Category Archives: Training

What’s On My Mind….Pertaining to golf, of course….

Well, before I get into golf, I’ve got to apologize for being away from the blog for so long…. So long that I needed to do that weird psychedelic code word security thingy to get into my own blog page!!!!

     (*J just told me it’s called ‘captcha’)
That’s too long.  That’s sad…..
So what’s on my mind, pertaining to golf?  
Mostly that it’s awesome and it’s TOUGH.  T. O. U. G. H.   I love it, pure and simple… but it’s crazy difficult.  What’s on my mind is that playing golf at YOUR  (read, ‘my’, selfishly writing this from my own point of view…) level is very difficult!!!!
If you have the desire to improve…. If you’ve every played golf at a significantly high level (that might be a 25 handicap for someone, a 15 for another…. It might be a 5 or a scratch for others…. It might be ‘TOUR QUALITY’ for a select few *my wife, for example….) and my guess is that if you are reading this blog you have the desire to improve!!!!!   
OK,  if you have the desire to improve….  GOLF IS DIFFICULT!  
And you know what?  THAT’S GREAT!  That’s one of the things I love about it.  It demands attention.  It demands focus.  It demands…………  PRACTICE!!!!!!
Yes, there’s always that mythical golfer that just steps out of the car and plays great golf…..  I say, ‘good for him!’.   Most likely, that’s not you!  I sure as heck know that it is not me!  
Don’t let the handicap system make you lazy!  You heard me.  The handicap system allows golfers to not practice/train and still compete to some degree…..  Play lousy enough long enough, and your handicap will reach a level where you can still win if you play decent golf for your standards…. That’s too bad for anyone who has the desire to improve.  
Embrace the fact that golf is difficult.  Create a plan for QUALITY TRAINING, and get to it.  Playing high level golf (set your own standard) is far more rewarding that letting the handicap system compete for you.  
Enough said.   Now GO PLAY GOLF!  Stop THINKING GOLF SWING!!

Back at It- The Comeback….

It’s been a while since you’ve played golf.  Life gets in the way….  So what’s the best way to get your game in shape? 

Well, if you are still in the middle of ‘life’, and just get the infrequent chance to get out to play- the answer is a little different. 

In that case, it’s best to keep the expectations low, enjoy being out on the course, enjoy swinging the club, and simply have the intention of making good swing.  Do your best to play smart golf, and try not to judge yourself too harshly…. 

Hopefully, you are ready to dig in and get your game back.  In that case, it’s important to have realistic expectations and a game plan for your comeback.

First- understand that if you’ve spent more than a few weeks away from your golf swing, chances are good that your body won’t fully cooperate at first.  Understand that your ‘touch’ and ‘feel’ might be a little off….  One of your primary goals is to limber up the body in the full swing, and practice ‘awareness’ in your short shots.

On the range, while hitting full shots, the best thing to do is to work IN THE GRAVITY DRILLS! The drills will more quickly get you swinging in compliance with the laws of physics, and keep you from falling into any bad habits as you get back going.   In the drills (or not, if you either don’t know them, or simply want to prolong the process of your comeback….), really, really, really, work on building and expanding your FULLY ROTATED, RELAXED FOLLOWTHRU!  This will most quickly get the body into golf swing shape!

While practicing your chipping and putting…. Be aware.  Notice how each shot feels, and think about the distance the ball travels….  Feel your swing as it relates to the distance of your shots or putts…. By staying aware, you’ll more quickly regain your touch!  Stay aware while you train, and there’s a great chance you soon be chipping and putting better than ever!!

Give yourself time to get back into the swing of things.  Play up a tee box.  Hit more safe shots on the course.  If you train consistently and systematically.  If you remain patient and enjoy the process of improvement during your comeback… The experience will be enjoyable. 

How Phil’s Win Can Help You Play Better!

Congrats to Phil, what a spectacular win yesterday at Pebble Beach. 

Here are 2 things you can learn from his victory:

1.  He has been practicing great over the last 6 weeks and yet until this week, his results have been less than desirable……  

Phil knew that his training was top level.  He had tremendous confidence in what he was working on and just kept plugging away….. 

We can all trust that results will follow!  Sometimes it seems that the drills will never kick in on the golf course.  Sometimes we have a bad stretch of golf, or the proverbial ‘worst round of our lives….’, even while practicing consistently….  Phil showed us again that the past does not equal the future.   If your training is solid, YOU WILL SEE RESULTS! 

Stick with the drills.  And BELIEVE!

2.  Phil stopped thinking about mechanics with his putter.  It’s hard to believe that a golfer as gifted as Phil continually falls into the bad habit of THINKING MECHANICS while on the course, and even worse in competition….  He made the decision a few weeks back to simply look at the putts and trust.  Commit to that mind set and the strokes will become more fluid and reliable!!!!   Practice, but more importantly,  LOOK AND REACT! Don’t think about your putting stroke!

*Especially in the winter, when every mistake is magnified, it’s easy to think you need to change or fix your swing too much….  What you need is CONSISTENT AND SYSTEMATIC TRAINING!!!!  And then you need to TRUST YOUR SWING. 

Belief in A Method

Find a method.  Believe in that method.  Spend your life training within that method. 

Committing to a teacher, or a golf swing system is powerful and liberating.  Most spend their golfing years searching, fixing, changing, fixing and searching……  in constant search of the magic swing.  These golfers never find ‘it’ specifically because of their training habits…. 

Commit and train within a system and your game will slowly but surely improve over time.  You will be a better, and most cases happier, golfer year after year. 

That’s a sure thing. 

The Timing of THE HEAVE

THE HEAVE:  A.K.A., The takeaway.  The heave is a powerful move from the back that throws the tension out of the arms with sufficient force to sustain a swing. 

By creating a swinging motion early in the swing, you give yourself the opportunity to use the laws of physics to create power and consistency in the golf swing.  The HEAVE is evident in almost every great golfer’s swing……  Slow and muscular movement into the backswing is evident in almost everyone else’s golf swing…. 

The term HEAVE was first used to refer to the takeaway by David Lee, founder of the Gravity Golf Swing.  Over the last 30+ years, David has also developed a system of training that allows the body to feel and develop a swing based on physics, rather than the lift and strike method 99.9% of golfers instinctively develop. 

Learning to NOT use your arms in the backswing is extremely difficult from a normal set up position.  The tendency is to use arm muscle to move or pull the arms back into the backswing….  The beginning of the swing should be from the core (back), and those powerful muscles should ‘throw’ the arms into a swinging motion… 

In the drills, specifically the FRONT ROUTE DRILL, you can rid yourself of the old habit of using the arms to move the arms!!!!  It takes understanding, time and repetition, but it can and will happen. 

I get asked often about the HEAVE and it’s roll in the FRONT ROUTE DRILL.  If you can’t visualize the FRONT ROUTE DRILL, please click on the link and watch. 

Mike sent me a question about the timing of the HEAVE in the FRONT ROUTE DRILL…. The FRONT ROUTE DRILL does many things for a golfer.  It helps rid you of the instinct to strike at the ball, it really helps improve a golfers equilibrium throughout the swing… But most importantly, it develops a core takeaway.  Remember, the HEAVE is not an arm movement… The HEAVE is a powerful move from the core.  In the FRONT ROUTE DRILL, the heave begins from the core, as it turns into the backswing.  Once you have finished the forward movement of the club and are ready to move the arms and club into the backswing, that is when the HEAVE begins.  This drill takes the arms out of the backswing…  It is in it’s essence a core turn drill, or a HEAVE drill.  Once you begin the powerful turn into the backswing in the drill, or in your regular swing, you can simply let momentum carry the arms, shoulders, and back to the finish of the backswing… It will float there on it’s own accord. 

The most important thing to remember is that the HEAVE begins the backswing.  Your core can and should be the driver of the swing.  When done correctly, the arms will swing with gravity and rotation on a more predictable path, time and time again! 

*Final thought:  Great timing on this question, Mike.  All my students should be practicing hundreds of FRONT ROUTES a week in the winter!  It is a top priority to get the core moving in colder weather! 

Brain Basic and Golf

Let’s begin the new year by going over some basics…. 

First, we must understand that the brain, in it’s attempt to help out, tends to destroy a the golf swing in 2 ways:

1.  Through proprioception, we tend to HUNT the golf ball.  This hunting or striking instinct is great for killing a snake.  It’s probably the number one reason why almost all golfers struggle at the game. 

A high priority for every golfer should be to learn how to swing through a ball…. Never at a ball…. 

2.  In the brain’s attempt to get the most power out of a shot, we tend to flex the arms and shoulders on every downswing…..  This flexing of the arms and shoulders always throws the club off path (due to Newton’s 3rd law of physics) which demands another compensation or luck in order for the ball to end up close to it’s intended target.  It’s inefficient at best, massively destructive in most cases…. 

THERE ABSOLUTELY IS a way to tame that inner beast in the downswing!  It’s called THE HEAVE!!!  If the powerful core (your back) throws the heavy arms (yes, the arms of an average sized adult male weight about 30 pounds….) into a swing that has enough force to sustain the entire golf swing, the brain senses that there is enough energy to move the ball powerfully with path integrity!  That means that the arms are left to simply fall, and be carried around consistently by gravity and rotation….. 

Don’t believe me?  It’s easy to see in many of the world’s best athletes….  In golf, we marvel at the ease in which Freddy Couples, Ernie Els, and Rory McIlroy swing.  They are swinging with great power, but also with extreme efficiency!

KNOW that it is not a mystery!  KNOW that you can train the body to avoid the brain’s instincts.  The answer lies in the GRAVITY DRILLS.  A tiny percentage of golfers (I mean .001% tiny) can either stumble into an effortless swing, or hit enough balls everyday to overcome inefficiencies….  Everyone can improve their games with consistent and systematic training in the drills. 

Why are the drills so important?  Because of the 2 brain basics I discussed above.  You will always fight those instincts unless you can basically BEAT THEM out of you with the GRAVITY DRILLS. 

Get to work!  Train in the drills!  Ask me questions!  We can make 2012 the best golfing year yet! 

Merry Christmas with a Dash of Great Advice!

Merry Christmas to you all.  I really appreciate your comments and questions, and certainly your participation in my blog. 

Here’s to a fantastic golf year in 2012!

When it comes to training, there is no one I respect more than my wife, J.  She worked harder on her game than anyone I’ve had the privilege to be around in the game.  She also has a great golfing mind.  She’s played competitive golf at the highest level, so when she offers advice on golf, I’m thrilled to share it with you. 

She sent this comment to me after she read my blog on Putting advice:

“Great blog indeed. I always felt it helped me not only to try making those short putts but also to try to make them dead center. (While training and playing)Step up the bar by making your putts dead center… and put a premium on getting the speed perfect.”

Simple advice on focus and confidence. 

Putting Advice For a Beer….

I’ve been thinking a lot about putting lately, for several reasons, so it was a cool surprise to get this question from Rob recently:

“Recently I have been trying the “Phil” method of putting 5′-10′ putts in a circle around the hole. On some of the big breaking putts we have here, I don’t even scare the hole. Before I totally lose my confidence, I return to straight putts which I can make 10 out of 10. Can you talk about different putting drills for us to do on the putting green? Thanks for all of the help, good luck with the rehab and the next Sam Adams is on me!”

I want all my putting drills to answer yes to 1 or more of the below questions: 

1.  Are they improving your skills of starting your ball on your intended line?
2.  Is it improving your ability to roll the ball at an optimal speed?
3.  Is it providing clear feedback?
4.  Is the drill competitive in nature?

So many drills are a waste of precious time on the putting green.  I’ve yet to meet anyone who enthusiastically spends enough time on the putting green.  

I’m not criticizing, rather I’m pointing out that what little time we do spend on the putting green better be spend with SUPER HIGH QUALITY DRILLS if we expect to get anything out of our training.  

Right now, I think the two drills you mentioned above are excellent.  Here’s how I would ‘kick them up a notch’ in terms of QUALITY. 

Begin your training by putting 4 foot straight putts (Golfers with handicaps over 8 should be doing this drill from 3 feet in most cases).  How many in a row can you make?  Spend 10-15 minutes creating new records of 4 footers in a row.  You can stop at 100 in a row if you would like….  The repetition of putting a straight putt is fantastic for motor learning.  You’re body will learn how to make A STROKE.  You’ll learn how to start your ball on your INTENDED LINE… 

Here’s how I would have you do the ‘Phil Drill’.  One day, work on putts from 4-10ft to a quarter or a ball marker.  You’re focus is on rolling the ball over the marker, but more so on DISTANCE CONTROL.  Yup, even on short putts, it’s critically important to roll the ball at a consistent speed.  Especially at your club, where the greens are severely sloped, it’s vitally important for this reason:  SPEED DETERMINED LINE!

So spend 20 minutes going around in a circle, putting putts from 4-10 feet with the intent of rolling the ball past the marker 4-15 inches past the hole with great consistency…..  As your speed control improves (and it will with this drill, because you will see all putts roll out rather than fall into the cup….), your skill of green reading will improve

The next day, putt ‘around the world’ from 4-5feet.  Take just 5 balls and ‘randomly’ toss them around the cup approximately 4-5 feet away*.  Now putt these 5 balls and repeat 10 times.  In my head, I like to keep track of how many out of 10 putts (or two reps) I make.  After 50 putts, figure out how many out of 50 you made.  Now you have a record (and a percentage of putts made) and you simply try to beat that record next time around.  If you can get up above 70% of makes, you’ll be putting great on the course!!!

Yikes, that was a bigger blog than I intended for this morning…. The good news is that just with these two drills, you’ll see big improvements on the green!  We’ll discuss how to finish up your putting training in the weeks to come. 

As for now, I’m done for the day….  And this blog was better than expected, so it will cost you at least 2 Sam Adams! 

*putt one ball from the STRAIGHT line.  Find a straight putt and place a tee near by so each run around the hole, you can putt one perfectly straight putt to make sure you stroke stays true!

3 Priorities for Better Winter Golf, part III

We’ve officially had a couple of ‘Winter days’ up here in New Bern, NC.  Now, our definition of winter is far less severe than that of my friends up in New England, so let’s be clear…..  Playing golf in temperatures under 55 degrees can really have an adverse effect on your golf swing.  As the temperature drops lower, all your swing errors are exaggerated…..  

So, focus on 3 priorities in your golf game this winter!


2.  CORE TURN.  Cold weather tightens up the muscles in the body.  Blood naturally goes away from the extremities in order to protect the vital organs.  We wear extra clothing which further restricts our movements….  The less we turn, the more we use our arms.  This is a recipe for bad golf.  It’s one of the major reasons (that and lack of consistent practice) why almost all golfers play poorly every winter.  

3.  IMPROVE YOUR SKILLS OF IMPACT!  Yes, impact becomes critical in the winter months.  Specifically, impact skills around the green.  As the grasses go dormant, the ball lays closer to the ground.  During the winter months, the ground itself tends to go through extremes of wet and dry, depending on the weather.  This adds up to TOUGHER SHORT SHOTS!  

Make it a priority to work on your skills of impact around the greens.  Spend time every week working on getting your chip and pitch swings to BUMP THE GROUND more consistently in the same place!  

The key here is to let GRAVITY work.  Let the club fall and it will hit the ground every time.  This is a critical element in the short shots.  If the club isn’t hitting the ground every time, then you will really struggle with winter golf.  With very little grass as a buffer, swings that don’t let the club fall to the ground end up being skulled shots, and the results of those are highly unpredictable…..  

Equally important, is allowing the club to hit the ground in the right place! If you hit the ground too soon, the club will stick or bounce depending on the texture of the surface….

It’s a skill, no doubt, but one worth working on all year long.  You should be spending time every week focusing on  your impact with chips and pitches!  I find the best way to do this is with LOTS AND LOTS of PRACTICE SWINGS!   3-10 before every shot!  Yup, 3-10 focusing on letting the club bump the ground in the right location!  Really pay attention to allowing the club to bump the ground at and past where the ball would be on your chip shots.   

Make it a priority to be better at this skill every week, and I have no doubt that you will be a better golfer this winter and beyond!  

3 simple priorities….. BALANCE.  CORE TURN.  YOUR SKILLS OF IMPACT.  Get to it!  

3 Priorities for Better Winter Golf, Part II

You can play to your handicap in the winter.  You do not have to play lousy golf along side all the other golfers who suffer through the winter….  Have 3 priorities while you train:

1.  FINISH WITH A FULLY ROTATED RELAXED BALANCED FINISH (As discussed in the previous blog)

2.  CORE TURN.  Cold weather tightens up the muscles in the body.  Blood naturally goes away from the extremities in order to protect the vital organs.  We wear extra clothing which further restricts our movements….  The less we turn, the more we use our arms.  This is a recipe for bad golf.  It’s one of the major reasons (that and lack of consistent practice) why almost all golfers play poorly every winter. 

*Using the arms to move the arms and club in the golf swing will ALWAYS throw the swing arc off it’s path.  You are doomed to rely on your ability to compensate on EVERY swing you make.
    Good news!  You can train in a manner that will not only help your winter golf, it will show huge dividends come next spring and beyond!!!!  The key is to TRAIN THE CORE WITH GRAVITY DRILLS all winter long. 

**The UPROUTE and/or THE FRONTROUTE drills are by far the best and most important drills to be doing ALL YEAR (I MEAN WINTER) LONG!!!! 

If you train in these drills at least 90% of the time with your full swings, you will play better winter golf, and be training to play great warm weather golf!!! Think of winter training as just that…. Off season training like professional athletes do that make them better when the season begins!  Forget about your regular swing on the range this winter!  TRAIN IN THE GRAVITY DRILLS and BAM! You’re a better golfer. 

To be continued…..