December 2013

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Fix your body

Are you having problems making a move prescribed by your teaching professional? I have always been a believer that golf is a sport and requires proper fitness to play to your potential. Perhaps the most significant reason you swing the way you do is that your body is finding the path of least resistance. This often means swing flaws that cause improper contact and wayward shot shapes. You then go to your teaching professional to diagnose the issue but the problem is, you can't fix it and you keep falling into the same bad habits. There may be some truth to the "bad habit" thing but lets also look at the possibility that your body is physically unable to produce that correct motion. If you force it, you could injure yourself. 

For the past year, I have been working with Sidney Silver, a certified TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) professional as well as a master of ART (Active release therapy). The swing that I am able to produce is a combination of working on the correct technique but also working on my body to be able to move through these sound positions. My favorite thing that Sidney says to my students is "it's not your fault". In short, he is telling them that they understand the correct motion and they are trying but the body is not allowing it to happen. Fix the body and you now have a fighting chance. Keep your body fit through a golf specific program and now you are really on to something. 


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zander Tip zone

mental game   strategy tip   short game

Trying is hard. It is effortful, grinding and difficult. Unfortunately, it is not the best strategy for athletics. Next time you use the word try, substitute in the word let. Let yourself perform. Let your self swing. This will put you into a frame of mind that will enable your body to relax and perform. When I hear a champion interviewed, I  hear about how relaxed and comfortable they were while performing. They often talk about how easy the motion was for them and how they had a sense of calmness as they performed. This sounds like the zone to me. Trying won't get you there but letting may open up that door to the elusive zone. 


We've all experienced it. You get to a narrow hole and you try to guide it down the fairway. Your body gets tight and your muscles can't perform. The result is a wayward golf shot. You may decide to put another ball down which has no consequences and you hit it long and straight. I call that being a second team All American. Next time you get to a narrow hole, I want you to imagine you are on a cliff facing the expansive Pacific ocean. Now hit it as far into the ocean as you can. You may be surprised that your ball is in the fairway. Now that is first team All American. 


Here's an interesting concept. Use the club the way it is designed when chipping and pitching around the green. If you set the club in a vertical position meaning there is no shaft lean back or forward, you have the true loft and bounce designed by the manufacturer. Now make sure the club is soled flat on the ground so neither the toe or heel is up in the air. This will give you a square clubface. Now your goal should be to return it to the same position at impact. If you think about your short game this way, you will be creating a simple repeatable shot that you can relay on under pressure. Once you master this, I recommend becoming more creative with your swing and set up, however,  you will be amazed how good you get with just the basics. Remember, you don't have to chip and pitch with the same club. Vary your club selection and continue to use the club the way it was designed and you can create different shots. 





Golfers are infatuated with backspin. I get it. It's cool and fun. Spin is a combination of loft, speed, and friction. One misconception is that hitting down causes more spin. Hitting down causes the ball to launch lower but does not increase backspin. If you hit down with more loft you will increase spin. But when most people hit down more, they de-loft which does not accomplish the goal of increasing spin. One quick way to increase your spin is to keep your grooves clean. Tour players change their wedges 4 times per year. When was the last time you changed out your wedges? As your grooves wear down, you loose friction which decreases spin. Tour players have speed, can control loft and manufacturers pay them to play new wedges. I would say that is a good formula for spin. 


Crush it!


 In order to gain distance you need to free up your swing. It will feel like you are surrendering control but in fact you will gain accuracy as well as speed. When you grip hard and try to control the shot, the bigger muscles take over and interrupt the faster twitch muscles that produce speed. The result is a short crooked shot. We marvel at the fluidity of Freddy Couples, John Daly and Rori McIlroy. What do they all have in common. Freedom!! There swings are carefree instead of careful. Next time you get a chance to get on a launch monitor and see your clubhead speed, experiment with your grip pressure. Lighten it up and swing as free and fast as you can. Compare that to when you grip tightly and try to control the outcome. Now go rip it!

Posture and Balance
health tips

At the end of each year, I like to look back on the goals I established for the year and see how I fared. My golf goal was to break par in 2013 and I did so two times in late August and early September. Next year will likely include bringing my scoring average down to 77. I’d recommend each of you do the same and try to improve as golfers in 2014. One way you can do so is by conditioning your body so you can be the best golfer you can be. I’d suggest that you work with a personal trainer with specific training in golf performance. Here are my recommendations of finding a good trainer: Is certified as a personal trainer from one of the major fitness education organizations (American College of Sports Medicine, National Strength and Conditioning Association, National Academy of Sports Medicine, and/or American Council on Exercise). Is certified in golf-specific fitness through the Titleist Performance Institute – the premier golf fitness program in the USA and includes golf fitness assessments and exercise progressions). Is a golfer (it’s amazing to me how many trainers try to teach golf-specific fitness but do not know the first thing about the game). He/she doesn’t need to be an elite player, but an understanding of the sport is a must. Trains his/her clients using minimal equipment (a golf-specific training program does not require lots of expensive exercise machines – dumbbells, medicine balls, and elastic resistance is more than adequate). . Happy New Year to you all! I’ll see you on the short grass in 2014! 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.