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Putting: Rolling Versus Hitting

Every golfer is looking for the next way to lower their handicap. But truthfully, there isn’t a new secret method to shooting better scores – the best way to lower your handicap is to make more putts from 8 feet and in. Sounds simple, but it’s a difficult task.

Players on the PGA Tour make, on average, 50 percent of their putts from 8 feet; amateurs only make about 30 percent of the putts from that same distance. To make more short putts, you need to learn to roll the ball and not hit it. This is also true on the Tour. When a Tour player makes a poor putt, chances are he got caught up in the moment and hit the putt rather than rolled the ball.

So, why is rolling the ball better than hitting it?

When you roll putts, the ball skids less after impact; therefore, you experience better distance control and the ball takes its true break. Your goal is to minimize the skid and get the ball rolling end-over-end as soon as possible. Our research shows that on an 8-foot putt, the ball can skid as much as 5 feet before it starts to roll. When the ball skids too much, the ball will roll through the break and miss the hole. Your miss may be caused by too much skidding rather than misreading the break on the green.

Not rolling the putt efficiently can be a biomechanical or an equipment problem. An ill-fitted putter can lead to an inefficient setup position, which then can produce inefficient mechanics.

How do I know I am a hitter? These are the symptoms of a hitter:

1. A short backstroke and forced acceleration at impact

2. Inconsistency in distance control

3. The left shoulder or left elbow pulling or opening at impact 4. The wrist breaking down at impact

To tell if you are a hitter, draw a line all the way around the equator of the ball. Aim the ball at the hole and make sure the line you drew is pointing at the hole. If the line on the ball wiggles a lot during the putt, then you are a hitter.

To roll your putts like a Tour player, make sure your arms can swing more naturally, like a pendulum.

Swing Solution: You must change your setup and get the arms away from your sides.

1. With your palms up, stick your arms straight in front of your chest

2. Drop the arms until your elbows are touching your chest or stomach

3. Make sure the arms are relaxed and there is little bend in the elbows

4. Bend from the waist

5. Start swinging the arms, creating a pendulum motion

6. Since you eliminated any need for compensational moves to square the putterface, the hands, elbows and shoulders will stay quiet

7. Look into non-traditional putting methods like the claw, lefthand low, brush, etc.

Equipment Solution: The only way to reinforce the correct setup is to make sure that the putter length and lie angle are optimal.

1. Make sure that it is not too long for you. I see too many players at every skill level using putters that are too long for their bodies. Ill-fitted putters will lead to inefficient setups. Make sure the lie angle is optimal; an incorrect lie angle can create tension in your forearms. After all, in golf, 90 percent of the success comes from an optimal setup.

2. There are three basic head designs to match your stroke – face balance, toe balance and heel balance. Make sure the putterhead design matches your stroke.

Finally, as mentioned before, there are many non-traditional methods of putting like left-hand low, claw, brush, right-hand only, looking at the hole, side saddle and anchored putters. We have discovered from our research that the best putters on Tour feel the putterhead release when they are stroking it really well. The proper release of the putterhead is what produces the pure roll. Therefore, try one of these methods to see if you are releasing the putterhead better, which will help you roll the ball more effectively.

If this sounds too confusing to you, find a local pro or fitter to help you. This game is way too hard to work alone.

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How To Raise a PGA Tour Player… Maybe

In July 2013, Jordan Spieth, at 19 years old, became the fourth youngest PGA Tour winner and the first teenager to win in more than 80 years.

In August 2012, 15-year-old Lydia Ko became the youngest LPGA Tour champion. Finally, in late May, Lucy Li, at 11 years old, became the youngest golfer ever to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open. She beat Lexi Thompson’s record by a full year. These players are responsible for sparking increased interest in junior golf worldwide, and the dream of becoming a golf star has never been greater than now. Therefore, I felt it was important to revisit an article I wrote few years back about how to raise a Tour player.

The past few years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with very talented PGA and LPGA Tour players in their early 20s. Here are some things I learned from them and their families that may help you raise and train a Tour player.

1. Tour players are born and not made. You have to be born with God-given talent. You could help your child pursue their dream, but the reality is that you might have a better chance of winning the lotto than getting a Tour card. If your child has talent, dedication, proper coaching and, most importantly, loves the game, a college career should be the long-term goal and the PGA Tour the dream.

2. Parents have to be involved. It takes great dedication and sacrifices from parents, too. You are their life coach. You know what and how to motivate them. But leave the technical coaching to the golf instructor. Best-case scenario: beyour child’s eyes. You could learn to be their trainer, even if you know nothing aboutgolf.Youcouldtakevideosforthem. Parents, with proper training from the golf coach, you could become a great asset to the development of your child. If done improperly, it doesn’t matter how talented your child is, it could be a train wreck for your family.

3. Coaches. Don’t hesitate to ask ques- tions. Remember that the coaches work for you. If they can’t fix the problem to further develop your child’s play, don’t be afraid to look for help from another coach. Your child could have outgrown the coach.

4.How do I know my kid is working on the right swing mechanics? There are so many swing theories out there that it is very confusing for many parents. Did you know that almost every Tour player from every generation has the same impact position? It’s the one commonality on Tour. Your child should be working on improving his or her impact position.

Here is a litmus test for your junior: 1) Take a video of your child, behind him fac- ing the target line. 2) Measure his or her spine angle at address. It should be any- where between 46 to 65 degrees depend- ing on the club and his or her physique. 3) Measure the spine angle at impact (just as he or she is making contact with the ball). If your child’s spine angle is higher than the address position at impact by 10 degrees or more you have problems. Why is losing the spine angle bad at impact? As your child’s body gets stronger, a straight spine angle will cause severe hooks. Too many compensation moves will be in play to hit the ball straight with power.

Improvement of scoring is important, but if your child doesn’t improve his impact position, he or she will not achieve their long-term goal or dream.

5.Don’t fix when it ain’t broken approach. Most young Tour players today did not practice this when they were growing up.

a. Wrong approach: I know I have a few fundamental problems, but I just won by three strokes and we will fix it later because there are important tournaments coming up. b. Right approach: I know I won by three strokes, but I could have won by 10 strokes. Let’s fix the fundamentals even if I struggle in the short term.

6. Custom golf equipment. Like every- thing we do for our kids, buy the best equip- ment that we can afford. At minimum, customize the length, lie angle and shaft. Improperly fitted clubs will cause them to develop poor fundamentals and they could spend the rest of their golf life trying to fix those faults. Your instructor or clubfitter should have a solution to meet your budget. Remember that the shaft is the most impor- tant part of the club.

7. Kids versus adult clubs. It has been our experience that you are never too young to use adult driver heads because driver heads for kids are inferior. We have seen 9-year-old kids gain 20 yards using adult driver heads. But remember that you just can’t shorten the shafts. When using adult clubheads, the shaft and swing weight have to be custom- ized. It could be a complicated process, but it doesn’t have to cost lots of money.

To help your talented children achieve their goals and dreams, make sure that you are utilizing your resources efficiently by always seeking out new information and knowledge.BecomingaTourplayerisoneof the hardest things to do; therefore, to lessen the frustration, it is crucial to create realistic, quantifiable short- and long-term goals.

 

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The 3 Crucial Stats of Golf

Happy belated New Year! I hope that everyone has set some achievable new year’s resolutions and goals. If you did not set any goals, here are some suggestions for avid golfers of all skill levels.

When I review the statistical data with my PGA and LPGA tour clients to set new goals for the upcoming season, I focus on 3 most crucial stats; total driving, GIR from <125 yards and putts made from 4 to 8 feet. And if you focus on these categories, you will dramatically improve your scoring in 2014.

Following Data is from 2013 PGA Tour. Rankings of best starts at 1st and the worst is 180th place. 90th place is the tour average.

Total Driving – Performance stats of distance and accuracy using a driver

1st Gram Delaset

3rd Henrik Stenson

17th Tiger Woods

180th Mike Weir

You absolutely can’t be short and crooked off the tee.  If you are, what should you focus on? Getting longer or straighter? Of course we want to achieve both but I strongly suggest you get longer first. Why? Swinging slower to gain accuracy is one of the biggest myths in golf. If you swing slower it only ensures that you will hit the ball shorter without any guarantee of hitting more fairways.

Club Solution:

Make sure your driver launch angle and back spin is optimized. What is optimal? It depends on your club head speed but the launch angle should be 12 to 15 degrees and the spin should be 2000 to 2800 RPMs.

Swing Solution:

Before you take any lessons, get a biomechanical, strength and flexibility analysis done. If your body can’t function correctly, lessons are waste of money and time.

Once you get the evaluation done, find a teacher who will customize your swing to fit your strength, flexibility, and athletic ability. Ask lots of questions before you start.

Find a personal trainer to build your core strength and flexibility. Try yoga. Your golf may not improve without lessons but you will feel much better working out.

Greens in regulation from 125 yards and in

1st Tiger Woods 89%

3rd Henrik Stenson 88%

90th Brendan Steele 82%

180th Shawn Stefani 73%

Are you more surprised that Tiger lead this category or that the best GIR was only 89% from less than 125 yards?  Or that the worst on the tour hit less than 3 out of 4 greens with the wedges.  It should make you feel better next time when you miss the green from 100 yards.  What is your GIR from 125 yards and in? 60% 50% 40%? Is your GIR better than the worst player on the PGA tour? This is an opportunity area for all players. I am sure Tiger wants to increase the GIR from that distance to 92% or higher.

Club Solution:

Take that 5 wood or 2 hybrid out of the bag and add a third wedge. Why? Most PWs are so strong that you need a gap wedge. Gap wedges start at 49 degrees to 53 degrees. Sand wedges start at 54 to 58 degrees and LW start at 59 to 64 degrees. Your goal is to have a 10 yard gap between each wedge when you make a full swing.

Make sure the bounce and grind on the wedges matches your angle of attack, the turf and sand conditions of your course. Rule of thumb: tight fairways and bunkers less bounce; soft fairways and sand higher bounce.

Swing Solution:

Practice! Practice! Practice! 60% of your range session should be focused on wedges and 25% on driver.

The best way to practice wedge shots: create targets from 40 yards to 120 yards at 10 yard increments and then find out which wedges will give you what yardage with full swings and half swings. Discover your favorite distance with each wedge.

Once you discover the favorite distance try to hit it to that distance on par fives or whenever you have to layup. This is how pros manage their wedge game.

% of Putts made from 4 to 8 feet

1st Greg Chalmers 76.43%

13th Tiger Woods 72.78%

15th Steve Stricker 72.48%

90th Ryan Moore 66.93%

180th Lucas Glover 56.46%

 

The putting stats usually shock most of us more than any other stats on the PGA tour. Are you shocked that the best on the tour from 2 steps away only made them 76% of the time? Lucas Glover, former US Open champion was only a 50/50 proposition from 2 steps. This is probably the reason why he has totally disappeared from relevance. I strongly believe that this is the most ignored category by an average player yet this is the most achievable category for immediate improvement.

Club Solution:

Putter Fitting! Putter Fitting! For every 10 driver fittings I do, I do 1 putter fitting. I don’t want to diminish the importance of driver fitting but I think that putter fitting is just as important. Why? No club in your bag will have more negative effect on your fundamentals than an Ill fitted putter.  When the length and lie angle of a putter is fitted well, it should allow your arms to hang in front of you with very little tension promoting an efficient pendulum motion.

Selecting a putter head depends on your stroke path and your how your dominant eye functions during the putting process. How does your eyes see straight lines? A profession fitter can help you with this process.

Swing Solution:

Take a lesson. Short putts more than anything is all about confidence and fundamentally sound mechanics. Short putts require less feel than long putts; therefore it is easier to teach and learn.  It is easier to learn if the putter is fitted correctly for you.

Quick tip: spot putting – 1) start with a 6 foot putt.2) Line up your putt. 3) Address the ball 4) Pick a spot 2 inches in front of the ball. 5) Keep your eyes on the spot, not on the ball, not on the putter head 6) focus on putting the ball over the spot on line with target line.

As you could see by the stats, golf is a simple game. In order to win or lower your score, all you have to do is to drive the ball straight and long; hit greens in regulation with short irons and make short putts. This is the winning formula for players of all skill level. It will be great to improve in all these area at once but due to our time and talent constraints, we must choose our poison. Please make it a goal to improve at least in one of these areas. Good luck and have a healthy and happy 2014!

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2013 – Time to upgrade to an adjustable driver

2013 is a good year to upgrade your driver. Every major company has a great new adjustable driver in their lineup. Just like the typewriters and non-touch screen smart phones, non-adjustable drivers have officially become extinct this year. Most companies only make adjustable drivers today with lofts ranging from 8 to 12 degrees, 3 degrees of variable face angle and many shaft options.
Here are some benefits of upgrading to an adjustable driver.
• The golf swing is organic just like our body; therefore, adjustable driver can help us adapt to the changes our body goes through during a typical golf season. We all experience some changes in our weight, strength and flexibility during a golf season. We can change the shaft, loft and face angle to adapt to the changes without having to buy a driver. It allows us to have multiple shafts to adjust for changes in our body and swing.
• Adjustable drivers allow us to optimize the launch variables to adapt to the changing course turf conditons, weather and wind. When we build drivers for tour players and competitive junior golfers, a secondary low launch shaft is built for them to lower the ball flight without changing the club head or their swing.
• It is not an instant cure for a 25 yard slice. However, if your club face at impact is within plus or minus 3 degrees being squared at impact, you will hit more fairways.
• You could use the face angle adjustability as a training aid to fix your swing mechanics. If you really want to fix your slice, open the club face. If you want to fix a hook, close the club face 3 degrees. Why? If you open the club face with a slice swing, you will slice the ball 15 to 20yards more. The only way to hit the ball straight is to change the swing mechanics to hit the ball straighter. It is counterintuitive but it is very effective way to create long term change.
• This may sound as confusing as programing a VCR, but a knowledgeable instructor/club fitter could help you pick the right combination to optimize your drives. Adjustable driver allows you to isolate each club variable to measure the effectiveness of changes in the loft, face angle and the shaft.
What are the best adjustable drivers in 2013? And does the adjustability really work?
Here are the best adjustable drivers selected by CompuGolf based on human testing and mechanical testing. Please remember that maximizing the club head speed and ball speed comes from finding the right shaft for a given swing. Our criteria for selecting the best driver are only based on the measured effectiveness of the adjustability on the new drivers.
Best driver
1st Place – Taylormade R1. This is the 3rd straight year R series drivers have won 1st place because of its technical advancements in adjustability. The effective change in loft and face angle still works the best. This is still the iPhone of clubs.
2nd Place – Callaway Razr Fit Extreme. Callaway has made a nice come back last 2 years with the Razr fit series. It is a very close second to the R1. If you don’t like the white head, this is the club for you.
3rd Place – Titleist 913 Series. They made great improvements in bringing the spin down from previous models.
Happy hunting for 20 more yards! And Good luck.

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