Friday, September 23, 2016

Getting Real on Distance

Getting Real on Distance

Dennis M Clark

NZPGA


Golf is, and has always, only about two things only, direction and distance. And while they equally play an integral part in the game, the balance of them, and the true recognition of just how they can affect our own game, is often distorted, much to our detriment.

Direction is patently obvious. We need to hit the ball at the target, and the better we do this the better we play.

Distance however, is where the distortion occurs, and this upsets, no, make that ruins, more games and golfers than you can shake a stick at.

Distance often requires” exact distance”. When we’re putting, chipping, or in club selection on our approach to the green, the important side of it.

When distance is mentioned it’s usually all about getting the ball out further off the tee or stretching the distance an 8 iron can hit.

Let’s be honest, the desire for more distance has been a desire for all of us at some stage. Unfortunate for the majority that desire remains in place and is fed by the continual design of balls and clubs, especially in the de-lofting of irons to make us believe we now hit our new set even longer.

The magazines and YouTube are filled with new positions and moves that will somehow create more distance, and while some are scientifically sound, the average golfer will never achieve much more distance than what they currently have.

Like all desires, the one for more distance is perpetuating and never really fulfilled. The irony is that it doesn’t need to be for the average golfer to improve their success in the game.

Bearing that in mind, let’s take a logical and realistic look at the distance factor.

A number of years ago I had a man come for a lesson and when asked what he wanted from it he replied more distance, with the belief this would greatly improve his game.

By the way, this scenario is reasonably common, as most golf coaches will testify to.

His handicap was 12, and during the lesson we discussed distance and the benefits of it, and why more would be an asset.

Of course it is easier to hit it closer to the pin when approaching with a 7 iron than it is with a 4 or 5.

Also, if you hit the ball a maximum of 220 yards, the least you can possibly make on a hole measuring 460 yards is 3, whereas if you hit it 230 there is a possibility of making 2.
So we agreed that indeed, distance is important.

I then asked him, “On an average day, hitting the ball as well as you can, how many greens he couldn’t reach in regulation on his home course”. He replied 2.

I then asked him why he felt he needed more distance when he already had enough to play to a handicap of 2.

We set him the task of focusing on learning to strike the ball as well as he could, more often, the real issue.

He went away realizing that distance wasn’t the issue he had believed it was, or would give him the result he thought he wanted. What he already had was more than enough to achieve a much loftier goal, and could be done more realistically.

Over 40 years of coaching golf has shown me that the single biggest issue in golf is most people simply don’t realize the ability they possess, and so waste money, time, and energy something unnecessary, which they don’t usually achieve anyway.

If we would only learn to fully understand, and use correctly and fully, what we already have, we can achieve much more than we realize.

So next time you think you have a lack of distance issue................

A wise man once said, “Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done”

Monday, January 4, 2016

Fixing Over-the-Top Golf Swing Video.


This video is one of the best I have seen at fixing one of the most common problems in golf.  The over-the-top move or also known as outside-to inside swing.

The video comes from Craig Jones who is part of my network of some of the best and brightest in the golf instruction/coaching business.  Craig was with GolfTEC for over 11 years and decided there was a better way for the average golfer to get help.  He specializes in golfers with a 12 handicap and up.  This is one of the things that he and I share plus very similar teaching philosophies.

He also has an excellent Facebook page called Face First Nation Elite which is a closed group, but he would be happy to have you.  It's so he can just deal with the golfers that fit his demographics and also to keep other so-called golf instructors from confusing things.  

Here is what he has to say about the video:


 "When we talk about conquering your over the top downswing path, we’re really talking about how you want to deliver the club head to the golf ball. Since swinging over the top is swinging left of target, a great visual for swinging more from the inside on the downswing is to picture how to hit the inside of the ball. I recommend practicing it with a 6 or 7 iron and the ball on a tee because you want to make is as easy as possible when first learning it. Practicing into a net is ideal because there is not really any benefit to seeing ball flight in the early stages of learning downswing path."


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Bobby Jones Was Ahead of His Time.

Either Bobby Jones was ahead of his time or this philosophy got lost as the years went by.


I read a lot of the writings and thoughts of the greats of the past because I believe their message is still effective today and that the future of golf instruction is in learning to teach better.  Not in learning more "what to teach."  It appears that Bobby Jones knew over 70 years ago something that is now being learned, or relearned about how people of all ages learn to swing the golf club.  The science behind human learning is slowly seeping into golf instruction.

They learn primarily with their eyes and not their ears! 

There are sub-groups under that -  visual, auditory, read-write, and kinesthetic, but we primarily learn with our eyes.

Without getting too deep into the rabbit hole of neuroscience, the Holonomic brain theory supports that people learn motor skills not by linking a progression of positions together like line-by-line computer code, but instead by storing the entire movement as a neural 3-D hologram.  In other words they learn from watching.  

It appears that Stewart Maiden and Bobby Jones understood this.
Bobby wasn't a big proponent of teaching the golf swing.  Bobby learned the game by playing and observing the pro at his club, Stewart Maiden.  Maiden did not spend time on the practice tee giving Bobby swing instruction.  In fact, Bobby claimed that, to the best of his knowledge, Maiden never allowed himself to be drawn into a discussion about the golf swing.  To Stewart Maiden, golf was all about striking the wee ball.  Bobby might have been convinced to write about the swing, but I suspect he did so with mixed emotions.  He was not a man who believed in playing the game in a mechanical way.  He was not a fan of what he called, "rigid adherence to prescribed routine," in the teaching and learning of the golf swing. 
Bobby wrote: "Even if a person may not have begun to play golf at an early age, I believe that he may gain much by emphasizing naturalness in his learning processes. I think he has the right to convince himself that an effective golf swing can be made without rigid adherence to a prescribed routine and that there is room for differences in physical structure and capabilities. No matter how nearly equal in performance the top-rank players may be, yet they are as recognizable by their swings as by their faces.
"What the average golfer needs more than fine spun theories," Bobby wrote, "is something that will give him a clearer conception of what he should try to do with the clubhead... When we speak of sound method or good form, we mean nothing more than that the possessor of either has simplified his swing to the point where errors are less likely to creep in and he is able consistently to bring his club against the ball in the correct hitting position."



Friday, December 18, 2015

Golf Course Superintendents With a Sense of Humor

 Golf Course Superintendents With a Sense of Humor

I have always loved golf course superintendents that have a sense of humor.  Since all too many golfers take the sport too seriously, it is always nice to lighten it up a little.  I have collected these over time and if you have any others please email them to me sam@essentiallygolf.com or send them to me on Facebook.

Hope you enjoy these as much as I do.

These are in no particular order.






This may be my personal favorite!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

How To Keep The Ball In Play With The Driver




Here is a wonderful video on learning a quick and simple way to keep your driver in play.  It actually applies to every club in your bag, but I find it easier to learn by starting with the driver.

The most important key to this is taking practice swings.  You need to swing without the ball until you are comfortable taking a full swing at various speeds.

Take the practice swing and then hold the finish long enough to remember what it felt like.  Remember the feeling of being balanced and controlling speed.  Then just repeat that feeling.

Just remember that it is not a three-quarter swing - it is a full swing at three-quarter speed.

You will find out that when you start to relax and slow the club down you will start to make very solid contact.


The importance of this was taught to me by the legendary Mickey Wright.  How far I can hit a club and how far I should hit it are two different things.

The video only takes a couple of minutes and will be well worth your time.  It and several more are posted on my YouTube Channel.