DECEMBER DGA NEWSLETTER
Be a Pleasure to Play Golf With
There are few compliments more valuable as being the person “everyone wants to play golf with.” Show your playing partners that you hope everyone in your group plays well today. Be kind and supportive, no matter how your game is going. No one likes to play with the player who sings the blues or goes silent when they are not playing well. Also, players can feel when there is someone in the group who wants to see others fail. The “toxic” player quickly loses playing partners, no matter how good they are. No one should have to suffer your poor attitude or mood swings. You will certainly play better golf, once you lighten your mood and open your eyes to the gift of golf with friends.
Of the many things in golf that are hard, composure is one of he hardest. Perhaps expectations of ourselves, and the way we should play, makes it hard to stay pleasant. What if there is someone in the group we don’t really enjoy being around? More than once, I have encouraged a student to find a different group of guys to play golf with. Why? Because the mood within the group was completely different than the goals of my player.
Let’s say you have been working on your game, as a new golfer, and are excited to get on the golf course and chart your improvement. You show up at 8:30, one Saturday morning, and the other three guys have iced down the cooler, are drinking Bloody Mary’s, and have the music blaring from the cart. The trash talking is never ending and the first time you try to stick with your pre-shot routine, one of them has a comment about it. The day is filled with attempts to mess each other up and laughter at the pranks going on.
This is a situation where I would suggest my student look for another group to play with.
What if he approaches the three best players at the club and asks to play along with their group. They graciously invite him in, not knowing the level of golf he plays. He is mortified when they drill their drives down the first fairway and he scuffs his ball weakly from the tee. The whole day is filled with embarrassment and self-conscious golf. His partners are kind and supportive, but there is no way my student will perform under this pressure.
Finally, he meets three guys at the range, who are in the same stage of their development and have like-minded goals. They enjoy each other’s company and there is a general feeling of support within the group. Good shots are applauded, poor shots are discussed, and everyone is generally comfortable. Everyone wants to see good golf and success for each player. This is a group you can play golf with for years and see gradual improvement for all. This evolves into life-long friendships that reach far beyond that initial beginner’s golf group.
Reading the Clubface
When practicing, it is important to “read the clubface.” You will be making grass marks on the face that are easy to see. Or you can use face-tape, to show you exactly where each shot is striking the face. Certainly, we can feel mishits, but the ability to correctly diagnose a possible swing fix begins with a glance at the ground (to see how you struck the turf) and then a look at the clubface.
The “shanks” are viewed as a disease, many times, simply because of a misdiagnosis. The player thinks the clubhead is approaching the ball from too far inside the target line when it is exactly the opposite. The fact that the hosel (shank) of the club is WHITE from ball marks should be a clue, but that is many times ignored.
You must picture the path of the clubface across the ball. Players who draw the ball bring the clubface to the ball from inside the target line. That means: first the toe enters the line (and ball), then the sweet spot, then the heel and finally the hosel. Players who draw the ball are MUCH less likely to shank a golf ball.
Look at the face (and sole) of you clubs. Think it through. Is it my posture changing while I swing? Do I stand too close to the ball? The clubface could provide you with the feedback that tells you where to go next with your journey.
Does My Full Swing Method Match My Short Game Method?
This question refers directly to the shots required to play a good round of golf. It is common for a player to share that their irons are going well, and their driver is terrible. Then, the one day their driver shows up, the irons disappear.
The same can be true with short game wedgeplay. We are always (or should be) looking for the swing that works in all circumstances. Mostly, I am talking about feel here. High-level players will say they never swing hard at a wedge. Most of the shots within the short game are a fraction of the full swing as well. Do you practice ½ or ¾ swings very often? Do you feel like these types of swings are easy?
Is your trip to the range always full-blown swings, in search of more distance? What cumulative affect do you think that will have on your game?
In a technical sense, a full swing that moves drastically across the target line is of little use when playing short game shots.
Massive momentum changes are also the scourge of solid short game play.
For the sake of all aspects of your game, we are looking for a swing path that spends time on the target line. We want relaxed hands and arms from beginning to end, while swinging. Patience for the swing, while it runs its course, is essential for ANY SIZE SWING.
Finally, clean mechanics are the elixir that allows all of our best laid plans to become reality.
Punch Shots and Their Value
Punch shots are characterized as lower shots, made with a swing where our arms don’t raise above waste high. They are played with our weight on our front foot throughout the swing.
A key element, that is many times lost in the discussion, is its essential to keep our arms relaxed while swinging. Perhaps the term “punch” implies a violent thrust of the clubhead down at the ball. Especially with today’s perimeter weighted clubs, we are best able to combat spin by using a less lofted club and a shorter, relaxed swing.
It is also a great self-control exercise, to practice these shots with your short irons and try to stay relaxed and patient while swinging. You will be surprised at the accuracy and distance that comes from these swings.
You will use these shots not-only for against the wind situations, but more for across wind shots. High shots, with short irons, in a cross wind, is a formula for disaster. This is exactly the kind of shot that moves a great deal in the air and then buries in the bunker when it lands.
So, this discussion calls for another question? Are you willing to try to hit this shot? Would you rather try to hit the WRONG shot and hope for success? It is VERY common for a player to tell me they are scared to try shots, even when they know how and when to play them. It is a big part of your development, as a PLAYER, when you will allow yourself to take the right club and play the right shot.
AND, if you try the right shot and don’t perform as you had hoped, don’t tell yourself you should have done something different or used the full swing. You made a bad swing and that made the bad shot. Your decision making was solid.
There will be more videos and written information throughout this month, as we close out this year and move into the next phase of the DGA.
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)