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Opinion & Analysis

Growing Up Golf Part 5: Structured Play

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There will be a time when your child is going to cross over from “play time” to what I like to call “structured play time.” In the beginning stages of your child’s golf career you have been able to get by with taking them to the practice area and letting them have fun. As your child grows and develops into a young golfer, they will need to start some form of structured play.

Notice that I still refer to their time at the practice area or on the course as “play.” We never want to forget that golf is still a game to them, and we as parents need to keep it fun. After all, what child wants to go and “work” at something.

Structured play can come in the form of lessons, participating in the First Tee Program or enrolling into an ag- appropriate group class.  Our daughter starting going to a program created for children ages 3 to 5 called “Little Tigers” when she turned 3. The class curriculum is very basic and there is no complicated instructions other than to have fun playing golf with other children the same age as her.

They play putting games such as putting a ball to a bell that rings when they hit it and chip shots through a hoola-hoop. I found this class in a local golf publication in my area. Check your local publications to see if a similar program is available for your children.

My wife and I wanted to introduce golf to our children because we love golf. Knowing that golf can be played for a life time, we wanted to share this with them and have something that we as a family can always do together. I am guessing most of you are golfers and maybe some you are not, and that’s ok too. I mention this because I know some of you are going to take on the role of “coach” sooner or later.

I can tell you from my experience, taking the leap from parent to coach is not an easy transition. When I was instructing baseball/softball, I would have a parent bring their child in for a lesson. I would observe and point out what I felt needed to be improved. The child and I would discuss it and then start working towards becoming better. The child would without question work at whatever needed improvement. Nine times out of 10 I would have a parent say something like, “I have been trying to get them to stop doing that for a month.” I would walk over to the frustrated parent while the child was working on a drill (so they child could not hear me) and say to them:

“Every parent who brings their son/daughter to me for a lesson all say the exact same thing.”

I would then go on to explain it’s not that you don’t know what your talking about, it’s because you’re “MOM” or “DAD.”  It’s perfectly normal.

I share this story because there is going to be a point in time when your child is going to believe you have exhausted all your knowledge of the game, even if it’s not true and you have a wealth of knowledge to share with them. They will simply look at you as Mom or Dad, unless of course, you are a certified teaching pro (sometimes that doesn’t matter either).

This is completely normal and please don’t get frustrated if it happens. I want you to be aware of this and recognize it if it should start to happen. At that point, you will probably need to seek out an instructor who specializes in working with juniors and younger children. This will save an enormous amount of frustration for you and your child.

If you frequent the GolfWRX forum, you may be aware I was selected as one of the five members to represent GolfWRX in the TaylorMade RocketBladez Ultimate Experience. Myself and four other members where flown to Naples, Fla., for a fitting at the TaylorMade Performance Lab at the Tiburon Golf Club. While we were there we attended the grand opening of the Performance Lab, where guests received a gift package that included the PGA Tour Academy Home Edition.

Before I start, I am a firm believer that there is no substitution for one-on-one instruction with a certified teaching professional. But after reviewing this product I have to say, this is as close to personal instruction as you can get. If funds are limited this may be a solution to improving your child’s development.

The PGA Tour Academy Home Edition is an eight week course of instruction and comes complete with everything you need to improve your game.

 

TEN DVDs with 28 LESSONS & PRACTICE SESSIONS: Each lesson is about 20-to-40 minutes and designed to be completed at home. The lessons are dynamic, so make sure you actively follow the instruction, give yourself enough room, and focus on learning and trying the movements and skills.

THERE ARE TWO PRACTICE TRACKS that follow each lesson – white track for all abilities and BONUS blue track for advanced players. After each DVD lesson, watch your corresponding practice routine for the White or Blue Track. This practice routine shows you the specific drills you’ll be completing at the practice facility. The drills are straight forward, easy to follow and support the new skills and techniques you learned during the home lesson.

PRACTICE CALENDAR: Each home lesson has two levels of practice that follow the white track or blue track. Each practice session consists of three customized 15 minute drills that reinforce what you learned during the home lesson.

PRACTICE GUIDE: Thiscovers every practice routine in the program and describes each of the drills you’ll be completing during the eight-week program. It helps every level of golfer improve their game in just eight weeks with structured-practice program based on skill development and building a swing from the ground up. Players will learn what the pros know and achieve a breakthrough in their golf skill and knowledge.

INCLUDED: Contact bag and alignment sticks for all lessons.

INSTRUCTION BOOK: Over a 100 pages to help every golfer reach their potential and accelerate improvement.

As an instructor, one of the hardest elements for me to teach a student was “feel.” I worked very hard at creating drills and training aids to teach it, and found that feel is one of the hardest things to teach. What impressed me most about the learning system is how they teach and isolate body movements. The novice or beginner may not realize that the drills they are doing are teaching feel and proper body movements, but those of you who know proper swing mechanics will recognize that the learning system is teaching feel immediately.

When the time arrives to cross the bridge of play to structured play, keep it fun, make it simple in the beginning, keep an eye out for parent to coach back to parent transition and seek the help of a certified teaching professional who specializes working with youths. If funds are a concern, the PGA Tour Academy Home Edition may be a solution for you.

Click here for more discussion in the “junior golf” forum.

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Kadin Mahmet has a passion for golf. He has coached at the collegiate level and has worked as an instructor specializing in youth athletics. You can follow Kadin on Twitter @BigKadin. "Like" Growing Up Golf on Facebook @ facebook.com/Growing.Up.Golf for more content.

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Opinion & Analysis

More Distance Off the Tee (Part 1 of 3): Upper Body Training

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If you read my previous story, Tour Pro’s Revealed: 3 Tests to See How You Stack Up, you are well aware of the fact that improving your upper body power is one of three sure ways to increase your distance off the tee. If you have not, I strongly suggest you check it out to gain some context about what is to follow and what is critical for your golf game.

Through our testing and the testing done of many of the industry leaders in golf performance, we have found that the ability of golfers to generate “push power” from their upper body is critical to maximize efficiency and speed in the swing. The way that you can test your power is simple. Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Keeping your back on the chair, chest pass with both hands a 6-pound medicine ball as far as you can. When you compare this to your vertical jump as described in More Distance Off the Tee (Part 2 of 3): Lower Body Training Plan, the number in feet you threw the ball should be relatively close to your jump in inches.

If you threw the ball and it went 5 feet, you have an upper body power problem. If you threw the ball 25 feet and jumped only 14 inches, your upper body is not the problem — you probably need to focus on your lower body. It’s not rocket science once you understand what you are looking for. What can be challenging is knowing how to improve your power once you identify a problem. That is where the rest of this article comes in. What I am going to outline below are three of the most common upper body power exercises that we use with our amateur, senior and professional golfers.

The key with any power training exercise is to make sure you are as rested as possible between sets so that you can be as explosive as possible for the repetitions. Try not to do more than 6 repetitions in a set to assure that each one is as fast and explosive as possible.

Med Ball Chest Pass on Wall

This is one of the most basic exercises there is for developing upper body push power. Make sure your feet are about shoulder-width apart and don’t be afraid to use your legs to help maximize the punishment you deliver to against the wall!

Med Ball Wall Ball

Watching the video, you may be scratching you head and wondering why this is in the upper body power article when clearly the athlete is using his legs. The reason is that in the golf swing, power starts with the legs.

Med Ball Sky Chest Throws

This one is simple. Laying on your back, all you need to do is push the ball up as high as you can, catch it on the way down and the explode it back up into the air as high as you can. If you incorporate this exercise into your routine even once a week, you will see huge gains in your ability to swing faster if this was a problem area for you.

That being said, power creation requires not only speed but also strength development. It is also important that you have a solid strength program to increase your ability to generate more force. While this is beyond the scope of this article, finding yourself a solid golf fitness expert will help you create your ideal program.

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Podcasts

GolfWRX Forum Member dpb5031 talks about the TaylorMade Twist Face Experience

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Forum member dpb5031 (aka Dewey) joins TG2 to talk about his Twist Face Experience at The Kingdom. Recently, him and 6 other GolfWRX Members went to TaylorMade HQ to get fit for new M3 and M4 drivers. Does Twist Face work? Dewey provides his answer.

Listen to the podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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Opinion & Analysis

Inside the Ropes: 5 things you didn’t know about playing on the PGA Tour

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Golf finds a way to take a hold on you… whether you become entranced by the skill of the world’s best professionals, fall in love with the feeling and beauty of a well-executed shot, or simply enjoy getting outside and having fun — the game is addictive.

I started playing at the age of 4 and began watching the pros on TV dreaming what it would be like to play golf on the PGA Tour. When I earned my PGA Tour status for the 2014 season, that dream became a reality. And like anything, it’s not until I actually experienced that life did I have any idea what it entailed.

For those of you who are curious what it’s like to be on the PGA Tour, here are 5 things to describe it.

1) The Culture

Traveling the world to various cities can be fun, and it’s an underrated part of the Tour lifestyle; you get to see new landscapes and taste the cuisines that define different regions across the country and the world. Unlike some other professional sports, where players stay in one place for maybe a night or two, we get to stay in places for a week or more, which allows for plenty of time away from the course to see the sights and get a feel for what the cities and their cultures offer.

2) The Show

The setup and time that goes into planning an event — the grandstands, concession stands, volunteers, and the whole network that makes these tournaments run — is beyond impressive. We see the finished product at the event in the epicenter of it all, but the planning goes on behind the scenes all year. When it’s game time and the golf ball gets teed up, it’s time for us players to block all of that out, but we certainly appreciate all of the hard work that goes into putting on an event. It may feel like being in a circus at times, but performing in the show is a thrill.

3) The People

The game of golf in general brings people together, but especially so on the Tour. Thousands and thousands of fans come to watch the golf action and enjoy the festivities. The Pro-Ams are a great way for the fans to get an up-close look at what goes on at a Tour event, and they’re also a great way for us pros to interact with fans and maybe provide some helpful swing tips, too. In my opinion, one of the best events of the year is the Pebble Beach Pro-Am — a gathering of pro golfers, athletes, musicians, actors and other celebrities. It’s a testament to how the game can bring people together from different walks of life.

4) Inside the Ropes

The Tour is almost like a private school of sorts. It’s a select group of a couple hundred guys traveling around playing these events. The jocks, the nerds, the geeks, the loners; you see a little of everything. As much as there’s a sociable aspect to traveling on Tour and getting to know these people, it’s a dog-eat-dog world where everyone is playing for their livelihood and playing privileges.

5) The “Pressure”

A season-long race can come down to a single shot making the difference — for some it’s between winning and losing a tournament, and others it’s between keeping and losing your card. The cameras, the grandstands, the noise… it can all be quite distracting. The idea is to block all of that out and pretend you’re playing like a kid, focusing with pure imagination for the shot. All the extra attention can help heighten the focus further, adding inspiration to “give the people what they want” and hit even better golf shots.

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