December 2014

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Don't forget to read the question! What do I mean by this? I learned a valuable lesson when I was in boarding school. I used to overstudy for tests. I hated to be unprepared as it would make me nervous. I prided myself on knowing the information cold. On one occasion I opened up the test to look at the question but I was so nervous and eager to let the teacher know that I knew the material that I started my essay without truly understanding the question. I wrote what I felt was a great essay and finished with 10 minutes to spare. I, of course, then went back to check my work. I also went back and re-read the question. Then panic set in. I had not answered the question! In my haste to get started I had not taken the time to truly understand what the teacher had asked. What a lesson that was. I don't even remember the subject of the test but the best lesson I learned was to take a step back, breathe, truly understand the question and let the answer come to me. So what does that have to do with golf? Golf is a series of tests throughout a round. One of the cool aspects of our game is that each day and situation is different. Having pre-conceived notions about what to do is detrimental to success on the course. It is ok to have a game plan but this game has a funny way of throwing curveballs at us. You need to be ready to adjust. In short, truly understand what is in front of you.  I recommend taking a few deep breaths and letting the information and, subsequently, the shot choice come to you. If possible, take a playing lesson and go to different situations on the course and discuss them with your instructor. Next time you tee it up don't forget to understand the question. I told this story to one of my juniors. He told me a story about a vocabulary test in which he answered every question correctly. He got a 99 instead of 100% on it. What he didn't see in the directions was that the teacher said that each student needed to draw a monkey on the test to get the highest score. He learned his lesson early!



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zander Tip zone

mental game   strategy tip   short game

How do you know when your swing is ready to go play well?  How do you test it? As a golf instructor, I am always observing players on the range. I am particularly interested in their pre-round warm up. Are they looking for a swing thought to get them through the day? Are they hitting shots based on situations they will encounter that day? Are they warming up their golf muscles? If the answer is the latter two, they are in good shape. If they are searching for a swing thought or working on their technique, they are cruising for trouble. Next time you are at the range and your body is ready to go, try the following drill: Line up 5 balls to hit with your 7 iron and then line up 5 balls to hit with your driver. Now hit them continuously without any time for thought. This will give you a true gauge of the state of your swing. It will also show you your ball flight for the day. Additionally,  it will also train you to have a quiet mind over the ball. 


Johnny Miller was known for winning tournaments by a lot of strokes. He did not believe in protecting a lead. He believed in increasing it. I completely agree. The best way to make a bogey or worse is to play scared. Johnny Miller also said that in order to be a champion, you had to be willing to do things that other players were not willing to do. The other day I heard that Kobe Bryant passed John Havilcek for the most missed shots in NBA history. Think about this. Havilcek is in the Hall of Fame and Kobe will be. Both were not afraid to fail. My advice to you is to keep trying shots and taking risks to see how good you can be. I'm not saying you should make poor decisions on the course but how do you know how good you can be if you don't try? The worst thing that can happen to you if you don't pull it off is nothing. In fact, failing might be the best thing that happens because you will learn from it. Be safe enough to try and you will amaze yourself. 


The three foot putt. It is so easy but we make it pretty hard. The Stanford Golf Team has a great drill. They have to make 50 three footers at some point during practice. They must make at least 20 in a row. For example, if they make 25 in a row and then miss the 26th, they go back to 20, not all the way back to the beginning. The drill simulates pressure but, more importantly, gets them used to hitting a three footer. As I observe them doing the drill, they all go through their routine before hitting each putt. After all, they are simulating what they will be doing in competition. I also watch how they prepare to go do their drill. They have alignment aids to help them with their aim, path and clubface. In short, they are training themselves for when they go to play. On the course they are on auto pilot. No need to overthink it. It's time to trust and let go.



Fluid Motion


An Inverse Relationship between Strong Intention and Execution

The title of this article may sound counter-intuitive. One would think a positive relationship exists between strong intention and execution. All great golfers appear to be super determined to accomplish their goal. Focused determination is what people think separates them and others on the golf course. They appear to be willing the ball into the cup, but appearances can be deceiving.

When any athlete is playing his or her best, he or she typically describes the experience in terms of really not thinking, not rushing and the motion being very fluid. They do not talk about how determined and focused, but more as if they were walking through Golden Gate Park on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

The reason they give this type of description is because, when they are playing their best, their brain is functioning in the most beneficial manner. The information they are processing before and during their motion is flowing to the cerebellum uninterrupted by the pre frontal cortex. This information flows more easily when your intention is not strong. When your intention strengthens, that is when the pre frontal cortex begins capturing the signals and delays them in getting to the cerebellum. This causes the muscles to fire in a disharmonious fashion and thus your swing will be less effective.

The Fluid Motion Cues will cause the information to flow to the cerebellum uninterrupted by the pre frontal cortex. Thinking a long 9…… through the swing will help get the job done without a strong intention undermining your desire for a beautiful golf shot. Enjoy the freedom!

Buddy Biancalana




I had the opportunity to listen to a talk by Dave Stockton, former PGA champion and current putting guru to Rori McIlroy and Phil Mickelson. He has a method he likes to teach, which is fine. During the Q&A portion at the end of his talk, I asked him what is the commonality of all great putters. After all, they did not all use his method. His answer as I expected was great distance control. I completely agree. I don't know if I can count high enough to count all the different putting methods I have seen throughout the years. The bottom line is that for the ball to go in the cup, it has to approach the hole at the proper speed. Every six inches past the hole shrinks the capture size of the hole by 12 %. So much for hitting it hard and taking the break out! Next time you putt, make sure your ball is never rolling with enough speed to hit the back of the cup. Your improved distance control will help you sink more putts and cut down on the dreaded 3 putt. 

Power Fade!
health tips

Increase Your “X Factor” To Increase Your Distance!


What is the “X Factor”? When you rotate to your back swing, you store energy in the external rotators of your back-leg hip cuff. The resulting stretch around your pelvis is how you store energy, like a rubber band. There are about 45 muscles in and about your hips that are primarily responsible for creating rotational, segmented acceleration. The backside hip is the trigger to your swing. As you take the club away and rotate your pelvis, you will feel a stretch in the posterior hip cuff and your hips will slightly initiate or “trigger” the downswing motion, creating a greater “X Factor” with your shoulders, storing more energy in your torso, which is unleashed through your arms and transferred into to the club. Moving up the kinetic chain of strength up from the ground, your shoulders should turn to finish, again loading up the potential elastic energy in your torso. As you do this, your left shoulder blade slides away from the spine, storing even more energy to help generate greater club speed.

By creating balance between your right and left sides, you’ll ensure that as you take the club away your muscles go on stretching, giving you the potential to store and release this energy. Here are two great exercises to reinforce the disassociation needed to build your body so that you can efficiently produce an effective, repeatable swing while decreasing the potential for common golf related injuries.

A-Frame Stretch: Start in your 5 iron posture and bend forward from your hip sockets putting one elbow firmly inside the knee cap and then take your other hand, held in a fist, and place it directly on the other inside knee cap. Hold your opposing hand, palm open in a 6 -o’clock position pointed straight down toward the ground, then with the arm straight reach behind you pointing the straight arm up vertically from the ground in the air into a 12 o’clock position. Feel the stretch in your shoulders and lats. Repeat on the opposing side. Do this 4 times on each side. This exercise activates all the muscles in the golf swing.

Disassociation Planks: This exercise helps the golfer by understanding the loading and unloading muscles in the golf swing. Get into a plank position, body off the ground with the arms straight, palms of your hands flat on the ground, shoulder width apart, and then spread your legs shoulder distance apart and stabilize your feet with only the toes touching the ground. Keep your “belt buckle” facing the floor at all times. Then take your right arm, keeping it straight, raise the arm and palm right arm up to the 12 o’clock position vertically only rotating the torso, again, keeping the “belt buckle” facing the ground. Bring the arm and hand back to the ground then take the right knee and quickly push it up to the left wrist creating the down swing motion. Repeat on opposite side 8 times and perform 2 sets. By creating a balanced body, targeting asymmetries, you will be able to transfer energy efficiently from your left to your right sides and optimize your golf swing by using the “X Factor”. This gives you the potential to store and release this powerful energy by sequencing properly.

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