June 2015

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Circles work

We would all love to hit the ball straight but ironically it's the desire to do things in a linear method that leads to problems in the golf swing. In fact, circles produce straight shots while straight swings produce curved shots. One of my biggest pet peeves is when a golf announcer says that the player hits it straight because he keeps his club on the target line for so long.  Just look at this image of Hogan half way into his follow through. Hogan hit it dead straight and his swing is on a circular path! The club head is on the target line for a split second at impact and then immediately leaves it to continue on a circle.  

My first boss in the golf instruction business was Hank Haney who used to coach Mark O'Meara and Tiger Woods.  As I was watching him teach one day, he said: "Josh, if you want to know what is wrong with the someone's swing, find the straight line". This was awesome advice which I use to this day whether teaching full swing or short game. 

Jim Hardy, my mentor and Haney's as well, says that golf is a game played from side-on so the swinging motion needs to be on an arc. This would be similar to a side arm pitching motion. Moving the club in a circular path on a reasonable plane allows for several key components in the golf swing:

1) It creates the proper bottom of the swing

2) It allows you to hit the correct amount of ground

3) It gives you a chance to square the clubface

My lesson to a beginner student is quite simple. Once they understand some basic set-up fundamentals, I have them pretend to hit a ball waist high. It's amazing what a nice circle most people make. Eventually I get them in a golf posture so that circle can hit the ground. We are now off to the races. Find the straight line in your swing and change it to a circle. You'll be amazed how a circle can produce a straight shot. 

You can now gift a membership!  Go to http://www.zandergolf.com/Shop/Store.aspx and make someone a member of the ZanderGolfClub. Access dozens of instructional videos and a monthly instructional newsletter with tips on all aspects of the game. 



zander Tip zone

mental game   strategy tip   short game

I like how Tiger Woods always talks about the process of improvement. The way I look at it, the reward is in the process, not in achieving the goal. 

Let's look at the process of practicing. Most people do block practice which is practicing the same shot from the same lie over and over again. Unfortunately, block practice is not the best way to improve and grow as a player. Lets think about this from a math perspective. If the teacher asks you to multiply 12 x 11, your brain goes through the process and strain of figuring it out and true learning takes place. If she keeps giving you the same problem over and over again, your brain goes on to autopilot as it is bored and no learning takes place. If she gives you a different math problem each time, your brain goes through the process and learning takes place. We have found through research that the best learning happens when the task is relatively hard. 

The same applies to golf. The industry calls it random practice. I like to call it golf practice. This means that you are hitting a different shot to a different target off a different lie each time. The purest form of random practice is playing golf. Short of that, competing with a friend is a great way to practice. You hit different shots each time and your brains are going through the process of figuring it out and adjusting to the new situation. I compete a lot with my students. 

Block practice has it's place as you are learning a new skill, but as soon as possible, switch to golf practice and your skills will transfer to the golf course. 


Gripping down on a club is a great way to hit a shorter, softer shot. I like to use this strategy for short pitches and short downhill putts. 

Sometimes it's uncomfortable to shorten your swing too much to hit a short pitch. It's also difficult to hit it high this way as you have no angle to get under the ball. This is when I grip down almost to the steel and I can hit a great soft pitch. It's like using a kid's club. The short lever allows for short shots. 

The same strategy applies to putting. When I have a short putt or a fast putt down a slope, I grip way down on the putter. The ball comes off so softly! Some people purposely hit it off the toe of the putter to kill the speed which works but can lead to direction errors. 

Grip it low for a short blow!




I'm sure you have heard instructors say that chipping and pitching is very similar to throwing a ball underhand and they are absolutely right. 

Now let's make sure you are following our advice. One of the biggest mistakes I see is people shifting their weight to their trail foot during the backswing. This leads to miss-hits as the bottom of the swing is now behind the ball. 

Go get a ball and toss it underhand. Feel where your weight goes as you swing your arm back. That's right, it goes towards the target. Do the same when you are chipping and you will have crisp contact. With crisp contact comes better distance control. 

Now your short game is like tossing a ball!






Finding the Sweet Spot

By Chris O'Connell

The most important thing in golf is to hit the ball solidly. When you don’t hit an iron shot solid, you don’t get the appropriate ball speed for the club head speed you produced, so you lose distance. With a wood, not only do you lose distance, but if you hit it off center (towards the heel or toe) you also lose accuracy. The reason being is your woods have bulge and resulting gear effect. When hit with a fairly square club face a heel strike results in a left to right curve with excessive spin, and a toe hit causes the ball to curve from right to left and fall out of the sky due to lack of spin. We all have a propensity toward either the heel or the toe, so let’s figure out what first causes heel strikes. With a heel shot, the club head at impact is too far from you. Flat golf swings and arms swinging away from the golfer in the downswing will cause heel shots. With a flat golf swing, what goes around to far behind you will come to far in front of you. In the case of the arms they could either be swinging away from the golfer above the waist, which would also cause slices, or below the waist whereby the golfer would also hook. Toe hits are quite the opposite. Upright golf swings or downswings that have both ends of the club close to you. With an upright swing plane what doesn’t go far enough behind you doesn’t come far enough in front of you. The other scenario is where the handle of the club comes down close to you without the club head being thrown outward away from the golfer towards the target line. The club head is being held inside and to close to the golfer. First, you must understand where on the clubface you are missing it and what is causing it. From there you have a chance to rectify your problem and pick up both distance and accuracy.


I often get the question, where should the handle or grip end of the club point at address. My answer is it depends on what kind of shot you are trying to hit. Leaning the shaft forward at address will produce a lower shot that hooks. Leaning the shaft back will produce a higher shot that fades. I consider neutral to be where the butt end of the club is pointed slightly forward of your zipper. As you can see, the position of the handle has a huge effect on ball flight as it affects the loft of the face and the direction of the path which affects the shot shape. My personal preference is to shape shots through set-up adjustments. Handle location is part of that process. 


10 more yards!
health tips

Shoulders and Chest Restricting Your Movement?

Traditionally, golfers round their shoulders forward, with the shoulder blades and arms reaching down toward the club and ball. Because of this position, shoulder and neck injuries continue to plague golfers – that’s why rotator cuff injuries are so common. The problem with this position is it robs you of any ability to store energy. To correct this, rounding of the shoulders, try to “feel tall” by elevating your sternum (breastbone) slightly so that your shoulders fall more naturally back and down. Imagine that you are trying to drop your shoulder blades into your back pockets by relaxing your trapezius muscles. Keeping your shoulders in this position decreases the potential for injuries and allows you to generate greater arm speed in your swing to store more energy to be released on your downswing. Your head should be “aligned with your spine”: this is critical to your ability to consistently rotate above the center axis. Your head position is vital to establishing your balance along the center axis rotation. We tend to think of our hands and arms as carrying the workload for the upper body, but it’s really the shoulder, or at least it should be. In order to begin correcting tight shoulders and chest restrictions I have provided some self-explanatory photographs of stretches to help you relieve tension in these areas. At first, these stretches may seem remedial – please be patient. Give yourself some time. These stretches are categorized as Movement Preparation. They might have you off-balance at first, but the athlete inside you will adjust to meet the challenge. When doing static stretches it is best to do each one 2-3 times and hold for 7-10 seconds without bouncing or moving.

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




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