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  1. THE "OPEN" CHAMPIONSHIP SHOULD BE RE-NAMED By Mark Harman It's the oldest championship in golf - The Open Championship, or, as informally known, the British Open. It has been played since 1861, when the Civil War first took hold in America. Throughout the years, the qualifying procedure was fairly open. Not too long ago, American professionals (even club and mini-tour pros) were exempted through the first stage of qualifying and they could go directly to the finals. British professionals, rightly, didn't like this, so this special exemption was changed a number of years ago, and more American professionals had to go through both stages of qualifying. Fast forward to today. Most people consider the US Open and The Open to be the two most democratic tournaments in the world. This designation does apply for the US Open, but to say that The Open is democratic is, frankly, a joke. Get ready for this: Did you know that there are just 12...let me repeat, just 12...spots open to all comers? Out of the 156 spots in the field, 144 are pre-reserved for touring professionals or a few amateurs who won highly-prestigious titles. How can you call a tournament that has only 12 spots open to all comers the most democratic? That's absurd. There's better access to a run-of-the-mill Web.com Tour event, which has 14 spots open every week. How did the R&A's qualifying procedure evolve into the joke that is has become? American touring professionals claimed over the years it was too difficult for them to fly over to the UK to do final qualifying, so the R&A relented. They started exempting more PGA Tour professionals directly into the field, but then professionals from other tours stated complaining about bias towards the Americans. Eventually, the R&A kept cutting qualifying spots from all comers to the ridiculously low number that we have today. And, if you look at how touring professionals can qualify, it seems completely convoluted. The R&A designed "mini money lists" for both the PGA and European Tours, mainly in the month of June and July, that players can qualify from. The top golfer in the top five, not already qualified for The Open, of both the Scottish Open and the John Deere Classic get in. There are other equally inane ways for pros to qualify. Silly, isn't it? The R&A has unfortunately kowtowed to the powers-that-be on the PGA and European Tours at the expense of the very integrity of their "Open" championship. Until they reserve, say, 1/3 of the field (52 participants) to all comers, the R&A frankly has no business calling this "The" Open Championship. "The Mainly for Touring Professionals and a Few Unworthy Stragglers Open Championship" is a more fitting name for the tournament in its current format. Shame on you, R&A, shame on you.
  2. By Mike Stevens THE GAME DOESN’T NEED BETTER GOLFERS – IT NEEDS BETTER PUTTERS The saying in the headline is attributed to humorist Will Rogers. He could not understand how a person could hit a ball from 150 yards and end up three feet from the hole, but then miss the ensuing putt. He must not have been a golfer. Putting has been the bane of golfers for centuries. Has there been any club more invented, re-invented, and discarded than the flat stick? For such a simple tool, there has also been plenty of controversy. In 1904, Walter Travis won the British Amateur using a center-shafted Schenectady putter. Shortly after, the R&A banned the putter from use, although there is no proof that the putter was responsible for his win. More likely, it was the fact that he was the first American to capture the coveted trophy. Sam Snead used a face-on croquet style putter, which was banned from competition in 1967. Today, the rub is concerning the long putter. People want it removed from the game. The USGA is evaluating its use and just might send it to the trash heap. I say lighten up. I have seen just as many short putts missed with long putters as with standard ones. If my friends are any indication, like most people, the stick will be used until they miss a few putts, and then it’s on to the next model that feels good on the golf-conglomerate-store carpet. One of my buddies has a new putter every other week. Putting is such a mental thing that people would use a palm frond if they thought it would make a difference. So, I say, let them be. As long as everyone has the ability to use one, it is okay by me. There is no advantage if the putter is readily available to all competitors. Besides, some people are just better putters than others, no matter what is in their hands.
  3. A TOUGH SPRING FOR GOLF INSTRUCTION By David Vaught, USGTF Level IV Member and Examiner 2012 hasn’t started out as a banner year for the business of golf instruction. The biggest stories in golf gave golf instruction a big blow to the midsection, with the first story being the continuing saga of Tiger Woods attempt to return to the king of competitive golf. The second story is the great win posted by Bubba Watson at the Masters in April. In the case of Tiger, many still believe his insistence on continuing to rework his golf swing has led to his struggles on the tour. Some blame Hank Haney and some blame Sean Foley, his current coach. In either case, it is interesting listening to the anti-instruction segment proclaim he should have never messed with his swing. Apparently, those people ignore his success at rebuilding his swing with Butch Harmon shortly after joining the tour. The case of Haney and Tiger deserves a more in-depth analysis than this space can devote to it in light of Haney’s new book. But, for golf instructors, it is difficult to hear another instructor blamed for the downfall of one of golf history’s most amazing players – some say the greatest ever. The golf teacher would say that is typical. Rarely does the credit go towards the teacher when a golfer is successful compared to the criticism if the player stumbles badly. In this instance, there is no shortage of opinions, from the talking heads on Golf Channel to the 25-handicapper at the bar. Even Harmon himself has chimed in with his opinion. As golf instructors, we know what an incredible level of talent tour players reach. We should also know how even the slightest change in their personal life can affect their games. Golf is so much a mental game that any distractions for players at that level can mean disaster. The lucky among us have never been through a public and messy divorce and had to deal with the reality of being a divorced single parent. If it has a big effect on the average person, affecting their work and ability to focus, just imagine what effect it has on an elite athlete. Mr. Watson’s first blow against the golf professional came at his infamous news conference early this year when he voiced his opinion about his fellow peers taking lessons and having teachers. One wonders if he had any clue about the damage he did to the golf teaching professional with his opinion about instruction. Taking it into context, he was talking about tour players. But, the sound bite heard around the world just included his slap at golf instruction. Fast-forward to the Masters. In four days of coverage, I would be very curious to find out how many times the commentators referred to the fact that Bubba has never had a lesson; dozens, at least. Watson has had many opportunities to show his compassion for the game and for golf professionals by saying he was a very rare exception and that the average golfer should seek out a good instructor so as to help them get more enjoyment out of the game, thus increasing participation and growth. Many recent studies have shown that the number one reason for losing so many golfers the last 12 years has been simply that the game is too hard. The number two reason is slow play. This is easy. See reason number one. Mr. Watson failed to see the bigger picture and failed to put the game ahead of his own success. Some might say that it isn’t his responsibility. I say that tour players making millions of dollars playing golf have a duty to help the game that has given them so much. Need an example? See Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. There is no doubt that these two big stories have had an effect on golf lesson participation, but there is also no doubt it is a temporary effect. Still, the average golf instructor that makes his living helping others improve their skills and providing enjoyment must be wondering, what next? Does a new player look at these as examples of why they shouldn’t bother with lessons? From my experience, I have talked to some that have. That’s too bad for the game and its professional instructors.
  4. THE IMPORTANCE OF INTERACTION BY THE PROFESSIONAL INSTRUCTOR By David Vaught, USGTF Level IV Member and Examiner Of the many components that make up good golf instruction, the most overlooked has to be the instructor’s ability to key in on the way people learn. A vast majority of golfers try to learn verbally. In the worst-case example, they listen to their friends and relatives spew out “tips” and try to take the spoken word and translate it into a physical movement. Many years ago I heard a great quote from the Hall of Famer Kathy Whitworth, winner of an amazing 74 LPGA tournaments: “Golf, unlike most sports, has a number of clichés, often disguised as ‘tips.’ My advice is, watch out!” I never hear the word “tip” without thinking of her. Unfortunately, most golfers don’t apply every day common sense to golf. Can you really learn any complicated movement by just listening to someone describe it to you in their own words? Revisiting the ways we learn, verbal learning is the least effective. Golf is way too full of verbal, ineffective tips and clichés, which, more often than not, are simply poor or even detrimental pieces of advice. Above verbal learning we would place visual learning. Visual learning is much better than verbal, but still not very effective for most. Demonstrating a movement or position would be an example of teaching visually. Studies have shown older adults lose the ability to learn visually. It can be effective when teaching kids and very specific learning types. Physical (kinesthetic) learning is by far the most effective. Since that fact is so well established, what does that teach us as golf instructors? The lesson here for the teacher is to be interactive. Find ways to help your students feel the improved or new motion. Help them swing the club. It’s that easy. Why don’t more teachers do it? That is a question I have asked myself thousands of times. I am still without an answer. Perhaps it is the hesitation to invade someone’s space. If this is the stumbling block for the teacher, it is imperative that they get over that hurdle. Students want to feel the correct motion. Trust me, they do! Engage your students professionally from a physical standpoint and you will be amazed at how much faster they improve. They want to feel the correct static position, as well. Physically help them grip the club. Move their shoulders to square. Interact, period. Observing so many great teachers of the game over the years, it is striking to see how different they interact with the student compared to the average new instructor, or even with coaches in other sports. Professional football and basketball coaches constantly teach kinesthetically. Some use very little verbal instruction, only talking as they physically help their student. Go to an NFL training camp and watch the offensive and defensive line coaches. Ever notice how crazy some basketball coaches get on the sideline when one of their players sets a pick incorrectly? They are dying to go out on the floor and physically correct the player. I personally witnessed a great example of kinesthetic teaching in 2008, watching Hall of Fame basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski physically show NBA superstars how he wanted them to defend a certain play during a practice, moving each player into position and physically showing them the proper foot and body movement. These were NBA millionaires, at the most elite level of their sport. To watch the contrast of the challenged golf teacher standing 10 feet away from their student, trying to verbally describe the grip to a new 60-year-old female golfer, is quite eye-opening. Another situation taught me the value of teaching feel: Teaching golf in a foreign country and having the students not know my language. To make it more challenging, I couldn’t speak their language either. After 28 years of teaching, if I was only able to give one piece of advice to a new teacher, it would be to “teach feel.” Golf is a game of feel, and if you don’t teach it to your student, no one will.
  5. Spinal Compression Angle By Steve Williams You owe it to your students to teach them about proper posture. You can divide the spine into three segments: Lumbar (lower back), thoracic (mid to upper back) and cervical (neck). Dynamic posture is very important, but you establish predispositions with static posture, so let's focus on static posture for now. Using concise terms that are clear to your student is essential, so if you will indulge me, I will use the terms that I use when referring to posture. The primary spine angle is best seen from down the line; the secondary spine angle from the front or face on. Looking from down the line, if you have software capabilities with video that you have taken of the student, start a line from the farthest that their bottom sticks out, and extend it up the back, and let it continue until it's above their head. We can call this line the lumbar tilt. Now, start a second line from where their back splits from that line and run it to the back of their head. Let's call this line the thoracic tilt. Finally, you can run a line from the student's chin up to their forehead. We can call that line the head tilt. With most software, you can obtain an exact degree of tilt with each of those lines. Without getting too specific, I believe that a lumbar tilt of 55-65 degrees is optimal, but shallower or steeper can certainly be acceptable given the physical stature and range of motion of the student. Optimal thoracic tilt should be anywhere from parallel to the lumbar tilt to as much as 18-20 degrees shallower at the most. Let's call the angle between lumbar tilt and thoracic tilt the spinal compression angle (SCA). An ideal SCA would be as much as 18-20 degrees, but the smaller the angle the better. Ideally, head tilt would be about halfway between lumbar and thoracic tilt. An example of great posture could be lumbar tilt 60 degrees; thoracic tilt 48 degrees; and; head tilt 54 degrees. I am in no way suggesting that you have to make things that exact. This would just be a general example of very good posture. If the student has a SCA of more than 35 degrees, they are, in effect, an accident waiting to happen. According to my studies, the average golfer has a SCA of 38 degrees, and that is why so many golfers have chronic back issues. By educating them to an acceptable SCA, you can have the assurance to know that you have helped them to be healthier and enjoy golf more, not only because they will feel better, but also because they will play better. The amount of golfers who have back problems that are preventable is staggering! Our students trust us, and we are responsible to inform them of the most important aspect of the golf swing: POSTURE! Good golfing!
  6. HELPFUL TIPS FOR STUDENTS By Thomas T Wartelle, WGTF Master Professional Every golfer is looking for that one perfect tip that helps him play a better game. Over the past years, I have had the fortune to be acquainted with some great players and teachers. Using research and knowledge gained from these top instructors and players, I have come across some timeless pieces of advice that I think would benefit any golfer. The following is a sample of some of these words of wisdom, including many of my own tips, and interpretation to further the cause of finding “that one perfect tip.” Each tip is based on sound teaching principles. Certainly, one will find merit in the following advice, which can be useful to further your success in golf. Before You Tee Off How to Prepare Before the Round: Try to make the time before your tee time stress-free. Feel as if you do everything in slow motion without rushing or stress before an important round of golf. The great American PGA Tour player Cary Middlecoff was known for a long, slow swing. His play was deliberate, and he rarely cracked under pressure. He had a set routine like all great players and would never rush or vary his routine before a round. His routine included driving extra slow to the golf course and listening to relaxing music. Have a Set Warm Up Routine: Fitness research has shown that a proper warm-up technique will enhance performance. The correct technique is to warm up slowly, followed by stretching. This could include a slow jog, but more realistically for the golfer would be simply striking a few short shots with an easy swing. The best way is to make short 20-30 yard pitch shots, then slowly working into three-quarter pitch shots. After a few minutes, begin stretching out the muscles, focusing on the major muscle groups for golf. Remember, never “bounce” when stretching, but hold the position for a few seconds and return to the relaxed position. Prepare for Your Opening Tee Shot: After going through your warm-up routine, mentally prepare for your opening tee shot. The last shot on the practice range when warming up should be the same shot as your opening tee shot. For example, if you plan on hitting a driver on the first hole, hit a good solid drive for your last practice shot. This way, there is a positive image in your mind. Practice Short Putts Before You Tee Off: Before you tee off, practice putts of one yard or less. Be prepared to hole out over 15 short putts during the round! Holing shorts putts can make or break your day.
  7. WHERE I THINK GOLF IS OFF-BASE By Mike Stevens British golf writer John Huggin recently penned an article detesting the fact that the R&A has spent £10 million renovating all the Open courses to combat technology advances in golf. His point primarily was that courses previously provided holes with several strategic ways to play, but now are made into one-dimensional options. There is no question that the distance people are now hitting the golf ball has altered the way many of our early golf courses were intended to be played. Courses are now toughened up by narrowing fairways, adding forced carries, or growing rough that only people with blacksmith forearms can hack through. If a person can hit the ball 30 more yards, they should be rewarded for the effort. Instead, oftentimes the greens committee or tournament setup group decides to eliminate the bold play by adding some hazard to prevent even the thought of giving it a go. Golf seems to be the only sport that reacts to innovation by eliminating the excitement that it was intended to create. When tennis got bigger and lighter rackets, creating more powerful serves, they did not make the court larger. During the steroid era when home runs were on the rise, they didn’t move the fences back farther. Golf should have taken notice. Forcing a person to play a hole one way is boring, especially for tour golf. People want to see risk. It’s why Phil Mickelson is so popular, as was Arnold Palmer and Walter Hagen, and now Bubba Watson. Golf used to be all about risk and reward. If it becomes a game where there is no incentive to try anything different, then it risks its players becoming bored with the game without even knowing why.
  8. By Steve Williams, USGTF Level IV Member Wasn’t that a blast! Louis Oosthuizen making his albatross on number two, and then Bubba Watson with his four birdies in a row on the back nine that kept most of us on the edge of our seats. Then to have Phil Mickelson lurking…and most of us knowing that it would be just like him to pounce on the leaders, adding to our anticipation. Bubba then demonstrated in sudden death that golf, like life, is about realizing our mistakes, reassessing our predicament, and having a commitment to recover. The 2012 Masters will be considered a classic for a long time! Not only that but it was very good for the game of golf. There is another star on the PGA Tour. Oh sure, Bubba has been around for awhile, and we all know how exciting he is with his swashbuckling manner of play. But, to do it in the way that he did it! Having to create shots that would scare the daylights out of many touring pros, on the back nine, on Sunday, at The Masters, has contributed to Bubba becoming a household name, even amongst many non-golfers. With the current state of the PGA Tour (and Tiger Woods' antics weakening his mind and reducing him to just another touring pro), golf has lost much of the excitement that it had in recent years. We needed some fresh heroes to step up. Oosthuizen wasn’t a fluke when he won the British Open, but now he has confirmed himself as a player who has to be reckoned with in all the majors. Let’s add something to the mix, though. Bubba and Louis are not only great golfers. Their attitudes and behavior make them people. Tiger has been an unbelievable golfer who raised the bar possibly higher than it’s ever been…in some respects, anyway. Sadly, though, I shudder at the thought of his example of being a role model to those who will follow. Not only for his antics off the course, but even on it. If a full-grown man doesn't have more control over himself than to sling and then kick his club when he hits a shot that he doesn't like, what kind of example does that set for the youngsters coming up? He lets profanity fly when he deems it is necessary, whether there are ladies, children, or whoever in the gallery. Honestly, I sit and watch Tiger sometimes and wonder what he is going to do next that sets a bad example for those youngsters who idolize him. I’m pulling for him, though! I want Tiger to get past all of this and finally grow up into the man that he has the opportunity to become. I really don’t know how I would handle it if I was young, worth hundreds of millions of dollars or maybe a billion, was idolized all over the world, and had people treating me like royalty wherever I went. Then, to know that I was so special that many people just wanted to say "Hi" as I passed by so that they could tell their grandchildren 40 years from now that they actually talked to me. Even with all of those distractions, in many ways, Tiger has demonstrated that he is driven to be the best that he can be and I give him credit for that. It would be a great story if Tiger got his life together and was able to finally look all of us in the eye and say, "What have I done? How could I have been such a boorish person who, too many times, has shown so little respect for the game, my competitors, the fans, and having little regard for giving back to the game which has been so good to me? I can only imagine what effect my actions on and off the course will have on many young men in the future who have idolized me for years." I would like to say to him, Tiger, you’ve been compared to and in many people’s eyes, even exceeded Bobby Jones, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan and even Jack Nicklaus as the best golfer in history. It would be nice to see you finally get to the place, though, where you could represent the true spirit of golf as those men have, men who gave back as much or more than they took. I’m really pulling for you, Tiger. Please…grow up! If not for yourself, do it for the youngsters coming up! We all make mistakes; that's part of life! One of the wonderful things about golf, though, is that it teaches us how to take responsibility for errors, correct them, and become better for it. You've done that very thing on the golf course, in major championships, right in front of our eyes. It will be one of the greatest sports stories ever told if you finally accept the responsibility that goes along with what you have received from golf and the fans that have supported you and behaved in a way that upholds the finest traditions of the game. Now, let me give you some incentive! It would also give you the best chance at beating Jack’s total number of wins in the majors - seriously! Here is a fact of life: For anybody to reach their true potential, they simply must be at peace with themselves.
  9. WHEN THE PRICE IS RIGHT, PEOPLE WILL RESPOND By Mike Stevens, USGTF Level III member There is a lot of talk about the state of the game these days and what needs to be done to create growth. Not many talk about reducing their prices, however, to attract more people. I have been on a few forums lately and you would think that lowering the price of a lesson or a round of golf is akin to selling your soul to the devil. Let’s be realistic for a moment, however. People are always looking for a deal, and in a tough economy even more so. I know I do. I play with a regular group of guys once a week, and we generally go to the course with the best rate. Amenities only go so far. My friends are not going to pay $75 or more for a round of golf on a regular basis just because the course is newer, has GPS, a fancy clubhouse, and might be in better condition. If the course is in decent shape and priced right, my buddies are going there. They just want to play golf and I believe most people are that way. Here are a few examples of what I mean. One of our local courses made a mistake and advertised a weekend rate of $25 instead of $35. We, of course, jumped on it. So did most of the other golfers in the area. The tee sheet was full all day, both days. I was approached by Groupon about doing a deal with them. I said what the heck. The discount was significant, but they sold 315 packages in a three-day period. No matter what, people are always looking for the best deal they can find. If that means I have to take less for a lesson right now, so be it. I love what I do and want to keep doing it. Everything cycles, and adapting to the ups and downs is not compromising your principles - it is making sound business decisions.
  10. TEACHING SIMPLE PITCH SHOTS By Thomas T Wartelle, WGTF Master Teaching Professional The technique used for pitching the ball is basically the same as with other full shots with a golf club. The only changes are a smaller swing, a slightly opened stance, and an open hip position that most good wedge players use. This is done because of the smaller swing of the wedge. By opening the stance and hips, it gives the body a little more room to clear through the shot. The length of the backswing and speed of the downswing influence the distance control on pitch shots. A longer backswing increases the potential speed of the clubhead. There are several different theories on how to control distance. Some advocate the length of backswing dictates the distance hit. Others control the distance by swing speed. Personally, I think that is a combination of the two. However, I prefer to rely on swing length as a guide and swing speed as the ultimate control under pressure. There are various styles that we can use to accomplish a successful pitch, but there are a few fundamentals that should be followed. · The pitch shot is just a small swing with a lofted club. · Feet and hips should be slightly open to the target. This makes it easier to see the target line and to swing down the target line. · Set the weight more to the target side to promoting a stable impact position. The set-up should nearly mimic the impact position. · For most pitch shots, there is very little rotation of the clubhead on the backswing and through the impact area. The clubface should remain square to the target well after impact. · Feel as if the clubhead is a broom brushing the ground at impact. There is no need for a huge divot. Pitch and Run There is a variation of the pitch shot where the ball is pitched into the air and releases upon landing. The shot is executed the same as a normal pitch, except the non-target hand releases more at impact. The clubhead is allowed to rotate over after impact to encourage the ball to run after landing.
  11. PEAKS & VALLEYS By Michael Wolf, USGTF Level IV Member A vital lesson for anyone who aspires to play golf at a high level is understanding the "Peaks and Valleys." It's human nature to grasp the moments that give us pleasure and to hope that we could live in that feeling. Unfortunately, our journey in golf is likely to have as many down moments as moments of brilliance. The key is to learn to enjoy the bad as much as the good. I teach my students that the "valley" they will experience is the real opportunity to learn what our weaknesses are. Honest self-analysis is the greatest talent we can have in golf (or life, for that matter.) A slump is an opportunity that will allow us to rise to a peak we have never known. Tour pros understand this necessary process for long term improvement. Once, Seve Ballesteros was asked how he could hit the ball so wildly and still score well enough to win tournament and he answered, "I suffer better than other golfers." Therein is the essence of how attitude builds the heart of a champion. Hogan spoke of "digging it out of the dirt," and his message was the joy of working to find the truth, in the face of a huge "valley," and the strength gained that will bring us to the highest "peak." Some of the greatest buckets of balls I have ever hit came in the second half of a bad bucket.
  12. GOLF NEEDS NEW THINKING By David Vaught, USGTF Level IV Member and Examiner Many of us have been lucky enough to make a living in the great game of golf. At a time when the game has taken a beating from the economy, it is the duty of all of us in the industry to give back to the game to make it healthy and growing again. As I sat in the front row of the audience at the January PGA show in Orlando listening to the great Jack Nicklaus speak, I couldn’t help but be moved by his words. It wasn’t only his words, but the tone in his voice and the obvious concern you could see on his face. Here was this die-hard traditionalist talking about how he had to revisit his beliefs and attitudes in order to realize that the game was falling behind other sports with kids and the public in general. On the big screen behind him, he played a video of a focus group session. Some of the comments about the game, its representatives (us!), and its image were not very positive. As a matter of fact, it was startling to hear “outside voices” from average people who have either left the game or never played talk about their perceptions of the game. I was squirming in my seat. At Jack’s beloved Muirfield Village course in Columbus, Ohio, Jack hosted some “out of the box thinking” outings. He was proud to show the pictures and videos of the interviews recorded during and after each event. One was a tournament with the hole being made three inches bigger on every green. Another event featured more than one hole on every green. Another set of pictures and participant interviews focused on his initiative of shortening the course significantly for a large outing. To say the least, the feedback was wildly popular and positive. And, all of this came from someone I always considered one of the hardcore traditionalists in the history of the game. In the mid-to-late 1990s, golf was riding a wave of popularity. Golf schools were packed, and courses were being built long and difficult – and a lot of them were being built. Equipment manufacturers were thriving. Tiger Woods was seemingly the lead on ESPN every day. Television ratings were setting records, and there were new golf shops everywhere. Since then, we have lost over 9 million golfers. Think about that number for a moment. Jack’s message was basically that it was up to all of us to promote the game, not just in our traditional close-minded way, but with “new thinking,” as he called it. He called on everyone listening to get kids involved, give some free lessons and change the way the game is introduced to new players. Change the game somehow to make it more fun. People have very little free time. They want fun. Show potential golfers it doesn’t have to be stuffy and expensive. Get rid of the intimidation that exists for women. Make new players feel welcome and tell them we want them and we want to help them fall in love with the game like we did. Let them know we care if they play. If Mr. Nicklaus can rethink his mindset and attitude about the game, I think we all can. Do something every day to help the game grow. Use your imagination. You owe it that much.
  13. CRITICAL EYE NOW ON TODAY'S TEACHERS FOR INSTANT RESULTS By Mark Harman Brandel Chamblee did it. Rocco Mediate did it. Lee Trevino, Bubba Watson, and countless armchair quarterbacks did it. They all either criticized Tiger Woods for seeking out Sean Foley's tutelage, or criticized Foley for "messing up" Tiger. Chamblee has been one of Foley's most vocal critics, starting as early as March of last year. For the record, Tiger had worked with Foley for all of seven months up to that point. Mediate opined right before the Frys.com Open in October that Tiger's swing and motion were "all wrong." Trevino and Watson wondered what Tiger was doing with a swing coach in the first place, saying he should be more self-reliant. Beyond the obvious discourse between critics and subjects, there lies a deeper concern for us as golf teaching professionals. The unspoken school of thought is that if we are not getting instant, positive results from our students, then we must be going down the wrong path. Seriously? So, since Tiger wasn't dominating world golf again by last March, Chamblee started blasting Foley. His criticisms continued for months (and since I don't watch Golf Channel 24/7, I don't know if he's said anything negative about Foley recently). Foley dismisses his critics as saying they really don't know what's going on, and he's right. Making major changes in a golf swing takes time - a lot of time. Nick Faldo said it took two years before his changes made under David Leadbetter became automatic. Tiger is swinging much differently under Foley than he was under Hank Haney, so I think we could qualify this as a major swing change, too. The results are coming. Since the Frys.com Open, Tiger has played very good golf, usually throwing in one bad round out of four, which prevented him from winning several times. Going back to the implications for teaching professionals, we have a hard enough time convincing our students to be patient while making changes without the likes of Chamblee clamoring for instant results. Golfers who hear Trevino and Watson might think that, hey, I don't need a swing coach. If you ask Tiger about working with Foley, you will probably find someone who is very happy with his progress and who understand the "process," as Tiger has been saying. If arguably the greatest talent to ever play the game seeks out coaching and is willing to take over a year before he sees improvement, shouldn't all golfers take a page from his book?
  14. HITTING_IT_LONGER_usgtf_March_2012 _5_.pdf
  15. By: Michael Wolf Building Your Method The first professional golf lesson I ever gave was with “Mr. Golf Channel Know It All.” He decided to contest every statement I made. Because of that, I made a commitment: always follow “how” with “why.” Now, the statement is, “This is what I would like to see you do, and this is why I would like to see you do it.” Hopefully, the student says, “That makes sense, I see why you do that.” From that point on they have ownership of that knowledge and have begun to build their method. My students know they will be asked to share, show knowledge, and actively participate in the discussion. Every aspect of their method must match so that a ball flight pattern can develop. Even at a tour level, you see players sometimes chasing a technique that is limiting. Today the fad is to “work left” through the ball. This general piece of advice is incomplete, at best. Also, I have never seen so many top level players laying the sod over short wedge shots. That stiff right arm that drives the right shoulder upward as we begin our swing, coupled with the chesty yank left, is contrived and robotic. The ability to read the turf with the bounce on your wedge comes from relaxed elbows. Soft hands hit soft shots. If your method is complete, you can be successful with any club in your bag, provided the swing is good. If your method is lacking, you will only be successful with a limited number of clubs and your score will suffer as a result.