August 2014

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lesson taking

Have you ever wondered how to take a lesson? Many of you are my personal students and others have taken many lessons in your golf career. Have your lessons been successful? Have you improved? Have you gotten worse?

My advice when you take a lesson is to make sure that the teacher helps you in two areas with regard to your technique. 

1) Solid, repetitive contact

2) Predictable shot shape

After all, if we can hit the ball solidly and predict the curve, I would classify that as good ball striking. I pride myself as an instructor in tailoring my teaching to improving your contact and your ball flight. Anything I say to a student must help either of aforementioned or I will keep my mouth shut. I don't do anything for decoration, only for function.

My advice to you is simple, when a teacher or a fellow player, spouse or anybody gives you advice, your question should be: "How will this improve the solidity of my impact or the predictability of my desired shot shape?' If they can answer this question and give you a logical explanation, it is safe to give it a try. I don't know about you but my golf swing may be the biggest investment of my lifetime. The hours I have spent practicing and the money I have spent improving it are significant! If I am going to mess with it, it better be the right information. One of my mentors, Jim Hardy always talks about how the next shot should be better and if it isn't, it is because the student either didn't understand the information or simply did not execute the information. It better not be because the teacher gave out the wrong information. We play a game where there are as many teachers as there are players. Every decent golfer feels they know what you should do and they are eager to help you. I know their intentions are good but be careful with your investment. Do your do diligence and at least ask the two questions I have recommended. 


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zander Tip zone

mental game   strategy tip   short game

Are you having fun? For those of you who have played golf since you were kids, do you remember what you loved about golf? It was fun right?  You experimented, you played games with your friends, you watched great players, you may have taken lessons. It was a fun adventure. During this process of having fun, an incredible amount of learning was taking place. They key was that the learning and improvement wasn't a grind. 

Next time you go practice, make up some fun games. Anything goes. Trent Werner wrote a book entitled "Golf Scrimmages" which is full of fun games that you can do during practice. It's amazing how much you will improve while having fun. 

I had the chance to spend some time with Patrick Rogers while he was at the short game area a few months ago. Patrick is now a rookie on the PGA Tour and was formerly the number one ranked amateur in the world. He was practicing by himself and I went over to say hi. He was experimenting with some fun short game shots out of the rough. He was having a blast during this trial and error process. He commented that he loved the process of figuring it all out. A teacher can guide you along the way but it seems to stick better when you learn it on your own. Have some fun and you will be amazed how much learning happens along the way. 



Hitting out of rough is a necessary skill as we are not going to hit all the fairways. The first thing is to asses the lie. If it is really deep, your only option may be to take a wedge and hack it out. If that is the case, I recommend, playing slightly back in your stance and swinging steeper by using more wrist hinge. 

If the lie is down but somewhat reasonable, use the following advice:

1) Take a club with a reasonable amount of loft. This will help get the ball up out of the grass

2) Open the clubface a bit, then take your grip. Opening the face will help add loft and expose the bounce of the club to the ground which will allow the club to slide rather than dig into the heavy grass. 

3) Open you stance a bit. This will help keep your ball in play as the open clubface will send the ball out to the right for a right handed player. 

4) Make a vertical swing like a ferris wheel. This will minimize the amount of grass that gets caught between the clubface and the ball. 

I am also a fan of lofted hybrids out of the rough as the wide bottom allows the club to slide. Lastly, allow for some run as balls coming out of the rough don't have much backspin.


I asked master wedge designer Bob Vokey how often I should change my wedges. His answer was about every 50 rounds of golf. Of course the more you practice, the sooner you should change your wedges. The reason is that the grooves wear down and that causes the ball to slip up the face of the club. You will notice this when you hit a shot which launches too high and loses its distance. When the grooves are new and clean, they grip the ball and launch it lower with more spin. If you are a heavy practicer, I would recommend getting a set of wedges to practice and a separate set to play. It may be a bit more expensive to keep your wedges on the newer side but you can make it up by winning more money on the course. 





Understanding Inconsistency

There has long been an unanswered question in sports. What happens when an athlete is playing well and what happens the next day or sooner, when they are not?

To understand the answer, one must understand how fluid motion is produced in the body. The operating system to the muscles is in the brain, not in the muscles. Yet, athletes often spend the majority of time trying to master their motion only to have it too often break down, especially under pressure.

Motion does not break down. What breaks down is the ability to ACCESS the motion. So, would it not be beneficial to work on how to ACCESS the motion on which you have worked? You know it is there, but why can't a golfer ACCESS it on a regular basis? Why are you it hitting well for a few holes with a fluid, effortless swing and perfect timing, and not doing so on other holes?

Here is why. There is a specific process in the brain that must occur in order to have a fluid motion with excellent timing. It is called The Fluid Motion Factor. When the FMF is activated, one will experience time as slowing down, very soft or no thinking and all the muscles working harmoniously without any wrinkle. It is a beautiful feeling. It is a feeling that most athletes at a high level have experienced when playing lights out. However, it usually happens more by chance than design.

The Fluid Motion Factor must be a golfer’s priority over any other aspect of the swing. It is important to make sure your mind is very settled prior to bringing your club back. I would like you to experiment with faintly thinking a number at the top of your back swing. Just think the number and then let it go. This will activate the Fluid Motion Factor and allow you to more fully enjoy the great game of golf by hitting better shots.

Buddy Biancalana




I call it a world class finish. Look at this picture of Adam Scott. He is fully released into a strong, powerful finish. Sometimes we get caught in all the minutia of the swing and simply forget that if we can swing through to a balanced powerful finish, a lot of great things can happen along the way. Do you remember Tiger's celebration when he does the upper cut like a boxer? The pelvis thrusts up and the ribs expand. This is powerful and explosive, just like the golf swing should be. I kid my students that they should celebrate this way because it helps their swing. I have a 5 year old son and when he goes to the range, I make him hold his finish for 10 seconds. He is practicing his world class finish. 

Short game Trajectory
health tips

Lower Crossed Syndrome

Muscle imbalances these days are partially caused by our sedentary lifestyles, lack of a variety of poor posture, stress, long periods of sitting and standing are some of the causes.

Then when we add in fun activities which demand overuse of our muscles they shorten and become fibrotic and eventually produce pain.


The diagram shows how the Lower Crossed Syndrome works. It is a grouping of weak muscles combined with overactive or tight muscles that create predictable movement patterns in the lower back that can lead to injury.

Basically the combination of tight hip flexors and a tight lower back, paired with weak abdominals and weak glutes causes the hips to tilt forward thus shortening the Psoas (Hip Flexors), Erector Spinae (Back) to name a few.

Below is a sample of a great core exercise to help you begin alleviating lower back pain, gain glute strength and help neutralize your lumbar spine.

DEER in the Headlights

Lying on the floor (supine) face up – on your back with the feet flat on the ground, Try to contract the right glute without engaging any other muscles, especially the hamstring. Hold for five to ten seconds trying to squeeze each glute independently and as hard as possible. Repeat this on the left side and then on both sides. If needed, place hands on the glutes both and use them to facilitate the isolation.

Sidney Silver is a TPI Golf Medical & Fitness expert. (415) 932-6775