Augusta Bound

On Sunday, September 13th, Nicole Criscone qualified for the Drive, Chip and Putt National Championships at Augusta National Golf Club.  She qualified through the local stage at Saratoga National.  Then went to Turning Stone to get through the second round.  On Sunday, she visited the famed Country Club in Brookline, MA and won her division by 17 points.  What makes this even more impressive was the fact she won the 10-11 age group at the age of 9!  (She turns 10 a couple weeks before the Masters).  This was no fluke, however, as she has the skill set, the desire and the work ethic to compete with any group and I could not be happier for her and her family.  I thought that this accomplishment deserved more than a social media post, so here is a brief story of how I got to know Nicole.

I remember the day vividly.  I had just shot somewhere in the 80's in a US Open Qualifier and I was in a state of golf depression.  The ball hadn't gone where I wanted to (i.e. the hole), and my score was reflective of that.  It was one of those rounds that made me wonder why I was pursuing this game as a career.  I was driving home from the tournament thinking, I might need a break from golf for a little while, maybe knock the dust off my fishing poles for a couple of days.  Then the phone rang and on the other side was Dottie Pepper.  I wasn't sure why she was calling but was really hoping she wasn't calling to see how I played.  (Actually, I'm sure she had no idea I even played that day, which in hindsight helped me realize that how I played doesn't really matter to anyone but me.)  What she was calling about was far more important, as she was referring a student, whom she had gotten to know through some skiing adventures at Gore Mountain.  Based on her description and recommendation, I was immediately intrigued and not 5 minutes later, I got a call from Craig, Nicole's father.  That conversation and every day spent with Nicole there-on has been a wonderful and tremendous learning experience for us both.  

At some point during our first session together, word got out that I had an affinity for chocolate milk.  Since then, every time Nicole comes to visit, I am treated to a 12 oz. chocolate milk.  Sometimes, in the back of my mind, I think Craig and Tammy are trying to sugar me up to keep up with Nicole's energy level, but honestly it would take a lot more than 12 oz. of chocolate to match her energy.  Nicole likes to dance in between shots, chase butterflies, and will sometimes ask perfectly appropriate questions about nothing relevant.  But, when it comes time to hit the shot at hand, all of her attention goes towards the task and the results are phenomenal.  All of this is what makes her not only a great golfer but also a great 9-year old.   

Some individuals have the spark that it takes to shift their focus from one task to another, and do it at a very high level.  Nicole has this spark and it is of no surprise to me that she is successful at this game.  Add to that, her passion for the game and the hard work that she puts in, and there you have it, a qualifier for Augusta National Drive, Chip and Putt.  I could not be prouder of Nicole and her desire to get better and have fun doing it. 

I want to thank Dottie for introducing me to Nicole and her parents, and for timing it perfectly on my otherwise bleak afternoon.  I would also like acknowledge how Golf will always create ups, downs and everything in between.  If we never experienced the bad, we would never appreciate the good.  Success stories such as Nicole is why I choose Golf as my career.  I am excited about her ride to Augusta and beyond and hope she inspires more golfers to enjoy the game the way a 9-year old should.  

Why I Use AimPoint to Read Greens

And why I think you should too...

In June of 2014, John Graham came to Saratoga National to host 3 AimPoint Green Reading classes.  John is one of the most prominent instructors when it comes to Putting and Green Reading.  He travels the world teaching this system to tour players, caddies, amateurs and all players willing to improve their putting.  After last year's classes, I now understand why it is so successful.  I instituted this system into my own game and almost immediately, it made a profound impact on my scores as well as my mental approach when it comes to putting.  

Before AimPoint, I would have considered myself a regular on the strokes lost to putting stats sheet.  I never felt as though I could take advantage of solid ball striking, and not only was losing strokes, but continually lost confidence with the putter.  I was constantly switching putters and grips, and stances trying to find the answer on how to putt better.  Since I began using AimPoint, however, I no longer feel lost on the greens and now look forward to putting and the challenge of reading the greens.  The answer for me wasn't that I was a bad putter and I had to have a better stroke, it was that I did not have a system in place that married line, speed and read...the three main factors in putting.  Here are the top 5 reasons I use Aimpoint and why I think you should too.

1.  Ignore the Lore

Putts break downhill because of gravity.  Putts are not pulled towards railroad tracks, airports, streams, valleys, lakes, oceans, or any other objects.  Plain and simple, putts break downhill, and will break more or less depending on the grade of the slope your ball is rolling over.  So, when you go play a new golf course or one that has tricky greens, it is of no use to believe the folklore of the course that everything breaks a certain way, simply feel the slope and watch the ball break from high to low.  Small considerations can be made for grain and wind if they are prevalent enough to effect the ball.  

2.  It's all about Speed

Once you have determined your start direction with AimPoint, and line your ball up to that spot, line has been accomplished, now it is up to you to hit the ball hard enough to get it to the hole.  As long as you trust that your alignment is proper and you have the ability to return the blade back to the ball squarely, you can then direct your sole focus to speed.  How hard do you need to hit the ball to get it to the hole?  What often makes putting so difficult is the fact that the line of a putt is variable on any given putt.  Sometimes it is left of the hole, sometimes right, and sometimes straight at the hole. What AimPoint does is gives you a specific line to aim every time you putt, therefore you can then focus on the distance you want your ball to travel off of the putter face.  

3.  Process and Routine

AimPoint allows you to formulate a consistent and repeatable process that does not take much time.  My process generally goes like this:  Is this putt uphill or downhill?  Which side is the low side?  Feel the break at the halfway point using my feet.  Return to the golf ball and use AimPoint Express to determine my start direction.  Line the ball up to that spot, take a couple of practice strokes and let it go.  This will not only help because your process is consistent, but also help with pace of play...your buddies will thank you.

4. Math

One cannot argue with math.  If you are a concrete thinker and see things in straight lines, then AimPoint is perfect for you.  Basically this system allows for you to hit a putt on a straight line that is the tangent to the initial part of the curve.  Simply put, your ball will start straight and gravity will pull the ball off of that line.  Once you recognize that all you can do is hit the ball straight, you then rely on the system to accomplish the rest of the putt.  So you don't have to necessarily trust yourself as much as you have to trust math.  I think this makes for a far more acceptable reason why you might miss a putt.  That is assuming you ever miss.

5. Feel vs. Sight

When using AimPoint it is important that what you feel should trump what you see.  Some of the best golf course architects create green complexes with the intention to distort your perception.  What you see can be totally different than what you feel.  Therefore, if we trust that the golf ball will break downhill, and you feel one side higher than the other, once again, let's trust gravity and play the ball on the high side.  Since using Aimpoint, it is very rare that I will play a ball on the wrong side of the hole.  Feel trumps sight.  

Rules of Thumb

Downhill putts break more than uphill putts.  Why?  Because balls rolling downhill take longer and therefore are affected by gravity for a longer period of time.

We cannot and should not hit a putt with curve or spin.  Since the ball is on the ground, and not airborne, we can and should only impart one direction with a putter, then we let gravity take the ball off of that line and hopefully into the hole.

Faster greens break more than slower greens.  For the same reason as downhill vs. uphill.  The longer gravity has the opportunity to impact the golf ball, the more it will break.

Always err on the high side.  If you miss on the high side, you will have roughly 1/2 - 1/3 less distance to the hole then when you miss on the low side.  Therefore, you will decrease your chances to three putt dramatically.  I would always choose to have a 1 foot downhill putt rather than a 3 foot uphill putt.

On June 26th, John Graham will be hosting AimPoint green reading classes at Saratoga National Golf Club.  This will be the second year John has joined us, and I would highly recommend attending this class.  It will change the way you think about putting and when implemented can dramatically reduce your scores.

-Anders




Group vs. Individual Instruction

I am asked a lot about the benefits of group instruction versus individual instruction, so I thought I would write a little bit about the differences and the benefits of each.  Ultimately, the student is going to benefit from either one, but there are certain people who will benefit from one more than another.  Hopefully the following information will help you decide which one better suits your needs, and as always I am happy to steer you in the right direction.

Group Instruction Offerings

Benefits for Group Instruction

Economics

I would say that this is one of the biggest attractions of participating in group instruction.   As many of you know, I tend to look at things in a mathematical fashion, as that is the way things make the most sense to me...hence TrackMan.  Looking at my current rates and doing some arithmetic, you will find that the time spent for instruction is far more economical in a group setting.  For instance, an individual lesson is $150 for an hour, while something like the Short Game Class is $75 for 90-minutes.  That is a 67% discount for the time spent with Anders...  

Camaraderie

Golf is played in social arena and I believe that instruction and learning should fall into that same category.  I will always try to group people with similar goals together, so there is a certain congruity to the group.  Often, those taking part in group instruction end up playing golf together, and who knows, maybe become friends, business partners, etc.

Competitions

I always enjoy having small competitions amongst those participating. I find that competing, even for a burpee or a dollar will show the real skill level of a player.  Does that person thrive on competition and excel, or do they shy away and not trust their skills?  Even if you are just competing against yourself for a new high score, or faster club speed, competition breeds excellence.

Information

Often, I will begin group sessions with an overview of a certain topic or skill.  Even though you might be comfortable with that particular piece of the game, it is always helpful to hear quality information that could provide useful for you.  Generally, individual instruction will be specifically tailored to the student's needs, so extra information may be lost.  Once information is relayed from the coach to the student, it is often best for the student to digest the information and work on it on their own.  

Fun

I think that the dynamics of group instruction offer the opportunity to laugh, joke, and have more fun, while learning.  Golf is a game of leisure for most, so it is imperative that we use instruction and training as an outlet from the other facets of our lives.  Golf is a great game to learn together and get better together, and generally when you play better, you have more fun.  Sounds so simple.

Benefits of Individual Instruction

Student-Coach Attention

A one-on-one lesson will always garner more attention from the coach to the student.  This will help provide more specific information to that particular student and their needs.  This is something that is positive when first starting a program, but as the student moves on, I think it is necessary for some separation.  As much as it sounds nice, I can't follow every one of my students through every shot on the course, so we have to be careful to not practice that way as well.

Time Flexibility

It is difficult for me to schedule group classes and expect everyone to be able to take part in them.  Work and personal obligations often get in the way of maintaining a consistent schedule, so often times, scheduling a personal individual lesson is the best way to receive instruction.  An ideal situation is to sign up for a hybrid of both.

Club Fitting

I would recommend doing club fitting sessions one-on-one.  There are a lot of dynamics and feedback necessary from the student-coach.  Golf clubs are a significant investment and I would always encourage you to get fit properly before spending the money.   Group settings do not offer the proper time allotment to complete club fittings.

Evaluation Period

If you have never had instruction or would like to start a long term program, I would recommend signing up for individual lessons first.  Group instruction is far more valuable if you have a baseline practice plan, and you can then ask specific questions to help clarify what you are working on.  

I hope this information provides you a nice outline to start your golf training programs.  I would be happy to answer any questions on these, or anything else.  See everyone soon!

-Anders

 

 

 

Wedge Ladder Test Results

For those of you who have taken part in my Wedge Ladder Test on TrackMan, I think you will find this information very interesting.  For those of you who haven't taken the test, please read on, because these results are important for every golfer to know.  

First, what is the Wedge Ladder Test?  Within TrackMan, there is a place where we as instructors can create tests for the golfer to complete and analyze where there may be a deficiency or excellence in their games.  So, this particular test comprises of the following:

  • 20 Total Shots
  • 10-100 Yards
  • One shot at each distance (repeated twice)
  • Scores are based on carry distance in proximity to the target
  • Direction and Distance from target are measured (picture a dart board).
  • Max score per shot is 100 (bullseye).  Minimum is 0 (wall).
  • After 20 shots are taken, the average is formulated to give you a score 0-100.  

This score represents a proficiency of your wedge play within 100 yards.  The higher the score, the better, the lower the worse, unlike golf.  This test gives us an opportunity to find distances that might cause certain golfers troubles, and also some good distances to lay up.  Some players are good at 100, some are good at 20, some are good at 60, but based on my results below, we find that maybe not so many are good at 60.   

One rainy day this past Fall, I compiled the data from all of the wedge ladder tests that were completed in the Winter of 2013-2014.  There were 99 tests completed.  Now, I don't claim this to be a completely scientific study as there were certain variables such as weather, and participant that were not under control, but then again, that's golf. I do think it is very interesting to see which yardages are most difficult for players vs. the easiest.  

 

The End Verdict: 60 Yards is not your friend!  Based on the compiled data, the 60 yard shot scored the lowest.  The highest score was recorded from 10 yards.  50-70 yard range was lower than average.  10-40 yard range was above average. 

The Good News: For most players, only 2% of approach shots fall within 50-75 yards.  That's less ONE for every TWO ROUNDS of golf.  

What does this Mean? Situation: You are debating on whether or not to go for the green in two on a par 5 without considerable trouble around the green. After looking at the chart, if the opportunity presents itself, it does make sense to get as close to the green as possible as soon as possible.  Players will generally get closer to the hole when they are closer to the hole...sounds so simple!  If you can get to within 40 yards, go for it, if you can't...lay back to a comfortable number.  Also, even though you may not be good at the 60 yard shot: 1. You are not alone, and 2. It should not be a main focus during practice because of the rarity of that shot while you play.  

I hope you enjoyed this post, and if you have interest in taking the wedge ladder test or any other TrackMan test that I have created, go ahead and book some time with me and my little orange friend.  

Thanks and Happy New Year,

-Anders

 

It's October...Now What?

As is consistently the case, the New York Summers are too short and Winters, too long.  As a golf professional, the weather is something that dictates our lives and our golf plans on a daily basis.  We have been fortunate to have a great stretch of Summer and Fall weather and what looks like 3 more weeks of playable conditions.  So, now that the end of this golf season is near, and the glimpses of green grass and sunlight fades, what do we do about our golf games?  

I have been asking a lot of my students as well as fellow peers what their plans are, and I am overwhelmed by the amount of people that say, "probably tee it up a few more times then put the clubs in the garage for the winter."  or "time to hang up the clubs until the Spring."  I suppose, being in such a seasonal market, it is easy to turn the golf switch to off and hibernate until the snow melts, but I on the other hand think this time of year is a great opportunity to take stock in your game and reflect on the season and look forward to a progression period.  I would encourage everyone that reads this to ask themselves: "Do you plan on playing golf in 2015?"  If the answer is anything but NO, then now is the time to begin your preparation.  Most of the club tournaments are over, and competitive rounds are scarce.  This should not be the time to "sneak" a few extra rounds in because it will snow soon, but should be a time to get a head start on the next season.

I think many of us get caught up in the seasonality of golf in the Northeast and simply restart each Spring, with very little progression, or more likely some regression.  What I recommend is to take a good look at your golf game after a full season and create some goals on how to improve your game.  Whether it is one skill that you felt was lacking, or if you want more distance or more accuracy, or both, now is the time to take that challenge on.  

How?

I have created an in-depth player evaluation that allows you to see your strengths and weaknesses, and determine where you are losing strokes on the golf course.  This evaluation is a great way to take stock in your game as it is now, compare it to where you want to be, then together we formulate a plan to improve.  

The Evaluation consists of the following:

  • 50 Shots from 10-100 Yards
  • 70 Shots from 110-220 Yards
  • 50 Shots around the green (10-40 Yards) Fairway, Rough, Sand.
  • 50 Putts
  • Driver

I use TrackMan to gather all of our full shot data and then use a matrix of Median Distance from the pin to create a chart that shows how you compare to Tour Players as well as players of your same skill level.  The results so far have been eye opening to all of my students.  We have a clear mission during the Winter on what to improve.  The path to improvement is clear and quantitative, which allows for very specific practice sessions during the Winter.  

How to Get Started:

  • Book a 90-Minute Evaluation Session Before November 2nd.
    • Full Evaluation takes about 3 hours to complete.
    • The golf course will close on November 2nd, so short game analysis is unavailable.
    • Ideally I would like to see all evaluations done outside.
  • Visit my website to see the offerings for the Winter and select a program that works best for you.
    • Be realistic with how much time you would like to commit, and as always ask me questions on what I would recommend.
  • Say no to Golf Hibernation and commit to golf for more than 6 months a year.

I hope that you take part in keeping golf a year round sport in the Northeast, and with that, you will see improved results in your game.  See you soon!

-Anders

 

Book Review - Every Shot Counts by Mark Broadie

Every Shot Counts by Mark Broadie

I have to admit that I was very excited to receive this book when it was first released in the Spring.  I read about halfway into the book and was a bit overwhelmed with the amount of statistics and relative redundancy that took place.  So, the book took a back seat through the summer.  Even with a two-year-old at home that loves bookmarks, I managed to save my place for 4 months and picked up right where I left off.  The overall theme of this book is great, the data and research is unmatched, and once completed, the information provided is valuable for all players.  If you are into stats, graphs, and projections, this book is for you.  For those of you who are familiar with Moneyball, by Michael Lewis, this is the golf version of Sabermetrics. The writing lacks the romance of Moneyball , but there are pages and pages of data for those that enjoy the numbers game.  

GolfMetrics, as Mark Broadie calls it, refers to the playability of golf based on strengths, weaknesses, angles, and expectations for any player.  Statisticians have been using data in sports for years now, and it has finally arrived in the form of Strokes Gained statistics.  Mark does a great job of relaying not only professional data, but also data for Amateur Golfers so anyone can benefit from this knowledge.  I found much of the data to be surprising, while other portions justified what I and most other golfers already assumed.  I am a big fan of attaching mathematic realizations to barstool assumptions, and Broadie does a great job of laying these out.  

I think that some of the stats that I found most intriguing were the putting stats.  An average PGA Tour player only makes 50% of their 8-foot putts.  A scratch golfer, that number drops to 6 feet, and a 90-golfer to 5-feet.  So when you are over an 8-foot putt and it doesn't go in, remember that the guys on TV only make half of those, so maybe you're not as bad as you think you are.  Also, tour players only make on average one 25 foot putt per tournament.  Yes, only 1 putt of 25 feet in four rounds of golf.  The reason we see and expect more is the beauty of the highlight reel.  Golf is all about expectations, so when we expect to make all of our putts inside 10-feet, we are doomed for failure, therefore more pressure is put on the next one, and confidence is lost.  The way I would like to see everyone putt is to expect to make all of the 6-footers, but when you miss, that means that you are due to make the next. Or if you miss two, you will make two.  If you believe in the law of averages, then these numbers will help you set reasonable and achievable expectations.  

In this book, Broadie also dives into Long Game Strokes Gained, Approach Shots Strokes Gained, and Short Game Strokes Gained.  One of the chapters is labeled "The Secret of Tiger Woods", which outlines one of the main reasons for his dominance of the sport for so many years.  His Approach Shots Strokes Gained was on average a whopping .42 strokes per round ahead of the next best. This means in any given tournament, he was 1.68 shots better over four days in just approach shots from 100-250 yards.  Add this to his length advantage, an above average short game, better than average putting, and arguably the best mental game ever and it is no wonder why he was dominant for so long.  Basically, if Tiger hit it between the trees off the tee, he was already nearly 2 shots better than everyone else in every tournament he played.  Then, he separated himself more on and around the greens, which resulted in many competent players vying for second place.

One more stat was the effectiveness of driving distance on the PGA Tour.  It is without doubt an advantage to hit the ball further off the tee, with a relatively appropriate direction.  On average, those with longer tee-shots will hit more greens in regulation, have closer proximities to the hole, and therefore make more birdies and eagles.  The adage "drive for show and putt for dough" does not necessarily hold true when you read this book.  To win on tour, however, more than likely, the player with the giant check in hand ended up besting the field in putting stats.  However, the importance is best detailed when Broadie elegantly writes on page 210:  "...it would be easier to find a live unicorn than an 80-golfer who could consistently compete on the PGA Tour if only he had tour-average putting ability."  One must drive the ball long, hit great approach shots, and then have tour level putting stats to consistently compete at that level.  

So, the moral of this story is to analyze your game to find out where strokes are gained and lost.  Work on those facets that can give you the most immediate improvement, and then continue that process until you are satisfied with your scores and your game...which will hopefully never happen.  If you have questions on how to analyze your game, please come see me.  I have many tests that can grade you vs. expectations. Some tests include: Putting, Short Game, TrackMan Wedge Ladder and TrackMan Combine.  These stats and data can prove invaluable when trying to improve your game.  I hope you enjoy the book and the book review and as always email me with questions.

-Anders

Book Review - Understanding the Golf Swing

Understanding the Golf Swing by Manuel de la Torre

It must be that time of year again, when I pile up my book shelves with new reads.  With summer winding down, this time of year offers me a great opportunity to refresh the brain with new ideas and information to pass along to my students.  Here is the first of hopefully many book reviews in the next couple of weeks.  

Judging by the cover, this is a book that may be uninspiring to pick off the shelf, and not necessarily one that jumps out at you on Amazon.  However, the book itself is chock full of valuable and good information that any golfer can use.  The premise of Torre's teaching revolves around one simple idea of Swinging the Club Head.  I recently finished Ernest Jones' book as well, and was inspired by the ideas that he presents.  The first thing that I look for in any student is how the club head is swinging in relation to the body.  Does the player swing his/her arms too much, or do they drag the handle, or is the body moving faster than the arms?  All of these tendencies are observable and can be detrimental to an efficient swing.  The manner in which someone swings a club is unique to that individual, and unless consciously changed, will remain that way.  I love this idea, as it creates a sense of ease when playing golf.  You have a swing that produces a pattern, let's use that pattern to make the golf ball do what we want.  

The fashion in which a player swings a club is often over taught and over thought.  Trying to swing a club in an unnatural or manipulated fashion can lead to negative results, which are often deemed as "bad swings."  I believe in the mantra that swings are not repeatable and don't need to be repeatable.  What does need to happen is freedom within the swing and a clear conscious thought on the purpose of the shot.  Once the shot is committed to, the swing can and should produce that shot.  

Some of my favorite portions of this book are how Manuel de la Torre debunks some myths of golf and nothing is more advantageous to read than the way he opens Chapter 5:

"The effects on the flight of the golf ball are very specific, but similar effects can have very different causes.  And this is where the average golfer does a great deal of damage to his or her swing and to that of others to whom well-meaning help is given.  So many times players do exactly what they are trying to correct because of lack of knowledge and understanding of cause and effect.  When the attempted corrections do not work or help the problem, the dilemma becomes even more distressing." - Page 70

I cannot over stress the need to understand ball flight laws as a teacher and player.  It is not complicated, and once understand can eliminate a lot of guessing on what the player did wrong.  Also, taking advice from an un-knowledgable source can provide a myriad of poor results.  There is so much information available to golfers, and the game itself is so much fun to discuss that often our brains get into an over analytical state.  If you are a teacher, please be certain to pass along good information. Everyone should be wary that passing along bad information can be more detrimental than passing along any information at all.  

Here are a couple of myths that de la Torre does a nice job of debunking in this book:

"You should keep your head down during the swing." - FALSE

The head should remain relatively centered over the ball during the swing, however, keeping it down will result in an abbreviated finish and unnatural movement."

"The left arm should stay straight for a right handed golfer on the backswing." - FALSE

The left arm should not be rigid during the backswing rather simply a vehicle to swing the club head.  

"A shank is the result of an open club face at impact." - FALSE

A shank is a ball that is hit off of the hosel/heel of the club.  Club face orientation does not matter.  A shank is not a mis-swing, but rather a mis-hit.

"You should try to create lag by dragging the hands through the impact zone." - FALSE

The club head should be swung using a center pivot.  Dragging the hands creates lateral movement through impact and an inefficient swing.

"To play a curved shot, the club face at setup should be pointed where you want the ball to end up." - FALSE

The club face angle is the primary component in the direction the ball will launch.  The club path/club face relationship will dictate how much it curves.  A club that is setup at the intended target will result in a ball that over spins and crosses the target line with any quantity of path.

"You can groove a golf swing using muscle memory." - FALSE

Muscles don't have memories.  Brains send signals to the muscles to react to the shot at hand. 

All of these pieces above are examples of things I hear everyday on the range from people trying to teach the game to others.  These are all good examples of bad information being presented which can make people worse golfers.  My goal as an instructor and coach is to filter out bad information, and allow people to have clear, positive thoughts on how to approach the game.  The best information I will provide you today is to buy a copy of this book and read up!  Enjoy!

-Anders

Embrace the Scramble

June - The official month of Charity Events.  The traditional format for these events is a Scramble, which the team uses the best shot of the group and continues that play until the ball is holed. The Scramble is used for a number of reasons, mainly pace and participation, but I think it can be a great way for you to practice different shots.  There are a lot of negative connotations with a Scramble and how it can negatively effect your golf game.  Many of the comments I hear mirror the following:

"Well, it's a scramble, so I try to swing too hard and get out of my rhythm.

or

"It isn't real golf, I end up playing from spots where I would never hit it."

or 

"I putted last, so I got the line so it was much easier."

I think all of these comments are wonderful examples of how someone should practice and play.  Broken down, a Scramble is really golf in a purer form.  You hit a shot, and then you hit another shot from a better place, then continue that process until the ball is holed.  The shot that you just played may not be the one you are currently playing, which is OK because it allows you to try a new shot.  The previous shot should have no implication on the future shot as they are exclusive events.  So, I say, embrace the scramble as an opportunity to hit and try different shots.  Here are some tips to make a scramble format more enjoyable and more beneficial to your game:

  • Be aggressive, as the consequences are less - that's why you have teammates.  Fire at pins, try to hole out long putts and chips.
  • Swinging harder doesn't make it go further - work on tempo and hitting the sweet spot of the club.
  • Putt last.  You will be left with some putts that your team is relying on you to make, so pressure is built.  And you should know exactly what the putt does as you've watched 3 others miss.  Work on your line and speed - use your team for reading the green.
  • Enjoy the ease of posting a low score.  Making birdies and eagles are fun - embrace them and hopefully some of that will transfer to your individual game.

I hope these tips as well as the amenities and facilities allow you to enjoy a day on the golf course during the Outing Season.  

-Anders

Wedge Fitting

Now that the season seems as though it has finally begun, it is time to start taking stock in your golf game.  What is good?  What is bad? And, what is going to propel you to your desired improvement?  As everyone knows, in order to score efficiently, one must be proficient in the 100 yard and in game.  That includes, Wedge shots, pitches, chips, bunkers, and putting.  If you are lacking in this area of the game, maybe it's time to take a look at your wedges and make sure you meet some of the fundamental criteria that make for good wedge play.  First, do you know how far each of your wedges goes?  Second, is there a consistent gapping between your Pitching Wedge and your first "Scoring" Wedge?  Thirdly, how old are your wedges?  If the answer is I don't know to any of those, or if your wedges are hand me downs from at least one generation away, it is time to go through a wedge fitting.  Here is a quick rundown on how I do Wedge Fittings, and I think it is a very valuable experience for everyone to take part in.

1 - Gapping

We will first hit your current 9-iron, Pitching Wedge (and Gap Wedge) from your set to find exact carry distances using TrackMan.  Remember most PW's in sets are now around 44 degrees, so it is very important to find that next club in the set.  We will experiment with wedges that fill the gap from your current wedge, looking for roughly 8-12 yards in carry.  Then we will continue that process through the wedge set.  I do recommend carrying at least 3 wedges with about 4 degrees of separation and 8-12 yards of carry.  

2 - Bounce and Grind

I know that sounds like a rap video dance move, but these two components are very important when selecting your wedges.  Titleist does a great job not only offering these options, but also explaining how and why they are important.  I currently house all 24 models of the SM5 as demos so are able to make sure that that bounce and grinds are correct for your golf swing and preferences. During this phase, we will hit a variety of shots around the short game area, ranging from full wedges, to short pitches, to lobs and bunker shots.  One of my favorite clubs that is out right now is the K grind which allows for a multitude of shots around the green and is great for the sand at Saratoga National.  The K grind comes in 58 or 60 degree versions.  

Here is the Matrix available in Vokey SM5 wedges.   Complicated to look at, but I will help narrow it down during the fitting. 

Here is the Matrix available in Vokey SM5 wedges.   Complicated to look at, but I will help narrow it down during the fitting. 

3 - Spec it

We will want to make sure length and lie angle are correct at this stage, basically matching the irons that you have in the set.  I am not completely opposed to bending wedges a bit flatter or more upright depending on certain player's preferences and tendencies.  Dynamic fitting helps analyze ball flight to determine lie and carry distance to determine loft.  

4 - Choose your Finish

The new Titleist SM5 wedges come in three finishes, and as I have been told, they all preform exactly the same from a spin prospective, but do wear differently over time.  

3 Finishes from Vokey.  Chrome, Gold, Raw Black

3 Finishes from Vokey.  Chrome, Gold, Raw Black

5 - Decorate it

If you are into custom clubs, this option is great.  You can put your initials on the club, a loved one's name, or decorate the club with dots, or other patterns.  You choose the color and the style, and Titleist will stamp it.  Want to be ahead of the curve???  Go ahead and stamp your carry yardage on the back so you'll know exactly when to pull that club.

Decorate your wedges however you'd like them.  Samples are available to see during the wedge fitting.

Decorate your wedges however you'd like them.  Samples are available to see during the wedge fitting.

6 - Tweak it

When your wedges arrive and you get the plastic off, go ahead and hit the clubs and make sure they are performing the way you expected. If you find that one wedge is going a bit too far, or a bit too short, bring them into the shop, and we will check lofts and tweak them as necessary.  It is important that the wedges are right for you, and after going through this process, you should be confident that you can hit any shot within 100 yards.  

To book a wedge fitting - click here

Wedge fittings generally take about an hour and give you an excellent understanding of your current state as well as some great tools to move forward in your game.  I do carry all 24 options from Titleist and use ProV1 balls on the range, so the fitting process is very accurate to what you would see on the course.  Hope to see you soon!

-Anders

Decision and Execution

In order to properly assess a golf shot, I feel it is necessary to break down each shot into two facets. The decision process and the execution process.  I love the way that Pia Nillson and Lynn Marriot use the "Think Box" and "Play Box" in their methods with Vision54.  I have broken it down a bit differently, and think it is very important to recognize that one without the other can and likely will cause a poor result.  Here are some scenarios that can play out on the golf course, so it is important to analyze afterwards which part of the process may have been at fault.

  • Good Decision + Good Execution = Good Result
  • Good Decision + Bad Execution = Bad Result
  • Bad Decision + Good Execution = Bad Result
  • Bad Decision + Bad Execution = Bad or Good Result (You've heard the saying, rather be lucky than good.)

So based on this, I think that the decision and execution portions of a golf shot are at least equally important.  And also, lucky for us, we could really have no clue what we are doing, make a horrible golf swing and still see a good result, which is what makes this game so beautiful.  Here are a list of decisions and executions that I feel are important when determining the shot to hit.  As you can see the decision list is a lot longer than the execution list, so what do you think you should be practicing more?  

Decision

  • Yardage
    • Actual yardage to the hole 
      • Use a rangefinder or GPS or Caddie
    • Intended Yardage - Factor in conditions 
      • Uphill/Downhill
      • Lie
      • Weather (cold or hot)
      • Wind
    • Carry Yardage
      • How much will the ball roll out once it lands
  • Shot Shape
    • Draw, Fade, High, Low
  • Club Selection
  • Launch Direction - Where do you want the ball to start?
  • Alignment and Ball position
  • Trust it

Execution

  • Picture the shot, focus on the target and Execute
  • One Swing thought or Swing Trigger

Analyze

What did the ball do?  Was the result what we intended?  If not, where was the flaw?  Was it a mis-hit (poor execution)?  Or did you misjudge the wind (poor decision)?  Or did you hit the wrong club (poor decision)?  Or do you not know how far your clubs go?  

The last question is one that is a very big flaw that I see in most of my students.  Everything was aligned properly, they judged the wind, saw the shot, executed it perfectly, but did not have enough club to reach the intended target.  That person then will think that there is a swing flaw, or an inefficiency, but in reality is was just a poor club selection based on a lack of knowledge of their own game.  During this time of year, I work a lot on decisions and very little on execution.  The execution phase should be something that is natural and if in need of tinkering, can be done, but I like to work on that during the off-season. I think it is very important to understand what your game is and how to best manage it around the golf course.  I urge everyone to come get a gapping analysis using TrackMan to find out how far your clubs go.  Also, find out what your normal swing is, so you don't make a poor decision on alignment, or ball position.  Making a couple of bad decisions per round is tolerable and completely normal, but hitting the wrong club on every shot will eventually lead you to misery on the course.  Unfortunately, not everyone can have a PGA Tour caddie who makes most decisions for the player, but through the use of technology and a clear thought process, I think everyone can improve if they focus a bit more on the decision and less on the execution.

-Anders

 

 

 

Top 5 Things to do Before the Golf Season Starts

It is officially April, and rather than looking back at how cold, long and cold the winter was, it's time to start looking forward to another golf season in the Northeast.  Whether you were able to practice all winter, or make a trip south to play, or did nothing at all, I have come up with these steps to get your golf season off to a great start.  

TOP 5 THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE GOLF SEASON STARTS

5 - Analyze your Equipment

There are a lot of options out there for new clubs and different equipment options, but most importantly it is necessary to know what you already have.  Start with the basics and check your grips:

  • Are there indentations where your fingers sit?
  • Are they shiny?
  • Are there any rips in the rubber?
  • Do they appear to have any mold or other fungus growing on them?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, go ahead and get some new handles.  Saratoga National has a great selection of grips and can get any other grip you choose within 2 days of ordering.  Next, go through a "Spec Check" with a Loft/Lie machine.  A new addition at Saratoga National, this will give you peace of mind that your irons are at the lofts and lies that you expect them to be.  Finally, it is important to recognize when it might be time for an upgraded club.  If you have had a wedge for over 5 years, it's time to replace it.  If you have a steel shaft on any fairway wood or hybrid, it's time to replace it.  If your driver was purchased before 2009, there is new technology that will help you hit the ball further and straighter.  

4 - Find out your "Swing Blueprint" with TrackMan

This is something that I have been doing with all of my students in the Hitting Bay this year, and it is a great way to recognize how you swing the golf club. For those of you who think you swing differently every time, you are somewhat correct, but there is always a pattern that you follow, therefore you don't swing as differently as you might think.  By looking at Swing Direction, Club Path, Attack Angle and Face Angle, we can find out what your natural swing looks like by the numbers and come up with a plan on how to optimize your current swing and perhaps adjust to increase efficiency.  I urge everyone to go through this process as it is eye-opening for most people.  This will also help organize a set of goals (see below) to make sure you are focusing on the right portions of your game.

3 - Perform a Gapping Analysis

I cannot stress this one enough as it is so important to know how far your clubs go.  The Gapping Analysis that I run will take an average of shots for each club in your bag and will give you both a carry and total yardage that you should expect to hit each club.  This knowledge is absolutely vital when getting out on the golf course.  You could execute a perfect swing, and shot, but pull the wrong club and have disastrous results.  Making proper decisions before you execute is equally important if not more important than the swing itself.  Sign up for a gapping analysis and we will make sure you know how far each club goes.  And if, you need to fill a gap or open a gap, we can look at equipment to do so.  

2 - Commit and Schedule Time for Golf

This one sounds easy, but is often more difficult than anticipated (I apologize in advance to those wives and girlfriends who want more time with their loved ones).  If you rely on getting on the golf course when you have the time, or practicing when it is convenient, you will most likely be disappointed with the amount of golf you play this year, and therefore not see any progress in your game.  If you want to improve, time commitment is necessary, and putting that on your calendar early is the easiest way to do so.  We have a short season in the Northeast so there are a lot of outdoor activities to get in during a short time, so all I ask is that golf is on the list.  I have opened up my schedule online for basically the entire season, so now is the time to look forward and prioritize time to get better.  Also, make your tee-times with your friends and families now.  We all know golf is a time consuming sport, but with a clear schedule and game plan, practice time can be efficient and productive.  

1 - Set Goals

I wrote about a similar set of things to do once the New Year hit, but have moved this area to #1.  If you truly want to get better at golf, you have to distinguish what you want to improve and make a diligent effort to do so.  If you just want to get better, it will be: One, tough to quantify and secondly, no clear focus on how to accomplish that.  I highly recommend setting specific skill acquisition goals and work on that skill until you feel as though you have improved.  Once that skill or area of specific focus has been addressed, it's time to move onto another.  Putting all of the pieces together will be gratifying and will show with lower scores and more fun on the course.  The seasonal coaching programs will be focusing on this idea of skill acquisition so when you get started, make sure to have clear goals in mind.  

 

I look forward to seeing everyone soon, and if you have any questions, let me know: amattson@golfsaratoga.com

-Anders

Who hit this shot?

I had a "golfer" in the other day and he set the record for creating the highest spin axis number recorded on my TrackMan since November.  The shot was really quite astonishing, as the speed needed to create this shot with a driver is very unique.  Here are a few of the stats that stand out.  

Club Speed - 125 MPH (PGA Tour Average - 113 MPH)

Spin Axis - 39.6 degrees of Hook Spin - Average Draw Spin (3-6 degrees)

Smash Factor - 1.29 (PGA Tour Average - 1.48) (Meaning he hit this probably 3/4" towards the toe.)

Face to Path - (-10) This is the main culprit for the enormous hook (added to the toe hit)

Spin Rate - 5657 rpm (PGA Tour Average 2686 rpm)

Launch Angle - 13.7 - usually when you have a face that is 10 degrees closed to the path with a downward attack angle with a driver, the ball does not get airborne, however this gentleman was able to hit not only on the toe but on the top portion of the toe to create a little more lift under the ball therefore we were able to see the full effect of the 40 degree spin axis.

If you look at the fine print on the left side of the picture, we did find a way to straighten a few out and got about 270 yards of carry.  The potential is there, just need to harness the power.

I and a few others tried to replicate this shot but to no avail.  To give you an idea of how left this is, it started in the hitting bay, was launched towards the pine tree on the right side of the range and short hopped the white fence bordering the first hole.  I hope to leave this one in the record books and not see it duplicated, but anyone who wants to try, feel free to come on over.

2013 NENY PGA Teacher of the Year

I am honored to announce that I have been named the 2013 Teacher of the Year for the Northeastern New York PGA Section.  I am truly humbled to be recognized and take great pride in the award.  I cannot thank those that have helped me get to this point enough, and appreciate all of the support from my peers and students.  Congratulations to all of the other winners, we all should be proud. I look forward to getting better as a teacher and providing better golfing experiences for all of my students for years to come.  


New Coaching Programs for 2014

Although, the 45 day weather forecast is bleak, I am happy to announce some preliminary scheduling for the 2014 golf season.  In years past, my instruction has mainly been focused on individual lessons with work on various aspects of the game.  I have developed some wonderful relationships and feel as though the results were all positive. I will still be offering individual instruction, but am really excited about offering a more dynamic learning experience through new game improvement sessions.  

I have put together programming for the entire season with the premise being game improvement through skill acquisition and supervised practice.  I have observed this type of practice in a number of different models and am confident that what I put out will allow my students to learn the game of golf in a fun and unique manner.  

What this is not:

  • One-on-One Instruction
  • All Students lined up on the range while I "walk the line"
  • Prescription for one swing philosophy
  • Block practice on the driving range
  • Boring

What this Is:

  • Supervised Practice Sessions with Specific Goals for each Student 
  • On-Course Training
  • Situational Practice Methods
  • Games, tests and competitions amongst students (and Teachers).
  • Use of TrackMan to Track Shots and Quantify Results
  • Getting the Most Out of Your Game
  • Guaranteed Results. 

These programs are designed to help develop skills needed to get better at golf.  And with supervised, focused practice, I anticipate a fast rate of improvement for all involved.  

One of the best parts of these programs is that they are more affordable than individual lessons as well.  So, if you have ever been hesitant to receive instruction but like to practice, this is perfect for you.  Or if you like instruction but don't like to practice, this is even better.  And if you like neither or both, than you're still in the right place.

If you are interested in participating in these programs, please give me some feedback on what you would specifically like to see and any times and days that work better for you.  I have outlined a preliminary schedule and am offering pre-books on my website, so please feel free to sign-up and give as much feedback as possible.  I look forward to seeing everyone once the snow melts.  More info on these packages and more to follow. Thanks!

-Anders

Always Strive to Make Yourself Better

These cold, snowy days and nights are certainly not an enjoyable time for golf professionals, and it is tough to stay motivated during the dark months.  In order to maintain some sense of optimism, I really enjoy watching the Tour Events out west.  It makes me realize that we have in fact turned the corner towards Spring.  I also like to peruse the Internet for new blog posts by people that are willing to share their knowledge online.  As I was reading through a few blogs about golf, CrossFit or whatever else caught my interest, I came across this quote:  

“Winners compare themselves to themselves, and losers compare themselves to others.”

This quote is something that struck a chord with me as I watched Jimmy Walker hold on at Pebble last week, then watching elite Olympic athletes compete for medals in Sochi.  It is so apparent to me that these athletes do not compare themselves to their competitors, but rather to their own body of work.  Whether on the golf course, or during training sessions, they continuously make decisions that allow themselves to get better.  

During a transition to a coaching platform for instruction, I have been working with students on a much more regular basis than in the past. We have been able to cover a lot of material, from TrackMan data, fundamentals, body movement, ball flight, and course management. It is often tough to grasp onto all of the concepts and feel confident that they are all improving.  So, what I recommend to my students is to make sure that when they spend time with me, they walk in with a specific goal to get better at something, and when they leave to identify that something and feel confident that they are in fact better.  Whether it is simply changing TrackMan numbers, or learning a new shot, the ability to attack a specific goal during each practice session is vital.  Golf improvement is rarely about making swing changes, but rather collecting a large quantity of skills and continuing to improve those skills through quality practice.  If you are currently comparing yourself to others and have no specific personal goals, I would recommend taking a step back and analyzing what you want to accomplish. Then set out to accomplish that goal and you will in fact be making yourself better.  Continue this process and you will find that you have improved and then you can compete to see how you stack up against the competition.  Skill acquisition can be performed year round, and in any weather, indoors or out, and with a golf club or without.  Feel free to contact me to learn more about improving your golf game over the winter.

 

Book Review - The Circle

I have always said if I am not teaching, I should be learning.  And this time of year, I am exceptionally motivated to finish the list of books that I have set aside to read.  This particular book came from a List of top books for 2013 from Inc.com.  I am mainly a reader of non-fiction in search of new ideas to help my business, but this one slid in front of a few others, as now and again, I need to add a little fiction to my library.

Imagine if Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instragram all combined forces to create a tech company of megapolis proportions.  The Circle, by Dave Eggers, explores the future of our lives if such consolidation were to happen in our new world of data.  The story follows the life of Mae Holland as she progresses through the ranks of this mega company and endures all of the benefits and hardships of ultimate transparency.  The author makes a case for a lifestyle with no crime, 100% democracy, unified health care, and unlimited information at your fingertips, and for me and I am assuming others, this is quite a scary proposition.  Some of the products mentioned seem to have been already released while others don't seem too far off.  Ultimate transparency for each individual can be beneficial on some fronts, but as the characters in the book experience, the end sum is a life without life.  

So, what does this have to do with golf?  I relate this to the overconsumption of information for most golfers.  Between magazines, books, TV, videos, Facebook, and other easily accessible forms, one can clutter all of the information and forget what is specifically important to that individual.  The information age is wonderful for obtaining and developing vast knowledge, but sometimes too much becomes dangerous, especially to one's golf game.  As a matter of fact, with the amount of information we have now, one would think everyone's scores would be improving, yet the average handicap for male golfers has stayed steady around 17 for many years.  Just think, all of that new equipment, all of that information, better course conditions, yet as a public, we are not getting better?  

I think there is a valuable lesson to be found in this book and it revolves around knowing who you are as a golfer, and trying to make the game as easy as possible.  Use the information given to you to excel, and make sure that you are receiving the proper information from a qualified coach.  

Knowledge is Power, but...POWER = WORK/TIME.  If one puts in quality work in an efficient amount of time, they will receive more power. 

-Anders


PGA Show Recap

I have just returned from another successful PGA Merchandise show in Orlando, FL.  I have been to nearly 12 of these expos now, and I continually am amazed at the scope of the industry and the amount of people and products involved with this game.  Each year, I feel a bit overwhelmed to try and see everyone and everything, and there just isn't enough time to do it all.  I was able to attend some great learning seminars, meet some of the industry leaders, test and obtain some new products, as well as receiving some exciting news for the future.  Here is a quick recap of what I saw and some links for those who want to check out more info.

Tuesday:

I spent the day at a TrackMan University workshop.  I was able to meet and talk to some of the most knowledgable TrackMan users in the country, and was especially impressed when listening to the founder and CEO of TrackMan.  The sun was out and I was able to stand in it for a few minutes before a storm swept through (Unfortunately, the only sun I got all week).  After the seminar, I was motivated to complete Level 1 and Level 2 Certifications through TrackMan University.  So, on the plane ride home, I officially became a Certified TrackMan Professional.  

TMU-Level2.jpg

Wednesday:

The start of the show provided the excitement of what was to come.  Walking into the convention center was once again surreal and brought back many memories of great times had during the show.  I was able to walk through and see many new training aids and quickly found out that I couldn't make it very far without seeing someone I knew.  This made browsing very difficult, but it was great to see so many familiar faces all enhancing their businesses.  I went to a seminar by www.shotbyshot.com founder, Peter Sanders, which will be something I look into for my students as soon as the snow melts.  The info is incredibly valuable especially for competitive players.  It's considered "Money Ball for Golf", and is highlighted in this month's golf week magazine if anyone wants more info.  

I then saw a seminar by Bob Vokey which highlighted the new SM5 wedges from Titleist.  The SM5 wedges are designed to maximize spin, reduce wear, and have a ton of new sole, bounce, loft and finish offerings.  I was lucky enough to run into "Voke" after the seminar in the Titleist booth and had a conversation with him about the new wedges that I will never forget. His knowledge is far beyond my scope, but very cool to talk to him about his passion.  These wedges will be available in March, and I will have Demo's for every option.  

Thursday:

Started the day visiting the very impressive Callaway booth.  Callaway spared no expense to make sure their presence was felt at the PGA show.  It is great to see a company take pride in the PGA Professionals and endorse their products to us in such a robust fashion.  There is a lot of buzz around the new Callaway product, and rightfully so, they have released a number of new products that have been very well received.  I look forward to receiving product so we can help the Callaway faithful take advantage of what I feel is their best product launch in years.  One highlight to mention is the Big Bertha Alpha Driver, which allows you to change the Center of Gravity on the driver to help reduce or add spin.  We will have demos and fitting pieces available soon.

A stop at the Peter Millar booth once again proved to me that they are becoming the leaders in golf fashion.  Their product line for 2014 once again covers all basis of performance, comfort, fashion and simple.  When I see the entire collection of Peter Millar, I always think that one could feasibly outfit themselves daily head to toe, and never run out of options.  My favorite is the E4 collection which is expanding rapidly in our shop.  Available at both The National and Saratoga National Golf Shop.  

Friday:

A short but very productive day.  I started with a very exciting meeting about future development.  Details are still being confirmed, but as they unfold, those that are in contact will hear more about it.  The compact version of the story is that I am on the short list of a group of very reputable instructors that will be part of an exclusive affiliation.  Details to follow.

The end of the show always comes too fast, and once again, I feel as though I missed so many great products and people, but overall, the atmosphere was phenomenal.  Trying to balance education with networking, new products with old, and experience all that the show has to offer is almost impossible.  I feel very fortunate to be a part of such a production and have a great team to work with and be with for the week.  It is a humbling yet motivating experience and cannot wait until we return again.  

 

TrackMan Success Story

If you want to hit it further, this is well worth the read...sorry for the length.

As a teacher, I have struggled to implement successful game improvement programs with proven results.  Reason being, the results were very difficult to prove.  Yes, we could see improved ball flight and more efficient body movements, but how much was good enough, and how much was how much?  I am proud to tell this story, as it shows that with commitment, understanding and instant feedback, we are able to show accelerated improvements. This particular student is dedicated to get better, and as a teacher, am proud to see him achieve such dramatic results.  

The below screenshots show two shots this individual hit, and I want to clarify a few things before judging the data.  

I removed the date and player to keep anonymity, but I can guarantee that the data is real.  

Both of these shots were hit relatively close to the middle of the club.  Perfect, no, but within the realm of the middle.  The shots were hit with the same club.  Note swing speed, ball speed, and smash factor are equal or close thereto.  

Neither wind nor temperatures were a factor in these shots.  

The avg. distance on his previous drivers were in the 160 - 200 yard carry range, but only above 200 when offline.  Now, the average is closer to 240 with a much more accurate pattern.  

So, the bottom line is this is real data, and proven results from an individual who was committed to improving his attack angle.  The results are quantifiable, and more importantly took a short time to remedy.

Date: November 14, 2013 This was one of the first drives this student hit when going through the analyzation stage of the coaching program.  He hit about 12 drives, and this one was one of the better ones of the batch.  As you can see, club speed and ball speed are pretty good, path and face are good, but the yardage is way down.  He did not hit this drive thin, nor did he drop kick it, it was towards the center of the face and we talked about it being a satisfactory drive by his standards.  You would have seen a much smaller total number if the ball was hit thin.  The big miss here is the very steep attack angle: (-8.7).  This became a focal point and within a few swings, he was improving by a couple of degrees at a time.  Then, in a month, we were able to accomplish the below - and not just once...this is now the norm!

Date: November 14, 2013

This was one of the first drives this student hit when going through the analyzation stage of the coaching program.  He hit about 12 drives, and this one was one of the better ones of the batch.  As you can see, club speed and ball speed are pretty good, path and face are good, but the yardage is way down.  He did not hit this drive thin, nor did he drop kick it, it was towards the center of the face and we talked about it being a satisfactory drive by his standards.  You would have seen a much smaller total number if the ball was hit thin.  The big miss here is the very steep attack angle: (-8.7).  This became a focal point and within a few swings, he was improving by a couple of degrees at a time.  Then, in a month, we were able to accomplish the below - and not just once...this is now the norm!

Date: December 23, 2013 Club Speed down, Ball Speed same, Carry yardage increased 80 yards!  I do not think I understood the value of this data until I saw this.  Here is a student who has a good quality golf swing, can hit a lot of quality shots, but was struggling finding distance off the tee.  The main culprit was Attack Angle.  As you can see, he improved his attack angle by 9.8 degrees and he is now hitting up on the ball.  The result is a dramatic 60 yards carry, and 48 yards total.  As I said above, this is not an anomaly either, this is now the norm.  A huge improvement, and quantitative results give us accelerated progression.  

Date: December 23, 2013

Club Speed down, Ball Speed same, Carry yardage increased 80 yards!  I do not think I understood the value of this data until I saw this.  Here is a student who has a good quality golf swing, can hit a lot of quality shots, but was struggling finding distance off the tee.  The main culprit was Attack Angle.  As you can see, he improved his attack angle by 9.8 degrees and he is now hitting up on the ball.  The result is a dramatic 60 yards carry, and 48 yards total.  As I said above, this is not an anomaly either, this is now the norm.  A huge improvement, and quantitative results give us accelerated progression.  

So after seeing this, people will ask a couple of questions that I will answer here.  If anyone has other questions, please comment, and I will answer them accordingly.

What is the proper attack angle to achieve best results?  

I believe that the TrackMan gives us that answer, and it is not universal, rather player and shot specific.  I don't think that there is an exact attack angle or launch condition that allows for a perfect shot because each player has a different idea of a perfect shot.  Some people like to see it in the air longer, some people want it on the ground sooner.  We have to factor in weather conditions, course conditions and shot preference when determining ball flight.  There is no exact science to this process, so we must take personal preference into consideration as well.  That's where we use the combination of technology with good old fashioned communication to make sure that the student is happy with the results.  

And, what did you do to help his attack angle?

The biggest thing that we did to change his attack angle was to make sure the student knew why it was so steep.  From there, we made some adjustments in ball position, posture and some feelings of staying behind the ball during the swing.  The adjustments were a bit uncomfortable at first, but the easiest way to make a change is to see positive results.  I think that 60 yards was a positive enough result to warrant the change.  


Top 5 Golf Resolutions

Another year past and another year ahead.  As many of us in the Northeast are battling sub-zero temperatures and frequent snowstorms, it is sometimes difficult to think about those perfect summer days we enjoy on the golf course.  And of course, those sunny days are much more enjoyable if we play better golf.  So, I have come up with the Top 5 New Years Resolutions that can help improve your golf game this Winter.  

5.  Visit a warmer climate to play golf.

Getting some sun during these cold dark months is very important to one's health, and what better way to get sun than on the golf course.  The prime golf seasons are in full effect in the sunbelt regions.  Courses are in great condition, golf shops are full of merchandise, and the weather is far better than we are experiencing.  Take a few days, or more and allow you and your clubs to thaw out.  Contact me if you would like advice on where to go.

4.  Do an equipment checkup.

This is a great time of the year to clean out your golf bag and do an assessment of equipment and accessories.  Was there one club that you lacked last year?  Do you feel that there is a gap in yardages in your wedges that could be fixed with adding an additional club?  Is there technology you are not taking advantage of?  Are there any holes in your bag that you need to fill to get better yardages?  Or maybe you realize that your bag actually has holes and it's time for a new bag? These questions can be easily answered with a gapping analysis done at the Saratoga National Hitting Bay.  

3.  Get involved with a fitness program

With the lack of sunlight, warmth and a long 3 months ahead of us before we tee it up on grass, it is difficult to get motivated to do anything too active.  However, this is a perfect opportunity to help prepare your body for the upcoming golf season.  Perhaps address a nagging injury, or work on flexibility and mobility.  Or maybe you want to get stronger so as to avoid injury, and feel more confident over the golf ball.  I work with several fitness affiliates, all of which provide great services to meet your fitness needs.  Remember, fitness programs alone don't make you a better golfer, but they certainly help add to the potential of better golf. Click here for my Fitness Affiliates

2.  Set specific goals

I cannot stress this one enough, as we as golfers do not do this nearly enough.  Many of the golfers I talk to seem to be "stuck" at a certain handicap, yet they expect improvement without any specific plan to do so.  Each one of my students that I coach will be asked to give specific goals the first time we meet.  I am not talking about "being more consistent" or "getting better" or "improving my scores".  Specific goals are defined more so as: "Increase ball speed by 5 mph with my driver" or "Be more proficient with shots inside of 100 yards as measured by TrackMan test center."  I am a firm believer that goals must contain a measurable result.  Without that, we will never know if we meet those goals so we can move onto the next.  Imagine if your goal was to drive slower on the highway, but you didn't have a speedometer to measure your baseline or your results.  Tour players have the advantage of technology such as shotbyshot to find out their weaknesses.  They can then set quantitative goals to improve that aspect of their games.  Using the TrackMan, we can now set more specific goals and use base numbers as well as real results to quantify our work.  

1.  Keep golf a focus for 12 months.

Just because we only play golf in New York for 7 months doesn't mean it has to be restricted to just that.  The previous 4 entries are all designed to help keep golf as a focus 12 months a year.  Although it is my career, and probably a bit easier, but I try to do something golf related every day of the week.  Whether it is educating, teaching, hitting balls, working out, or just gripping a club, something happens every day.  This "unconscious practice" will only help when it is time to get out on the golf course.  I love the fact that we now have the opportunity to hit balls from my hitting bay, or visiting local simulators to play courses around the world.  Golf clubs no longer need to collect dust and frost in the garage, they should remain active along with you.  For advice on any of the above or anything else golf related, please feel free to contact me.