February 2013


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Golf Magic


Be careful when your friends give you advice. This past month, I attended the PGA Coaching and Teaching Conference. Martin Hall, a former national PGA Teacher of the Year and host of "School of Golf" on the Golf Channel had a very telling quote: "What is magic for one person is tragic for another". In other words, just because the swing tip works or your friend, doesn't mean it applies to you. My litmus test is simple. When someone gives you advice ask them how the advice will help the solidity of your impact or the shape of your ball flight. If they can't answer that question, or if you try the advice and it makes you worse, please stop! Your friend's intentions are good and the advice may be awesome for what he needs in his swing but not necessarily for yours. 

The "magic" is simply this. Any adjustment you make in your set-up or swing will affect both your impact and your ball flight. That's the good news as long as you know what specific effect the adjustment will have.  For those of you who know me or have taken lessons from me, you know that I do not change a swing to make it more aesthetically pleasing. I want you to hit it solidly and create your desired ball flight. If we can make the ball flight repetitive, now we really have something.

There are many great methods of swinging the golf club out there. You have probably heard of one plane, two plane, stack and tilt and many others. They all have there merits but the true art of teaching is  knowing what the student needs to make his swing function. I truly enjoy fixing golf swings. Each student's swing is a puzzle that I get to help put together. I look forward to seeing you on the lesson tee or if you are too far away to visit me, I am happy to take a look with an online lesson.

The joke among successful teachers is that golf is a game with as many teachers as players. Friends teaching friends keeps us in business. I look at my personal golf swing as a huge investment. I have dedicated many hours to shaping my golf swing. I want only magic and nothing tragic!


Go to Zandergolf.com and sign up for a Free 2 week trial membership to the ZanderGolfClub. Enjoy all the video vaults, newsletters and blogs for free. If you like it, I look forward to having you as a member of the club. Enjoy,

Josh Zander

zander Tip zone

mental game   strategy tip   short game

You have often heard commentators talk about "risk, reward" holes. This is one of the things that makes golf exciting. The architect will tempt you to go for something and reward you if you pull it off. Of course, if you don't pull it off, it can be very costly to your score. I consider it a mental error when someone takes a risk where there is no reward of a shot being saved. Don't try to hit it through a narrow gap in the trees unless pulling it off means you can get to the green. Sometimes it is good to imagine that you have an experienced caddie on your bag. He will assess all the options and help you think clearly about your plan of attack. We tend to rush these situations and our thinking gets sloppy. Don't let your current score or the fact that you just hit a bad shot influence your decsion. Look at the situation objectively and make a good decision. 


Playing golf in the wind is quite challenging. You can throw the yardage book or your range finder out the window as it becomes a game of feel and survival. When I was playing professionally, we all said that par goes up on a windy day. The first key is to stay patient and realize that the elements are the same for everyone and cooler heads will prevail in difficult conditions. Playing golf in the wind is all about controling your spin. Shots into the wind tend to balloon up if hit with too much spin so lower the spin rate by taking a lot more club, swing three quarters and slower. Allow for downwind shots to release when they hit the ground as the wind will take spin off your ball. Greens often harden in windy conditions so aim at spots where you can run your ball up onto the green. Lastly, always try to spin your ball in to a cross wind. If the wind is left to right, play a shot with right to left spin which is a hook for a right handed player. This will str aighten out the ball flight and allow you to keep your ball in play.


Bunker shots to intimidate many players. Tour players sometimes would rather be in the bunker than in an awkward lie in greenside rough. Often times, amateurs will fat or thin their bunker shots. My theory is that the old story of hitting the sand a few inches behind the ball comes with a significant misconception. What they don't understand is that we are looking for the bottom of the swing arc to be directly under the golf ball. I have my players imagine that there is a tee under their ball and they are trying to swipe the tee out from under the ball. As a result, the club will enter the sand a few inches behind the ball but the bottom of the arc is under the ball thereby popping it out high and softly. If you think of hitting behind the ball, you will tend to have a bottom of the swing that is too far behind  and you can fat or thin your bunker shot. By the way, I have a clever tip for you. If you happen to hit a bunker shot and don't get it out, don't clean your club if you want more spin on your ball. Sand on the face causes friction, a huge element of producing backspin. As the story goes, Gary Player told his caddy not to clean his sand wedge after he hit his first bunker shot of the day. He wanted the spin!


putting tip


Live by the DIE rule, DISTANCE IS EVERYTHING! Dave Stockton is the hot putting teacher right now as he has helped Rory Mcilroy with his stroke. I had a chance to ask Stockton what all great putters have in common. His answer was touch which is another word for ditance control. There are so many different putting methods out there and players have succeeded with all kinds. The key is to practice your distance so the ball arrives at the hole at the proper speed. When I go to the golf course, my frst stop is on the putting green. I want to know how fast the greens are and I do some distance control drills to establish my feel for the day. I have some favorite drills and one of them is in the putting tip video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4r0PbmOp5U


full swing


This may seem obvious but try to hit the ball on the sweet spot of the clubface. You have probably heard the phrase, the ball flight does not lie. The ball is affected by the direction of the club path and position of the clubface relative to the target. I have a Trackman which tells me all the angles on each shot. But sometimes the ball flight lies!!! In other words, if you have a closed clubface relative to the path, it should hook the golf ball and this is true if you hit the ball in the center of the clubface. But if you hit it off center, the gear effect alters the flight of the ball. Without getting too complex, heel shots slice and toe shots hook. For example, if you hit a drive and your clubface and path are perfectly square to the target line at impact, the ball will go straight only if you hit it on the sweet spot. If you hit the ball 1/2 inch towardss the toe on a 250 yard drive, your ball will hook 35 yards! My recommendation is to purchase some Dr . Shoals foot spray and spray your clubface to determine where you are striking the ball. Dry erase markers work as well. You will be amazed how accurate you become when you hit the center of the clubface. And your distance control will be better as well as your contact will be solid. 

Compress your ball!!!
health tips



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.

Research from my lab at the University of San Francisco has demonstrated that regularly performing golf-specific exercises can add 3-5 mph of clubhead speed which translates to 10-15 yards of additional distance. The key to distance is your ability to effectively rotate your body through the ball. And this ROTATIONAL POWER can be developed by performing just a few simple exercises. Take a look at my YouTube video on the topic:


Do two sets of 30 repetitions of these medicine ball throws and elastic cable swings at least 3 times per week, ideally at the end of a general conditioning workout that includes aerobic exercise and a a weight lifting circuit. Go easy at first, particularly if you have had issues with injuries to the hip, back, or shoulder. You can find medicine balls and elastic cables with handles at any sporting goods store or online (I recommend www.SPRI.com). If you do these exercises EVERY TIME you go to the gym, you will feel much more powerful and your golf performance should improve. There is nothing better than hitting the ball longer and more consistently!

In the next issue I’ll provide some information on nutrition for golf to make sure your body stays properly fueled for a round of golf which may take as much as 5 hours to play. Trust me, it does not involve a hot dog and a beer at the turn!

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

Dr. Chris

Dr. Christian Thompson is the owner of Thompson Fitness Solutions (www.thompsonfitnesssolutions.com) 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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