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Monday, September 26, 2016

Improve the Path of your Golf Swing with this Simple Training Aid

Sometimes the most simple training aids are the best!  In this article I am going to demonstrate how a tennis ball can help you improve the path of your golf swing.

The first item on the agenda is to cut a tennis ball in half.  Be very careful and use a sharp knife.  I find a serrated knife is best for this project.  Once the ball is cut in half you are ready.  I know some golfers may be self conscious about using training aids on the practice range, so the drills I am going to show you could be done on the range, in your backyard (with plastic golf balls or no golf balls) or even in the house.  The main thing is if you want to improve, you have to put in a little work daily!

The first drill is very simple and I call it the "gate" drill.

GATE DRILL

Use an alignment rod or golf club on your stance aimed at a specific target.  Tee up your golf ball with an 8 iron, and sole your club behind the golf ball.  Now place each half of the tennis ball about 1" on either side of your club head.  You now have a gate for your club to pass through.


Remove the golf ball from the tee and I suggest you make some practice swings and see if you can swing the club head through the gate and clip your tee.  If you successfully pass through the gate, then your path should be OK.  For some reason our practice swings are always better than our real swings.  Let's tee up a ball, use the 8 iron and see how you do.


I just love the focus this drill gives you.  You can also check your divots with this drill.  We want the divot to be in front of the tennis balls and not behind.

Now let's get a little more detailed with our path.

OVER THE TOP on the DOWNSWING 

If your divots tend to point to the left of the target and they are deep, then you come over the top of the ball on your downswing.  This means you are swinging too much from outside to inside on the downswing.  We need to reconfigure the tennis balls.  Place one half of the tennis ball in front of your golf ball about 6" and about 1" to the left.  Place the other half of the tennis ball behind the ball about 6" and about 1" to the right. You will have a diagonal as pictured.




If your are coming over the top, you will more than likely strike all three balls (below)!  Note below how my shoulders are aiming to the left prior to impact.  The club head is going to follow your shoulder path leading to pulls, pull hooks and pull slices. 


This could be caused by taking the club too far to the outside on the backswing.  Make sure not to strike the outside ball on the backswing.  This might be all the fix you need.


I recommend to follow the same procedure as the first drill.  After you have your diagonal placed on the ground, start by making practice swings and see if can pass through the gate without striking either of the tennis ball halves.  Once you have the feel, go ahead and tee up an 8 iron and begin hitting balls.  If you tee the ball, you can leave the tennis balls in place, otherwise, every time you take a divot you will have to move the tennis balls.


TOO MUCH INSIDE TO OUT on the DOWNSWING

If your divots tend to point to the right of the target or the divot begins behind the ball and you feel like you are scraping the ground through impact, you come too much from inside to out on your downswing.  You will need to reconfigure the tennis balls.  Place one half of the tennis ball about 6" in front of the golf ball and about 1" to the right.  Place the other half of the tennis ball about 6" behind the golf ball and about 1" to the left.  Your diagonal will look like this below.



If you are coming too much from the inside you would more than likely strike all three balls (below)!  Note how my shoulders are pointed way to the right of my target prior to impact.  My club head is again going to follow my shoulder path to right field causing the ball to start right of my target and I will hit pushes, push slices or push hooks. 

 

This could be caused by taking the club too far to the inside on the backswing.  Make sure to miss the inside ball on the backswing.

 

Follow the same procedure as the Over the Top Drill by starting with practice swings before hitting balls.


Both of these drills will help you identify if you have a faulty path and help you correct it!  Remember you may have to make lot's of practice swings with the tennis balls in place before actually hitting golf balls. 

     Below is a comparison of downswings.  The middle picture is the correct position prior to impact.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Lightning!!

It is that time of year in Texas when late afternoon "pop up" thunderstorms happen and lightning is a likely part of this scenario.  These storms can turn severe very quickly and it is important you know what to do if you get caught on the course.   

Fortunately during this indoor instruction session at the Barton Creek Golf Academy we were safe from the elements, but this bolt came out of nowhere as they commonly do.


When you are on the golf course or practice area, you are vulnerable.  Even when storms are miles away, lightning can be a threat.  In fact, I was in Tarpon Springs, Florida, playing last summer and there was a storm at least 15 miles away near the coast.   Out of nowhere a lightning bolt hit the golf course near the hole we were playing and it sounded like an explosion!  Needless to say we hightailed it to the clubhouse.  This event really made an impact to me how unpredictable lightning can be.

If you are playing or practicing and the course has sounded the horn, immediately stop play and head to a safe place.  If the course does not take this step, it is up to you to take charge and seek shelter if a storm is nearby.

Taking shelter under a tree is NOT the correct course of action.

If you are playing in a tournament and lightning is near, you have the right to discontinue play until it is safe.

Follow this link to the NOAA for information on lightning and safety procedures.

http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/

Let's all be safe!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

More Pictures from the Dell WGC Match Play Championship


Following are a few more pictures from the last two days at the Dell WGC Match Play Championship.

                                                        Rory McIlroy waiting to play on hole #12

                                         Dustin Johnson taking a practice swing on hole #16

                                              Matt Kuchar calculating his yardage on hole #12

                                              Ricky Fowler and Jason Dufner on the Range

                                            A great view of the 2nd shot on the par 5, 12th hole

                                        A view of the course from the Pennybacker Bridge

                                No ticket?  No problem.  Just pull up in your boat and drop anchor.

           After entering the main gate all spectators walk on the temporary bridge to get to the course.


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Dell WGC Match Play Championship comes to Austin, TX

The Dell WGC Match Play Championship is being conducted this week at the beautiful Austin Country Club in Austin, TX.  ACC, a Pete Dye design, is located on the banks of the Colorado River (Lake Austin) and should prove to be a formidable host.  Just FYI, the nines have been reversed for this event to take advantage of the awesome lake views.  The other nine has some really tough holes with some elevation changes which are part of the Texas hill country.  Number 9 may be one of the toughest holes on the course and in the state!


The Pennybacker Bridge which crosses over Lake Austin will be the most photographed structure in Austin this week.


Today my wife and I attended the practice rounds and following are a few pictures for you to enjoy!  The wind is blowing this week and the course is in excellent condition.  There should be some exciting matches.



Scoreboard...



On the practice tee...

                                                     Zach Johnson in the white sweater

                                                                      Phil Mickelson

                                                      Kevin Na working on his head position

On the putting green...

                                                              Jordan Spieth, nothing but net

                                                  Billy Horschel working on his putting drills

                                                          Paul Casey in the middle

Short game area... 


On the course...

                                                         Rory McIlroy putting on #10 green

                                                                      Rory McIlroy

                                                                       #11, Par 3

                                                                              #12, Par 5

                                             #12 green is small and protected by water and sand

                                                           Lee Westwood tees off on #12

                                                                  Matt Kuchar on #12

                                                   #12 green looking back up the fairway

                                                      Not a bad place to hang out on #12

                                                                     #13 tee, Par 4

                              Looking down #13 fairway from the tee, lot's of water on the left

                                                Looking back to #13 tee from near the green

                                                              Adam Scott on #13 fairway

                                                 #15 green looking back down the fairway

                                                      Rory McIlroy putting on #15 green

                                                 Looking down on the #16 green, Par 5

                                                   #18 green looking back up the fairway

                                                            Scoreboard by #18 green

I hope the course looks as good on TV as it does in person.  The greens are perfect and fast.  We are just getting into our growing season for bermuda grass, so the rough is not as tall or thick as it would be later in the spring. 

Welcome to Austin!