Tuesday, March 27, 2012

SMU Women's Golf Practice Schedule March 26, 2012

SMU Women's Golf Practice Schedule
Week of 3/26/12

Here are the areas we need to focus on to prepare for upcoming competitions. These are based on stats and observances by Dave and me.
Putting Speed on both long lags and short putts.
Green reading
Bunker Play, both greenside and fairway bunkers
Wedge play - all distances. Learn to land the ball at the distance you choose.
Iron Play - We need to learn to control spin better to score lower in the wind.
Choosing the right club off the tee. Driver isn't always the answer!

Please keep these things in mind as you go through your week and see if you can touch on all of them daily. I will give you some tasks to help you on a few of the days.
Tuesday - Today is a structured practice. You will have six 20 minute tasks. After 2 hours, you may work on whatever you choose.
1. On the big, front putting green, pick out a 40-50 ft. putt. Use 5 balls. On the first two balls, hit the putts while watching the hole. On the second two balls, hit the putts with your eyes closed. With the last ball, go through your usual routine. Did this process allow you to think of where the hole was? Is that different than how you usually think? Are you thinking about your stroke or how hard you need to hit it usually? Did your swing feel free with any of the methods? Repeat this process four or five times and see what you learn.
2. Now, using what you learned, play 9 holes with putts that are at least 30 feet long. Your goal is to hit each putt at the correct speed. There is one speed called for with each putt you face and that speed will have the ball stopping within about a foot of the cup.
3. Put tees down at 3, 6, 9, 12, 15 and 20 feet. Hit five balls from each tee. Your goal is to make the putt. If you don't make it, was your ball within 6" to 12" of the hole? If not, you need to repeat that distance. If you want to make this challenging, put your tees around a hole that is cut on a slope. Focus!
4. In the fairway bunker in the practice area, put a ball close to the lip and hit it out starting with your wedge. Keep using less loft and figure out what is possible. Now move it back 2 feet and do the same thing. Figure out how quickly you can get a ball up and out with each club in your bag. How far back must you go with a hybrid? With your 5 iron? etc.
5. Put a towel on one of the practice greens. Walk 20 paces from the towel. Hit wedges until you land 5 on the towel. Now do the same from 30, 40 and 50 paces. This is a great drill and you can do it later in the week from longer distance. Dial those wedges in!
6. On the range, hit your 5, 6, and 7 iron with the 9 ball flights. High fade, medium or regular fade, low fade, high straight shot, regular straight and low straight shot, high draw, regular draw and low draw. If you need help producing any of the shots, please ask for help.

Go play nine. Play the front tees. You are not allowed to hit driver off the tee today. Winner is the player with the most birdies!

OYO Day. If you want individual help, please schedule it.

1 hour of structured practice + 9 holes. Play the tips and it will be a great short game test. Winner will be low score and highest up and down percentage!
1. Drop 5 balls in the middle of the big green in front of the pro shop. Putt each to a different hole. If you get all either in the hole or within a foot of the hole, you are finished with the drill. Do this until finished or for 30 minutes. Keep changing the mid point.
2. Make 25 in a row from 4 feet today. Set up 5 tees around the hole and move after each putt.
3. Play a competitive chipping game with a teammate. Pick tough chips, tight lies and finish out the shots. Feel free to talk some smack!
Work on each for a max of 30 minutes.

Saturday and Sunday off

Next Monday, we will have a volunteer opportunity. More details will be announced tomorrow.

A Lesson in Human Nature

As I started the book, The Big Miss today, I was lead to think of what I have learned as a teacher and from whom I learned it. Hank talks about Jim Hardy and John Jacobs early in the book and both of those men did so much for individual golfers, but also for other golf professionals. They shared their knowledge through books, seminars and training. Their genius is as much their desire to give back as it is their knowledge of the golf swing.

Here is one lesson I learned from John Jacobs, whom I worked for early in my career. He had three beginning golfers on the range. In front of them, he set up three saw horses. He asked the beginners to hit a shot over the top of the saw horses. Each of the golfers hit the ball under. Their instinct was to lift the ball up and over and in making a lifting swing, none of them hit under the ball. Then John asked them to hit a ball under the cross bar of the saw horse in front of them. Two of the beginners got their golf balls airborne. Instead of scooting under the saw horse, the balls flew over.

The beginners were trying to keep the ball low and hit down on it. That motion was what sent it airborne. John looked at the instructors he was training and made the following statement. "When you teach golf, you have to fight against instincts. Your students will generally want to do the opposite of what is right."

It was an eye opening seminar for me, because it taught me in five minutes that my communication and ability to sell the physics of the golf swing were every bit as important as my knowledge of the swing.

John Jacobs' methods were and are timeless. He understood that teaching golf is about guiding the flight of the ball and hence, guiding the student to produce it. He didn't need video, he simply needed to watch the flight of the ball to know what the club was doing. Working in his golf schools accelerated my ability to teach golf tenfold.

Another memory I have of his methodology was watching Shelby Futch, a very intelligent and talented teacher who owned and ran Jacobs American schools, argue with a very respected teacher in a PGA Teaching Summit break out session. The teacher was adamant that Jacobs' methods were "band aids". She failed to understand that changing ball flight is the essence of teaching. Instead, she wanted to believe that changing body motion was the essence.

So many young teachers are now caught up in video, slow motion, big muscles and body control. Much of what I learned from the teachers I consider my mentors was focused on club face, shaft, hands and arms. Control these and you control flight. How your arms swing will greatly control your body motion. That and Keep It Simple!

So far, I love The Big Miss. Why? Because it is written by a teacher about teaching. So much of what we do as coaches has so little to do with golf. We work hard to build confidence, focus and good mental habits as well as good swings. Hank is recapping that as well as the swing. More to come later on the book. I hope it continues to inspire me to tap away on my computer.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What Hank Taught Me

I had the opportunity to listen to Hank Haney for about 5 hours this past weekend.  He was teaching his Teach the Teachers seminar, where he trains instructors to be better teachers.  One thing he said jumped out at me and today's practice schedule is loosely based on his advice.  His premise is, if you control mistakes by taking no penalty shots, having no 3 putts and not missing the green from within 50 yards, you can win golf tournaments at any level.  It is a true statement. 

I went to practice on Friday and asked two players with wins how the wins felt.  Were they special tournaments?  What happened that didn't always happen?  Both replied that the tournaments weren't really special, but things just went well.  They hit fairways and greens and putted pretty well.  I asked if they had any 3 putts or penalty shots and both replied that they had none that week. 

Winning isn't remarkable, it is often just free of errors.  Following the talk, I watched my team closely for the errors we talked about.  Most of the doubles we took were caused by the 3 errors, but not as many from penalty shots as you would think.  Yesterday, I watched some of the finest young golfers in the U.S. compete at the Kathy Whitworth.  Mira Vista is a tough test, especially with a bit of wind and wet, dormant grass.  However, the errors made were generally 2 chips or 3 putts.  In both cases, course design caused many of these errors by luring golfers into missing it in the wrong place.  A right sloping lie in the fairway to a right cut pin with a big hill to the right of the green caused many players to have a very tough 30 yard pitch shot from the bottom of the hill with no view of the target.  Ask many of them what happened and the answer you receive is, I pushed it.  

A reliance upon poor ball striking to answer questions on the golf course makes many players fail to recognize the factors that lead to poor scoring.  It also begins the process of endlessly working on mechanics to become a better player.  There is so much more to playing well than simply hitting it well.  That may seem like a crazy thing to proclaim, but after watching countless rounds of junior golf where so much of the scoring is reliant upon lack of experience, it is clear that sound course management leads to the next step, which is college golf.  When players get sound coaching that helps them learn from the mistakes made on the course and doesn't focus solely on mechanics, scores go down much more quickly. 

Do you follow a mistake with pressing?  If you make a double, are you prone to putting your next ball in play or swinging more wildly?  When you have to punch out on a hole, does your first putt sail past the hole as you press to make the putt and forget about the speed?  When you make a mistake, do you hang your head or get angry?  Does it cause you to quit seeing the conditions around you, such as wind and slope?  Do you abandon your game plan when things go wrong and start shooting at the hole?  

There is a lot of skill in learning to avoid mistakes and manage a golf course.  Figure out how to focus on those two things and you will become a better player.  Here are some tips to get you started:
  • Be aware of the conditions of your shot.  Does the lie of the ball slope?  Does the wind blow toward trouble?  Is the hole cut over a false front?  
    • If so, play a little defense.  On a right to left slope, choose a target right of where you want to end up.  Play your ball into the wind a bit more than usual and add five yards to the approach over the front cut hole position.  
  • Be aware of your tendencies.  Do you tend to leave the ball short of the green on front hole locations?  Do you fight a hook off the tee?  Do you miss the shot right on a downhill slope?  
    • Practice to offset these tendencies.  You have to spend time learning what makes it happen and how to offset it. 

Here is a link to a quick article about the best putters and their stats.  Enlightening!

Today's practice schedule will help you with your wedge play, your long putts and learning to take a bit off of your iron shots to better control distance. 

Practice Schedule Mar. 13

1. Wedges
                Hit5 balls from 15 yards and putt each out. If you miss the green, add 5 balls to your       pile.  If you take 4 toget the ball in the hole, hit 5 more.  Dothis until you finish.  Do the same from 30, 60 and 120 yards. If you journal, keep track of how many up and downs you got from each yardage and how many times you added balls to the pile.  Remember to revisit it later this week if a distance gave you trouble.  You can change the distances a bit whenever you do this drill.
2.  Putting
                On a big green, play 9 holes with one ball and go to the closesthole to you.   How many under 18 putts were you?  Now play 9 holes and choose the hole 2nd closest to you.  Did you do as well?  Keep going if you want to challenge yourself with longer and longer putts.

3.  Chipping
                Havea contest with another player.  Pick toughchips.  You make the game!

4.  On the range,hit each iron in your bag until you land it on a spot you choose.  It has to bea spot that combines distance and direction, not just direction.  Now choose a spot 5 yards closer and use the same iron and drop the ball on it,too.  Go through your routine.  Plan, Visualize, Commit, Hit it!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Two Days of Practice Goals

 Here are a few days of practice goals.  We are focusing on our short game, our ability to focus on a pre shot routine and the execution of the shot and putting.  For that reason, routine is often mentioned, as is how you act prior to and following a shot.  There is some pressure involved in most of these goals, including the need to chip in, making consecutive shots, rating your shots from 1-10 and keeping track of your successes.  Enjoy and have fun out there!

The best part of college golf are the friendships and the fun you have with your teammates! 

Practice Goals:
1.  Hit lag putts from 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 and 50 feet.  There should be six tees in the ground and you can only putt once from each tee.  You are successful when you get all six putts to get within 2 feet on any side of the hole.  You must go six for six on a try to be successful.
2.  Play 9 holes of your favorite course on the driving range.  Visualize the hole, your shot and verbalize the result.  Work on being completely focused and attached on your shot.  Have both a great pre shot and post shot routine. Decide how you will act and practice it!
3.  Make 5 putts from 3 feet, 5 putts from 4 feet, 4 putts from 5 feet, 3 putts from 6 feet and 2 putts from 7 feet and 1 putt from 8 feet in a row.  This is 20 in a row!
4.  Chip with a wedge and your nine iron until you chip in once with both.
5.  On the range, choose fairway wide targets.  Hit a draw that starts on the right target and moves to the middle.  Hit a cut that starts on the left side and moves to the middle.  Hit a straight shot that ends in the middle.  Do these until you can accomplish the shot you planned.  Ask for help if needed.  Lefties, turn this around.

Practice Goals:
1.  Start with your driver and hit it one time using your pre shot routine, attaching to a target in both distance and direction and when finished rate the shot on a scale of 1-10.  Hit each club in your bag.  Add your 13 ratings and give Coach or Dave your total.  Can you score over 100 for your 13 shots?  If you didn’t like your score, go through your set one more time.  No Do Overs!
2.  Get 10 up and downs out of the bunker.  You may use only one ball and must go through your routine for all shots.  How many attempts did it take to get 10?
3.  Make 50 putts in a row from 4 feet.  Don’t make footprints.
4.  Play a chipping game with a teammate.  You get a point for an up and down.  If you both get it up and down, no points won.  If you take four to get it up and down you lose a point.  Putt everything out.  Play to 5!
5.  Count 25 balls and put them in a pile.  Go to your full pitching wedge distance and hit to the hole.  If you get the ball within 10 feet, take two off the pile.  If you miss the green, add 3 to the pile.  Focus and go through your routine. 


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