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3 proverbs to help you improve your golf game

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Most of my readers on GolfWRX won’t ever be able to make the trip to the Strano Golf Academy in Destin, Florida, and take a lesson with me at the beautiful Kelly Plantation Golf Club. But if you did, or were nearby on the range, you would hear me use sayings and proverbs to relate thoughts — they’re called “Stranoisms” by my players. While I can’t verify that they’re completely original, they are things I say all the time to players to help them improve their golf games.

So I thought I might share a few with you and maybe a few more in the future. I think you will enjoy how some of the strange thoughts equate to success in your golf games.

“One in a row is not a streak”

The biggest mistake players make when taking a lesson or trying to make swing changes on their own, is to try something once and say “Well, that didn’t work, what next?” One ball is not enough to make a statistical analysis. You never hear a sportscaster say, “And the winning streak continues at one in row!”

When we come out of video or FlightScope analysis I always remind the student we are never going to make an assessment on what we are doing on the first swing, good or bad. If we are making significant setup changes to get a player to match their setup to their body build then it is going to take 6-10 swings to get comfortable with that alone. So I tell them that I don’t care where the ball goes on the first 15 swings and I need them to not care also. Just setup the way we discussed and try to make the change in the swing pattern we identified. Usually after about five swings they hit a really nice shot! That is where I throw them the “one in a row” quote and they dig in and give me another good move. I would love to have 100 swings to assess if you can repeatedly do it. Time limits what we can do so normally it is 15 shots and we know if we need to tweak the information or the drills to get it just right.

So the moral is to be patient and give yourself enough chances to make the right swing.

“Get in your hallway”

This actually started away from the golf course and I adapted it to my players’ pre-shot routines to help them focus tightly on where they wanted to ball to go.

I got this idea when my daughter was competitive cheerleading when she was 7-10 years old. She was one of the “flyers,” which is the athlete that runs across the floor doing all the flips and twists through the air. One day I was watching her practice and she could not nail the five moves she had to make in the 60 feet of space during the routine. So during a break I walked over and took her to the corner of the floor where she began her tumbling run. She explained that her problem was everyone else flying by in front of her eyes before she took off was distracting her. That is where I came up with the hallway analogy. I told her to imagine that there was a hallway across the floor to where she finished and that she was to only see the hallway and stay in it. In her mind she only say herself going down that narrow lane to the other corner doing her stunts. It worked, she nailed it the next time they ran through the routine.

So in golf I tell my players the same thing. When you are standing behind the ball get in your hallway. There is nothing outside the hallway. You see your ball flying between the walls of your hallway to your target and NOTHING else. When you can do that, then you walk into the shot and fire. This is how as a Tour player we see nothing going on around us. When I had a gallery to play a shot through I never saw them because they were outside of my hallway. So try to get in your narrow corridor, visualize the ball staying between those walls, and be confident in your swing to hit it down the hallway.

“If I don’t have time to say it, you don’t have time to think it”

This one is for all the players who can hit a basket of 60 balls in 20 minutes. Your practice pattern is that of rapid fire swings. One ball has barely left the club and the next one is ready to launch. If I cannot verbally give you instructions between shots before the next ball is airborne, then you never had a chance to run those same thoughts through your brain and body, process them, and then produce a solid swing or work correctly on the move we are trying to make. I solve this player by controlling access to the practice balls. I might move them away from where we are working or I might actually hold them and toss them to the student once they have taken a few practice swings or understand the message I am conveying to them.

So when you practice take your time. Treat each ball like a valuable object that is to be hit only when you are perfectly ready to hit it. Clearly run the thoughts from your coach through your head and think and feel them before putting a swing on the ball.

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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. John Grossi

    Dec 16, 2015 at 8:39 am

    I feel the hallway thought is a game changer for the serious player who wants to improve. This thought is definitely going in my notes for the upcoming year.

  2. vgp

    Dec 14, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    “Eldrick Woods is not a very good person”

    is the only one I need

  3. Double Mocha Man

    Dec 14, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    I have a saying for when pars are hard to come by: “I’m on a par barrage!”, when I get two in a row.

  4. Steve

    Dec 14, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    Cant believe Injust wasted my time reading this. I want my 5 minutes back

  5. Philip

    Dec 14, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    Great article! I’m well along into the first and last points, but the second one I definitely have to improve. I notice I still get stuck where my misses are consistent for certain holes – so obviously the hole layout is messing with me and I need to create my hallway. I tried last season with crazy angles to try and create an immunity to the course layout, but it never really worked. This has a lot more hope of success in my mind. Thanks

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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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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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