Cleveland Golf putter

Teaching Tip #5: Putt Like a Pro

Teaching Tip #5: Putt Like a Pro

Putting accounts for 35-45% of your average round of golf. To put that into perspective,  if you were to 2 putt every hole on a regulation 18 hole golf course, then on average you would have:

2.6 times as many putts as drives

2 times as many putts as wedge shots

2.5 times as many putts as long iron shots

6 times as many putts as bunker shots

In general, putting is the EASIEST and QUICKEST way to lower your score! Here is a trick to help you make more putts.

1. Use an intermediate target

Intermediate targets can be anything from a discoloration on the putting green to an old ball mark. Using an intermediate target, allows you to line up your putt to a target that is only 2-3 feet in front of you, making it much easier to check your accuracy and focus solely on distance control. Here’s the Golf Fix:

daniel putting pic

Start by reading the green and visualizing the target line. Imagine putting to a hole that is on the visualized target line.

daniel putting pic 2

Pick out a point on your visualized target line that is about 2-3 feet in front of your golf ball. Once you have aligned yourself to that point, all you need to do is worry about the speed of your putt. This makes putting 1-dimensional (focusing solely on distance control) instead of 2-dimensional (worrying about distance and direction).

Are you interested in a fixing your golf game? Comment on this post and let me know how I can help you!

golf ball on tee

Which Ball is Best?

 

Golf Balls: May 8, 2014

Now that the golf season has officially begun, you may be wondering what new technology has come out that is affordable to use and demo. Here are a few brief reviews of golf balls. I based these reviews on my own experience and knowledge as a PGA Professional; if you are intrigued, give them a try and let me know which ones you like best. The categories I used to rate each ball are price, feel, distance, durability, swing speed, and spin. So, here we go:

PG distance

Pinnacle Golf Distance – Retail Price ~ $20.00/15 golf balls

My Rating: 5/10

Great golf balls for beginners! Priced at just over a dollar per ball, you could lose an entire box of these during a round and not break the bank. Pinnacle golf balls are your standard 1 piece, long distance, hard feel, high compression golf balls. Because of their large core, almost your entire swing speed is transferred to ball velocity, making them fly long and straight, but you are going to be sacrificing spin and feel around the green. My recommendation is play these golf balls only if you are a beginner.

Bridgestone balls

Bridgestone e-series (e5, e6, e7) – Retail Price ~ $30.00/dozen

My Rating: 7/10

These golf balls are your standard middle tier balls. Designed for the mid-high handicap golfers, the e-series sports golf balls that have soft covers with large cores to promote distance and feel. Don’t expect a lot of spin, but you can rest assured that if you stay away from cart paths and trees, the e-series golf balls will last you quite a while. My recommendation is play these golf balls if you hit the ball 190-240 yards off the tee and you are looking for a softer ball with decent feel.

nxt tour

Titleist NXT Tour S – Retail Price ~ $35.00/dozen

My Rating: 6/10

Titleist makes great products. The NXT Tour and Tour S golf balls were designed for the mid handicap players. They have a 2 piece core and softer cover to allow for greater control and spin around the greens. Their medium-high compression means they are longer off the tee as well. They don’t scuff as quickly as some of the top tier golf balls. These golf balls are great, but for less money you could find close to the same ball (keep reading). My recommendation is play this golf ball only if you are a Titleist faithful and your driver swing speed is in the high 80′s-90′s mph.

srixon Qstar

Srixon Q-Star – Retail ~ $28.00/dozen

My Rating: 8/10

Srixon makes some of the most underrated products out there. These golf balls are the equivalent to the Titleist NXT Tour golf balls (not the Tour S). They are a 2 piece, medium spin, soft cover ball that will give you decent feel around the green and A LOT of distance off the tee. They are designed for players with a swing speed of 70-90 mph. These are probably the most durable ball that I have ever tried. I hit full swing wedges into the green with these golf balls and got very little scuffing. My recommendation is play these golf balls over the Titleist NXT Tour, they are a better value, but if you are looking for softer feel and more spin you may want to spend the extra 75 cents per ball and go with the NXT Tour S.

callaway hex black

Callaway HEX Black – Retail Price ~ $48.00/dozen

My Rating: 5/10

I’m not sure what it is about these golf balls, but all I can tell you is I didn’t like them! Let me explain my low rating (and it could just be me, but if you are a Callaway supporter, I apologize for my harshness): The HEX Black is designed, marketed and priced as a top tier golf ball with a low compression multi-piece core, but it felt more like single piece firm cover ball to me. The strange part is the cover scuffs when you hit wedge shots into the green, but the spin out put was minimal. This golf ball is for an advanced player, but my recommendation would be to play this ball only if you are a Callaway faithful and you can afford the high price tag for a mediocre product.

titleist pro v

Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1X – Retail Price ~ $48.00/dozen

My Rating: 9/10

This is a great ball! The Pro V1 and Pro V1X have been at the top of all golf digest and golf week lists for quite some time. The multi-piece core and soft cover means decent distance, high spin, and soft feel. They are the epitome of a top tier golf ball. The Pro V1 is the softer of the 2 with a slightly lower compression and a softer cover for more spin. The Pro V1X provides advanced players with a longer, straighter ball flight without sacrificing much spin or feel around the green. My recommendation is to play this ball only if you are a low handicap golfer, too often I see mid and high handicap golfers spending almost $50 a box on golf balls that don’t work well for their swing. You need to be producing a ball flight of 260+ yards off the tee for this ball to be worth your money.

Work bench with regripping equipment

Off Season Fix

So, it’s the off season. You probably haven’t played as much golf in the last few months as you would have liked and the season is fast approaching. One of the best ways to motivate yourself to practice again is to upgrade your equipment. Everyone loves a new putter or the hottest driver at the golf shop, but there are other ways to upgrade without breaking the bank. Re-gripping is my favorite! Grips cost anywhere from $4-$12 each and the equipment you need is cheap and easy to find. If you are inexperienced the re-gripping process takes about 10-15 minutes per club. Here’s how I prepare for the start of golf season:

You will need a few tools: Hook Knife or Utility Blade, Grip Tape (2″ x 9″), New Grips (check what size grips you need before you order your new ones), Grip Tape Activator or Solvent (Optional C-Clamp and Rubber Shaft Vice Grip). Also make sure you have a bucket or trash can nearby to catch the solvent that drips out of the end of the grip.

Work bench with regripping equipment

You can purchase grip tape or activator solution at any major golf retailer or online (I got mine at GolfTech Warehouse).

Step 1: Remove Old Grip

Begin by using your hook knife or utility blade to slice open the old grip.

Cut open Grip 1

Peel the old grip back to expose the golf club shaft and existing grip tape.

Cut open Grip 2

Remove old grip and use utility knife or putty knife to scrape away old grip tape.

Cut open Grip 3

Step 2: Apply New Grip Tape

Begin this step by removing one side of your double-sided adhesive grip tape and wrapping it around the butt-end of the shaft. Make sure you leave about 1/4″ of tape hanging off the end of the shaft. Use a hard flat surface like a pencil to remove as many air bubbles as possible. Remove the second side of the grip tape so that tape becomes sticky then fold the extra 1/4″ of grip tape over the butt-end of the shaft to seal the hole.

Applying grip tape 1    Applying grip tape 3    Applying grip tape 4

Steps 3 and 4: Installing and Aligning New Grips

Apply a generous amount of activator fluid or solvent to the grip tape and the inside of the grip.

New Grip 1     New Grip 2

Quickly slide the new grip over the grip tape. This must be done quickly!!! If you wait too long to slide the new grip on, it will stick to the adhesive tape before the grip is correctly aligned.

New Grip 3

Immediately after the new grip is installed, align the logo on the grip with the leading edge of the golf club. Most grips have a small notch or white line near the center of the logo that indicates the top of the grip.

Aligning new grip 1

Once the grip is aligned correctly, gently tap the butt-end of the club on the ground and wipe off excess solvent from the grip and shaft of the golf club. Allow to dry for 24 hours.

Aligning new grip 2

Teaching Tip: Check Your Weight

No, don’t step on a scale, although most professional golfers these days are in good physical shape. I’m talking about your weight transfer. Most beginning golfers are taught to keep their head still during a full swing. This holds true, but what most golfers don’t know is that you still need to transfer your weight from your back foot to your front foot at impact. What does this mean? Take a look:

Mid backswing weight back At impact weight back After impact weight back

Notice that when I swing the club, my head stays still, but as I reach the impact position I continue to lean backward. Most beginning and intermediate golfers do this to counter the heavy golf club swinging fast around their body. Unfortunately, this moves the point where the club impacts the ground to behind the golf ball, causing you to make larger divots, push the ball, and (if the ground is hard enough) bounce the club and blade the ball. So, how can you fix it?

Here’s the Golf Fix:

Step 1: Start by putting an iron across your waist about belt high. Hold the shaft of the iron with your fingers and put your thumbs in your pants pockets. Note that I am set up in my address position, like I am about to swing at a golf ball. You want to make sure that your golf club stays pressed against your hips at all times during this drill.

weight shift drill 1

Step 2: Start your backswing by rotating your shoulders, hips, and knees. At the same time, lift your front foot and step toward your back foot so that your feet are together at the “top of your backswing”.

weight shift drill 2

Step 3: With your feet together, lean towards the target forcing you to make a step with your left foot back to its original position. You will notice that your weight now shifts from the back foot to the front foot. Make sure to do this “weight shift” before you rotate the hips and shoulders back towards impact. Notice my chest and belt buckle still point towards my back foot, indicating I made my weight shift before I started rotating.

weight shift drill 3

Step 4: Straighten your front leg and rotate your hips and shoulders around the front leg. Your goal is to use the front leg almost as a post and rotate your weight around it. Again, note that my head has not moved much during this drill. Shifting your weight doesn’t mean you need to move your head; the majority of your power comes from the core, hips, and legs. If you can move your hips from the back of your stance to the from of your stance without moving your head, you will have more control and increased distance.

weight shift drill 4

The finished product looks like this:

Do you want me to discuss a particular part of the golf swing? Comment on this post and let me know what you are interested in!

Teaching Tip: Put A Sock In It!

Do you have a problem with that flying elbow at the top of your backswing? Most people that make the transition from baseball to golf tend to let their right elbow (right handed players) get a little too wild at the top of their backswing. Why should you care? The flying right elbow, or “chicken winging” as my fellow teaching pros like to call it, causes the hands to move towards the ball at the top of the backswing and forces the club over plane. Take a look:

Brandon Lewis swing 1

Brandon came to me with a baseball swing, and like many young athletes he was able to make decent contact because of his excellent hand eye coordination. His miss hits however, were pulls and slices caused by his flying right elbow (see image above). In order to make his swing and results more consistent, I had him use a couple of different drills that tightened up the swing and got the golf club more on plane.

Let me preface the next few paragraphs by saying, Brandon has made a lot of progress! His average scores dropped from the 110′s to the mid 80′s over about a 3 week period! THAT’S AMAZING! Now, keep in mind he is an athlete, he did play another sport where you hit a small ball with a small club, and he did practice four to five times a week. His swing is not great yet and we are working to get him to a point where he is completely satisfied with the results, but that being said his swing looks much better than it used to. Take a look at Brandon’s new swing:

Brandon Lewis swing 2

Notice that in the second photo of Brandon his right elbow is much closer to his body, creating a flatter and longer swing plane. In this position, it is much easier for Brandon to rotate his hips and shoulders back to impact and hit the ball without making a “casting” (over the top) move. The hands drop on the down swing and power is created with the lower body and torso instead of the arms and hands.

Here’s the Golf Fix: We used a simple drill and some visualization to get Brandon into the position that you see in the second picture. First, take a head cover or a sock (you may want to use a clean one) and stick it under your right arm pit. As you take a backswing, make sure to keep the head cover/sock pinned between your arm and your side. If your head stays still, then your left shoulder should drop towards the ball and your right elbow should stay closer to the body. At the top of your backswing, pause and take a mental snapshot of your position. My PGA mentor told me once that you should be able to let a pizza box rest on your right hand at the top of your back swing. If you let your right elbow fly out during the backswing (like Brandon does in the first picture), then your right hand becomes vertical and the pizza box would drop to the ground. When I teach junior golfers, I use this analogy because it’s easier for them to visualize the position I’m trying to put them in.

As you make the down swing, let the hands drop towards your right hip and start rotating your shoulders and hips towards the target. This move will create club head lag and, if done properly, will force the club to make a slight “inside-out” path as you hit the ball. The sock that is stuck in your right armpit should stay there until just before you get to the impact position. At impact you should be extending your right arm, allowing the sock to drop out of your right armpit.

Do you want me to discuss a particular part of the golf swing? Comment on this post and let me know what you are interested in!

“Teaching” Tip: Grip it Like a Ruler

Ever wonder whether you are gripping the club correctly? Do your hands hurt when you swing?

Here’s the Golf Fix:

One of my favorite ways to demonstrate a good golf grip is to use a common household item: a ruler. If you feel like your grip is a little off, you can easily correct it by picking up a 12-inch ruler and holding it like you would a golf club. Use an interlock, overlap, or even a baseball style grip and align the ruler over your middle knuckles (below).

Ruler tip 1

Wrap the palms and thumbs of your hands over the top of the ruler. Your left thumb should rest on the top right side of the ruler and your right thumb should rest comfortably on the top left side of the ruler (below). Now, grip the golf club with your normal grip pressure. If your hands hurt while gripping the ruler, it’s a pretty good indicator that you grip too tightly! A good way of thinking about grip pressure is to imagine you are holding a tube of toothpaste without the cap on it. If you grip the tube too tightly the toothpaste will squeeze out all over the place. If you grip too loose, the tube will go flying when you take a swing. Grip pressure and technique are the corner stones of a good swing. Harvey Pennick said, “unless you have a reasonably good grip and stance, anything you read about the golf swing is useless.”

Ruler tip 2 Ruler tip 3

If you have gripped the club correctly, the palm of your right hand should cover the thumb of your left hand. Test it!: grip the club the way that I just instructed you to. Take your right hand off of the grip. Now take your last three fingers on your left hand off of the grip as well, leaving only only the first finger on your left hand supporting the entire club. The bottom of your left palm should be resting on the top of the grip, acting like a fulcrum. This will allow your wrists to create the leverage necessary for you to bring the club to the top of the backswing.

Do you want me to discuss a particular part of the golf swing? Comment on this post and let me know what you are interested in!

Augusta National, Home of the Masters

Augusta is in the Air

The Masters is right around the corner and I thought I’d share some odds with you. As of the beginning of March, Tiger Woods still remains the favorite to win this year’s coveted “Green Jacket”. Rory and Phil are close on his tail and Snedeker’s recent hot streak has him rounding out the top 4. We know that Tiger has what it takes to win. When it comes down to it, he is the most dominant Sunday player on the PGA Tour, but what about the others? We saw a few years ago when young Rory McIlroy imploded in the middle of his Sunday round at Augusta, only to make an amazing stand and win the US Open at Congressional later that year. If Rory won the US Open because he had something to prove after crashing and burning at the 2011 Masters, he certainly has something to prove this year. At the WGC Match Play tournament this last week, Rory got the boot early; that might be enough motivation for him to break some records at Augusta come April. We know “Lefty” is a stick. He’s won the Masters 3 times, plus he’s having an outstanding start to the 2013 season. With a win in Phoenix and no missed cuts, Mickelson has a good shot to be in contention come Sunday. Snedeker is the hottest of the 4 going into Augusta. In 2013 he has 4 top-ten finishes in only 5 events played, making him the leader on the PGA Tour money list and the FedEx Cup standings.

Here are the LVH SuperBook odds as of the last week in February:

TIGER WOODS 5-1

RORY McILROY 7-1

PHIL MICKELSON 12-1

BRANDT SNEDEKER 15-1

LUKE DONALD 25-1

LEE WESTWOOD 25-1

ADAM SCOTT 25-1

JUSTIN ROSE 25-1

BUBBA WATSON 25-1

DUSTIN JOHNSON 25-1

LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN 25-1

CHARL SCHWARTZEL 30-1

JASON DUFNER 30-1

NICK WATNEY 40-1

RICKIE FOWLER 40-1

HUNTER MAHAN 40-1

MATT KUCHAR 40-1

KEEGAN BRADLEY 40-1

SERGIO GARCIA 40-1

JASON DAY 50-1

IAN POULTER 50-1

BO VAN PELT 50-1

WEBB SIMPSON 50-1