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Short on time? Improve your game at the microwave

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Having grown up in the Midwest, I less than fondly remember this time of the year, when the post-Thanksgiving weather would force me into the practice net in my basement until March. We might catch the odd day or two that would let us get outside to hit balls (or even play a few holes), but most of that stretch was spent doing whatever practice we could do indoors. This was coupled with the pain of watching early-season PGA Tour events from warm-weather locales in Honolulu, Phoenix, Palm Springs, Los Angeles, Pebble Back and San Diego, leaving us chomping at the bit.

Here in Florida we can work year round, but I still have players who I coach that are successful in other parts of their lives and have limited time to work on their golf swings or short game. They might find only one day a week to hit balls because of business and family requirements, and being married for 25 years and raising two college age kids… trust me, I get it! This is where I give my players homework away from the course to help them improve. I call it “microwave work,” which are drills I give my players to practice when weather, life or a job keeps them from getting to the course, specifically, when they are in the kitchen heating something up.

So let’s get started. What is something that you would normally put in the microwave?

I am guessing that most answers are coffee and/or leftovers. How do you spend your time while your item warms up? If it is coffee, you probably stand there with your eyes half open in full zombie mode. What if you used that time to work on your golf game? If you use your time wisely, you will see a faster change in your game for the better.

Below are four of the basic drills I give my players.

Get in the Lineup

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This is a good one for players with an overly active left hand that is passive and drags the club through.

To perform the drill, setup with your lead foot against the cabinets like you are going to hit a mid-iron into the microwave. Take a three-quarter backswing and turn through slowly until the back of your left hand hits the edge of the counter flush and flat (it helps to drape a hand towel over the edge of the counter so your hand makes contact with the towel instead of the hard cabinet). Hold and press there firmly for a count of 10.

Keep doing sets of these until the timer goes off. It is also a kinematic feedback drill and you will feel “after effect” when you finish, such that if you took a swing you would feel like you are still pressing against the counter when you reach impact.

Put a Bounty on Bad Putting

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Full disclosure: I didn’t make this one up.

This is from one of my tour players who had his head moving all over creation when he came to me for help. We fixed all the other things in his stroke and went after the simple task of keeping his head still. One day, due to bad weather over the summer, he was stuck inside and wanted to hit putts and work on keeping his head static throughout the stroke.

He came up with the paper towel drill.

This one is easy! Get a paper towel roll and put one end on the refrigerator and the other on your forehead at setup. Then take practice strokes with your hands together focusing on how it feels to keep your head in place as you take a stroke. This is a huge error I see in about 7 out of 10 tour players. It is amazing how many golfers retreat their head at impact. Practice this and you will find your stroke produces many more solidly hit putts in the new season.

Getting Hip

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One of the things that drive instructors crazy is keeping their students’ rear ends from thrusting forward at impact and losing pelvis and spine angle. This is called early extension. Among other things, it is one of the natural results of the shoulders trying to seek the same orbit as the hips and turn at the same level.

To perform this drill, turn your back to the counter-top and put both cheeks against it. Now cross your arms and turn back and through to a balanced finish and hold. While you are turning, fight to keep the right hip on the counter as you go back. More importantly, keep the left hip on the counter when going to the full finish and hold. Do as many reps as you can before the timer dings! You will find, when done correctly, that you finish with your right shoulder slightly lower than the left.

How to Get Cleaner Floors While Fixing a Bad Takeaway

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A huge backswing issue that I often see is active hands that rotate the clubface way too much early in the start of the backswing. This throws the clubhead behind the hands when the shaft reaches parallel to the ground creating all kinds of bad things.

Here is a fun drill that is also a huge challenge because it is fraught with disaster if you fail.

Grab a coffee cup from the cabinet before you start microwaving, and fill it a third of the way full of water. Take your setup and grip the handle on the mug so that the cup is hanging downward. Use as close to a real grip as you can. The water should be very near the lip of the cup at this point. Now, from this setup position, take a backswing to about 8 o’clock with your hands and stop. If you do it correctly in one piece, you won’t spill any water! If you spin the mug — look out, water everywhere! If you really want danger, use milk or orange juice!

This drill will encourage a solid one piece takeaway without any fast moving parts and the club face and hands will be positioned correctly early in the backswing. Here is what it looks like from face on (above) and down the line (below) when it is done correctly.

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And done incorrectly.

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These are just a few of the Microwave Drills that I give my players to do when they are in the kitchen. Pick one, or do them all during the winter and watch your game come alive in the spring!

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If you are an avid Golf Channel viewer you are familiar with Rob Strano the Director of Instruction for the Strano Golf Academy at Kelly Plantation Golf Club in Destin, FL. He has appeared in popular segments on Morning Drive and School of Golf and is known in studio as the “Pop Culture” coach for his fun and entertaining Golf Channel segments using things like movie scenes*, song lyrics* and familiar catch phrases to teach players. His Golf Channel Academy series "Where in the World is Rob?" showed him giving great tips from such historic landmarks as the Eiffel Tower, on a Gondola in Venice, Tuscany Winery, the Roman Colissum and several other European locations. Rob played professionally for 15 years, competing on the PGA, Nike/Buy.com/Nationwide and NGA/Hooters Tours. Shortly after embarking on a teaching career, he became a Lead Instructor with the golf schools at Pine Needles Resort in Pinehurst, NC, opening the Strano Golf Academy in 2003. A native of St. Louis, MO, Rob is a four time honorable mention U.S. Kids Golf Top 50 Youth Golf Instructor and has enjoyed great success with junior golfers, as more than 40 of his students have gone on to compete on the collegiate level at such established programs as Florida State, Florida and Southern Mississippi. During the 2017 season Coach Strano had a player win the DII National Championship and the prestigious Nicklaus Award. He has also taught a Super Bowl and Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, a two-time NCAA men’s basketball national championship coach, and several PGA Tour and LPGA Tour players. His PGA Tour players have led such statistical categories as Driving Accuracy, Total Driving and 3-Putt Avoidance, just to name a few. In 2003 Rob developed a nationwide outreach program for Deaf children teaching them how to play golf in sign language. As the Director of the United States Deaf Golf Camps, Rob travels the country conducting instruction clinics for the Deaf at various PGA and LPGA Tour events. Rob is also a Level 2 certified AimPoint Express Level 2 green reading instructor and a member of the FlightScope Advisory Board, and is the developer of the Fuzion Dyn-A-line putting training aid. * Golf Channel segments have included: Caddyshack Top Gun Final Countdown Gangnam Style The Carlton Playing Quarters Pump You Up

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Jadon

    Jan 5, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    Oh wow, the cup drill. I need this badly.

  2. Golfraven

    Jan 1, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    Love it. Wonder why I just spent the cash on the Swing trainer tools.

  3. Al385

    Jan 1, 2015 at 2:39 am

    These tips are so good. They are also great to practice while I’m in business travels.

    Thanks so much!!!

  4. Tj

    Dec 30, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    Great Instruction right there, Wish everyone could read this, Including the members at my club.

  5. MCK

    Dec 30, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    This is awesome and useful.

  6. Brody

    Dec 30, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    Creative article, I enjoyed it!

  7. Tom Stickney

    Dec 30, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    You should do the cup one at AJ’s! I miss destin!!! Best 7 years of my life.

  8. Jeff B

    Dec 30, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    agreed, i am able to golf year round when my back is in good shape but these should be a fun way to stretch and get back in the swing groove before i go back out there.

    fun read!

  9. Ian

    Dec 30, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    Great article!
    These look like fun, although the climate where I live allows for year round golf, I will definitely have to give these a try.

  10. TR1PTIK

    Dec 30, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    I like these a lot since I currently live in Missouri and am going through exactly what you described in the first paragraph! Excellent tips, and I would think that you could modify the first drill a little bit to work on weight transfer at the beginning of the downswing – or “bumping” the hips to the lead side as some would describe it.

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Instruction

The Big Shift: How to master pressure and the golf transition using prior sports training

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If you’re an #AverageJoeGolfer, work a day job, and don’t spend countless hours practicing, you might be interested in knowing that sports you played growing up, and even beer league softball skills, can be used to help you play better golf. We’re sure you’ve heard hockey players tend to hit the ball a mile, make the “best golfers”, while pitchers and quarterbacks have solid games, but baseball/softball hitters struggle with consistency. Did you know that a killer tennis backhand might help your golf game if you play from the opposite side? Dancers are way ahead of other athletes making a switch to golf because they understand that centeredness creates power and consistency much more efficiently than shifting all around, unnecessary swaying, or “happy feet.”

Lurking beneath fat shots, worm burners, and occasional shanks, are skillsets and motions you can pull from the old memory bank to apply on the golf course. Yes, you heard us right; your high school letterman jacket can finally be put to good use and help you improve your move. You just need to understand some simple adjustments different sports athletes need to make to be successful golfers.

In golf, shifting from your trailside into your lead side is what we’ll call the TRANSITION. Old School teachers refer to this motion, or shift, as “Foot Work”, New-Fangled-Techno-Jargon-Packed-Instruction uses “Ground Pressure/Force” to refer to the same concept. Don’t worry about the nomenclature; just know, as many GolfWRXers already do, that you must get your weight to your lead side if you want any chance at making solid and consistent contact. TRANSITION might be THE toughest motion in golf to master.

The good news for you is that TRANSITION happens in all other sports but in slightly different ways, depending on the sport. Golfers can more quickly learn TRANSITION, and speed up their swing learning process by understanding how prior sport experience can be applied to the golf swing.

[The basics of a solid golf move are; 1) you should have a SETUP that is centered and balanced, 2) you move your weight/pressure into your trail side during the TAKEAWAY and BACKSWING, 3) TRANSITION moves your weight/pressure back into your lead side, and 4) you FINISH with the club smashing the ball down the fairway. Okay, it’s not quite as easy as I make it sound, but hopefully our discussion today can relieve some stress when it comes time for you to start training your game.]

Baseball/Softball Hitters

Hitting coaches don’t like their hitters playing golf during the season, that’s a fact. The TRANSITIONS are too different, and if they play too much golf, they can lose the ability to hit off-speed pitches because their swing can become too upright. Golf requires an orbital hand path (around an angled plane) with an upright-stacked finish, while hitting requires batters to have a straight-line (more horizontal) hand path and to “stay back or on top of” the ball.

Now we apologize for the lack of intricate knowledge and terminology around hitting a baseball, we only played up through high school. What we know for sure is that guys/gals who have played a lot of ball growing up, and who aren’t pitchers struggle with golf’s TRANSITION. Hitters tend to hang back and do a poor job of transferring weight properly. When they get the timing right, they can make contact, but consistency is a struggle with fat shots and scooping being the biggest issues that come to mind.

So how can you use your star baseball/softball hitting skills with some adjustments for golf? Load, Stride, Swing is what all-good hitters do, in that order. Hitters’ issues revolve around the Stride, when it comes to golf. They just don’t get into their lead sides fast enough. As a golfer, hitters can still take the same approach, with one big adjustment; move more pressure to your lead side during your stride, AND move it sooner. We’ve had plenty of ‘a ha’ moments when we put Hitters on balance boards or have them repeat step drills hundreds of times; “oh, that’s what I need to do”…BINGO…Pound Town, Baby!

Softball/Baseball Pitchers, Quarterbacks, & Kickers

There’s a reason that kickers, pitchers, and quarterbacks are constantly ranked as the top athlete golfers and it’s not because they have a ton of downtime between starts and play a lot of golf. Their ‘day jobs’ throwing/kicking motions have a much greater impact on how they approach sending a golf ball down the fairway. It’s apparent that each of these sports TRAINS and INGRAINS golf’s TRANSITION motion very well. They tend to load properly into their trailside while staying centered (TAKEAWAY/BACKSWING), and they transfer pressure into their lead side, thus creating effortless speed and power. Now there are nuances for how to make adjustments for golf, but the feeling of a pitching or kicking motion is a great training move for golf.

If this was your sport growing up, how can you improve your consistency? Work on staying centered and minimizing “happy feet” because golf is not a sport where you want to move too much or get past your lead side.


Dance

My wife was captain of her high school dance team, has practiced ballet since she was in junior high, and is our resident expert on Ground Pressure forces relating to dance. She has such a firm grasp on these forces that she is able to transfer her prior sports skill to play golf once or twice a year and still hit the ball past me and shoot in the low 100s; what can I say, she has a good coach. More importantly, she understands that staying centered and a proper TRANSITION, just like in Dance, are requirements that create stability, speed, and consistent motions for golf. Christo Garcia is a great example of a Ballerina turned scratch golfer who uses the movement of a plié (below left) to power his Hogan-esque golf move. There is no possible way Misty Copeland would be able to powerfully propel herself into the air without a proper TRANSITION (right).

Being centered is critical to consistently hitting the golf ball. So, in the same way that dancers stay centered and shift their weight/pressure to propel themselves through the air, they can stay on the ground and instead create a golf swing. Dancers tend to struggle with the timing of the hands and arms in the golf swing. We train them a little differently by training their timing just like a dance routine; 1 and 2 and 3 and…. Dancers learn small motions independently and stack each micro-movement on top of one another, with proper timing, to create a dance move (golf swing) more like musicians learn, but that article is for another time.

Hockey

Hockey is a great example of the golf TRANSITION because it mimics golf’s motions almost perfectly. Even a subtlety like the direction in which the feet apply pressure is the same in Hockey as in Golf, but that’s getting in the weeds a bit. Hockey players load up on their trailside, and then perform the TRANSITION well; they shift into their lead sides and then rotate into the puck with the puck getting in the way of the stick…this is the golf swing, just on skates and ice…my ankles hurt just writing that.

If you played hockey growing up, you have the skillsets for a proper golf TRANSITION, and you’ll improve much faster if you spend your time training a full FINISH which involves staying centered and balanced.

Now we didn’t get into nuances of each and every sport, but we tried to cover most popular athletic motions we thought you might have experience in in the following table. The key for your Big Shift, is using what you’ve already learned in other sports and understanding how you might need to change existing and known motions to adapt them to golf. If you played another sport, and are struggling, it doesn’t mean you need to give up golf because your motion is flawed…you just need to know how to train aspects of your golf move a little differently than someone who comes from a different sport might.

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Clement: Effortless power for senior golfers

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Are you struggling with range of motion? Want more EFFORTLESS POWER? We are truly the experts at this having taught these methods for 25 plus years, while others were teaching resistance, breaking everyone’s backs and screwing up their minds with endless positions to hit and defects to fix. Welcome home to Wisdom in Golf!

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Clement: How to turbo charge your swing

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The shift in golf instruction continues and Wisdom in Golf and GolfWRX are right out there blazing a trail of fantastic content and techniques to get you to feel the most blissful, rhythmic golf shots you can strike! This here is the humdinger that keeps on giving and is now used by a plethora of tour players who are benefitting greatly and moving up the world rankings because of it.

The new trend (ours is about 25 years young) is the antithesis of the “be careful, don’t move too much, don’t make a mistake” approach we have endured for the last 30 years plus. Time to break free of the shackles that hold you back and experience the greatness that is already right there inside that gorgeous human machine you have that is so far from being defective! Enjoy!

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