Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Don't Stop Learning!

I'm 52 years old and I can say honestly that I have studied my craft, teaching golf, for 30 years.  When I was young, I observed many great teachers.  My winters in Phoenix gave me opportunities to watch Bill Forrest, Mike LaBauve, Sandy LaBauve, Arch Watkins, Craig Bunker, Donald Crowley, and Ruth Jensen.  In the summer, I got to teach along Steve Satterstrom, who was very good.  Then I moved to Texas and got to talk with and watch Dick Harmon, Charlie Epps, Jackie Burke, Butch Harmon and Phil Rodgers.  I'm quite sure I sounded dumb with the questions I asked and I know for a fact that I would get a lot of stuff dead wrong when I talked to them, but they were patient with me and simply answered my questions.  They never acted like I was an idiot or that they were above me, they simply taught.  I was careful not to ask Mr. Burke too much though.  I had a healthy fear of his sharp wit.  No one's wit or tongue was sharper than Dick Harmon's, but he liked me and when he made fun of me, it was gentle.

Now I have access to youtube, twitter and blogs to continue my learning.  I read all I can from Andrew Rice and Brian Manzella, who have both taught me so much about trackman and what it teaches us as pros.  I also like Joseph Mayo on twitter as @trackmanmaestro  They have completely changed my paradigm of what makes the ball move and it took me a long time to wrap my head around it.  Just as the old pros were eager to mentor and share, so are these pros on social media.  Geoff Mangum has both taught me new things and confirmed much of what I taught about putting.  Shawn Clements (clemshaw) and Mike Maves (sevam1) are two Canadians who do great work on youtube.  Maves is one of the clearest communicators of the golf swing I have found.  Steve Elkington was inspired by many of these guys and decided to start a website that is fantastic called Secret in the Dirt.  Here is a link to it.  I also love all the young coaches and pros who reach out and ask me questions, just as I asked the pros I learned from.  Their enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge will take them far. 

The folks I learn the most from are the experts, both those around me and those I see on t.v.  By experts, I mean players.  I have nine great players on my team who teach me something every day.  Over almost 20 years of coaching, I've been around hundreds of great players, both on my team and on other teams, including the guys teams at the schools where I've coached.  Players remind me daily that they think differently than teachers and do things that teachers don't teach.  Their intuition, ability to create and passion for the game introduce me to new ideas daily.

Sometime in the past 10 or 20 years, teachers got very involved with technology and notoriety.  When that happened, teachers began to get the idea that they were the experts, but that isn't the case.  Players are the experts.  Some of the things that I've learned from experts are, they think about shots, not swings.  They sometimes have no idea how they make the ball go a certain way, but they can do it on demand and under pressure.  Their focus when its important is on things outside their bodies, such as ball or target, not on what their left hand or right hip is doing.  They usually have a singular focus that they become obsessed with and that thing is their key to success, whether or not that is actually the case.  Finally, the true experts of the game have a motion on the course that is as learned as your ability to walk up stairs.  It doesn't need thought to work, but thought can mess it up.

The very best part about teaching golf is learning golf.  Learning golf isn't all about mechanics, trackman, aiming or shaft lean.  It also has a lot to do with human performance and human performance means heart and gut as much as brain.  It means that bad swings happen and our job as teachers might not be to fix the swing, but to figure out why it was made and take care of that instead.  So, on I go. I hope I get another 30 years of learning about golf.  That is the goal.  I can see it now, I'll be 82 and plopped in a chair on the range like Tommy Armour, telling kids to dig it out of the dirt and get those knuckles down. 

Player Plan: MA

Goals Statement:"I want my game to go to the next level.  I want to make it into the lineup."

Scoring Average:  79.46     Ranking:   n/a     Low Round: 69

Mehar Atwal on the tee at DAC


Strengths:  Mehar showed improvement as the semester progressed.  Mehar hit a lot of fairways and greens and has good ball striking.  She is among the best on the team at hitting it inside 15 feet on her approaches.  She is also very good at converting those shots into birdies and makes a lot of short putts.

Needs to improve:  Mehar's putting falls off a great deal when she is outside 15 feet.  She averages over 2 putts per green in regulation and has a lot of 3 putts.  Her short game also needs improvement.  Finally, course management and decision making needs improvement as evidenced by the number of doubles in her first semester. Her stats show a tremendous amount of "short" shots on her approaches, which could be solved by simply taking more club.

Synopsis: A typical round based on stats for Mehar would be as follows:  Mehar hits about 9 fairways and 10 greens per round.  On the greens she misses, she gets about 3 up and down.  On the greens she hits, she makes 1 or 2 putts per round, most from inside 15 feet.  If she is outside 15 feet, she averages over 2 putts per green and adds 1 or 2 bogies per round with her putter.  She also averages more than 1 double bogey per round. 
 
Coach's take: Mehar brought a lot of talent and game to SMU.  She now needs to match that talent and game to an increased work ethic and a more focused approach to her golf.  If she chooses to work hard, she will see her scores drop and all parts of her game will be strong.  One of her stated goals for this semester is to "be more responsible" and that will be a key to her success as a golfer at SMU.  She came back from break with a great attitude in place and we will all work hard to help her maintain it and be responsible. She needs to play more golf and practice less.  Nine holes daily would be a good goal in addition to her qualifying and putting and short game practice.

Drills to focus on this semester:
Putting - Lots of lag practice and distance control work.
30 putt drill 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.
Cluster Drill - 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. 
Putt from 20 to 40 feet until you make three.  Use one ball and your routine.
Putt to a hole from 20 feet until you make it.  You can use as many balls as you need, but you are not allowed to move balls out of your way.  This is a great visualization drill and it will also help you get the ball to the hole.  You might need to putt to hit a ball out of the way prior to going back to the goal.  Do this drill for 20 minutes tops.  If you are successful quickly, do it from 25 or 30 feet.  

Chipping - Play a lot of one ball games with your teammates and also spend time working on the skills needed to be a great chipper.  1.  Pick the shot 2. Land the ball on the spot you chose 3. Hit a solid chip 4. Control spin and roll

Bunker - This is one of your strengths, so play more one ball games than repetitive games and keep it as a strength going forward.
10 Shots Drill - Hit the following 10 bunker shots:
2 from good lies
1 from an upslope
1 from a downslope
1 with the ball above your feet
1 with the ball below your feet
1 in a fried egg lie
1 buried
2 from good lies
First goal:  Get all 10 out of the bunker.  Second goal:  Get all 10 on the green.  Third goal:  Get all 10 within 10 feet of the hole.  You may finish the shots out to see what your up and down % is for the 10 shots.
 

Pitching - You need a lot of repetition and work in both pitching and wedges.  Both areas of your game need a bit of technique work.  Please get with Dave and I to focus on your technique.


Wedges - I'd like to see you learn to control the length of your swing and begin to equate the swing length with the distance needed for the shot. 
1.  Hit 10 balls with each wedge with a 1/2 swing.  How small can you make the cluster of balls?  Measure the center of the cluster.


Learn how far each wedge goes with a full shot, a 3/4 shot and a half shot.  Learn which shots are your best so you have a GO TO yardage on the golf course.

Find one of the practice greens that isn’t busy.  Put 10 balls down 20 yards away from the hole, 30 yards away, 40 yards away, 50 yards away, and 60 yards away.  All 10 in each pile must land and hold the green.  5 of each pile should end within 10 feet of the hole.  2 of each pile should end within 6 feet of the hole.  This can take you 30 minutes.  Focus!  Go through your routine.  

Friday, January 25, 2013

Week 1 In the Books

Practice this week has gone very well.  I repeat often that I love this team, but I will say it again.  Their games show evidence of a lot of work over Christmas break and they came back to school ready to play.  With that being said, we still have a lot of work ahead of us if we want to compete for the NCAA Championship.  We started the week with the Red Zone Challenge.  It is a test for your short game in a book written by Charlie King and Rob Akins.  The test showed us what we already knew.  Our short games aren't good enough....yet.



One skill in particular, chipping, was below the standard we want to set on the team.  We worked on Wednesday with half of the team on technique and hitting intermediate targets.  I'm amazed sometimes at how well players score with a lack of basic skills.  However, I wander in to watch our basketball teams practice occasionally and the last time I was there, Coach Jankovich was telling me how poorly his team blocks out and that their practices should reflect how we all practiced in junior high and focus on basics.  So, we are all the same as coaches, we want the fundamentals to be solid and to go from there.

To be a great chipper, you have to control the handle of the club, not the club head.  Here is a video of great technique.  Whenever I need a good video, I look to the guys at Secret in the Dirt.  Elkington and Mike Maves know their stuff and they hang around Jackie Burke!

In this video, Elk shows beautiful technique.  The club sweeps through the impact with an arm swing.  He has beautiful tempo and is in control of the entire club. 


Yesterday, we did a timing game.  It was intense and fun!  We had six stations of 10 minutes each.  We made it a competition by keeping track of times for completion of each task.  Through the tasks, we learned a lot and there were a lot of opportunities for Dave and I to talk through stuff.

Here are our tasks: 1.  Make 20 in a row from 4 feet.  2.  Make 5 in a row from 10 feet.  3.  Lag 5 in a row within 18" of hole.  (Stations 4-6 on nearest chipping green) 4.  chip in from 20 feet  5.  Pitch 5 balls that land on the towel.  6.  Hit 10 bunker shots within a wedge length of the hole. 

This type of practice was written to get the team to have a quick, reactionary practice vs. a technical, thinking practice.  Its time to start playing and quit grinding.  We also got a lot of very focused reps.  The scoring made the players adjust quickly and they were truly paying attention to the feedback of the shots.  For example, on the lag putts, they figured out that the ball had a better chance to end within 18" of the hole if it remained on the high side of the hole.  As soon as they made that adjustment, they made a lot of 40 footers!  The same thing happened in chipping.

We found the pitching challenge to be the toughest.  In 10 minutes, our leader hit the towel twice.  I don't believe the challenge was too hard, but that we need to continue to learn to control our distance and trajectory with wedges.  We also need a better understanding of playing higher shots to targets that are elevated and lower shots to level or downhill targets. 



Overall, the day was a lot of fun.  I saw everything in that hour of intense focus that I see on the golf course.  I saw players who got dejected when they were the final one in the drill and their body language showed their emotion.  I saw players who hit shots without focus, instead of recognizing their state of mind and taking a short break.  I saw the players create beautiful rhythm and tempo.  I saw determination, focus and smiles.  Whenever you can get all of that from a practice, you have a lot of opportunities to coach and improve. 

Here are our results:
1.  20 4-footers in a row:  Best times:  Mehar 3:10, JP 3:35, Kim 3:40
2.  5 10 footers in a row:  Felicia 3:05, Elena 3:38, Mel 3:45
3.  5 lags inside 18" in a row (from 40 feet):  JP 4:00, Felicia 5:00 Caitlin 6:10
4.  Chip in from 20 feet:  JP :42 seconds, Alex 1:50, Felicia 2:10
5.  Hit the towel from 40 yards:  Caitlin 2, 4 tied at 1
6.  Hit 5 shots within a wedge length (3 feet) of the hole from the bunker: Mehar 6:10, JP 6:56 Elena 8:00

Our Red Zone Challenge results:  Top 3
Overall Handicap:  Caitlin = 2, Melanie = 3, Mehar = 3 (1 player in double figures)
Wedge Shots:  Jenny H. = +1.5,  JP = 1, Kim & Caitlin = 3 (2 players in double figures)
Bunker Shots:  Mehar = 0, Caitlin = 1.5, Melanie = 2 9 (no one in double figures)
Pitching:  Mel = +1.5, Felicia = 4, Kim = 5 (5 players in double figures, YIKES!)
Chipping:  Felicia = +1.5 (All other players in double figures, DOUBLE YIKES!)
Long Putts:  Caitlin = +1.5, Alex = 1, Mel and Mehar = 2 (2 players in double figures)
Short Putts:  Caitlin & Mehar = +5 (WOW!), Melanie = +3

We will continue to test the players to measure their improvement. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Player Plan: KB

Goals Statement: I want to improve my game so I can consistently shoot in the 70's. 

Scoring Average:  85.33     Ranking:   Redshirted     Low Round: 79

Kim Beers on the tee at D.A.C.


As the season progressed, Kim saw improvements in her green hits, bounce backs and overall scoring.  She dropped her scoring average to 81 for her last five rounds. 

Needs to improve:  Kim's putting and short game need to improve for her to continue to lower her scoring.

Synopsis: A typical round for Kim would include about 5 fairway hits and 9 green hits.  The missed fairways lead to an average of two double bogies per round.  This is a loss of 3-4 strokes per round to her teammates.  On the 9 greens hit, she usually birdies one and 3 putts once or twice.  On the 9 greens missed, she gets only 2 or 3 up and down. 

Coach's take: Kim has her hands full in learning to play the game of golf at the highest level.  She has the talent, work ethic and fundamentals to get the job done.  She needs a lot of repetitions and a lot of competition.  She will have to work as hard or harder than those around her to get the repetitions needed on the range, the green, and the short game area.

Putting -
Around the world.  Putt 5 tees in from 4, 6, 8 and 10 feet on a hole with some slope.  Make 1 putt from each tee at 4 feet (five in a row) and move to 6 feet.  Focus and go through your routine.  Your goal is to make 20 in a row.  See how close to 20 you get each day.  You are only allowed to do this once per day, so focus and get it done.  Let me know when you get 20.
Teed Off - Put a tee in the ground as a target.  Now put tees in the ground at 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 feet away.  Putt to the target tee twice from each distance.  Each ball must either be stopped by the target tee or must end within one putter head of the tee.  It is very important for your distance control on short putts to be as good as it is on your long lags.  Short doesn't count.  The ball can be past the tee, to the right or left of it within a putter head, but short means you start over. 
Thirds Drill - Find a putt at least 30 feet long.  It would be best if it was a breaking putt.  Put a tee in the ground as a starting point.  Now, split the putt into thirds and put a tee in the ground at the point the ball will have to roll over at each third.  You will have a tee in the ground 20 feet from the hole and 10 feet from the hole.  Now, go putt from the tee at 10 feet until you make the putt at the speed you picture.  When successful, go to the tee at 20 feet and do the same thing.  Now when you get to the original putt, your goal is to get the ball rolling at the speed you needed from 10 and 20 feet.  Do this from any distance over 30 feet on uphill, sidehill and downhill putts.  Learn what works and focus on visualizing the roll of the ball into the hole.  Let me know if you like this drill.
Compete with your teammates. Play a lot of games and WIN!

Chipping -Need all chipping skills to sharpen up.
1.  Contact drills - Work on mechanics.  Control handle, shaft and club head equally.  Make sure tension is out of shoulders and arms, but grip is in firm control of the handle.  Make momentum your friend and take nice tempo to each shot.
2.  Hit your intermediate target.  Choose the right intermediate target.  Put tees in the ground where you want to land the ball and work to hit the tee.  You can change your club choice, swing length, or ball position to adjust to hitting tees.
3.  Learn to control spin.  Ball position and club choice is key.
4.  Work the ball to the hole.  Make sure you play your shots high enough.  Give it a chance.
5.  One ball work!  Use one ball and get it up and down.  Give yourself goals. ie.: 10 times a day every day.
This is the same as JP's chipping instruction, so grab each other and go work together to be great at each of these skills.

Bunker - This is a good drill for a lot of reps with focus.
Put 25 balls in the bunker.  Hit to two targets.  If you hole out, take 5 balls off of your pile.  If you put a shot within a club length, take 2 balls off of your pile.  If you leave a ball in the bunker, add 5 balls to your pile.  If you leave a ball more than 30 feet (10 paces) away from the hole, add 2 balls to the pile.  Hit until you have no balls in your pile. 

Pitching -  View this much the same as chipping.  Find drills that force you to choose the correct shot, the correct landing spot, and work the ball to the hole.  Pay attention to the details of the skills needed and then move into visualization, pre shot routine and execution with one ball.  Compete and get it up and down.

Wedges - Hit wedges daily, either on the range or in the short game area.  Focus on landing it on your target.  Control the trajectory.  Make the shots crisp.  Give yourself a goal of 10 shots per day that land on your target with the trajectory you picture.

Ball Striking -  Make sure you choose how you are working on your game each day.  If you are working on mechanics, be clear about what it is you're focused on and figure out how to get the proper feedback for that move.  If you are working on hitting targets, your tempo or pre shot routine, be aware of that goal and don't fall into the trap of then moving to mechanics.  Decide how and what you want from your practice.  You are progressing from needing repetitions and mechanics to learning to put it to use on the course. 

Remember to have fun along the way! 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Player Plan: CP

Goals Statement: "I want to make it to the NCAA Championship this year and come in the top 3."

Scoring Average:  77.17     Ranking:   504     Low Round: 75

Caitlin takes dead aim at the Johnie Imes in Columbia, MO


Strengths:  We have only six competitive rounds for a basis on Caitlin's stats, but they are similar to her qualifying stats, so we will use them.  Caitlin hits a lot of fairways.  She is ranked in the top 100 in converting birdies from within 15 feet.  She does a good job of rolling the ball where she is aimed. Intangibles:  Caitlin is very competitive and works very hard to achieve her goals. 

Needs to improve:  Caitlin needs to become a better putter to compete at the highest level.  She also needs to improve her short game stats.  Her par 5 average will come down as she becomes a better wedge player.

Synopsis:
Based on her stats, a typical round for Caitlin looks like this:  She hits 9 or 10 greens.  She gets up and down about 4 times on the holes she missed the green.  On the greens she hits, she makes about 2 birdies per round and 3 putts once or twice per round. 

Coach's take:  The longer Caitlin is over the shot, on the hole or playing the tournament, the more the score goes up.  I'd like to see her quicken her pace in her decision making, pre-shot routine, and execution time.  Just as more time effects her shot making, it also effects her overall play.  The more time needed to score, the higher the pressure.  Her par 3 average is 168th in the country, her par 4 average is #451 and her par 5 average jumps to #1451 in the country.  The same can be seen in her scoring with 2 shots added to the final round average vs. the first round.  Caitlin needs to get her mind and her emotions fully into the present.  I think she is spending time problem solving on the course and working on correction instead of working on scoring. If you compare her par 5 average to the top 20 players in the country, she could gain 3 shots a round, which would drop her scoring average to 74. She has the same abilities to score as those players.

Caitlin is insistent that she needs to hit more greens to be successful and I will agree that it would help her scoring, but the 100th best in the country at green hits will have on average only 2-3 more hits per round (Kyung Kim), yet she is ranked 4th in scoring because her putting par is -.56 vs. Caitlin's, which is 3.67.  That is a difference of over 4 shots in scoring, all with the putter in hand.  The quickest way to improvement in scoring will be with the blade.

Drills to focus on this semester:
Putting - Lots of one ball drills.  Play match play against the putting green.  Compete against your teammates.  Give yourself 2-3 drills or challenges each and every day of practice and keep track of your progress.  Here are some ideas:
10 Putt Drill -3 from 3 ft., 3 from 4 ft., 3 from 5 ft., and one from 6 feet.
20 In a Row: Make 20 putts in a row from 5 feet.  You must go through your full routine on each putt.
String Drill:  Putt from 25, 30, 35 and 40 feet until you get 3 balls to stop within a putterhead of the string on the green.  Go through your routine.  Don’t worry about aim, only distance control.
Draw Back:  Play draw back with one of your teammates.  9 holes stroke play.  If your first putt is within a handle length of the hole, you can putt it.  If it is outside that distance, you must draw the ball back a putter length. 
Mustang Drill - Put 5 tees down around the hole at 10 feet for each tee.  Putt from each tee.  When you make a putt, move the tee back one putter length.  When you have moved a tee twice, pick it up when you make the 3rd putt.
Worst Ball:  Find a teammate to play against.  Pick putts at least 20 feet long and you both putt two balls.  Pick up your best putt and putt your worst.  Match play for 18 holes.  Loser has to do the pony around the green.
Around the World:  Find a hole with slope.  Play around the world from 4, 5, and 6 feet.  Put 5 tees in around the hole at the designated lengths.  Make 5 around the world and then come back.  If you go around and back, move to the next length.  
30 Putt Drill - Put 10 tees in the ground starting one foot away and going to 10 feet.  Putt starting at 1 foot and move back one tee until you get to 10, putt 2 from there and come back.  Finish by going back through the tees.  How many of the 30 did you make?  What is your all time best?



Chipping -Put 10 balls in a pile and choose a shot that is different each day.  If you make it, take 3 balls off the pile.  For every ball that is within 3 feet of the hole, you may take a ball out of the pile.  For every ball outside 6 feet, add a ball.  If you miss the hole short or low side add a ball to your pile.  Do it daily!
 
Bunker - your bunker challenges are the same as a few of your teammates, so grab one of them and compete with each other!
1.  Hit until you get 10 balls within a clublength of the hole.  When you are successful, pick a new hole and do the same.
2.  10 Shots Drill - Hit the following 10 bunker shots:
2 from good lies
1 from an upslope
1 from a downslope
1 with the ball above your feet
1 with the ball below your feet
1 in a fried egg lie
1 buried
2 from good lies
First goal:  Get all 10 out of the bunker.  Second goal:  Get all 10 on the green.  Third goal:  Get all 10 within 10 feet of the hole.  You may finish the shots out to see what your up and down % is for the 10 shots.


Pitching -  Work with one ball and get it up and down.  Go at least 15-30 yards from the green and choose your landing spot.  Can you hit it?  Does it create the shot you want?  Get 10 up and downs daily before you quit.


Wedges -  Hit wedges daily.  Use your laser and pick two or three distances on the range and hit to each consecutively.  Use your routine and focus on target.  Can you control your trajectory and landing point.  In the short game area, pick a shot every day and vary it.  Here are some examples, rough, downhill slope, sidehill lie, under the trees, and bare lies.  Get 10 up and down from the shot you chose.  On the course, throw an extra ball down and get some extra wedge play in if you aren't holding anyone up.  Play the red tees on par 3's, from 100 on par 4's and 50 yards on par 5's.  You can choose any distance you want!

Course Management:  Choose conservative targets and be aggressive to them.  Have a plan for qualifying based on the greens and hole locations.


Practice Schedule #1 Spring '13

SMU Women's Golf

Tuesday, Jan. 22          Team Workout at 6:30 AM at Lloyd.
Team practice at 2:00 - Red Zone Challenge Day -
Teams:  JP & Kim, Jenny & Mehar, Elena & Felicia, Alex & Caitlin, Mel & Dave.
Work with your partner and go through the testing.  The lowest combined team will win 3 I AM NOT WORTHYS from the other teams to be given after the challenge.  Spend the remaining practice time working on your short game using drills in your player plans. 

Wednesday, Jan. 23     9 Holes at Lakewood and at least an hour of putting games and practice.  Play a lot of competitive games with your teammates.

Thursday, Jan. 24        Team workout at 6:30 AM.  2:00 Team Practice:  Speed drills.
There will be 6 stations set up and you will be timed in each station.  The lowest time for each wins a prize and the lowest overall time wins (1) I AM NOT WORTHY from each teammate to be called at any time and any place before Sunday night.
(Stations 1-3 on putting green) 1.  Make 20 in a row from 4 feet.  2.  Make 5 in a row from 10 feet.  3.  Lag 5 in a row within 18" of hole.  (Stations 4-6 on nearest chipping green) 4.  chip in from 20 feet  5.  Pitch 5 balls that land on the towel.  6.  Hit 10 bunker shots within a wedge length of the hole.  Will you succeed more quickly using your routine or just firing them at the hole?  Your call!
You get a maximum of 10 minutes at each task.  Coaches will be stationed to write down your time and rotate you after 10 minutes.
When finished, do whatever you need to prepare for qualifying including playing.

Friday, Jan. 25             OYO

Saturday, Jan. 26         Qualifying at 1:00 PM Pairings:  (Jenny, Alex, Kim), (Mehar, Felicia, Elena), (Mel, Caitlin, JP) Course tbd
Sunday, Jan. 27           Qualifying at 1:00 PM Pairings made according to Saturday scores.  Course tbd
Monday, Jan. 28           Team Workout at 3:00 PM

Player Plan: EV

Goals Statement: "I want to win Regionals with the team next spring and go to Nationals.  And I want to have a lot of fun playing golf."

Scoring Average:  76.67     Ranking:   424     Low Round: 73

Elena working on wedges.


Strengths:  Elena takes a focused approach to her game.  She tackles her weaknesses with hard work and enjoys her time on the practice tee and on the golf course.  Her attitude is her greatest strength.  Elena is a good ball striker and hits a lot of fairways and shots close to the hole.  Intangibles: She has dogged determination and reaches the goals she sets for herself. 

Needs to improve:  Elena needs to make more putts.  If she spent 75% of her practice time within 50 yards of the hole, she will be on the right track.

Synopsis:  A typical round for Elena would be to hit 10 or 11 greens.  On those greens, she is tight about 1/3 of the time.  Elena has a lot of accuracy and not as much power as she would like, so when she is within reach with an iron, she stuffs it.  Of those tight shots, she makes about 1 or 2 putts out of ten tries. She also 3 putts about once per round.  When she misses a green, she gets it up and down 40% of the time.  That means that of the 8 greens she misses, she has bogies on 4 or 5 of them.  

Coach's take:  Elena has worked hard to get her swing on plane and increase her speed.  Now that it is good and we are again in season, she needs to shift her focus to getting the ball in the hole when on or around the green.  She started that shift over Christmas break and read Dave Stockton's latest book on putting.  To put that wisdom into use in her own game means she needs to let go of her mechanical thinking and begin to allow her game to flow.  Elena will also benefit from a playful attitude on the course.  Her natural personality is playful, focused and happy.  I would like to see those traits shine when she is playing golf.  Elena has shown me she can reach any goal she sets, so her goals need to reflect what she needs on the course; attitude, playfulness, flow and mindfulness.

Drills to focus on this semester:
Putting -  Lots and lots of one ball games and competitions with your teammates.  Fewer drills and time spent on mechanics.  Continue to work on matching speed to break.  Here are some things you can do:
1. Wanda Drill:
Use one ball and play 18 holes.  You must putt out each attempt, but not because we are keeping score.  Instead, we want to evaluate how many of your putts you gave a chance to go in.  If your putt ends in the hole, or past the front edge within 20" (two grip lengths) on the high side, you gave your putt a chance.  You get a point.  If you putt 36 times and 18 of those are makes, you are already at 50% for giving your ball a chance. 




If your ball ends in the hole or within the pink region, you get a point.  
Play match play against the practice green.  Choose putts that are 15-40 feet long and if you make it, you are 1 up, if you 2 putt, you are all square, if you 3 putt, you lost the hole.  Your goal should be to close out the practice green early!  Use one ball, go through your routine, see it, feel it, trust it.

Chipping -  Elena, lots and lots of one ball games.  Get the ball up and down at least 10 times a day.  Drop it, chip it, putt it.  Also, compete against your teammates.  Your technique is good, so no more working from a big pile of balls.  Instead, use creativity to see the shot and then match your picture and your shot to each other.


Bunker - You are among the team leaders from the bunker.  Make sure you keep it as a strength by working at it a few days a week minimum.  Do the 10 ball drill and keep track of your results.
10 Shots Drill - Hit the following 10 bunker shots:
2 from good lies
1 from an upslope
1 from a downslope
1 with the ball above your feet
1 with the ball below your feet
1 in a fried egg lie
1 buried
2 from good lies
First goal:  Get all 10 out of the bunker.  Second goal:  Get all 10 on the green.  Third goal:  Get all 10 within 10 feet of the hole.  You may finish the shots out to see what your up and down % is for the 10 shots.

Pitching -  See chipping! 

Wedges - The better you get with your wedges, the less pressure you will feel with your ball striking.  Get great at a few distances and good at all others.  Spend time daily on your wedges.  First goal should be to control distance.  Second goal is to control trajectory.  These two goals go together nicely. 
1.  Put a towel down and hit to it until you land 10 balls on the towel.  Make sure you laser your distance and own it.  Do it once or twice every time you practice. 
2.  When you are playing, drop an extra ball at a yardage.  25 yards on par 5's, 50 yards on par 4's and ladies tees on par 3's.  Can you shoot under par on those balls?
3.  Hit 20 balls from 50 yards.  Putt them out.  If you make 10 or more putts, you are finished for the day.  If not, do it one more time.  Choose a different distance and do it a few times per week.  

Ball Striking - If you need to continue to work on mechanics on the range, do so mindfully with your mechanical goal in mind.  Make sure you also spend time working to a target using your routine and visualization.  Also, spend time working on flow and tempo.  Here are some ways to do these things:
1.  Play your favorite golf course on the range.  Visualize the hole, choose the proper club, evaluate the shot and hit whatever shot you are faced with on that hole.  Pick up your bag, take time between shots, focus on targets.
2.  Do Dr. David Cook's practice drill.  You will get it when you see him on Feb. 1st. 



Player Plan: MW

Goals Statement: 
I want to win, as a team, and celebrate my last semester with a trip to regionals and nationals.

Scoring Average:  73.83     Ranking:   86     Low Round:  65

Melanie on the tee at the Johnie Imes


Strengths:  Melanie knows her own game very well.  She understands her mechanics with the help of her golf professional and she can problem solve if she needs to make an adjustment.  She is a very good putter and has all the shots needed to score.  Intangibles:  Mel is competitive and has a tremendous amount of desire to succeed and be a great teammate.

Needs to improve:  Melanie needs to improve her short game statistics.  This will happen with a combination of hard work on developing it to a higher level and using better course management with her approach shots.  She put a lot of pressure on her short game this fall by being short sided and leaving herself tough up and downs. 


Synopsis: A typical round for Mel is hitting about 12 greens and making birdies on at least 3 of them.  On the 6 greens she misses, she gets it up and down 2 or 3 times.  Once in a while, a shot gets away from her and she has a penalty shot.  The two areas of focus based on a pretty straight forward group of statistics is course management and short game.  The course management issues are to choose the best club for the shot, not the perfect club and lessen pressing, especially on approach shots. 

Coach's take: Mel is on the right track and has her own plan.  She takes a mature approach to her game and I'm looking forward to supporting her with her goals this semester. 

Drills to focus on this semester:
Putting -
Compete with your teammates on the practice green.  Continue to work on speed control.
Lag Drill - Put a club 2 feet behind the hole.  Put tees down at 25, 30, 40 and 60 feet. (you can change the four distances to whatever you like).   Putt twice from each tee using your routine.  You get 5 points for a make, 3 points if you are within the space created between the hole and the club, 1 point if you are within a foot of the hole short.   If you get 15 points in 8 putts, you are finished with the drill.  If not, do it again.
Work on your strengths and keep them close.  Convert birdies with this drill:
Annika Drill - (appropriate for a Swede!)  put 3 tees down around the hole in varying lengths of 10-20 feet.  Putt from all 3 tees using your routine.  When you make 2/3, you are finished.  To create a tougher challenge, find a hole with quite a bit of slope.  This drill is to simulate birdie putts.  Take notice if your speed is good (within 1-2 feet if not made) and whether or not you are reading and playing enough break.

Chipping -
Compete with your teammates using one ball.  Play a game a day.
1.  Hit your intermediate target.  Choose the right intermediate target.  Put tees in the ground where you want to land the ball and work to hit the tee.  You can change your club choice, swing length, or ball position to adjust to hitting tees.
2.  Learn to control spin.  Ball position and club choice is key.
3.  Work the ball to the hole.  Make sure you play your shots high enough.  Give it a chance.

Bunker -
You need to camp out here!  Both you and Alex have the same focuses here, so challenge each other to being great by the end of the semester.  At the end of the year, you will make a difference with a fantastic bunker shot.  Get ready for that moment.
1.  Hit until you get 10 balls within a clublength of the hole.  When you are successful, pick a new hole and do the same.
2.  10 Shots Drill - Hit the following 10 bunker shots:
2 from good lies
1 from an upslope
1 from a downslope
1 with the ball above your feet
1 with the ball below your feet
1 in a fried egg lie
1 buried
2 from good lies
First goal:  Get all 10 out of the bunker.  Second goal:  Get all 10 on the green.  Third goal:  Get all 10 within 10 feet of the hole.  You may finish the shots out to see what your up and down % is for the 10 shots.
 
Pitching - Work on landing the ball on your spot, predicting the roll and controlling the spin.  Throw some balls down daily at least 15 or 20 yards away from the green and get them up and down.  

Wedges - Being a better wedge player will help you lower your par 5 average.  This is one stat that separates the best in the nation from all others.  When you are playing, drop a ball at your yardage and get it up and down.  On another day, choose a yardage you are uncomfortable with and get those up and down, too. 


Ball Striking - Work hard on your swing and produce the shots you want to hit.

Player Plan: AR

Goals Statement: First and foremost, I want to be able to maintain a focused, present mindset out on the golf course. I want to be a fighter, and I want to be mentally prepared for anything.  I want to win.  I want to win more tournaments, and I want to win NCAA's.  I want to have the confidence that I am a great player, and the belief that my score does not define who I am as a person.  I want to be the best collegiate short game player, and be able to get up and down from absolutely anywhere.  I want to have the ability to forget what has happened in the past and always stay in the present when I am playing.  I want to push myself and see how much I can achieve.  I also want to be able to help the team and my teammates to achieve their dreams, too!

Scoring Average:  75.67     Ranking:   294     Low Round:  68

Strengths:  Ability to go deep.  Makes a lot of birdies!  Very good ball striking stats.  Hits a lot of fairways and greens.  Intangibles: Tremendous focus and Competitor!

Needs to improve:  Par 3 and Par 5 scoring.  Hit it closer more often.  Iron play and putting.  Short game.

Alex hard at work on her game.


Synopsis:
Based on her stats, a typical round for Alex would mean that she hits 11 or 12 greens.  She one putts 2 or 3 times for birdies and three putts once or twice also.  On the greens that she misses, she gets the ball up and down about half the time.  She rarely makes big mistakes.  As her short game continues to develop, the number of bogeys she makes will decrease and the birdies she makes will shine brighter.

Coach's take: Alex has the skills to be a great player day in and day out.  She is like many players who gets her confidence from her ball striking and when that feels off to her, she presses.  This shows in the stats through the number of putts in a round.  By continuing to work on her ball striking to keep her confidence high, she will help her mindset.  By working hard on her short game and putting, she will keep her scoring low and consistent.  A combination of hitting a few more shots close to the hole, learning to keep a consistent scoring mindset and improving her chipping and putting will all combine to lower the scoring average and be among the best in the country.  I absolutely love Alex's goal statement.  I put the whole thing on the blog, because it tells you all you need to know about her desire, her competitiveness and the fact that she knows what she needs to take the next step.

Drills to focus on this semester:
Putting -  Alex is one of the best putters inside 15' I've ever seen.  She hits the ball where she is aimed.  She needs to continue to work on speed control, green reading, and the mindset that every putt is worth one shot.

Compete with your teammates daily in games such as drawback, around the world and match play.  Tap into those competitive skills and be completely present in your putting practice.

1. Wanda Drill:
Use one ball and play 18 holes.  You must putt out each attempt, but not because we are keeping score.  Instead, we want to evaluate how many of your putts you gave a chance to go in.  If your putt ends in the hole, or past the front edge within 20" (two grip lengths) on the high side, you gave your putt a chance.  You get a point.  If you putt 36 times and 18 of those are makes, you are already at 50% for giving your ball a chance. 



If your ball ends in the hole or within the pink region, you get a point.  


Here is what Dave Pelz has to say about reading greens; "The following are facts:  1.  Most golfers still consistently under-read how much their putts will break.  2.  Most golfers allow for too little break in their putting setup and aim.  3.  Most (approximately 90%) missed putts are below the hole.  Pelz goes on to talk about compensation for not playing enough break playing on the minds of golfers.  (from Putting Games by Dave Pelz)  Instead of worrying about what we can't control, compensation, we will instead focus on learning to judge break by actually keeping track of our results.  Good players learn to adjust when given proper feedback.  This drill should aid them in compiling that feedback.

Keep track of your score.  25/36 in yes zone = 69% had a chance.  In simple numbers, that means you gave 7 of your first putts a chance and didn't give 11 first putts a chance.
Chipping -
Begin with technique in this progression:  Can you hit is solidly 100% of the time with any ball position?  Can you land the ball on your intermediate target with any club?  Can you control your trajectory?  Can you control your spin and roll?  Are you seeing and producing the right shot?
1.  Chip with one club to one hole until you chip it in.  You are not allowed to move any balls in this drill.  If you leave one short in your path, you must hit it to get it out of the way.
2.  Learn to hit your intermediate target.  First, choose the right intermediate target.  Put tees in the ground where you want to land the ball and practice hitting the tee.  When you do so, does it react as you predicted.  When you get good at that skill, you will be better at visualizing the shots needed on the golf course.  You can change your club choice, swing length, or ball position to adjust to hitting tees.
3.  Compete with your teammates using one ball.  Drop it, chip it, putt it.  Challenge each other with tough shots.

Bunker -Lots of reps!  You need to throw some balls in the bunker every day you are practicing.
1.  Hit until you get 10 balls within a clublength of the hole.  When you are successful, pick a new hole and do the same.
2.  10 Shots Drill - Hit the following 10 bunker shots:
2 from good lies
1 from an upslope
1 from a downslope
1 with the ball above your feet
1 with the ball below your feet
1 in a fried egg lie
1 buried
2 from good lies
First goal:  Get all 10 out of the bunker.  Second goal:  Get all 10 on the green.  Third goal:  Get all 10 within 10 feet of the hole.  You may finish the shots out to see what your up and down % is for the 10 shots.

Pitching -
Approach this the same as your chipping.


Wedges -
1.  Choose two yardages per day and do the 20 Ball Drill.  Hit 20 balls to a target of a specified distance.  If you miss the green, add five balls.  If you are outside 15 yards, add two balls.  If you hit it within 15 feet, take off 1 ball, within a flagstick, take off 2 balls, within a club length, take off 3 balls.  How many balls did you hit?  Keep track.
2.  Put 10 balls down at 5 yardages of your choice.  For example, 30, 40, 50, 60 and 70 yards.  Hit the first 2 balls as you see the shot.  Hit the next 2 low, then 2 medium, then 2 high.  Finish with the shot that was easiest to control for the last 2 and stick it tight.
3.  When you are playing, drop an extra ball at a yardage.  25 yards on par 5's, 50 yards on par 4's and ladies tees on par 3's.  Can you shoot under par on those balls?

Ball Striking -
1.  Keep working on accuracy at practice.  Choose a small target on the range for both distance and direction and work to hit it.  Use your routine.
2.  Decide when you will work on mechanics and when you will work on gamelike practice on the range.  Don't go back and forth.  Be disciplined and either focus on target and outward things or choose to work on your movements and think of motion.  

Course Management -
Until your bunker stats improve, you don't have green lights to holes tucked behind bunkers.  Continue to improve your ability to choose conservative targets and go at them aggressively.  



Sunday, January 20, 2013

Player Plan: JH

Goals Statement: 
To become the best.  Top player and team in college golf.

Scoring Average:  73.78     Ranking:   82     Low Round: 70

Strengths:  Jenny is a very steady player.  She is focused on scoring on the course and isn't easily distracted.  She has confidence in her abilities and her game.  Jenny understands that she needs to make small steps daily toward her goals and her work ethic and attitude support that understanding.

Needs to improve:  Jenny's ball striking wasn't where she wanted it to be this past fall.  She wants more flow and power in her golf swing.  All parts of Jenny's game are strong, yet all could improve.  Specifically, Jenny needs to improve her wedge play to better score on par 5's.  She also needs to be a better putter and that will show by converting more birdie putts and fewer 3 putts.  Jenny's ball striking can also improve, but it is steady now.  As it improves, she will see more shots closer to the hole and more fairway hits.



Synopsis: 
Jenny is ranked in the top 100 players in par 3 and par 4 scoring, but is #473 in par 5 scoring.  Improving that stat will be a big leap.  The 100th best in the country averages 4.88 vs. Jenny's 5.08.  That is a difference of about a shot per round, which would bring her average to 72.98 and place her in the top 50 in the country.  Jenny averages about 4 bogies per round and that is offset by her almost 3 birdies per round.  If Jenny can play bogey free golf, by becoming better around the greens, she will jump up in the rankings.  She averages 12 green hits per round, but is only at .500 in up and downs.  If you figure 3/6 in up and downs and an average of one 3-putt per round, you can easily dissect her scoring average.  Her goal of being the best in college golf is attainable, but only with a little bit better putting, chipping and wedge play.  As her ball striking improves, she will put less pressure on those areas, but if they are great, they can aid in scoring, not just protect against bogies.

Coach's take: I am still getting to know Jenny and her game and habits.  She had a rough semester with illness and adjustments and handled it with a lot of class and played like a champ whenever given the opportunity.  My first observation is that Jenny needs to learn to practice more as she plays.  She is very technical on the practice ground, but states that she wants flowing motion in her swing.  Those two things don't seem to be congruent.  She needs to bring a more "gamelike" focus to her practice and not depend entirely on mechanical thinking.  Jenny seems to know herself well and know what she wants.  I really like that she understands the importance of happiness, fitness and a balanced life as keys to her success in golf.  That alone will take her far.  I'm looking forward to getting to know Jenny better this semester and working together to be the best in college golf.

Drills to focus on this semester:
Putting -  Work on converting your birdies, learning speed control and playing short, breaking putts.
Annika Drill - (appropriate for a Swede!)  put 3 tees down around the hole in varying lengths of 10-20 feet.  Putt from all 3 tees using your routine.  When you make 2/3, you are finished.  To create a tougher challenge, find a hole with quite a bit of slope.  This drill is to simulate birdie putts.  Take notice if your speed is good (within 1-2 feet if not made) and whether or not you are reading and playing enough break.

Lag Drill - Put a club 2 feet behind the hole.  Put tees down at 25, 30, 40 and 60 feet. (you can change the four distances to whatever you like).   Putt twice from each tee using your routine.  You get 5 points for a make, 3 points if you are within the space created between the hole and the club, 1 point if you are within a foot of the hole short.   If you get 15 points in 8 putts, you are finished with the drill.  If not, do it again.

Around the World - Play from 3 distances between 3 and 10 feet.  Choose a hole with some slope to give yourself breaking putts.  Put 6 tees in the ground and make one a different color so you know your starting point.  Your goal is to make 6 in a row and move back to the second distance.  If you want to play it with a partner or add pressure, you can "chance" it after a miss.  If you miss again, you go back to the beginning distance and start over. 


Chipping -
Chip In! - Work with ONE ball and one club.  Drop the ball and chip to make it.  Continue to chip until you make it!

Learn to hit your intermediate target.  First, choose the right intermediate target.  Put tees in the ground where you want to land the ball and practice hitting the tee.  When you do so, does it react as you predicted.  When you get good at that skill, you will be better at visualizing the shots needed on the golf course.  You can change your club choice, swing length, or ball position to adjust to hitting tees.

Play one-ball up and down games with your teammates daily! 


Bunker -
Your bunker game is strong.  Continue to practice it to maintain your strength.
10 Shots Drill - Hit the following 10 bunker shots:
2 from good lies
1 from an upslope
1 from a downslope
1 with the ball above your feet
1 with the ball below your feet
1 in a fried egg lie
1 buried
2 from good lies
First goal:  Get all 10 out of the bunker.  Second goal:  Get all 10 on the green.  Third goal:  Get all 10 within 10 feet of the hole.  You may finish the shots out to see what your up and down % is for the 10 shots.

Pitching - 
Your pitching, much like your chipping, needs to be broken into your skill sets of 1) predicting the shot 2) choosing your shot 3) landing the ball on your intermediate target 4) controlling trajectory and spin 5) controlling roll.
When you practice, spend some concentrated time on each of these five skills.  Here are some ways to do it.
Options Game - Use 3 balls and 3 clubs.  Go at least 15 yards from the green and create a shot between 30 and 90 yards.  Drop a ball and use one of the clubs to hit the shot.  Use your routine.  Do the same with the other two.  Notice how your landing point changes with the different clubs.  Do you also change the spin or roll on the ball?  Which of the 3 shots seemed the easiest.  Do this until you get 20 shots up and down.  Putt them all out. 

Target Game - Put a towel on the green and pitch shots until you land 10 balls on the target.  You can make it tougher by folding the towel into smaller targets.

Trajectory Game - you need a partner for this.  Take turns standing about 10 yards in front of your partner.  Use an aiming stick and hold it at various heights.  The goal of the player is to hit a shot that hits the stick.  Simulate game like situations by standing near the edge of the green and matching the shot to the trajectory needed.

One Ball- Use one ball and get it up and down at least 10 times or play against a teammate.  Make sure you are at least 15 yards from the edge of the green and choose shots that are 30-90 yards in length. 


Wedges -
As you improve your ball striking and controlling where the handle is at impact, your wedges will improve greatly.  Its all about controlling angle of attack to control distance.  Practicing your wedges will help your overall ball striking.  Work daily on hitting wedge shots that match your vision for trajectory and landing spot.  The wedge is your key to being the best.


Ball Striking
Keep working to learn your swing and how to produce shots.  Understand what you want and how to do it.  Take complete ownership over your movements and motion.  Be natural, find flow and above all SWING the club.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Which Stats Matter?

I've always thought that the most important statistics are the once closest to the hole.  With that in mind, here is a quick look at some statistic leaders and their Golfstat ranking.  The statistics don't necessarily reflect the true leaders, because not all teams sign up for the package.  However, it will still give a good correlation between statistical ranking and overall ranking.

Fairways:
1.  Ha Lee - Longwood: 95.90%  National Rank:  652  Scoring: 79.15

Greens:
1.  Camilla Hedberg - Florida:  86.60%  National Rank: 2  Scoring: 70.75

Par 5 Scoring:
1.  Kyung Kim - USC:  4.56  National Rank:  5   Scoring:  71.44

Par 4 Scoring:
1.   Stephanie Meadow - Alabama:  3.98  National Rank: T11  Scoring:  71.67

Par 3 Scoring:
1.  Grace Na - Pepperdine:  2.84  National Rank: 4 Scoring:   71.33

Total Short Game:
1.  Kim Kauffman - Texas Tech:  79.5%  National Rank:  5  Scoring:  71.50

Subpar Strokes per Round:
1.  Camilla Hedberg - Florida:  4.08 per rnd.  National Rank:  2  Scoring:  70.75

Putts/Round:
1.  Soo Bin Kim - Washington:  28.5  National Rank:  3  Scoring:  70.83

Putts/G.I.R.:
1.  Emily Collins - OU:  1.754  National Rank:  26  Scoring:  72.33

The lowest average in college golf this semester is Isabelle Lendl at 70.67.
Here are her stats and rankings:
Fwys: 83.3%  Rank:  T69th,  Greens:  78.2%  Rank:  9th,
Par 5's: 4.73  Rank: T19th, Par 4's:  4.01  Rank:  T4th  Par 3's:  2.92  Rank:  T4th
Short Game: 58.1%  Rank:  37th   Subpar Strokes: 3.92 Rank:  T3rd
Putts:  30.75  Rank:  T65th  PGIR:  1.775  Rank:  3rd

If you are in the top 30 in scoring, you have a pretty good shot at making the All America Team.
Here are the stats of the 30th ranked player to give you another form of comparison:
Tonje Daffinrud - Denver.  She averages 72.44
Fwys: 88.1%  Rank:  19th,  Greens:  74.1%  Rank:  t28th,
Par 5's: 4.92  Rank: outside top 100 , Par 4's: 4.11  Rank: t49th   Par 3's: 2.92   Rank: t4th
Short Game: 43.9%  Rank:  outside top 100   Subpar Strokes:  3.22 Rank:  t30th
Putts:  31.44  Rank: outside the top 100   PGIR: 1.8  Rank: t9th

The original thought that the farther away from the hole, the less important the stat holds true.  There is a minimum proficiency for every stat, but fairway hits isn't as important as green hits.  Green hits isn't as important as putting.  Overall putts doesn't correlate to score as much as putts on greens in regulation.

Okay, what does all this mean?  Just as I thought, the closer you are to the hole, the more important the statistic.  When I analyze the stats of the top two teams in the country, USC and Washington, the first thing that jumps out at me is how superior they are at playing par 5's.  That holds true to a golf statistician I heard speak about 15 years ago who said that the most important club on the PGA tour was the wedge.  I'm not sure how he proved that theory, but I do believe that being able to stuff a wedge into 10 feet is a skill that relates directly to scoring.

The next stat that jumps out at me on those two pages is birdies.  We are quite a bit better than USC in making birdies.  If we make more birdies, I guess we must also make more bogies.  Why?  The first key is our putting par.  We make more birdies, but our putting par stat isn't as strong.  The putting par is a combination of putts on greens hit and also putts that convert up and downs.  Here is the rub.  We are 7th in the stats as a team on p.g.i.r. and we hit a lot of greens.  However, when we miss a green, we don't get the ball up and down even half of the time.  That is our first goal, to get over 50% on total short game.

The difference between where we stand (34th) and where the best team right now stands (USC) is very small.  It is 7.31 shots per round.  That means, if every player on the counting four makes one more putt and one more up and down per round, we are in the same shoes.  That is a reachable goal!  However, it is a goal that comes with a lot of responsibility to work hard on short game and putting while maintaining or improving the ball striking we do well.

After all the analysis, it comes down to wedges, short game and putting!  It's time to get busy.



Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Player Plan: FE

Goals Statement: I want to win conference as a team and as an individual. 

Scoring Average:  74.88     Ranking:   191     Low Round:  71

Felicia Espericueta



Strengths:  FE is top 30 in the nation in birdie conversion and is among the top 20-30 in all putting statistics.  Felicia's general strength is her ball striking, but it isn't reflected in her stats this season due to her recovery from injury.  Felicia's intangibles are her mental toughness, her ability to stay in the moment on the course and her love of her team.

Needs to improve:  None of Felicia's stats stand out as poor.  Her ball striking stats are average, but will improve now that she can take the reps needed on the range.  Her short game needs continued improvement, with shot selection and control.  Her green reading skills need to continue to improve.  Her wedges either need to improve or she needs to lay up to a yardage when given the opportunity.

Synopsis:
 
Based on her stats, a typical round for FE is pretty steady.  She makes 10-11 pars, 2-3 birdies on greens hit and doesn't often 3 putt.  She makes very few mistakes that cost her more than bogie.  Bottom line is, FE needs to hit 3-4 more greens per round, get the ball up and down more often and perhaps make one more putt a round to average 72 or lower. 

Coach's take: FE has excellent focus, work ethic and desire.  Her injury cost her about a year of her college career, but she is poised to not only get back to her top form this semester, but to excel past it.  She will need to continue to improve her ball striking, while being smart with her reps.  She needs to be open to learning more about green reading.  She needs to balance her practice time and work on short game and wedges.

Drills to focus on this semester:
Putting - 
1. Wanda Drill:
Use one ball and play 18 holes.  You must putt out each attempt, but not because we are keeping score.  Instead, we want to evaluate how many of your putts you gave a chance to go in.  If your putt ends in the hole, or past the front edge within 20" (two grip lengths) on the high side, you gave your putt a chance.  You get a point.  If you putt 36 times and 18 of those are makes, you are already at 50% for giving your ball a chance. 


If your ball ends in the hole or within the pink region, you get a point.  


Here is what Dave Pelz has to say about reading greens; "The following are facts:  1.  Most golfers still consistently under-read how much their putts will break.  2.  Most golfers allow for too little break in their putting setup and aim.  3.  Most (approximately 90%) missed putts are below the hole.  Pelz goes on to talk about compensation for not playing enough break playing on the minds of golfers.  (from Putting Games by Dave Pelz)  Instead of worrying about what we can't control, compensation, we will instead focus on learning to judge break by actually keeping track of our results.  Good players learn to adjust when given proper feedback.  This drill should aid them in compiling that feedback.

Keep track of your score.  25/36 in yes zone = 69% had a chance.  In simple numbers, that means you gave 7 of your first putts a chance and didn't give 11 first putts a chance.
2.  3's Drill
3.  Putt with your teammates and pay attention to whether or not your ball works toward the hole as it slows.
4. Around the World - Pick a hole on a slope and work from 4, 5, 6, to 10 feet.  Die the ball in the hole for a change of pace.

Chipping -
Play a lot of one ball games, getting it up and down.
Compete with your teammates and talk through the shots.  ie.: where to land it, what club, etc.

Bunker -  Your bunkers % is low, so lots of reps here.
1.   Put 3 targets on the green and hit one shot to each target until you get a ball within a club length of each.
2.  Hit 5 shots from a flat, good lie, 5 from an uphill lie, 5 from a downhill lie, 5 from both sidehill lies, 5 from a buried or fried egg lie and finish with 5 from a flat, good lie.  Do this daily.  Its 35 shots.
3.  At least once a week, use one ball and get it up and down 10 times.

Pitching -
1.  Choose your shot, choose your landing spot, choose your club and execute the shotEvaluate each of these skills and work on them separately.
2.   Use one ball and get it up and down 10 times daily.  Work from 15-50 yards from the green.


Wedges -
1.  Hit 20-50 wedges daily.  Choose a different distance and club each day.  Vary your ball position, trajectory and the spin you put on the shot.

Ball Striking -
Continue to get comfortable with the changes made.
Learn to work the ball.  Work with Coach and Dave and call your shots.

Course Management -
FE has improved her course management immensely over the past year and a half.  She makes good decisions, plays the odds and keeps the ball in play.  She sees the course well.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Player Plan for JP

Goals Statement:  "I want to win; to win tournaments; to win NCAA's."

Scoring Average:  74.73     Ranking:   167     Low Round:  67

Jennifer Park


Strengths:
Par 3 play. (Among the best in the nation).
Ball striking. (Among the best in the nation at hitting it tight).
Overall, does a lot of things well.  Intangibles include focus, work ethic, desire and coachable.

Needs to improve:
Par 4 and Par 5 scoring average.  (Short game and wedges)
Putting.  (good on g.i.r. but not as strong at converting good shots into birdies as she desires).
Mindset.  (needs to believe)

Synopsis: JP is a very good ball striker.  I would like to see her improve her g.i.r. to 13 or 14.  She stuffs a lot of shots (35% of her shots are within 15 ft.), but doesn't hit as many greens overall (62%) as she is capable.  This might point to the need to aim a bit more conservatively at times.  This strategy would probably also raise her short game % since she won't be short sided as often.
 
Based on her stats, a typical round for JP would be:  hit 11 greens with 4 of those shots tight, drop 2 birdie putts, 3 putt once, get up and down on 3 or 4 of the 7 missed greens, and make one mistake that costs her a double. 

JP averages 1.33 3 putts per round and a putting par of 2.33.  Her best round of the year included 11 1-putts and 0 3-putts.  Her worst round of the year included only 4 1-putts and 3 3-putts.  Jennifer needs consistency to tap into her scoring potential and to be among the best in the nation.

Coach's take:  JP is very skilled in every area of the game.  She tends to be hard on herself, using a model of perfection to compare herself after each shot.  If JP can learn to play the game without self-judgement, she will reach all of her goals.

Drills to focus on this semester:
Putting -
Great skills, but execution doesn't always equal ability.  Drills should be mainly one ball drills and drills that create pressure and game like conditions.  Here are some good ones:
1.  Play 18 holes on putting green using drawbacks.  If 1st putt is outside putter head of hole, draw it back a club length.  How many times can you shoot below 36 in a week?  No starting over!
2.  Make 25 in a row from 4 feet using routine.  How many tries does it take you?
3.  Compete with teammates as much as possible.
4.  Star Drill - Put five balls around the hole from 10-20 feet. Make three of five to successfully complete the drill.  Use your routine.
5.  Do the putting tests we set up:  Bunny drill to test aim, Crown drill to test short putts, 3's to test lags and Wanda Test to check on green reading.
Bottom line is, your preparation and skills need to lead to belief.  Learn to take the proper mindset to each putt and focus on what is needed.  Make sure you are rolling it to make it not to not miss it.

Chipping -
Need all chipping skills to sharpen up.
1.  Contact drills - Work on mechanics.  Control handle, shaft and club head equally.  Make sure tension is out of shoulders and arms, but grip is in firm control of the handle.  Make momentum your friend and take nice tempo to each shot.
2.  Hit your intermediate target.  Choose the right intermediate target.  Put tees in the ground where you want to land the ball and work to hit the tee.  You can change your club choice, swing length, or ball position to adjust to hitting tees.
3.  Learn to control spin.  Ball position and club choice is key.
4.  Work the ball to the hole.  Make sure you play your shots high enough.  Give it a chance.
5.  One ball work!  Use one ball and get it up and down.  Give yourself goals. ie.: 10 times a day every day.

Bunker -
Much the same as chipping, you need a bit of work on controlling the entire club to hit shots.  You need your swing to create momentum that equals the shot.
1.  Work on landing the ball where you want to land it.  Put intermediate targets on the green.
2.  Work on trajectory control.  Ball position, shaft control and swing length will all effect this.
3.  Hit a lot of shots and get comfortable with all lies and all shots.
4.  Use one ball and get it up and down.  #gamelike

Pitching -
Same as chipping.  Intermediate targets, tension control, create momentum and use one ball in practice.

Wedges -
1.  Hit 10 balls with each wedge with a 1/2 swing.  How small can you make the cluster of balls?  Measure the center of the cluster.

Learn how far each wedge goes with a full shot, a 3/4 shot and a half shot.  Learn which shots are your best so you have a GO TO yardage on the golf course.

Hit wedges every day.  Your putter and your wedges are your keys to winning!

Course Management -
I'd like to see JP take her course management to the next level with a stoplight model for hole locations.  When she plans for a round, this should be what the hole plans look like.  When she plays, she should consult her plans.


JP's bunker stats are low, so no green lights for holes tucked close to bunkers until it gets to at least 50%.
JP's par 3 scoring is under par, but not her par 5 scoring.  Needs to either improve wedge play and strategy on par 5's or lay back further to allow a full shot into par 5 greens.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Consistent Putting

So you say you want consistency!  What exactly does that mean?  It all goes back to the three skills needed to be a great putter.  You have to start the ball out on your intended line.  You have to control the speed of all putts rolled.  You have to be able to read the slopes, grain and terrain of the green to predict the break and speed of your putt.

This is what your scorecard will look like when you become a great putter!


Here are some drills to help you accomplish those three skills.

The Bunny
Place a ball about 6" in front of the hole.  Now put your ball down about 2 feet away.  Imagine a line going from the middle of the hole and extending through the center of both golf balls.  Putt your ball and hit the second ball in the hole, as if you are playing pool and your ball is the cue ball.  You will get great feedback from this drill.  If you are hitting your ball with a square face and hitting it on line, it will send the second ball into the middle of the hole.  If your club face is open at impact, you will hit the right side of the ball and it will miss left or catch the left side of the hole.  Conversely, if you have a closed club face, the second ball will miss to the right.

Here is a video of the drill.

3's
Put tees in the ground at 3-5 distances between 15 and 60 feet.  We chose 15, 20, 25, 30 and 40 feet.  You can vary the distances or variety each time you do the drill.  Use three balls and putt to the hole.  Take away the closest, the farthest and measure how close the middle ball is from the hole.  Write down your results.  We love to use the Notes app for iphones for this, because your results will be recorded and you can keep track of your improvement.  Do this from each tee three times.  The more variance you introduce into your practice, the more realistic it will be.  In other words, the best practice would be to move from tee to tee after each putt or at least each set of three.  If you work with a partner, this drill can go pretty quickly.  When you are finished with three sets of three putts, toss the high and low totals and your score will be the middle number.

Here is an example of a recent session by one of my students:
15' - 8", 2", 0" (0 = 2/3 putts made)  Your score for this distance is 2 inches.
8" represents the middle or median score of the three putts rolled.  2" represents the median of the three sets.
20' - 4", 14", 12" Your score is 12 inches.
25' - 14", 0", 7" Your score is 7"
30' - 32", 2", 18" Your score is 18"
40' - 24", 9", 19" Your score is 19"

The idea of this drill is to measure your ability to create the perfect speed for a putt.  I prefer players to use their routine on each putt.  There is no positive or negative attached to being long or short.  What we are looking for is the correct speed, so an inch short is a better putt than 3' past the hole.

This drill will measure your consistency.  You can vary it every time you do it by giving yourself uphill putts, downhill putts, big breakers or vary the grain.

Make sure your time on the practice green is time well spent.
Golf professional Ashley Knoll practices at Dallas Athletic Club.



String Drill
We use this drill to work on speed control for shorter putts.  You can use it for long putts too, but its great for short putts because the hole never gets in the way of measurement.

Put a string on the green.  Putt from 4 feet until you get 3 balls to end within a putter head of the string.  Please use your routine on each putt.  When successful, move to 6 feet, then 8, and 10.  Vary the drill be moving it onto a slope.  You can choose any distance also.  If you want to track your ability to control speed, keep track of how many balls you used to accomplish the drill.

Crown Drill
The Crown Drill can be done daily or weekly as a way to keep track of your short putt abilities.
Put 5 tees in the ground around a hole on a slope.  Start at 3 feet and putt one ball from each tee.  How many of the five did you make?  If you made 3 of five, that equates to 60%  Move the tee back to 4 feet and do the same.  The next distances are 5, 6, 8, and 10.  There is a total of 30 putts in the drill.  How many did you make?

The Crown Drill will be a tester for all the skills needed in putting.  If you want to go around the five tees twice, you can easily figure out your percentage from each distance.  Here are some screen shots from PGATOUR.COM 





Hopefully, these numbers will keep your expectations in check.  If you make 3 of 5 from 5'-10', you would be around the top 20 on the PGA Tour.

Tracking your ability to read putts is a bit more subjective than the other skills.  We have managed to create a drill to help you track this ability though.  The tough part of the drill is finding a green big enough to allow for variety.  We have such a green at Dallas Athletic Club in front of the clubhouse.

Wanda Drill:
Use one ball and play 18 holes.  You must putt out each attempt, but not because we are keeping score.  Instead, we want to evaluate how many of your putts you gave a chance to go in.  If your putt ends in the hole, or past the front edge within 20" (two grip lengths) on the high side, you gave your putt a chance.  You get a point.  If you putt 36 times and 18 of those are makes, you are already at 50% for giving your ball a chance. 

If your ball ends in the hole or within the pink region, you get a point.  


Here is what Dave Pelz has to say about reading greens; "The following are facts:  1.  Most golfers still consistently under-read how much their putts will break.  2.  Most golfers allow for too little break in their putting setup and aim.  3.  Most (approximately 90%) missed putts are below the hole.  Pelz goes on to talk about compensation for not playing enough break playing on the minds of golfers.  (from Putting Games by Dave Pelz)  Instead of worrying about what we can't control, compensation, we will instead focus on learning to judge break by actually keeping track of our results.  Good players learn to adjust when given proper feedback.  This drill should aid them in compiling that feedback.

Keep track of your score.  25/36 in yes zone = 69% had a chance.  In simple numbers, that means you gave 7 of your first putts a chance and didn't give 11 first putts a chance.

Our goals in practice are to develop skills that allow us to score!  Our practice habits and evaluations will lead to those skills.  Simply throwing balls down and making the same mistakes over and over and over will not lead to improvement and this is the source of frustration for so many playing the game.