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SCPGA California Golf Summit

Last week I attended a teaching seminar at the beautiful Virginia Country Club in Long Beach. I have been to dozens of these over my 30 year teaching career as an attendee and, more recently, as a presenter. For many years too, I have had a vested interest. As a member of the SoCal PGA Teaching Committee, I have a role in continually providing opportunities for golf professionals to “get better together”.

The Summit was a chance to learn and grow. And did I ever. I am more fired up than ever especially when it comes to keeping my instruction simple, helping students stay uncluttered, and not try so damn hard.

The main takeaway for me was, teach less. Put games and drills in place and trust that learning will take place.

Here are a few quotable moments from many…

 

“Giving a lesson gives greater satisfaction than playing.”
— Eddie Merrins, PGA “The Little Pro” graced us with his ability to deliver a clear message. His history in the game is unmatched. I respect his longevity and continued enthusiasm.

 

“Perfection gets in the way of greatness.”
— Sean Foley, turns out he is more of a life coach. Beautiful.

 

“Find the least invasive way to get the outcome.”
— Mark Blackburn, PGA

 

“Let it occur, less trying, show me some texture.”
— Jamie Mulligan, PGA

 

Superstar host of the event added live music to his gig including the drummer from the band No Doubt. EXTRAordinary presentation. Not one single mention of mechanics. Bravo!

 

Amy Alcott and John Cook told wonderful stories with assistance from interviewer Charlene Bendt, PGA

 

“Life lives in the present. Stress lives in future.”
— Dr. Tim Brown
Sports medicine expert, health and well-being coach on Jamie’s assembled team

 

“Good coaches don’t say a lot.”
— James Sieckmann, PGA
9-time Nebraska Section PGA Teacher of the Year

 

Practice with a Pal

han-solo-chewbacca-star-wars

 

Practicing with someone is surely one way to get better faster. Companionship is one aspect that you miss out on if you never practice with a buddy. Having someone else there who’s encouraging and fun to be around is almost always a good thing.

A buddy can help get the practice session going and keep it organized. A thoughtful buddy can help put a contest in place so that competition can be had. He can help you know when to continue and when you are done.

Folks just don’t practice enough in the first place. Nor do players take advantage of practicing with a buddy. It’s even better if your practice partner is better than you. This causes you to have to pay attention. It can pressure pack the practice because you don’t want to lose. It can help you stay with the practice session a little longer because it’s fun and no one wants to leave. All factors that will contribute to you spending productive time working on your game.

 

Swing vs. Hit

 

Often, I am asked for that one big piece of advice. This is it…

Swing. Don’t hit.

It’s really that simple.

The ball is not the target.

We are all instinctively “ball bound”. Attention on the ball, trying to hit the ball, trying to make the ball go up are all symptoms of the urge to do something to the ball. This instinct or urge must be overridden with a commitment to swing through and let the ball get in the way.

I have students drill, starting with little tiny chip shot swings, with their eyes closed. The reason is I want them to learn to trust their golf motion. I want them to learn that you don’t use hand-eye coordination to hit a golf ball.

 

Nutrition, Rest and Hydration | Easy Bogey

Excerpt from Easy Bogey: How to Break 90

I had turned pro and started my teaching career. One morning, I was stopped by one of our Members in the cafe. He said, “Bob. You gotta help me. My swing is all messed up.” I asked what was up. He told me he had been 1 over par with four holes to play and finished with three doubles and a bogey. He ended up with an 80.

“I don’t know what happened. My swing just fell apart there at the end.”

Hmmm. I thought.

His name was Pete. “Pete, what time did you go to bed?”

“1:30” he said and told me he had been out drinking and dancing.

“And you played at dawn?”

“Yes”

“Carried your clubs?”

“Yes”

“What did you have for breakfast?”

“Coffee”

“Did you eat during the round?”

“No”

“Drink any water?”

“No”

By then he figured out where I was going with the coaching questions.

“Do you think I just ran out of gas?”

“Let’s see. You got four hours of sleep. You didn’t have breakfast. You carried a twenty-pound pack on your back for like five miles. You didn’t hydrate and you didn’t eat anything along the way.”

“Your swing isn’t broken. You were one over after fourteen holes.”

Here is the moral of the story and a bit of perspective. Amateurs do things amateurishly. A big part of my wonderful job is to gently demand that they do things more professionally. This includes being well rested, properly fueled and hydrated. Please do.

 

Freedom from Tension

relaxed-golf-swing

 

Tension is a killer. Tension and tightness, in the arms, hands, and shoulders will rob you of any chance for reliable ball-striking much less effortless power. We are all trying to hit the ball when we should be swinging. Loosening up allows the swinging weight of the club to fly on the wings of centrifugal force. The clubhead will practically return itself to the back of the ball, but not if you’re are tight in any way.

Relax your grip. Relax your forearms. Relax your shoulders. And seek to keep them free from tension all the way through the swing to the finish.

Good players look so effortless. It’s because they are not using effort. They learned as kids and understand that the golf club can not be wrestled with. It demands gentleness and punishes the use of sheer force. The club rewards balance, rhythm, and grace. They make a commitment to remove the tension that interrupts the swinging momentum of the club. This swinging is the key to consistency and effortless power. Yet, we strain.

Loosen up. And when you think you are loose enough, loosen up some more.

 

Gotta Get it Close

Gotta Get it Close

WITH A BONUS AT THE END OF THE ARTICLE

You gotta get the short game shots close to have any hope of scoring.

In Easy Bogey How to Break 90, I stress getting on the green in one over regulation and two putting for bogey. 

To really score lower, you gotta get the short game shot close enough for a one putt. Pitch shots, sand shots and chips must be gotten within four feet–preferably closer–in order to save a stroke. Same with lag putts.

Average golfers crack me up sometimes when they compliment each other on a short game approach shot ends up six or eight or ten feet from the hole.

This is not good enough when you want to save strokes. Statistically, we miss those longer “short” putts nearly every time.

If you want to truly get to the next level of scoring–whatever that means to you–I recommend dedicating yourself to some 20 hours of lag putting, pitching, chipping and bunker play practice. Oh. And I recommend getting instruction and coaching to ensure you have the know how and the drills are right for you.

BONUS: For anyone who reads this all the way to the bottom and asks nicely, I will give you a FREE 10-minute putting lesson to help you make sure you hole those short putts. There’s a trick to it!

 

Testimonial from Pennsylvania

Bob Madsen makes golf into ART. He is gifted. He is visionary. He is fiercely dedicated to the PGA of America, to his employer Sycuan Golf Resort, and to the teaching arts.  He is humble and quiet about himself, which in some way explains his not being recognized quite enough for who and what he is. 

I went to Scotland and played links golf with him, because of him.  I know course design because of him. I walk courses instead of riding because of him. I have read 100 classic golf books because of him. I understand the game because of him.  I am merely one of the thousands of lives he has touched deeply.  I am not a man of means, but I save all year in Pennsylvania so that I can go to HIM for knowledge and encouragement.

So, whoever it is out there who has influence over Top 100 teacher lists, you’re missing one very important dude. I implore you to meet him in person, play with him, watch him teach, and listen to his graceful presentation of our beloved game.

 Bruce Wilson    Rochester, PA       724-814-2512  

 

Beginner Not Ready To Quit Golf

> Quick story,

> I played with my father Glen last week. He birdied the first 3 holes and parred a bunch after that. As I’m not supposed to, I let it affect my game instead of concentrating on MY game. Not ready to quit golf, but it did bum me out quite a bit and setting any future tee times were nowhere in my thoughts. That was until I got half way through your book Easy Bogey this morning. It reminded me to re-center myself and ease up, to add that extra shot to par in my thought process before I take that first swing. I immediately put the book down and made a tee time for Monday. Thanks, Bob.

Hole in One Testimonial. Luck or Skill?

 From a high handicap amateur. 

 Hi my name is Will.  I started golfing about 10 months ago and started working with Bob Madsen (PGA Pro) 7 months ago.  Bob has helped me lower my handicap to a 16 and my best round so far is 90 on a par 72 course.

I think every hole in one shot has a combination of luck and skill.  When a pro hits a lob wedge 5 yards past the pin that spins back into the cup, one could argue there is a greater portion of skill than luck in that shot.  When first time golfer tops a 160 yard drive off the tee that roles in, most would credit luck.  My hole-in-one falls somewhere between those two extremes.

Two days a week I play the Pine Glen par 3 course and usually shoot in the mid to high 60s.  The course has a nice mix of 150+ yard par 3’s and challenging greens that keep patrons engaged.  This particular round I was golfing with my new Ping G irons for the first time.  Hole 6 is a narrow 180 yard flat par 3 with trees on either side of the fairway.  I play my 5 iron on this hole with the expectation that my average shot will yield a 20 yard layup, while a particularly well struck shot will roll onto the green.  Today my tee shot was dead straight, low and a bit thin (I never use tees in this course as I am trying to improve my fairway shots).  It took the first bounce 15 yards before the green and started rolling a couple yards before the small berm that guards the front edge of the green.  I lost site of the ball as it trickled over the berm, but re acquired it just as it started breaking towards pin.  It was kind of hard to see from far away, but as the ball slowed I lost it.  I calmly said “no f—ing way” and shook my head as I jogged to green with my pushcart.  I remember thinking, “this isn’t supposed to happen to new golfers like me.” Sure enough there was my prov1x with orange sharpie staring at me from the bottom of the cup.

I’m not sure if there is anything to learn here. I was making the safe easy tee shot Bob trained me to see.  The kind of smart beginner tee shot that does not challenge the surrounding trees by attempting dramatic and unnecessary shot shaping.  My focus was to hit the ball straight, low and just short of the green.  I succeeded at two of those three things.

In one sense you could say I am lucky because my shot that purposefully fell short of the green happened to roll in.  In another sense one could say smart shot selection from the tee box (skill not luck) yielded that shot.

So I guess I have a question. Is the hole-in-one that rolls onto the green more luck or skill, if rolling onto the green is exactly what the golfer was trying to do?

 

Observations of Another and New Wedges because the grooves were worn off

Hi Bob.  I keep a journal to reflect on and record what I learn in lessons.  I just thought I would share my entry from Wednesday.

 Wednesday 4/12: I watched Bob coach a very good amateur.  

 Mr. Dan Sivadge

Coach introduced me to Dan Sivadge who he described as one of the best and most competitive amateur golfers in southern CA.  This golfer said he hadn’t golfed in 3 months which was a longer break than he had ever taken in his life.  He seemed a bit frustrated because he had lost control over his shot shape and lost his “feel” at impact. 

He asked coach to look at his stance and ball position and swing. Bob took pictures of him at address with his 9, 6, and driver.  Coach said there was nothing wrong with his set up or his swing.  He would not give the golfer advice – saying it would be very bad to start “chasing geese” as the golfer regains familiarity with his swing.   

Coach then asked the golfer the same question several times and wouldn’t let the golfer dodge it – “in the next 1000 balls, how many do you think you will mis-hit?”  When the golfer finally said 20%, Bob said “well you’re gonna mis-hit more balls than you are used to in the next week and you just have to choose to be OK with that and trust and be patient that the % of mishits will go down as you start to practice more”.  It would be a bad idea to start changing things while he is out of practice.  Here I could see that the advice to “do nothing” because nothing needed to be “fixed” was invaluable. 

Of course for Bob to be able to give this advice, he needed a trained pro eye to determine that there was indeed nothing “wrong” with the swing. That is to say, this is not general advice that can be given to by anyone advising an out-of-practice golfer – it still takes a pro’s eye to determine the swing is indeed in ok shape.  

He then asked the golfer what he has done in the past to “get his swing back”.  The gentleman said short game, because it allows him to practice feeling the swing at the impact position while taking a smaller swing.

Coach then watched him hit small PW shots for an hour.  Coach noted the golfers pre shot routine got more consistent.  Simultaneously the golfer started to hit a very consistent 80 yard shots with a draw that seemed to please the golfer.

Also, just after Bob complemented a particularly good sounding impact, the golfer said something very interesting.  He said “Yeah I can do that, it’s just that right now I need to concentrate a little harder”.   

Here is my opinion of what happened.  The golfer was thinking that his errant shots were coming from some physical mistake when really it was all mental.  The fact that the shots got better simultaneously with pre-shot routine shows that the golfer just needed to reestablish his relaxed concentration mental state where he could unconsciously perceive and control the impact condition. The golfer already knew and said that shot control came from club head awareness (mental – not physical) and that shorter swing shots were the way to rebuild that awareness or “feel”. 

Interestingly Bob’s role here was to help connect the golfer with what Dan already knew was correct, and to steer the golfer away from getting distracted by physical “fixes”.  Bob had to work very hard to remind the golfer of what he already knew by asking him thing like “When did your swing last feel good?” and “What did you do last time to get your swing back?” 

I also liked how Bob would stand directly over the golfer’s ball to take control of the lesson and conversation.

Thank you Dan and Bob.

Will Stuart