Newsletter April 2013

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Feel VS. Real 


I often use the term, "exaggerate to neutral". The reason is that to make a change in your golf swing, you have to exaggerate the feeling. Most students can't believe how small the change is when they look on video versus how dramatic it felt. It's not just you! This is the case for tour players as well. 

My mentor, Jim Hardy, was working with Scott Piercy who is on the PGA Tour. Scott was getting stuck from the inside and hooking and pushing the golf ball. Jim was asking him to make an outside in swing that felt over the top and straight down into the ground. This was an exaggeration to get his swing back in to a neutral plane. Scott resisted because it felt so bad to copy what a chop slicer does. Finally he humored Jim and did it and crushed it. He was then willing to feel bizarre but hit it well. 

The bottom line is that you have to make the choice. Do you want your swing to feel right and not produce a quality shot or for it to feel bizarre but lead to a smashed hit. Personally, I don't care how bizarre and exaggerated it feels if it produces a solid strike with the correct shot shape. I tell my students that I am in the business of teaching you how to hit it solidly, repetitively and with the correct shot shape.  If they complain that it doesn't feel good, I let them know that the weird feeling gets trumped by the feel of a smashed golf ball. 

Video is such a great tool because it shows you how what you feel is not necessarily real. Jim Hardy likes to call it "feel versus fact". Video does not lie about what the swing looks like. Video shows you the reality of what your are doing in your motion and it will tell you when you have overdone the feeling. After all, if you practice the exaggeration diligently, you will achieve neutral at some point. At this juncture you have exaggerated and achieved neutral! Now it is a matter of maintenance. 







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zander Tip zone

mental game   strategy tip   short game

We all hear the word concentration. At the root of the word is center. We are looking to center our  attention or focus on the task at hand. Have you ever hit a shot where afterward you say "What was I thinking"?

It takes less that 2 seconds to hit a golf ball. Most people hit between 70 and 110 shots throughout the round. That requires somewhere between 140 and 220 seconds of concentration. That's under four minutes. I think we can all handle that! 

The key is to practice concentrating. The way to do it is to pick a thought before you swing and try to maintain that thought throughout the swing. After hitting the ball, simply notice whether you kept that thought or whether your mind was distracted by something else. Keep doing this exercise and keep noticing. The more you notice where your attention goes, the more you will learn to center it. Now that is concentration. Now make those four minutes count!


Lay back, don't lay up. So you've chosen to take the conservative route and hit it short of the trouble. You make your nice smooth swing hit it so solidly that it goes too far and goes in to the hazard anyway! Think of it as laying back from the hazard as opposed to laying up to it. Who cares if you have to hit one more club to get to the green. You do not want to get penalized for making a smart play. I choose my the lay up club that if I hit my best shot ever, I cannot possibly reach the trouble. 


Backspin may seem pretty cool but I am here to tell you that it hurts you more than helps you when it comes to controlling your distance on a short game shot. When I was a freshman at Stanford, Tom Watson came and gave our team a short game clinic. One of the first things he said was that he could control trajectory and roll but could not control spin. I'm dating myself but this was 1986 and Watson was the second best short game player in the world after Seve Ballesteros. Spin  makes the ball check up and makes it difficult to judge how far it will go. Use this simple rule of thumb. Choose the least lofted club you can to hit your chip or pitch shot. This will take the variable of spin out of the equation and help you judge distance. I am opposed to using a sandwedge for all shots. The longer shots require more swing which increases your spin rate. We all know now that Watson doesn't want you doing that. 


putting tip


Rhythm is the key to distance control in putting. If you can have a consistent rhythm, then all you have to do is make a short stroke for short putts and a long stroke for long putts. My advice is to use a metronome to monitor your rhythm and putt to the beat. There are many apps on the smartphones that work really well. I have one called Metrotimer. I suggest that you start with 72 beats per minute and adjust to the rhythm that works for you. Because it is difficult to have a smooth rhythm right off the bat do the following:

Beat 1: Look at the ball

Beat 2: Look at the hole

Beat 3: Look at the ball

Beat 4: Back stroke

Beat 5: Impact

I actually count when I putt. This keeps me in rhythm and keeps the other thoughts away!! Watch the video drill here.


full swing


Golfers hate being in between clubs. It leads to confusion and lack of confidence over the shot. Lets say you are in a situation where your 8 iron is not enoguh club and your 7 iron is too much. There are two good strategies for this situation.  First, grip down half an inch on the club and make a full swing. Clubs vary by 4-5 degrees of loft and 1/2 inch in length. By gripping down on your 7 iron, you now have an 8 iron length club with 7 iron loft. I see Sergio Garcia and Charl Schwartzel often use this method.  

The other way I recommend is more advanced for those of you who are good at shaping shots. Draw your 8 iron or fade your 7 iron. Draws decrease the spin rate on the ball so the ball travels farther. Conversely, fades increase the spin rate and go shorter. 



Clubface awareness
health tips

Hello Golfers!  In mid-March I was in Las Vegas presenting at a prominent fitness conference and I found myself talking to many trainers about the benefits of suspension training.  Yeah, that’s right - suspension training!  I am guessing that many of you have seen these strap-like gizmos at the gym or in the parks around the Bay Area.  They look intimidating, but they are incredibly easy to use and can enable people of any age and fitness levels to do a variety of different exercises for joint mobility, muscle strength, core stability, rotational capacity, and balance.  And, it just so happens that these elements are essential to a repeatable and fundamentally sound golf swing!

So take a look at my YouTube channel ( - I have a few videos where I provide guidance on many different exercises using the most popular suspension training device, the TRX.  For golfers, I particularly recommend my video from a presentation I did at the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health Fitness Summit (  Use the TRX to do Ankle Circles, Hip Series, Chest Press, Back Row, Prone Plank, Side Plank and Lunge Pattern.  Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions for each exercise and combine them with the golf power exercises I described in my the first installment of Josh’s newsletter (as a reminder, here is the link to that video:

Next issue I’ll spend some time discussing the concept of core stabilization.  What is it?  Why is it all the rage these days, and how can you use core stability exercises to improve your golf and reduce your risk for injury.  like a couple Last issue I gave you some golf-specific warm-up exercises to do before every round and practice session.  These will ensure that your body is ready to perform and reduce your risk for injury.  But that is only part of the process - in order to maximize your potential as a golfer, you also need to condition your body through regular exercise and perform golf-specific exercises to specifically train your body to develop and maintain a consistent and powerful golf swing.  

Till then, I’ll see you on the fairways and greens!

Dr. Chris

Dr. Christian Thompson is the owner of Thompson Fitness Solutions ( and has taught golf-specific fitness classes and clinics for the past 12 years.  He has been on faculty in the Kinesiology Department at the University of San Francisco since 2002.

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