Many of us can recall a day on the golf course when we hit great shots, chipped or pitched the ball close to the hole or made long putts. We probably scored well – maybe a personal best round – and thought I finally have this game figured out, only to go out the next time and feel like you are starting all over.
Sometimes there are barriers to playing good golf – they could be physical barriers, emotional or even mental barriers that keep us from performing our best. They could also be things we can’t control like the weather, slow play or playing with unfamiliar playing partners.
· Physical barriers: Lack of sleep, proper nutrition and poor fitness all play factors in to helping you play your best golf. Help your golf game by getting enough sleep each night, eating a good diet with plenty of liquids to avoid dehydration and exercise every day.
· Emotional barriers: If you are a person who feels stress, or is impatient, not flexible or easily frustrated, be aware that these can prohibit you from playing good golf. Work on the positives of playing golf for fun and social reasons, don’t keep score and don’t focus on bad shots.
· Mental barriers: We have all heard that golf is a mental game. Maybe you don’t concentrate or take time to practice. Get into your golf zone by concentrating more when you are playing. Schedule time to practice – even if it’s only 30-minutes once a week. Practice your short game so you are more confident. You will soon look forward to your practice time away from your other duties.
· Weather: We all picture a perfect day on the course with blue sky, perfect temperatures, sunny weather and perhaps a slight breeze. However, what we encounter on the course can include all types of weather – cloudy, blustery temps, gusting wind, rain and sometimes even sleet or snow. Since the weather can change during your four hours on the course, be prepared for all elements. Keep rain gloves, a rain suit, rain hat, extra towels and an umbrella in your bag (or bring it along with you) if the weather looks threatening or if you are playing in an event where you have to play in the rain. If you are playing in extreme heat, drink plenty of water to keep you hydrated and stay in the shade as much as possible. The opposite is true if you are playing in the cold – walk as much as possible to help keep warm, dress in layers and be sure to wear a stocking cap or hat to keep the body heat from being lost.
· Slow Play: This is the number one reason most people site as a barrier from playing their best golf. While no one enjoy waiting for a slow group in front of them, you can be mindful of your own actions to not be a slow player in your own group. Get to you ball as quickly as possible, select your club, have your glove on and be ready to hit when it’s your turn. If you ride in a cart, select your club and walk to your ball (if safe) while others are playing. Try to create a pace of play that helps you settle in to your round and not one where you hurry and wait, hurry and wait, etc.
· Unfamiliar playing partners: Many times when playing in an event, you don’t have control over who you are paired with in your group. Some people will enjoy conversation and some people will barely talk with you. Recognize these differences and don’t allow it to bother your golf game.
Remember golf is a game and your ultimate goal should be to have fun on the course.
How many times have you hit a poor golf shot only to have your playing partners offer their instant advice on what you did wrong or what you need to do next time you hit? We refer to those people in your group as your “playing teacher or coach” when in fact they are offering you sometimes incorrect and certainly un-solicited advice. Here are some common myths about the golf swing:
· Keep your head down. Have you ever topped a shot and had your “playing teacher or coach” tell you the reason you topped your shot was because you didn’t keep your head down. The real reason people top a golf ball is they tend to try and hit the ball in the air and by doing that, they flip their wrist and keep their weight on their back foot.
· Set your posture over the golf ball like you are sitting on a bar stool. Many people think the set-up posture needs to feel like you are leaning back or resting on a bar stool, when the ideal set-up position should actually have you in an athletic position with the weight more on the balls of your feet. It allows the swing to transfer from the back foot to the forward foot during the golf swing, while keeping a good athletic balance.
· Keep your left arm straight. Keeping the left arm straight restricts the backswing and doesn’t allow a golfer to take a full swing. Watch the TOUR professionals on TV and you’ll notice they have a slight bend in the left (forward) arm at impact – it’s okay for you to as well.
· Swing hard to hit the ball farther. It would seem logical that if you want to hit farther, you need to swing harder. However, when most golfers try to swing hard, they end up throwing off their tempo and rhythm and of course, the swing speed. The key to generating more distance is to have more club head speed.
A good drill to practice to increase club head speed involves turning your driver over and taking some practice swings. Listen for the grip to make a “swoosh” sound when you swing. The swoosh means you are generating some club head speed by swinging through to the target, which in turn will help the golf ball travel farther.
Recognizing these myths and knowing how to overcome them will make you a better golfer and hopefully avoid the “free information” from your playing partners.
Most avid golfers pride themselves on knowing the Rules of Golf, yet many times golfers have a different interpretation of the Rules and how to handle a specific situation. Ron Kaspriske at GolfDigest.com shares a list of the 10 Most Misunderstood Rules and the correct ruling behind these myths.
1. MYTH: A golfer who is off the green must play a shot before a golfer who is on the green.
FACT: The player farthest from the hole, regardless of position, is always entitled to play first. So if a golfer has 50-foot putt while another golfer is facing a 5-yard chip, the golfer on the green is entitled to play first. Note, there is no penalty for playing out of order. However, in match play, you can be made to replay your shot by your opponent if you don’t wait your turn.
2. MYTH: A ball that is touched and falls off the tee after it has been addressed counts as a stroke.
FACT: In most cases, it doesn’t count as a stroke and the ball should be re-teed without penalty. It counts as a stroke if the ball already was in play (if you whiffed on your first attempt, for example), or if you were making a stroke at the time the ball fell off the tee.
3. MYTH: In a scramble or other team format, you can stand on or close to an extension of your partner’s line of putt while he makes a stroke.
FACT: No one on your side, including caddies, can intentionally stand on or close to an extension of the line of putt during a stroke. Intentionally is the key word. If someone on your side was standing there inadvertently, there would be no penalty.
4. MYTH: If you hit a ball into a water hazard, you can hit a provisional ball before going to search for the original.
FACT: If you’re virtually certain your ball is in a water hazard, you can’t hit a provisional. The next shot you hit is considered a ball in play (plus add a penalty stroke). If you hit a ball in a hazard, proceed under options for Rule 26. If you think your ball could possibly be outside the hazard, then you can hit the provisional. But if it turns out that your ball is in the hazard, you must abandon the provisional.
5. MYTH: If you hit a ball in a water hazard marked with yellow stakes or lines, you can always drop within two club-lengths of where the ball last crossed the hazard’s boundary.
FACT: Only hazards marked with red stakes or lines (lateral water hazard) allow you the option of dropping within two club-lengths, no closer to the hole. You have three options when a ball enters a hazard marked by yellow stakes or lines:
1. Play it as it lies.
2. Replay from the previous position.
3. Drop a ball outside the hazard behind the point where the ball last entered it, keeping that point directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped. There is no limit how far behind that point you can drop.
(The last two options come with a one-stroke penalty.)
6. MYTH: If your ball is unplayable, you’re entitled to a drop in a spot that gives you a “playable” lie.
FACT: You have three options (under penalty of one stroke) if you declare a ball unplayable:
1. Replay the previous shot.
2. Drop a ball behind the point where the ball lay, keeping that point directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit how far behind that point the ball may be dropped.
3. Drop within two club-lengths of the spot where the ball lay, no closer to the hole. Keep in mind that none of these options guarantee that you’ll be able to play from an unfettered position.
7. MYTH: You can either remove an out-of-bounds stake, or take relief from it or any fence/wall marking the course’s boundary.
FACT: You do not get relief from anything marking the course’s boundary. Play the ball as it lies or take an unplayable lie and proceed under those options (see previous myth/fact).
8. MYTH: You can’t have a ball marked off the green unless it interferes with your ball, stance or swing.
FACT: If you think another ball might interfere with your play of a hole, you can request it be marked and lifted. Note: A ball marked in this instance CAN’T be cleaned unless it’s on the putting green.
9. MYTH: If you can’t find your ball, you can go back to the tee and play a provisional ball.
FACT: A provisional must be played before you go up to look for your ball. If you go back and play another ball, your original is lost.
10. MYTH: When your ball, stance or swing is interfered with by a cart path (immovable obstruction), you always take relief on the side farthest away from the hole.
FACT: You have to locate the nearest spot off the cart path that allows you to stand and swing without interference and is not nearer the hole than the ball’s location. That spot could be on either side of the cart path depending on your ball’s position and the stroke you intend to make for your next shot. Once you determine where that spot is, you’re allowed to drop within one club-length of that spot, no closer to the hole.
Visit USGA.org for more answers to your Rules of Golf questions.
Whether you are in the market for a few new clubs or an entire set, you first need to think about set “composition.” This means thinking about which clubs you plan to put in your bag to get to your 14 club limit. The Rules of Golf allow you to carry up to 14 clubs in your bag and since most irons used to be sold in sets of eight irons, golfers often added a driver, 3-wood and 5-wood, pitching wedge, sand wedge and putter. Maybe that is what the “composition” of the 14 clubs in your bag look like.
As I’ve talked about in the past, I can’t stress enough the importance of getting fit for your golf clubs. Your local PGA/LPGA Professional or club fitter can help you determine your set composition as you go through a club fitting. Perhaps your set begins with a six iron through pitching wedge (5 irons), sand wedge and lob wedge, two or three hybrids, a driver and two fairway woods and a putter. You have the unique ability to determine your set composition based on the clubs you like and use.
Most female golfers struggle with hitting long irons, so I recommend ditching the 3, 4 and 5 irons and replacing them with easier to hit and more forgiving hybrids. Likewise, don’t limit yourself to just one wedge – have a minimum of two or three wedges with different lofts and bounce to help you hit different yardages and shots.
Most clubs have four to five degrees of difference in loft between each club. Each four to five degrees of loft will equate roughly to ten yards of distance on the golf course. Your goal in a club fitting is to eliminate the gaps in yardages, so you have different clubs to hit different distances. Maybe you feel like you currently hit your 7 iron the same distance as your 8 iron – have your club fitter check to see if they are different lofts. It may not be your golf swing, it could be the clubs are going the same distance.
Work with your PGA/LPGA Professional or club fitter to select from the following options to carry 14 clubs in your bag:
Metal Woods: Driver, 3-wood, 5-wood, 7-wood or even 9-wood (if you prefer woods to hybrids or irons, carry woods with different degrees of loft.)
Hybrids: These may be listed as numbers 4, 5 or 6 (since they typically replace the 4, 5, or 6 irons) or listed by their degree of loft:
Ø 3 hybrid = 19 degrees
Ø 4 hybrid = 22 degrees
Ø 5 hybrid = 26 degrees
Ø 6 hybrid = 30 degrees
Irons: Any combination of four to six irons (depending on number of fairway woods, hybrids and wedges)
Wedges: Have at least two or three wedges in your bag with different degrees of loft for both distance, close shots and bunker shots
Putter: Pick a putter that is comfortable for you (mallet style or blade) and make sure it is the proper length. If you choke down and have part of the club shaft above your hands when putting, the putter is too long. Remember, cutting down a putter will make it heavier, so make sure you like the style of the club head as well and it’s not too heavy.
The PGA of America was founded in April 2016 in the Martinique Hotel in New York City. The PGA is celebrating their Centennial in 2016 with a year-long schedule of activities and events to promote PGA Professionals as the experts in teaching the game of golf. The Centennial celebration kicked-off at the PGA Merchandise Show in January at Demo Day, with ceremonial tee shots by PGA Professionals from all 41 PGA Sections, along with junior golfers from participating PGA Junior League Golf teams. Now 100 days later, the PGA celebrates “National Instruction Day” on May 4, with Golf Channel airing an entire day of live instruction clinics nationwide to continue the Centennial celebration.
During the 100-day celebration, all 41 PGA Sections have been featured for their charitable, social or educational programs during PGA Section spotlights during Morning Drive on Golf Channel.
Watch the message below from PGA Secretary Suzy Whaley for more information.
Be sure to tune in to Golf Channel on Wednesday, May 4 for instruction hints from the nation’s top golf instructors. Check out the full schedule below:
WEDNESDAY, MAY 4: NATIONAL INSTRUCTION DAY SCHEDULE (All times ET)
7 – 10 a.m.
Golf Channel’s Morning Drive (Orlando, Fla.)
Special Guests: Pete Bevacqua, CEO, PGA of America (in-studio);
Blair O’Neal & Jeff Ritter (in-studio co-hosts for National Instruction Day)
10 – 11 a.m.
Baltusrol Golf Club (Springfield Township, N.J.)
Lead Instructor: Michael Breed
Guest Instructors: Lou Guzzi, Tom Henderson
Special Guest: Derek Sprague, President, PGA of America
11 – Noon
Ibis Golf & Country Club (West Palm Beach, Fla.)
Lead Instructor: Martin Hall
Guest Instructors: Jim McLean, Craig Harmon
Golf Channel Host: Sara Brown
2 – 3 p.m.
Keeton Park Golf Course (Dallas)
Lead Instructor: Cameron McCormick
Guest Instructors: Tony Martinez, Randy Smith
Golf Channel Host: Matt Adams
4 – 5 p.m.
Cog Hill Golf & Country Club (Lemont Township, Ill.)
Lead Instructor: Stan Utley
Guest Instructors: Todd Sones, Kevin Weeks
Golf Channel Host: Charlie Rymer
6 – 7 p.m.
Golf Channel’s Golf Central (Orlando, Fla.)
Special Guests: National Instruction Day instructors
7 – 8 p.m.
Fossil Trace Golf Club (Golden, Colo.)
Lead Instructor: Hank Haney
Guest Instructors: Trent Wearner, Sandy LaBauve
Golf Channel Host: Brian Crowell
8 – 9 p.m.
TPC Harding Park (San Francisco)
Lead Instructor: David Leadbetter
Guest Instructors: Suzy Whaley, Secretary, PGA of America; Josh Zander
Golf Channel Host: Lisa Cornwell
9 – 11 p.m.
Golf Channel Studio A (Orlando, Fla.)
Lead Instructors: Michael Breed, Martin Hall
Guest Instructors: Mike Bender, Cheryl Anderson
Whether you are gearing up for your club championship or the EWGA Championship, here are some important things to keep in mind as your prepare for competition.
• Play a practice round if possible, especially if it’s a new course for you. You will get a feel for any trouble on the course, can check out hazard locations and determine clubs for yardages on the par 3’s. Be sure to take notes on a spare scorecard – and make sure the notes are in your golf bag on the day of competition.
• Practice with your driver and putter. It’s great to have confidence going into a competition and the best way to maintain your confidence is to practice and feel comfortable with your driver and short game. You are likely to use the driver 12-14 times in a round so feeling good about your tee shot is important. Likewise, if you two putt every green, you use your putter for 36 (plus or minus) shots of your score. Confidence in your putter is a must.
• Plan your arrival time for the day of competition. Plan to be on the first tee 10-minutes prior to your tee time. Now work your schedule back from that tee time – allow 30-45 minutes for warm-up, allow 10-15 minutes to check-in, then allow travel time to the course (take traffic into consideration) and finally, allow time to eat prior to leaving for the course.
• Use warm-up time well. The warm-up time at the practice facility is just that – to help you warm-up. This is not the time to try something new with your swing, grip, stance, etc. Many players will warm-up with four or five clubs and only hit 5-10 balls with each club. Divide your practice balls into four or five piles – using one pile per club. Begin with a wedge or your shortest iron to loosen up, then hit some mid or long irons, some hybrids or fairway woods then finish with the driver. Some golfers like to end the warm-up session hitting the clubs they might use on the first hole (i.e. driver, 7 iron, wedge, etc.) Be sure to end with a good shot…this will help you take great confidence to the first tee.
• Short game warm-up. On the practice putting green, begin by trying to make five to ten 3’ putts. This will help build your confidence with making 3’ putts once you are on the course. You may hit a few lag putts (20’ – 30’) to get a feel for the speed on the greens – but remember some practice greens do not putt like the actual greens on the course. You may also hit some pitch shots and/or bunker shots, if a pitching green is available. Some courses do not allow golfers to pitch/chip to the practice putting green.
• Nerves and the pre-shot routine. It’s natural to be nervous on the first tee or even during the first few holes of a tournament. Relax by taking deep breaths and concentrating on your pre-shot routine. Keeping things the same with your swing and pre-shot routine will help calm you down and settle into your round. Don’t let a pre-shot routine slow your round down – be ready when it’s your turn and play “ready golf” if allowed.
• Eat well and stay hydrated. Be sure to start your round properly fueled – eat a good meal (don’t skip breakfast or lunch). Maintain your blood sugar by eating simple carbs, small snacks like nuts, fruit or other healthful snacks. Avoid complex carbs and sugar snacks. A general rule is to drink 16 oz. of water per hour and to begin by drinking water before playing. Avoid alcohol, soda, sports’ drinks and fruit juices.
• It’s just a game. Regardless of how you play or what score you shoot, remember it’s just a game. Like everyone else, you want to get the ball in the hole in the fewest number of strokes. Some days this is easy, other days golf becomes hard work. While we all want to play our best, remember golf is a game. Days, weeks and months later, no one will remember your score. Play golf to have fun and you will continue to love this great game – regardless of the outcome!
Hopefully you have registered to be part of the EWGA 25th Anniversary Celebration in Colonial Williamsburg April 22-24. It promises to enhance your love for the game – with a four-day focus on game improvement – both on and off the course. Here’s a sneak peek into some sessions during the conference:
· Pre-Conference Golf – options to play golf on Thursday and/or Friday before the 25th Anniversary Celebration begins on Friday afternoon. Formats available for all abilities of golfers from individual stroke play to team play and even the two-person team Par 3 Challenge event.
· Fuel Your Game – Seven LPGA Teaching Professionals hosting stations designed to give you hands-on instruction to “build your game” one swing at a time.
· Saturday morning conference golf offerings including a four person scramble, four-ball stroke play, two person scramble and four-ball match play. This is a great time to explore the new EWGA Four-Ball Open (four-ball stroke play) that will be introduced in 2017.
· Saturday evening Gala will honor Nancy Dofflemyer and Karla Harding with the Nancy Oliver Founders Award for their exceptional long-term volunteer leadership and service to the association. We will also present special guest LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Nancy Lopez with the EWGA Leadership Award – the highest award given by the EWGA to those who have made a longtime and outstanding contribution to women’s golf and whose dedication to the game has inspired others to follow in their footsteps. The keynote speaker will be Dawn Hudson, Executive Vice president and Chief Marketing Officer for the National Football League.
· Sunday morning Speed Learning Sessions – 20-minute sessions designed to help you implement golf instruction hints quickly to experience immediate game improvement.
· Sunday afternoon conference golf offerings including a four person scramble, two person 6/6/6 (changing the team format every six holes playing best ball/scramble/alternate shot), four ball match play or two person best ball.
It’s not too late to register to be part of the fun at the EWGA 25th Anniversary Celebration in Colonial Williamsburg April 22-24. We look forward to seeing you there!