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Setting yourself up to be a better putter
By Evan Wilson, PGA

All good putters have one thing in common, they roll the ball.   When they make a putting stroke the ball rolls end over end, it does not skip, bounce or bobble.  Putting is the most subject facet of the golf game.  There are great putters with arcing strokes, straight back straight through motions, face balanced putters and blades, long putters and short ones.  Regardless of their stroke and the putter they use, golfers who putt consistently well all putt a true end over end roll on the ball.  At this point you probably have three questions:

1)  Why is an end over end roll important?

When the ball is bouncing or skidding it is highly susceptible to being deflected offline and perhaps more importantly, having the distance it travels effected.   You will not only miss more putts, but have longer second putts, leading to the dreaded “3 Jack”.  A rolling putt will be significantly less affected by spike marks, small rocks/grains of sand or any other imperfections in the putting surface.  Whether you’re putting on the greens at Augusta National or the freshly aerated surfaces of your local muni, a true roll will reduce the number of strokes on the greens and scorecard.

2)  How can I tell if my putts are skidding or rolling?

Now that you are paying attention to the roll of your putts, it may be obvious to you that your putts are bouncing or being deflected offline.  If you can’t tell do not worry, there is a simple test.   First you need to draw a straight line on a golf ball if it does not have one already.  Take this line and aim it at the hole while striking a couple putts.  If you are putting a true roll on these putts, the line on the ball will continue to appear straight as it rolls toward the hole.  Conversely, if your ball is bouncing or skidding the line will wobble and your ball will probably stray offline.

3)  How can I put a better roll on my putts?

While hours of practice probably wouldn’t hurt, for most people, simply developing a sound setup will quickly and dramatically improve the roll of their putts.   There are two main principles of the setup that will affect the roll of the putt:  ball position and hand position.

Ball Position -    I would venture to guess that just about everyone reading this article has been told that your eyes should be directly over the ball, or just inside the ball.  You have probably been told to take your setup, and then take a golf ball, hold it between your eyes and drop it and where it lands is the proper ball position.   I will concede that your eyes need to be on or slightly inside the line of the putt; however, if you follow the procedure just mentioned, your ball position will be too far back in your stance.  If you have the ball too far back, you run great risk of hitting down on it, driving the ball into the ground and cause it to bounce.  I would much rather have golfers follow the same procedure only drop the ball from next to your left temple (for right handed golfers).  By having the ball slightly forward in your stance, the path of the putter will be arcing upward at impact, promoting and end over end roll.

Hand Position - Now that you have properly placed the golf ball in your putting stance, you are half way to putting a true roll on your putts.  However, if you get your hands pressed too far forward or too far behind the ball you still run the risk of stroking a wobbly putt.  Putters are built with between about one and four degrees of loft.  If you press your hands too far forward, your putter will effectively have negative loft and you again run the risk of driving the ball downward into the green.  If your hands are too far behind the ball, you will have too much loft.  Having too much loft will impart backspin and can cause the ball to jump into the air off the clubface.  In either case, you will have difficulty controlling how far the ball travels and/or the direction it travels.

A good way to check where your hands should be is to place the sole of the putter head squarely on the ground or floor.   The shaft of the putter will be nearly vertical if it has only one degree of loft or lean slightly forward for each additional degree of loft it has.  Regardless of the case, place your hands on the grip and address the ball, without manipulating the shaft angle.   If you are able to do this while keep in mind the proper ball position, you will immediately begin rolling putts with greater efficiency.


Use Simple Household Items In Order to Putt Like Tiger

by:  Chad Vaughn, PGA


Putting is the most overlooked aspect of most amateur's games.  Fortunately, it's also one of the easiest to work on.  Significant improvement can be had with very little practice time.  One of my core beliefs as a teacher and coach is that the simpler we make the game, the more successful we'll be.  To that end, I use two putting drills that utilize items that are likely lying around your home.  Practice these drills for 10 minutes a day, three times a week and you'll be rolling your ball like a Tour Star!


Drill 1 – "Walk the Plank"

Item Needed – 2"x4" Board, 30" Long

This drill is always my first step in making a student a better putter.  One of the keys to good putting is for the putter to travel in a straight path back and through during the stroke.  A straight piece of wood makes this a breeze.  Find a straight 6 foot putt on your practice putting green (or on a putting mat indoors).  Place the 2x4 on its edge (2" side on the ground) and point it just left of the center of the hole (for a right handed golfer).  Now rest the heel of your putter against the center of the board.  Make slow practice strokes, concentrating on keeping the putter in contact with the board throughout the entire stroke.  Now introduce the ball and roll some putts, again keeping the putter on the board at all times.  This drill will groove that "straight back, straight through" stroke that will have you making those knee-knockers with ease!


Drill 2 – "Hit in on a String"

Items Needed – Two gutter nails (approximately 6" long), Thin cotton or nylon string (20 Feet long)

This drill definitely has great "Wow!" factor.  I've seen students who were downright dreadful putters improve dramatically with this one.  First, tie each end of the string to the top of each nail.  Again, find a 6 foot straight putt on the green.  Place one nail in the ground just beyond the center of the hole and pull the string taught and place the other nail in the green just beyond where you will place the ball (You can wrap the extra string around one of the nails).  The string should now be suspended a few inches above the ground.  Place the center of the ball under the center of the string and make sure you have enough room for a backswing.  Place the putter under the string, directly behind the ball.  If your eyes in the correct position, the alignment line of your putter (if it has one) will be completely obscured by the string.  The goal now is to utilize that "straight back, straight through" stroke you grooved with the board.  The putter should travel along the string during the entire stroke.  If done correctly, the ball will travel under the string and roll right in the center of the cup.  Once you mastered the straight 6 footer, extend the string and work on longer putts.  The string is also excellent for working on breaking putts.  Just move the nail nearest the hole so the string is pointing at the apex of the break.  You'll quickly learn how speed and break are related and that is more than one line that will allow the ball to go in the hole.


I guarantee that mastering these two drills can take at least six strokes off a 15 to 30 handicap golfer's game.  No need for a new $500+ driver.  No crazy infomercial gadgets.  Just sound technique and some time are all that's needed.


Conservation & Expenditure of Energy
Storing & Releasing Your Way to Better Golf

By: Mason Champion, PGA

In its most basic form, the golf swing is conservation and expenditure of energy.  The point of definition that separates the two is the line that separates the back-swing from the forward-swing.  Everything that the body does during the back-swing is done in order to store energy to later impart into the golf ball.  Everything that the body does during the forward-swing is done with the intention of releasing said energy into the golf ball.  The energy then passes to the ball and the ball is propelled forward.  Sound simple?  It is.  Efficiency of motion in golf requires proper balance of energy conservation and expenditure.

Other athletic motions are similar.  Take for instance, a pitcher in baseball.  Picture his wind-up – his front leg lifts as his body rotates and his arms rise (conserving energy); then he drives forward, his leg lunging and his body unwinding before his arm and hand finally deliver the ball toward the target (expending energy).  In the machine that is his pitching motion, what is the final component to drive through the release area before the ball is finally thrown?  The answer is the ball itself.  Try throwing a ball by only pushing your hand and arm forward.  Is that effective?  Of course not.  What is required in order to throw a ball?  Other parts of the body must work in order to “sling” the ball forward.  The lead leg must drive forward.  The body must rotate.  The shoulders must clear.  It is not natural for an individual to throw a ball by only moving his hand and arm. 

What does this mean for your golf game?  Well, the wind-up of a pitcher on a mound is similar to the back-swing of a golfer.  Its purpose is to store and conserve energy.  The delivery of that same pitcher is therefore much like the forward-swing of a golfer.  Its purpose is to expend the energy that has been conserved.  Not expending all of the energy that is stored in the back-swing is much like throwing a ball by only moving your hand and arm. 

It is therefore evident that a golfer has the responsibility of expending one hundred percent of the energy that he conserves.  Anything less reflects inefficiency.  Many times I observe students who do an excellent job conserving energy – with back-swings that are powerful, well positioned, precise and balanced – but who fail to release the energy that they have done such an excellent job storing. 

Here’s the test.  Count the number of spikes on the bottom of your right golf shoe (left shoe for a left-handed golfer).  Then ask a friend to stand directly behind you while you hit some 5 irons.  Ask him to count the number of spikes that he can fully see after you’ve struck your shots and are standing balanced in your finish position.  If the number of spikes that he can see is less than number that you counted, you’ve got proof of an energy expenditure deficiency.  Your friend should be able to see every single spike in its entirety at the completion of your golf swing.  It’s an under-utilized observation, but the right foot tells the tale of a golfer’s efficiency of energy expenditure.  Far too frequently, I can only see two, three, maybe four spikes of a student’s shoe at the beginning of a lesson.  But there’s good news - this flaw can be easily corrected.

Here’s the drill.  Grab three practice balls and throw them, one by one, in to the practice range.  Oh, and permit me a momentary pause to digress… Do not be embarrassed by performing this, or any drill.  You are practicing with a purpose.  You are making an effort to improve.  And improve you will.  While everyone else is “hitting balls” you’re “practicing.”  There’s a difference; and everyone on the PGA Tour certainly knows what that difference is.  Practice with a purpose or don’t practice at all.  Anyway, back to the drill.  Take the three balls and throw them one at a time into the practice range.  Each time you go through a throwing motion permit yourself to notice and feel the storage of energy and the release of energy.  Take note of the conservation of energy.  And take further note of your ability to expend that energy in the throwing motion.  Then, after you’ve thrown all three balls, take a practice swing and feel the same sensations in your golf motion.  Finally, address a ball and hit a shot.  Perform this drill multiple times per practice session – throw three balls, take a practice swing, hit a shot…thrown three balls, take a practice swing, hit a shot, over and over again.  By the end of the session, you will have thrown more balls than you will have hit; but it’s the quality of the practice shots that is important, not the quantity of the practice shots. 

Another sensation that can be incorporated into your practice session is – get this – the feeling that you are actually going to throw the club down the fairway.  At times, I have actually given a student a club and told him/her to throw it into the driving range.  I’ve told them to pretend that they are extremely angry and that this is the one time that I’d ever give them my blessing to throw a club.  Two things always happen:  1) the student always smiles and 2) the student always expends their energy.

In summary, remember that it is your job to conserve and release energy in order to be efficient in your golf motion.  The right foot is the lagging indicator relative to your effectiveness in performing this task.  Practice with a purpose to expend all that you have conserved.  And most certainly, you will improve.


How To Read A Golf Magazine
Separating Noise from Substance
By: Mason Champion, PGA

“Double Your Money with No Risk Today!" 
– article, page 34”

“Lose 20 Pounds in 2 Weeks with Amazing Diet Pill
– details, page 6”

“Why Are You Here? Our Experts Know The Answer
– page 21

Skeptical? I certainly hope so. And why shouldn’t you be? More than a basic gut hunch tells you that the promises made in these cover stories are a bit misaligned with fundamental logic. But something else rings true with you – something deeper and perhaps something a bit selfish…the attainment of the secret quick fix. To a tiny extent, your brain dances with the what-ifs associated with these statements. “What if I could double my money? What if I could shed twenty pounds? What if I could be told my life’s purpose? What if it really is that easy?” But then you pause, collect yourself, and judge the headlines for what they are…junk – garbage designed to draw you in, to grab your attention enough to justify a $4.99 cover price. You shake your head, dismiss the claims alltogether, and successfully thwart the temptation to waste your money. And for that you deserve some praise. Good for you. Well done indeed. I mean, who really buys into all of that nonsense anyway? Someone much more naïve than you, most certainly. Someone with a bit less assertion than what you’re bringing to the table, that’s for sure. Poor fellow. It must be tough to be so gullible…


“Never Slice Again! – Make Your Driver Slice-Proof Today!
– page 101”

“Never Chunk Another Wedge!
– article, page 50”

“Instant Power! Golf's Untold Secret! Add 30 Yards Now!
- page 63”

“Banish 3 Putts For Good!
– the truth, page 95”

“How To Be Tiger Woods
– see inside for details”

Interesting… Look. Don’t try to deny it. Don’t dance around it. Don’t even make an effort to justify it. Because you and I both know that you read golf magazines. “So What?” you might say “It’s not like I’m the only person reading them. Millions of people read golf magazines – so it can’t be that bad. Right?”

Alas, you would be mistaken. Sometimes the masses have collective intelligence (see The Wisdom of Crowds, by James Surowiecki) – but in this instance they can flush out nothing more than collective idiocy (see The Madness of Crowds, by Charles Mackay). The aggregate intention of the pooled subscriber base is warming with its idealistic hopes for improvement and its naïve addiction to misaligned instruction. But, in the end, the readers are left where they began – with a flaw in their swing and a few less dollars to show for it.

If cover page claims of golf magazines worked, the following would happen:

1) Tour Players would read golf magazines (news flash – they don’t read ‘em)
2) Publishers of golf magazines would go out of business (there’d be no need for them once everyone mastered the game from their tips)
3) Subscriptions would go down (the healthy don’t need the medicine) And, more importantly
4) You would actually get better – drastically better – fast

But, Tour Players continue to seek their instruction individually, publishers are thriving, and subscription bases are growing. And, of course, you still seek the holy grail of swing tips – because for some reason, you haven’t improved as quickly or as substantially as you thought you might when you read that headline about never chilli-dipping a bump-and-run shot again.

So, where’s the justice? What’s the answer? What’s the real secret? What’s the deal?

Well, let’s answer those questions in order, shall we:

Where’s the Justice?
The justice is found in realizing that “when you do the same as everybody else, all you’ll ever be is average” (Adalius Thomas ~ Boys’ Latin Golf Practice, April 2006). Well, the average golfer reads golf magazines. Coincidentally (or not) the average golfer also shoots 97 and hits a big banana slice. So, the first thing to understand is that if you want to be something other than average you must instill understandings and disciplines that are not necessarily aligned with what everyone else is doing or thinking. In being different you are exposing yourself to the opportunity to achieve different results – and in this case, something different than a slice-induced 97 might be nice.

What’s the Answer?
The answer is not to fully dismiss golf magazines (surprise!). The answer is to know how to read them, and to treat instructional articles with skepticism. Each magazine breaks its articles into six basic categories: Statistics, Human Interest Stories, Tour Player Swing Analysis, General Interest, Editorial, and Instruction. Instruction oriented pieces are the hooks – they draw in the buyer through ridiculous cover-page promises. But they’re not the only articles. Wedged between the front and back covers are other features. These are nearly always safe to read. They do not necessarily focus on improving the games of the masses. They concentrate instead on interviews with tour players, frame-by-frame breakdowns of popular tour swings, humorous editorials by golf’s funnymen, and features on famous golf destinations around the world. These pieces have a great deal of substance, and can actually be very beneficial to read and absorb. In fact, many PGA Professionals have compiled swing libraries of Tour Professionals from frame-by-frame breakdowns torn from the pages of golf magazines (BL Coaches included). But beware mass-produced instruction. In golf, like in many other life avenues, one size does not fit all – and it would be dangerous to assume that one instructional tip could fit the games of an entire subscriber base. Be skeptical of mass-produced instruction. Question its suitability for your swing. Question its impact to your game plan. Question the interest of its source. And most importantly, question its placement in your current course of development. More times than not, answers to these questions will be solidified through interaction with the PGA Professional that is currently working with you on your game. If you have thoughts, opinions or questions relating to an instruction article that you read, take them to your PGA Professional. He/She will help you decide if the tip is indeed a healing elixir or in fact a deadly poison.

Where’s the Real Secret?
“The secret’s in the dirt,” Ben Hogan once said when he was asked what he knew about the golf swing that nobody else knew. Hogan was not alluding to the notion that a buried treasure lie beneath the reporters who huddled around him; but rather that the real secret to heightened achievement in golf could only be found by taking divots – lots of divots. The secret was in the practice and in the hard work. Hogan worked harder than anybody at developing his game. When he attained self-actualization on the links, he was faced not with praise for his discipline, but rather with questions about a “secret” – something that he must know that the rest of the world didn’t. There was no such secret. Only a desire to do what others weren’t willing to do – work hard, very hard, for a long, long time. But Hogan had something else also…a game plan – a detailed understanding of his golf swing and sound judgment relating to what was true insight and what was bunk. He filtered out the noise and focused on the substance. And when he worked, he worked with intention – never tinkering, always polishing. The secret for the achiever today is still in the dirt. To succeed, one must practice with intensity and purpose – and take divots from the earth with a focus not on fluff, but on principle.

What’s the Deal?
The deal is this: If you ignore the noise and concentrate on what you know to be true, you will succeed – both on and off the golf course. Take stride to understand the difference between truth and fiction. And approach amazing claims with a heightened degree of skepticism – especially when they come with a cover price.

There are only nine different patterns in which a golf


How To Hit A Slice On Purpose
Understanding The Laws Of Ball Flight

By: Mason Champion, PGA

There are only nine different patterns in which a golf ball can fly – no more, no less. To that end, there are only two factors that combine to form these nine patterns or "ball flights.". Understanding the ball flights and their associated components of influence assists a golfer in two vital areas: 1) Analysis of miss-hit shots and 2) purposeful production of such shots when needed.

The first factor affecting the flight of the golf ball is the path of the swing itself. Relative to the intended target line, the path of the swing as it approaches the golf ball can be “Inside to Outside” (a path associated with the travel of the club from an area close to the body before impact to an area away from the body after impact), “Outside to Inside” (conversely, a path that finds the club moving from an area away from the body pre-impact to an area close to the body post-impact), or “Square to Square” (equal distance from the body throughout the motion, pre and post impact).

Here’s how to practice and recognize the three paths:Lay a club on the ground and position it in a manner such that it lies on your target line. In such a position it is acceptable to say that the club on the ground therefore represents said target line. Hold your 5 iron in your hands and hover it above the center of this target line. Swing the club to the top of your backswing and begin your downswing in slow motion. As the club travels into the would-be impact area, purposefully maintain its position directly on the target line. Recognize this as a “Square to Square Path.” Now, take the same backswing and begin the downswing cognizant of redirecting the club from the outside of the target line (the side of the line opposite your feet) to the inside of the target line (the side on which your feet are positioned.) Recognize this as an “Outside to Inside Path.” Finally, take your backswing for a third time and once again begin the downswing in slow motion. On this occasion, redirect the club as it approaches the impact area from the inside of the target line (the side where your feet are positioned) to the outside of the target line (the side opposite). Process this as an “Inside to Outside Path.” Continue reviewing each path with ongoing practice swings. Progress from executing these practice swings in slow motion to doing so with normal pace. Take pause during each swing to absorb the understanding inherent to each path’s unique sensation. Indeed, you will recognize that each path feels different. As well, you will find that your finished position will change with the path that you are executing. You might notice that an Outside to Inside Path produces a finished position that finds your hands below your shoulders and a feeling that you are moving much more rotationally across the ball that what is normally associated with your swing. Conversely, an Inside to Outside Path might yield the sensation that your hands are much higher above your shoulders in your finish position and the shaft of the club intersects the shoulder line. This path may make you feel as though you are finishing much “taller” than you normally would. Square to square might feel the most natural, and the closest to your average motion. Regardless, it’s important to practice each path and to recognize the sensation differences that they produce.

Why is the path of the swing important? Because it affects the first component of ball flight – The Initial Direction Of The Ball. Relative to the intended target line, a ball can only travel initially in one of three directions – right of the target line, left of the target line, or on the target line. The initial direction of the ball is directly correlated with the path of the swing. It is the swing path that dictates where the ball will begin its flight relative to the target line. For a right handed golfer, an Inside to Outside Path will produce a ball that begins its flight to the right of the target line. Conversely, an Outside to Inside Path will yield a shot that begins its flight to the left of the target line. A Square to Square Path will produce a shot that begins its flight directly on the target line. Practice hitting shots with each of the three swing paths. Notice how the initial direction of the ball is impacted with each path. Pay attention to only the initial direction of the ball and nothing else when analyzing path.

The second factor affecting ball flight is the position of the clubface at impact. The clubface can be positioned in one of three fashions relative to the target line: Closed (the face points to the golfer’s side of the target line), Open (the face points to the opposite side of the target line as the golfer) and Square (the face points directly down the target line). The position of the clubface at impact affects the sidespin that is imparted upon the golf ball. An Open Face will produce (for a right handed golfer), left to right sidespin; a Closed Face will yield right to left sidespin; and a Square Face will produce no sidespin. Sidespin causes the ball to veer away from its initial path – moving either to the right (open face) to the left (closed face) or remaining straight on the path it is traveling (square face). Sidespin is a secondary force and it not inherent to the ball flight until gravity has reduced the affect of the path’s initial dominant force. Typically, sidespin will transition into the dominant force role somewhere around two thirds of the golf shot’s total distance. It typically takes that long until the force of the path has been reduced enough by gravity to permit the sidespin to take over.

Practice hitting shots with a square face, an open face, and a closed face. Notice how the shots shape differently – and further note how deep into the total distance of the shot it is until the ball begins to curve. When practicing, be sure to position the clubface into its desired position at address, rather than working extra hard in order to manipulate it during your swing. To that end, only grip the club once the desired clubface position has been established – rather than gripping the club and then opening or closing the face.

When the three paths of the swing (Inside to Outside, Outside to Inside, Square to Square) combine with the three clubface positions at impact (Open, Closed, Square), nine different ball flights are possible. Listed below are the nine ball flights, their corresponding slang golf terms and their identifiable flight patterns (for right handed golfers).

Inside to Outside / Square Face ~ AKA "The Push"
Ball begins to the right of the target and does not curve
Inside to Outside / Open Face ~ AKA "Push Slice"
Ball begins to the right of the target and curves right
Inside to Outside / Closed Face ~ AKA "The Push Hook"
Ball begins to the right of the target and curves left
Outside to Inside / Square Face ~ AKA "The Pull"
Ball begins to the left of the target and does not curve
Outside to Inside / Open Face ~ AKA "The Pull Fade"
Ball begins to the left of the target and curves right
Outside to Inside / Closed Face ~ "The Pull Hook"
Ball begins to the left of the target and curves left
Square to Square / Square Face ~ AKA "Straight Shot"
Ball begins at the target and does not curve
Square to Square / Open Face ~ AKA "The Slice"
Ball begins at the target and curves right
Square to Square / Closed Face ~ AKA "The Hook"
Ball begins at the target and curves left

It is important that all of these ball flights be practiced and learned. Doing so, will permit the golfer to call on the shots when needed and analyze a miss-hit shot when necessary. Previously, if you were to inadvertently hit one of the shots described above, you might not understand precisely what it was that produced such a shot pattern. Therefore, you might not understand what is required in order to correct the flight for the next shot. Furthermore, by understanding the Ball Flight Laws, you become able to call on the shots when necessary. Special situations arise on the golf course that may deem it appropriate to manufacture a non-traditional ball flight. Hitting around an obstacle, playing away from a hazard, approaching a tightly guarded flagstick – these are but a few of the situations that might call for a specialty ball flight.

Prior to understanding the ball flights, a golfer has only a limited number of shots that he can summon. Consider the following: Thirteen clubs are in a golfer’s bag that are not used on the putting green. This means that if a golfer uses only a full swing, he has only thirteen shots to summon from his arsenal. Now, if that same golfer has nine ball flights to call on when necessary – he has increased his pool of potential shots to one hundred seventeen possible options. What’s more, if the golfer then practices the ball flights with three additional swing lengths – quarter swing, half swing, and three quarter swing– he has boosted his number of shot possibilities to four hundred sixty eight!

As you practice the nine ball flights, there will be one shot in particular that seems to come very naturally to you. Conversely, you will also note that one shot is extremely challenging for you to produce. These shots will tend to be exact opposites of one another – and it is very common for a golfer to make these recognitions. Understand this – it’s ok that some shots are harder than others. In realizing this, you can then process the likelihood of the shot’s success when you are considering using it on the golf course. For example, you might note in your practice session that you are successful hitting one ball flight eight out of ten times – and successful with another shot only four out of ten times. Recognize the former shot as a “go-to” shot in times of pressure. Use it whenever you can. Understand further that the latter shot is a bit more high risk for you and has a lower likelihood of success. Processing this information will become part of your pre-shot routine in time and will play into your mental preparation as you prepare to hit a shot.

Something else to consider - not all of these shots will feel good, or look good for that matter. In fact, some of them will be downright ugly and feel quite terrible (a pull hook is particularly hideous). That’s ok. Those are the shots that are typically not the ones you will be calling on with regularity; but might be the ones that you can dissect should you ever hit them accidentally.

In understanding the Ball Flight Laws, you become able to teach and coach yourself in the time ahead. It’s important that a golfer understand the “whys” and the “hows” in addition to the “whats” associated with their game development strategies. It is through this that they can then reach a greater level of potential. When you practice, split your bucket of practice balls in half. Dedicate the first half of the practice balls to intentionally hitting the nine ball flights. Dedicate the second half of the practice balls to taking normal swings and analyzing the flight. When doing so, pay attention to two things: where the ball began its flight relative to the target line (path) and if / how it curved (clubface position at impact). Always examine these two components of each shot.  

Understanding ball flight is arguably the most significant key to improvement that can be taught to a golfer - and is considered the strongest of foundations on which to construct a swing.


Pre-Shot Routine As A Reaction Trigger:
How To Develop Instinct In A Static-Ball Sport

By: Mason Champion, PGA

Golf is unique as a "static-ball sport." There is no reactionary component inherent to the game - no instinct that dictates your movement. The ball is not being thrown to you; you are not throwing it to anyone else; nobody is running at or around you. In effect, nothing happens until you swing the club - and you are in complete control of the game in that regard.

There are a few instances in other sports where situations like this occur: In baseball, a pitcher on the mound has complete control of the game - nothing happens until he decides to throw the ball. A tennis player serving is also similar in this regard - as is a basketball player at the foul line.

If you examine athletes who excel in these areas - successful free throw shooters, successful pitchers, and successful servers - you will notice a common incorporation of a pre-shot routine. It is this routine that acts as a trigger for reaction. Effectively, the athlete begins to react instinctively to the pre-shot routine that he has established. Without the routine, the athlete is merely acting blindly and fails to establish true consistency.

Golf is very similar.  As a static-ball sport, it yields complete control to the player - nothing occurs until the player decides to swing the club.  Developing and consistently incorporating a pre-shot routine is therefore essential to proper development of repetition and comfort.  The inception of a reactionary trigger via the anchoring of a pre-shot routine is as vital to the success of a golf swing that it is to an effective serve, free throw or pitch. 

One need only to watch a televised PGA Tour event in order to witness the importance of the pre-shot routine.  The best players in the world recognize how vital it is to their success - and have incorporated it into their on-course disciplines and methodology.

As you develop a pre-shot routine, bear a few things in mind:

1.  Make it repeatable.  It should be a routine that you can repeat over and over again without fail.  Therefore, you may want to refrain from including a lengthy series of actions that may potentially be forgotten or improperly executed with ease.

2. Keep it on pace.  Although a pre-shot routine is essential, slow play is not.  Do not permit your routine to unduly delay the pace of play.  Keep it to 10 seconds or less in length from inception to shot execution.

3. Always begin from behind the ball. The routine is yours to create - but one thing that must occur is your observation of the target from behind the ball.  This is necessary so that you are able to view the target clearly, and with both eyes.

4. Incorporate a practice swing.  This assists in reinforcement of your swing mechanics, as well as the associated feel of the shot you are about to play.

5. Be confident. Convince yourself during the routine that the shot you are about to play is the absolutely best option available to you, and that you are going to execute it with precision.  Confidence is a must - and you have the length of your routine in order to incorporate it.

Should your routine be interrupted at any point for any reason...stop and start over.  Remain sensitive to the pace of play, but also remain committed to the execution of the shot through executing proper sequence of your pre-shot routine.

Take control of your game by incorporating this reactionary trigger - its inclusion in your game will no doubt yield consistency, focus and ultimately, confidence.



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