The new year begins with the first newsletter of the DGA (Driven Golfer Academy). I hope this forum grows in several ways. Certainly, I want to build members who read the book, watch the chapter videos and then participate in the DGA.

Participation can be in the form of reading the newsletter and watching the videos that are added throughout the month. Those videos will be about the general topic of the month, and other items about the golf swing in general.

A member can also request a video about a certain topic. Also, it can be for evaluation of their own golf swing.

Additionally, I hope members will ask questions and give opinions that other DGA members can respond to.

Group discussion can really grow into a valuable platform and I hope we all see it that way.

Again, I am hoping to build a group of like-minded golfers with a common goal of sustained improvement in their golf game.

Changing Landscape of Golf

As the PGA Tour is set to begin soon in Hawaii, the viewers are also ready to see the beautiful sights, warm weather, and our favorite players. Golf, unlike most professional sports, does not  hold to a regulation playing field or a certified ball that is used for all competition. Quite the opposite. The playing field (courses) are different every week and every day. Players must adapt to the hand they are dealt each day.

Equipment is also in a constant state of flux. The limits are pushed by technology that affects the ball, shaft and clubhead of every brand. Most of the players will have worked with the equipment reps of the companies they endorse and will display the newest version of each brand in the opening events.

These equipment changes might be based on new-found clubhead speed, swing changes or just worn-out clubs.

Sometimes a player decides to start changing the ball flight pattern or trajectory of their shot. This is where things can get a little tricky. Players realize, over time, that EVERY time they change equipment, they hit the RESET BUTTON on their instincts. Certainly, they perform well with the new equipment during their fitting, but it is a completely different scenario when the only thing they are judged upon is the score on their card.

Constant changing is the formula for mediocrity, when an accomplished player reflects upon the period of inconsistent golf they just endured. Swing changes and equipment changes both contribute to de-railing your best intentions. Therefore, it is imperative to know where you are going and why you are going there.

Changes in size or strength of the player many times call for updated equipment, but caution is advised, especially at the highest levels. 

Gambling in Golf

Gambling has been prevalent in golf for as long as there has been competition. There are many games played within the group. Handicaps make any two players able to have a fair wager between them.

On the other hand, there were players who were legendary hustlers who were denied access into professional golf. The thought was that their integrity could not be assumed, that they would not protect the field from illegal play.

Professional sports book gambling is now making its way into the PGA tour. I must admit that it really worries me. 

Unlike other professional sports, where the crowd can jeer and cheer for and against the participants, golf works out of several assumptions. With the proximity of the gallery to the players, spectators know to be still and keep quiet, so that each player has the best chance to play their shot.

I see more corporate events and tent villages than ever before at PGA tour events. In keeping with that, I see people who are not there for the golf and have little knowledge of the game whatsoever.

In addition, the consumption of alcohol is loosely regulated and after hours of drinking, you many times have an unrestrained group of people who can become loud and inappropriate. We have all heard them yelling things that have little or nothing to do with the competition.

Now there is a new consideration. How long is it going to be before someone yells, “you da man or mashed potatoes,” not just to force their way onto the TV broadcast, but perhaps to manipulate the outcome to make their bet pay off?

The player is lining up a 4-foot putt that could win the tournament, but a spectator has bet a lot of money on the second-place golfer. Is he going to sit calmly and take his fate, or will he be compelled to do something that distracts the leader? He will not be worried about retribution because there are no laws governing his behavior. And since he has no real connection to golf, no assumptions can be made as to his code of ethics.

Further, true golfers love the history of the game and the importance of major tournament victories. Is there such a thing as an “asterisk” victory. This comes when a player plays a great tournament but hits a ball out of bounds on the last hole because someone screams in his backswing. So, he makes a double bogey and another player wins. He will not be given a “do over.” The winner is now an “asterisk” winner. This outcome would be much worse than a player losing the Masters for signing an incorrect scorecard.

The probability of the manipulated outcome or the lingering scar in big tournament settings is enough to make me worry, far more than any normal curmudgeon.

¾ Is The New Parallel

One trend I see, that makes me happy, is the number of players who are controlling their backswing by taking the club back short of parallel, or what has traditionally been known as ¾. There is an absence of floppy wrists or bent elbows that allow for a cosmetic completion of the backswing.

I like to see players fully turn their hips and shoulders, as this is the true measure of the length of their backswing. I teach my players that when their body stops turning, their arms and the club should stop also. Swing sequence is much easier to achieve and pressured situations of competition are much easier to deal with.

If there is excess movement in the club, wrists or arms, that allow the club shaft to move to or past parallel with the ground, there is a greater chance of a poor transition into the downswing. 

As it says in the book, it is imperative to be in a good athletic position at the top of the backswing. Taking the club back too fast or too far simply diminishes your athletic position and reduces your chances of being consistent.


About Me

Michael Wolf, Certified Master Teaching Professional, has been playing golf for 46 years and teaching professionally for over 34 years. He has given over 30,000 golf lessons. Author of The Driven Golfer: Building Your Method For Scratch Golf. Harvey Penick Award Winner- 2016 (Top Instructor U.S./World Golf Teachers Federation)

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