August 2015

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ThE clubface!



When a student calls me up or sends me a video of their swing, the first question I ask them is where did the ball start relative to the target. The reason I ask this is because the clubface is basically responsible for the starting direction of the ball. In actuality the clubface is 90% responsible for starting direction with a driver and 85 % responsible with an iron. A simple way to think about ball flight is that the face starts it and the path curves it.  

What amazes me is that golfers don't think too much about the clubface. They are more worried about different positions and body part functions in different parts of their swing. They all but ignore the single thing that strikes the ball and that is the clubface. 

A golf club is like a ping pong racket. It is a flat surface and, like ping pong, it is striking a round ball. If you think about it like this, you can radically change your ball flight. I call it creating clubface awareness.

I hear that playing ping pong is what the Ryder Cuppers do to pass the time in the clubhouse. They are definitely on to something. Rumor has it that Matt Kuchar and Phil Mickelson are really good at it. It just so happens that they are really good at controlling their ball flight as well. 

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zander Tip zone

mental game   strategy tip   short game

This summer I had the opportunity to caddie for one of my juniors who was trying to qualify for the United States Junior Championship. I was impressed with her ability to stay in the present. She was able to focus on every individual shot and not get ahead of herself or worry about mistakes on past holes. 

When we finished the round, I put the flag stick back in the hole and shook hands with her playing partners. I then went over to hug my player and she asked me: "Do you know what I shot?" A huge smile came on my face. Not because she had shot 1 over on a tricky course, but because she truly had no idea. She was not thinking about her score. She was simply treating golf as a series of individual shots and then adding them up at the end. Those individual shots added up to a medalist finish and a trip to the United States Junior Championship. 






Let's say you are on a par 5 and can't quite get to the green in two. Should you lay up to your favorite yardage or should you try to get it as close as possible to the hole? Your choice should be the latter and the statistics prove it. Statistics show that the closer you get to a hole, the fewer shots it takes to get it in. You can read more about this in Mark Broadie's book, Every Shot Counts. 

Of course this strategy changes if there is a hazard or the flag is in a particular placement that is not as accessible if you lay up too close. But as a general rule, get it as close as you can!


I like to switch my mind into finesse mode when I get to short game shots. The short game is not about power, it is about feel which is another word for distance control. 
Think of your brain as having different gears. When you get on the tee of a long Par 5, you should be in explosive power mode. But when you are green-side, chipping for your eagle, you need to downshift into finesse mode.
One of my students decided to make his wedge grips a different color than the rest of his set. It's his way of shifting down into finesse mode. Sometimes we need cues to get us on task. I really like that one. 






swing or Shot

Before the advent of video, Trackman, and other amazing new technologies, golfers used to change their swings by hitting different shots. Sam Snead used to say that if he was hooking it on the course, he would come back to the range and slice it for a while until he neutralized his ball flight. Ben Hogan's swing is one of the most often copied and he did not use video to make changes. He experimented with feels and hit balls to prove himself right or wrong. 

I think technology is amazing and makes diagnosing swing much faster and easier but lets look at this from the player's point of view. You are out there all by yourself when you are playing. Their is no coach, video camera, or indoor instruction studio. It's just you and your ball flight. You need to understand how to hit different shots. I call it playing tic, tack, toe. There are 9 ball flights. There is a hook, a straight ball, and a slice. There is a low, medium, and high trajectory version of each of the aforementioned. The cool thing is that you can use different shots to neutralize you ball flight. For example, if you are hitting high hooks, you should hit some low fades. During this process, you are going to find the center square. Now you have learned the feel for a medium trajectory straight ball.


dot to dot

Let's stick with the theme that simpler is better. My friend, and out of the box thinker,  Chuck Hogan once told me that golf is just a dot to dot game. There is a dot on the sweet spot, a dot on the back of the ball and the third dot is the target. Now lets play dot to dot! Forget about angles, planes, lag and ground reaction forces for a second. (Let me worry about that) Just connect the dots! Sometimes I will use a dry erase pen to put a mark on the ball. I then have the student hit the ball and see if he can mark the sweet spot. We can then see where on the clubface he is striking the ball. It's amazing how the brain can self correct with this simple piece of information. Enjoy the mental break! 


Assess the lie!
health tips

Tight Calf’s and Achilles Tendons?

When your body is balanced and flexible your golf swing is effortless, but asymmetries require your brain to constantly rewrite the software governing your swing and then compensates so you can execute a decent shot. (scroll down for more)

Calf and Achilles tendon flexibility is one of the most important factors as it determines your maximum/minimum leg range of motion through your swing.

The lower legs are a big part of balance. Training and stretching these muscles and tendons helps you to build control over your body and improves your swing by decreasing your reaction time to changes in your center of gravity while you swing. What would normally be a large wobble to regain control turns into a rock solid stance after diligently training of one's balance and control.

Calf and Achilles tendon stretches allow the foot and ankle to move more freely and keeps a tight calf muscle from interfering with balance and control.

The golf stretches below are designed to be completed either on days you aren't playing or after a round. It is not a suitable to use these as a warm up and there is a good reason for that.

This type of stretching consists of static stretching. While this is the best type of stretching for increasing range of motion it can compromise power immediately afterwards.

Hold each stretch for 20 seconds, relax and then repeat for another 20 seconds before moving on to the next stretch.

The muscle group being stretched should feel slightly tight diminishing as you hold the stretch.

Cease the stretch immediately if you feel any pain or if tightness increases as you stretch.

Perform this routine a minimum of 3 days a week for 6 weeks - ideally 5-7 days is best.

Written By: Sidney Silver
TPI Golf Medical & Golf Fitness Expert
(415) 932-6775





Written by, Sidney Silver: TPI Golf Medical & Golf Fitness expert. (415) 932-6775