Tuesday Tip: Embrace Your Nerves

ryoishikawaHow many times have you stood on the first tee in a tournament, or even just a regular round of golf, and felt a little woozy?  Stomach churning… butterflies… shakes.

Perhaps you should consider having less coffee before the round?

Just kidding.

Nerves are a part of golf we all have to deal with.  Any golf partner or person giving out advice who tells you not to be nervous is not realistic.

Nerves are good.  They show that we are highly focused and aware of the gravity of the situation.  The anxiety we feel helps us stay focused.

Once we realize it is okay to be nervous, those nerves will not hurt our games like they did before.  Once we face the nerves, we can control them and work doing so into our pre-shot routines by taking a deep breath and relaxing before pulling the trigger.

Relax.  Take a deep breath. Focus. Pull the trigger.

Tuesday Tip: Don’t Trust Your Eyes for Alignment

alignmentrodMost amateur golfers miss to the right.  Granted, many of those misses are due to the average amateur hitting a slice.  Many misses to the right are not slices though.  What’s the issue?

Eyes

Studies have shown that most golfers misalign with their eyes.  What looks to be a square alignment is most often a setup which is aiming to the right.  So when the golfer hit is well, the shot misses to the right.

In a properly aligned stance, the golfer’s feet, shoulders, and hips should be parallel to the target line.  A great way to work on this alignment is via the use of alignment aids.  A common aid can be simply laying a golf club on the ground parallel to the target, then lining the toes up.  Rather than using a club, many like to use useful alignment sticks or rods, which are very light and easy to carry in the golf bag.

Frogger offers a very nice set of alignment sticks, seen below.

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Click the image above or the following link to Frogger Golf alignment sticks.

 

Tuesday Tip: Downhill Lie in Bunker

SandHollow_Links_009It doesn’t happen often, but it happens too often!  One of the toughest shots in golf is dealing with the dreaded “downhill lie in a bunker” situation.  What does that mean?

A downhill lie means the ball is on a slope.  The ground is sloping from a high point to a low point, and the low point is in the direction of the target.

This situation is extremely difficult.  Most amateur golfers will end up hitting a thin or bladed shot far far over the green, or they may end up chunking the shot (hitting behind the ball) and merely advancing the ball a few feet in the bunker.

Setup

The setup for this shot is not as difficult as one might think.  It is important to realize that the low point of the swing, where the golf club bottoms out, is going to be more toward the player’s back foot, farther up the slope.  Therefore the ball must be positioned at that point, not typically middle or forward like one might play a regular bunker shot.

In short, ball back in stance.

Next the player needs to setup so that the shoulder line is the same angle as the slope.  Some players may bend a knee to level out their stance.  This will not work.  The shoulders must be parallel to the slope.

Swing

Now that the setup is correct, what is the swing for this tough shot?  Many bunker shots call for aiming behind the ball and taking a lot of sand out of the bunker along with the ball.  Doing so with a downhill like will produce bad results.  This swing needs to extract very little sand.  The player should try to “pick” the ball off of the sand if possible.

Result

It is nearly impossible to fully control the downhill bunker shot.  The ball will run quite a bit after landing on the green. Plan accordingly and make the aiming point short of the pin to allow the ball to roll, and settle as close to the pin as possible.

This shot takes practice and confidence to execute.

Tuesday Tip – Putting Challenge

balls-on-greenMany amateur golfers think they are helping their game on the putting practice green, but they may be repetitively doing nothing beneficial.  Practice putting can often be unrealistic, failing to accomplish anything other than eating up time before the player hits the first tee.

Putting Challenge

Next time at the putting practice green try this challenge, similar to what Phil Mickelson and many other PGA Tour pros do.  Place five balls around the hole in a circle and start at a foot or two in distance.   If you make them all, increase the distance one foot and repeat the five.  If you miss a putt, you must start over, from scratch.

Proceed with this until you reach five feet, or if you are a glutton for punishment, pick something longer.

Conclusion

The pressure and intensity of knowing you have to start over puts a premium on each putt with regards to concentrations, nerves, and execution.  Those same qualities will present themselves on the golf course in a real round and because of this drill you’ll be ready.  Those pesky five foot and under putts will be much easier to make, and who doesn’t love making more putts?

We do.

Tuesday Tip – One-Handed Putting

Frogger_PutterOne problem amateurs, and even some pros have, is breaking the wrists in their putting stroke.  Another bad putting habit many have is jerking the putter, or swinging with bad transition timing from backstroke to follow through.  This drill helps fix all of those issues, and can greatly improve the way both arms and hands work together.

One-Handed Putting

The next time you are on the practice putting green, start the practice session with one handed putts on both arms.  Pick a number of strokes, 5-10-25, and putt that many right-handed, then putt that many left-handed.

Using one hand with the putter is a great way to prevent a jerky motion and promote a smooth stroke.

Putting with one hand also makes it much more difficult to break the wrists (wrist in the case of one hand).  The dreaded “flip” stroke is almost impossible with one hand.

After getting a great feel for the stroke, the tempo, and the feeling of one-handed putting, put both hands on the grip and try to keep the same feel in both hands as they stroke together.  The hands should each have the same stroke and feel, but work together as one piece or unit.

Tuesday Tip – One Shot Ahead

Bandon_Preserve_TopThe great Tom Watson offers the golf tip, “think one shot ahead.”  This is such a simple tip which could save countless strokes off a golfer’s game.  Not only that, there are no swing adjustments, lessons, or new equipment to buy.  Instant stroke saver!  Let’s look at a couple of situations.

Tee

You’re on the tee of a tricky par-4 hole.  The approach to the hole is guarded by many bunkers short right of the green, and the flag is tucked behind them.  The best approach to this green would be one which takes as much of those bunkers out of play as possible.  The best angle to do that is from the left side of the fairway.  Thinking one shot ahead, knowing that the best approach is from the left side of the fairway, the proper club to hit off the tee or the proper shot to hit is one which places that ball in the position above.  Whether that’s driver, a long iron, or other club, that’s the ticket.

Trouble

A bad shot has resulted in a position behind some trees.  There’s no shot at getting to the green.  Where is the best position to hit the NEXT shot?  One must analyze the situation and make that call.  Usually the best place to hit from is one which is not IN trouble; one which provides a clear shot at the target or green.  Knowing that going toward the green may result in a next shot which is still in trouble, it may be the best shot to go backward, or sideways away from the trouble to a shot which is clear.

TNGCPutt

We have a simple 100 yard approach to a difficult green.  The green has a very severe slope from back to front and the pin is just past middle.  From 100 yards we are thinking of the best place for the NEXT shot.  There is no way we want to be long or above the hole on this tough green.  The best next shot is a putt from below the hole.  We must calculate the proper club to hit the green, but be below the hole.  With the pin just past center, there are about 10 yards between the pin and the front edge.  Therefore a 90-95 yard approach is the best for this situation, leaving the next shot 5-10 yards below the hole where the putt can be aggressive and more safe.

Conclusion

Think about where the best position is for the NEXT shot, and hit the current shot to that position.

Check Your Spikes

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 8.19.32 AMUnless you are a PGA Tour pro, most golf courses only allow soft spikes.  Steel spikes are gone.

Soft spikes help protect the putting surfaces and keep them rolling smooth, which is to the benefit of everyone.

The problem with soft spikes though, is they are… well… SOFT.  Being soft means they wear out rather easily.  We may not notice that they are wearing out, as the effect is gradual.  We may not notice a little slippage, which increases over time.

Slippage means an unstable base, loss of power, and changes in swing positions.  None of these things are good for one’s game, accuracy, or power.  A solid base is a must, the foundation of a good golf swing.

Now that January is here take stock in your gear.  Check your spikes. It is not uncommon for regular golfers to go through several sets of spikes per season, especially those who mostly walk the course.   Replace your spikes if they’re worn, and watch your stability and power increase back to a level you may have forgotten!

Golf Tips for the New Year

GoldenHorseshoe-Gold-h16We’ve recovered from the parties on New Year’s eve and the smorgasbord of great football on New Year’s day.  2015 is here and it is time to think about our golf games and how we can improve this coming season.  Here are a few suggestions.

Play Smarter

Amateur golfers give up many strokes by attempting low percentage or what is often referred to as “hero” shots.  Phil Mickelson may be able to thread a 4-iron through a tiny hole in the trees from a fairway bunker, but the odds of you pulling it off are next to zero.  Take high scores out of the equation and play smarter.

The rest of today’s tips fall under the play smarter heading, but are worth mentioning individually as well.

Putting

Most amateur golfers waste a TON of strokes on the green.  This season concentrate on speed, making sure that your lag putts end up in tap-in range.  Eliminate the three and four-putts.

Hit More Fairways

Fairway percentage isn’t terribly important for PGA Tour pros.  Just look at their stats.  They hit the ball so far, that if they miss the fairway they’re only a sand wedge to the green.  But most amateurs don’t have that game to fall back on.  Take whatever club is necessary off the tee to get the ball in the fairway, even if it is a short iron.

Hit More Greens

Most amateurs do not get up-and-down very well, resulting in higher scores when greens in regulation are missed.  Forget aiming at short-sided flags or flags tucked behind bunkers.  Aim for the fat part of the green and use the above putting tip to save even more shots.  Two or more possible saved shots in one!

Conclusion

None of the above tips require lessons or swing changes and they can make an instant impact on your scores.  Put these tips in play for 2015 and watch your golf scores drop, along with more par and birdie putts!

Tuesday Tip – Short Game Walk

Golfers often kneel down behind their ball and look at their putts in order to read the breaks on the green.  Sometimes looking at the shot from behind the hole helps as well, called “reading it from the other side.”  Walking the putt from ball to hole also helps golfers get the feel of the slope, helping them to detect if the putt is downhill or uphill.

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Why not use some of these simple techniques in the short game, so long as they don’t slow down play?

Short Game Walk

Arguably there is likely more terrain to read in the short game (chipping and pitching) than when putting.  Around greens there are often false fronts, hills, slopes, bumps, humps, bunkers, and all sorts of other areas which can greatly affect the direction and distance the ball will travel.

For instance, chipping into an upslope will certainly kill the distance.  Conversely, chipping onto a downslope will increase distance.  Side-slopes?  Those will knock the ball offline greatly.

GrandCyprus_04

Take a short walk along the proposed chip/pitch line and check out the ground.  Look at how the ball will bounce and where you intend to land it.  Take note of the feel of the ground too. Is it soft or hard?  The harder the ground, the bigger the bounce.

Check out the length of the grass in the intended line as well.  Obviously shorter grass will not kill the shot as much as long grass.

Conclusion

A quick walk in the line of your short game shot could be a big stroke saver.  Knowing where to land the ball and how far the ball will travel is invaluable information.

Three Last Minute Frogger Stocking Stuffers

You could still snag a few last minute golf gifts at your local Dicks or Golf Galaxay. It’s not too late to make the golfer on your Christmas list happy. Here are three great stocking stuffers below.

Amphibian Ball Towel

The tiny Frogger Amphibian Ball Towel fits in the golfer’s pocket and provides a wet and dry surface for cleaning golf balls, clubs, or just wiping the sweat off one’s upper lip when setting up for a winning putt.

Amphibian Ball Towel

Green Monsters Golf Tees

Frogger Green Monsters are extremely durable golf tees made from one of the world’s most renewable resources, bamboo.

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Frogger Divot Repair Tool

Do your part to keep the course in great condition so we can all enjoy the game without those darn pitch marks in the green which knock our putts offline!  Pick up a Frogger HOP! Divot Repair Tool.  The tool has a super-strong magnet and ball marker which always finds home in your pocket.

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