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Tour players know how to “bury the dead”

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Recently, a friend of mine went to a PGA Tour event and came back to the lesson tee to ask me about a drill a Tour player was doing. He had a front-row seat to watch one of the world’s best players practice, but he knew he missed something.

My friend was hanging around the short-game area when the tour player came up and dropped about 40 balls right in front of him. He began hitting shots to the same flag over and over again. It was not a particularly tough shot, but he kept hitting it until he hit all the balls and they were in a nice pile around the hole.

[quote_box_center]”Why would he do that?” my friend asked me. “It looked like a shot he should have no trouble playing.”[/quote_box_center]

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I told him that the tour player was doing what is called “burying the dead.”

You are now thinking the same thing he was thinking. “What?”

Somewhere in the last tournament, the tour player had a shot just like the one he was practicing and he either played it poorly, incorrectly, or both. He was going to hit as many perfect shots as he needed to erase that bad shot from his memory. During my playing career, I did the same thing many times in practice to restore my confidence level in a shot.

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What really good players have is a sense of what they need to address and work on after a round. The best-of-the-best reflect deeply on the good and bad from their rounds, assess what needs attention, and then they go about fixing that issue.

Sometimes it does not mean hitting lots of shots, but taking lots of practice swings. Or maybe it requires doing a drill numerous times to ingrain a feeling or change. Either way, it is just not hitting away at a pile of balls aimlessly. There is an attention to detail.

Golf is just too competitive at its top levels to practice without a purpose or plan. In the story above, the player’s plan was to cover the one bad shot with a bunch of good ones so that when he had that shot again, he could simply say with confidence, “I’ve got this shot,” without dwelling on the past.

The next time you’re done with a round, take a moment and reflect on what you need to work on in your game. Sometimes this means writing some notes on your scorecard or in a notebook after the round, while other times you might simply need a mental reminder. I like my players to make notes on paper so they can organize and prioritize what they need to practice. All my players get yardage book-size academy notebooks to keep in their bags just for this reason.

You can also ask your playing partners what shots they saw you struggle with on the course. You’re not looking for a lesson from them, just an clear picture of what areas of your game need some attention. Their unbiased assessment could provide a keen insight into a weakness they see regularly.

On the PGA and LPGA tours, the pros have their caddies as their neutral eyes and lean on them for honest evaluations of area that need to be addressed. A player’s coach should also be a good listener and ask questions that get lengthy game-play analysis from the player. This is a key and something I do with every player who is serious about their game from the top level through the junior level.

A coach has to listen first, then give the player the plan to “bury the dead.”

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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

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. duckjr78

    Mar 6, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    This is a very underrated part of the game! So much more than “I have trouble with chip shots, I better go practice my chipping.” This encompasses practice, assessment, in-round awareness, attitude, and a host of other golf necessities. Great article Rob!

  2. talljohn777

    Mar 5, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    Wonderful. Thank you for the focus.

  3. Alex

    Mar 5, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    Great article Rob. I’ve definitely practiced shots that I screwed up during the round but not as much as you suggest. I’ll be more conscious about this in the future.

  4. Ken

    Mar 5, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    Love this article. It makes good sense to create new memories with regard to a specific shot or situation. Thanks!

  5. Chris

    Mar 5, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    Great article. I would love to see more articles on players practice routines. What are some ways they practice things, particularly short game areas to ensure their practice time is the most efficient and productive as possible?

    Would love to see an article on this.

  6. Rob Strano

    Mar 5, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    Ponjo, thanks for the comment and I have to admit you got me to laugh. Never thought of that comment, that is a really good one.

  7. Ponjo

    Mar 5, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    Off to the cemetery right now Rob

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Instruction

How to fix the root cause of hitting your golf shots fat

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Of all the shots golfers fear, hitting the ball FAT has to be right up at the top of the list. At least it heads the list of commonly hit poor shots (let’s leave the shank and the whiff out for now). After fat, I’d list topping, followed by slicing and then hooking. They are all round-killers, although the order of the list is an individual thing based on ability. Professionals despise a hook, but club golfers by and large fear FAT. Why?

First of all, it’s embarrassing. Secondly, it goes nowhere — at least compared to thin — and it can be physically painful! So to avoid this dreaded miss, golfers do any number of things (consciously or subconsciously) to avoid it. The pattern develops very early in one’s golf life. It does not take very many fat shots for golfers to realize that they need to do something differently. But rather than correct the problem with the correct move(s), golfers often correct a fault with a fault.

Shortening the radius (chicken-winging), raising the swing center, early lower-body extension, holding on through impact (saving it), running the upper body ahead of the golf ball and even coming over the top are all ways of avoiding fat shots. No matter how many drills I may offer for correcting any of those mistakes, none will work if the root cause of fat is not addressed.

So what causes fat? We have to start with posture. Some players simply do not have enough room to deliver the golf club on a good plane from inside to inside. Next on the list of causes is a wide, early cast of the club head. This move is invariably followed by a break down in the lead arm, holding on for dear life into impact, or any of the others…

“Swaying” (getting the swing center too far off the golf ball) is another cause of fat, as well as falling to the rear foot or “reversing the weight.” Both of these moves can cause one to bottom out well behind the ball. Finally, an excessive inside-out swing path (usually the fault of those who hook the ball) also causes an early bottom or fat shot, particularly if the release is even remotely early. 

Here are 4 things to try if you’re hitting fat shots

  1. Better Posture: Bend forward from the hips so that arms hang from the shoulders and directly over the tips of the toes, knees slightly flexed over the shoelaces, seat out for balance and chin off the chest!
  2. Maintaining the Angles: Casting, the natural urge to throw the clubhead at the golf ball, is a very difficult habit to break if one is not trained from the start. The real correction is maintaining the angle of the trail wrist (lag) a little longer so that the downswing is considerably more narrow than the backswing. But as I said, if you have been playing for some time, this is risky business. Talk to your instructor before working on this!
  3. Maintaining the Swing Center Over the Golf Ball: In your backswing, focus on keeping your sternum more directly over the golf ball (turning in a barrel, as Ernest Jones recommended). For many, this may feel like a “reverse pivot,” but if you are actually swaying off the ball it’s not likely you will suddenly get stuck with too much weight on your lead foot.
  4. Setting Up a Little More Open: If your swing direction is too much in-to-out, you may need to align your body more open (or feel that way). You could also work with a teaching aid that helps you feel the golf club is being swung more out in front of you and more left (for right-handers) coming through — something as simple as a head cover inside the golf ball. You’ll hit the headcover if you are stuck too far inside coming down.

The point is that most players do what they have to do to avoid their disastrous result. Slicers swing way left, players who fight a hook swing inside out and anybody who has ever laid sod over the golf ball will find a way to avoid doing it again. This, in my opinion, is the evolution of most swing faults, and trying to correct a fault with a fault almost never ends up well.

Get with an instructor, get some good videos (and perhaps even some radar numbers) to see what you are actually doing. Then work on the real corrections, not ones that will cause more trouble.

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Instruction

Right Knee Bend: The Difference Between PGA Tour Players and Amateurs

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The knees play an especially important role in the golf swing, helping to transfer the forces golfers generate through our connection with the ground. When we look closer at the right knee bend in the golf swing, we’re able to get a better sense of how PGA Tour players generate power compared to most amateur golfers.

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Instruction

How to eliminate the double cross: Vertical plane, gear effect and impact location

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One of the biggest issues teachers see on the lesson tee is an out-to-in golf swing from a player who is trying to fade the ball, only to look up and see the deadly double cross! This gear effect assisted toe hook is one of the most frustrating things about trying to move the ball from left to right for the right-handed golfer. In this article, I want to show you what this looks like with Trackman and give you a few ways in which you can eliminate this from your game.

Below is the address position of a golfer I teach here in Punta Mita; his handicap ranges between scratch and 2, depending on how much he’s playing, but his miss is a double cross when he’s struggling.

Now let’s examine his impact position:

Observations

  • You see a pull-hooking ball flight
  • The hands are significantly higher at impact than they were at address
  • If you look at the clubhead closely you can see it is wide open post impact due to a toe hit (which we’ll see more of in a second)
  • The face to path is 0.5 which means with a perfectly centered hit, this ball would have moved very slightly from the left to the right
  • However, we see a shot that has a very high negative spin axis -13.7 showing a shot that is moving right to left

Now let’s look at impact location via Trackman:

As we can see here, the impact of the shot above was obviously on the toe and this is the reason why the double-cross occurred. Now the question remains is “why did he hit the ball off of the toe?”

This is what I see from people who swing a touch too much from out-to-in and try to hit fades: a standing up of the body and a lifting of the hands raising the Vertical Swing Plane and Dynamic Lie of the club at impact. From address, let’s assume his lie angle was 45 degrees (for simplicity) and now at impact you can see his Dynamic Lie is 51 degrees. Simply put, he’s standing up the shaft during impact…when this happens you will tend to pull the heel off the ground at impact and this exposes the toe of the club, hence the toe hits and the gear effect toe hook.

Now that we know the problem, what’s the solution? In my opinion it’s a three stage process:

  1. Don’t swing as much from out-to-in so you won’t stand up as much during impact
  2. A better swing plane will help you to remain in your posture and lower the hands a touch more through impact
  3. Move the weights in your driver to promote a slight fade bias

Obviously the key here is to make better swings, but remember to use technology to your advantage and understand why these type of things happen!

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