Blog

A Conversation

High school player requesting a lesson as tryouts draw near(via text): “Any chance you’re available at 10:00 on Saturday?

 

Professional—smelling trouble: “Are you talking about just for an hour or are you talking about coming at 10:00 and spending the day like I’d like.”

 

Student: “I have to leave around 1:00. At the latest”.

 

Professional: “Is it getting dark that early?”

Trail of Bread Crumbs

Troubleshooting a Practice Session

Let’s say you’re practicing along doing reps successfully or creating shots, playing games or experimenting. Let’s say you are pretending it’s the most important shot of your life. Things are fine. You are hitting solid shots. Confidence is high and you are feeling good.

Then things start to go poorly. You start mishitting and spraying the ball all around. You have the driver in hand and the practice session is now in trouble. Now what?  

Here’s the deal. “When in trouble, go back!”

Go back to a 5 iron. Go back to a 7 iron. Go back to a wedge. Go back to 1/2 swings.

Do NOT spend time trying to figure out what you are doing wrong. This is almost always a total waste.

Going back is like following a trail of breadcrumbs in the wilderness back to known territory. You get a little lost, but you have a way to find your way again and get feeling good again.

This single point may be the biggest reason amateurs don’t get better.

Be willing to say to yourself “This practice session is in trouble. I am getting frustrated. I am not getting better at this point. I don’t know what I am doing wrong. I am not going to let it continue.”

When in trouble, go back.

Half Set = Double the FUN

half set CW

Half Set = Double the FUN    

Article by Bob Madsen, PGA

revised: December 11, 2015

Playing with fewer clubs WILL lead to lower scores.

Golfers fuss over exactly what club to hit. Then, still uncertain about club selection, get over the ball and entertain a head full of nearly useless swing thoughts.

What if you didn’t have all those clubs to choose from? What if you only had clubs that you could definitely distinguish a use for? My wife plays with a driver, a 4-wood (named “Boonie” and made out of actual wood), a 7-iron, pw and a putter.

Most people would get by just fine with probably 7 – 10 clubs. Part of the reason for this is that without pro club head speed, the clubs don’t really behave much differently. A 6 iron goes the same distance and height as a 5. An 8 goes the same as a 9 and so on.

It is interesting each year when we play the “3 Club” event. Guys come off the course having literally shot their best round of the year with their face lit up with joy.
“That was so much fun!” they’ll say.

I never have understood why the next day they show up with 14 again.

I still get reminded of the time my caddy and I decided to play in the So Cal PGA Section Championship at Ironwood with a limited set of 9 clubs.* Brave? Yes. But I practice what I preach. Come to think of it. I am not even sure how many clubs I have in my bag right now. 12. I think.

*finished 9th if I remember correctly

 

madsen-signature

 

 

 

 

Bob Madsen, PGA

Sycuan Golf Academy

Don’t Level Off

Take your game to the next level using the barometers below.

Level One: NEW. The brand new golfer, typically, just wants to hit the ball, not embarrass themselves and not hold other golfers up. He understandably has no idea about golf history, rules or etiquette, and feels like golf is really hard. Level one people are just starting out. That’s cool. We were all novices at some point.

Level Two: RECREATIONAL. We have a lovely group of ladies that play our par 3 course every Wednesday. Most are purely recreational golfers. They are in it simply for the casual competition, fresh air, companionship and exercise. (Note: many of the gals walk with a pull cart…Way to go girls!) They are not really pursuing better golf. Nor is my wife. And I have no problem with that. It’s beautiful actually.

Level Three: ENTHUSIASTIC DABBLERS. This big group is the one I am most concerned for and excited about. The level three golf fanatic plays regularly, almost always warms up briefly, eagerly watches the Golf Channel and thirsts for any possibly useful pointer he can get his hands on. Unfortunately, I have seen countless level three players get comfy with their skills and stop doing the work it takes to actually improve. They dabble. They stagnate. Slowly but surely their scores worsen especially as they get older. This is not okay. Eventually it’s too late. Don’t be lured into comfort or too much concern over net results and chit winning. Always KEEP TRYING TO IMPROVE. Push for the next level.

There are other levels to explore. Don’t level off. Start now, preferably with the help of a PGA Professional, to actually study and practice the game more completely. You will be glad you did.

 

madsen-signature

Bob Madsen, PGA
Sycuan Golf Academy

Games

Previously, we have discussed two types of practice: Repetition & Drill and Pretending. Now we have Games. All the different kinds of practice are tremendous. All have their time and place.

Note: Lessons must help the student determine the best method of practice to utilize given the content/theme of the lesson. See your PGA Professional!

Games consist of:

  • Goals
  • Limitations/guidelines
  • Reasons to participate (purpose)

 

Let’s look at these one at a time. A goal is what you are trying to get to. For example, “Let’s see how many out of _________ we can make from ________.” In the blanks you would fill in the limitations, i.e. ten balls from three feet. Last and most important there must be a purpose(s). The purpose might just be to “have fun with my practice buddies” or to “take my mind off my swing and body parts” or to “improve my short putting.”

Importantly, games involve competition, risk and incentive. They require among other things: guts, determination, a winning attitude, some risk, unwillingness to lose, victories, losses, thrills, excitement, mystery, hope, fear, optimism, rules to follow, courtesy to others, care of the practice ground, safety and being gracious in defeat.

Now go make up some Games. More like a kid.

 

madsen-signature

Bob Madsen, PGA
Sycuan Golf Academy

Golf is Already a Better Game

According to the United States Golf Association and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews Scotland.

Rule 1. The Game

The Game of Golf consists of playing a ball with a club from the teeing ground into the hole by a stroke or successive strokes in accordance with the Rules.
Golf is not broken. There are only three parts; 1. Begin at the starting line; 2. Continue golfing until your ball goes in the hole and 3. Low score wins.
Golf is so simple that 6 and under is now the youngest age group in tournament golf. Kindergartners understand it, go out and have fun.

I remember in the 70’s seeing a riding cart two fairways over. My Dad was entertained by the sighting and commented, “Look. Those people are riding!” Golf is so uncomplicated that you could walk 9 holes with just a few clubs in an hour and a half. No sweat.

Leaving the quest for more distance aside, play the forward tees and see if you can shoot the round of your life. Play with a softer graphite shaft and enjoy effortless power. Have the family go to the range. Send a few. Laugh at Dad when he misbehaves and slams his club.

I have one student who keeps track of the wildlife. Not her number of strokes. That might not be most people’s idea of a good time, but you get the idea.
Holing out is a good thing. Might as well unless you are playing Match Play and the stroke is conceded.

Practice chipping and putting. It’ll help you with part 3 above. There is nothing wrong with golf. I enjoyed my fifth trip to Scotland recently with my delightful traveling companion Jack Gibbard. The Forgan family of Nairn took wonderful care of us as we played 12 rounds in 10 days. Never really did keep score. Played semi-intense Four-Ball Match Play, walked, talked, marveled at the surroundings then ate and drank and laughed when we were done.

Now, if you want to get a whiff of “how golf lost its way” refer to Geoff Shackelford’s book The Future of Golf which I highly recommend. The book is well written and filled with significant and valid points backed up by extremely reliable opinion.

I just wanted to share my own two cents and not be all doom and gloom.
The Game is mostly just fine. And if we ALL actually fixed an extra ball mark or two our obvious capability of messing it up would be slightly less obvious.

 

madsen-signature

Bob Madsen, PGA
Sycuan Golf Academy

Stave Off the Inevitable

Ladies and gentlemen in your 40’s, 50’s and 60’s NOW HERE THIS! You MUST continue to get better at golf. Otherwise, you are doomed.

My favorite golf companion was Bob Wallin: my father in law. Bob got along on short game and course management, guts, fearlessness and determination for years. He was never long due to his half sized backswing. Bob played a steady game backed up by chipping, pitching and excellent putting. Trouble came when age and diabetes started to rob him of his health, well-being, hand-eye coordination and range of motion.

As he lost distance, his misses started ending up further from the green and what had been a chip became a long pitch. What had been a pitch became a half wedge. Bob’s shot making ability was unequipped for this. His scores rose. Once upon a time he could easily break 80 hitting maybe 5 greens in regulation. This success ended. His unacceptable scores led him to quit. He couldn’t bear bogie golf.

So here is the deal. Strengthen up. Get on a stretching program. Hire a fitness coach. Go to the Y. Run. Walk. Take golf lessons. Hit range balls. Practice short game. And consider appropriate equipment.

I am sick over losing my father in law. I should have been more insistent when it came to fitness and continual improvement.

Golf course architects just want you challenged. They don’t want you ashamed or to quit as you get older.

I don’t want this to happen either.

 

madsen-signature

Bob Madsen, PGA
Sycuan Golf Academy