I am always unsure of what I will learn from my first month
of teaching at the start off a new golf season.April 2011 was no different.Each year that I teach, there is a new
thought or concept that seems to be easier for students to grasp.
So, what have I learned so far this year?My students want to play better.
is a revelation!Who takes a golf
lesson with the goal of getting worse?How could I overlook that simple goal of scoring better on the course
for so many years?Sure, I have
talked many times about playing better, scoring better and so on, but I have
never actually really stepped out of the teaching box and stressed practicing with a purpose.
As the season moves into June, it is time to refocus-- refocus on lowering scores so my
students can see results.Not many
players have the time and energy to commit to truly changing a faulty
swing.Most want to lower scores,
hit the ball farther and cleaner and improve some aspect of their short games.
So as the season moves on, I have to marry a sound starting
position and a more technically correct golf swing for my students and the
ability to shoot lower scores on the course.I cannot just be the guy they come to to
make their swings look perfect on the range.I have to be strong and guide my
students into playing better golf...on the range!
Try this out the next time you hit balls.In your mind, play the front 9 of your
course on the range.
Don’t hit the same club twice in a row.Pull out your driver, then your 6 iron,
then your wedge.Play a par 3
next.Hit a hybrid club to a long
par 3, or hit a punch 9 iron to a back pin.Practice the shots you are going to be
hitting on the golf course.Chances
are that perfect 7 iron swing that you have grooved on the range with flat lies
and perfect turf, will not be the same on the course.
Sure, there will be days on the range when you need to
concentrate on one aspect of your game to make swing changes effective.But don’t beat a new swing into the summer
sod.Feel the changes taking
place, and put your swing into play on the range before you head to the
course.Simulating the course on
the range will test your new swing and will create comfort on the course the
next time you play.
PGA teaching professional at Whitford CC. His
full bio is here.
Rankings.We all enjoy
debating topics that lead to heated, yet friendly, verbal exchanges.What course in the area is tougher
day-in and day-out?We may rank our
favorite golf holes or debate who should be ranked ahead of whom in the latest
World Golf Rankings.The Official
World Golf Rankings mean as much to their sport as do the AP and Coaches polls
do in college basketball.UCONN
wasn’t ranked to start the year.Look where they will be ranked after winning Monday night’s NCAA
The only good thing about rankings on the PGA Tour?Entry into Major or World Golf
How about rankings which might be important to your own golf game?Take a moment to start to think about
rankings that can help you.I’m not
talking about ranking your favorite course or even who makes the best
driver.I’m talking about what
holds down the number one position on your own list of areas where your game
As with all things that need to be remembered, make sure you write down
your rankings or type them into your smart phone.Start out with a list of ten golf
skills, with 1 being the part of your game that needs the most attention.Do this at the end of each round, while
your memory is still fresh, and before that in the 19th hole.
If you need help with many facets of your game, your rankings might look
a little something like this:
...and to the skill that needs the most work:
If you are a more skilled player -- someone with a handicap of say, less
than 10 or 15 -- you might want to be more specific with your ranking
10.Check and Release
8.Sand Save Percentage...
...and to the skill that needs the most work:
1.Hitting a Fade from the Tee
Whatever your area of concentration, be specific and honest when ranking
with yourself about skill level.Saying "I am going to work on my putting" is not going to help.Rather, "I need to work on my left-to-right,
downhill breaking putts" is a better approach.The more specific you are, the more the
brain will be able to remember your major challenges.
How many of you are quick to add your score up when you are done a
round?Some of you may even stand
on the 18th hole and quickly compute your front and back total.As soon as your last putt drops,
your round is now past and the score can’t and will not change.
But what can change?Your approach to improving.Instead of adding up your score, rank your skills of the round just
ended.Know what you want to work
on before you head to the range or the short game area.
So If we all can learn something from the exciting month of March and
all of its heartbreak, celebrating, buzzer-beating heroi
So If we all can learn
something from the exciting month of March and all of its heartbreak,
celebrating, buzzer-beating heroics and late second-half collapses, maybe this
one very important message will dominate your brain waves at the beginning of
your golf season: Do not peak too early.
Sure, the first round of
golf this season might go like you have deamed it would all winter:a few birdies, a few sand saves, drives
covering the center of a soggy pre-spring fairway.Your season will start strong and will
only get better.Wake up.While these are all good and positive
thoughts to have, let a little realism creep into your bag.
Controlling the ups and
downs on the golf course, not only for each round, but also for each golf
season is paramount when looking to achieve greater heights on the course.Sometimes a winter off is just what your
mind and body need for you to play better when you lug your clubs to the
fairways and greens for the first time the next year.
A fresh mind, a newly-fit
body from your grueling winter workout regimen (hopefully a few of you have
left the couch) and you are ready to go.Ready to go with a simple word that will play a major role in your game
during the hot and humid summers of Southeastern PA:Expectations.
Peaking at the beginning of
the season can set a high expectation level, which can often leave you reaching
far into the fall.Understand that
your spring season is much like spring training in baseball.How many times do you see a pitcher,
after he tosses no-hit ball for three innings, running off the mound in
excitement, pounding his barely sweaty mitt during a Grapefruit League
game?If you saw "Doc" (Halladay)
doing this before the season started, wouldn’t you worry that he might be
peaking a bit early?
April should serve as your
month to get in golf shape for the summer.Take the good with the bad.Be as happy with your 92 as your 82.If you stop and think, there is more to
learn from the higher scorer.At
the end of the month, ask yourself what things you did well and what things you
did not do so well.From there,
starting off in May, goals can be set and weaknesses can be improved upon and
strengths can be sharpened.
expectations before, during and after a round is just as important as spending
hours at the driving range, putting green and short game area.Too many birdies too soon will be
equaled by too many bogeys the more you play.
Why do you think they have
Club Championships and Member-Guests in the summer months?If they moved the U.S. Open to
March, wouldn’t you think that was a bit odd?Use the beginning of the year wisely and
peak when performance matters the most.
Ryan Gingrow is PGA teaching
professional at Whitford CC. His full bio is here.
-- What's important to consider when looking for a pro to take lessons
Let’s pretend you are
getting ready to take a dream vacation and escape the dull, lifeless winter
that you all are experiencing at this very moment.As soon as you pick your destination,
the pen hits the paper and you make your checklist of places to see and
activities to accomplish.
When it comes to selecting a
"coach" to help your golf game improve, grab that same pen and paper and make a
list.Finding the right golf
teacher requires some planning, and having so many accomplished PGA Golf
Professionals in the Philadelphia
Section of the PGA is a blessing to your golf game.
What follows is a short list
of four key factors to consider when determining which instructor is right for
-- Do not be distracted by a
list of personal achievements.Just
because the local pro has been awarded "Top 100 Teacher" or "Teacher of the
Year" does not mean that the two of you will blend harmoniously like peanut
butter and jelly.
-- Comfort equals
complacency.Find a teacher who
teaches varying students, of all ages and all skill levels.A teacher who tends to stick to, say,
more accomplished golfers can often forget how challenging it can be to
communicate with a student who needs the basics of the game.I always try to schedule lessons so that
I have students of different skill levels mixed in throughout the day.Too much of the same thing can make a
-- A half-hour lesson does
not necessarily mean 30 minutes!Yes there are days when the teacher has to stick to a tight schedule,
but often a good teacher will schedule 15 minutes or so between lessons.A teacher who wants to see you succeed
will often allow a quick lesson to run a bit long until he or she feels
comfortable with your improvement.Personally,
I feel a greater sense of fulfillment when my students succeed during a lesson
versus when it’s time for payment.A 30-minute or 1-hour lesson simply implies to me how long you want to
be on the lesson tee.In no way
does it mean that I am going to sound a buzzer and kick you back to the locker
room when the clock tells me to.
-- Bobrovsky or
Boucher?Find something other than
golf in common with your teacher.The best lessons that I give usually involve a student who is completely
comfortable with me.Whether it be
a favorite sports team or player in common, a type of music or even previous
sports that you each played, being able to talk about something other than golf
can prove very beneficial.If you
are always nervous and quiet when you take a lesson, maybe it’s time to look
Get started doing research
now before the season gets underway.A great place to research PGA Golf Professionals is on Facebookor pga.com(click the
instruction tab on this page).Most
pros will give a brief description of their background and some personal
information.Don’t be afraid to
call ahead and ask questions...a great teacher for you will also be a great
communicator.Anyone need my
Ryan Gingrow is PGA teaching professional at Whitford
CC. His full bio is here.
each day the sun stays in the sky a bit longer, and you are that much closer to
starting new golf season.Until
then, with New Year’s resolutions hopefully not forgotten and your golf clubs
in your family room instead of the trunk of your car, let’s get to work!
Here are three of my preferred indoor drills.Each drill covers one of the
fundamentals of game improvement:putting, bunker play and full swing.Please put last year’s member guest
trophy in a safe place before you start!
Toilet Paper Roll Out
Direction and Distance Control
(Putting):Start out by unrolling a roll of toilet paper a few
feet.Place a ball just at the
beginning of the toilet paper.Putt
balls down the sheet of toilet paper to the end of the roll.Continue rolling out the roll by
increments of five feet.Your goal
should be to keep the ball on the toilet paper so that your ball rolls and
stops at the end of the roll.
Impact (Bunker Play): Place a playing card on the floor. Imagine that the
ball is located at the front end of the card.As you would from a normal greenside
bunker lie, practice hitting a half-inch or an inch behind the ball.In this case, you want the bottom of the
club (the bounce) to contact the center of the playing card.The card should fly about 10 feet when
Posture and Hip Rotation (Full Swing):A dining chair can help you feel proper posture and hip rotation.Position your backside against the
chair.Get into your normal golf
posture and maintain proper knee flex.As your swing moves away from address, turn and push your right hip into
the chair.Your left side will come
off the chair.Keep the right knee
flexed.As the club moves into the
downswing, let your right hip come off the chair and firmly push your left hip
into the chair.This simple
movement will also help you stay centered over the golf ball and eliminate
swaying.In addition, this drill is
great if you have the challenge of standing up and straightening your back leg
during your backswing.
With the PGA tour’s west coast swing on the tube in the background, there
is plenty of time to practice in your home, keeping the rust off your swing
come late March.
Before you hit your first
practice ball of the season, incorporate these drills into your week about
three times.Don’t look back on
your winter and wish you could have done more.Start now!
is PGA teaching professional at Whitford CC.His full bio is here.