November 2014

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Have you ever been so focused on a swing thought that you ended up making a mental error? This happens all the time. You make a poor decision and you think back on your round and realize how many shots you could have saved if your thought process was different. 

At our annual Top 100 Teacher conference I attended a wonderful presentation by Dr. Bruce Wilson. He started his presentation by showing us a 30 second video of kids playing basketball. He asked the audience members to count how many times the kids threw a bounce pass to each other. I counted diligently and got the number right. He then showed the exact same video again and asked us just to watch and not worry about the passing. Low and behold a guy in a gorilla suit marches across the court and even stopped for a couple of seconds and pounded his chest.  I never saw the gorilla. In short, I was blinded by focusing intently on the passing. In fact, out of the 100 members in the audience, only 9 saw the gorilla the first time. 

So what does this have to do with your golf? If you are so focused on a swing thought, anticipating a result, or any stress at all, you may miss vital information that would help you make a better decision. When I do playing lessons, I am amazed at the poor decision-making. Some of my students kid that they would like me to be there every time they play to help them make the correct decisions. They would not need me if they took some deep breaths and simply let the situation sink in. Don't go in to the shot with a pre-conceived notion. Allow yourself to take it all in and go from there. It reminds me of a story I heard about a guy who had dozens of holes in one. He said that his secret was that he just waited on the tee box to see how the ball was going to go in. Once it came to him, he simply swung. It may sound cliche but let the game come to you. 



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zander Tip zone

mental game   strategy tip   short game

One of my favorite memories of my teaching career was when I invited my friend and mental guru Chuck Hogan to visit with the men's and women's golf teams at Stanford. We were sitting in the room and he looked at them all and asked them: "Who here is finished working on their swing?" He waited a few seconds and nobody raised their hands. He then said: "That's OK, when will you be done working on it?" Nobody could answer. Think about this, we are talking about players in a high end division 1 golf program. They can all break par or they wouldn't be there. His point wasn't that they couldn't keep improving but that they had reached a skill level where their focus needed to change to playing golf versus playing golf swing. Their difficulties on the golf course were more about their inability to access their good golf swing more than faulty mechanics. At some point you need to trust and let go. When is that going to be for you?



I just had the pleasure of helping coach the Stanford women's varsity golf team at the Pacific 12 conference preview tournament in Hawaii. We were playing our practice round and working on our approach shots. We practiced to the different hole locations. We could see where they were placed as the superintendent had sprayed dots on the green designating locations on day 1 and 2.  Let just say the locations were challenging. I reminded the players that the middle of the green is never a bad place to aim. It reminds me of a round I played at a golf course the week before it opened. The owner invited me out to check it out but the only thing was that the pins had not arrived yet so there were holes on the greens but no pins. I played great. When you hit your approach shot at the middle of the green, you never short side yourself and rarely do you have more than a 25 foot putt! I remember Jack Nicklaus, the king of course management, say that he never looked at the pin at #12 at Augusta. He would just hit it over the front bunker into the middle of the green. Take it from Jack and make an aggressive swing to a conservative target. 


Back in 1992 when I was a touring professional, I went to the Dave Pelz short game school. There I was told that the direction of the putt on a centered hit was 90% based on face and only 10% on path. I saw Dave Pelz last week and he said the percentages are actually 83% face and 17% path. Maybe the measuring devices are better now but either way, you get the point. Face is king when it comes to direction control. How often do you work on your aim and clubface? I see people working on their path all the time. Dave also mentioned that people aim based on their compensating aim as opposed to their visual aim. In short, they basically have learned to aim a certain way based on their tendencies. If you are a good putter whether it is because your face and path are good or you are a great compensator, I wouldn't go and fix it. After all, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. But if you are a poor putter, start by learning how to aim and square your clubface at impact. The video at the end of this newsletter will get you going in the right direction.



Fluid Motion


Why Does Your Back Hurt? by Buddy Biancalana

If I held up a golf ball and then tossed it to you, it is likely you would smoothly catch it without any wasted motion. However, if I held up a beautiful Baccarat crystal wine glass and then tossed it to you, you likely would not experience as smooth a motion in making the catch. Hopefully you would make the catch, or one of us might be out a $100 glass!

Your mind is like an ocean. There are surface levels with lots of activity and deeper quieter states with more stillness. When you generate your intention to swing a club from the active surface level of the mind, there is a “tug of war” that will take place between the bigger bulkier muscles and the more subtle fast twitch muscles. It is the fast twitch muscles in the body, that are most active when a golfer swings easily and effortlessly with perfect timing and no strain on the body. When your intention to swing the club is generated from a deeper quieter state of the mind, the bigger bulkier muscles just play the supportive roll which allows the fast twitch, more subtle muscles to play their designed roll. There is no power struggle between the different muscles which you may know, does not work well in any aspect of life! When the power struggle occurs between the muscles, this causes strain and possible discomfort for the body, thus increasing the chance of injury.

In last month’s column, my business partner, Steven Yellin, discussed the importance of burying the DNA Goal, the embedded goal in a sport. With that in mind, let us refer back to the golf ball and wine glass comparison. The fact that the wine glass is more important to catch, it is likely the DNA Goal would want to rise to the surface level of the mind. You could compare it to an upcoming important shot versus your range swing. The greater the importance of any action, the more the DNA Goal will want to come to the forefront of your mind. This without exception increases your chance of injury. The DNA Goal at the surface of the mind also causes the bigger muscle to play a more dominant role. A less fluid swing will be the result.

So, if you want to hit good consistent golf shots and remain injury free, your best chance is by burying the DNA Goal and generating your intention from a quieter state of mind. From this state of mind you may use one of the Fluid Motion Cues you have learned. The 9’s into the shot and a long 9 through the swing are one of the best. Enjoy the freedom!

Good luck!




Most of you have heard of Trackman by now. Trackman measures path, face, attack angle, spin rate as well as many other factors. It is a fantastic diagnostic tool and is making golf instruction better. James Leitz, a Top 100 golf instructor and clubfitter says, "why guess at what is happening if you can measure it". This tool helps me measure what the human eye and video cannot see. But lets take this to the course from the player point of view. Ball flight and solid contact are everything and there are many ways to do it. After all, Hogan, Nicklaus, Nelson and Snead didn't have these modern diagnostic tools. Sam Snead said that if he  hooked it on the course, he would would go back to the range and slice it for a while. If he sliced it on the course, he would go back to the range and hook it for a while. He was practicing the opposite to get to neutral. For you to hit it straight, the contact has to be centered and there cannot be too big a differential between the face and the path. If you or your teacher have access to Trackman to help diagnose, that is great. If not, let the ball flight be your teacher. Do the opposite to to get the flight to neutral. It worked for Sam Snead!

Making short putts
health tips

Ankle Mobility, its crucial!


Mobility ?starts from the ground up. The body stabilizes using the foot as the first position of stability and then the ankle joint becomes the first position of mobility.

In the picture above the golfer’s left foot comes off the ground showing that there is limited ankle mobility. A golfer with correct mobility will have minimal lift while rotating his ankle creating more energy and force in the golf swing.

The body works in an alternating pattern of stable segments connected by mobile joints. If this pattern is altered, then poor mobility will lead to muscle imbalances and compensation will occur and eventually create other various painful referred symptoms as shown in the diagrams below. ?


Test for ankle mobility:

1) Sit in a stable chair.

2) Start with your feet comfortably flat on the floor.

3) Raise both knees up about 5” off the ground

4) Rotate each ankle inward causing the bottom of both feet to face each other and do not move your knees or thighs apart.

5) Now do the same rotation outward with the bottom of the feet facing away from each other.

The ankles should invert the foot 30 degrees (turning inward) and the ankles should be able to rotate the bottom of the foot outward maintaining an eversion of 20 degrees. If your ankles do not move laterally then the first joint of rotation, coming up from the ground, instead will be the hip joint.

Stuck ankles can be cleared very easily by a manual therapist releasing the stuck calcaneal ligaments surrounding the entire ankle joint structure.

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