Friday, June 30, 2006

Golf Without Tempo

A golf swing tempo can be a golfers best friend or their worst enemy. Swing tempo (speed) will vary from golfer to golfer with the swing tempos ranging from fast to slow. We've all heard of the golf tip or comment to "Slow Down". When a golfers swing tempo is too fast then their game will have a tendency to degrade as their tempo increases.

The worse golf swing tempo killer is tension. Tension in any part of your body will keep you from any kind of consistent golf play because you're body can't freely move when performing the golf swing. One of the things I do on the golf range to reduce tension in my hands and arms is to slightly bend at the waist and let my arms hang from my shoulders. I then start to shake my hands which causes my arms to shake with them. I visualize the tension falling off my hands and arms. I'll then start to hit a few balls and if I still feel a little tension I'll repeat the shaking. I'll even do it during the round if I feel tension coming on.

Here are 3 things you can do to help relieve tension and create a good golf swing tempo:

1. Try to get yourself in a relaxed state by eliminating all thoughts of the office, kids, wife, etc... You want your mind to be as clear as possible.

2. Perform the shake drill I described above to remove tension from your hands and arms. If you feel tension in other parts of your body then do what's necessary to loosen them up.

3. Take a club and start making an 1/8 of your golf swing back and forth, then 1/4 of your golf swing back and forth, then 1/2 of your golf swing, then 3/4 of your golf swing. Each one of these should be done 2 or 3 times and as you perform them you want to swing as slow as possible without feeling jerky.

The key to these 3 things is to develop a nice smooth golf swing tempo that will help you be a more consistent ball striker. You'll also find that once you do find your golf swing tempo that you'll feel like it takes a lot less effort to hit the golf ball. If you currently have a fast golf swing then it may take you a little longer to establish a good golf swing tempo.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Golf Is Simple As 1-2-3

When it comes down to it golf is a really simple game, but a lot of us including myself sometimes make it seem more difficult than it is. Golf can be boiled down to getting a golf ball from point A to point B in the least amount of strokes in the shortest distance from tee to green.

Now this all may seem extremely obvious, but if you put yourself in that mind set it will actually help you score better. You can break down golf into it's simplest form of hitting a golf ball a few times onto a putting green and then putting the golf ball a couple of times to get it into the hole. So this is what we have:

1. Hit the golf ball off the tee into the fairway. It doesn't have to be 300 yards, but in the fairway. Swing within yourself and concentrate on getting the ball in the fairway and not trying to out drive everyone in your group.

2. Hit your approach shot concentrating on giving yourself the best chance possible of hitting it onto the green. If this means you have to hit away from the pin guarded by a bunker to give yourself a higher percentage chance of getting it on the green then do it.

3. Hit your putt with the confidence of making it instead of trying to avoid a 3-putt. If you're always putting to make sure you don't 3-putt then more often than not you'll 3-putt more because your putting with a negative mind set. With long putts of 20 feet or more there are times when a lag putt is the right thing to do, but putts within 20 feet you should always be thinking 1-putt. Even though you may not make a high percentage of them you'll be putting with a positive mind set.

I actually talk myself through these 3 simple steps before I play to remind myself that golf is really a simple game and to not complicate it. Just to play within myself and to hit the golf shots I know I can hit... not the golf shots that I think I can hit.

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Monday, June 26, 2006

The Clevelend Hibore Is For Real

I've been following the Cleveland Hibore on the internet for several months now by looking at the reviews. I decided to go and hit one of these Hibore's at Roger Dunn's Golf Shop. At first sight it looked a little strange with the low profile compared to by TaylorMade R7 Quad TP, but it felt nice in my hands.

I took the Hibore into the swing booth and teed up a golf ball. I made a few practice swings to get a feel for the weight of the Hibore and it felt nice. I stepped up to the ball and put a nice easy swing on it and it felt like it jumped off the face. I continued to hit a few more balls and everyone felt solid. The launch monitor wasn't hooked up so I couldn't tell how far I was hitting the Hibore, but I'm sure it was on par with my TaylorMade R7 Quad TP.

I then came home and did some additional research on what golfers have been saying about the Hibore and every review I read gave it high marks. On one website they had 35 reviews with a 4.5 out 5 star rating with rave reviews.

If you've been thinking about getting the Cleveland Hibore and haven't been sure then I hope this post will convince you to do it... the Cleveland Hibore is for real!!

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Golf Schools Out The Wazoo

I've been doing quite a bit of research lately on golf schools and what I've found out is there are a lot of them. The Golf School industry is very competitive and the well known golf schools are generating a lot of revenue.

Golf schools have a very large range in prices. For example a 3-day golf school can range from $350 (no accommodations) to over $3,000 with a top notch instructor like Butch Harmon. The golf schools also have a wide range of amenities. The lower priced golf schools are pretty much bare bones with just the necessary things to work on your golf swing. The median to higher priced golf schools cater to more of a vacation environment with amenities for the whole family. A few of the higher priced golf schools are all inclusive, which includes the golf lessons, unlimited golf, all meals, accommodations, etc...

Overall there's a golf school for any budget and I think every golfer should attend a golf school at least once during their golfing career. So when you're planning your next vacation you should consider a golf school as your next destination. The US Golf Schools web site is a great resource for researching your next golf school vacation.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Only 2 Good Shots In A Round Of Golf

The average golfer hits only 1 or 2 good golf shots in a round of golf. When I say good I mean they hit the golf ball on the sweet spot and it goes where they wanted it to go. The pros only hit 5 or 6 good golf shots in a round of golf.

If you can accept that you're only going to hit 1 or 2 good golf shots in a round then you can concentrate on minimizing the severity of how bad your other shots end up. You do this by playing to the strengths of your golf game or playing away from the weaknesses of your golf game... and to take your pride out of the golf shot.

For example say your next golf shot is an 180-yard carry over water. On your best day of golf you could hit it over the water 2 times out of 10. You're better off taking a smaller iron and hit away from the water into the fairway to take the water out of play.

If your next golf shot requires you to hit it through a 10 foot gap between 2 trees and on your best day of golf you could hit it through the gap 1 out of 10 times then you're better of to take a wedge and hit it out on to the fairway.

I see a lot of golfers think they're Tiger Woods or Phil Michelson and attempt very low percentage shots that end up costing them 2, 3, or more strokes on a hole, which most of us call the blow-up holes. If these golfers would just play the percentage shot they could probably cut 7 or more strokes off their score.

Another thing that golfers can do to cut strokes off their score is use a little course management. If your approach shot requires you to hit over a 10-foot high green side bunker to a tucked pin and it typically takes you 2 shots or more to get out of a bunker... then the percentage golf shot is to hit away from the bunker to the fat part of the green.

If you're in a green side bunker with a 10-foot lip and bunker shots are a weak spot in your golf game then your best bet is to hit your bunker shot over the lowest part of the bunker away from the green just to get it out. This will set you up to hit your next shot on to the green and possibly one putt for your par or bogey.

When preparing to hit your next shot always know where you want to miss it if you end up not hitting it the way you planned, which we know now is going to be about 95+ percent of the time. By preparing yourself for this then you'll have a much better chance of recovering from the miss hit.

During your next round of golf try doing these things and I guarantee you'll cut several strokes from your golf score. Just remember you're not Tiger Woods so don't kid yourself in thinking you can hit golf shots the way he does. Leave your ego in the parking lot. Play smart golf and you'll be amazed by your golf score.

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Friday, June 16, 2006

4 Steps To Hitting Out Of A Divot

Having your golf ball come to rest in a divot is always a disappointing site especially when you've just hit your best drive of the day in the middle of the fairway, but we all know that's golf for you. Here are 4 steps you can follow to hit your golf ball out of a divot.

1. Take one club longer than you would normally use from that distance.

2. Play the golf ball in the middle of your stance or just a little bit back in your stance.

3. Break your wrists earlier than normal when taking the club back.

4. Hit down on on the golf ball hard on your downswing. Try get the golf through the ball and follow through as much as possible.

With the longer irons the golf ball will typically come out lower with not a lot of back spin, but with the short irons it will have a tendency to come put with more back spin on the golf ball. You'll want to try this out on the golf range to get a feel for the shot. Each divot is different so be prepared to see some shots come out ugly. By practicing this golf shot it will help you the next time your on the golf course and confronted with your golf ball in a divot.

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Master The Fairway Bunkers

Do you have difficulty hitting your golf ball from the fairway bunkers? I've seen a lot of golfers struggle with this golf shot and its really not that difficult. The 2 biggest mistakes I see golfers do when trying to hit from the fairway bunkers are:

1. They try to scoop or lift the golf ball out of the trap.
2. Their body isn't quite during the golf swing. Meaning there's too much movement when they need to reduce as much of the swaying as possible.

Here are 4 swing thoughts you can do the next time you're in the fairway bunker.

1. Make sure your feet are secure in the sand trap.
2. Play the golf ball more towards the middle of your stance.
3. Make your normal swing. Don't try to scoop or lift the golf ball out.
4. Keep your weight on your left foot throughout the swing.

If you use these tips then you'll see a big improvement in your fairway bunker play and probably drop a few strokes from your golf score.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A Golfers Father's Day Card

TaylorMade-adidas Golf is offering you the ability to send your dad a customized e-card for Father's Day. From TaylorMade's website you can customize a really nice e-card. Use the link below to build your TaylorMade Father's Day e-card. Also, you'll see some touching videos about some PGA pro's reflecting on the days of playing golf with their dad.

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Is Your Golf Ball Right For You?

The majority of golfers today are probably playing golf with a golf ball that's not right for them. Meaning, the golf ball they're using is actually hurting their golf game. If they were playing with the correct golf ball they'd probably be hitting their drives 5 to 10 yards longer or more.

There are 2 major factors that play into what golf ball you should be using.

1. How much ball speed do you generate when hitting a golf ball?
2. What kind of launch angle do you create when hitting a golf ball?

The general rule is if you have a low golf ball speed then you'll want a higher launch angle, which equates to needing a golf ball that will generate a faster spin rate. You need more spin so the ball climbs higher and stays in the air longer.

If you have a high golf ball speed then you'll want a lower launch angle, which equates to needing a golf ball that will generate a slower spin rate. With a faster ball speed you want the ball to bore through the air and not spin as much. Too much spin on high golf ball speed will create a ballooning affect and loose distance.

Spin Rate is measured in revolutions per minute (RPM), spin rate determines how far and how straight you can hit a golf ball. Generally, players with higher ball speed will want to keep their spin down, while slower ball speeds will dictate that you increase spin to maximize trajectory and distance.

Here is a general guide:

If you have a 120 mph golf ball speed then you want a launch angle of 15 to 17 degrees, which would require an optimum spin rate 3750 and 3900.

If you have a 140 mph golf ball speed then you want a launch angle of 13 to 15 degrees, which would require an optimum spin rate 3300 and 2550.

If you have a 140 mph golf ball speed then you want a launch angle of 11 to 12 degrees, which would require an optimum spin rate 2500 and 2700.

Another determining factor is if you have the right shaft stiffness in your golf clubs. This too will affect how much ball speed you can generate. If the golf shaft you're using is too stiff then you're probably loosing distance because you're not generating the golf ball speed that you could be with a less stiff shaft.

Go to a golf club fitter equipped with a launch monitor to determine the right golf ball for you. You may find out that those $45 Pro V1's you've been playing with are hurting your golf game and the $20 Nike golf balls will get you 5 to 10 yards more on your drives.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Golfsmith 15% Off Coupon (Father's Day)

Thinking of getting your dad some new golf equipment for Father's Day? Well Golfsmith is offering a 15% off coupon on a single golf item of $50 or more. Free 2nd day air shipping on purchases over $75. When ordering your dad's golf stuff use promotion code RTA624FDC when ordering on their online golf store or on the phone (800) 813-6867. If you want to redeem it at their retails golf store then print out the following coupon:

golf equipment

Give your dad a dozen golf balls or a new putter instead of that tie ;)

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Monday, June 12, 2006

Golf's Flop Shot With a Sand Wedge

In golf when it comes to hitting a high golf shot, also know as the flop shot, most golfers reach for their 60 degree lob wedge. Now most golfers don't have a lob wedge in their golf bag. I suggest you reach into your golf bag and take out your sand wedge to hit this shot. What you need to do is open up the sand wedge a little bit so that you have the same loft as a 60 degree lob wedge. You then perform the same golf swing you normally do when hitting a flop shot, which should be...

1. done with an open stance
2. done with the golf ball in the middle of your stance
3. done with your swing plane along the line of your open stance

Most golfers don't practice the flop shot because they think it's too difficult. The best thing to do is go to the golf range so you can get a feel for how hard you need to swing the golf club for specific distances. If you decide to hit the flop shot on the golf course then make sure the lie will allow you to hit it. If the golf ball is buried in deep rough then you probably don't want to try it.

The flop shot in golf takes some creativity so the next time your hitting a bucket of golf balls on the range give it shot. You'll be surprised how easy it is and it could save you a few strokes in your next round of golf.
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Sunday, June 11, 2006

New Golf Clubs or Used Golf Clubs?

I have a lot of golfers ask me if they should get new golf clubs or used ones and the answer is... it depends. There are several factors you should consider when deciding whether or not you should get new golf clubs or used golf clubs.

Get used golf clubs if...
1. you're new to golf and want to see if you're going to like golf. No reason to plunk down a bunch of money for something you may not like doing.

2. you want a name brand set, but you don't have the money to get new ones. This is really common sense because you don't want to be eating Top Raman for the next 3 months because you had to get a $1000 set of irons.

3. you can get a good deal on a used set. Golf clubs are kind of like cars in that once hit them they depreciate quite a bit.

Get new golf clubs if...
1. you're more serious about playing golf. When you're golf game gets to a certain point then the clubs can make a 1 or 2 stroke difference, but if you're still relatively new to the game then getting expensive clubs will not make you better.

2. you can afford them. If you have the money then by all means get them, but remember what I said in #1 above.

3. you're one of those people who don't like hand-me-downs ;-) Some people just don't like getting used things.

I've been playing golf for 30+ years and I've bought both new golf clubs and used golf clubs. I'd have to say it's about 50-50 of new to used golf sets. I bought my current TaylorMade R7 TP Quad driver used from Golfsmith and got an excellent deal on it. I was fortunate to find one with the specs I needed. My previous 2 drivers I got off of eBay. So you can see that it does really depend and you can't go wrong with new golf clubs or used ones.

One caution you should be aware when purchasing new golf clubs used ones. I highly recommend you get the clubs fitted to your swing.

For used golf clubs you're buying a set that more than likely isn't fitted for your swing and this could make the difference in a couple strokes in your golf game. Try getting fitted at Roger Dunn's for a set, but don't actually by them because you just want to get the specs of your swing like lie, shaft stiffness, shaft length, etc... You can then use your golf swing specs to find a used golf set that's right for you.

With the a new set of golf clubs I'd do the same thing, but this time you have the sales guy custom order the clubs based on your specs. If you're really serious then I'd go to an independent golf swing analysis shop like
Maxout Golf or TaylorMade MATT. Both of these places will dial your swing in and provide you with all the specs you need.

Where to get used golf clubs? Go to Golfsmith, Roger Dunn's, Nevada Bob's, eBay, or any large golf shop. Also, ask around in your circle of friends if they have a set of golf clubs they'd like to get ride of.
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Friday, June 09, 2006

5 Steps For Hiring A Golf Teacher

Here are 5 basic questions and/or tasks you should do when looking for a golf teacher. These will help you find a golf teacher that's right for you.

1. First you need to determine what your budget is. While doing your research for possible golf teacher candidates this should be the first thing you ask or find out so you don't waste your time with the golf instructors over your budget.

2. Next you need to determine if you want a complete revamping of your golf swing or if you're just looking for a quick fix or tune-up. Some golf teachers may be better at one or the other.

3. Ask your golf buddies if they've used a golf teacher and if they'd recommend them. They may also know of a good golf teacher through the grapevine.

4. Once you've narrowed down the list to 4 or 5 golf teachers then look at their credentials. See where they've taught in the past and call their past employer to see what they have to say about them and their style of teaching golf.

5. Finally set up a phone or face-to-face interview with the golf teacher to see if their style and personality will work for you.

If I hadn't mentioned golf teacher throughout this post you'd probalby think these were steps to perform for hiring someone for a job. Well actually that's exactly what your doing. A golf teacher is an independent consultant and you're hiring him to do a job... work on your golf swing. So you should perform the due diligence to make sure you get the golf teacher that's right for you.

Another option to a golf teacher is to go to a golf school. Check out my other post on Golf Schools.

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

5 Steps To Building A Golf Swing

Today I've listed the basic golf swing thoughts I go through after a layoff from golf to build up my golf swing. I do this to help get my golf swing mechanics back into a nice tempo. I think it's always a good idea to get back to the basics after a layoff from golf or if I'm struggling with my golf swing.

1. Grip - I concentrate on just enough pressure to hold the golf club in my hand. You know the old saying enough pressure to hold a bird in your hand. This really helps me reduce the tension in my arms when holding the golf club.

2. Setup - I concentrate on being solid and square to the target with my shoulders as level as possible with my left arm extended and in line with the golf club. My knees are slightly bent and relaxed so I can make a full turn.

3. Takeaway - I concentrate on taking the golf club away in one piece. My left arm remains inline with the golf club until it's parallel to the ground at which my wrists start to break and the club continues upward. I keep my right arm tucked in so it doesn't fly out.

4. At The Top - I concentrate on a 3/4 golf swing for all of my irons. This was something I incorporated when I was playing high school golf. It took a little getting used to, but it really improved my accuracy and control with my irons. I then drop the hammer, which is where I visualize my right arm coming down as if I'm hitting something with a hammer. I want to feel my right arm pulling down and through the ball. Also, my body leads before my hands do.

5. Swing Through Finish - I concentrate on swinging through the golf ball and not hitting at it. Think of the golf ball getting in the way of the golf club head. As I'm at the bottom I concentrate on following through with my arms extended and my right hand rolling over the left. I let the momentum of the golf club take me through to a high and balanced finish that has me rotating until my chin is underneath my right shoulder.

These golf swing thoughts really help me get my golf swing back into the grove. If you've had a lay off from golf or just struggling a bit with your golf swing then give these a try. If you incorporate these into your golf swing let me know how they work out for you on the golf course.
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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Golf Isn't A Real Sport!

I heard on a radio talk show that the host didn't feel golf was a real sport. He made that statement because he felt if a 16-year old girl, Michelle Wie, can almost qualify for the US Open then how can golf be considered a real sport. Now Michelle Wie is a very unique golfer and she's treading new territory much like Tiger did when he was young.

The talk show host also got a kick out of how some of the men golfers are reacting negatively about her attempting to qualify. I'd have to agree with him because what are these men golfers so afraid of? I think their golf egos are getting in the way of their judgment.

If a golfer man or woman has the talent to play at the highest level than they should be given the opportunity to prove themselves. Their golf shouldn't be scrutinized because of their gender, but strictly on their golf skills and their ability to compete with the best golfers in the world.

For those of you opposed to Michelle Wie or any other women golfer attempting to play on the PGA Tour... I challenge you to put your skills up against these women if you think their golf game isn't worthy!
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Monday, June 05, 2006

Chipping With A 5-Iron

When it comes to chipping the golf ball on to the green I encourage golfers to not limit themselves to using just a sand wedge or lob wedge.

The obvious purpose of chipping is to get the ball as close to the hole as possible... or in the hole if your lucky. So why do so many golfers limit themselves to just a few clubs in their bag to chip with?

I personally will use any golf club in my bag to chip with, but the circumstances dictate which golf club to use. The majority of the time I want to get the golf ball on to the green as soon as possible and have it run out to the whole. The reason why I want to do this is to get the ball rolling like a putt. I feel like I have more control and accuracy of the golf ball when I do this.

There have been chip shots that I've used a 5-iron because of the distance I was from the hole when just off the green. I've used pretty much every club in my bag except for my driver to chip with. There are times when you need to be creative about a chip shot.

The next time your confronted with a chip shot use a club that will get the ball on to the green and rolling as soon as possible. Please practice with the different golf clubs around the practice green before you try it on the course because you first need to understand how much each club will make the ball run.
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Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Best Golf Tip Ever

The best golf tip I could give anyone would be to master putting. When I say master putting I mean to be the best putter that you can be.

Now I know you were probably looking for something a little more profound, but I think it's the simplicity of it that makes it the best golf tip. If someone asked me what they should practice to lower their score I would always say putting because the game of golf is won and lost on the putting green. I'm not saying you shouldn't practice your swing, but you should seriously consider mastering your putting game.

Even if you just practice your putting stroke with a few golf balls in your home or office 10 minutes a day you'll be surprised at how much better your putting will become. The reality is most amateurs don't want to practice their putting because it's either boring or too time consuming. What they don't realize is they can reduce 4 or 5 strokes from their game very easily if they put a little effort into their putting game.

So in my opinion practicing your putting as much as or more than the other parts of your game is "The Best Golf Tip Ever".
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