Sunday, December 19, 2010

Choosing the Correct Club Around the Green

This is one of the better explanations for choosing the correct club around the green that I have seen...Happy Holidays and enjoy!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Proper Practice Through Understanding Your Game

How many times do you go to the range and either yourself or someone else purchases a large bucket of balls and without a thought, pull out driver and start firing balls all over the range. Is this the proper way to lower your scores? I am sure most would agree to the statement, "probably not much".

This type of "practice" really isn't practice at all but rather just someone having some fun, passing time and going through the motions. To truly get better at this game you must practice properly.

Many golf coaches discuss statistics in relation to successful shot making. This describes the percentage of probability that a shot can be hit successfully.

For example, if you are staring down a fairway 20 yards wide, and pull out driver. What is the probability of this shot being successful? Probably quite low for most golfers. It is wise to stick with shots that have the greatest probability of being successful. In the example above, I would guess a 3-wood, 5-wood, or hybrid club has a higher probability of success.

Additionally, one should look at the statistical breakdown of shots made in a typical round of golf. For example, more shots are made within 100 yards to the hole than are off the tee box. It could also be said that more putts are made in a round than tee shots struck. Given this statistical breakdown of shots during a round, shouldn't your practice time mimic the requirements of your round of golf?

This is where the notion of proper practice comes into play. Knowing such statistics and following the logic of practicing the shots most commonly made during a round, what would you suggest to be the breakdown of your practice time?

One can easily state that time on the practice range should be set up with most attention spent on putting and the short game. Putting and short game (100 yards to the hole) is where the majority of shots on a course are made, so why not spend more practice time on this part of the game? Any low handicap golfer or golf coach would say that more strokes are saved on and around the green rather than from off the tee.

Most peoples' practice time does not follow this however. Most spend maybe 5 minutes on the practice green, after hitting driver for 25 minutes, and maybe we will chip a couple at the end of our practice session. Knowing what you know, how beneficial will this type of practice routine help in the overall improvement of your golf game?...not much.

If you follow the advice of golf coaches or PGA and LPGA tour professionals, you will probably shift gears and practice putting, the short game, bunker play, and other facets of the game in a descending order.

Think about it and ask yourself how many shots would you of saved in your last round if you were a better putter, short game, or sand player? The number probably is between 3 and 7+ depending on the golfer. Just 2 or 3 shots a round can be the difference between breaking 90 or 80, all magic numbers and goals for golfers.

At your next golf lesson talk to the golf coach about how to track statistics and how to set up a practice routine that matches your needs to get the most out of your golf game.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Improve Your Game During the Winter

This is a great article by Top 100 Instructor, Brian Mogg about what should be a main focus for the average golfer during the winter season when making it to the golf course can be a challenge...Please feel free to contact me if you would like to know more on this topic or set up a time to be evaluated for winter workouts!

When I began my PGA Tour career in 1986, only a few guys looked at weights and running as an integral part of their daily routine. The main focus was on stretching to prevent injury, a defensive approach to preventing injury. Golf courses at that time placed a higher emphasis on accuracy—the ability to hit fairways and greens—so practice was more focused on getting the ball safely in play and avoiding mistakes. Shooting close to par or slightly lower was the main objective.

Times have changed.

The emergence of Tiger Woods in the mid-1990s transformed the game in many ways, but especially in terms of the game's athleticism. Tiger's daily devotion to exercise and getting his body into the shape of a true athlete have altered what most professional golfers now do. (He also single-handedly ended the debate on whether pro golfers are athletes.)

Today, working out to get stronger and more flexible and create greater clubhead speed should be the goal of any elite golfer who hopes to compete with Tiger. Golf courses have completely changed as well. The length of all Tour courses has increased on average about 400 yards, or 25 yards per hole, over the last 20 years. It's more important than ever to be able to hit the driver a long way. With today's technology, it's not unusual for Tour players to need just a driver and a wedge to reach a 450-yard par 4.

This blend of better fitness and more advanced equipment has led to a world where the average PGA Tour drive is close to 300 yards, and that has completely altered the game's strategy. Accuracy, while still important, is not enough. The only realistic option for serious players is to include fitness in their daily routines. It's the only way to stay competitive.

Even my teaching is no longer just about the golf swing. All the Tour players I work with have daily workout routines, and most have personal trainers at home and on Tour. What started out as stretching has blossomed into isolated muscle training and biomechanical feedback as golfers look for that extra edge.

What can the average golfer learn about fitness from Tour players? First, you need to make a commitment to get more fit and flexible overall. Second, you need an evaluation from a top golf or fitness instructor. One leader in the field is the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) in Oceanside, Calif., which Top 100 Teacher Dave Phillips and Greg Rose started in partnership with Titleist about eight years ago. They personalize their evaluations and work with teachers around the country to provide feedback for students. They identify specific muscles and areas of the body that are restricting a student's movements and inhibiting the swing.

The popularity of TPI has spawned many high-quality facilities that are helping all teachers raise the level of their students' play. I have been fortunate to have worked with great teachers like Mike Malaska in Arizona, David Wright in San Diego, Kendal Yonemoto in Vancouver, Jennifer Lochhead in Toronto, and several others in Orlando who have really enabled students to break free from restrictions and blockages in their bodies.

After you receive a professional evaluation, then you need to develop a game plan for your workouts. Focus on frequency and duration and repetitions—how much do you need to do to be successful? Work toward a goal, following a fitness strategy created to achieve your own optimum swing.

I had a conversation with Tiger Woods about six years ago on his plan and what he was working toward. He said his ideal weight was "184, not 185 or 183, that is what I play best at." We should all work to find our optimal weight, at which we will play (and live) our best.

After you have a plan, you need to muster the commitment. We all have busy lives, but we have to fight through being tired or disinterested and stick with the plan. When you're looking for motivation, think about the long-term benefit for your health and your golf game.

As I have watched this fitness revolution in the game, I've seen three areas with the most potential to help average golfers: 1. Athletic Posture; 2. Stability 3. Strength and Power.

1. Athletic PostureWe all know this is vital in sports, but many amateurs still have a weak starting point for their swings. To find your optimal posture, assume the pose of a baseball shortstop, hockey goalie or basketball player on defense. Trainers will call this "neuromuscular isolation to integration," which is a fancy term for training your brain to get you into the your optimal posture.

2. Dynamic StabilityTo play golf successfully, you need to have athletic movement with stableness. While your body fully rotates, there must be stableness in other areas to create torque while you coil. Developing core strength is key here and should be an important element of your workout routine.

3. Strength and PowerA focus on strength and power must complete each workout session. You need to develop strength before you can generate and control greater power. So, don't be shy with the medicine balls and weights.

Winter is the worst time of year for golfers, but you can make the most of the season by setting some goals and getting in shape. You'll feel better, and you'll player better, too. Getting off to a healthier, stronger start this year can have a profound effect on your life and your scores.

Source: Golf Magazine

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Improve Your Pitch Shots Around the Green

Here is a nice video pitching tip from my friend and colleague Laird Small, PGA Director of Instruction at the Pebble Beach Golf Academy...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Improve Your Putting: Distance Control Drills

Improve your putting with another video tip from my friend and colleague, The Golf Channel's "Golf Fix" host, Michael Breed, PGA on distance control...

Monday, September 27, 2010

How to Hit Solid Shots from Fairway Bunkers

This is a great and simple video from my colleague and friend, the Golf Channel's "The Golf Fix" host Michael Breed, on how to hit solid golf shots out of fairway bunkers...Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tom Morton Featured in Golf Digest October Issue in Cover Story: "Why You Can't Putt"

Cover Story: Why You Can't Putt

Why Your Putter Hates You
If you haven't been fit right, you're asking for trouble
By Mike Stachura
October 2010

Tom Morton, director of the Player Performance Studio at Haggin Oaks Golf Super Shop in Sacramento, Calif., says at best one in four golfers are using the right putter. "Maybe. And that's mostly by luck."

The reason: Too many golfers choose their putters the way they choose ice-cream flavors, instead of taking advantage of a science-based fitting session that uses a system like the SAM PuttLab or the Tomi that reveal how efficient your putting stroke is and how it changes when you switch putters.

Says Brent Norton, director of fitting at Miles of Golf in Ypsilanti, Mich.: "When customers walk out of a proper putter fitting, they know what type of putter will complement their stroke, why they miss putts the way they do, and what they need to work on."

The right putter will improve your direction and distance control. Here's a basic guide:

A putter shorter than 35 inches (the typical off-the-rack length) is better for most golfers. If your putter is too long, you'll have too much space between your body and elbows at address and your arms won't hang naturally. Telltale signs are scuffed putts, or the toe off the ground at address. Says Norton: "When we look at length, we're trying to get the player in a neutral setup, with the eyes over or slightly inside the ball. This allows the golfer to release the putter freely and see the line easier." Many fitters use a telescoping shaft to match length to the player's posture.

"You can have the right length, lie and loft, but if you're not aimed correctly, you won't hit it solid," Morton says. Many facilities check your aim with a laser device so you'll be able to see how different elements (circles, half-circles, lines) can help get you aimed at your target.

You need more loft on your putter -- at least 4 degrees -- if you play on slower greens or start your stroke with a forward press, which immediately delofts the putterface. You can get away with less loft on faster greens or if you contact the ball on the upstroke.

If your putts often come up short, you might be making off-center contact. A larger head with a perimeter-weighted frame that's more stable on off-center strikes will help. A blade putter looks more like your other clubs, so you might be more comfortable with it.

If the sole of your putter is not level with the ground at address, you'll leave putts short (because you're not contacting the sweet spot on the face). If the putter's toe is off the ground, even a perfect stroke will lead to a miss to the left.

Generally, a lighter putter -- under 340 grams -- works better on slower greens (because you need to swing the putterhead more), and a heavier putter provides stability on the shorter strokes used on faster greens.

Read More

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pre-Shot Routine - Aim the Clubface First

Here is a timeless tip that I have always remembered and utilized from Greg Norman:

Accurate alignment would be a simple matter if we could stand directly on the line that extends from our ball to the target. But the fact is that we stand to the side of the ball, and that makes alignment tough. For this reason, I don't even try to align my body to the target until after I have aligned my clubface.

Holding the club in my right hand only, I approach the ball from behind. While I do this, I sight up and down the line that extends from the ball to my target, looking for a spot a few yards in front of my ball and on that line. Once I find that, I set the clubface behind the ball, and swivel it minutely back and forth until it is pointing directly at the spot.

Only after the clubface is squarely in position do I assume my grip and align my body in the address position.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

For Straight, Consistent Shots Let Your Arms Hang at Address

It is rare that you see tour players extend the arms and reach for the ball at address, but this is something seen all the time by amateurs on the lesson tee. It is also a common cause of slicing.

Your arms should hang under your shoulders and feel relaxed. Your wrists will already be semi-cocked, so you can simply maintain that wrist cock as you swing back. Your hands are closer to your body for leverage. Through impact the club stays along the target line longer. But if the club and your arms are positioned higher, forming more of a straight line and extending toward the ball, you feel tension in your shoulders. Your wrists will cock inconsistently. You will come across the ball, making it hard to square the club and release (turn over) the club face through impact.

Work on your set up so that your arms hang naturally from your body. You should be looking in at your hands, not out at them. Then, do your best to return to that position at impact. You should never feel as if you’re reaching for the ball at address. I would definitely rather see your hands too low than too high.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Practice Schedule for Maximum Game Improvement

I get asked all the time by my students as to when, what and how long they should practice. With the understanding that time is precious and that it can be difficult to get away to work on the game, here is a "perfect world" layout as to what a weekly practice schedule should look like to maximum your opportunity to improve your game.

Monday-Thursday (1 hour)
- 10 minutes putting: 2 ft., 3ft., 4ft., and 5ft. putts
- 10 minutes chipping: change clubs every fourth shot
- 10 minutes pitching: 10, 15, and 20 yard shots

(25 minutes hitting golf balls):
- 5 minutes: ½ swings
- 5 minutes: short iron full swings
- 5 minutes: mid/long iron full swings
- 5 minutes: fairway woods & driver
- 5 minutes: ½ swings

- 5 minutes putting: 10 ft., 15 ft., 20ft., and 25ft. putts

Friday (Day off)

Saturday and/or Sunday (2 hours)
- 30 minutes putting: 2 ft., 3ft., 4ft., and 5ft. putts
- 15 minutes chipping: change clubs every forth shot
- 15 minutes pitching: 10, 15, and 20 yard shots

(45 minutes hitting golf balls):
- 10 minutes: ½ swings
- 10 minutes: short iron full swings
- 10 minutes: mid/long iron full swings
- 10 minutes: fairway woods & driver
- 5 minutes: ½ swings

- 15 minutes putting: 10 ft., 15 ft., 20ft., and 25ft. putts

Note: Any practice day can be substituted with play, however, during the round you should keep track of your putts, up and downs, greens in regulation, fairways hit, and sand saves to find out where your strengths and weaknesses are. If time permits after the round you should spend 15-30 minutes working on the area of your game that needed the most improvement according to the statistics from the round.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Tom Morton Weekly Video Tip #6: Hitting the Driver

Learn to hit the driver farther and more accurate with this tip on proper address position.

View Clip at:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tom Morton Weekly Video Tip #5: Scoring Shots Inside of 100 Yards

Hitting better shots inside of 100 yards is crucial to lowering your scores...This tip will help you hit shots more solid and crisp increasing your chances to put the ball closer to the hole.

To view the video clip go to:

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tom Morton Weekly Video Tip #4: Bunker Play

Learn to control your trajectory and distances out of the bunker with this quick video tip...

To view video go to:

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tom Morton Weekly Video Tip #3 - Pitching

Check out this new video tip and learn to control the trajectory of your pitch shots around the green by learning to utilize your wrist hinge and arm swing properly...

Go to the following URL link to watch it:

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tom Morton Weekly Video Tip #2 - Chipping

Please go to the below link to watch the second weekly video tip I have posted. This week's topic is on chipping, specifically club selection. Please feel free to either comment on these videos from my blog or email me to suggest future topics for me to shoot videos on. Happy chipping!

URL Link:

Monday, June 7, 2010

Watch Tom's 1st Weekly Video Lesson Tip

I will be posting different tips in video format starting with this one on putting...Please comment on these tips as to whether or not they were helpful as well as what other tips you would like me to shoot for you...

Go to: and enjoy!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Improved Practice Strokes = Improved Putting

Pay more attention to your practice strokes, and you'll make more putts. On my putts, once I've determined the break, I make my practice strokes a few inches inside the ball, lining up parallel to my intended line with my feet, hips and shoulders. Now, I can simply move straight into the ball with the same body orientation without adjusting.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

As Seen on the Golf Channel: AimPoint Putting School @ Haggin Oaks

Please take a look at the flyer below in case you are interested in improving your green reading skills and lowering your scores dramatically...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Getting 'Hip' Can Help Your Game

This is an interesting article that I found online and one that I agree may help many of you increase your ability to turn and make a more "rounded" swing shape, turning your left to right shots into right to left shots...

We've all read articles and heard TV commentary about restricting your hip turn on the backswing to develop more coil and increase you X-Factor (the differential in degrees of rotation between shoulder rotation and hip rotation). That's all well and good if you are in good "golf" shape with a lot of flexibility and stability. But for many of my students a simple increase in backswing hip rotation increases their clubhead speed and turns their over-the-top fade into a draw. Let me explain why.

First off, we all need to have as large of an X-Factor as we can to achieve maximum clubhead speed. But there is one aspect that is often overlooked. In Jim McLean's original writings in the early 90's he mentioned that the player with the largest X-Factor on the PGA Tour was John Daly. By no small coincidence he was the longest driver on tour at the time. Here's the catch, Daly also had the most hip rotation of the players measured. What we find is that roughly for every degree of hip rotation you get two degrees of shoulder turn. So when we say the model backswing normally has around 90 degrees of shoulder rotation and 45 degrees of hip rotation we see this 2-1 ratio develops an X-Factor of 45. If the hip rotation is increased to 46 degrees that should lead to a shoulder rotation of 92 degrees and an X-Factor of 46.

This scenario has limits, but I have found that for many average players increasing their hip rotation leads to more shoulder rotation. They don't have the flexibility to just restrict their hip turn and turn their shoulders more. The most profound impact is with players who tend to slide their hips more than they rotate them. Those players tend to have some or all of these characteristics. A swing plane that is too steep, upright and over-the-top on the downswing and hit mostly shots that start left of the target and fade or slice to the right. They tend to have their right knee bow on the backswing leading to a rolling of the back foot with weight being on the outside of it. Also, many times their right arm gets too far away from the body and they have what would called a "flying" right elbow. Without having to think about all this many times making sure that the hips turn more on the backswing changes these flaws and produces a swing plane that allows players to deliver the club to ball on an inside path encouraging a draw. For some of these players it's the first time they are aware of properly moving their core mid-section and how activating that can really be the engine that drives their swings. They also feel the production of centrifugal force that helps them properly release and square the clubface.

Finally, remember these points that will prevent too much hip rotation. As long as you keep your front heel down, your back knee flexed and not allow it to float out over the outside half of your back foot I say go for it and start turning those hips.

By John Fiander, PGA Master Professional -

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How to Hit Those Dreaded Long Irons

It is one of the toughest shots for most amateurs to hit -- the dreaded long iron. One of the biggest problems people have with the long irons is a misconception on what makes a good long iron shot. Here are a few keys to remember to help you hit consistent long iron shots.

1.) Remember that long irons still have plenty of loft. It is important to concentrate on "striking" the ball rather than "scooping."

2.) Using a longer club creates the tendency of a harder swing. It is important to still swing smoothly with your long irons.

3.) If you do not own should.

There are a couple of simple drills you should practice to improve your long iron play:

a.) Practice swinging with your right arm only. This will create a consistent swing path and allow you to strike the ball more consistently.

b.) Another drill to practice is to take about a 75% backswing, accelerate through the ball, and finish your follow-through at 50%. This will create greater club head speed through the hitting zone, rather than using energy on a long follow-through, after the ball has been struck.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mackenzie Course at Haggin Oaks Named #18 Best Municipal Course in the U.S. by Golfweek

Golfweek’s Best: Municipal Courses (2009-2010)

1. Bethpage State Park (Black) 8.07
Farmingdale, N.Y.
1935, A.W. Tillinghast; Rees Jones (1998)

2. Chambers Bay 7.61
University Place, Wash.
2007, Robert Trent Jones Jr., Bruce Charlton

3. Butterfield Trail* 6.33
El Paso, Texas
2007, Tom Fazio

4. PiƱon Hills 6.18
Farmington, N.M.
1990, Ken Dye

5. Torrey Pines (South) 6.18
San Diego
1957, William F. Bell

6. TPC Scottsdale (Stadium) 6.13
Scottsdale, Ariz.
1987, Jay Morrish, Tom Weiskopf

7. Indian Wells Golf Resort (Players) 5.95
Indian Wells, Calif.
2007, John Fought

8. Memorial Park 5.88
1936, John Bredemus; Baxter Spann (1996)

9. Olympic Course at Gold Mountain 5.83
Bremerton, Wash.
1996, John Harbottle

10. Harding Park 5.83
San Francisco
1925, Willie Watson

11. Wintonbury Hills 5.72
Bloomfield, Conn.
2003, Pete Dye, Tim Liddy

12. Thunderhawk 5.71
Beach Park, Ill.
1999, Robert Trent Jones Jr.

13. Shepherd’s Crook 5.70
Zion, Ill
1999, Keith Foster

14. Laurel Hill 5.67
Lorton, Va.
2005, Bill Love

15. Torrey Pines (North) 5.66
San Diego
1957, William F. Bell

16. Indian Wells Golf Resort (Celebrity) 5.63
Indian Wells, Calif.
2006, Clive Clark

17. Bethpage State Park (Red) 5.53
Farmingdale, N.Y.
1935, A.W. Tillinghast

18. Haggin Oaks (MacKenzie) 5.50
Sacramento, Calif.
1932, Alister MacKenzie

19. Soldier Hollow (Gold) 5.50
Midway, Utah
2004, Gene Bates

20. Soule Park 5.50
Ojai, Calif.
1962, Robert Baldock, William F. Bell; Gil Hanse (2005)

21. Aspen GC 5.50
Aspen, Colo.
1970, Frank Hummel

22. Indian Canyon 5.50
Spokane, Wash.
1935, H. Chandler Egan

23. Triggs Memorial 5.46
Providence, R.I.
1930, Donald Ross

24. Hideout 5.45
Monticello, Utah
2002, Forrest Richardson

25. TPC Scottsdale (Champions) 5.42
Scottsdale, Ariz.
2007, Randy Heckenkemper

26. Sunbrook (Pointe/Woodbridge) 5.41
St. George, Utah
1991, Ted Robinson

27. North Palm Beach CC 5.41
North Palm Beach, Fla.
1928, Charles Banks, Seth Raynor; Jack Nicklaus (2006)

28. Crandon Park GC 5.41
Key Biscayne, Fla.
1972, Bruce Devlin, Robert von Hagge

29. George Wright Municipal 5.39
1935, Donald Ross

30. Olivas Links 5.38
Ventura, Calif.
2007, Forrest Richardson

31. Harborside International (Starboard) 5.37
1996, Dick Nugent

32. Hominy Hill 5.36
Colts Neck, N.J.
1965, Robert Trent Jones Sr.

33. Montauk Downs State Park 5.36
Montauk Point, N.Y.
1968 Rees Jones

34. Fossil Trace 5.34
Golden, Colo.
2003, Jim Engh

35. Washington County GC* 5.33
Hartford, Wis.
1997, Arthur Hills

36. Harborside International (Port) 5.33
1995, Dick Nugent

37. Chaska Town Course 5.32
Chaska, Minn.
1997 Arthur Hills

38. SilverRock 5.32
La Quinta, Calif.
2005, Arnold Palmer

39. Greystone 5.31
White Hall, Md.
1997, Joe Lee

40. Sand Creek Station 5.31
Newton, Kan.
2006, Jeff Brauer

41. Wingpoint GC 5.25
Salt Lake City
1991, Arthur Hills

42. Papago Municipal 5.25
1964, William F. Bell

43. Lassing Pointe 5.23
Union, Ky.
1994, Michael Hurdzan

44. Breckenridge 5.23
Breckenridge, Colo.
1987, Jack Nicklaus

45. Boulder Creek 5.22
Boulder City, Nev.
2003, Mark Rathert

46. Brown Deer Park 5.21
1929, George Hansen

47. Callippe Preserve 5.20
Pleasanton, Calif.
2005, Brian Costello

48. Cobblestone 5.19
Acworth, Ga.
1993, Ken Dye

49. Ol’ Colony 5.18
Tuscaloosa, Ala.
2001, Jerry Pate

50. Brackenridge Park 5.17
San Antonio
1915, A.W. Tillinghast

Friday, April 30, 2010

Tom Morton on News 10 to Discuss the 2010 Golf Expo

Check out the following link to see Tom do some television spots early on Friday morning talking about the 2010 Haggin Oaks Golf Expo. There are two different videos you can find from this link:

If you did not come out to Golf Expo on Friday make sure you make it out on Saturday or Sunday as it is by far the best one we have ever had!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Keep Your Swing "On Track" for Solid Contact & Maximum Distance

One thing that I see all the time out on the lesson tee is the tendency for people to be very quick with the start of the downswing, especially when going for "extra" distance. This type of motion can lead to the club getting "off track", also known as "casting", as well as the upper body lurching forward on the downswing, resulting in a loss of distance and direction.

Swing thought: Making a reasonable shoulder turn, keep your back to the target as long as you can on your downswing. As the lower body starts the downswing, feel your arms fall at a speed close to a gravity drop. You should begin to feel your downswing path coming much more from the inside with a shallower angle of approach into the ball.

Drills: Tee to ball. Place a tee into the grip end of your club. Begin the downswing by pointing the tee at the ball. This will help establish a proper downswing path.

Gravity drop: Extend your arms out at shoulder height. Let them fall by force of gravity down to your sides. This is the same feel that you should have as you start your downswing.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

NCPGA Match Play Championship ~ Day 2

The sky opened up for my third match of the tournament and the rainy, soggy conditions became as much of a competitor as was my actual opponent...Neither of us played too well in the tough conditions through the first 9 holes and I found myself 2 down...As I joked with my competitor, it was the battle of the "least worst"...We began to play a bit better as the back 9 went on and as the rain subsided, but it seemed that whenever he would do something well that I would too and when he made a mistake, I would do the same, thus I remained 2 down heading into the 16th hole...My opponent hit is second shot on the par four 16th to about 3 feet and I knew that if I didn't make birdie my day was over...I focused and managed to almost knock the shot in the hole, hitting it to about 6 inches away, another tie, still 2 down going into the 17th...My opponent putted his 3rd shot on 17 to a few inches from the hole for an easy par so as I sat over my 20 foot birdie putt I knew it was either make or go luck would have it, I knocked it in to extend the match to the 18th...On the par 5 18th hole my opponent hit two nice shots to about 15 yards away from the green in perfect shape while I had hit my drive into the fairway bunker and ended up laying back to about 85 yards, in the rough...I hit another solid approach to about 3 to 4 feet away and my opponent chipped past to about 7 to 8 feet...If he made it I was done but his putt just slipped past the hole for a gimme par...This was it, a chance to halve the match and extend it to extra holes if I could knock this birdie putt down...the putt looked like it had a fair amount of right to left movement but I never like to play too much break on shorter putts so I split the difference and aimed at the right edge of the hole...turns out, the putt didn't move at all...yep, I missed the short putt and the match was over...Time to jump in the car and drive the 3.5 hour trip home...plenty of time to reflect on continued lessons, both for myself and for my students...Below are a few items that I think are good things to learn from my experience above:

**In wet, tough conditions always be prepared with the appropriate gear (extra gloves, rain gear, umbrella, extra towels and a ziplock bag to keep some of these things dry)
**Keep focused on the shot at hand as opposed to the tough conditions around you
**In match play, stay focused on yourself and what you can control as opposed to waiting for your opponent to make a mistake (as this may never happen!)
** Remember that golf is a crazy game and that you are never out of it (I was reminded of this by the close finish of the match when I was down most of the day)
**In tough weather conditions it is easy to lose your tempo and balance...stay focused on these two items on every shot and just let the club swing
**When the weather is bad, hitting a lot of greens in regulation is difficult, a reminder as to how important a quality short game is...make about 60+% of your practice time on the short game (putting, chipping, pitching, bunker play, etc)
**Lastly, stay positive and have a great time, afterall, it is a game that is meant to be fun...sometimes during the heat of the battle this can be forgotten...I say it is better to lose than never to have played at all!

Oh yes, not to be forgotten...on shorter are better off just playing them straight and hitting the putt with confidence to the back of the cup!

Monday, April 19, 2010

NCPGA Match Play Championship ~ Day 1

Just keeping everyone up to date on the NCPGA Match Play event that I am participating in...It was a fun and exciting day today where the nerves and excitment flowed early on which made me think of many of you when you play in events or tournaments...The lesson to be learned here is that if you stick to your routines and focus on each shot at a time those nerves will subside...I was able to do this and ended up having a nice day, defeating my first opponent 5 and 3, while also winning my afternoon match 7 and 6...I get to go through the nerves all over again as I play one of our best players in the Nor Cal Section at Monterey Peninsula Country Club first thing in the morning...I am looking forward to it and will keep everyone updated on the experience and will give some tips when playing and preparing for important events...Check back soon!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Rules Quiz...Test Your Knowledge of Some Interesting Rules Questions

Practice Swing Accidentally Moves Ball in Play

Q. While making a practice swing, a player accidentally moved the ball in play with the club. What is the ruling?

A. The player incurs a one stroke penalty, and must replace the ball to its original position. If the player fails to replace the ball, a total penalty of loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play will be incurred.

Ball in Play Moved by Wind or Gravity

Q. A player replaces his ball on the putting green and the ball is at rest. Without addressing the ball the player steps away to read his putt.

The ball moves either due to the wind or the slope of the putting green. How should the player proceed?

A. The player must play his ball from the new position without penalty.

If the ball was moved into the hole then the player is deemed to have holed out with his previous stroke (Decision 20-3d/1).

Note: It is not relevant whether the player had removed his ball-marker before the ball was moved by the wind or gravity as the player's ball was in play when it was replaced (Rule 20-4).

Ball Deflected by Player's Equipment

Q. What is the ruling if my ball in motion is accidentally deflected by my equipment?

A. In either form of play (match play or stroke play) the player incurs a one-stroke penalty and must play the ball as it lies.

Stones in Bunkers

Q. What is the status of stones in bunkers?

A. Stones are by definition loose impediments regardless of their location. Thus, when the ball and the stone lie in or touch the same hazard, the stone may not be removed. However, a Committee may adopt a Local Rule stating that stones in bunkers are movable obstructions. Unless this Local Rule is put into effect by the Committee, players may not remove stones in bunkers without penalty.

Ball Lying Against Rake in Bunker

Q. My ball lies against a rake in a bunker, am I entitled to relief?

A. Yes. A bunker rake is a movable obstruction (see Definition of "Obstuctions") which the player may remove in accordance with Rule 24-1.

If the ball is touching the sand in the bunker (or another part of the course) then the rake may be removed in accordance with Rule 24-1a.

If the ball is resting solely on the rake (i.e. not also touching a part of the course) then Rule 24-1b permits the player to lift the ball, remove the rake, and drop the ball as nearly as possible to the spot directly beneath where the ball lay on the rake (but not nearer the hole).

Ball Thought to be Embedded is Lost

Q. I hit my ball right down the middle, I know it`s there, it must have embedded in the soft ground. Am I allowed to drop a ball without penalty where I think it might have come to rest?

A. No. If the ball can not be found, the player must proceed under Rule 27-1, incurring the stroke-and-distance penalty. There is nothing in Rule 25-2 that permits a player to take relief for a ball that is thought to be embedded without identifying it first. The soft mushy earth is not an abnormal ground condition unless casual water is present, in which case Rule 25-1c applies.

Reaching Across Hole to Tap in Short Putt

Q. A player reaches across the hole to tap in a short putt (the hole is between the player and the ball). Is this a breach of Rule 16-1e, Standing Astride or on the Line of Putt?

A. No. The line of putt does not extend beyond the hole. There is no penalty for making a stroke in this manner, provided the ball is fairly struck at and not raked into the hole.

Club Broken During Stroke, Practice Stroke, or Practice Swing

Q. A player breaks the shaft of his 4-iron when the follow-through of his stroke causes the shaft to make contact with the trunk of a tree. May the player replace the club during his round?

A. Yes, the player may replace the club -- see Rule 4-3.

The player's club is unfit for play and this occurred during the normal course of play (see Decision 4-3/1).

The broken club may be replaced provided the player does not unduly delay play and provided he does not replace the club by borrowing a club selected for play by any other person playing on the course.

The player does not need to replace the broken 4-iron with another 4-iron; he may replace it with any conforming club.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Short Game Paramount this Week at Augusta National...What Can You Learn by Watching this Week?

The reality is for most players the quickest way to lower your score is with the short game. Here are seven examples of why the short game is so important, just as it is every week on all major professional golf tours, especially this week at Augusta National.

1. Putting -- The one club you will likely use on ever hole is the putter. Roughly 30-40% of your score is going to be with the flat stick. To me, this is a staggering number and one we shouldn't take lightly. Although it seems the masses of amateurs are paying more attention to this area of the game, it is still not where it needs to be. Learning the proper fundamentals of putting and building a repetitive putting stroke like Anthony Kim is something we should all strive to do.

• How many putts per round are you currently taking?

• What percentage does this make of your final score?

• Are you spending that percentage of your practice time on this area of the game?

In 2009, TOUR average for total putts per green was 1.78 with Steve Stricker leading the way at 1.72.

2. Chipping - This by definition is a shot with "minimum air, maximum roll". This is a shot that takes place roughly from 0-10 yards from the green. A short little motion with very little wrists but yet can give so many of us fits. What I like about chipping is it is a great shot to learn how to set-up with the club shaft forward and return it forward to impact supported by the turning of the shoulders.

In 2009, a TOUR player on average would get the ball up and down 85.51% of the time from 10 yards on in. Where are you?

3. Hinge & Hold -- One of my favorite shots and one we have discussed over the years in the blog. Tour players are so good with this shot as we saw from Kim this week when the ball came to rest in the rough. This is a shot you can hit from roughly 0-20 yards and once again, a short motion but different then chipping because of the wrist hinge during the backswing. This wrist hinge steepens the angle of approach into impact resulting in more spin.

In 2009, a TOUR player on average would get the ball up and down 64.74 percent of the time from 10-20 yards.

4. Toss Shot -- A very close second when it comes to my favorite shots and one that generally speaking needs the most work for the amateur player. This shot builds upon the Hinge & Hold by adding more arm swing in both directions allowing for more speed. What's neat about a Toss Shot, it's your first opportunity with the short game to begin to change the club shaft angle at address. Where the two shots before see the club shaft mostly forward at address, the Toss Shot gives you the option to not only lean it forward but also neutral or even slightly back depending upon the situation. These options result into three different trajectories and spin that can be played from roughly 20-60 yards.

In 2009, a TOUR player on average would get the ball up and down 50.53 percent of the time from 20-30 yards.

5. Pitching -- A pitch shot is the logical extension of the Toss Shot. At some point a shot will call for more power than you can generate with the Toss Shot. The difference between the two shots is when Pitching you want to turn your shoulders and coil your upper body during the backswing, where in a Toss Shot, the shoulders will remain quite allowing for just an arm swing with a wrist hinge. A Pitch shot is an extremely important shot as it covers a wide range of distance from roughly 60-110 yards.

6. Lob Shot -- This shot produces the highest trajectory and should be the last choice when selecting from these menu of options. Hitting competent Lob Shots certainly requires practice. Because this shot involves maximum air, minimum roll, there is little margin for error. What's key with this shot is to open the club face and lean the club shaft slightly away from the target at address. These two set-up components will result into more loft and expose the bounce of the club. Approach the Lob Shot more like a Toss Shot where you create a long arm swing with a wrist hinge during the backswing with the body turning towards the target on the downswing.

7. Bunkers -- Of all the shots above -- which one do you think would apply best to the greenside bunker? The answer is the Lob Shot because with Bunker shots we need to utilize the bounce of the sand wedge. Bounce is the difference between the leading edge of the club and trailing edge as measured in degrees. Most sand wedges will have 10-14 degrees of bounce, these degrees of bounce are your friend and when applied properly will slide the club head through the sand rather than dig. With the club face open and club shaft slightly back, you should be all set to create a long and lazy motion resulting in high spinning greenside bunker shots.

In 2009, a TOUR player on average would get the ball up and down 49.44 percent of the time from a greenside bunker.


Monday, April 5, 2010

Tom Morton Finishes Tied for 8th in Nor-Cal PGA Event

Tom Morton finished tied for 8th place today in the Northern California PGA Pro Series 4 event held today at Half Moon Bay Golf Links. With today's finish Tom also qualifies for the Nor-Cal PGA Match Play Championship that will begin play on April 19th. The scores from today's event are as follows:

Pos Player
T1 Steve Watanabe -3 69
T1 Steve Pellegrine -3 69
3 Kevin Lozares -2 70
T4 Michael Cook -1 71
T4 Eric Lippert -1 71
T6 Rick Leibovich E 72
T6 Mitch Lowe E 72
T8 Jeffrey Anderson +1 73
T8 Steve Hummel +1 73
T8 Jason Schmuhl +1 73
T8 David Solomon +1 73
T8 Edward Newland +1 73
T8 Kenneth Powell +1 73
T8 Kris Moe +1 73
T8 Tom Morton +1 73
T16 Greg Rodgers +2 74
T16 Bobby Siravo +2 74
T16 Hae Lee +2 74
T16 Michael Paul +2 74
T20 Gary Bashford +3 75
T20 Matthew Mores +3 75
T20 Matt Dito +3 75
T20 Doug Hanson +3 75
T20 Todd Southard +3 75
T20 Matt Plumlee +3 75
T20 Paul Wyrybkowski +3 75
T27 Mick Soli +4 76
T27 Rodney Wilson +4 76
T27 Joseph Carlton +4 76
T27 Joe Moulton +4 76
T27 Mike Beveridge +4 76
T27 Shawn Kelly +4 76
T27 Jeremy Hirschman +4 76
T27 Berne Finch +4 76
T35 Jason Boldt +5 77
T35 Tim Weiss +5 77
T35 Jeffrey Sanchez +5 77
T35 Terry Myers +5 77
T35 Dennis Tuhn +5 77
T35 Tim Huber +5 77
T35 Jerrel Grow +5 77
T35 Tim Loustalot +5 77
T35 Scott Steele +5 77
T44 Charlie Gibson +6 78
T44 Chase Stigall +6 78
T44 Don Winter +6 78
T44 Bob Klein +6 F78
T44 Robert Poole +6 78
T44 Peter Kim +6 78
T44 Dale Taylor +6 78
T44 Willie Toney +6 78
T44 Casey Reamer +6 78
T44 Ryan Farb +6 F 8
T44 Joel Rhea-Munroe +6 78
T44 John Snopkowski +6 78
T56 Grant Haney +7 79
T56 Joe Dolby +7 79
T56 Shaun McCarty +7 79
T56 Thomas Fong +7 79
T56 Jeff Johnson +7 79
T56 Doug Acton +7 79
T56 Mark Favell +7 79
T56 Neil Larkin +7 79
T64 Dana Banke +8 80
T64 Chad Maveus +8 80
T64 Jody Dartez +8 80
T64 Matt Barksdale +8 80
T64 Thomas Braun +8 80
T69 Joseph Gile +9 81
T69 Avery Cook +9 81
T69 Eric Jones +9 81
T69 John Abendroth +9 81
T69 Eric Goettsch +9 81
T69 Mark Sherman +9 81
T69 Joe Riekena +9 81
T76 Ray Otis +10 82
T76 Michael Robason +10 82
T76 Kristoffer Nicholson +10 F82
T76 Raymond Briggs +10 82
T80 Chad Lake +12 84
T80 Grant Geertsen +12 84
T80 Dan Schwabe +12 84
T80 Chris Appling +12 84
T84 Brad Braden +13 85
T84 Colin Campbell +13 85
T84 Robie Kramer +13 85
T84 Walter Thompson +13 85
T88 Travis Grisham +14 86
T88 Morgan Wright +14 86
90 Freddy Villarta +15 87
91 Jeff Palmer +16 88
T92 Justin Lippold +17 89
T92 Tim Flanagan +17 89

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Educational Quotes from Golf's Legends

We can learn a lot from some of golf's greatest players. I scoured the internet and put together a list of quotes that I believe can have an impact on all of our games if we open our minds and apply the wisdom these legends have gained through years of experience.

“I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp, in-focus picture of it in my head. First, I see the ball where I want it to finish, nice and white and sitting up high on the bright green grass. Then the scene quickly changes, and I see the ball going there: its path, trajectory, and shape, even its behavior on landing. Then there is a sort of fade-out, and the next scene shows me making the kind of swing that will turn the previous images into reality.” - Jack Nicklaus

"Thinking instead of acting is the number-one golf disease." - Sam Snead

“Some people think they are concentrating when they're merely worrying.” - Bobby Jones

“Reverse every natural instinct and do the opposite of what you are inclined to do, and you will probably come very close to having a perfect golf swing.” - Ben Hogan

“Confidence in golf means being able to concentrate on the problem at hand with no outside interference.” - Tom Watson

"I sometimes get distracted easily and allow my mind to wander when I need to be focused. It's quite subtle, really, and just being aware of it helps." - Payne Stewart

"We create success or failure on the course primarily by our thoughts." - Gary Player

“You don't have the game you played last year or last week. You only have today's game. It may be far from your best, but that's all you've got. Harden your heart and make the best of it.” - Walter Hagen

"Aggressive play is a vital asset of the world's greatest golfers. However, it's even more important to the average player. Attack this game in a bold, confident, and determined way, and you'll make a giant leap toward realizing your full potential as a player.” - Greg Norman

“To give yourself the best possible chance of playing to your potential, you must prepare for every eventuality. That means practice.” - Seve Ballesteros

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Strategize for Every Hole on the Course

If you are like most golfers, your plan for each hole is pretty much the same. You take out your driver, you hit the ball as far as you can, and then you come up with part two of your plan. But golf is no different than chess or billiards. The move you make now has a direct impact on the move you can make three turns from now. Follow these steps to make a plan for every hole and you may save strokes from your game immediately.

Look for easy shots - Birdies and eagles are great, but for most holes, par will do just fine. If you are playing a par four, map out the four easiest shots you can possibly take to make par and start from there. Try to leave heroic 220-yard iron shots over water out of the plan for now. Play your ball to safe parts of the fairway for the time being.

Work backwards - Instead of planning from the tee to the green, start your plan from the pin and work backwards. Where would you like to take an ideal approach shot to the pin? From that spot, trace back a realistic shot from the fairway. If you begin with the end in mind, you are less likely to get stuck with a difficult approach shot.

Take a close look at the course layout - Course designers can be devious when it comes to laying out a hole. They almost always reward the golfer who thinks before swinging. Does the fairway narrow anywhere? Is there a bunker waiting right around the distance you usually reach with your driver? Take the course design into consideration. If there's an obstacle that can devastate your score, stay away.

Control your ball - You have been conditioned to hit the ball as hard as you can, but when you do, it becomes much tougher to control your ball. Even if you can hit your driver 250 yards, it doesn't mean you can hit the ball in the air that full distance. Therefore, as your ball is rolling towards the 250-yard mark, it can find any obstacle along the way.

Consider the elements - How is the wind playing today? Is the course a little wet from some overnight rain? Your plan on how to attack a hole can change dramatically with a sudden shift in the weather. Before you power a drive through the wind or roll a ball off a wet fairway onto a green, consider how the elements will affect your shot.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010


By learning to manage your emotions you will give yourself the best chance for extended periods of optimum play. That should come as no surprise to you, and here are some tried and true methods that we have learned from Tour Players that you can use to maximize the management of your emotions. While positive emotions like excitement and dynamic energy make possible trusting swings, difficult stretches of play are preceded by the onset of negative emotions that are permitted to linger. Because negative emotions come unannounced – anger does not signal it’s eminent arrival – they can flood our senses without warning and block strategy decisions as surely as they can trusting swings. An effective plan is to allow negative emotions, (anger, fear, frustration, anxiety) that interfere with your game, to come into awareness, then let the emotions pass. By recognizing a negative emotion when it arrives – I’m frustrated - you can decrease its intensity, change its direction, and limit its duration. That might be a little scary, but while you really can’t control the onset of a negative emotion you surely have a choice as to how long you allow it to last. Conversely, when positive emotions such as dynamic energy and excitement become an integral part of your pre-shot routine, you have magnified your opportunities for a successful play. By allowing negative emotions to pass and positive emotions to surface and stay, you have done the important steps toward focusing your mind in present time awareness in preparation for each shot.

A special thank you to Dr. Glen Albaugh for his keen insight on this very important, and all to often forgotten, part of the game.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Unique Look at the Swing Components of a Long Drive Champion

I have yet to meet a golfer that does not want to hit the ball farther off of the tee...There are some unique parts of the swing that help to create distance...Please visit to view a video on Jamie Sadlowski's golf swing, who at under six feet and 170 lbs has hit the golf ball 400 yards...

Monday, March 8, 2010

PGA Tour Settles with Ping to End Ping Eye 2 Wedge Controversy

The PGA Tour and Ping announced an agreement Monday that will allow the tour to finally ban square-grooved Ping Eye 2 clubs from the Tour, effective at the end of the month.

The club, which was allowed in play due to a grandfather clause in a legal settlement, touched off a debate when Phil Mickelson and several other players put the Ping Eye 2 wedge in their bags. Hunter Mahan and Fred Couples were among other players who had used the wedges this year.

PGA Tour player Scott McCarron characterized that as "cheating," but later apologized to Mickelson for the remark. Mickelson said he was simply playing with the club to make a point about the loophole that made use of the Ping Eye 2 irons legal.

An agreement reached 20 years ago that settled Ping's lawsuits against the PGA Tour and the U.S. Golf Association grandfathered in the Ping clubs as long as they were made before April 1, 1990 and not altered. But Ping has agreed to waive its rights from the settlement.

The clubs otherwise do not meet new grooves specifications for irons, which went into effect this year.

"We all believe it is in the best interests of golf," Ping chairman and CEO John Solheim said in a statement. "It levels the playing field on the PGA Tour and resolves a very unfortunate situation that we predicted would happen when the USGA first proposed the new groove rule more than two years ago."

Solheim said the settlement also allows Ping to retain its other rights from its settlements with the PGA Tour and the USGA. That means amateur players will still be able to use Ping Eye 2 clubs made before April 1990 at all amateur events played under the USGA Rules of Golf.

The ban also applies to the Champions Tour and the Nationwide Tour.

Players on professional tours were required to conform to new rules beginning Jan. 1 which narrow the space between grooves. Although highly technical, the change means less spin can be imparted on the golf ball, especially from the rough.

The old Ping clubs had more space between the grooves than allowed under the 2010 rule, but were deemed conforming due to the lawsuit.

The waiver goes into effect March 29, meaning the old clubs could still technically be used during this week's WGC-CA Championship, the Transitions Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational. Ping will also apply the waiver to the U.S. Open in June.

"John Solheim and Ping had a terrific opportunity to do something very positive and significant for the game of golf and we very much appreciate his willingness to take this action," PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said in a statement.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Local PGA Tour Star Kevin Sutherland Talks About His Days at Haggin Oaks on Sports 1140 KHTK

PGA Tour Player Kevin Sutherland was on Sports 1140 KHTK this morning with the "Rise Guys" discussing the upcoming Waste Management Pheonix Open and the notorious 16th hole...During the conversation he discussed growing up at Haggin Oaks as a kid...Have a listen...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Rough Made Easy

I found a nice tip on how to handle shots out of the rough from today and thought that I would pass it on to all of you...

Playing shots from the rough requires good judgement. First and foremost, be sure to use a club with plenty of loft, even if it means not reaching the green.

If the ball is deep in the rough with grass behind the ball, do not attempt to hit a fairway wood, medium or long iron. Use a short iron (7 or less) to put the ball back in play in the fairway.

These adjustments will also help (reverse for lefties) :

1. Grip the club firmly with your left hand to prevent the clubhead from twisting.

2. Aim slightly to the right -- the clubhead will tend to shut closed as it moves through the grass.

3. Position the ball right of center in your stance.

4. Hover the clubhead on top of, not down into, the grass.

5. Swing the club up steeply and HIT DOWN sharply, striking the ball first.

By following these swing suggestions, you should find escaping the rough is not as rough as it looks.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

We Should Be More Like Kids...

As I was watching my 2-year-old son take swings today I realized that my students and I can learn a lot from him. You can see from the videos that his grip, stance, and posture are not quite "perfect"...and I have a feeling that he is not too concerned about where his "swing plane" is. What he does have however is a "no-fear", "I can do it" attitude that causes him to relax and just swing away with no worries of what the result might be. It is this type of approach that would make us all better golfers while increasing our enjoyment exponentially. I know the next time I go either practice or play (which unfortunately has not been too often as of late) that I am going to remember watching my son and the lesson that he taught me today...which is to smile and address the ball with whatever skills you bring to the table and swing away with no concern over what the result will be, all the while being excited to stand up and do it again!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Oldies but Goodies

Sam Snead had one of the prettiest golf swings ever to grace a fairway...In looking back at some of his advice regarding the best ways to play the game, I find it to be very relevant and sound advice today. Here are 5 of his key words of wisdom:

1 A Bird in Hand

You know one of the main reasons 99 percent of golfers are duds? It's their grip. Hold the club with about the same amount of pressure you would use in holding a bird, just firm enough not to let it fly away, but not firm enough to hurt it. You'll not only hit the ball farther, you'll swing smoother, because you're relaxed.

2 Loose as a Goose

When I'm coming down the stretch and the adrenaline is flowing, I try to maintain a slower pace and keep it even. I try to stay loose. Walter Hagen once told me that he was all right as long as his legs felt nice and loose, but the minute they began to tighten and feel tense, he knew he was in trouble. In general, for all shots under pressure, I just try to shake my arms a little and get as loose as a goose.

3 Pitching Pennies

Making the ball roll the right distance is a lot like pitching pennies. You make a nice, smooth swinging motion with your arms. The longer the putt, or the slower the greens, the farther back and through you want those arms to swing. You want the ball to die at the target. Don't be thinking "never up, never in" on anything you might three-putt. Remember, you're putting on a green, not bowling down an alley.

4 Lobbing to the Green

When I'm pitching over a hazard and have little green between me and the hole, I want a shot that will fly high and slow--one that will settle in its tracks. To execute this type of shot, the first thing to do is address the ball with the clubface laid back more than normal, thus increasing the loft. I take the club straight back and break my wrists early in the backswing. I strike down and through with the hands leading the clubhead, and the wrists snapping into the ball. This gives me a high lob with a lot of backspin. The entire swing should be leisurely and rhythmical.

5 Swing in Waltz Time

I can't tell you the best lesson I ever got, because nobody has ever given me a serious lesson. However, I do recall the best lesson I ever gave. It was to a man at The Greenbrier.

This fellow was what you call a firefighter. He'd swing the club like he was trying to put out a fire. He couldn't get at the ball quick enough. He was trying to hit it 400 yards, and the divots were flying farther than the balls. If I hadn't stopped him, he'd have hurt himself.

Finally I said, "Look, swing the club back a little slower, with some tempo. You know, the old-time pros used to teach by waltz time."

"I ought to know something about that," he said. "I'm a dance instructor."

"Well, hell!" I said. "Don't go at it like a double fox-trot. Swing in waltz time."

You couldn't believe he was the same person. I never saw a man improve so much in just minutes. Suddenly, every swing was smooth and graceful, and his shots were going nice and far and straight.

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COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning

Monday, February 8, 2010

Technology + Practice = Improved Putting

Putting is arguably the most important part of any individuals golf game as it comprises around 50% of the total score. As is the case with any part of the game there are three key variables that golfers should focus on to have an immediate impact on your score: alignment, club path and club face angle. Finding time each day to work on these key fundamentals for putting can be difficult...until now. Recently while attending the 2010 PGA Merchandise Show I stumbled upon an incredible new putting training aid, the Laser Putting Trainer. Take a look at the video above and see how this new technology allows you to focus your practice on the key variables of alignment, club path and club face angle, while receiving immediate feedback. If you would like to know more about this great tool please leave a comment to this post and I will respond to your inquiry. Happy putting!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Improve Your Putting by Gripping for Feel

If you have decided to stop tinkering with your putting stroke and worrying whether you have a "straight back and thru" motion or an "open to closed arc type stroke", focus only on two simple putting grip tips, and you will immediately hit more solid putts that drop in the hole more often. First, make sure the putter grip is in line with your right forearm, not hanging below it (small pictures). This helps the putter swing more naturally on the correct plane without having to focus on it. Second, set your hands so the grip runs through the lifelines of your palms so that you're holding the handle mostly with your fingertips (large picture). When you were a kid and hoping to "stay in between the lines" while coloring with your crayolas you probably found that you had more success when holding the crayons in your fingertips. Doing this created much more feel...and that is exaclty what you need to do to improve your putting.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The New Groove Rule: What does it mean for you?

The biggest story lately in golf is all about the new groove rule. Here is a story from that should help you understand what all the talk is about.

Prior to 2010, a majority of golfers were using square grooves, or U-grooves. This was beneficial for high-caliber players as it allowed them to put an abundance of spin on their golf ball -- especially out of the rough -- because of the sharp, deep grooves on the clubs. In essence, the square grooves, on wedges particularly, were making it so that hitting a ball out of the rough wasn't as penal as it was intended to be.

With that, the USGA decided it was time to make a change -- one that has also been adopted by other governing bodies, including The PGA of America and the R&A. Essentially, the USGA has "rolled back" the grooves on all irons (not just wedges), reverting back to the previously approved V-grooves -- V-grooves are the most common, but under the new rule the grooves do not need to be V-shaped. They just have to be smaller and not as sharp as the old grooves.

Simply put, with the V-groove design, the grooves aren't as sharp as they were with U-grooves/square-grooves and aren't as far apart, which significantly decreases the amount of spin a player can put on a shot.

So what does the new groove rule mean to you, the average golfer?

According to USGA Senior Technical Director Dick Rugge, not much.

"The new grooves will have little effect on shots from the fairway or off the tee," Rugge said in a release explaining the new rule. "If you were able to spin a shot from the fairway with old grooves, you will be able to do it with new grooves as well. The new grooves primarily affect shots from the rough to the green by reducing spin. Most golfers don't hit greens from the rough very often."

Here's a look at the timeline created by the USGA in its process of implementing the rule:

January 2010 -- All new products submitted by manufacturers for USGA approval must conform to the new groove rule. All PGA Tour (and the U.S. Open) events will use new grooves.

January 2011 -- Manufacturers can no longer manufacture products with the pre-2010 grooves and can no longer ship products with the pre-2010 grooves. Retailers can continue to sell clubs shipped to them before this date as conforming clubs indefinitely.

January 2014 -- All USGA and R&A championships will require the new grooves (U.S. Amateur, U.S. Mid Amateur, etc.).

January 2020 -- The USGA will review the current rule and determine if it has had the desired effect.

January 2024 -- If the USGA approves of the direction the new groove rule is taking. This is the first possible date that golfers will need to have the new grooves to post scores for handicap purposes.

Basically, you have more than a decade before you need to get equipment with the new grooves. You can buy wedges today with the latest in groove technology and keep using them for another decade.

However, if you are a competitive player, you have a shorter timeline and will most likely want wedges with the new grooves for U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur qualifiers.

Any clubs you, the average golfer, buy before 2011 will be conforming for several more years. In essence, you can continue to purchase the best performing product available since it won't be available for long.

Cleveland Golf -- one of the game's top manufacturers -- points out that there is, however, a caveat to all of that.

"You can repair your current clubs going forward (re-grip, new shaft), but you cannot touch the head without making the club non-conforming," Cleveland Golf says in its explanation of the new rule. "Any clubs with the current grooves (pre-2010) cannot have the grooves re-finished or sharpened. Any work done on the face of the club will cause it to be considered non-conforming. This comes back to the integrity portion of the rules. Will anyone be standing by the handicap posting station next year to check if you had your current grooves sharpened? No, but you will know you did and in turn using them is a violation of the rules. You need to call the penalty on yourself."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

2010 PGA Merchandise Show - Demo Day

Today was spent at Orange County National Golf Club and the incredible 360 degree driving range (see video) to take a sneak peak at the latest and greatest in golf equipment technology. There looks to be some exciting new product introductions coming soon to the Haggin Oaks Golf Shop, including the new Nike Vr line of clubs which will be available tomorrow in fact. I was fortunate enough to spend some time at the Nike Golf area today and meet two fantastic players, former Open Championship winner and Ryder Cup hero, Justin Leonard and the #3 World Ranked LPGA Tour Player, Suzanne Petterson (see pictures below). It was a wonderful first day and I am looking forward to three more days of seeing new products and educational activities to bring back to all of you! Please comment on this blog if there is anything you would like me to talk about or look for while at the largest golf show in the world. The Orange County Convention Center is over a mile wide and they say when you walk the entire show floor, through all of the ailes that it is the distance of a marathon! I will have daily updates and photos of some of what I am previewing.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

An Excerpt from Extraordinary Golf by Fred Shoemaker

"If an average golfer takes 90 shots in a round, and each shot takes about two seconds, that adds up to only about three minutes of actual play. The pre-shot routine takes anywhere from 5 to 10 seconds, which adds another ten seconds or so. That leaves more than three hours and forty-five minutes of time between shots in a typical four hour round - about 95 percent of the round. This is time where you are simply out on the course, walking (or riding) to your next shot.

The traditional method of teaching golf focuses almost exclusively on the 5 percent of swing time and ignores the other 95 percent of the round. I've come to realize that the people that are most likely to improve beyond what is ordinary are people who have mastered the time between shots. I'm not talking about strategy or positive thinking or simply "doing things differently". I'm talking about a new way to "be" out on the course. I'm talking about being a golfer. The best and most lasting changes take place when a person is essentially "being different"."

This is a fantastic book and a great read that I highly recommend to anyone looking to create real change both on and off the course.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Two Rules to Know for Winter Golf

Winter golf can be very different from summer golf in terms of conditioning of the golf course. Here are a couple important rules to remember to increase your enjoyment and to help the rules of golf work for you rather than against you...

Rule 25-2. Embedded Ball
A ball embedded in its own pitch-mark in the ground in any closely mown area through the green may be lifted, cleaned and dropped, without penalty, as near as possible to the spot where it lay but not nearer the hole. The ball when dropped must first strike a part of the course through the green. "Closely mown area" means any area of the course, including paths through the rough, cut to fairway height or less.

25-1. Abnormal Ground Conditions: Casual Water"Casual water" is any temporary accumulation of water on the course that is not in a water hazard and is visible before or after the player takes his stance. Snow and natural ice, other than frost, are either casual water or loose impediments, at the option of the player. Manufactured ice is an obstruction. Dew and frost are not casual water.

A ball is in casual water when it lies in or any part of it touches the casual water.

a. Interference:
Interference by an abnormal ground condition occurs when a ball lies in or touches the condition or when the condition interferes with the player's stance or the area of his intended swing. If the player's ball lies on the putting green, interference also occurs if an abnormal ground condition on the putting green intervenes on his line of putt. Otherwise, intervention on the line of play is not, of itself, interference under this Rule.

b. Relief
Except when the ball is in a water hazard or a lateral water hazard, a player may take relief from interference by an abnormal ground condition as follows:
(i)Through the Green: If the ball lies through the green, the player must lift the ball and drop it, without penalty, within one club-length of and not nearer the hole than the nearest point of relief. The nearest point of relief must not be in a hazard or on a putting green. When the ball is dropped within one club-length of the nearest point of relief, the ball must first strike a part of the course at a spot that avoids interference by the condition and is not in a hazard and not on a putting green.
(ii) In a Bunker: If the ball is in a bunker, the player must lift the ball and drop it either:
(a) Without penalty, in accordance with Clause(i) above, except that the nearest point of relief must be in the bunker and the ball must be dropped in the bunker or, if complete relief is impossible, as near as possible to the spot where the ball lay, but not nearer the hole, on a part of the course in the bunker that affords maximum available relief from the condition...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

USGA Launches New Rules Of Golf Application

The United States Golf Association has announced the launch of the official application for the 2010-2011 editions of “The Rules of Golf,” “Decisions on The Rules of Golf” and “Rules of Amateur Status” for the iPhone and iPod touch.

The Rules of Golf App is designed for golfers who want instant access to the official Rules and Decisions. With this application, which features simple navigation and a convenient word and phrase search function, users can quickly answer questions about every Rule, Definition and Decision. The new technology is the only Rules application approved by the USGA.

Users can also e-mail the USGA directly from the application with a Rules question. This mobile App now gives golfers a new way to seek answers from the USGA, which answers more than 15,000 Rules questions each year.

The iPhone was the ideal initial platform for the application given the vast distribution of iPhone applications. The USGA plans to extend the application onto the BlackBerry and Google Android operating systems later this month.

Users can purchase and download the Rules of Golf App in the iTunes store for $3.99. The direct link for users with iTunes, an iPhone or iPod touch is

Monday, January 18, 2010

Keep Your Swing Sharp During Rainy Days

As I look outside and notice that it is raining cats and dogs an idea for a topic popped into my head. Most golfers are pretty crazy about improving and finding new ways to stay sharp, even during inclement weather. Here are a couple quick ideas to help cure your golf fix and make you better at the same time:

1. Take an old long iron (like a 3 iron that hopefully you have replaced with a hybrid by now) and have it cut down to half the size and have a trainer grip added to it. You now have a club that you can make practice swings with in the house without the worry of knocking down some lights or severely hurting the family pet. The "short club" allows you to better understand the relationship between the club face and your hands as you can see the club face during the whole swing with the shortened shaft. The grip trainer also ensures that you grip the club correctly.

2. Look into getting a training aid that you can swing around the house and will add value when you actually hit the course. A great new training aid is the "Orange Whip" that we offer in the Haggin Oaks Super Shop. This swing trainer has multiple purposes that I have seen make an incredible difference in my students' motions, both in the full swing and in the short game. Take a look below at some of the ways it can be used.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ball Flight + Technology = A Proper Fit

There still seems to be a myth by many golfers that it is not the golf club or golf ball but rather all about the golfer themselves as to whether that perfectly straight, smashed drive happens on a regular basis. The more people can understand the proper ball flight that achieves maximum distance, the more people can begin to crush this myth and their drives.

Let’s first take a look at what happens at impact between the golf club and golf ball:

1. The golf club’s shaft reacts to the force applied by the golfer swinging it and “releases” the club head..

2. At moment of impact, the specific features of the club head’s design, such as loft, lie, center of gravity (CG), and moment of inertia (MOI), initiate ball flight.

3. The golf ball reacts to the forces applied by the shaft via the club head. The ball “launches” in the direction and with the spin that the impact forces have applied.

4. The attributes in the golf ball take effect and ball flight is determined.

I know many of you are thinking that this is WAY too technical, but this is reality and the very reason proper clubfitting requires not only the ability to see ball flight but also a trained club fitting professional using the most state of the art technology to read much of the data needed to maximize numbers 1 through 4 above. At Haggin Oaks we are fortunate to have TrackMan in the Player Performance Studio which is the most state-of-the-art launch monitor in golf today. With this incredible technology we are able to gather a lot of important data regarding a golfer’s launch angle, ball speed, spin rate, land angle as well as many other important variables that will maximize the moment of impact and thus the golfer’s ball flight.

The chart below clearly illustrates visually what proper ball flight is and what effect it has on a golfer’s distance. Which one are you?

If you fall into Ball Flight numbers 2, 3 or 4 above do not worry as you are definitely not alone, and you can be helped. The three most important pieces that are needed to drastically improve your ball flight are: top fitting professionals, technologically advanced launch monitors and the ability to see the ball flight. It is time to bust the myth that fitting is not critical. If you experience a clubfitting that has these three important pieces your golf game will be changed for life.

Choosing the Right Golf Coach is as Easy as 1-2-3

The game of golf can be very intimidating, both when one is just learning the game and for those that have played for some time. Taking golf lessons is a great way to improve your game and help to alleviate the intimidation factor. Choosing the right golf coach is a very important part of the process and a detail people often do not spend enough time on. Utilizing the “3 F’s” can help simplify and speed up the selection process and allow the student to have a great experience while improving their game.

1. Fun: Golf is a recreational activity and something that someone chooses to do that perhaps takes them away from their family or work, thus it should be a lot of fun to make the time away well worth it. The student should take a few minutes and speak to the potential golf coach, whether in person or over the phone, before signing up for lessons and get a feel for their excitement and attitude towards the learning process. Does the golf coach get really excited when discussing what they do with their students or does it seem like it is just another task they perform during the day? Does it appear that the coach mixes up what they do during a series of lessons, i.e., short game, full swing, playing lessons, etc.? Get a feel for the golf coach’s personality and demeanor so that it is a fit with yours to ensure you will have fun. After all, golf is a game that IS fun!
2. Focused: During the pre-screening process a student should make sure that the golf coach has a plan in mind for your game. Just because the coach hasn’t seen you hit a ball doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have a general plan of attack for someone of your skill level (beginner, intermediate or advanced). Have the coach talk through what plans they have developed with their other students of like abilities. Does the coach start the lessons around the green and work back to the full swing in order to build the proper foundation? Does the coach understand the different types of learning styles (auditory, visual and kinesthetic) and focus the information to the student in the appropriate way to ensure the best chance for success? Does the coach ask about what your goals and objectives are so that the lessons can be focused on achieving them? Having a coach with a clear focus and plan for YOUR game gives you the best chance to be your best!
3. Follow-Up: When talking to your potential golf coach discuss what kind of communication and follow-up takes place in between lessons. Does the coach keep track of what happens during each session? Will you be receiving an email after each lesson delivering the notes and thoughts about what was discussed? Does the coach promote communication between student and teacher as a mandatory piece to achieving your goals, both during and in between lessons? Does the coach ask you to follow up in regards to how practice or play is going in between sessions either by email, phone or in person? Follow up keeps the student and coach connected and ensures that both YOU and the coach are always moving in the same direction.

A great golf coach wants to be your “total golf guardian” and views the relationship between student and coach as a lifetime commitment. Take the time before choosing a coach and utilize the “3 F’s” to make sure the coach is a fit for you. It will be well worth the extra time and your golf game will thank you for it!