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 »  Home  »  Regional Editorials  »  Northeast  »  Instruction by Tom Shea, Derek Hooper and Tom Rosati
Instruction by Tom Shea, Derek Hooper and Tom Rosati
By Tom Landers | Published  06/15/2007 | Northeast | Unrated
How to practice

Your state of mind has a lot to do with the type of results you get when you practice. I happened to arrive at one of my teaching sites the other day and one of my students was out dutifully practicing his pitch shots. Every time he hit a shot that was less than perfect he fussed. He screwed up his face, winced and turned away. He also rushed to get the next ball. He was not really experiencing what was happening. He was also causing his brain to produce neuropeptides which are produced when we have negative thoughts. These neuropeptides cause us to feel the thoughts we are thinking. We may feel angry, hateful or unworthy. We actually feel what we think. This condition actually influences our ability to perform effectively and this can be proven scientifically.

How can we react more effectively? First of all, when we miss hit a shot we can watch it until it stops moving. The tendency seems to be to turn away immediately and quickly grab another ball. If “The truth is in the error” as Heraclitus said then we need to pay attention to the error. Awareness of what happened will cause change to occur if we allow it. Our organism, which includes our brain, is constantly making adjustments at remarkable speeds to comply with our intentions if not interfered with by our intellect.
I just had a chance to see these principles in action. A regular student of mine with a history of having trouble exhibiting patience called me, “panic stricken”. After having hit the ball very well for the last several weeks, he had “lost it”. He happens to live near me so I agreed to meet him at a practice area near my home. I watched him hit some shots and he was hitting them to the right of his target. I asked him if he knew what was causing this and he proceeded to guess at the cause. He wasn’t even close to realizing what he was doing. I used video to show him what he was doing and I demonstrated what he needed to do. I got him to slow down his whole procedure and told him to stop guessing at what he needed to do to “fix” it. I told him that even though we now knew what he had been doing and what he needed to do instead I still didn’t want him to “fix” it. I wanted him to see if his organism would make the adjustments by itself without interference by his intellect. It did and we verified this with video. I gave him some techniques to help him slow down his behavior, especially after errors. He used these and continued to hit the ball very well.

If most people knew more about how the brain actually functions I believe they would be far more willing to allow awareness to cause change to occur. Pay more attention to what your intention is and then trust your organism to carry it out. It is the way you were designed to operate.

Tom Shea is the Director of Golf at Golf is Easy Golf Schools in Grafton, MA. (508) 839-1359.

Fight The Fescue

One of the most beautiful aspects of our course is that we are blessed with something called fescue grass.  This grass looks great adorning the borders between fairways, and it almost comes to life with a little wind.  The problem with all of this beauty is that we often hit our golf balls into it.  Visual beauty can quickly give way to anger and frustration.  If your ball finds its way into the fescue grass, there are a few things that you can do to get out.

First of all, you can always declare the ball lost and play another from the original spot (taking a penalty in the process).  If you find the ball and choose to play it, here are a few things you should do.  During your set-up, take a lofted club like a wedge or a 9-iron and aim for the shortest distance back to safety.  Keep in mind that it may be backwards or away from the hole.  The goal here is to avoid a huge score on the hole by getting the ball back to the short grass.  Place the ball in the middle of your stance and take a few practice swings to get used to the lie.  The shot should be played similar to a bunker shot.  Just like the sand, the long fescue will slow the club down.  Keep your head still, take the club up through the grass, and swing hard down on a point just behind the ball.

Any lateral motion will allow more grass to wrap around the shaft of the club and you will lose speed very quickly.  Your follow through will be shorter as the grass slows the club to a stop, so make sure you have enough speed on the downswing.  This is a full swing that requires power and leverage.  Hopefully these few tips will help you get out of the fescue the next time you hit an errant shot.  If you need any further help in avoiding big numbers, please see your local PGA Professional for help. 
Good luck this year!

Tony Roberto is the Director of Golf at Gillette Ridge Golf Club in Bloomfield, CT.  860-726-1430

Debunking the Myths – Keep Your Head Still

If you play golf then at some stage in your golfing career someone has probably told you to keep your head still. In many other sports that we play we are asked to hit a moving ball, and it is far easier to hit a moving ball when you keep your head and thus eyes as still or level as possible.  In golf  the ball is stationary. It is important for you to keep your head on the same level during the swing, if your upper body lifts up in the back swing then it must move down an equal amount in the downswing in order for you to make contact with the ball. It is far simpler for you to keep your body at the same angles as at address and thus keep your head level during the swing. Level but not still.

In your address position your weight is evenly distributed between the left and right feet. As you make your back swing, as in any other sport where you are trying to propel an object forward, there is a weight transfer to the rear leg. In golf we make this shift by rotating the upper body over a stable lower body.

Keeping your head still while trying to make a back swing will result in a couple of moves that are detrimental to good ball striking. The hips will slide and your weight will either move to the outside of the rear foot, or fall back onto the front foot, depending on your levels of flexibility. In doing this you have placed a great deal of pressure on your lower back and hips which over time can become painful. You have also not loaded your body correctly behind the ball, effectively losing balance and your ability to use your whole body to hit the shot, resulting is a loss of distance.

In an athletic back swing, the player will maintain the upper body flex from the hips created at address and allow the upper body to pivot around the right hip. In doing so the head will move well behind the ball, the weight will move to the inside of the right foot and there will be a definite loading around the right thigh. Studies have shown that the best players in the world move their heads anywhere from 1.5 to 7 inches away from the heads’ address position during the back swing.

A great drill for you to learn the correct head movement during the swing is to use your shadow. In your address position be sure the sun is at your back so that your shadow falls on the ground in front of you. Note on the ground where your shadow falls and then turn into your backswing by turning the upper body until the left shoulder is above the inside of the right knee. The left shoulder should turn slightly lower than the right. You will notice that the weight has shifted to the inside of the right foot and that your head has moved to the right during the backswing, as it should.

So the next time a well-meaning friend mentions that you are moving your head and you should keep it still, don’t change anything and take it as a compliment. The head should be moving laterally during the swing, but it should not be moving up and down.

Derek Hooper is the Director of Instruction at Lake of Isles Golf Academy in North Stonington, CT. 860-312-2148

Resist on the Take-Away

There have been many theories on how to take the club back. The fact is that many top players have a different take-away motion, but there is one common characteristic that all top players possess. They all have the ability to resist the lower body on the take-away. This means the arms and shoulders start the swing while the feet, ankles, knees, and hips move very little.

In fact, just after the hands are past your right leg and the club parallel to the ground, the lower body will almost have the same look as it did at address. After that point, when the club is parallel to the ground, the hips start to turn, the left knee starts to kick in and the weight fully transfers to the right side. Many people have difficulty with this move because of lack of flexibility between their upper body and lower body. You need to increase the flexibility in the shoulders, back and hips. A stiff lower back will always lead to early lower body movement in the take away. Any flexibility exercises you can do for your hips, lower back and shoulders will help you make a better take-away motion. One good golf drill for this move is to flare your left foot out as much as you can at address, then practice taking the club away till the club till the club gets parallel to the ground. With the left foot flared out, you automatically will resist the hips and knees from moving. As you get better at this drill see if you can get the club back past the parallel position. With better flexibility and some good drills for this problem you can achieve the proper take-away motion.

Tom Rosati is Director of Instruction at Great River Golf Club in Milford, CT. (203) 876-8051 ext 117