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Tom Watson releases ‘Lessons of a Lifetime II’ DVD

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When a living golf legend chooses to offer his golfing knowledge, it’s decidedly best to accept.

Tom Watson, an eight-time major champion and member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, recently released Lessons of a Lifetime II, which introduces Disc Three to his Lessons of a Lifetime DVD anthology. While the first two discs in the series relay the fundamentals of the golf swing, the new addition provides golfers with 23 more advanced lessons including mental approach, handling pressure and practice techniques.

Lessons of a Lifetime, directed by Terry Jastrow, a seven-time Emmy Award winner, has sold over 70,000 units since its release in 2010, making it one of the best-selling instructional programs ever. It not only sells, but it works. In a survey of viewers from the first two discs, 88 percent of golfers said it helped improve their game. It has been sold globally in 40 countries and five languages including French, German, Japanese, Mandarin and English.

So what makes Watson want to share his extensive knowledge with the world?

“There’s a cloud over my head when I’m playing bad. Life isn’t as sweet. It’s a lot better when I’m playing well,” Watson told GolfWRX in a conference call. “If 10 percent of golfers improve from this, then I succeeded. I want to make you a better golfer.”

With positive feedback from the original release, Disc Three builds on the fundamentals established on the two-disc set, and includes even more stories from his golfing buddies.

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Throughout the series, Watson consolidates knowledge that he’s soaked up from more of golf’s greatest minds including Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Byron Nelson, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, his late caddy Bruce Edwards and his long-time teacher Stan Thirsk. He even has a lesson entitled “Tips from Tiger’s Dad.”

“I’ve plagiarized from others… and these are what I consider to be the fundamentals,” Watson said. “I’m narcissistic in the sense that these are the fundamentals that have worked for me.”

Watson has been a sponge around his all-star cast of friends over the course of his illustrious golfing career. According to Jastrow, he’s one of the smartest golfers ever, comprehensively understands the fundamentals of the game and articulates them with supreme simplicity.

Jastrow has it right. Watson breaks down seemingly every aspect of golf with an unbelievably easy to retain approach. He communicates complex moves, feelings and thoughts that are valuable to lower handicap golfers, in ways that the beginner can understand.

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The combination of Jastrow’s direction and Watson’s mastery creates entertainment value and a natural flow of content that is top notch. Watson breaks down each concept with a verbal explanation and demonstration, using simple graphics (lines, circles and even virtual goalposts added in post-production) to increase understanding. He reviews key points as the series moves along and provides a checklist for every lesson.

Commonalities throughout Lessons of a Lifetime are his emphasis on setup, ball position and most importantly, grip pressure. Nicklaus was a proponent of similar notions, who was known to say that he could teach someone with a good setup and good grip, but a golfer with poor setup and a bad grip was unteachable.

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Watson relayed a story from when he was having dinner with Nicklaus the night before the final round at Turnberry during the 1986 British Open. Nicklaus called Greg Norman over to their table and told him, “Just be careful of your grip pressure tomorrow.” Norman went on to win the tournament, and Nicklaus’ advice illustrates that even the world’s top players should concern themselves with how they grip the club.

“Bad grip and poor fundamentals are more likely to fail under pressure than a good grip and good fundamentals,” Watson said.

To explain phenomenons like Bubba Watson, he tells golfers to “Do as I say, not as I do. His swing may work for him, but probably not for anyone else.”

Some of the lessons in the series delve deeper and display how the body and mind should work through the swing. In Disc One, he introduced what he believes to be “The Secret,” which simplifies how the shoulders work around a plane. His knowledge of this “secret” originally began when he analyzed Corey Pavin’s swing and pre-shot rehearsals.

In the newly released Disc Three, he delivers a sequel to “the secret” in a lesson named “The Secret: #2: Keeping the Hip ‘Crease’ at impact.” It’s an original take on a concept that others before him have tried to explain.

“No one has talked about hip crease before.” Watson said. “It’s a different way of thinking that may be easier to understand. It’s sometimes hard to take words and put them into action, but it helps getting you to your left side and creating acceleration.” 

On the DVD, he shows how the “hip crease” maintains stabilization of the body throughout the swing and produces power and solid contact.

As for how amateurs can improve their equipment setup (WRX members ears perk up), Watson said in the interview, “A 60-degree (wedge) shouldn’t be in most people’s bag. It’s too difficult to control distance and takes too much skill.”

He also suggests that players opt for more loft in the driver, play the ball farther forward in their stance and add more hybrids to their bag. He admits himself that he will be gaming four or five hybrids in the near future, recognizing that his status as a “super senior” is approaching.

With inherent and professional ties into the golf industry, Watson also tackled issues facing the recent decrease in the population of golfers. He believes that the golf hole should double in size for the sake of overall enjoyment, but doesn’t think it will translate to more people playing golf. The biggest problem, according to Watson, is that golf has to compete with smart phones and instant communication.

An 18-hole round of golf may simply take too long. Nicklaus has been experimenting with 12-hole golf courses, but Watson says nine, six, or even three holes would be sufficient for people to get the golfing experience.

Another popular topic in current events among golfers is the use of Trackman. How does Watson, who preaches fundamentals, feel about the widespread usage of the technology? “I’m skeptical,” said Watson. “How accurate is it? How do you figure out how far the ball went? Maybe through mathematics. The way I use Trackman is to look at the numbers when I hit a perfect shot. Then wait until I hit another perfect shot and compare the numbers to 100 percent confirm it. That’s how you should use Trackman. You have to tell Trackman when you hit a good shot.”

Golfers and teachers across the world are accepting Trackman and similar technologies into their preparation and practice routines. Numbers, angles of attack, speeds and spin rates are useful to hone the swing and equipment, but fundamentals are the heart of a golf game. That’s where Tom Watson thrives.

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The MSRP is $49.95 for the entire anthology of Lessons of a Lifetime, which includes all three discs and a 20-page booklet. If you want to purchase the third disc individually, it sells on retail for $24.95 with a four-page booklet. You can buy either, or both, at www.tomwatson.com or on Amazon.

As Watson puts it, life is sweeter when you play well. There’s no better way to learn the game, or improve on bad habits, than a comprehensive look into the knowledge that a living golf legend has acquired over his career.

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He played on the Hawaii Pacific University Men's Golf team and earned a Masters degree in Communications. He also played college golf at Rutgers University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Minh Nguyen

    May 10, 2014 at 10:45 am

    Andrew, do you know why most, if not all instructional videos come only in a DVD format with no Blu-ray option?

    I’ve thought if buying Mr. Watson videos, Hank Haney, and Burch Harmon. However, the DVD format is holding me back. Assuming you have a HDTV, how bad/good is the picture quality?

    Thanks.

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Walters: Try this practice hack for better bunker shots

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Your ability to hit better bunker shots is dramatically reduced if you have no facility to practice these shots. With so few facilities (especially in the UK) having a practice bunker it’s no wonder I see so many golfers struggle with this skill.

Yet the biggest issue they all seem to have is the inability to get the club to enter the sand (hit the ground) in a consistent spot. So here is a hack to use at the range to improve your bunker shots.

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Golf Blueprint: A plan for productive practice sessions

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Practice range at the Dormie Club. Photo credit: Scott Arden

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

You’ve gotten lessons.  Several of them.  You’ve been custom fitted for everything in your bag.  You even bought another half a dozen driver shafts last year looking for an extra couple of yards.  And yet, you’re still…stuck.  Either your handicap hasn’t moved at all in years or you keep bouncing back and forth between the same two numbers.  You’ve had all the swing fixes and all the technological advances you could realistically hope to achieve, yet no appreciable result has been achieved in lowering your score.  What gives?

Sample Golf Blueprint practice plan for a client.

One could argue that no one scientifically disassembled and then systematically reassembled the game of golf quite like the great Ben Hogan.  His penchant for doing so created a mystique which is still the stuff of legend even today.  A great many people have tried to decipher his secret over the years and the inevitable conclusion is always a somewhat anticlimactic, “The secret’s in the dirt.”  Mr. Hogan’s ball striking prowess was carved one divot at a time from countless hours on the practice range.  In an interview with golf journalist George Peper in 1987, Mr. Hogan once said:

“You hear stories about me beating my brains out practicing, but the truth is, I was enjoying myself. I couldn’t wait to get up in the morning so I could hit balls. I’d be at the practice tee at the crack of dawn, hit balls for a few hours, then take a break and get right back to it. And I still thoroughly enjoy it. When I’m hitting the ball where I want, hard and crisply—when anyone is— it’s a joy that very few people experience.”

Let me guess.  You’ve tried that before, right?  You’ve hit buckets and buckets of range rocks trying to groove the perfect 7-iron swing and still to no avail, right?  Read that last sentence again closely and you might discover the problem.  There’s a difference between mindful practice and mindless practice.  Mindful practice, like Mr. Hogan undoubtedly employed, is structured, focused, and intentional.  It has specific targets and goals in mind and progresses in a systematic fashion until those goals are met.

This is exactly what Nico Darras and Kevin Moore had in mind when they started Golf Blueprint.  In truth, though, the journey actually started when Nico was a client of Kevin’s Squares2Circles project.  Nico is actually a former DI baseball player who suffered a career-ending injury and took up golf at 22 years old.  In a short time, he was approaching scratch and then getting into some mini tour events.  Kevin, as mentioned in the Squares2Circles piece, is a mathematics education professor and accomplished golfer who has played in several USGA events.  Their conversations quickly changed from refining course strategy to making targeted improvements in Nico’s game.  By analyzing the greatest weaknesses in Nico’s game and designing specific practice sessions (which they call “blueprints”) around them, Nico started reaching his goals.

The transition from client to partners was equal parts swift and organic, as they quickly realized they were on to something.  Nico and Kevin used their experiences to develop an algorithm which, when combined with the client’s feedback, establishes a player profile within Golf Blueprint’s system.  Clients get a plan with weekly, monthly, and long-term goals including all of the specific blueprints that target the areas of their game where they need it most.  Not to mention, clients get direct access to Nico and Kevin through Golf Blueprint.

Nico Darras, co-founder of Golf Blueprint

While this is approaching shades of Mr. Hogan’s practice method above, there is one key distinction here.  Kevin and Nico aren’t recommending practicing for hours at a time.  Far from it.  In Nico’s words:

“We recommend 3 days a week.  You can do more or less, for sure, but we’ve found that 3 days a week is within the realm of possibility for most of our clients.  Practice sessions are roughly 45-70 minutes each, but again, all of this depends on the client and what resources they have at their disposal.  Each blueprint card is roughly 10 minutes each, so you can choose which cards to do if you only have limited time to practice.  Nothing is worse than cranking 7 irons at the range for hours.  We want to make these engaging and rewarding.”

Kevin Moore, co-founder of Golf Blueprint

So far, Golf Blueprint has been working for a wide range of golfers – from tour pros to the No Laying Up crew to amateurs alike.  Kevin shares some key data in that regard:

“When we went into this, we weren’t really sure what to expect.  Were we going to be an elite player product?  Were we going to be an amateur player product?  We didn’t know, honestly.  So far, what’s exciting is that we’ve had success with a huge range of players.  Probably 20-25% of our players (roughly speaking) are in that 7-11 handicap range.  That’s probably the center of the bell curve, if you will, right around that high-single-digit handicap range.  We have a huge range though, scratch handicap and tour players all the way to 20 handicaps.  It runs the full gamut.  What’s been so rewarding is that the handicap dropping has been significantly more than we anticipated.  The average handicap drop for our clients was about 2.7 in just 3 months’ time.”

Needless to say, that’s a pretty significant drop in a short amount of time from only changing how you practice.  Maybe that Hogan guy was on to something.  I think these guys might be too.  To learn more about Golf Blueprint and get involved, visit their website. @Golf_Blueprint is their handle for both Twitter and Instagram.

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Want to become a better putter this winter? Matt Killen gives us 5 drills to do at home

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COVID-19 had us all locked in at home, wanting to get out and play, and finally, we were able. But what about the winter months in the east? The full swing can be remedied with indoor fitting bays, practice sessions, etc. What can we do to work on our stroke?

Thank god for the Perfect Practice mat, we now have the opportunity to get some reps in over the winter and actually get better.

Matt Killen is a buddy of mine and a swing/putting coach to some of the best players in the world. He was kind enough to give us five drills even he will be doing to get better over the winter

1) 10 Left/10 Right

*10 putts left hand only, 10 putts right hand only.

This drill gets you two different things, the feeling of a proper release (trail hand) and the feeling of a firm lead hand (lead hand). If you watch Tiger on the greens before any round, he hits a ton of putts with his right hand to dial in his roll and release.

2) The Putter Gate

Just like it sounds. Build a gate using legos, coins, cups whatever. Heelside and toe side. To start give yourself some room in between, no need to go Tiger style and leave little to the imagination.

  • 20 Putts from 3 feet (20/20 Goal)
  • 20 Putts from 5 feet (15/20 Goal)
  • 20 Putts from all the way to the back of the PP Mat (12/20 Goal)

To start the goal is 47/60 78%

3) Ball Gate

This time lose the gate around the putter and create a narrow path with golf balls down the line. Once again start realistically.

This drill helps to hone in on the line, speed, roll, and path.

  • 20 Putts from 3 feet (20/20 Goal)
  • 20 Putts from 5 feet (15/20 Goal)
  • 20 Putts from all the way to the back of the PP Mat (10/20 Goal)

To start the goal is 45/60 75%

4) The Accelerator 

Place the putter directly behind the ball and without any backstroke push the ball down the line. Do it from 5 feet to start. It may be a mess at first.

This drill ensures that your eyes and hands are in harmony. It’s also a good way to get that putter head tracking down the line.

  • 30 putts focusing on the roll and speed to start; you make what you make.

5) Mono A Mono

Nothing like healthy competition amongst friends!. Find a buddy that also has a PP Mat and go nuts. Nothing like creating “have to” scenarios to build confidence.

  • Best of 10, 20, 30 whatever. Get in there via FaceTime or live in the house and compete.

 

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A post shared by GolfWRX (@golfwrx)

Want a mat? Get a mat. They are flying off the shelves, so go to PerfectPractice.Golf to confirm availability!

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