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Golf Tips by David Reid

 
 
David owns and operates Flying Diamond Golf Services. He provides private and group golf lessons.
 

Greetings again to all you Senior and Younger Golfers.

It looks like the PGA is in for another exciting year. Tiger seems be back on his game, with 2 wins before the Masters, Rory seems to have shaken off his tooth ache and played to his #1 reputation for the back 9 on Sunday at Doral. There are a great number of exceptional young players out there these days who, as yet, seem undaunted by the veteran players and the pressure of Professional Tour life. It should be interesting to see what The Donald (Trump), does to the Blue Monster for next March’s World Golf – Cadillac Championships.

Entering my 26th year of teaching golf seem almost unreal. Time does really fly when you have this much fun. I’ve been working on some putting in the basement this winter but also getting to the dome a couple of times a week to keep the golf muscles in tune. I also re-read George Knudson’s Natural Golf Swing a least three times and have been working hard on weight transfer and balance which is the basis of his method. I highly recommend the book. It’s interesting that George wrote this book almost 20 years after he played the tour quite successfully. Even with his talent to perform the golf swing he still struggled to fully understand it the way he wanted to. Although the book is repetitive as it progresses, it’s pretty hard to argue with his methodology. I would encourage you to watch George on You Tube and see portions of his video and playing on an old show of Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf hosted by Gene Sarazen.

Regarding the decision to ban the anchored stroke, which will take effect in 2016, after it has been in use for almost 20 years on the senior tour, is not in my opinion the right thing to do. If anyone leaves the sport as a result of this new rule, the game itself loses. and there is no evidence to suggest there is an advantage to its use in putting. I guess it will be a 2 stroke penalty per offense if you use an anchored stroke, but it seems that the anchoring must be deliberate and that accidental anchoring will not be penalized! HUH! So how often should I allow it to be “accidental” in my regular foursome and do I issue a warning? Tournament golf might be just a little more interesting in 2016.

I hope to be seeing you soon on the Links and check out Play it Again Sports for a great selection of new/used 2012 models of Drivers and Fairway woods.

David Reid, Master Teaching Professional

WGTF Top 60 World Teacher 2006, Top 100 World Teacher, 2010 & 2012

April 2012
   
 
April 2011
 This week senior golfer, I pose this question to you. What do you think has made the biggest difference in todays game versus 50 years ago? Many will propose that the biggest difference is technological advances made by equipment and yes you would be partially correct. We have gone from persimmon, to titanium and composite club heads; we have progressed from steel shafts to graphite; we now have very forgiving perimeter weighted irons; putters have moved from simple blades and mallets to computer generated technological marvels of design, science and weight adjustable precision instruments. Golf course maintenance machinery and agronomy now provided conditions that would drop the jaws of long past champions in the sport. The biggest advance however has been the ball itself. The last 8 or 10 years there has been a ³new improved² Pro V1c from Titlest every year. Longer, straighter, more durable, better trajectory, more of everything for your game.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

I was re-reading Ben Hogans first book, Power Golf this week. The book was written in 1948 and I have the pocket edition, first printing 1953. Now Hogan was a legendary golfer as you all know and won 64 professional tournaments including 9 majors, in a professional career that spanned some 37 years from 1930 – 1967. His second book Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf is in its 64th printing. Power Golf however, was where he revealed his playing yardages for his clubs and swing. He provided a regular, maximum and minimum yardage scale for each club. The three distances for his 7 iron were 135,160 and 125 yards respectively. Here is arguably the best ever ball striker (along with Canada¹s own Moe Norman) saying his regular swing 7 iron shot was 135 yards!
Much of this development however has taken place relatively recently in the game’s history. To point this out, I look to the Golden Bear, Jack Nicklaus. We still remember him right? In Golf My Way, first published in 1974, Nicklaus puts his 7 iron under normal conditions at 140-155 yards. Tour players of today are pulling out a 9 iron or pitching wedge from that range depending on the amount of spin they want. I think this is all the evidence needed to convince you that the biggest and most significant change is the golf ball, period.
May 2009 
In my previous article we discussed the parts of the body and their role in the golf swing and I provided you with the “L” drill to work on the role of the arms. This week I can further your understanding of the mid section of the body in general. The mid section is of primary concern since I mentioned it must maintain the levels in the golf swing, that is the level of the head, hips and knees to impact. It must also follow the proper sequence and that is to turn-transfer-turn. I believe that training the body to get to the impact position is paramount to the golf swing and a drill which will help us feel the impact position will be beneficial in understanding its importance. The “impact drill” is designed to do just that. It trains the body to feel the impact position especially with irons. Use this drill with a 6 or 7 iron
As compared to the set up position what should the impact position look like?
1. The majority of weight should be clearly shifted to the target side and the leading leg is somewhat “posted” as a rotational axis.
2. The hips should be open to the target but the shoulders are relatively parallel to the target line.
3. The club shaft is leaning toward the target since the hands are ahead of the clubhead and ball at this point.
4. The head has not moved closer to the target than the ball.
Keeping your body at this impact position take the club back as far as you can and hit the ball. You should realize a lower more penetrating flight and get a sensation of really trapping and compressing the ball. You will definitely create a divot on the target side of the ball since you will be creating the descending blow required by the iron swing. Once you hit 3 good shots with this drill then make some full swings with one thought. Once you get to the top of the swing, get your body to impact.
This drill will also create the sensation of the lower body initiating the forward swing which is an absolute must for consistent ball striking.

Have you read the latest Golf Magazine? If so, you read about the “no back swing” putt, chip and pitch method. Can¹t say I will endorse that one! But, as they say, never say never.

April 2009 

Last time I offered some advice on set up changes for the senior golfer to maintain the level of our game or at least assist us in doing so. Remember however, that these are not hard and fast ‘rules’, they are only suggestions that you can try.

Let¹s discuss today, parts of the body and their role in the golf swing as I see them.

THE ARMS

Provide Width by extension not “straightness”.

Provide Speed when combined with the wrist hinge and body turn.

Create proper Path for delivery of the club head to the ball.

THE BODY

To Respond to the swinging of the club.

To Retain its original levels and posture.

To Follow the proper sequence ( Turn Transfer Turn ).

ROLE OF THE LEGS

To provide a Base for the set-up.

To Resist on the back swing. (not restrict!)

To Lead & Support the forward swing.

ROLE OF THE HEAD

To be Clear to “see” the target.

To Go where the body takes it, lateral movement is acceptable, vertical

movement can be trouble.

To Stay behind the ball through impact.

So how do we apply these principles in the swing itself? Well here is my favorite drill to emphasize the role of the arms. From a good set up, get the feeling of fully turning your chest away from the target as your hands reach shoulder height. You should get the impression that your hands are still in front of your chest. You also need to have the lead arm and club shaft forming the classic L position with the club shaft pointing to an extension of the target line behind the ball. In creating the L let the lower hand feel more active and this will give a natural folding of the trailing arm with the elbow close to the body. Do this a few times and then hit some balls with this L drill swing, repeating the L at the finish of the forward swing. It may surprise you how much speed is created with this ‘half swing’ and you will really feel the hinging and unhinging of the wrists. At the end of this swing be sure to have the chest facing the target. This assures the body is turning in sync with the arm swing and good ‘connection’ between the chest and upper arms is felt.

As you lengthen the swing you will simply allow the hands to go above the shoulder to their full swing position while the L is maintained.

March 2011

Well the warmth of the sun is back and the new seasons of the PGA and Champions’ Tours’ are in their southern swings. Hopefully all you senior golfers have been “working out” and keeping some core and leg strength up during the winter. If you read the recent Golf Magazine there was an article by Dr. GaryWiren a top US teacher who is 75 years old (and still hits 300 yard drives) on how to do really simple things to build and/or maintain core and leg strength. One simple thing was to stand on your tip toes while brushing your teeth (or standing in the Tim’s line waiting for your coffee). I would also add that you can raise and lower yourself while doing this to strengthen your calves. Also doing some knee bends (just so your knees reach a 90 degree angle will strengthen the thighs a bit. Stomach crunches or just tightening the stomach while watching a bit of TV can help reduce the spare tire a bit (if you have one) and also contribute to core strength.

As we start to hit balls in the Sports Dome and I see many seniors there when I go, work mostly with wedges and middle irons. If you insist on hitting the Driver, alternate with a wedge every few swings. Work to ensure your tempo with the Driver is the same as making a wedge swing. Start out making 20 to 30 yard shots with the wedge and gradually build up the length of your swing. Older bodies need to warm up gradually like an old car. You don’t want to race the engine at start up.

Here’s a check list you might consider:

• do a bit of stretching before you commence your golf workout

• check your basics; grip, alignment to your target, stance width, posture and ball position

• work on the body sequence: turn – transfer – turn being sure to start the forward motion from the ground up. The lower body not the arms or shoulders must initiate the forward swing

• finish the swing with your belt buckle facing the target, virtually all your weight on your target foot and in perfect balance

Since we don’t see the entire flight of the ball in the Dome, be aware to observe the balls initial direction relative to the target and watch for any curvature. These are the ball flight laws telling you important information. Given solid contact, the initial direction of the ball is going to indicate your club path and thus hand direction through the hitting area. The curvature relates to your club face angle which determines the path. You then have all the information you need to make the next swing better.

Till next time – think spring!

June 2010
I had a litle golf trip to mid west Michigan the first week of May and had fantastic, early season, cheap golf. We stayed in Mackinaw City one night and had jaccuzzi rooms, breakfast and golf with cart at Black Bear just north of Gaylord for the sum of $ 35.00.
We then stayed at Manistee National Resort, just south of Manistee, which has two 18 hole courses. Our stay was 3 nights, two continental breakfasts, and 72 holes of golf with carts for $230.00/person. A superb early season mini vacation. A long drive, almost 2,500kms, but well worth the effort and with gas on the US side at 77 cents/litre, why not!
We also played Hemlock Golf Club in Ludington and Arcadia Bluffs in Arcadia.  Hemlock was in fantastic condition and had ragged edged bunkers and lots of huge waste bunkers where grounding the club and removing loose impediments is allowed. Arcadia is one of the top 3 or 4 courses I have played for scenic beauty. It’s a links style course with sod walled bunkers, ridges and mounds separating generous fairways, roller coaster greens and Lake Michigan views from every tee. For the $75.00 early season green fee ($185.00 peak) this is a track well worth visiting.
Although we had an early opening to the season in Thunder Bay this year, as of this writing we have had virtually no warmth and only a small amount of rain to green things up. Let’s hope by the time this hits the press we are in full “green” mode. Hopefully, all you senior golfers out there have tried a couple of the drills I provided last time and have seen the potential for keeping the swing in order. I am a real stickler for the basics as you well know. Your swing is as unique as you are as an individual. Whether you swing like Jim Furyk or Ernie Els you still have to have the best possible grip etc. to make the swing repeatable. That is the first great secret of golf, and the second is this: once you have a club in your hands you can hit the green with, hit one good shot.
The good short game player has a huge advantage over the average short game player. The short game is easy to practice, it takes little strength and is the quickest way to improve your average score. Think about it. How many greens did you hit in regulation last time out? I will bet it’s no more than 50-60%. If you could get up and down on 75% of those holes you can improve your average score by 4 or 5 shots. Give yourself this up-and-down challenge next time you venture out for a practice session.
From around the practice green chip or pitch and putt out 10 times. Set yourself a target score based on your present skill level: example, 25 shots would be a 50% up and down percentage, 20 shots would be a 100% up and down rate. Choose a variety of lies within 10 yards of the putting surface from apron to rough, uneven lies and short sided situations. Experiment with hybrid chips, lob shots, and running shots. Gain confidence around the green with several clubs to give you knowledge of what your options might be given the situation you face on the course. You will never tire of this challenge because it offers never ending variety, challenge and most importantly, measurable results.
Until next time, keep it on the short grass.
David Reid, Master Teaching Professional. 

May 2010
Early Season Drills For Better Ball Striking All Season
In this article I will give you some universal drills that might be good for you to improve your ball striking and “train” your body to make better swings in 2010. Some you may know and that’s fine. Ensure you are doing them correctly for full benefit.
1. Feet Together Swing – with this drill simply keep your feet together with a natural flex to your knees and hit balls with a mid iron. This will help synchronize your arm swing with your body turn. It will also help you swing in balance. You may be surprised at how far and straight you hit shots with this drill. Gradually move your feet apart to normal width and get the feeling of being connected during the swing.
2. Impact Drill – this drill will provide that descending blow which is essential for consistent iron play. Take an 8 iron and set up normally, then go to the impact position with hands forward, weight on the target side, hips open, shoulders still parallel to the target line, head in line with the ball. Now take the club back as far as possible and hit the back of the ball while retaining as much of the impact position as possible and go to a natural finish position. You should get nice crisp contact and create a divot on the target side of the ball. Do this a few times then take normal swings and get to that impact position.
3. Release Drill – this drill allows you to feel the natural release of the club head by making one handed swings. You do not have to hit balls with this drill just feel the club release. Take your normal set up and grip. Now remove the lower hand and support the back of your upper hand and wrist with that hand. Make as full a swing as possible while maintaining the support, don’t let the hands separate. Do this several times until you feel the natural release. Grip normally again but remove the upper hand this time and support the back of the lower hand and wrist. Make as full a swing as possible, just as before and begin to feel the natural release again. With only one hand on the grip the release will happen, believe me. Now take your normal grip again and feel this release with both hands on the club. I guarantee this will reduce your grip pressure and give you more speed through the ball.
4. Step Through Drill (Gary Player) – this is a weight transfer drill. The objective is to hit balls and step through with your trailing foot almost like you are going to stride down the fairway. This gets your momentum going to the target. It should be a natural step. You should not have to shift weight after the ball is gone to take the step.
5.  For those of you who are chronic slicers try the Split Hands Drill. By taking your normal grip and separating the hands by 2 or 3 inches you can be more forceful in turning the upper hand over through impact. This will help you feel the forearm rotation needed to deliver the club face more squarely into the ball. Remember that the greatest influence to curving golf shots is the position of the club face at impact.
See You On The Range 

April 2010 

Greetings once again to my senior golfing friends. It looks like we could have an early season opening as the 9 hole Dragon hills course opened a couple of weekends ago for some unheard of March golf. March golf, in Thunder Bay!

As we gear up for the season a pre season check of equipment is always in order. Look for wear on those graphite shafts especially where they may rub at the top of your golf bag. If you see the surface paint is worn off and you feel a slight depression, the shaft will be weakened and can potentially break at that location. This would be a good time to replace it with a “senior” or “regular” shaft. Remember that there are no universal specs for all shaft companies. One company’s firm shaft might be a regular flex for another company.

You also want to check those grips. If you play once a week, you should consider replacing grips at the beginning of every season. Many of you play way more than that so refresh those handles accordingly. It’s a cheap way to make the clubs feel new. If grips get worn and slippery you will be automaticaly increasing grip pressure and we all know that tension is a killer to your golf swing.

Proper warm up and some core strengthening exercises will always help in reducing injuries, maintaining fitness and ensuring we don’t lose too many yard to the new seniors joining our ranks. Leg lifts are pretty easy to do for stregthening the abdominals. Lying on your back with knees up like you are sitting in a chair and then rotating the hips bringing the knees side to side is good for the lateral abdominals and can assist your pivot.

Spring time is also a time to focus on the fundamentals. I know, I know you’ve heard it all before but you know them. Grip, alignment, stance, posture and ball position. These are the foundation of your golf swing but they probably don’t get the attention they deserve. When I teach a beginner, I tell them it will take 20 minutes a day for three months until the grip is consistently applied, perfectly correct and feels natural. The fundamentals we can change if they are not correct. It always comes back to fundamentals. Changing the fundamentals is what changes the golf swing over time.

If it’s time you had a fundamentals tune up. You know where to find me.

See You On The Links

June 2009 

March issue

 
This is the first in a series of short articles aimed at the senior golfer. So dust off those clubs and start preparing for a new season.
Learning is a life long endeavour and as you know there are new and repeating theories about the golf swing in every monthly golf magazine. Most of you are readers so what golf books or magazines have you been reading this winter? Have you been adding to your knowledge of the golf swing? Have you resigned that your best golfing days are behind you? Fear not.
We seniors, including myself, must adapt our golf swing to the aging body that we inhabit. We no longer have the flexibility of a 25 or 30 year old but we still have plenty of game left in us. Don¹t get too excited by the new theories taught by the leading golf teachers to the young and upcoming Andy Kim¹s and B J Holmes and the “secrets” of the latest Masters Champion. Remember that the basic building blocks of golf are and always will be in the basics and it becomes more important to the senior golfer to adapt these basics to play your best when the season starts.
So, what changes should the senior gofer make to keep their game in shape.
1. Use a stronger grip. First ensure the grip is mostly in the fingers and then turn the top hand so that you can see perhaps three fist knuckles at the address position.
This position of the top hand will help to have the club face either square or closing relative to the target line at impact and help you hit the longer drawing golf shot not the weak high fade.
2. Close the stance slightly and narrow up the width of the stance a little.
The closing of the stance will assist you swinging from slightly inside to along the target line at impact and allow the hands to release more efficiently. Narrowing the stance will allow an easier turning of the hips on the back swing.
3. Let both your feet point outward at address.
This will allow you to make a slightly longer back swing which tends to shorten with age.
4. Place the ball a little ahead of center when using irons.
This allows us to shift more weight to the target leg and will give one the opportunity to make better ball-club contact achieving a lower more boring trajectory.

5. For the driver tee the ball high and forward.

You need to get your launch angle up around 13 or 14 degrees as your swing speed slows. If you are contemplating a new driver make sure it is a 460cc model with at least 10.5 degrees or more of loft.

Remember the swing is about basics.

 
Till next month….Dave
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

I’m preparing for a spring golf trip to southern Michigan and a visit to Tullymore and St. Ives Resort in Stanwood. Tullymore is a top 100 course and St. Ives rates 4 1/2 stars from Golf Digest so they should be a real treat to open the season. This will be our third year to head south of Sault St. Marie in April.

Expectations are to try the Hidden River Golf and Casting Club, Northwest of Indian River on our way down. Once we are at the resort we have The Tullymore Course, St. Ives Course and Pilgrims Run (par 73) which was a US Open Qualifier Course in 2007. We will also make our annual visit to Arcadia Bluffs on the east shore of Lake Michigan just North of Manistee. This course alone is worth the trip. Built on 245 acres of wind swept sandy bluffs 200 feet above Lake Michigan, Warren Henderson and Rick Smith have provided a course that will remind you of Lahinch and Ballybunnion. Rolling sand dunes, natural fescues, sod walled bunkers and greens that make your knees knock. The published Mission Statement promises they ” will operate as the finest daily fee golfing facility in the United States.”

These will be pretty strong courses, all can be played from 7000 yards plus with slopes at 140+. I may take a look from the tips but will not be playing from there. There is no need to travel that far and let the golf courses beat you up. Enjoy the camaraderie of your buddies, enjoy good food and refreshment, play friendly games and play from tees that offer you the chance to be challenged and yet rewarded for good play.

As you prepare for a new season take stock of your game from last year’s results. Was there a problem with one part of your game? Driver leave you searching for every tee shot? Bunkers make you cringe? Middle irons always leave you more than 15 yards from the green? Chipping too often after a short iron to the green? Poor chips leaving too many 10 footers? Three putts turning possible pars into bogies? Resolve to make last years weakness a strength.

Make a commitment to spend more time working on improvement when you practice.

This might mean an hour in the practice bunker every day for a week, or hitting the range with just your 9 iron and pitching wedge. Gripping down an inch or two on your driver for more control or ditching your 9 degree for a 12. Give yourself an up and down challenge every day and measure the result. Take a private or group lesson, there is always an opportunity to get better if you want to.

March 2011 

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A GOLF LESSON

 

With an early spring already upon us why not take a lesson? The best players in the world have a golf coach so why shouldn’t you? Now is the time to get a refresher on the basics and get back to playing the game. No matter how old (you think) you are or how well or poorly you played last fall, believe me you can get better, but it will take a commitment from you to do and practice what your teacher has instructed.

This is what you should expect from a lesson. As a teaching professional it’s my job to help you get better. We will examine your fundamentals, watch your ball flight and determine what needs to change. Changing the fundamentals especially the grip may be the key to delivering the club head into a square position so that the ball goes to the target. Many amateurs have a predominant ball flight to the slice side and that’s OK as long as it’s consistent. Having the fundamentals set in a way that makes your swing repeatable is the way to improvement. If an individual has played the game for several years, they already have a golf swing. As a teacher I cannot ask you to rebuild your swing. First, you don’t have the money to get the repeated guidance necessary and secondly most of you are not willing to spend the time on reps which are necessary to ingrain the new. Any time I meet with a client, I will always chat briefly about what they feel is the weakest part of their game. Nine times out of ten, unless I’m dealing with a true beginner, they want to be more consistent. Well, believe me, so does Tiger Woods and he “works” on his game virtually every day for a minimum of 5-6 hours when he’s not playing a tournament. We can rebuild the fundamentals, this will rebuild the swing over time if you stick with the changes we make.

If you examine your game carefully, you should determine what is the shot that gets you in trouble. Every tee shot leave you in deep rough? Easy fix. Do you 3 putt more than three times in a round? Easy fix. Do you miss a lot of greens and fail to get up and down more than half the time? That’s an easy fix too. Give me a half hour and practice what I teach you. If your bad shots are a top one time huge slice the next, duck hook the next time and hitting behind the ball you probably have a motion and sequence issue. This is going to involve a longer commitment on your part to learn a more repeating motion that fits with your improvement goals. Maybe that’s a 3 lesson program

Three words for today – Fundamentals, Balance and Tempo, get these in order and you’re good to go.

Till next time when I chat about our April Michigan trip, see you on the links.David Reid, Master Teaching Professional

June 2012

Oh Michigan. We had our annual golf trip the last week of April this year. Believe me golf in Michigan is a bargain and courses are superb. Our first course was Black Bear in Vanderbilt just north of Gaylord. Twenty dollars for all we could play. We also played this course a couple of years ago and it was showing some wear around the edges but this year it was in great shape.Nice holes through some wooded area and good elevation changes throughout the course. It also starts off with a warm up par 3 before you hit the first hole. Prior to hitting the resort we had the opportunity to play the Masterpiece Robert Trent Jones course at Treetops in Gaylord. Normally we are too early for the top Gaylord area courses to be open so it was nice to have our early spring coincide with theirs. Our price was $40.00 with cart and range balls. $125.00 peak time.

The resort we stayed at was Lakewood Shores in Oscoda. Three full 18 hole courses and an 18 hole pitch and putt complete with tees, sand traps and a couple of double greens right outside our condo unit. The Gailes is a traditional Scottish links (number 20 of Michigan’s top 50), The Blackshire is a bit like Pine Valley with large vast bunkers and dune sands and the Serridela is a typical old parkland course with wide tree lined fairways. Our package was based on three nights and unlimited golf for two days at 230.00/ person. We had adjoining two bedroom units with full cooking facilities and jacuzzi. We had planned to play Red Hawk (#17) on our final day but opted for the number 2 course in Michigan Forest Dunes near Roscommon. This was a special treat at the bargain rate of 59.00 with cart and range balls.

I also want to talk about a new driver I just purchased to add to my equipment arsenal. It’s a new Cobra S3, 11.5 degree with a light shaft. The light shaft is lighter and built for slower than 90mph swing speeds. The driver is also adjustable for neutral, open and closed face position. But here’s the kicker. To actually increase the loft 1 degree you set to the closed position and then you square up the face and re grip. I believe I picked up 15 yards minimum from last year’s drives. On number one at Chapples I seldom hit over the diagonal ditch any more but the first day I hit with the Cobra I flew the ditch and was inside the 100 yard marker. On number 2, I was inside 200 yards past the tree on the left corner of the fairway. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have to hit over or around that stupid tree. This Cobra is also a more traditional smooth top rather than the sculptured look of recent Cobra designs which I was never fond of.

Now that the season is fully under way in the Bay, get working on your swings. Re calculate your carry yardages for your irons. We all tend to think we can hit that career longest 8 iron every time and then we wind up with a 20 yard pitch to the green. Swallow some pride and make a smooth balanced swing with an extra club and forget what what your fellow competitor (stroke play) or opponent (match play) is hitting. Always remember that the short game is the quickest way to better scores so spend an hour three or more times a week to sharpen it up and make 2012 your best year yet.

We all love golf. It is the endless game. Every round is a new challenge and no matter how badly we play, two or three great shots are memorable, and no matter how well we play there are shots that we left out there that could have made a two or three shot improvement.

Have fun and enjoy the summer.