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 »  Home  »  Regional Editorials  »  Northeast  »  Golf Instruction by MAtt Stephens, Derek Hooper and Tom Shea
Golf Instruction by MAtt Stephens, Derek Hooper and Tom Shea
By Tom Landers | Published  06/27/2007 | Northeast | Unrated
How to Hit A Draw
[ Tony Roberto ]

To hit a draw consistently, you first need to understand a few simple principles.

The plane of the swing needs to be aligned right of the intended target (for a right-handed golfer) while the clubface is square. There is a simple, repeatable way to achieve this on command.
Knowing which way to swing the golf club while in posture is a very difficult task. There are not enough visual cues to help you swing the club in the desired direction necessary to produce different ball flights. The solution is simple! Learn what you need to learn in an environment where you can rely on your instinct and sight completely. The way to do this is to learn your draw swing while standing upright, rather than in a golfing posture. While upright you can get your bearings on which way you want to swing the club. You can then be confident that you will do so every time!

Here are the steps to follow in order to hit a draw:

1. Take your set-up with your driver, then simply stand upright. The clubhead should now be at about the height of your knees. While in this upright environment up means up and down means down.

2. Fix in your mind that your intent is to hit a fly ball over the second baseman’s head. This means that you need to lean your spine away from the target so that you can hit the ball high. Also pull your right foot away from the target line into a closed stance. When you do this, the clubface will also lean back, but it must be adjusted so that it is vertical. This means that you have to change the clubface without changing your grip.

3. Swing the club low and around on the backswing. This means that the first move off the ball will have the clubhead swinging below the level it started at.

4. On the forward swing, trust your instincts to hit a fly ball over the second baseman’s head and swing up through the ball and then around into a high finish.

Spend some time rehearsing these swings standing up, and pretty soon you will be able to trust your instincts to hit a draw any time you would like!

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

Putting Really Matters
[ Matt Stephens ]

When you analyze statistics from the best players in the world, you will find that a very high percentage of their strokes during a round happen on the green. World class putters average approximately 1.7 putts per green. If we weigh that against a scoring average of 70, we will find that putts constitute approximately 45% of the total round score. Playing golf with weak putting skills is similar to playing ice hockey as a weak skater. It just doesn’t make sense. The quickest method to improve as a golfer is to become a capable putter.

I once listened in to a presentation by a college coach at PGA Headquarters in Port St. Lucie. After years of frustration with his inability to improve his teams scoring, he tried a different technique. He spent every minute of every practice session on the putting green. He set up competitions and contests between his team members. His only focus was to improve their putting skills. The result of this unique approach over the course of the year was a 3 stroke improvement per player, a 12 stroke improvement in his team score, and a much improved won loss record. This coach recognized the important role that putting plays in golf and used it to his advantage. If this approach can work with highly competitive single-digit handicappers, it can certainly work with recreational players.

In order to putt well, two things are involved. You need to aim correctly and hit the putt solidly. I will suggest a few things to focus on in your next practice sessions.

• Good putters stay relatively still. Stand over a putt in a manner that is comfortable and balanced and allows you to stay relatively still.

• The club face will determine the direction in which the putt will roll. Therefore, the club face should be the first thing aligned to your target line. We see too many golfers align their bodies first and then the club face. Aim the clubface first and then align your body along side your target line.

• Finish your stroke and hold your finish. We see golfers that cause miss-hit putts by coming up and out of their putts with their putters and their bodies. This type of movement makes it nearly impossible to make solid contact with a square club face. By finishing your stroke and holding that position, you will hit more solid putts and get better results.

Incorporate these three suggestions into your routine concentrating on the process and not the consequences. Above all, apply half of your practice time towards putting.

Matt Stephens is Director of Golf at Blackstone National Golf Club in Sutton, MA. 508-865-2111

Debunking the Myths – Keep Your Head Down
[ Derek Hooper ]

How many times have you been told to keep your head down after you have just topped a ball and watched it roll down the fairway? Too many I am sure. Not only does hearing such advice straight after topping the shot upset you further, it is not even a good piece of advice. Keeping your head down is one of the great myths of golf.

Topping the ball is a common fault amongst golfers that can have a variety of causes. You may have too much tension in your hands and arms, causing the arms to be bent at impact thus the club head cannot reach the ball. Your weight may shift to your heels during the downswing, moving your swing center too far from the ball. You may be swinging up through the ball in an attempt to lift the ball into the air and thus presenting the leading edge of the club to the ball rather than the clubface.

Possibly the most common fault though is a loss of spine angle during the swing and it’s this which is often misinterpreted as lifting your head. A loss of spine angle refers to you raising your upper body so that the angle that you create between upper body and hips at address is changed during the swing. This results in the swing center, center of your chest, raising up and thus away from the ball, making it difficult to get the club back to the ball consistently.

Too often we see players who have taken keeping their heads down to amazing levels. So much so that the ball has flown a good 50 yards and they are still staring at the divot they have made on the ground. This places excessive pressure on the back, does not allow the body to turn freely through the shot and decreases the transfer of energy to the ball. There are some players on the Professional Tours who never see the club head hit the ball and are still extremely successful players. Annika Sorenstam, David Duval and Robert Allenby are all in this category with their head rotated down the target line when the club strikes the ball.

If you want to stop topping the ball check that you are maintaining your spine angle throughout the swing. A great drill to help with this is to hit balls while resting against a chair. Take your address position with a 7 iron. Then place the back of a chair up against your rear, being sure not to rest your weight on the chair. It is important that your weight stays on the balls of your feet. Take some practice swings and be sure to keep you rear turning along the chair throughout the swing only allowing you to leave the chair to complete your finish position.

As you do this drill you may feel that your chest is staying more over the balls of your feet than you are used to feeling. But this is the move you need if you want to keep your swing as simple and thus consistent as possible. After doing this drill several times, place a ball on a tee and hit a few half shots, ensuring that you maintain your spine angle as you did during the practice swings.
If you find this drill difficult and are still lifting your upper body, there may be other issues involved that need attention. It is possible that a lack of flexibility in the back and legs prevents you from making this move correctly. If you believe that this may be the problem check with you local PGA Professional to confirm that you are correct and then they can then suggest some exercise to help improve your flexibility in that area..

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

Monkey See, Monkey Do
[ Tom Shea ]

Most of us have heard this expression. What does it mean? Most of us believe that even if we see something done we need to understand what is happening and how to do it before we can do it. Not so. Recent studies on monkeys’ brains show that learning is being done in the sub cortex as opposed to the neo cortex. These particular studies are considered radical and more work needs to be done.

In the meantime I’ll ask you to run an experiment. Place a golf ball on a tee about two inches off the ground. If you are inside, place the ball on the floor. Stand about three feet away. Take another golf ball and hold it in your dominant hand. Toss it gently at the target ball and see if you can hit it. In your first toss try really hard to hit it. Notice what happens. When I do this with my students I usually bet them $5 or $10 in order to see if I can get them to choke. Now take a second ball. Place the target ball in such a way that the ball’s logo is facing you. Look at the ball’s logo and “see” if you hit it. Don’t “try” to hit it. Simply look and toss. No betting on this one. What usually happens is that when people “try” to hit the ball they miss, sometimes by quite a bit. When they focus on the logo and simply look and toss, they usually hit the ball right on the logo, if not on the first toss, on subsequent tosses. “Trying” and “seeing if” are actually different physiological experiences. You can feel the difference. You can eventually place five or six balls on the ground in random fashion and start tossing balls at them. You might be surprised at how accurate you can become in short order.

What is happening is that you are becoming task oriented. Take this to the golf course. Use your pre-shot routine, get up to the ball and hit it. Allow your organism to function without interference from the intellect. Maria Montessori, the famous educator said “The hand teaches the mind.” Let it.

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