Golf Divots are Good

Short Game: Golf Divots are Good

Golf Divots are Good

Short Game: Golf Divots are Good

“…but I’m not a ‘divot taker,’ though.”

“Time to change that,” a teaching PGA pro says.

Are you a “divot taker?” If not — why not? It’s how irons are designed to be used.

Many students come for a lesson and I ask them to warm up with a few 8-iron strokes. Upon completion, I often have commented that I did not see them creating or “taking” any divots into the turf.

Now the casual answer follows something like, “I have never taken divots my whole life,” or they say simply that “I’m not a divot taker.”

This comment is usually said with a measure of self-satisfaction. At that point I may take the club from them (Don’t worry now.), and hit a few shots myself then ask them to notice the divot. Why would one person take a divot and the other not when both of them just used the exact same golf club?

One of us has to be using the club less efficiently. Right? (Sarcasm.)

Okay, so should taking a divot be a choice for golfers who claim that their goals are to improve for the mid- or long-term? Now before we go any further, I wish to acknowledge that golf has produced great champions who developed a swing that rarely created divots. Tom Watson comes to mind as does the late Payne Stewart. But there will always be exceptions to the rule.

I would estimate that more than 90 percent of golfers on the PGA, LPGA and Champions tours take divots with a full swing beginning at a 6-iron all the way down through their wedges. Why? Because — first off — it’s how the iron was designed to be used.

Second, it shows the continuation of the downward journey of the clubhead following impact with the body, arms and club shaft in powerful and correct positions. In other words, it’s correct golf swing form.

My plan is not to delve into the details of how to create a repetitive divot/impact here but to get you to investigate why you may be a “non-divot taker.”

But I can say with some assurance that failure to create a divot with the clubs mentioned above in a full swing is a swing flaw; and, don’t worry, you did not choose it. But you can fix it.

And creating divots matters. When you don’t take a divot, your strike  is less powerful than it could be. It’s also harder to control into a wind, among other things.

So do yourself a favor, take a lesson with your favorite PGA or LPGA professional to discuss and understand the proper divot/impact positions.

And make sure you either replace your divot or fill it with sand and seed.

 

 

Senior Golfer Tips

Stretching/Warming Up: Senior Golfer Tips

Senior Golfer Tips

Stretching/Warming Up: Senior Golfer Tips

Maintaining balance, overall fitness and practicing regularly with a pro are keys to staying on the links well into your golden years 

Golf maintains its popularity since many players with reasonable health have the ability to play throughout their entire lives. In fact, I have seen players still playing well in their 90s — while others create a lifelong goal of shooting their ages.

It has been reported seniors over the age of 50 comprise nearly 33 percent of the golf population. Unfortunately, physical challenges and injuries occur more regularly as we get older, such as weight gain, loss of strength, flexibility and arthritis… just to name a few of the common health problems associated with age.

The National Institute on Aging concluded that adults lose about 10 percent of body strength by the time they reach 50 and 12 percent to 18 percent by the time they reach the age of 65. So it should be no surprise seniors are searching for more distance due to the loss of strength, flexibility and clubhead speed.

Similar to most golfers, many seniors begin to over swing in an effort to make up for lost distance. Increasing swing speed will certainly help hit the ball farther, however, it does not guarantee more distance. Every 1 mph of swing speed equates to 3 yards of distance.

Seniors need to swing as hard as they can and still maintain perfect balance throughout the swing. Missing the sweet spot on the club face causes a dramatic loss of distance. Therefore, players need to create solid contact and maximize their swing speed for longer and straighter shots.

Improve Balance

Seniors searching for additional distance should focus on balance, tempo and impact position. Tempo directly influences balance throughout the swing. Practice maintaining a smooth tempo and slow take-away to help ingrain an effortless swing. Once your arms and body work cohesively together, you will produce a consistent tempo, maintain balance and ultimately improve impact position.

Practice hitting half and three-quarter shots with your feet together to learn how tempo and balance complement each other. If you swing too fast, you will lose your balance.

Fitness Increases Potential

Gary Player should serve as a role model for every golfer! Player has focused on personal health and fitness his entire life and is currently in amazing physical condition even in his late 70s.

Seniors should consider a strength training and stretching program to improve their overall physical fitness. Improving strength and flexibility will allow seniors to hit consistent and longer shots, and most importantly, help prevent injuries. Visit your doctor, trainer and golf professional to develop a realistic plan to improve your health and golf swing.

Visit Your Local PGA Professional

Schedule an appointment with your local PGA golf professional for a club fitting session and lessons. Lighter equipment, such as lightweight graphite shafts will promote faster swing speeds and longer shots. In addition, the correct shaft flex, kickpoint and ball will improve ball flight and carry distance.

Seniors with arthritis should try an oversize grip. The oversize grip is more comfortable and avoids placing extra pressure on the hands and fingers while they wrap around the grip.

Practice with a Purpose

Productive practice will help keep your skills sharp.  Approximately two-thirds of your score will be within 100 yards of the green. However, the majority of golfers spend two-thirds of their time hitting drivers and full swings. As you get older, a loss of distance will result in fewer greens hit in regulation. Focus on the shots around the green that will directly correlate to lower scores. Keep your short game sharp to off-set the loss of distance. A loss in distance does not mean you lose the ability to chip, pitch and putt.

 

Putting: Green Games

Putting: Green Games

Putting: Green Games

Putting: Green Games

“Make’s Game” and “Tornado”: Fun ways to improve your putting

Teeing it high and letting it fly is what golfers love but not necessarily what they always need on the practice range. 

Remember, putting accounts for about 40 percent of a golfer’s total strokes per round. So, we all need to focus our time and energy if we want see some those easy strokes disappear. 

We all know that putting practice is not nearly as fun as hitting golf balls on the driving range. Still, when we consider how much putting accounts for one’s score, we all need to find a way to practice our putting more.

Putting is all about attitude and confidence. Competition and a few games will allow you to work hard on your putting while making it way more fun.

Here are a couple of my favorite games to play to make putting practice more enjoyable:

“Make’s Game”

If there is only one game you can play with yourself, it would be the “Make’s Game.”

All you need is one ball and a few holes on the practice green. The objective is to create 18 different putts from 10 to 20 feet long.

Now, the idea is simple, just focus on making the putt — speed control does not matter. We want to ingrain confidence by hitting aggressive putts. 

Visualize these putts as you would while putting in your next round of golf. After you have completed 18 of these putts, make a note of how many putts you made. Compare your notes after a several weeks, and see how much you have improved.

“Tornado”

The other great game to play is called “Tornado.”

You need one hole, one golf ball, and seven tees placed around a hole looking like a tornado. Place the first tee three feet from the hole and continue to place each tee one foot farther back than the previous, resembling a tornado, until the last tee totals nine feet.

The tees should surround the hole so all types of breaks are practiced. The objective is to note how many putts it takes to make all the different length putts.

Monitor your progress over a month and have fun. That goes for all these games, er, practices. 

 

Chip Shots

Short Game: Chip Shots

Chip Shots

Short Game: Chip Shots

The most important shots in golf may be the chip shot.

Why? Because most players miss the green short, long, left and right. And most of us often need a chip shot before a putt.

Therefore, becoming the best chipper you can be will probably lower your scores faster than mastering any other shot, including the putt.

If you sometimes just “don’t get it” when you receive instructions to improve your chipping, maybe you need a non-golf analogy to help picture what’s being presented. A strong chipping image is to adopt the equivalent of baseballs “check swing” as your chipping technique.

Sure, you’ll still need to understand why the professional is asking you to address the ball back in your stance, leaning some of your weight towards the target and choking down on the club handle. But during the stroke and as you hold your finish, picture baseball’s check swing.

Imagine First Baseman Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins at the plate. The first pitch is high and outside. “Ball one,” the umpire yells. The second pitch looks good coming out of the pitcher’s hand, but at the last moment, Mauer decides that it’s drifting outside of the strike zone and tries to stop his swing in time.

He tries to “check” his swing.

If Mauer used the technique of swinging the end of the bat ahead of the handle, he could never check his swing (And it would be one ugly swing, to boot.) It also would be called a strike every time, but that’s not how the bat is designed to be used anyway, as any red-blooded American baseball fan knows.

The handle of the bat is leading the swing with the end of the bat following. This allows him to avoid having the end of the bat pass the handle before he wants it to.

Now watch a professional golf tournament on television, and look at the top players when chipping. Watch them hold their follow-through, and see if you notice the check swing.

Do you create a check swing when you chip or are you swinging the clubhead only? Does your clubhead pass the handle of the club in your chips?

Do you hold onto your finish to look and see if you made a check swing, or did the umpire call a strike? It’s not a bad analogy.

Do you like practicing, or do you find it boring sometimes? Maybe it seems boring because you are not using your imagination enough. Maybe you should pretend that you’re Joe Mauer (although maybe not so far in the 2014 season) and make that check swing.

I think you will like the umpire’s ball call — and your golf results!

 

Golf Club Components: Clubhead Topline

Golf Club Components: Clubhead Topline

The topline is the area on irons just above the face. It’s most pronounced at address. The thickness of the topline is widely considered a good indication of whether the club is designed for forgiveness or for workability, the latter of which is more popular with low-handicap players. The thickness is way for golf club engineers to place additional weight around the clubface perimeter, supposedly creating greater moment of inertia (MOI) or less twisting at impact with the ball for more centered shots.

The topline on TaylorMade's SpeedBlade Irons is one of the most pronounced in golf since it's about half the size of the sole on the bottom side.

The topline on TaylorMade’s Muscleback SpeedBlade Irons is one of the most pronounced in golf since it’s about half the size of the sole on the bottom side.

Clubhead Muscleback

Golf Club Components: Clubhead Muscleback

Golf Club Components: Clubhead Muscleback

An iron with the full back of the clubhead in place, unlike a cavity back. These are preferred by low-handicap players with the skill for more precision shots and better feel for the ball. Musclebacks are not known for being as forgiving, obviously, at least for the most part.

Clearly, Mizuno is not holding back on the iron it puts into its "dual" muscleback irons.

Clearly, Mizuno is not holding back on the iron it puts into its “dual” muscleback irons.

 

Golf Club Components: Clubhead Cavity Back/Pad/Insert

Golf Club Components: Clubhead Cavity Back/Pad/Insert

Depending on whether the iron is designed as a blade or a cavity back, the portion of the clubhead directly behind the face will contain a hollowed out area — possibly filled in with a cavity badge or vibration-dampening polymer — or solid metal, often referred to as an insert today. That’s the pad essentially. The hollowed out area is a cavity back, which are known for being much more forgiving, and low-handicap players say less precise, than a blade or muscleback iron clubhead. Inserts and cavity backs are supposed to be especially helpful in lessening the damage done by a miss-hit. 

Here's a clear difference between a blade and a hollowed out cavity back iron.

Here’s a clear difference between a blade and a hollowed out cavity back iron.

Here’s a great example of a vibration-dampening insert. Sometimes irons are hollowed out as well. 

This insert made of a polymer of some kind is meant to reduce vibration and make strikes more forgiving, particularly miss-hits.

This insert made of a polymer of some kind is meant to reduce vibration and make strikes more forgiving, particularly miss-hits.

Clubhead Ferrule

Golf Club Components: Clubhead Ferrule

Golf Club Components: Clubhead Ferrule

The ferrule is an optional piece of the clubhead that covers the connection between hosel and shaft. The hosel is tapered to blend the shaft and hosel into a more seamless look at address. They are often glued together and then the ferrule encircles that connection. It’s usually made of black plastic or hard rubber. 

Even golf club ferrules can come in customized colors today. (As an aside, ferrules are used in many industries, such as plumbing and electrical, to cover, protect and hold together joined piping.)

Even golf club ferrules can come in customized colors today. (As an aside, ferrules are used in many industries, such as plumbing and electrical, to cover, protect and hold together joined piping.)

 

Clubhead Hosel

Golf Club Components: Clubhead Hosel

Golf Club Components: Clubhead Hosel

The club’s hosel is the cylindrical portion that connects the rest of the clubhead with the shaft. The hosel is typically hollow, allowing the tip section of the shaft to fit inside. The hosel can be thought of as the socket that the shaft tip goes into and where the two of the three main golf club sections, the clubhead and shaft, are glued together.

This gauge actually measures the length from the sole (bottom) to the hosel.

This gauge actually measures the length from the sole (bottom) to the hosel (where the clubhead ends in hollow steel).