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Golf is FUN

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I’ve just moved jobs. I’ve gone to a fantastic new place, with a huge number of golfers of all ages and abilities. This has given me time to question why I do what I do. I feel very fortunate to be in a job that I honestly love. The truth is that I teach golf and build connections with my players because I truly believe the game of golf can teach us so much. To share this gift and do my part in improving people’s game thus increasing their enjoyment and having a positive impact on their outlook on life is my way of giving back.

With that in mind, this article is going to be about how you, the golfer, can have some more fun on the links. After all, if you really thought about it, isn’t that why you play the game? To have fun? To enjoy being outside with good company?

Just this week I taught a member who was considering leaving the game after a run of terrible rounds. Of course, as a golf professional and coach, my advice would be to get alongside your golf professional who can work with you to help you reach your goals but this article will give you other ways.

Play an appropriate length course

If you look at the average driving distances for PGA Tour professionals (compared to the length of course they play) and then compare that with your distances, you may realize how difficult reaching your goals are. Chances are the tees on the course you play are disproportionately long for the driving distance you have. If just playing with some friends, try this one out: Play from a forward set of tees, maybe even from the very forward tees and enjoy the feeling of driving close to the green of a par 4 or marking a birdie down on your card. It is fun hitting more greens in regulation too. After working with a lot of juniors this summer with Nike Junior Camps in Pebble Beach, I know how resistant they were to trying. When this was tried out though, the levels of fun shot up massively. Give it a go; it is also a fantastic way to build confidence and your comfort shooting lower scores.

Play some different formats

There are a whole heap of alternatives to typical stroke play, which can be a lot of fun to try. Rather than stroke play where each mistake is seen and attention drawn to it, have fun with a skins game or stableford round where you can move on quickly and not let a bad hole get you riled up. Away from the mistake-avoidance environment that stroke play often induces, you will have more opportunities to learn and discover new things while trying other formats. If you are playing with a group of friends, but not in a monthly medal, why not go out and try a Texas scramble competition. Or in a pair, allow yourself to play the hole, alternate shots, from the position of your best drive or, if you really want a challenge, from the worst ball. From personal experience, I can say that playing golf with friends who play much less than me, but within a fun format, can greatly increase enjoyment for all of you. If you find this one tough to do, perhaps start tracking a few stats and see how your improvements go. A few examples that will leave you focused on the positives rather than your score could be: number of solid drives hit/crisp irons hit/birdies or pars made.

Lose the scorecard

Every golfer is different, and there are many way to enjoy this great game. But, as a challenge, in the next round that you play just forget to pick up a scorecard and play a round without keeping track of your strokes. Less focus on your score frees you up to really enjoy the company, the surroundings and much more. As crazy as this idea sounds, give it a go. See what happens. You may even notice your level of play greatly improve.

Go play a different course

I’ve been fortunate enough to play a few courses that hold top professional events, and it is a great feeling to go out there, on holes you may recognize from TV, and see how you fare. This season, go try a few different courses and make a day of it. I can’t imagine you won’t enjoy it.

Practice with games

Rather than just treating some putting practice as something boring that you need to do to lower your score, bring a friend along and play some games at the same time. Sudden-death holing-out competitions starting from near the hole and getting farther away are sure to get interesting when the loser is paying for food in the clubhouse afterwards. On the driving range, experiment with different heights and curves of golf shots. Imagine golf holes out on the range that you hit toward, or create nearest-the-pin competitions. I imagine your practice will suddenly become more interesting.

For those of you who don’t want to throw away the scorecard, move away from your current golf course and the back tees or deviate from playing stroke play, I have one final idea that may help:

You know that strange phenomenon where you have nine great holes and then nine terrible holes? Or you start awful only to finish it off with a great back nine and end up finishing somewhere near your handicap? My suggestion is this; next time you go to play, split your scorecard into six rounds of three holes instead of one round of 18 or two halves of nine each. This simple change in mindset often allows you to let go of previous bad holes a lot more easily than having to wait till the back nine for a new start. It also helps you stay in the present, not getting nervous/excited/ahead of yourself when on for a career best round after 12 holes, before it all falls apart.

I hope to hear from you soon, and that you have some more fun out on the course. I imagine you have even more ideas too; please feel free to leave them in the comments below. Remember as a great coaching friend of mine, Sara, says on Twitter: #golfisfun

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Andy is currently coaching in Shanghai, China. He is a UKPGA member and graduate of the AGMS degree at the University of Birmingham. Andy has coached in more than 30 countries and traveled to work with many of the best minds in golf to constantly improve his coaching. His No. 1 desire is to help golfers reach their dreams, and to enjoy the process! Website: andygriffithsgolf.com Online Lessons: swingfix.golfchannel.com/instructors/andy-griffiths Twitter: twitter.com/andygriffiths1 Facebook: facebook.com/andygriffithsgolf

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Andy Griffiths

    Feb 26, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    Thanks Carson and I hope you got some good ideas out of it. I really hope out of any article I write, that this one gets out there and is seen by the most!

  2. Carson

    Feb 26, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    love, Love, LOVE the “lose the scorecard” idea! Great article on how to ENJOY the game, not just play it well! Awesome job!

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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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