27 October 2014

Pitch It Closer From Greenside Rough

In last week’s video and blog I spoke about the evolution of your golf club design and specification, in particular how the loft on your Pitching Wedge has changed dramatically.  In order to create the increased distance now being advertised manufacturers have greatly reduced the loft on your clubs as well as make the shafts longer.  When we come to play pitch shots around the green, especially from the rough your Pitching Wedge is no longer the club to reach for.  In this week’s video you will learn a quick and easy system to match your decision making/shot selection to the length of the grass you are playing from.  If you have trouble controlling the flight and distance you hit your short pitch shots then this lesson could really help save shots every round.



The short game is a set of skills built on decision making.  A pitch or chip shot demands that you can look at the situation you face and select the correct club to deal with the lie of the ball and the terrain between your ball and the hole.  Distance to the hole, slope or elevation change, lie of the ball, distance from the edge of the green to the hole, distance from your ball to the edge of the green are all things which influence the shot.  The most skilful short game players are able to make these decisions quickly and easily, allowing them to select the correct club for the shot they face.  This decision making is something you CAN practice.  If you have an area where you can practice your short game try this exercise.  Take 6-8 balls and randomly throw them over your shoulder, wherever they lay you play them from.  Experiment with different wedges/lofts, it will soon become apparent which club/loft makes a shot easier or more difficult.  If a shot doesn’t work after 3 attempts then the chances are it is not the correct shot to play.

As winter draws nearer and our golf becomes more limited by daylight and the weather it is a great time to take stock of your golf game this season.  Has your handicap gone up or down?  If you have played poorly or inconsistently what are you going to do to change that trend?

A review and a winter plan is something I would encourage all of you to do, as Einstein said

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result”

If you are nervous about lessons then send video of your swing to us via the Swing Analysis Tab at the top of the page.  It’s simple and easy to use and was recently called “The best £10 you can spend on your golf game” by one user.

Use your mobile device to video your swing, download the V1 Golf App and register on the Swing Analysis page.  You can then send your swing from the App directly to the Academy and a complete analysis and lesson will be returned to your e mail.


Find out what your swing tendencies are and set yourself on the road to better golf.

14 October 2014

Improving Your Understanding of Wedges

I wonder how many of you playing at the weekend play most of your pitch shots with your Pitching Wedge?  I’m sure that applies to a lot of golfers, certainly if my experience is anything to go by.  How many of you currently carry a Lob Wedge?  That is, a wedge with 58 or more degrees in loft.  If you’re serious about improving your game and lowering your handicap then the video this week highlights a crucial problem.

The golf manufacturers in recent times have silently been changing the clubs you play with and in an effort to satisfy out thirst for distance the modern pitching wedge is no longer “fit for purpose”.
When I first turned Professional in 1994 a Pitching Wedge (according to my PGA Manual) should have 50 degrees of loft, a 9 Iron 46.5 degrees and an 8 iron 42 degrees.  Prior to filming the video you see here I measured at random 3 Pitching Wedges from leading brands, each Pitching Wedge had 44, 44 and 45 degrees of loft.  In other words a modern Pitching Wedge is actually an 8 and a ½ Iron and whilst this is fine for full shots it causes major issues in the short game.

To see how to deal with these issues and the importance of understanding your lofts watch the video here.


If you are a regular visitor to this Blog you will perhaps know how I view the importance of custom fitting as crucial to game improvement.  As handicap golfers you will face chip or pitch shots on many holes during a round, having the correct lofts and knowing your yardages for each wedge can save you several shots in a round.

Mizuno are the first company I am aware of to offer wedges in 1 degree increments, from 48 degrees to 62, in their new T-5 range.  With different bounce and grind choices there are now 25 options, giving you the chance to build a perfect wedge set.

Luke Donald has influenced the design, in my mind the best chipper and bunker player in the game (statistically he is just ahead of Phil Mickelson).  Having tested them against the previous Mizuno model 9 (T-4) and perhaps the best known wedge model, I found the T-5 series easier to use with the higher bounce for both chipping/short pitch shots and significantly better for bunker shots.

For a full shot the important factor is selecting loft combinations which are consistent and account for the loft on the Pitching Wedge.  In other words there may be more benefit to losing the Lob Wedge and replacing it with something in the 48-52 degree range.  You may also find it much easier to control your distances without the big yardage gaps the modern Pitching Wedge can create.
Visit the website of the brand you currently play or speak to your Pro and find out the loft of your current Wedges, particularly your Pitching Wedge.  Flightscope can quickly show you how far you hit each wedge and whether you have even gaps between each club.



29 September 2014

Improve Your Angle of Attack and Add yards to Your Drives

If you have ever been for a Driver fitting either with your Pro or at a Demo Day you will no doubt have heard them talk about the importance of Angle of Attack and Launch Angle with the Driver.  By using launch monitors like Flightscope you can instantly see how the wrong launch angle and angle of attack (AoA) can cripple your tee shot yardage. I know there are many players out there who try to use the same swing for both irons and woods and this can cause major problems when it comes to the Driver.

This week’s video shows you a very simple drill for the range to create the ideal attack angle and potentially add yards to your drives.


 The ideal way to hit your Driver is with a wide shallow swing and strike the ball slightly upwards.  This is different to your irons, where the ball is on the ground and we need a downward blow to hit the ball solidly.  I often use the image of a cup and saucer to illustrate the differences between iron shots and tee shots.  An iron shot is played inside the cup, the club tracking up and down a steeper angle.  Tee shots are played very much along the saucer, much wider and shallower and we strike the ball on the upward lip of the saucer launching it upwards.

At swing speeds of 90-100 mph, which is very much the average for male Club golfers with the driver, the ideal launch angle can be between 13-15 degrees.  Compare that to the loft of your Driver.  Many of you will be using clubs with 9.5-12 degrees of loft and so to create a launch angle in the 13-15 degree range you must have an upward AoA.  Teeing the ball a little higher and further forward in your stance will help and combining this with the bottle drill in the video you could add considerable distance to your tee shots.

If you have never used Flightscope I would recommend finding your nearest owner and invest in a Driver fitting.  Flightscope has a tool called the Driver Optimiser which shows you how efficiently your swing uses your current Driver.  You may find that a small change in launch angle could give you 15+ yards without any loss of accuracy.
Driver Optimiser Screenshot

Like many of you I am very much looking forward to The Ryder Cup.  I have a feeling the American team will be more motivated than ever before and it’s sure to be very very close!  It’s amazing to think they have only won twice since Tom Watson was last their Captain in 1993 and the last time was without Tiger Woods.  Tom Watson as Captain and no Tiger Woods sounds a little ominous to me, I hope I’m wrong!

Remember you can subscribe to the YouTube channel for the latest videos first and thumbs up those you like.  All your comments are valued and if you would like any questions answered about your game you can e mail academy@howdididomedia.com

For a personal swing analysis click the link above and use the V1 App to send us your swing, there are golfers out there making some tremendous changes.


10 September 2014

How to Play More Consistent Golf

Consistency is word I hear a lot.  How can I play more consistently?

I think all of you reading this would love to know the answer.  Every golfer is capable of playing a great round or hitting great shots but how can we make it happen more often? 

The answer is a little easier than you might imagine.  Of course practice makes a difference, as does a golf swing with as few faults as possible but I have seen great swings produce erratic results out on the course.
A big part of consistency comes from your mind set; can you approach every shot with an equal amount of focus and concentration?  Have you selected a specific target for each shot?  Is your approach to each shot consistent?  If the answer to any or all of these questions is no then how can we hit shots with any consistency?
“Consistent Thinking Leads to Consistent Scoring”
This is one of the cornerstones of Winning Golf Mind Coach Lee Crombleholme and he is absolutely right.  Regardless of our golf handicap we are all capable of building a consistent routine or approach to each shot we hit.  If our concentration levels change from shot to shot how can we expect our golf swing to be the same every time?

There are lots of pressures out on the course which make this difficult.  Fear of slow play or holding up the people behind, fear of looking foolish when routine results in a bad shot, wanting to chat and be social are just a few examples.  These are all valid but using the technique in this weeks on course video is fast, easy to remember and lets you concentrate for the shot in front of you.


Over the past 4 videos we have looked at various techniques designed to influence your score out on the course, in effect Playing Lessons.  At this point it is worth reviewing the past 4 weeks and think how they relate to what you do out on the course.  I would be willing to bet at least one video could significantly improve your consistency and enjoyment of the game.

If you have never had an on course or playing lesson with your Pro or Coach I would recommend it.  I had a recent experience with one player who on the range looked fantastic but on the 1st Tee aimed 30 yards off target.  The range and the course often produce completely different results!

For more information, tuition and videos on improving your game on the course visit www.winninggolfmind.com there are a couple of free videos and membership is a one off payment of £19.95.

Upcoming videos will look at recent equipment releases and whether it can really help your game along with a short game series to improve your scoring.
If there are any shots you find difficult contact us by e mail, academy@howdididomedia.com or post on the HDiDAcademy Facebook page.  It is also possible to video your swing and send it to us for analysis.  Use your phone or tablet and send it in via the V1 Golf App, it very simple to use and getting great results and reviews.  Click the Swing Analysis tab at the top of the page to register.


26 August 2014

On Course Strategy, How to Pick a Target to Play Your Most Consistent Golf Ever.

This time of year for a coach is always interesting.  Players who have made changes and improvements to their technique need, by the mid-point of the season to switch their focus from technical lessons to more on course time.  As a coach it is vital I see players actually playing the game out in the real world and not the controlled environment of the range or lesson tee.  Ask yourself, are you a player how hits better shots in practice than on the course?  Do you just aim at the fairway or at the flag? Is your golf held back by a frustrating lack of consistency?
If the answer to any or all of these questions is yes then it is very likely that your on course actions are very different to how you might be practicing.  This week the video highlights the importance of picking a very small specific target for every shot you play.  This target may be nowhere near the flag when approaching the green, and is just as important when playing from the tee.


One of the biggest problems holding golfers back is the lack of precision and belief in there game.  Picking good targets is NOT dependant on being a good player and the player who chooses not to, will be unable to play their best golf consistently.  When working with Sports Psychologist Lee Crombleholme helping Club golfers improve is very often just a matter of improving decision making, strategy and precision in picking a good target.  His mantra of “Aim Small, Miss Small” can have an incredible effect on your game and score.  It is not unusual to see an improvement of 5 shots or more per round.
This mantra works around the idea that if your target is “the fairway or the green” and you miss that target by 10 yards then you could be in a lot of trouble.  By picking a much smaller target, the branch of a tree or the window of a building in the background for example, you effectively widen your margin for error.  10 yards wide of a good target may still be in the fairway or on the green.
If you have lessons but have never been on course with your teacher then I would strongly recommend it, you may find answers to problems you never see on the range.  If your coach uses Flightscope then talk to him/her about the Skills Challenges we highlighted in the recent Xi video at the side of this page.  This is a great way to learn about targets.
For information and video demonstrations of how targets can really help your game visit Lee’s website, www.winninggolfmind.com you will find free example videos for both approach shots and tee shots.
The website has a huge amount of content for just £19.99 and was recently purchased by Bradley Dredge.  In the past 2 weeks he has finished runner up both in Denmark and Czech Republic, winning over 250,000 Euro and regaining his full playing privileges on Tour.  Not bad for £19.99!
There are now almost 100 videos stored in the library, covering wide areas of the game.  Join the Hdid Golf Academy Facebook page to ask questions or leave comments about any golf coaching topic, we’d love to hear from you.  If you have a question about your own game e mail us at academy@howdididomedia.com

13 August 2014

Know Your Yardages and Save Shots Every Round

If you have ever wondered why we don’t see the Pro’s use Distance Measuring Devices such as Lasers or GPS, assuming they were permitted for use on Tour, the answer is simple.

They don’t provide enough information

Players on Tour take into account a huge amount of information for every shot, you will see them consulting large and very complex yardage books.  Believe it or not the distance to the flag is only a small part of the information the need.  How far to carry a bunker or slope, where on the green leaves me the easiest putt, how far before I reach the back of the green?  A small sample of the kind of questions a Pro might ask for any approach shot.  Simply lasering the flagstick and hitting the shot is something a Pro would NEVER do.

There are many of you out there using a yardage device and I want to show how you can save several shots per round by using it more effectively. 


There are 2 crucial things you should consider when looking at your yardage.  Firstly, understand that it is unlikely you are going to hit the ball perfectly for the majority of your shots.  Even a slight miss-hit will reduce the distance the ball travels and so picking a club which demands a perfect strike is a recipe for a missed green.  Secondly, you MUST know the yardage to the BACK EDGE of the green.  How far can you hit the ball before getting into trouble?  Its well known that most golfers are short of the target far more often than long and playing a yardage to the flag is very often the reason.

An average green is 30-35 yards long, if the flag was in the centre of the green you have at least 15 yards beyond the hole before you run out of green.  This is plenty of room to hit at least one more club.  I have seen the results of playing the yardage to the back of the green significantly increase the greens hit and save a player 5 or more shots per round.  A slight miss-hit when using the correct yardage will still hit the green whilst a solid shot will still leave you a putt for birdie.

The device you choose also has an influence; It’s very difficult to laser the back of the green.  What do you do when you can’t see the flag?  These are just a couple of reasons I prefer a GPS unit to a laser.  Interestingly, Pat Goss long time coach of Luke Donald and Golf Coach at Northwestern University tested several laser devices for accuracy.  The results were amazing, not only were they all different but none of them were accurate.

Next time you play take a commitment out onto the course to play to the yardage to the back of the green.  The video shows I had over 170 yards to the back of the green, I know a perfect 7 Iron is 165 yards and so cannot hit it over the back.  If you use this process I really believe you will hit more greens and save several shots per round.

4 August 2014

Create Your Own Personal Par and Improve Your Scores

I have always been curious about golfers attitudes towards competitions and in particular to Medal play.  In my experience it is something a great many of you dislike, even hate playing and feel far more comfortable in a Stableford format.  Why is this I wonder?  Well, I think there a couple of reasons. 

Stableford allows us to make big mistakes without being punished.  By that I mean if you make 12 on a hole it still only scores 0 points, you only lose 2 points relative to Par.  As a result Stableford is a game where it becomes more acceptable to have a poor mindset, making mistakes matters less.  I believe this is a big reason Club golfers fear Medal play and often perform poorly.  I feel Dr Stableford has a lot to answer for when it comes to developing the correct mindset for good golf.

If you are a golfer who is always better in practice than competition then review last weeks video, it demonstrates how to use a practice session to improve your on course play.

The video this week shows you a system I have used with many players for creating a strategy and mindset, which is guaranteed to improve your Medal play.  It works around the flawed idea of Par for golf holes and builds the difficulty of each hole into your strategy, creating in effect a personal Par for each hole specific to your game.


Stableford is a game built around Par and the Par for each hole is simply a measure of its yardage or length.  It does not take any account of how difficult a hole might be and I feel creates unnecessary pressure on your game.  If you are playing a Par 4 then that suggests you should be on the green in 2 shots in order to make your Par, on the green in 3 on a Par 5 and 1 on a Par 3.  This green in regulation mentality can cause a lot of trouble for you. 

Take 2 Par 4’s for example, one is 450 yards long, one is 100 yards shorter at 350 yards.  As a mid handicap golfer is it reasonable you should be on both greens in 2 shots? There is clearly a difference in difficulty and yet many golfers will treat them the same simply because they are both called Par 4’s.  The result is often hitting very low percentage shots from inappropriate positions on the hole.  Having an 8 iron into the green is very different to attempting a long fairway wood shot to a green you perhaps cant reach anyway.

The first time I used this strategy with a player he scored a nett 62 off 21 handicap, the most impressive thing was after his round he told me he had not actually hit the ball that well.  It was simply the strategy had prevented him from getting into too much trouble.

The successful player understands that the Par for each hole is not actually relevant in Medal play; they are simply trying to get round the course in as few shots as possible.  If you can adopt this attitude and use the Personal Par strategy in the video I am convinced your game will improve, you will feel less pressure on the course and learn to love Medal play.  It is after all the true test of a golfers ability.

In the coming weeks we will feature videos dealing with On Course play and how you can play your best more consistently.  We would love to hear your thoughts and comments, tell us what you struggle with out on the course as well as things you think others could learn from.  Join our Academy FaceBook page to leave your comments and questions or join the golfing debate. 

18 July 2014

Is Your Practice Time Really Helping You Improve Your Game (Featuring Flightscope Xi)

Are you a golfer who finds that practice is mundane or boring?
Are you a Golfer who is frustrated that you hit the ball better on the range than in the Medal?

Practice is a curious thing.  I'm sure many of you will answer Yes to one or both of the questions above and yet, many of you will make regular trips to the Driving Range.

I have a long held belief that the advent of the Driving Range has in fact been damaging to the improvement rate of many golfers.  They make practice much more convenient but if you go and watch golfers behaviour for half an hour at your local range you will be amazed at what you see.  Golfers pouring huge buckets of balls in automatic mats and then just swinging away, every few seconds, very often with only one club and very often with the Driver. 

                      Please understand that this is NOT practice

It's has nothing to do with how we play the game out on the course and that is crucial if you are to improve your game.  Yes we need to practice our swing mechanics, especially if we are making changes but this MUST be only a part of your practice time.

European Tour Sports Psychologist, Lee Crombleholme, who features on the HDiD Academy has a very important principle.

                    "Practice like you play to play like you practice"

This means you must be able to introduce targets and variety into a practice session.  To have some sort of scoring or measurement of the result to introduce pressure to the shot.  To be able to keep a record of your score from one practice session to another.

The new Flighscope Xi Radar Launch Monitor does this and more.  The first launch monitor designed and priced for you, the golfing public.  It allows you to practice on the range to specific targets with a set number of shots to each.  The targets can appear at random, recreating situations you face on the course.  It demands you take weather conditions into account, allowing for wind if you're to hit your target and it quickly shows you whether you really hit each club as far as you think.

                               

By completing tests programmed into the App you will quickly see your strengths and weaknesses, you can compare your performance to PGA Tour players and load your results into leaderboards showing golfers all over the world.
It is then possible to create your own tests, perhaps set at the yardages you hit each club or recreating the shots needed to play your home course.  You decide on the size and shape of the targets and how many shots you hit to each one.

Practice will never be boring again!  More importantly you are following Lee's principle, your practice is

Specific
Measurable
Achievable
Relevant
Time Based

This is also called a SMART Goal or task.  This is how the best players in the world practice and how they improve.  Both Lee and I use this in our coaching and it produces amazing results for many players.

In my opinion this is the most important development in golf and practice since the driving range first appeared in the UK.

Find out more about Flightscope Xi by going to www.miasportstechnology.com or e mail sales@miasportstechnology.com

HowDidiDo Members can claim a 5% discount on Flightscope Xi units.


If your Club Professional or Coach has Flightscope ask him/her to show you the Skills Tests.

12 July 2014

How to Video Your Golf Swing and Improve Your Game


If you are a regular visitor to the Academy site you will have seen that I am a strong believer in using technology to improve your game.  From high speed video and V1 analysis software to Flightscope 3D launch monitor technology, the development of coaching tools has proceeded at an incredible pace.

Technology itself however cannot change your game on its own, it's simply a tool to speed up the learning process.  One of the great challenges for coaches now is to make sure the golfer is only exposed to the information relevant to them and this is most often only a couple of key points.  Too much information will only slow the learning process down.

We are now at the start of a dramatic shift in how golf is taught and how you the Club golfer can improve.  With the appearance of YouTube, smart phones and tablets with video cameras, which many of you will already be using, free information about the golf swing has never been more available.  There are now devices available to collect club and ball data as you practice, telling you all kind of things about how your swing works.  Flightscope have just launched the worlds first customer launch monitor the Flightscope Xi, designed for golfers not just coaches and at a fraction of the price.

So, what is my point this week? Well, I have a couple!

Firstly, as a golfer you MUST know the reality of how your swing looks.  What is the reality of what you are producing and does that swing look like it feels?

Here is the importance of videoing your swing on your phone or tablet and loading it into the V1 Golf App where you can see in detail what is happening.

Secondly, you MUST protect yourself against the unsolicited advice of well meaning golfers.  I recently posted an article on Twitter I found on this subject and can forward to anyone who requests it.  As an example, someone I know recently posted his struggles with a shank creeping into his game.  The suggestions from other golfers of what he should do to fix it were not only all completely wrong but very likely to add new faults which did not previously exist.



To protect yourself against this well meaning ignorance you must see your swing and then understand the cause and effects of its technique.  Almost all swings have only a small number of faults (causes) which produce a much larger number of effects. Like ripples in a pond the faults spread throughout the swing.  The only way to improve is to address the faults (causes), if you only see the effects you can never improve.

To film your swing using your smart phone or tablet simple.  You will need 2 views, Face On (F/O) and Down Target Line (DTL).

DTL - film at waist height with the camera aiming  in line with the hand position at address

F/O - film at waist height directly facing the player, camera pointing at the belt buckle.

Film as close as possible ensuring the Club is visible on screen for the entire swing.


Film your swing and send it to us via the Swing Analysis facility here and we can help you understand how your swing works (causes and effects) and put you on the right path to playing better golf.

3 July 2014

Understanding the Correct Downswing Sequence

One of the challenges of writing articles and producing videos for golfers is trying to make complicated, technical swing ideas seem simple and easy to understand.  Spend 10 minutes searching the Internet for golf tips and you'll soon see what I mean!  As golf technology has advanced so the game and it's techniques are presented in an ever more scientific way, it's language seemingly a mystery to all but the most knowledgable players.  The whole concept behind the HowDidiDo Academy was to simplify golf, to make instruction and lessons seem more accessible and to help you understand good coaching is never difficult to understand or tries to re-build your game.  I hope we go some way to achieving this.

The correct Downswing Sequence is one area which seems to cause a huge number of Club golfers a lot of problems and confusion.  I have talked about this area in past videos but it is an issue which has come up repeatedly in recent HDiD Coaching Days and so the video will show you how to sequence the move from the top of the backswing.  The ball throwing drill is the simplest way I know to feel and co-ordinate all the elements into one flowing motion.



I have included 2 screenshots taken 1 month apart to highlight the swing improvements you can make by understanding the correct sequence down to the ball.  The first shows a player on the right, who from that top of the backswing is anxious to HIT the ball, trying to get the club head back to impact first and as a result the upper torso unwinds before the lower body.  The arms swing outwards and the club shaft appears on a very steep plane, dissecting the neck line.

The left image shows the difference in the club shaft line, much lower or shallower as the legs and hips rotate ahead of the shoulders.  This downswing is working much more from the inside as you see in the second picture, the hands leading the club head towards impact.  Again, the right hand picture shows the club head outside the line of the hands, the shaft aiming well right of the intended target creating a path through impact across the ball.





At this point I believe it's important to highlight that this move, and indeed any of the topics we talk about on the Blog, are designed to help your swing understanding and improve your concept of how to play.  It is vital however, that you understand your own individual swing patterns otherwise you will never know if this or any other video is relevant to your game.

The downswing sequence here is important to the golfer who has good posture, grip and adequate wrist/arm action.  If these are not present then this sequence may in fact make you worse, your swing patterns won't work with this sequence.

This is why we created the HowDidiDo Swing Analysis facility.  Be e mailing your golf swing from your smart phone or tablet we can provide you with a full online swing review and highlight the areas of your swing which can improve your game.  By reviewing your swing you can understand which information applies to your swing and use it to improve.  The changes you see above took only 1 month to learn, what could you achieve in the same time?

23 June 2014

Ensure Your Set-Up Allows You To Create a Better Hip Turn

The monthly HowDidiDo Academy coaching days at High Legh Park GC have continued to grow throughout the early part of the season with many players making significant gains in their golf game.  This week I wanted to share with you something I have seen in a significant number of golfers, a restricted hip turn with poor leg and foot action.  I view the hip action as being the bridge between the upper body and the legs and feet as well being crucial in how easily you can create power in the swing.
In the video you will see how poor positioning of the feet at set-up can have a huge influence over how your hips work and in recent weeks I have seen this affecting players of all handicaps.

The feet have an important role, they are obviously the part of the body interacting with the ground and as such we should ensure they provide a stable strong platform for our swing.  It is very common for the feet to be too square or facing straight forwards and this can significantly affect the legs and hips. Remember the feet/ankles, knees and hips are all joined up together and if one moves poorly then all will move poorly.
Common backswing problems I have seen include a hip slide and body tilt, poor weight transfer/reverse pivot and short restricted swing length producing no power. By turning both feet outwards at address you can significantly improve the range of hip turn making it much easier to rotate the torso into a full powerful backswing.  The screenshot below shows what a difference this small change can make.

If you are interested in attending a Coaching Day then please contact me directly at neil.clarkson@golfprobooking.com You will experience high speed video analysis and Flightscope launch monitor review during the session and will be provided with an online video lesson review.
All sessions are individual and are either 1 or 3 hours long. 
We have seen an amazing 2 weeks at Pinehurst No 2 hosting back to back U.S Opens.  Martin Kaymer produced a dominating display to win his second major and ensure another Ryder Cup appearance.  Then Michelle Wie, finally fulfilling her talent winning her first major.  I wrote in a blog some weeks ago that I thought Martin Kaymer was coming back to his best, reverting to his Fade swing shape has taken some time but has got him back to his best.

I posted on Twitter an interesting article on how individual body shapes dictate what the ideal swing plane and ball flight should be.  If you would like to read it please contact me and I will happily forward it to you.

9 June 2014

Control Your Eye Line to Strike Perfect Pitch Shots

One of the great difficulties with golf as a game is that 1 technique does not fit all shots or situations.  The swing motion needed to hit perfect long drives is very different from the technique needed to play short touch and feel shots.  Of course many of the principles remain but the power moves needed for full shots can be very destructive when playing delicate chip and pitch shots around the green.

Imagine what your handicap would be if you never missed the green from 50 yards and in.  In this weeks video we look at a little known or talked about issue but one which is hugely influential when you're looking for consistent crisp short game shots.

           

Golf is a target based game and as such is a very visual sport.  How we position our eyes when standing to the ball has a huge influence, not only on how we see or perceive the target but also the swing patterns we produce through impact.  If you position your eyes across the target line rather than parallel to the target line your swing path can shift significantly.

Crisp, consistent pitch shots demand you have complete control over where the club contacts the ground.  If this "low point" moves around you will hit a combination of thinned or fat shots.  From a confidence point of view there is nothing more destructive than duffing that short pitch shot into a bunker in front of you!

Perhaps the most common visual fault is to address the ball with your head back behind the ball and your eye line tilted outwards (for a right hander this would be to right of target).  This head and eye position moves the low point of the swing back in the stance and creates a swing path which is too far from in to out.  The only way to recover from this is to involve the hands and try to manipulate the club back to the ball and find the target line, guaranteeing an inconsistent strike.

Checking your eyes are parallel to the target line in a mirror should be the first thing you check if you struggle around the greens.  Improving this will allow you to control the low point of the swing with much greater consistency and could save several shots a round.

Our Academy coaching days continue this month at High Legh Park GC, Cheshire.  From 17th-19th June individual 1 hour or 3 hour sessions are available and incorporate video analysis and Flightscope launch monitor data.  If you would like to work with me on your game contact me neil.clarkson@golfprobooking.com for more details or appointments.


Finally this week a look forward to the U.S Open at Pinehurst No 2 in North Carolina.  I was lucky today this course several times whilst at University in North Carolina, it is an incredible place an remains the best course I have played.  Having been a Major in which European players struggled for many years we have won 3 of the last 4 with Graeme MacDowell, Rory McIlroy and last year Justin Rose.  Pinehurst is a very different U.S Open course with fairways wider than normal and large run off areas around the greens instead of the usual thick rough.  My pick for the week is Henrik Stenson, hugely long, the wider fairways will benefit his Driving and he's running back into form recently.

26 May 2014

Improve Your Bunker Play Part 2

In last week’s article and video we looked at the important set up fundamentals to improve your bunker shots around the green.  This week we move on and show you the 3 most important elements of the swing you need to execute these shots both accurately and consistently.
I really believe these shots are much easier to play well once you understand both the set up changes and the swing you need to allow the sand wedge to do its job.  They are not shots you need to fear and with a little practice and confidence you may find you save several shots a round. 



It’s important to say that you must have a wedge which gives you the best chance of success, something your Pro can help you understand.  These guidelines may help you.
·         Your bunker wedge should have at least 56 degrees of loft
·         It should have at least 10 degrees of bounce, more if you take lots of deep divots
·         The deeper the sand the wider the sole and more bounce you need
·         Your bunker wedge should have a flatter lie angle to allow you to lower your hands at address.

If this sounds a bit technical or your first thought is that I’m not good enough for that to make a difference then ask yourself, am I giving myself the best chance to learn these shots and improve.  The wrong club will make these shots much more difficult to play.
A problem for many of you may be a lack of facility to practice your bunker shots.  If your Club doesn’t have a practice bunker then you can take your practice to the course.  Play some holes on your own when the course is quiet using just one ball, and whenever your approach shot missed the green rather than chip or pitch simply move your ball into the nearest bunker and play out the hole.  This gets you some regular bunker practice and allows you to monitor your progress.

Many thanks to everyone who attended the HowDidiDo Coaching days at High Legh Park GC last week.  It was good to meet some new players and to see in person those of you who had used the Swing Analysis facility.  There was excellent progress made and I’m looking forward to hearing about your results through this season.  The next coaching days will be in June, please contact me at neil.clarkson@golfprobooking.com for more details or to book your place.  All appointments are individual and are for 1 or 3 hours.

This week is your last chance to enter the HowDidiDo Morocco Matchplay and win you place at the Grand Finals.  Entries close on the 25th May visit www.howdididomatchplay.co.uk to enter; you could be spending a week in Morocco competing to find the best Matchplay golfers in the UK.  

20 May 2014

Bunker Shot Basics, How to Make it the Easiest Shot in the Game

Bunker shots, perhaps more than any other shot in the game seem to strike fear and dread into many golfers.  Adding to that frustration we see Pro’s on the TV every week making it look so easy.  I have created a 2 part video which I feel addresses many of the issues I see golfers make.  It also seeks to create a clear picture or concept of how to play the shot well.  To gain confidence and lose the fear associated with this shot it is critical we understand how your wedge is going to move through the sand to guarantee the ball clears the bunker and lands on the green.  With a little practice you will start to gain confidence and control over the shot.


Part 1 is designed to deal with the set-up and concept of the shot, the swing itself will be Part 2, released next week.  Without the set-up being in place you will find it almost impossible to create a consistent entry into the sand and never gain control over the shot.  I believe this is the main cause of a loss of confidence eventually leading to fear of the shot.  If you can guarantee every bunker shot at least finishes on the green imagine how many shots that could save you during a round.

It’s important I mention equipment at this point.  I see many players attempting these shots with a wedge which gives them very little chance of success.  Most commonly the standard sand wedge matching the set they use or a 60 degree lob wedge.  These clubs are almost always lacking one of the key elements you need, either bounce or loft.  Modern sets of irons have become increasingly less lofted in order to promote increased distance, as the Pitching wedge has less loft so the Sand wedge is forced to follow.  Many “set” Sand wedges now have only 54 degrees of loft, not enough to play the bunker shot with the control needed.  The 60 degree wedge is almost always lacking the required bounce.  It was never intended to be used as a bunker wedge but as a specialist tool for high soft pitch shots were loft is the priority.  In a bunker the lack of bounce makes it almost impossible to create a consistent divot often causing fat or thinned shots.

My preferred choice would always be a wedge with 56-58 degrees of loft with 10-14 degrees of bounce.  I strongly recommend you check with your Club Pro or coach the wedge you currently use.  If bunker shots are a problem for you it is very likely the wedge you use is partly responsible.
 
The special offers within out Swing Analysis service continue, if you have a mobile device you can film your swing and submit it to us.  We will record an analysis of your swing and recommendations of what to practice to improve your game.  For a fraction of the cost of a normal lesson you can use this to understand your own swing and focus your practice and play without getting wrapped up in useless swing thoughts.
We have already had success this season with golfers already reducing their handicaps.  Click the Swing Analysis tab to learn more and watch a sample lesson.


Thanks to everyone who has e mailed recently with questions and comments, it is greatly appreciated and I look forward to hearing more from you.    

3 May 2014

How to Fix Your Hook

HDiD Golf Academy is back after an unscheduled Easter (and a bit more) break.Sorry about the lack of communication but we are back to get you on the right track as the season kicks into high gear.

It’s widely accepted that the majority of golfers are plagued by a slice ball flight and we have produced a variety of videos looking at causes of this shot shape.  In this week’s video I look at the opposite shape, the hook.

Ben Hogan was famously quoted as saying “You can talk to a fade but a hook won’t listen” and it would be true that a hook would be the shot feared by low handicap players and professionals.  Low handicap players generally have more consistent control of the swing path, tend to deliver the club more from the inside and have greater club speed.  It is the club speed which can cause problems especially if the downswing is not well co-ordinated, relying on the hands to deliver the club into impact.  If the hands are late squaring the face then a block/push results sending the ball wide right (for right hander) but if they rotate to quickly then the club face will be closed relative to the swing path. The result is a hook shape, curving out of control and missing well left of target.

Two examples of high speed players who have struggled with block/hook ball flights would be Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.  Their incredible speed and power can actually become a disadvantage if they lose the co-ordination between the body action and the arm swing.  You may have heard commentators talking about being “trapped on the inside”. 

If you are a player who can easily produce power and distance but struggle to find the control and accuracy needed to improve then this video could really help you understand the impact conditions you will need.

This year’s Matchplay Tournament is open for entries.  It is your chance to win a place at the finals held in Morocco, a quickly emerging golf destination with great weather and facilities.  Some of the best golf course designers have built spectacular courses and it was this year home to winter training weeks for the England Golf Elite Squads.  To enter simply follow the link to the Morocco Matchplay on the howdidido home page.

Over 20 golfers attended our Academy coaching days at High Legh Park GC in Cheshire last week.  In individual 1 hour or 3 hour sessions they all made some great improvements and it was a pleasure to work with everyone.  Using video and Flightscope analysis it is a great way to understand your swing and find improvements no matter what your handicap or age.  Many thanks to everyone who attended. 

We will be hosting another event at High Legh Park GC from 20-22nd May, to book your individual appointment please contact me at neil.clarkson@golfprobooking.com

Our Swing Analysis facility continues to grow, by filming your swing on a mobile or tablet you can use the V1 Golf App to send it to us.  We will send you back a lesson of up to 30 minutes showing you how to improve which you can access any time you have internet access.

Click the Swing Analysis tab at the top of the page to register today. 

11 April 2014

Create More Lag in Your Swing for More Powerful Iron Shots


I have never been a coach who has particularly used a huge number of teaching or training aids during lessons.  Not because I don’t believe they work but mainly because I always felt that the player should be able to practice on their own the same way as they learnt during the lesson.  It is obvious that you are not going to buy a new training aid after every lesson and so I have always looked for more inventive ways to get my message across.
Over the coming few weeks, starting today, I am going to show you a series of drills/lessons which use a new product called SwingPlane Perfector.  If you are serious about your golf and improving it then this is one of the very few must own devices I have ever come across.  It’s small, light, very accurate and can be used to improve every part of your game both indoors and out, on the range or out on the practice ground.  Visit www.swingplaneperfector.com to find out more and quote HowDidiDo if you decide to order one for yourself.



The video this week looks at a hugely important power source in the swing.  Creating lag in the downswing is perhaps a term you may have come across but maybe not really understood what it means.  Simply put, it refers to the ability of the player to get the club head to “lag” behind the club handle in the downswing.  There is little doubt that the vast majority of golfers suffer from a slight sense of panic from the top of the backswing, a desire to get the club face back to the ball as soon as possible.  In talking to players I find this most often stems from a lack of trust, a feeling that they want to make sure the club face contacts the ball.  In other words they want to have total control over the club head.  My very first mentor, Peter Tupling had a great saying,

In order to gain control you must feel yourself losing control”

A powerful efficient downswing is one which free wheels, we give up conscious control and let momentum deliver the club into and through the ball.  The more we are able to create this trust the more consistent and powerful our ball striking becomes. 
To show you how quickly this can be achieved I include below a screenshot from a recent lesson.  Michael is currently 17 handicap but keen to improve and the differences in his impact position came in just 1 hour using the drill in the video above.

Our second month of HowDidiDo Academy Coaching Days are now full with over 20 players attending over 3 days next week at High Legh Park GC in Cheshire.  We are now taking bookings for May at the same venue, if you would like to attend for individual coaching then contact me at neil.clarkson@golfprobooking.com for details.


Also entry is now open for the new HowDidiDo Matchplay, which is now known a the Morocco Matchplay powered by HowDidiDo. its the same great amateur golf competition, but now the final will be held in Morocco! Follow this link for entry details 

5 April 2014

Hole More Putts with Lower Body Stability

The start of the season is here!  The clocks have changed, The Masters is a week away and I’m sure most of you are starting Club Competitions.  Our aim this year was to structure the Blog and videos in a similar way to how elite players start the year.  Starting in January we reviewed the importance of the fundamentals, then Short Game technique before focusing on hitting the Driver longer and straighter.  Each topic building on the fundamentals we learnt back in January.

This week we have the first of our Guest Instructor videos.  Richard Hudson is the Head Professional at Pestana Vila Sol Resort in Portugal.  In his first video he shows you a fantastic drill to hone your putting stroke for the start of the season.  As he demonstrates, it can be done on the putting green, or at home on the carpet.


Movement in the lower body is one of the most common faults we see in putting.  It causes poor stroke technique and rhythm and perhaps most damaging, a very erratic strike point on the putter face.
If you are a player who suffers from poor or inconsistent distance control on the greens then Richards drill is one of the best I have seen.  Three putting is almost always caused by bad speed control, which in turn can almost always be linked to a poorly struck putt.

Putts left short are most often caused by a mishit and if we don’t recognise this we will start to hit the ball harder on subsequent putts.  If we now hit the sweet spot of the putter we can suddenly roll the ball several feet past the hole, our confidence on the greens now disappearing fast.

I have always believed that a putting green is the most under used facility at a Golf Club.  It is generally only used by the juniors, very low handicap players or for 15 minutes before a tee time.  Very rarely do handicap golfers have a specific practice session on the putting green and in my view that is a wasted opportunity to improve.
Visit any tournament, amateur or professional and you will see the putting green is always full.  Players working to improve their stroke consistency by practicing drills or working with training aids is deemed hugely important.  If you can commit 30 minutes a week to improving your stroke in a dedicated practice session you will see a huge improvement in putting consistency out on the course.
 
I spent a day at PGA EuroPro Final Qualifying this week at Frilford Heath, the picture below shows the putting green late in the day and still players were out working on their stroke.


I’m sure many of you have visited Portugal to play golf.  If you are playing on the Algarve then you can contact Richard Hudson at Pestana Vila Sol resort or e mail him at richard@rbhgolf.com

There is nothing worse than playing poorly when on holiday and Richard can certainly help you play better golf.  Tell him you are a member of HowDidiDo and he might even give you a discount!
We will bring you more great drills from Richard throughout the season. 


31 March 2014

Small Mistakes Can Lead to Big Swing Errors

Alongside the launch of the HowDidiDo Academy Online Swing Analysis facility last week saw the first Academy Coaching Days.  Hosted at High Legh Park GC in Cheshire we held 3 days on one to one coaching for players of all levels.

This week I wanted to share something which was very much a feature of the sessions.
 
I have spoken before in various videos about the importance of creating a consistent repetitive address position if your aim is to play consistent golf.  Talking to players of all handicaps last week it quickly became clear that after a very wet winter nobody had played or practised much for quite some time.  As a consequence nearly everyone was struggling to feel the co-ordination and timing brought on by regular play. 

The beginning of the season is a great time to work with players, mistakes in the swing are generally not covered up by the timing which regular golf brings and we get to see the “true” results from swings which carry technical flaws.

The one thing which stood out the most however was players ranging from low single figures up through mid to high handicaps all struggling to find a consistent accurate POSTURE.
Included below are some screenshots from the lessons last week, all taken at the start of the session.  These pictures all have one thing in common, the posture. 







Coming out of a winter where perhaps you have played little golf the first thing you should look to is your posture.  It is very easy to bend forward from the waist, not setting the correct pelvic angle and as a result create a very rounded looking spine, shoulders hunched over the ball.  All the players shown above complained of inconsistent direction control with a weak strike and less distance than they normally produce.

Perhaps the most common fault associated with this posture is a backswing which is too far on the inside, the club head travelling behind the hands and in every case a downswing from there which is much steeper and across the ball.  This combination produces pulls and weak fades/slice and significant frustration for the players!


Compare those pictures to the one below, also from last week, of two elite players I work with.  In both instances the posture is set in a similar way, with very accurate angles and balance points.  Posture is directly linked to swing plane and poor posture will create a poor swing shape.



Use the camera on your phone to film or photograph your posture, you may be surprised how it looks.  If you are struggling with your ball striking after a long wet winter it may not be your swing but your start position causing all the problems.

If you would like to attend one of our coaching days at High Legh Park GC they will be held every month.  To book for April (15/16/17th) please contact me directly by e mailing neil.clarkson@golfprobooking.com and I will send you details.