ConnectingWomen

 

Balancing Etiquette with Pace of Play

Two women teammates compete in a 9-hole scramble

Having served as a tournament official various women’s golf events over the years, I observed instances that could have helped with the overall pace of play.  Most people don’t want to hold up play, but at the same time, they don’t want to play feeling rushed.  When you look at simple etiquette hints we all know, remember it becomes a key to pace of play - “being ready.”

When your group is on the teeing ground, make sure you have your glove, golf ball, tees and your club so you can hit.  Many times the three players stand to the side (or sit in the cart) and don’t get their club from the bag until it’s their turn – rather that doing that while another player is hitting.  As long as you are quiet, you can “get ready” while another player is hitting her shot.

In the fairway, we all know it’s okay to go to our ball and “get ready” while other players are hitting (as long as it’s safe).  This means when you ride a cart, it’s okay to walk over to your ball rather than waiting to drive to it or watching your playing partners go through their pre-shot routine and hit. 

On the putting green, good etiquette takes place when the first person to hole a putt is the player to put the flagstick back in the hole.  You can walk over to the flagstick and pick it up while player two and three are putting.  You should be holding the flagstick when player four hit the putt, so when the putt is holed, all you need to do is replace the flagstick.  The other two or three players can move toward the edge of the green so when all players have putted, you can quickly exit the green.

This may not seem like much, but it saves 30 seconds to a minute per hole – and that means you finish your round nine to 18 minutes quicker.  Now you’ve just saved time on the course without feeling rushed and will have more time to enjoy with your golf group in the clubhouse. 

 

Play Better in Competition

An EWGA Member escapes the bunker during the Ft. Lauderdale Chapter Championship

Whether you are gearing up for your Chapter championship, the upcoming District Championship or the club championship, here are some important things to keep in mind as your prepare for competition to help you play better:

  • 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(s) 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 foot putts.  This will help build your confidence with making putts from the three-foot distance once you are on the course.  You may hit a few lag putts (20 to 30 feet) 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 a practice putting green – so watch for any signs that indicate no chipping, etc.)
  • 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 you be calm 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 available.
  • 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 may be, 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 is hard work.  While we all want to play our best, it is a game and 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!

 

Take Advantage of USGA PLAY9™ Days

Play9 logo and USGA logo

For the fourth year in a row, the USGA is sponsoring and promoting PLAY9 Days across the United States.  This year, however, rather than focusing on a specific day, the USGA has designated the ninth day of each month as PLAY9 Day throughout the golf season.  (May 9, June 9, July 9, August 9, September 9 and October 9).

Launched in 2014, the USGA encourages golfers of all ages and abilities to take time to play 9 holes.  While many non-golfers state time and money as reasons they don’t play golf, this campaign is designed to encourage people to spend two hours on the golf course playing, rather than not playing at all.

New for 2017, all clubs are encouraged to support and promote PLAY9 days through the primary golf season between May and October.  Check out the USGA Toolkit for suggested PLAY9 activities and social media copy and images.

EWGA Foundation Board Member Jon Last from the Sports & Leisure Research Group shares a report with the USGA that states 60 percent of golfers perceive that 9-hole rounds are a great way to introduce non-golfers to the game.  It’s a great way to experience the game, without consuming large amounts of time to play or when time does not allow for an 18-hole round.

Some benefits of playing 9-holes include:

  • Less time commitment to play 9-holes than playing 18 holes
  • It helps new golfers learn the game’s fundamentals, Rules and etiquette in a less intimidating manner
  • Golfers may post nine-hole scores for handicap purposes
  • Nine-hole rounds may be more cost-effective than an 18-hole round

More than 30 percent of the public courses in the United States are nine-hole golf facilities and 90 percent of 18-hole public facilities offer rates to play 9-holes.  Building on the success from the first three years, the USGA hopes to increase awareness and have more facilities and golfers participate throughout the summer and fall months this year.  Golfers are encouraged to share their experiences on social media and post photos using the hashtag #PLAY9Golf.    

USGA Executive Director Mike Davis says, “What we love about PLAY9 is the opportunity to welcome more people – both recreational golfers and non-golfers alike – to enjoy the great game of golf.”

 
 
 
 
 
 

Meet EWGA CEO Jane Geddes

Newly appointed CEO Jane Geddes and her family

We are thrilled to have LPGA major champion and golf executive Jane Geddes join EWGA as our CEO. Jane is a 14-time winner worldwide, including two majors at the 1986 U.S. Women’s Open and the 1987 LPGA Championship. Following a successful career on the LPGA Tour, Jane earned a law degree from Stetson University, worked at LPGA headquarters, the WWE and most recently as the executive director with the International Association of Golf Administrators.

Let’s tour a quick 18 holes (questions) to meet our CEO, Jane Geddes.

 

 

  1. How did you get started in golf?

    My family moved to South Carolina from Long Island, New York when I was 16 and I was a bit unhappy with the move. I played a lot of other sports, but never golf. My mother saw an article in the Charleston newspaper talking about Beth Daniel winning her second U.S. Amateur and her teacher, Derek Hardy. My mom thought that maybe I would like to take golf lessons…my response to her was, “NO, I hate golf!” Needless to say, she ignored me, scheduled the lesson with Derek and the rest is history!

  2. When did you know golf would be your profession?

    I HOPED it would be my profession after my junior year in college at Florida State. Everyone thought I was crazy, except for my parents who always supported my decisions….thank goodness!

  3. What is your best memory from your years on the LPGA Tour?

    Winning the U.S. Open and LPGA Championship are my two best golf memories, but my best memory of the Tour will always be the friendships I made through the years. The women I played golf with were, and remain in my life, as family.

  4. What is your favorite golf club in your bag?

    My driver.

  5. Who are/were your role models/mentors?

    In golf - Beth Daniel was my role model and probably somewhat of a mentor early on especially since it was due to her that I even contemplated playing golf.

    At work – Mike Whan (LPGA Commissioner), Zayra Calderon (former Pres. and CEO of the Duramed Futures Tour), Libba Galloway(former LPGA General Counsel) and Carolyn Bivens (former LPGA Commissioner) who gave me my first job at the LPGA.

  6. What drives you or motivates you?

    I like a challenge….in golf it was succeeding on the LPGA Tour because no one thought I could. Outside of golf, it’s taking on challenges that require pulling people together to make a difference.

  7. Are there any unique experiences you’ve had that helped make you the leader you are now?

    My life has been one giant unique experience. I played on Tour for 20 years, left to finish school and go on to Law School, worked on the corporate side of golf and then moved on to work at the WWE…yes, World Wrestling Entertainment. I think my unique experiences in golf and the corporate world have provided amazing opportunities to learn to lead in a variety of different capacities.

  8. How can we continue to grow women’s golf?

    It has always been about awareness of opportunities. At the LPGA, it’s about awareness of the Tour, its players, etc. Outside the Tour, it’s about getting women interested in the game on THEIR terms. Women access the game in different ways than what we are used to with men. We must acknowledge those differences and create awareness around access to those opportunities.

  9. What can EWGA members do to impact golf locally?

    EWGA can impact golf locally by spreading the word about access to the game through the EWGA. More to come on that soon!!

  10. What advice would you offer for women in business, when it comes to golf?

    Doesn’t matter how you play…learn the rules of etiquette first, take lessons so you get the fundamentals, know how to “talk the game” on a basic level while on the course and know that you are most likely just as good as your male colleagues…the only difference is that they won’t admit it!

  11. Who is in your dream foursome? (living or not)

    I have played with so many great people in the world that I am not sure I have a dream foursome. If I could turn back time, however, my dream foursome would include my Mom, Dad and my wife Gigi somewhere out on the Monterey peninsula.

  12. What is your favorite food?

    Skirt steak with Chimichurri sauce.

  13. Where is your favorite place to vacation?

    For places I have been lately, it the BVIs on a boat. Otherwise, I like going places with my kids where they can have an amazing educational experience.

  14. Do you have any pets in your family?

    We are first time cat owners….and I am not going to justify it by saying that my cat is just like a dog. Our cat is a cat….an awesome cat but a cat, nonetheless!

  15. Your spouse is a former professional tennis player and two time Olympic gold medalist. Do you play tennis and if so, is it competitive or for fun?

    Yes, I do play tennis….for fun and competitively. I played tennis when I was in my teens (before playing golf) and took it up again a couple years ago. I play to a 4.0 level which in golf would be like a middle-teen handicap. I play in USTA leagues on the competitive side and participate Gigi’s teaching clinics.

  16. What is your best memory or funny story you can share about being the mother of twins?

    Every day is a new memory…sounds cliché but true. As far as a funny memory, it’s when they were infants and we had to keep a notebook on when we fed them because, even though it seems unlikely, they were not always hungry at the same time or ate the same amount so we had to keep track of each. Gigi was meticulous at keeping the records and I was, well….not as meticulous with my exact amounts of formula, etc. We called her the “Formula-Nazi” for that period of time! We still have the notebook….we always have a story that we reminisce about when we open it.

  17. You are preparing for an upcoming Legends Tour event in Wisconsin – what do you focus on as you prepare for competition? (Sandra Palmer once said she starts practicing five days before the event!)

    I don’t practice at all…my theory is that if I am not playing all the time, I operate on the law of diminishing returns. My best days are my first few and it’s downhill from there! I was never a big practicer…just ask my friends. So, this should surprise no one who knows me!

  18. What are you most looking forward to as CEO of the EWGA?

    I am looking forward the challenge to continue to grow the women’s game. It’s where I spent most of my life, so I am very much looking forward to giving back by creating awareness and opportunities for women that play the game and for those who will play in the future.

 
 

Celebrate National Golf Day on Capitol Hill

National Golf Day celebrates the economic impact of golf in the United States

WE ARE GOLF, a coalition of the game's leading associations and industry partners, returns to Capitol Hill for the 10th annual National Golf Day tomorrow, Wednesday, April 26.  During the day, leaders from many associations representing the golf industry meet with Members of Congress to discuss the game’s tax benefits to local communities and ask for equal treatment as a legitimate industry. 

The national economic impact from the game is nearly $70 billion, with a $4 billion annual charitable impact along with providing both environmental and fitness benefits.  Industry leaders continue to report on golf’s 15,204 facilities in the U.S., with more than 10,000 facilities open to the public.  One in 75 U.S. jobs is impacted by the golf industry, accounting for $55.6 billion wage income from about two million U.S. jobs.  While the public believes the cost to play golf is expensive, WE ARE GOLF reports the median green fee in the U.S. is $37 and eight out of 10 golfers play at public golf facilities.   

New for 2017, golf industry leaders will participate in a community service initiative on the national Mall to focus on the beautification, preservation and helping the National park Service with turf-deferred maintenance.

In 2016, National Golf Day was the most successful event to date, with members attending more than 120 scheduled Congressional meetings in one day.  WE ARE GOLF encourages golfers to participate in the annual social media campaign to help create awareness and spread the good news about golf.  Last year the #NGD16 Twitter campaign had 52 million impressions and reached 17.7 million accounts, with 4.4 million users in a one-hour span.

Golfers are encouraged to join the conversation by visiting the social media hub for suggested Tweets and social media posts.  Use #NGD17 and tag @wearegolf for Twitter and Instagram to show your support for the golf industry. 

 

Short Game Essentials

Practice your short game to improve your scores.

The quickest way to see immediate improvement in your golf scores is to practice the short game.  Golfers know this and yet most people don’t practice chipping, pitching, bunker shots or putting like they should.  The general rule of thumb is to practice 50 percent of the time on these areas.  

Part of practicing the short game is to know the difference between a chip shot and a pitch shot and when to use them.  For a chip shot, the ball stays low to the ground so it’s a great shot when you want to land the ball on the green and have it roll to the hole.

To hit a chip shot, use a wedge or short iron and play the ball closer to your back foot (right foot for right-handed golfers, left foot for left-handed golfers).  You want your weight more on your front foot with your club shaft and hands pressed slightly forward.  Make a short back and through motion and you will feel the ball “pop” off the clubface.  The back of your lead hand (left hand for right-handed players) finishes toward your target.  The club head stays below your hands and finishes low to the ground.

Here are some Chipping secrets:

  • Weight forward
  • Ball back of center in stance
  • Club selection - not as much loft (pitch shots have more loft)
  • Small motion, like sweeping in a dust pan (swing motion wouldn’t go in pan)
  • Club runs into the ball
  • Back of lead hand must finish first (flat wrist)
  • Club head finishes low to the ground
  • Ball has low trajectory

Learn and own a 50-yard shot – it’s imperative for women to get great at it.  You will be amazed how the increased confidence will carry over to other areas of your swing and game.  Even if you play with golfers who hit the ball farther than you do, once you get comfortable with the 50-yard shot, you will score better with your new and improved short game.

To escape from the bunker in one shot, use a sand wedge or lofted club with some bounce.  (Bounce is an angle measurement in degrees, of how much the sole of the club head lifts the leading edge.)  Bounce is what helps the club glide through the sand to help get the ball up and out of the bunker.  Start by opening your stance so you are lined up just left of your intended target and have your weight on your forward foot.  (Just like when hitting a pitch shot, this helps you avoid the tendency to want to “lift” the ball out of the bunker. 

Open the clubface and swing out to in through the sand, hitting about an inch or two behind the ball.  Be sure to accelerate through the swing and follow-through to the target.  Many times golfers stop swinging at the ball as soon as they hit the sand.  The key to getting the ball out on the first attempt is to swing to the target.  By hitting behind the ball, the sand forces the ball out of the bunker – the club head never really hits the ball.

Practice these short game shots and you will have increased confidence and lower scores.

 

Manage Your Game By What You Measure

Golf scorecard with pencil

We’ve all heard the best way to lower your score is to practice your short game – where you can save valuable strokes by chipping the ball close to the hole or by avoiding the dreaded three-putt.  Yet another way to improve your golf game and lower your score is to keep track of your stats.

Studies show the best way to make a difference in your score is to hit greens in regulation (GIR), however, due to the length of most golf courses, this is a tough feat for many women.  Greens in regulation for women don’t have to be the same as men…so maybe your personal goal is to reach the green in three shots on a par 4 vs. two shots.  Keep track on your scorecard how many strokes it takes you to reach the green and look for a pattern (or consistent number of shots to reach the green).  If you feel like you are always hitting a chip shot to the green, you could take one more club to try to reach the green and not end up chipping on, if your previous shot was short of the green. 

Another important stat to record on your score card is the number of putts.  Many golfers keep track of putts for little side-bet games but pay close attention to your putting stats.  You should try to finish an 18-hole round with fewer than 36 putts.  If you are in the 37-40 range on a regular basis, take time to practice your putting and get rid of the three-putts.  Golf Digest reports that a typical golfer who shoots 95, averages 37 putts a round while a typical Professional who shoots 71, averages 29 putts.  To break 90, you need to have 34 putts per round and to break 80, get to 31 or 32 putts per round.

If you think about it, greens in regulation and putts account for most golfers ups and downs in their game.  If you struggle getting from the tee to the green, great putting can help you immensely. 

An easy way to track your stats on your scorecard is to circle the hole number on the scorecard when you hit a green in regulation.  Another way is to make an X in the box below your score when you hit a GIR.  Simply add up the circles or X’s to determine how many greens you hit.  Increase that GIR goal each time you play and watch how the results track over your four or five next rounds.  For putting, since your goal is two putts per green, I like to record only one-putts or three-putts (no sense writing all those 2’s on the card).  Total your putts after each round and see how GIR and putting help lower your score.

You can track and record any number of other shots as well.  Some people like to track hitting fairways with their tee shot.  Assuming there are four par 3’s during the round, you can track how many fairways you hit out of a possible 14 tee shots.  Also keep track of the par 3’s you hit in regulation and try to score 3’s and 4’s on every par 3. 

When you finish a round, you can create a spreadsheet to record the stats from each round.  Keeping track of your stats is the best way to see what areas of your game need more concentration and practice.  By tracking your stats, you can note your progress to an improved game and lower scores.

 

Talk Like The Pros: Masters Edition

For many, the Masters Tournament marks the unofficial start of the golf season.

The Masters Tournament is the first of the four major championships in men’s professional golf.  While the other three majors are played on a different venue each year, the Masters is held at the same location every year.  Augusta National Golf Club, a private club in Augusta, Georgia has hosted the event for 83 years.  While the tickets are not expensive, they are the most difficult sporting ticket to obtain.  Practice round tickets are available every year for Monday through Wednesday, but the actual Tournament Badges for Thursday through Sunday have been sold out for years.  Many corporations and individuals offer their tickets for sale every year, much to the delight of people who have attending the Masters at the top of their “bucket list.”

People watching the Masters have all heard CBS Analyst Jim Nantz’ famous line “It’s a tradition unlike any other.”  Here are some of those great Masters traditions…   

Here are some of the best traditions and some trivia from the Masters to share with your friends as you are viewing the broadcast this week:

  • Magnolia Lane – the 300-yard tree lined entrance to Augusta National.  There are 61 Magnolia trees – more than 150 years old – that form an archway down the road to the clubhouse.  Whether a TOUR player is playing in his first or 20th Masters, many describe getting chills when driving down Magnolia Lane.
  • Founders Circle – the flower garden shaped like the Masters logo outside the clubhouse at the end of Magnolia Lane.  At Founders Circle patrons line up for a photograph next to the famous flower garden.
  • Azaleas – more than 30 varieties are planted on the grounds and are typically in bloom every spring for the tournament.  This year however, the Azaleas bloomed early in March.
  • The Champions’ Dinner – held on Tuesday night of the tournament with the current champion hosting all the past champions for dinner in the clubhouse.  The current champion selects the menu for the evening – many times featuring food unique to their home state/country or simply their favorite food.
  • Skipping golf balls on the 16th hole – it’s a practice round tradition for players to intentionally skip golf balls across the water hazard on the Par 3 16th hole – sometimes even for a hole-in-one.
  • The Par 3 Contest – a fun, casual event held on Wednesday afternoon on the par 27 short course.  Players take advantage of the casual, fun event by having their spouses or kids caddy and even hit shots for them.  The event has become so popular it is now a televised on Wednesday afternoon.  There are usually multiple hole-in-ones plus a crystal trophy presented to the low scorer.  Many players will not putt-out or post a score as it is considered bad luck to win the Par 3 event since no Par 3 winner has ever won the Masters in the same year.
  • Ceremonial Tee Shot – prior to the start of the event on Thursday morning there is a ceremonial tee shot by honorary starters – players who are no longer competing.  This tradition started in 1963 by Jock Hutchinson and has included Byron Nelson, Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus.
  • Amen Corner – the most famous three holes in golf are Augusta National par 4 11th (505 yards downhill with a pond on the left side), par 3 12th (crosses Rae’s Creek to a narrow green) and par 5 13th (510 yard dogleg left that crosses Rae’s Creek twice).  The phrase was coined by golf historian Herbert Warren Wind feeling that if a player on Sunday can navigate those three holes without making a mistake, he can sigh and think “Amen.”
  • Pimento Cheese Sandwiches – a staple tournament favorite made from pimento cheese and mayonnaise served on soft white bread in a green sandwich bag for $1.50.  Food prices have stayed consistent for decades and it’s been said you can eat everything on the menu for less than $30.
  • Caddie Bib – the Caddies are required to wear a white jumpsuit, a green Masters Cap and white tennis shoes.  The number on the left pocket of the jumpsuit is important - Number 1 is reserved for the defending champion with the other numbers indicating when players registered for the tournament.
  • Green Jacket – the ultimate prize in golf – the Green Jacket.  In 1937 members began wearing green blazers to identify themselves as guides, should patrons need information.  In 1949, the club started awarding a green jacket to the tournament champion that is presented by the previous year champion on the 18thgreen as well as in Butler Cabin.  The green jacket is allowed off-property only by the current champion and is then returned to the club house one year after the victory, to be worn anytime the player is on the grounds.  The tournament has had three players win consecutively – Jack Nicklaus in 1965 & 1966, Nick Faldo 1989 & 1990 and Tiger Woods in 2001 & 2002 – when there is a consecutive champion, the Chairman presents the green jacket.
  • Special terms used at Augusta National:
    • The people viewing the tournament are patrons (not spectators or gallery)
    • To enter the event, you need a badge (not a ticket)
    • Holes 1-9 are the first nine and holes 10-18 are the second nine (not front nine and back nine)
  • All buildings, garbage bags, even sandwich bags and drink cups are “Masters green” so they “blend in” and don’t distract television viewers.

With years of tradition and the first men’s major of the year, many golfers feel spring has officially arrived when they watch the Masters Tournament.  Who will 2016 Champion Danny Willet slip the Green Jacket on this year?

 

Watch the 2017 Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals

Now in its fifth season, the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship is a free nationwide junior golf development competition aimed at growing the game by focusing on three fundamental skills (driving, chipping and putting) used in golf.  It is a joint initiative founded by the Masters Tournament, The PGA of America and the United States Golf Association (USGA).

The competition is open for girls and boys ages 7-15 and provides an opportunity for junior golfers to compete with other qualifiers nationwide.  Local qualifying takes place at 268 sites in all 50 states from May to August and attracts nearly 200 golfers at each site.  The top three golfers in each age group advance to one of 53 sites for the sub-regional competition held in July and August.  Again the top three golfers in each age group advance to the regional competition that takes place at 10 sites in August and September.  The top boys and girls in each age category (40 boys and 40 girls) advance to the National Finals, which takes place at Augusta National Golf Club the Sunday before the Masters Tournament the following April.

Each participant competes in the three skills (Drive, Chip and Putt) and accumulates points for each skill.  Each participant gets three shots in each skill with each shot worth 25 points for a maximum of 75 points per skill.  For Driving, a shot must finish in the 40-yard wide fairway to accumulate points (with more points awarded for distance from 25 to 300 yards).  For the Chipping skill, each participant hits three 10-15 yard shots at the hole, with scoring rings determining the points earned.  The Putting skill involves the participant attempting one putt from 6 feet, 15 feet and 30 feet, with scoring rings determining the points earned.  The champion in each of the four age categories is the person earning the highest number of accumulated points for all three skills.  

Be sure to tune in to Golf Channel to watch the 2017 Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals broadcast live on Sunday, April 2 at 8am EDT from Augusta National Golf Club.

Click here to find a local qualifier near you for the 2018 Drive, Chip and Putt Championship and help a young woman in your life fall in love with golf.

 

How to Get Your "Touch" Back

Touch around the green will help you improve your scoring opportunities.

If you’ve had time away from your golf game due to weather, work, an illness or injury, you are likely excited to get back to golf. Many players who return for the first time will comment they are “knocking the rust off” their swing or their game. So how do you get your touch back and quickly get into your golf groove?

Work on getting comfortable with the feel of the golf club. If you are inside, practice your grip and waggle the club from side-to-side until you “feel” the weight of the club head in your hands. This is a great drill to get the feel back in your hands. Also work on grip pressure – be careful to not grip the club too tightly. You want the same grip pressure or tension as you have on the steering wheel of your car…holding the club too tightly causes tension in your forearms and prohibits a good golf swing.

Next step is to practice some putts (may be done inside to a small target) or on the practice green. Your focus is on distance control more than accuracy. Again, get a feel for the stroke and rolling the golf ball. If you are practicing outside, start with short three foot putts and gradually move back (one putter length or three feet each time) until you are 20’ to 30’ away. Continue to focus on distance rather than trying to make the ball in the hole. Move to chipping, pitching and bunker shots to help get a feel for those short game shots. Your target area should be a three foot area near the hole – so people will lay a towel down on the green and use that as a target as well.

Finally, don’t forget to get your body ready for golf as well. Stretch and condition your body for the upcoming golf season including your legs and feet. Perform some exercises so your body is ready for that first round on the course. If you prefer to walk when playing golf, get out and walk prior to playing the first time. Make sure you have comfortable golf shoes when walking the course as well. As always, consult your physician before beginning any stretching program and know your limitations. By getting your touch back, you’ll be ready when you step up to the first tee.

 

How to Practice Effectively

Make effective use of your time on the practice range with these tips.

Most golfers would rather play golf than practice, however, when you look at the time element of playing vs. practicing, you can accomplish much more in an hour of practice, than you can in two to four hours of playing.  That said, most golfers don’t really know how to practice effectively and simply go to the practice facility and hit golf ball after golf ball until the bucket is empty.  Let’s take a look at how to practice effectively that will best help your game.

  1. Practice a specific skill – many people think practicing involves beating balls at the practice facility and often times fail to spend time practicing their short game (pitching, chipping, bunker play and putting.)  If you are struggling with a specific part of your game (off the tee, fairway, approach shots or putting) or particular club (driver, fairway woods, hybrids, mid-irons or short irons) take time to practice and gain confidence again.
     
  2. Set goals for practice – rather than just hitting endless golf balls, begin your practice session with a specific goal (to hit your 7 iron at the 100 yard flag well for seven out of 10 golf balls.)  This gives you a measurable goal that helps you determine how effective the practice session is going for you.  Many times golfers hit ball after ball without a specific target or goal in mind and judge the “effectiveness” of the shot by whether it went in the air or went straight.  You will be happier with goals that you can measure and achieve.
     
  3. Create a plan – this goes with setting goals for practice.  Once you determine a club or skill to practice and have goals for practice, you can create a plan that helps you meet your goals.  Create situations that you might find on the golf course.  Do you really hit five hybrid shots in a row on the course?  Then why do golfers hit 10-15 shots in a row with one club at the practice range?  Practice like you are playing a few of your favorite holes – hit a driver, then a hybrid and a short iron and strive for three good shots in a row.  This will help your confidence and easily transition your good practice time to the golf course.
     
  4. Measure results – now that you have specific goals and a plan to achieve those goals, it’s time to evaluate how your practice session ended.  Keep a record of your goals and how your practice session was so you can make changes and revise the goals.  This will help you recognize what you may wish to concentrate on during the next practice session.  Don’t get discouraged if your practice didn’t go as well as planned – this allows you to concentrate on a trouble-some area next time. 

Golfers who dedicate time for practice quickly learn their strengths and weaknesses.  By practicing effectively you will soon see the benefits from your good practice habits on the golf course.

Focus on Your Fundamentals

Focus on the fundamentals, including the grip, as you restart your season

If your golf season has been hampered by winter weather, no doubt you are excited to get back out on the golf course.  Start by looking at and reviewing your fundamentals before you head to the practice facility or for that first round of the season.  Reviewing and practicing your fundamentals is the best way to improve.

Posture – how you stand to address the golf ball is important in your golf swing.  It determines the path of the club so it’s important to work on your posture (even without a golf club.)  You can work on your posture inside, outside, at the gym, the office or wherever you are comfortable.  Stand with a slight bend in your knees (so you can see the laces in your shoes – with a slight knee flex.)  With your arms hanging at your side, place your hands just above your knees.  This creates a perfect position for your golf posture – now let your arms hang again – move them in front of you like you are gripping a club.  Practice this a few times a day and when you head out to play, you will feel comfortable and have great posture.  

Grip – how you hold the club in your hand.  As Ben Hogan once said, “Good golf begins with a good grip.”  The grip choice (interlock, overlap or baseball) is personal preference but reviewing the basic fundamentals will help.  Take your normal grip and check to see if your right hand covers your left thumb (for a right-handed player).  A favorite drill of mine is to take two golf tees and put one in each hand, right between your thumb and index finger.  Then take your grip and see if the golf tees line up or are pointed in opposite directions.  Ideally you want the golf tees lined up, so work on adjusting your hands on the club until they line up with the shaft of the club.    

Aim – lining your body and club to the desired target.  Get in the habit of standing behind your ball and looking at your target.  Then pick a spot (grass, divot, broken tee, discolored grass or weed, etc.) that is about a foot in front of the ball.  As you take your stance, aim the clubface at the spot, then align your body with the clubface.  This is a great pre-shot routine that can be used with every swing and will help you line up toward your target and not setting up to the right or left.  Most amateur golfers tend to line up to the right of their intended target but think they are fading or slicing the ball to the right, when in fact are hitting it straight, but just lining up incorrectly.  Practicing with an alignment rod (or a golf club) at your feet helps with aim. 

Ball Position – where the ball is in your stance.  There are two locations for ball position – moving the ball forward and back in your stance and how close or far the ball is from your body.  Most Professionals will teach ball position for the driver and woods as being just inside the heel of your forward foot.  As you move to irons, it’s usually accepted to play irons from the middle of your stance or where the golf club is at the lowest point of the swing.  As far as how close to stand to the golf ball, a simple check-point is to take your grip with the club and hold your golf club straight in front of your body (parallel to the ground.)  Now move back to your set-up position and where the club makes contact with the ground is where the ball should be in your stance.  As the club length increases, you will stand a bit farther from the ball. 

Practice your golf fundamentals so they become comfortable and you’ll be on your way to hitting better shots and lowering your scores.