Thursday, July 27, 2006

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Golf Basics for Newbies

You may or may not be new to golf, but you do want to get better. Knowledge is power, so make sure you arm yourself with as much information as you can. Information about the rules, how to swing the golf club, how to select clubs, etc. Also, make sure you practice. You cannot expect to be very good at anything without practice.

Armed with the knowledge and the experience, your golfing experiences will be very positive. If you have decided to take up golf as a hobby you will be rewarded with the benefits of fresh air, exercise, and the addition of many new friends and acquaintances. Normally, players on the course like to strike up conversations and find our who their playing partners are. Like any project you approach in life your attitude and expectations will determine your enjoyment of the game. Take stock of your personal traits. Are you overly competitive? If you are, remember the road to a low handicap is littered with bad shots, bunkers, water hazards and triple digit scores on your round.

You will invest a lot of time in practice. Welcome every hook, slice and 3 putt as a learning opportunity. Even Tiger Woods needs a coach to help him with his game. If you like to meet new people golf provides you with opportunities for social interaction. You will get to meet new people in a setting in which you both have an avid interest.

This makes for easy conversation and more opportunities to improve your game. Most clubs offer single players the opportunity to play the round together. If you would prefer to play alone just mention this to the club pro when arranging your tee time. How much golf equipment do you actually need. Golf can be a very expensive game but there are affordable options.

A high-end brand name set of clubs can set you back several thousand dollars but a good used set will cost you a few hundred dollars. Before you buy clubs it is a good idea to visit golf stores and club pro shops. You can test out different types of clubs, determine which club length is best for you, get to know the different types of grips available and learn the difference between graphite and steel shafts. You can learn about the type of golf ball that will best suit you as a beginner. Having a golf ball with the correct compression will help you make the most of your game.

If you want to increase the exercise benefits of golf, you can choose to walk the 18 holes. When you are choosing a golf bag you will first need to decide if you are going to walk or ride. Your choice here will be a carry or cart bag. Golf bags are available in a range of materials so choose one that is suited to the climate in which you will play most of your golf. Golf shoes are important.

Make sure they are comfortable and waterproof. A rain suit is also a good addition to your golf bag. Should you take lessons from a golf professional? Your budget is the deciding factor here. Golf lessons are expensive but if it is within your budget it may be worthwhile. You will find that lessons will raise the standard of your game quickly.

A more affordable way to take lessons is to purchase one of the many training programs available on video and dvd. Many seasoned golfers use these programs to raise the standard of their game and new golfers can learn at their own pace. The above are just the basics of getting started in the game. Before you lift a club, develop the right mental attitude. Remain positive, quiet your mind and envision you shot before you hit the ball.

A good mental game is half the battle on the road to a low handicap. Above all enjoy! As with any sport, golf is no exception in regard to relaxing. You will have more fun and you will ultimately play better if you are relaxed. When you tense up, your muscles do not work as well as when you are relaxed. You start hitting bad shots.

You become more and more tense. RELAX! You will also have more fun that way too.
By Kevin T. Fairbanks

Beginning Golf Instruction Tips: Getting A Feel For The Approach Shot

After mastering the concept of the tee shot, the next step as a golf instruction beginner is to move on to the short game and what are known as approach shots.

For most people, these shots will be increasingly more difficult because they require more skill & patience than a simple tee shot.

There are a variety of approach shots, all of which are used in different situations depending on where your initial shot lands on the course. However, your intention with these shots is always to land on the green.
The pitch shot is an approach shot that is played from farther away than the other shots. Using a wedge, the ideal pitch shot is the perfect combination of enough swing momentum to carry your shot through, but not enough to send it sailing over the green. Trajectory will be low to average depending on how far you are from the cup and you want to make sure the ball doesn't roll too far.
You must start off with a slightly open stance, positioning your right foot directly across from the ball. When following through on a pitch shot, always make sure to keep your backswing as short as you possibly can. Failure to keep your backswing in check will usually cause you to instinctively put the brakes on your shot while accelerating, which is a definite no-no. You want to have enough confidence in your wedge to let the club do the work for you: don't think you have to assist the ball through the air.
Another approach shot is known as the chip shot. You'll need to use a chip shot once you're within about 30 yards from the green, usually after a fairway drive or tee shot. The idea is for this shot to have a much shorter trajectory, so you will need to use a less lofted club. Proper weight distribution is paramount to getting off a decent chip shot. If you're a right handed golfer, you want to put the majority of your weight on the left side and hold this position through the duration of your shot.
There are generally two kinds of chip shots that we want to concern ourselves with. The first one is what's known as the bump-and-run shot, and the second is a flop shot. The Bump And Run is usually taken with an 8, 7 or 6 iron club and with the clubface hooded. That way your shot will have have less loft. You also want to have just enough power in your backswing to follow through. The flop shot is used when you want to get over an obstacle like a rough patch or a sand trap, so you're going to want to have a much higher trajectory in order to push the ball over. Open up your stance and follow through as far under the ball as possible to try and pop it up, and you'll keep your ball away from the danger zones with a good position for a subsequent shot.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Learn To Putt And Keep Strokes In Your Bag by: Jeff O'Brien

If you’re just learning or taking up the game of golf, here’s the one tip that will lower your scores faster than any other tip on golf – putting. That’s right. Putting. No putting isn’t the sexy thing to do around the practice tee. It’s doesn’t draw a crowd around you like bombing 300 yard drives does, but putting is where you can immediately shave strokes off your golf game.
When I work with young people or anyone just taking up golf, I stress the importance of practicing and working on your game. I understand that it is only natural to want to go ‘hit’ the golf ball. It’s a great feeling to make solid contract on the ball and know for that moment in time that even the pro’s don’t hit it any better.
For this article, I’m not going to discuss the actual mechanics of putting, rather let’s discuss why your golf putting game probably deserves more focus that you give it and what you should do.
O.K. think about this (especially for you beginning golfers). I would venture a guess that given any round of golf, you probably putted at least one more time than necessary on each green simply because you don’t seriously practice your golf putting game. Easy math… that’s 18 strokes right there! Now you’re probably thinking I don’t loose a stroke on every putting green. I would argue that if you are a high handicapper that you do. Those three and four putt greens... and let’s be honest; you are probably pretty generous with those gimme distances aren’t you?
This alone should begin to give you the incentive to improve your putting game. The putting stroke isn’t fraught with mechanics that you have to learn like you do with a full golf swing. You only need one club to practice this part of your golf game. And with just a little consistent practice time on your golf putting, you can immediately start taking strokes off your game in bunches.
Here are a couple of putting tips and a mind set that I work with others on (and constantly work on with myself).
First when you are practicing putting work on two areas: your line and your distance control.
Putting line: start close to the hole and roll a putt in. When you make three putts in a row, back up about two feet and repeat. Do this out to a range of 8 feet. Initially keep track of how putts it takes you to work your way back to and complete the eight foot mark. Then, your next step with the four putting distances of 2, 4, 6, and 8 feet, is to give yourself 16 putts to complete your putting drill (this allows for one miss at each distance). As you improve, drop your allowable strokes to 15, then 14, and so on, until you reach perfection.
Putting distance control: Depending upon your skill level, begin putting from about 20 feet and repeat the same drill as above moving back 10 feet at a time, only this time you are allowed two putts to hole the ball from each distance. This drill ties into and complements the putting line drill very well. This drill will teach your distance control so you can confidently putt the ball within a distance from the hole that you know you already have a high percentage of chance of making because of the first drill you work on.
Here’s a mind set that you should always take to your actual round of golf. This is one that I used when I first starting playing golf and work with people still today.
I knew my golf game from tee to green would have many peaks and valleys before actually reaching the green. But here’s the personal game I played within myself when first leaning golf, and I truly believe it will work for you. Not matter how bad (or good) it is off the tee. No matter how long it takes you to get out of trouble. No matter what happens. Whether you get to the putting surface in regulation or twice regulation; here is your mind set. I am not going to three putt. I am going to re-focus, remember my drills, and have confidence in what I have practiced. And I am not going to three putt any golf greens today.
And finally, don’t short change your putting game. Putt everything out. I mean this. If you are serious about getting and staying better, putt everything out. No gimmes. Keep your putting game sharp. Don’t let it slowly deteriorate because your buddies let you pick everything up inside 3ft (or even more generous than that). If you do, you soon start giving strokes away when they count.

Golf Basics – Learn To Turn

One of the biggest challenges for beginning golfers and an area of constant attention for low handicap golfers as well as professionals is consistency in their swing. For someone just beginning to learn and apply the mechanics of the golf swing, one of the most important concepts to get on the right track with right from the get-go is to learn that the golf swing is a rotation of the shoulders and the hips not the forearms and hands. In short, when learning the basic golf swing, learn to turn.
One very simple drill you can perform to reinforce and to illustrate this concept is to place a golf ball (or any similar object that you can focus on) on the floor in front of you. Stand over the ball as you would normally properly address the ball. With a slight bend in the waist and knees, and with a flat back. Take your left hand and place it on your right shoulder and do the same with your right hand on your left shoulder. In other words, fold your arms across your chest.
From this position emulate your take-away from the ball. It is important to keep your posture in tact and your chin slightly up. This allows your left shoulder (assuming a right handed golf swing) to pass slightly under your chin. The key while doing this is to keep your head still and your eyes focused on the ball on the floor in front of you. Ultimately, you’ll want to make a full shoulder rotation that completes with your upper back approaching a point where it is actually pointing toward the target. Your hips (bellybutton) should achieve an angle of about half as much.
As you reach your full turn, again be mindful that your head stays still and you are still comfortably seeing the golf ball. At the height of your turn we want to feel our weight braced against the instep of our right foot. Not rolled over the outside edge of the right foot. Not rolled over the top of the right foot allowing the right hip to get outside of the line of our right leg. The weight distribution at your fullest part should be about 85% on the inside of the right foot. Do not allow yourself to ‘reverse pivot’ when you turn. By that I mean, as you turn you don’t want to dip your left shoulder and head and accomplish your turn by dipping and ending up with the majority of your weight on your left foot at full turn instead of your right. Hence reversing the intended weight distribution.
As you begin to release your turn you should do so with your hips and shoulders. Again keeping your aforementioned posture in tact. As your hip and shoulder initiate the return sequence, your weight will move in the same fashion proportionally from your right to your left side. Allow your hips and shoulders to pass through the original address position with your right should now passing slightly under your chin much as your left shoulder did on the takeaway. All the while keeping your focus on the golf ball you placed on the floor at address. Upon finish your weight will now have moved from the right to the left side. Your hips and bellybutton should finish facing your intended target with your head and eyes not leaving their focus on the ball until they are naturally pulled up and toward your target by the finish.

The Anatomy Of Slicing The Golf Ball by: Jeff O'Brien

In order to slice a golf ball (impart a left to right ball flight for a right handed golfer) you have to strike the golf ball in a manner that will cause a clockwise rotation of the ball. The more dramatic the rotation the more dramatic or worse the golf slice.
For the context of this article, I will speak from a right handed golfer’s swing and perspective.
When defining the golf slice there are a couple of basics characteristics to the ball flight. First, there is the slice that initially may start down the target line then move off line in a left to right movement. This type of slice tells us that the swing path was traveling down the intended target line, but at impact the club face was left open and did not get back to a square position at impact. Usually this type of golf slice doesn’t produce as sever of left to right movement of the golf ball since the swing path itself was not cutting across the ball in an outside to inside manner. This type of slicing of the golf ball is more easily cured. And can usually be done so with a bit of work on the golfer’s setup, alignment, and or grip.
The second type of golf slice is the one that plagues the vast majority of beginning and high handicap golfer’s. This is the type of slice that produces the ‘banana ball’ type of flight and is very uncontrollable and frustrating.
The attributes of this type of slice for the golfer are the ball will initially start left of the target line indicating that the swing path is incorrect right from the get go. When the ball immediately begins left of the target line that tells you that your swing path has come from the outside to the inside.
Now, having done that with your swing, doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you are going to slice the golf ball but you sure have made much easier for a slice to occur. Now combine the outside to inside swing path with an open clubface at impact and you now have a golf shot that starts left and has the double whammy of a slicing swing path across the golf ball, and an open club face. With these two laws of physics going for you; you have just produced one beautiful slice. One that only a proud parent could love! You know the one I’m talking about. The ball that travels 300 yards total distance, but only about 220 yards further down the course (if you can find it all).
A golfer who is plagued with this type of golf slice is going to require quite a bit more work in order to correct this because their basic swing is flawed and must be corrected. But, it’s important to understand what it is in your golf swing and your golf swing mechanics that makes the ball do what it does. Once you understand the 9 rules of ball flight you’ll be more able to understand what it is in your swing that is producing the flight of the ball you are seeing, and as such you can more quickly address and adjust to ensure success.

Golf Basics – One Golf Grip At A Time by: Jeff O'Brien

I would like to focus the jest of this article on the basis of the golf swing… the grip. With spring in the air and golf on our minds let’s get this year off to a good start by not overlooking the basics.
Unquestionably the biggest mistake I see in people’s golf swing isn’t in their golf swing itself.
Nope. Not at all.
More often than not the mistakes happen before the swing even begins. The first mistake is made in how the golfer holds the golf club. After that the next mistake usually comes in with how they stand up to the ball. Poor posture. Then after having two strikes against them, they then finish the job of making it almost impossible to hit a good golf shot by improperly lining up to their intended target.
Of course, after hitting several (possibly several hundred) balls with only a minute few being what they think is acceptable the tired frustrated golfer asks… what am I doing wrong with my swing?
For the purposes of this article I want to discuss the very first part of the proper golf swing … the golf grip. In fact, let’s be even more precise here; the left hand grip on the golf club. Oh sure… there’s much more than just the grip including the aforementioned posture and alignment. But there’s only so much typing I can do at one time so let’s stay with the grip for this communication.
The position of your club face is greatly influenced by your grip. And this is especially true as your club face enters the impact zone and contacts the ball. Certainly there is an abundance of golf swing peccadillo’s that can occur that can cause those woeful golf shots. You know the ones I’m talking about: the banana ball, the smothered hook, skied, skulled, and chili dipped. Ok, I’ll stop… If you’ll stop trying to correct your golf swing by in incessantly hitting ball after ball trying to make every physical adjustment known to man (and some that aren’t) within your golf swing itself and begin by using a fundamentally sound grip.
So you’re going to continue on with me… great! Let’s talk about the left hand (right handed golfers) first and foremost.
The left had should come in contact with the grip of the club in such a manner that the grip cuts a diagonal across the palm of the left hand from the crook in the index finger down and across to the bottom right pad of the left hand.
When you close your left hand, your club should be held in the first to fingers and your palm.
The key that you look for out of your left had grip is quite simple. As you address your ball and look down, you should only see two knuckles of your left hand. As an instructor standing directly across from you, I too should only see the same. If I don’t see EXACTLY two knuckles of your left hand then we take a step back and re-grip until we get it right. And don’t try to cheat and re-grip club just as you begin to take the golf club away and into your back swing. FOUL I say. And I will stop you.
Ok. I certainly haven’t given you that much to remember here. But seriously golfers, resign yourself to go through a quick, short checklist before you begin the journey we call the golf swing. Start with your grip. Get used to it. A proper grip will feel awkward to you particularly if your grip has been way off. Stay with it. Know that it’s the right way to grip the golf club. Piece by piece let’s lay the foundation for a good swing.