Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Anatomy of a Golf Lesson

Teaching golf or in particular the golf swing is interesting.  Each student is different in age, stature, ability and goals.  This is an example of how I go about helping a student with their golf swing based on the above criteria.

This is a lesson with Tony and he was having consistency issues.  In particular, his elbows were separating in the backswing and through swing causing his hands to come apart as well.  All this leads to a variety of misses.

We started by using the Swing Trainer and this device, which is attached to the upper arms, helped him feel his elbows staying together through the swing. Noticeable improvement!

Next we introduced the Swingyde which attaches to the grip of the club.  The guide must touch the left wrist at the top of the backswing and in the finish.  This device helps the student feel the proper wrist hinge.  Tony started by making left hand only swings so he could feel the rehinge needed on the follow through.  Then we moved to both hands on the grip to further coordinate the movement.

After spending some time with both the training aids, it was time to try making swings without them.  I recommended he make several practice swings before hitting a ball.  I use the old management theory of  "inspect what you expect".  

The end result was Tony was striking the ball more solid and much straighter.  He is going to invest in the Swingyde training tool and practice with it.  

So that is the anatomy of the swing lesson with Tony.  We had fun while and seeing the positive results appear with each swing.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Always Trying to get Better!

As a PGA golf professional I strive to create passionate students and life long golfers.  My job is to help players reach their goals and have fun doing it!  I just completed PGA online training and received my Certificates of Achievement in both ADM (American Develop Model) and Becoming the PGA Modern Coach.  Both of these courses go into detail how to train younger golfers and develop them into life long players.  It's important to the game to keep everyone in the sport and I look forward to utilizing my new knowledge in this endeavor.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Long Drive Competition between John Daly and Jim Dent (1993)

/Long Drive Competition between John Daly and Jim Dent

Click on the link above to watch.

In 1993, while serving as head golf professional at the TPC at The Woodlands and host professional to the Shell Houston Open, John Daly and Jim Dent participated in a Long Drive Competition held on Tuesday of tournament week.

It was unheard of how far John Daly could hit the ball!  I witnessed this event which was conducted on the par 4, tenth hole.  What was amazing, and you can't really see on this video, is how Daly was hitting his ball high and over the tall pine trees at the dogleg and Dent was hitting a hook around them.  

Enjoy watching!


Friday, May 8, 2020

A Drill to Develop Great Impact with Irons

My student, Dane Connery, has been working on improving his impact position for more solid iron shots.  We have worked on several drills but this was a great one that really made a difference.

In this particular drill we utilized a shallow fairway practice bunker.  The ball is placed on a painted line and a pitching wedge was used.  The goal is to make sure the divot starts slightly in front of the painted line and if struck correctly, the ball will travel on a lower than normal trajectory and go about 75-80 yards. By performing this drill in the sand, if the club enters the sand before the line, immediate feedback is felt and seen.

In the set up the ball is played slightly behind center and the hands are positioned in front of the line. This helped him get the feel of the hands leading the clubhead to impact.

Since we are trying to hit the ball shorter than normal, the backswing can be less than full.  This also helps with the left hand leading to impact.  If you tend to have a long backswing, it is more difficult to get to a strong impact position.

This is the moment of truth and mission accomplished.  The orange line is still in sight as his divot is in front of the line.  His left arm and club are in alignment which indicates he didn't release the club too early.

In the finish his arms are extended to the target and his weight is mostly on his left leg.  Both indicate he has accomplished his goal of ball first, divot second.  Once we got back to the grass, Dane started to have much better impact.

Monday, April 27, 2020

The 1995 Shell Houston Open was Special

It was this week (April 24-30, 1995) in which Payne Stewart won the Shell Houston Open at the TPC at The Woodlands (The Woodlands, Texas).  I was the host professional for this event from 1989 through 2001 and now, knowing the fate of Payne, it makes this a special event to reflect on 25 years later.

Payne Stewart pictured with his long time caddy Michael Hicks
Payne won on the first playoff hole over Scott Hoch.  This was Payne's eighth of his eleven PGA TOUR titles including the 1999 U.S. Open.  If there was one golf swing I would watch over the years as host professional it was Payne Stewart.  Just the rhythm and fluidity of his swing was beautiful.  For weeks after the event, I seemed to play my best golf feeling like I was emulating his action.

Another reason this event is special is I qualified to compete that year and again in 1999.  From 1989 through 1996 the Southern Texas PGA Section hosted a qualifier for section members and four professionals would advance to compete in the Shell Houston Open.  I was fortunate to advance in 1995 as I won in a playoff for the 4th spot.  Beginning in 1997, the PGA TOUR changed the number of qualifiers from four down to two.  So to qualify in 1999 was very exciting and difficult.

In addition to competing in the tournament, this was also my busiest work week of the year as we would achieve almost 50% of our annual retail sales in one week.  So even though I missed the cut with a scores of 75-79 I was fairly satisfied with my play.  In 1999 I scored rounds of 79-80 and I was physically tired due to the number of hours worked that week and the week prior.  The event had grown since 1995 and there was so much more to do.  Fortunately I had a great staff and they did super job of covering for me while I would exit for 5 hours to go compete.

I'll never forget the nerves I felt on the first tee in 1995.  The crowds were large and I had lots of friends and staff there to encourage me.  I remember being on the putting green and walking between the ropes to the first tee.  As I approached the tee my heart rate was hard to control.  When the starter announced my name and the crowd gave me a welcoming applause I couldn't even feel my feet or the club in my hands.  The first tee shot was down the middle and from that point on it wasn't near as tense.  In the second round I almost holed my second shot for an eagle on the difficult 18th hole and the roar from the crowd was unbelievable!

Hard to believe it was 25 years ago but I will never forget my experience of competing in the Shell Houston Open or my tenure as head professional at the TPC at the Woodlands.

Following are a few pictures from 1995.

On the 14th tee with my friend and caddy for the week, Rene Nino

The official scoresheet from 1995

ABC televised the event in 1995 and I snagged a great souvenir

Monday, March 30, 2020

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Be Safe on the Golf Course with your Children


I have noticed during the last few days more parents bringing their young children to the golf course.  This is due to more parents working from home and school not being in session. Yay!!  It is a great way to spend quality time with your kids away from the computer.  With the COVID 19 shelter in place order, you have to get out for fresh air and most golf courses are remaining open.

BUT, I would like to provide a couple of simple rules to make this time safe for all.

First, if only one parent is present in the golf cart, please take the key from the cart with you when you step away to hit a shot or look for a ball.  It only takes a second for your child to either slip and fall or just be curious and step on the accelerator in the cart.  The golf cart would become a run away train and could crash into a tree, roll over on a slope, speed down a ravine or into a lake.  This would be catastrophic and cause serious injury.  This can be avoided by simply removing the key and making sure the parking brake is set.

Second, if you are looking for your golf ball in high grass or in a bluebonnet patch, remember this is natural habitat for snakes.  Rattlesnake sightings are happening almost daily on central Texas golf courses.  Now is not the time to go on an Easter Egg hunt looking for a $2 golf ball.  Besides rattlesnakes, there are copperheads and coral snakes hiding out of sight.

The bottom line is have fun with your kids on the course.  Introduce them to this great game, but do it safely by adhering to these simple rules.

Thank you!

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Simple Putting Drill

This is high school senior, Mason Richter, working on a simple putting drill.

In the first video Mason is set up with his hands slightly behind the ball.  This leads to him breaking down his left wrist through impact causing the ball to hop too much off the face.

In the next video we put a golf ball between his left wrist and the putter grip.  This helped him set up with his hands slightly in front of the ball and he had a better feel of his left hand leading through impact.  The end result is a ball which rolls smoother and stays on line.

How to Make an Impact in your Golf Swing!

This is another lesson with high school junior, Jordan Reed.

This lesson was about getting in a stronger impact position for improved ball striking.  The main focus was learning to strike the ball first then take a divot with iron shots.

The first video was her golf swing at the beginning of the lesson.  She has a beautiful golf swing with great speed.

When we took a snapshot of the impact position, her hands were aligned with her right leg behind the golf ball.  In a strong impact position, the hands would be slightly in front of the ball or in alignment with the left leg.

We used the impact bag to help exaggerate the feel of the hands leading the clubhead into impact.  In this video her hands are definitely leading and the clubface is striking the bag squarely.

 The end result is Jordan's impact position improved significantly and her irons shots were crisp!

Drill to Improve Path

This is high school junior, Jordan Reed, working on a drill which improves the path of the swing.
She was hitting the ball to the right severely with her driver due to taking the club outside the target line on the backswing then coming across the ball on the downswing.

I used two alignment rods to help guide her to a better path to create a draw.  The first rod (orange) was placed just to the right of the target line and parallel to the target.  It is in the ground at about a 30 degree angle.  This rod prevents taking the club outside on the backswing.  In addition, she has to come back down underneath that rod and not strike it.

The second rod (blue) is placed a few inches in front and left of the golf ball.  The rod is aimed slightly left of the target and is in the ground at about a 20 degree angle.  The goal is to miss this rod as well on the through swing.

I did have her focus on a rotation of the right forearm on the downswing to help get the face of the driver to square up at impact.  The end result is she started hitting nice draws and increased her distance as well.

When using rods in this nature you need to be safe and start with a wide path then narrow it down as you get better.  Also, using a pool noodle on top of the rods adds a little bit of safety in case you nick one of the rods.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Improve your Path with the Putter

This is one of my high school students (Dane Connery) and we are working hard to improve his putting stroke.

In the first video, the stroke is way outside-in and was mainly due to his shoulders being very open at address.  In addition, he was opening the face a bit on the backswing.

We used the Pro Slider from Eyeline Golf to help him grove a more down the line stroke.
The idea is to keep the shaft of the putter on the rod through the stroke.  As you can see, he began to make more putts as the path was improved and the ball had more topspin and less sidespin.

In this video we worked on a drill to help him make more short putts by improving his path and length of backswing.

His scores will start dropping very soon!

My Newest Student

My newest student, Sanjana (age 9) is really progressing nicely in a short time and I predict she will be winning junior events this summer!

In the top layer of this picture is lesson #1.  She was standing a little too far from the ball and in the backswing she was allowing the arms to move farther away from her torso.  At the top of her swing she is too upright or steep.  The result is unsolid golf shots hit to the right.

In the middle layer of this picture (lesson #3), we adjusted her set up so her arms could hang a little closer to her torso.  We used some alignment rods to help direct the backswing which helped her be a little more on plane and not so steep.

In the bottom layer of this picture (lesson #3) is the end result with no alignment rods.  She was hitting some gorgeous 7 iron shots with a little draw.

What you can't see in this photo is the great speed she has for a 9 year old.  

Get the Ball Rolling!

The Slo Mo Screen developed by Eyeline Golf is a cool tool which allows you to see how the golf ball reacts after being struck with a putter.  In the slow motion video you can see how the ball is bouncing a bit and rotating in mid air.  I use the two tone Tru Roll golf balls also from Eyeline Golf to make it easy to see how the ball reacts.  Watch the video in full screen mode for a closer look.

In the pictures below, it's very obvious just how this ball is air born and rotating.  When putting we want to get the ball rolling and not hopping!  There are a couple of fixes to help you get the ball rolling sooner.  The idea is to have a little forward shaft lean at impact and have the feel you are striking the ball on a level or slightly upward stroke.  This will help you achieve a truer roll.  As a certified "4 Elements of Putting" instructor, I use many tools from Eyeline Golf to help you become a better putter.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Golf Course Review: Brackenridge Park GC

I recently played Brackenridge Park in San Antonio, TX, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  There is so much golf history here.  The course was designed by famous architect, A.W. Tillinghast and opened in 1916.  It is one of the oldest courses in Texas.

The Texas Open was played here from 1922-1959 and is the third oldest event on the PGA TOUR.  Typical of the older style courses, it is not long, but the fairways are narrow bordered by beautiful oak and pecan trees.

 Also, you will find six greens are rectangular in shape which is another trait found on courses of this era.

The course was in excellent condition and the greens rolled fast and true.  The fairways and tees were all overseeded which made for a green golf course in January.

The Texas Golf Hall of Fame is now located in the club house so be sure you take a stroll through the building to view the artifacts.

If in San Antonio, this is a must play!  Soak up some history and enjoy this gem of a course.

Golf Course Review: Blue Lake Golf Club

Although I have played this jewel many times, I always forget how much fun it is!  Blue Lake Golf Club is a nine hole golf course located near Horseshoe Bay, TX.  It has been ranked by the Dallas Morning News as one of the Top 10 Nine Hole Golf Courses in Texas.  It is a beautiful course with great views of the hill country and Lake LBJ.

It was designed by golf course architect, Joe Finger, and opened in 1962.  There are five, par 3's, three, par 4's and one par 5.  My favorite holes are the par 3, 6th, 7th and 8th holes all fairly long and playing downhill.

Wildlife is abundant here, just watch where you step.

It's an easy one hour drive from Austin and it is worth the trip.  I would recommend coming in the spring when the bluebonnets are in full bloom.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Proud of my Collegiate Golfers!

It's always fun to see my junior golfers I work with grow up and graduate to college golf.  It's a bigger stage for them and they not only deal with that, but also the demands of school work.  It's a balance and I am proud of them for just getting out there and competing whether they win or lose.

But, I am extremely proud when they do well!!

This is my team of golfers I worked with during their high school years and have now moved on to play golf at the collegiate level.

Sarah Rovenstine-Vandergrift High School (All District and had Top 10 finishes each year in HS)
Attended Southern Nazarene University   Graduated 2018

Abby Cloud-Dripping Springs High School
Attending Schreiner University, Kerrville, TX

Michael Gonzales-Lockhart High School (4 year Letterman)
Attending LeTourneau University, Longview, TX

Arturo Hernandez-Cedar Creek High School (3 Time All District First Team, Voted Team MVP)
Attending Arcadia University, Glenside, PA

Competed in seven events and has four top 5 finishes with a low score of 71.

Chandler Roberts, Hays Consolidated High School
Attending Fort Hays State after two years at Hesston College, both in KS

Matt Shuler-Eagle Pass High School
Attending Westmont University, Santa Barbara, CA

Zach Slayton, Home School (won numerous events of note during his high school career)
Attending Colorado Christian University, Lakewood, CO

Competed in five events this year and has a scoring average of 73.8 and a tournament low round of 67.

Congratulations to all of these collegiate golfers as they progress with their game.  They all have wonderful work ethics and I know they will all be successful in whatever career path they choose!