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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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WATCH: How to hit your driver more consistently

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In this video, I share two great drills that will help you improve your driving today.

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3 keys for getting out of bunkers with soft sand

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One of the most infuriating things in golf is to land in a bunker that has too much sand, or sand with the consistency of a truckload of talcum power. Now, I am not picking on the Superintendents; they do have to add new sand from time-to-time, so no hate mail please! It’s my fault for hitting it in the bunker in the first place, and bunkers are supposed to be hazards; I know that.

The one thing we will assume for this article is that even though we are in soft sand, we will have a good lie, not a plugged or semi-plugged one. We are in a bunker that just has a bunch of sand, or it’s soft and fluffy sand. Everyone asks me what the secret is to handling these types of conditions and I’m here to help you get better.

1) Get a wedge with the correct bounce

Let’s consider that you play the same golf course every weekend, or that you mostly play on courses that have the same type of playing conditions mostly. When you have this luxury, you should have wedges that fit the conditions you tend to play. So, if you have a low bounce wedge with a sharp flange and you’re playing from bunkers with lots of sand, then you are putting yourself at a disadvantage.

Why alter your swing if the wedge you have can help you? Use a high bounce wedge (9-12 degrees of bounce) for soft sand, and a low bounce wedge (6-8 degrees) for firm sand.

2) Control your Angle of Attack 

As with most things in golf, there are always things that you must pay attention to in order for you to have the odds in your favor. Simple things such as paying attention to the lie you have can help you save shots in the rough. In bunkers, you cannot test the surface, however, you can use your feet to feel the density of the sand. Pay attention to what you feel in the balls of your feet. If you feel a ton of sand below you, then you know you will have to alter your angle of attack if you want any chance to get out of the bunker successfully.

So what do I mean by this?

The setting of your wrists has a very dynamic effect on how much the wedge digs in or skids through the sand (assuming you have an open face). When there is a surplus of sand, you will find that a steeper attack caused by the maximum cocking of your wrists makes it much easier for the wedge to work too vertical and dig too deep. When you dig too deep, you will lose control of the ball as there is too much sand between the blade and the ball — it will not spin as much and won’t have the distance control you normally have.

The secret to playing from softer sand is a longer and wider bunker swing with much less wrist-set than you would use on your stock bunker shot. This action stops the club from digging too deep and makes it easier for you to keep moving through the ball and achieving the distance you need.

3) Keep your pivot moving

It’s nearly impossible to keep the rotation of your shoulders going when you take too much sand at impact, and the ball comes up short in that situation every time. When you take less sand, you will have a much easier time keeping your pivot moving. This is the final key to good soft-sand bunker play.

You have made your longer and more shallow backswing and are returning to the ball not quite as steeply as you normally do which is good… now the only thing left to do is keep your rear shoulder rotating through impact and beyond. This action helps you to make a fuller finish, and one that does not lose too much speed when the club impacts the sand. If you dig too deep, you cannot keep the rear shoulder moving and your shots will consistently come up short.

So if you are in a bunker with new sand, or an abundance of sand, remember to change your bounce, adjust your angle of attack, and keep your pivot moving to have a fighting chance.

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Instruction

WATCH: How to stop “flipping” through impact

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Are you flipping through impact? In this video, I share a great drill that will help you put better pressure on the golf ball at impact. By delivering the sweet spot correctly, you’ll create a better flight and get more distance from your shots immediately.

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