Rip One Golf- Golf Instruction, Golf Coaching, Golf Classes and Golf Lessons in Austin, TX

Garry Rippy Golf offers golf lessons, golf coaching, golf instruction, golf classes and golf schools in Austin, TX. This blog contains golf instruction articles, golf tips and golf instruction videos by Garry Rippy, PGA.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Paint your way to Improved Chipping

This is a great visual and feel drill to help with your chipping. I’m using a paint brush attached to a shaft to demonstrate how the motion and position of painting is very similar to chipping.  

Anti Shank Drill

 This is a simple drill which will really help improve your path and prevent a shank!

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Which Backswing Drill is for You…it Depends

I have two favorite backswing drills and both are totally different even though you end up in the same place at the top of your swing.  It’s just two different ways to get there.  The backswing should be a blend of arms working up and down and the torso rotating.  This blend would keep the club on plane and lead to more consistency in ball striking.  

But some golfers tend to take the club outside the target line in the take away then lift the arms up getting in a very steep or upright position.  This golfer would need a bit more torso rotation to get the club on the proper plane and get the club a bit more behind them at the top of the swing.  This picture would be an example of being too upright and steep!

The drill I use to feel more backswing rotation is below.  The goal is to keep the club and chest moving together on the backswing.  There is a short pause at each key point to insure you’re in the correct position.  In sequence you set the hinge of the wrists, make a small rotation of the chest and club together, continue turning turning to the top, then drop the arms and go to the finish.  This drill eliminates the club moving outside or steep going back.  

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the golfer that allows the arms to get too far on the inside going back and/or rolling the club face open.  There is very little torso rotation as the arms outrace the torso to the top of the swing.  If there was a glass wall behind this golfer, the club would shatter it!

The drill I use to improve this type of take away is below.  There is a short pause at each key position.  In sequence you start in a normal set up, take the club and arms back quietly to just past the rear thigh, then set the hinge of the wrists so the club aligns with the right forearm, swing to the top maintaining some width, drop the arms and go to the finish.

The bottom line is it depends on your tendencies as to the drill I would prescribe.  One size doesn’t fit all.  Once we have performed the drill swings in segments we would move to slow motion swings before then going to regular speed.  It’s a process and takes time to get comfortable with your new feel.

Monday, April 10, 2023

Other Sports and Golf

Other sports which involve “impact” with an object such as tennis, baseball, ice hockey and even boxing can also relate to golf.  In particular it’s the similarities in body movement heading to impact.  There has to be a weight shift to the lead leg as the downswing starts.  The fact that the golf ball is just sitting there and not moving toward us tends to make us think too much of hitting at the ball instead of swinging thru it.  The end result is a huge percentage of golfers fail to move off their back foot and this can lead to all kinds of issues.

I will always ask a student about a sport they may have played or still play and show them how it relates to golf.  In the following pictures you can see how in his initial swing, not much weight transferred forward.

He informed me he had played a lot of tennis in his younger years.  I handed him a tennis racket and asked him to show me his standard forehand move.

It was amazing how he transferred his weight to his lead leg when using a tool he much more familiar!  Now the trick was to put the golf club back in his hand and create the same motion.  

After a little practice rehearsing and hitting balls he was consistently getting his weight transferred to his lead side!  If you’re struggling with your weight shift give this idea a try.


Thursday, February 2, 2023

My Short Experience in Golf Course Architecture

When I was in high school I was always drawing golf course layouts.  I enjoyed envisioning what my layouts might look like in real life.  So much so that I was going to choose that as my career.  I took architectural drafting in high school and did show some potential in that area as well.  I was an average student in high school and never really applied myself to studying.  I was on the golf team and spent my time practicing and playing.  When it came time to sit down with the high school counselor and learn what it took to get in the school of architecture I could see it would take seven years of college and lots of math!   

So I changed career paths and decided on General Business…boring!  I wasn’t a great college student so ended up leaving school and worked for my dad for a handful of years before then getting in the golf business.  I made the correct choice as I really enjoyed my career.  I worked at some of most famous clubs and resorts and some of the most respected professionals in the nation!  

My longest stint as a head golf professional was at the TPC at The Woodlands.  I was there from 1988-2001 and was host professional to 14 PGA TOUR events.  In 1998, we were going to do a greens restoration and hired Houston architect Carlton Gipson to complete the job.  Carlton had several original designs and restoration projects in the Houston area.  It was a great learning experience to see how greens are constructed and shaped.  I would go on the course with Carlton on a regular basis and he thoroughly explained the process.  For the most part the greens were just being returned to their original design and size.  But one day Carlton indicated to me he would like to do something different to the par 3, 14th hole.  It was a very wide green in a horizontal hourglass shape surrounded by 4 bunkers.  The green itself was fairly flat.  If the hole location was left or right it made for a difficult shot with a long iron.  The water wasn’t really more than a visual issue.

He asked my opinion on changing the shape of the green.  This is where my short stint in golf course architecture began.  I told him it would be interesting if the water was more in play.  I thought it would be cool to have a sort of bowl shape in the middle so a hole location could be near the water at the front of the green.  If you hit a shot long to avoid the water, you would have a fast putt coming down the hill.  In addition if the green was closer to the water you could lose the right bunker and have another great hole location over the water.  As he was listening to my idea I could tell it intrigued him.  So long story short, he used my idea!  

I don’t have an actual picture of the finished green but this is from the yardage book.  So here it is 25 years later and the same green exists.  Although the course is no longer a TPC it does host the Insperity Invitational on the PGA TOUR Champions.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Commit to your Target

I came across this picture from Golf Digest and it reminded me of a statement I heard years ago…”give life to your target”.

In this photo Annika Sorenstam is hitting pitch shots to her caddy.  She was focused on hitting to a specific target and distance.  By hitting to her caddy, she was in essence giving the target life.  I think doing this really increases your focus as you don’t want your caddy to be running all over the place.  It also helps one improve their visualization skills as you can imagine you are hitting to your friend or coach.

From 1981-1984 I was an assistant golf professional at Shady Oaks Country Club in Fort Worth.  Ben Hogan was a member there and we crossed paths on a daily basis.  After working at his office at the Ben Hogan Company all morning he would then go to lunch at Shady Oaks.  After lunch he would come through the golf shop and these were his exact words to me…”Sonny, you got a shag boy for me today?”

Mr. Hogan would take his shag bag full of balls and my cart attendant then head to the Little 9.  The Little 9 was a short course at Shady Oaks with eight par 3’s and one par 4.  The par 4 hole fairway was a perfect place to practice and Mr. Hogan would only hit balls into a right to left wind.  He would position my attendant appropriately and begin with short irons progressing to driver.  By hitting to my attendant he was giving the target life.  But, Mr. Hogan frowned upon the attendant catching the ball, he wanted to see it land.  Mr. Hogan might be out there for 2 hours or more practicing.  

One of the stories I like to tell is one day after a long practice session my attendant came in the shop and pulled his shirt up to his chest.  There were two huge welts on his chest and I asked what happened?  He said he had lost the ball in the sun and Mr. Hogan pegged him with a 7 iron shot, then, before he could get up, he hit him againπŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚!  On days I didn’t have a “shag boy” Mr. Hogan would take one club and hit shots as he walked the course.  

On occasion he would practice on the range and he always signed a ticket for the range balls he hit!

That’s me in 1982!  Anyway, the point is, hitting practice balls to a live target is good for your focus.  This is pretty much impossible to do now days but I recommend to use your imagination as you practice.  I promise you will see increased concentration and visualization of your target.

I also used to practice on the Little 9 and I would hit from the par 4 fairway to an area short of one of the par 3 greens.  It was a secluded green surrounded by trees and I had to really focus on my aim.  I had my own shag balls but didn’t have use of a shag boy.  I would hit 75-80 balls then go pick them up.  It’s amazing when you know you have to pick them up your concentration goes way up.  Since Shady Oaks was not a busy club I could hit 200-300 balls per day.  There is no doubt these focused practice sessions helped me win the 1982 Metro Chapter Assistants Championship and win the Player of the Year award!

From this experience I recommend when you practice try to focus on a narrow part of the range.  In other words try to find an imaginary grid between target flags/poles that is no more than 20 yards wide and focus on hitting every club in this grid.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Swing Thoughts

Whatever swing thought he used this week worked well!  It seems professionals don’t really give away their trade secrets very often.  They like to keep their edge private and their coaches and caddies are the only ones privy to that secret.  There was a book published in 1993 titled “Swing Thoughts” which revealed some swing thoughts from various players from the 1980’s and early 1990’s.  These swing thoughts were used to win various tournaments from both the PGA and LPGA tours.  There are as many swing thoughts as there are players.

Above are some samples of these swing thoughts.  In my opinion, swing thoughts fall into two categories of either mental (creating a picture, feel or routine) or physical (direct order to a body part).  For the mental swing thought the sample from David Graham indicating he focused on his his pre shot routine to win the 1981 U.S. Open helped him stay calm.  For Cindy Figg-Currier it was the image from Harvey Penick swinging a bucket of water helping with the timing of her swing.  This thought led her to victory in the 1991 JAL Big Apple Classic.  The physical swing thought can be a pre swing or in swing thought.  Pre swing would include grip or set up which Missie Berteotti used to win the 1992 Women’s Kemper Open.  In swing thoughts are direct orders to a body part to perform in a certain manner.  This could be backswing, downswing or finish.  The example from Jerry McGee in which he says “drive your right knee toward the target” is a thought he used to win the 1979 Greater Hartford Open.  The bottom line is swing thoughts are personal and every player has a swing thought based on what they are working on in their swing.  

Swing thoughts can be fleeting however.  Jack Nicklaus once told one of my mentors, Terry Dill, that his swing thoughts lasted an average of six weeks. This means during a year of playing the TOUR he might have 3-4 different swing thoughts.  I feel most professionals have a “library” of thoughts to draw from.  Some days your “A” swing thought just doesn’t work so you have to go to “B” or “C”.  I think the stress of a certain event can influence whether your swing thought is going to work.  

As a PGA golf professional I played in hundreds of PGA Section tournaments.  I also qualified to play in three PGA TOUR events including the 1990 Texas Open and the 1995 and 1999 Houston Open.  Competing in the Section events I would say nerves aren’t too much of an issue as I am in my comfort zone at this level of competition.  My swing thoughts usually were clear and led me to some success as I won the 2005 STPGA Section Senior Championship with scores of 71-67.  I think most PGA and LPGA competitors feel the same on their respective tour.  But, competing in a major such as a U.S. Open, Ryder Cup or Solheim Cup, the nerves begin to play a roll in how effective the swing thought will be.  When I played in my first Houston Open I was also the head professional at the host course.  To me, this was my major event.  I will admit I was nervous and anxious to play.  As I was warming up my heart rate was definitely up but I was in control.  On the putting green I was in control.  When it was time to go to the first tee I was walking between the ropes and my heart rate was off the charts.  When the starter announced my name the crowd applauded and I had an out of body moment.  I couldn’t feel my feet and the brain was racing.  I couldn’t even think of a swing thought and before I knew it my ball was down the fairway about 260 yards!  Once I got to the second hole I calmed down and my swing thought worked beautifully.  What I learned from that experience is your swing thought (and not thoughts) has to be simple.  It has to hold up to the tension of competing at the highest level. 

I really admire these young players coming out and how they perform.  But, as we’ve witnessed even top players have lapses coming down the home stretch leading a tournament.  When the mind starts thinking to far in advance, you skip the shot at hand and the swing thought goes away.  
After a lesson I always try to summarize the thoughts of the hour into one basic swing thought to take to the course.  Then, as we progress through the instruction process I ask them how their last round of golf fared?  What was good, what didn’t work so well, then we keep refining.  I recommend you write down your thoughts when things are going well.  Over time you will have your library of thoughts you can draw from.