Start at one foot and putt one putt from each tee.  When you get to ten feet, go back the other way and finish back out at 10 feet.

    *Thought for the Challenge - If you do your routine for each putt, is it consistent for each distance?  A short, simple focused routine is usually best.

    • Take one ball and go into the middle of 3-5 holes on the practice green.  This should give you both short and long putts.  Put a tee down and putt to each hole, putting each one out.  Go through your routine on each putt.  Play 18 holes.  How many under were you? If you were over par, do it again.  You can set your own personal par.
    *Thought for the Challenge - Do you take the same expectations into each putt?  Expectations can effect speed control, so make sure you understand that great putters expect to make putts by rolling the ball at the right speed, not charging the putt past the hole. 


    • Putt a marked/colored ball across the green.  Now putt another as close as you can to the last ball.  Continue with 23 more balls.  Are the 25 balls on the green in a tight cluster?  Do they trail any direction?  Are they working toward you?  Think about your tendencies.  Do this on different days with uphill, downhill and sidehill putts.
    *Thought for the Challenge -These challenges are valuable if you learn from your tendencies and make adjustments to improve.  The most confident athletes in any sport are willing to change to reach excellence.  


    • Put a tee in front of the hole, directly in the center where your ball would fall.  Now hit putts from 5 feet and learn to use the edge of the cup to get the ball in the hole.  This is a great challenge to learn speed control. Speed control is just as important on 5 footers as it is on 30 footers.  
    *Thought for the Challenge - If you can control your speed, you will better understand how to play breaks on the green.



    • Play around the world from 5, 6 and 10 feet.  Put tees in 6 spots around the hole.  Go around and back.  To win you must make 12 in a row.  You get one second chance at 6 feet and two second chances at 10 feet. You may do this challenge only once per day!  Make it count.
    *Thought for the Challenge - If you keep a practice journal, you will know what your best ever was with all these challenges and you will always be working against your best self. 



    • Putt from 20 to 40 feet until you make three.  Use one ball and your routine. 
    *Thought for the Challenge - Practice isn't about quantity, it is about quality!  Using one ball may seem a waste of time when you could be using a sleeve, but you need as much game-like practice as possible to take your practice to the golf course.


    • Make 8 in a row from 3 feet, 7 in a row from 4 feet, 5 in a row from 5 feet, 3 in a row from 6 feet and 2 in a row from 10 feet.  This is 25 putts in a row.  You get up to three chances per day to make 25 in a row.  How did you do?
    *Thought for the Challenge -Repetition doesn't equal mindlessness.  Instead, it should present you with an opportunity to focus and gain confidence through repeated success.  



    • Play the triangle game.  Put tees down at distances around 5, 10 and 15 feet in a triangle around the hole.  Putt from each tee using your routine.  Go around five times.  How many did you make?  If you make 10 or more out of 15 putts, it was a good day.  For more challenge, find a hole with a lot of slope.  You can only do this challenge one time per day.

    *Thought for the Challenge - Your conversion rate is the rate of birdie putts you make when you hit it inside 15 feet.  You will raise the rate if you roll the ball at the correct speed at those distances. 


    • For this challenge, you need to keep string or yarn in your bag.  Lay the string so there is a 2 feet wide donut around the hole.  Put 4 tees in the ground from four distances each day and putt 3 balls.  Your goal is to get at least 2 of 3 in the donut hole!  The distances can be anything from 10 feet to 50 feet!  Great putters are great at controlling their speed!

    *Thought for the Challenge - When you are a great lag putter, you take pressure off yourself and can more easily follow a game plan.


    • Make 10 putts in a row from 3 feet using your sand wedge as a putter.  Hit the ball with the leading edge of the club in the equator of the ball.  This drill will help both your concentration and the steadiness of your head and body as you putt.  When you are great from 3 feet, move farther from the hole. 
    *Thought for the Challenge - Is your stroke level at impact?  This challenge will answer that question!

    • Use your string for this challenge.  Lay your string on the green and putt to it from different distances and various angles.  Your goal is to have the ball come to rest on the string. Place the string on slopes and figure out how match what you see with how you need to play the putt.  If the ball misses long and low, you have work to do with matching your vision with reality.  This drill is about distance + direction.
    *Thought for the Challenge - When you putt, do you see the ball roll the entire distance of the putt, from putter to hole?  Learning to envision the roll of the ball will help you match your tempo and stroke with the distance needed.
    • These are technique drills and seem to address many of the things you need to do in a good putting stroke.  Place a tee at 3 feet from the hole and do the following:  1.  Push 10 balls into the cup.  You get no backswing.  This is a great way to fell a solid left hand through impact instead of a released club head.  2.  Hit 10 putts with your right hand only.  The handle of the putter should always swing the same direction as the club head.  3.  Put tees down at the toe and heel of your putter and place the ball in between them.  Putt 10 balls from this position.  Your putter should hit both tees at exactly the same time so the putter is working squarely.  This is a great drill to feel how much swing you need behind the ball to strike it with momentum instead of accelerating your hands.  4.  Putt 10 balls from 3 feet with your eyes closed and saying a little ditty in your mind, such as "roll the rock smooth" or any four beat rhythmic thing you want.  Now move to 10 feet and roll 10 balls with your eyes closed saying the same ditty.  Is your tempo the same on each putt?  5.  Finish the technique drills by doing the quiet eye drill.  Look at the hole for 3-5 seconds each time you look at it.  Look at the ball for 3-5 seconds before you strike it.  Look at the spot where the ball sat for 3-5 seconds after you strike it.  Do you see a black dot there?  Great putters use focused looks, not quick glances.
    • Play 18 holes on the practice green.  Take one ball and play from one hole to the hole closest to you.  Don't putt the same putt twice. How many under par (36) you can go?  

    Your next challenges will be about wedges!  Enjoy the putting, for it is the key to scoring low!

    Saturday, July 2, 2011

    Three Simple Questions

    Today's blog is short and simple.  It comes from a challenge I once gave to a great player to make her think about taking her game to the next level.  It is three things you can do as a player.


    1. you can prepare more purposefully than your opponents
    2. you can think more clearly than your opponents
    3. you can have a better attitude than your opponents.
    How are you going to do these three things?


    Effort or Process?

    Imagine you live in an old house.  The windows are sticky and heavy.  You go into your room to open the window and get some fresh air.  You ...