Golf Swing Compensations…the Golf Swing’s Biggest Killer!!!

This brings up the subject of “compensations.” An awareness of compensations will help you understand the relationship between various swing movements.

What is a “compensation”?

A “compensation” is a movement for the purpose of overcoming another flawed motion. In other words, if one part of your swing contains a flaw, in time your body will develop an accommodating motion that allows you to strike the ball with some success. This is the
concept of “matching up mistakes.”

This may sound like a good thing, and you may achieve temporary positive results. However this is a dangerous concept. When a compensation helps you hit the ball more accurately, you tend to try to repeat the move. Thus, you focus on improving the compensating move instead of correcting the fundamental problem. The compensation becomes another movement requiring voluntary
control. The more moving parts in the swing, the more difficult it is to repeat with consistency.

For now, you only need to be aware of the concepts of compensation and matching up mistakes. As your knowledge of the swing increases, you will more fully understand and be able to eliminate the compensations.

Understand that if you already have compensating factors in your swing, then you need to repair both the improper motion and the compensating motion.

Golf & Business….Go Together Like A Horse & Carriage!

I guess it doesn’t have the same ring that the Sinatra song had but it’s accurate. Golf is the game of business. More deals are closed in a golf course club house or through the relationships cultivated while playing golf than with any other endeavor.

There are a couple of reasons for this. One, even though in America the game of golf has spilled over to the “common man”, having lowered the costs through municipal golf courses, daily fee courses and other like facilities the is not as common in other countries, especially Europe. Golf is still considered the game of kings and royalty. It is still considered a prestigious game. Outside the US golf is expensive.

Two, the game of golf is difficult to play well, takes four and a half hours to play and has a built it social factor by including lunch after nine holes in a fancy clubhouse and then drink afterwards. In America you include the golf cart which allows you to schmooze your prospective client all the way around the golf course for the entire four and a half hours. As if that’s not enough, golf is also the only game I know that you can play with a drink in your hand! In fact golf courses jockey up to get the best looking beer cart ladies in hopes of attracting more golfers.

Now that we know that golf is the game of business how does one improve their bottom line through this advantageous endeavor? Let me offer some tips for those that play golf and those who don’t. Yes even those who don’t play golf and take advantage of the golf market. I’ll also offer some tips on how to market to golfers directly.

First for those who play golf, if you are going to take your clients out to play golf make sure you are at least proficient enough to score 90 – 95. If you’re shooting over a hundred you’ll be doing more harm than good. The old adage of letting your client always win is not true. He/she will loose respect for you. In fact having a good golf game and beating the pants off your client will gain not only their respect but their admiration. Good golf equals “talent” in your client’s mind.

Most importantly if you have a bad day DON’T SHOW IT! Don’t let your golf game influence the mood! Just apologize for having a bad day, pick up your ball if you’ve hit it too many times to not slow up the pace and laugh it off.

If you are shooting consistently over 90 – 95 then you need to look at taking some professional instruction and work on your game a little before attempting to do business “with your golf game” on clients.

For those who aren’t playing well enough or do not play at all and want to take advantage of impressing a golf client may I suggest you do the following, explain to your client you love golf but are not proficient enough as yet but you’re working on it and would love to play with them once you do. Find the better golf course in your area and offer them as a gift two (2) cart & green fees to that golf course. Yes make sure you get two or he/she might never use the gift. Just hope they don’t take your competitor, (that’s why you should learn how to play). Another very good choice is to inquire about a nine hole playing lesson at a golf course. Getting your client a playing lesson with a PGA pro may not cost anymore than the two cart & green fees and be more impressive. Of course you need to do your home work here and make sure the pro you choose has an excellent reputation.

Another very good choice is to purchase your client some golf balls. If you have the chance to ask your client what ball they prefer get them that very golf ball. If you don’t have the chance may I suggest getting the Titleist V1star. They might be a little pricey but you’ll come off like a champ.

If you have a product you would like to market to golfers, you’ll find that golfers are easy to get to. Any good direct mail house that rents lists can rent you very specific lists by income, number of rounds played etc. There are internet companies that do the same for email blasts. These are double opt-in emails so you’re not sending spam.

You’ll also find tons of web sites that offer advertising space on a pay per click basis as well as Google ads with keywords that relate to golf.

Almost every town has a small golf related magazine or newspaper that is circulated around golf courses. Visit a few golf courses in your area and look around the club house. Usually the stated materials are in the pro shop or dining area or the front door as you exit for golfers to pick up.

Golfers are generally a higher income demographic. Only about 12 – 15% of the population in America plays golf but they’re worth going after and easy to find through their common interest – GOLF!

What does “Alignment” mean and how is it different from “Aim?”

What does “Alignment” mean and how is it different from “Aim?”

The question may seem too simple. Alignment deals with the shoulders, hips, knees and feet. We want these four body parts all in “alignment” so they are all pointing in the same direction. Pointing them in the same direction is “aiming.” A person can have good alignment and not be aimed at the target. Also, because of wind factor or slope angle, you may need to aim somewhere other than the flag or the green.

Most amateurs don’t recognize the full effect of alignment and aim. Proper alignment is absolutely essential to a proper swing. Some swing faults can be attributed to poor alignment.

In many ways, aim is just as critical. Aim deals with a perception. Therefore, you judge your ball flight by where you perceive you are aimed. If your aim is off target, you will adjust your swing for what you think is a swing flaw, when it is actually an aiming mistake.

Aim and alignment are also a lot more difficult than most players realize. The task is subject to mis-perceptions caused by several factors:

(a) The target is 90 degrees from the direction your body faces. This means you must be able to set both the club face and your body in a line perpendicular with the target line. It sounds easier than it is; most players are completely unaware when their line is off. Players will often begin the day with good aim and alignment and then unwittingly slip into misdirection as the round progresses…or in this case, regresses.
(b) When you are addressing the ball, looking down the target line, it may appear that the desired hitting direction has changed slightly.

(c) Sometimes you must hit from a slope, forcing you to adjust aim, alignment and setup.

(d) The terrain and obstacles in your target path affect your perception of target direction.

(e) It’s easy to forget how important it is to properly aim. Without a diligent and consistent pre-shot routine, you will tend to become less aware of the steps you are taking to aim. This is a big mistake.

It takes practice to manage each situation presented by the golf course. Golfers are highly susceptible to faults even in situations with no added challenges. Poor aim and alignment skills cause poor play for many golfers.

One of the most common errors is setting up too far right of the target. This may seem incompatible with the fact that most players tend to be slicers. Wouldn’t lining up to the right send their ball even further from the target? Not necessarily. When the setup is
to the right, a player tends to swing across the ball, on an outside in swing path. This outside-in path will help start the ball on a path toward the target, which is left of the player’s aim.

Usually though, the player strikes the ball with an open club face angle, and the resulting spin forces the ball back to the right. Players will then compensate for this tendency by cupping the hand at just the right moment in the follow-through and releasing the left
arm toward the target. It is extraordinarily difficult to time this movement consistently. Too many angles, too many variables come into play. It all adds up to an unpredictable, unrepeatable swing, much of which could have been avoided with a proper setup.

The Steps to Proper Aim and Alignment.

1. Set the Club face. You must first set the club face perpendicular to the target. Don’t make the mistake of setting your feet first. Instead, carefully choose the target line, set the club face angle, and then align your body to the club face.

How do you select and mentally hold the target line? It is very helpful to choose a target along the ground-line leading to the ultimate landing area. Pick a point a few yards ahead and aim the club at it. The more you can envision this line, the better. You might imagine a strip of neon yellow tape stretching from your ball to the chosen point.

2. Align Your Body in Relation to the Club. Place your feet along an imaginary line parallel to the target line. When you set your feet, your hips should naturally fall in line. Continue this alignment so the entire body is aligned and aimed parallel to the target line. Imagine a set of train tracks to the target, with your ball on one track and your body aligned on the other.

3. Align Your Eyes. The eyes play a critical role at this point. They deliver directional information to your brain, which then sends the message to your muscles. Garbage in… You know what comes next. Your eyes may give you a different message about direction once you are in the hitting position. You must trust that your club face and body are properly aligned. The more you practice your setup, the more confidence you will have that you are aimed correctly.

When you are looking at the ball, you should have the feeling that your eyes are parallel to the target. In other words, a line running through your right eye and into the left should be parallel to the target line. This will require you to keep your head relatively level. You will most likely find yourself tilting your head so that your right ear is below the left. Try to avoid this, because it can skew your directional perception. When you turn your chin on this forward angle, it tends to pull your vision to the right of the target. Even if everything else is aligned, this misalignment can cause undesirable swing compensations.

Once you are in hitting position, look at the target again, visualizing the desired direction of the ball. Instead of lifting your head to look down the target line, swivel it. You only need to rotate it enough to view the selected ground-line target a few yards ahead.

Why Golf Lessons Don’t Seem To Help As Much As They Should

I’ve been giving golf lessons since 1970. Some students improve more than others, even if some golfers don’t realize it at first. However the break down is in maintaining the improvement. Both students and golf professionals alike need to pay more attention to how the student is going to continue to maintain the improvement and not fall back to old habits and tendencies.

I’ve seen golfers improve from a golf lesson in less than an hour, only to fall right back to their old habits two or three days later.

The practice you put in right after the lesson, (within the first 60 hours) is crucial. You need to repeat the new motion again and again until it begins to “sink in”, (some call it muscle memory my wife calls it nagging).

The proper way to do this is NOT at a driving range or with a golf ball. In your lesson your professional should have assigned drills that isolate the specific area in your swing motion that you are trying to re-program. You should have a point of reference assigned so you can tell whether you are accomplishing the goal.

I like a full length mirror, maybe clubs on the ground as a reference point or maybe a stick in the ground that forces you to take a new path to the golf ball. The more you practice with isolated drills and some kind of reference point as a guide the better off you’ll be.

Yes a golf lesson can get things started in the right direction but the golf lesson only serves as a map to follow. Most of the results will come far after the lesson with the continued nagging of your isolated motion drills.

A word of caution here…do NOT carry over the drills to the golf course. I like to call it drill, drill, drill and forget it.

Have They Improved The Master Championship? I Don’t Think So!

I can’t tell you how disappointed I am in the powers to be at The Masters Golf Championship. They’ve ruined my favorite golf tournament. I’m quite certain that Bobby Jones is turning in his grave!

The Master’s has chosen to lengthen their golf course to the point that 90% of the field doesn’t have a prayer in competing for the opening major championship of the 2006 season. I grant you that Master’s officials certainly should have concern for their championship being won by a score like 22 under par. Compared to the US Open, known for it’s difficult conditions making even par a winner score again, the Masters at Augusta National with it’s wide rolling fairways and light rough became outdated in today’s long ball hitting environment.

The same long hitting lineup is hitting it long at the US Open too but it’s not just the length that’s causing the higher scores. It’s the super fast greens and tight fairways with considerable rough that makes it very difficult for any player to reach the green in regulations once in deep rough’s grasp.

At the Player’s Championship we watched the best PGA touring professionals in the business agonize over a par three of only 123 yards. What made the Masters committee decide that only a 240 yard par three could tame today’s long hitting bullies?

Tighten up the golf course I say, don’t lengthen it. Add a vicious intimidating rough that would make even the longest hitters reach for their 1 iron or a three wood to not risk hitting their drive in the rough and lose a stroke, (or maybe even your ball) to a deep club swallowing hazard.

Not only would the scores go up but at the same time you would bring more players into contention and in my estimation bring out the best ball strikers not just the long knockers.

Doesn’t NASCAR do the same thing? Look at how successful NASCAR is! They control the speed of the cars so that more competitors are bunched up at the finish to create a more exciting race.

Maybe the powers to be at The Masters, with all their glory, high income power brokers, members of the powerful business clicks, don’t have as much sense as a bunch of rednecks with a beer in their hand watching a Chevy go around in a circle. It must be true, look at the numbers at NASCAR and look at how golf is loosing popularity and participation.

How To Read Golf Greens for Speed and Break

How To Read Golf Greens for Speed and Break

Short putts and long putts, are played with the same golf club even though the stroke pattern and purpose are quite different. Short putts demand club face control while the long putts demand pace control. The short putting stroke should be as short as possible to lower the risk of changing your club face position after aligning the club face at the target. The long putt stroke can be long and flowing because controlling the pace of the ball speed is your goal.

You’ll find when you three putt a green most of the time you left your putt short or you knocked it past the hole, unless there was a significant amount of break that you did not negotiate properly. It is usually the pace or speed of the ball that is the most difficult to control, especially on super fast greens like Augusta.

Today we discuss long putts and how to first determine the speed then the break. Most golfers look at the break first. I first have to make a decision on how fast I’m willing to roll the ball before I decide how much break or curvature the ball will take over the surface it has to cover. The slower I roll the ball the more it will break or curve.

I look at the green from 150 yards first to see any tendencies of lean one way or the other. If I threw a bucket of water on that green which way would it flow off?

Once reaching the green you need to look at the putt from both sides to gather all the information you can about the surface you are about to roll the ball on. I suggest that you drive your golf cart to the back of the green each time, (being that most golfers leave their ball short of the hole on approach) and then walk around the back of the putt first. Try walking a half moon circle around the putt rather than straight to the ball. Look at how the green leans. Understand that the designer of the green had to account for water to flow off the green for drainage purposes. Find the area of drainage and you’ll have the keys to the “lean” of the green.

Look at the coloration of the green. Is the color a deep dark green and thick or is it light brown with very thin grass blades? Is it up hill or down? Is there a ridge where the ball will speed up on you and run by the hole? Make a determination while walking around the hole as to how fast you need to roll the ball. Then once behind the putt, meld the information you acquired from looking at the putt from the back and the frontal view you have. Now and make an educated guess at the amount of break you should play for.

Remember if you are off on your amount of break by a foot or two it probably won’t cause you to three putt. It’s that putt you leave seven feet short or twelve feet past the hole that will cause you to three putt. Get the pace first, then the line.