Saturday, March 28, 2009

Course Management Tips

“One of the worst mistakes you can make in golf is trying to force the game.”
-Jack Nicklaus

• When teeing off, use approximately 85% of your full power for better accuracy. Swing with enough force to hit the ball a sufficient distance, but keep your swing in control and maintain your balance. Hitting the fairway is the first step to making a good score on the hole.

• For approach shots, aim at the middle of the green, regardless of where the pin is located. Doing this will help you hit more greens over the long-term.

• When the pin is on the far left or far right of the green, be wary of short siding yourself. This is when you aim directly at a pin, miss the green on the short side, and leave yourself a difficult chip or pitch without much green to work with.

• If you are a more advanced player, you may be able to control the shape of your shots as well as the trajectory. If this is the case, when the pin is located on the front of the green, play a high shot. If the pin is located on the back of the green, play a lower shot and have the ball run up to the cup. When the pin is right, start the ball at the middle of the green and fade it into the flag. When the pin is left, start the ball at the middle of the green, and draw it into the flag.

• Again, if you are advanced, try to hit the proper side of the fairway with your tee shots. For instance, on a par 4, let’s say the pin is on the far left of the green. You will want to aim for the right side of the fairway with your tee shot, giving you the best angle to the pin with your approach shot.

• When questionable shots arise, always assess the risk and reward of the shot.

• When playing on fast greens, try and leave the ball below the hole with your approach shots. This way, you will have uphill putts in which you can be more aggressive.

• Stay within your comfort zone on the course. Don’t attempt crazy shots that you have never practiced before, unless you are willing to accept the risk.

• If you get into trouble, play the smart shot back to the fairway. This way, it may only cost you one stroke. If you go for a shot with long odds, you may end up in a worse spot and put up a high number on the hole.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Improve Your Swing With A Mirror

An excellent tool to use for improving your swing is a full length mirror. Set up with a club and view yourself from the front view, side view, and back view. The main fundamentals to always focus on first will be your grip, posture, ball position, and alignment. The mirror is perfect for checking your set up and posture. Since I don’t have any professional pictures posted, look in any golf magazine and copy the posture of the pros at set up position.

Swing slowly and make sure your club is in the proper position at different points of your swing. Check to make sure the club is not going past parallel and that the club is pointing towards your target line at the top of your backswing. Make sure you are able to keep your balance throughout your swing and maintain balance in the finishing position.

The mirror can especially be beneficial if you are trying to make specific swing changes such as shortening your backswing or swinging on a more inside – out path. If you don’t have an instructor to watch every swing or you’re not using periodic video analysis, the next best thing is a full length mirror. This is the only way to watch yourself and make sure you’re getting the club in the proper position. Focus on one swing change at a time and work on it over and over in the mirror until it becomes a natural part of your swing. Once the first change has become ingrained into your swing, move onto the next change.

If you don’t already have a large mirror, purchase one for your basement or garage. If you belong to a gym, there are usually mirrors in the studio or group exercise room and this is a great place to work on your swing. Overall, using a full length mirror is one of the best tools to use for improving your swing, and can be great for working on your swing throughout the winter.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


This story is for any golfers who feel that water, bunkers, rough, and trees are tough hazards to deal with on the golf course.

I used to be a caddy at Columbia CC in Maryland. The caddyshack was filled with a wide variety of caddies of all ages, races, and personalities. One caddy was from Africa, and he caddied in his home country before coming to America. He used to tell us stories about the "hazards" on the golf course in his own country.

Before he began, I immediately thought to myself about lions, tigers, leopards, packs of hyenas, and other wildlife that would enjoy eating any stray golfer. I was wrong however, and he said by far and away, the caddies were most fearful of the black mamba, which is supposedly the fastest, meanest, and most deadly snake in the world. No caddy would ever want to go in the woods to look for a wayward shot.

He said it was not uncommon to see caddies sprinting full speed out of the woods screaming and being chased by a mamba. I decided to do a little research on the mamba and here are some of the details:

Black Mamba Profile
Black mambas are fast, nervous, lethally venomous, and when threatened, highly aggressive. They have been blamed for numerous human deaths, and African myths exaggerate their capabilities to legendary proportions. For these reasons, the black mamba is widely considered the world’s deadliest snake. Black mambas live in the savannas and rocky hills of southern and eastern Africa. They are Africa’s longest venomous snake, reaching up to 14 feet in length. They are also among the fastest snakes in the world, slithering at speeds of up to 12.5 miles per hour. Black mambas are shy and will almost always seek to escape when confronted. However, when cornered, these snakes will raise their heads, sometimes with a third of their body off the ground, spread their cobra-like neck-flap, open their black mouths and hiss. If an attacker persists, the mamba will strike not once, but repeatedly, injecting large amounts of potent neuro- and cardiotoxin with each strike. Before the advent of black mamba antivenin, a bite from this fearsome serpent was 100 percent fatal, usually within about 20 minutes. Unfortunately, antivenin is still not widely available in the rural parts of the mamba’s range, and mamba-related deaths remain frequent.

Sounds like a wonderful house pet!

Anyway, if you ever happen to play golf in Africa, make sure to bring your antivenin, and seriously, don't make your caddy go into the woods.

Caddyshack Scene of the Week - 5

Friday, March 13, 2009

"The 20th Hole" Now Available

My new book "The 20th Hole - Stat Book and Log for Golfers", is now available through several online locations. It can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Target.

In the near future, I will have a book website up and running with a full description of the contents and features of the book.

Please contact me directly with any questions.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The "Tiger Day" Experiment

After hearing a description of a “Tiger Day”, I knew I had to try it for myself. According to Hank Haney, Tiger’s coach, a “Tiger Day” is what Tiger does for his practice days. Basically, he works out at the gym early in the morning, and then spends the rest of the day playing and practicing.

This past Monday was the day. Here is a look at my schedule.

6:45 – 8:00 Worked out at gym
10:00 – 1:00 Hit balls at the range
1:00 – 2:00 Lunch
2:00 – 2:30 Putting practice
2:30 – 3:30 Chipping/Pitching practice
3:30 – 7:00 Played 18 holes
7:00 – 7:30 Bunker practice

All in all, it was fun and I definitely plan on doing it again, only next time, I will make it even longer. I highly recommend the “Tiger Day” to anyone looking to gear up for the upcoming season.

**Please Note**

“Tiger Day” does not come with a billion dollar bank account, Swedish supermodel wife, 40 million dollar estate, yacht, and everything else in the world that would be cool. However, if you practice like this approximately 5 days a week for about 10 straight years, you might just get there.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Friday, March 6, 2009

Planning "Tiger Day"

This past Monday night, the premiere of "The Haney Project" was on the golf channel. This is a reality show in which Hank Haney, the swing coach for Tiger Woods, takes on the challenge of working with Charles Barkley, who has arguably the worst golf swing in world history. Apparently, he will be working with Barkley over the course of several months in order to help him improve his game.

During the show, Haney describes to Barkley what a "Tiger Day" is like. Basically, he asked Barkley if he was willing to put in the time and effort like Tiger does. Haney said that Tiger begins working out at around 6am for two hours. He then hits at the range for about 2 hours, putts, works on short game, and then plays 9 holes. He then hits at the range again, more putts, more short game, and then plays another 9 holes. He basically keeps this up until around 6pm. For anyone who practices a lot, you know that this type of routine is no joke.

Watching the show motivated me to put in some serious practice. Usually with my schedule, my practice sessions are around 2-3 hours if I'm lucky. However, I've decided I'm going to find at least one day soon in which I'm going to practice the entire day. I've never hit 1000 balls in a day before but I'm interested in finding out how my body will feel after it. Should be fun and I'll report all the results.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

New Teaching Concept - The 6 Week Golf Lesson

This is a recent article from the Irish Independent about a new teaching program specialized for beginners. This program was devised by one of my USGTF teaching colleagues named Pat Trainor.

WANT to know the secret of teenage sensation Rory McIlroy's success? It can be summed up in three words -- good, basic fundamentals.

This may not be something ordinary golfers expect to hear, given that the instruction market is deluged with many complicated theories and notions, and 'magic moves' and 'secrets of the game'.

Michael Bannon, who has coached the 19-year-old Dubai Desert Classic winner since he was an eight-year-old, taught McIlroy the essential elements of grip, stance, posture and alignment from the beginning.

He said: "Whether it's Rory or any of the best players, you are always working on some part of the basic structure of a good swing.

"He was up with me a few days before he went out to Abu Dhabi, and we had a couple of sessions.

"We worked on making sure his rotation was good and that he wasn't swaying off the ball, and making sure he could shape his shots both ways, left to right and right to left, because you had to be able to do that on the courses he was going to play.

"His swing was in very good shape in Dubai but even though he won, he's still not on his total 'A' game.


"Rory can be even better than he showed, so there's plenty more to come from him."

Bannon was the pro at Hollywood golf club when Rory's dad Gerry, the club steward, began bringing the then-three-year-old to hit balls with a plastic set of clubs.

Once he began taking formal lessons with Bannon, who is now the professional at Bangor, McIlroy showed a thirst for knowledge and a dedication to improvement that has made the most of his innate talent.

Bannon preaches the virtue of the proper swing fundamentals, and is now endorsing a revolutionary new teaching product.

It was devised by Warrenpoint's Pat Trainor, father of South County's Barrie Trainor, who won the Irish Assistants' Championship in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Aimed at beginners, but also a very good aid for any player keen to re-visit the basics, it's called 'The 6 Week Golf Lesson' and it is available for download at

The theory behind the simple system is based on two ideas: (a) that for most beginners and early learners, the ball is a total distraction and source of tension, and (b) that if you learn to set yourself up properly and make the right moves, the swing becomes more efficient, leading to greater enjoyment of the game.

This is how it works. First, you enter the internet site mentioned above, and purchase the product. It costs only £29.00 (€32.10). Once you are registered, your lessons will download once a week for the six weeks. You practice each segment as described and illustrated by excellent computer graphics for between five and 10 minutes a day.

By the end of six weeks you have a grasp of the swing, you have programmed the muscle memory and by the time you head out on the fairway to hit balls, you have a really good idea of what you should be doing. The product then stays on your computer for reference whenever you wish.

Bannon said: "If people are patient they will get a lot from this product. I like the concept. It's about making the right movements and reaching the proper positions in the golf swing."

Pat Trainor, who has owned a driving range at Warrenpoint for over 20 years, said: "I noticed over the years at the driving range that many people didn't change things that were wrong because they were so obsessed with hitting golf balls.

"I thought there must be a way to take away the tension caused by trying to hit a golf ball and to put their attention on doing what's right, so that the ball just gets swept away by the club as the golfer swings smoothly and properly. We've seen people make some great improvements over a six-week period and we feel this is something new that will help golfers."

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Book Review - The Match

Since the PGA tour is currently holding the world match play championship, I thought it would be a good time to discuss the book "The Match - The Day the Game of Golf Changed Forever" by Mark Frost.

Here is a brief synopsis:

"The Match" occurred in 1956 and was developed through a bet by two millionaires named Eddie Lowery and George Coleman. If you have ever seen the movie "The Greatest Game Ever Played" Eddie Lowery was the 10 year old caddy for Francis Ouimet when he won the 1913 U.S. Open as a 20 year old amateur.

Years later, at a celebrity/charity golf event, Lowery begins boasting that his two top amateur golfers Ken Venturi (who went on the win the U.S. Open) and Harvie Ward (an unbelievable talent who also enjoyed partying), can beat any two players in the world. George Coleman then makes a few calls and immediately recruits Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan, two of the greatest players in history, who happen to be at the tournament for the week.

At this point in time, the two upcoming amateurs were at the top of their games, while Nelson and Hogan's careers were winding down. Without giving the details, let's just say "The Match" was pretty unbelievable. It occurred at Cyprus Point in California, was a back and forth battle all day, and all four of them went low.

The book provides an excellent description of the match that occurred that day, while at the same time discusses each player’s story, how they arrived at that point in time, and what they went on to in the future. All four players lived remarkable lives in the world of golf and the match that they played will always be a part of golf history.

I highly recommend this book to any serious golfer.

Nike Commercial

Caddyshack Scene of the Week - 3