Are You Ready for High School Golf Tryouts?

It is the time of the year that I publish my annual high school article. I have been very busy over the past several weeks teaching high school students who plan to try out for their school teams at the beginning of August. It is great to see golf become a sport that the teenagers are really interested in. We are fortunate to have some great players in the Charlottesville area who have produced some great teams over the last several years.

I encourage all high school golfers to brush up and familiarize yourselves with the Rules of Golf. The Rules of Golf can help you, as well as hinder you if you are not familiar with them. It is also very important that everyone is familiar with the proper etiquette, nScreen Shot 2015-05-20 at 3.20.12 PMot only to the course, but also to his or her fellow teammates and competitors. I also want to remind all the high school golfers that they will have to walk when playing. So for everyone I have seen riding in a cart, I encourage you to get out and walk and play. Walking and playing can be very different than riding in a cart.

I have been busy working with a lot of the golfers that have played for their respective teams over the last few years, but I am also happy to say I have seen lots of new golfers who are trying out for the first time. The advice I offer these new golfers as tryouts begin in August is:

  • Relax and enjoy the opportunity to play golf with other golfers your age.
  • Play one shot at a time and give it your best on every shot.
  • Keep your emotions in check. Don’t get frustrated or too excited depending on how the round is going. Stay in the moment.
  • Do not worry what others think about your game. Trust me, everyone is worried about their own games and do not have time to worry about someone else’s game.
  • Make good decisions if you get in trouble — always play the highest percentage shot.
  • Stay hydrated and eat healthy snacks throughout the round (nuts, bananas, etc.)
  • HAVE FUN!

I wish everyone the best of luck. Enjoy the game and enjoy the friendships you establish along the way.

How to Make More Short Putts

Although are one of the most frequent shots played, it is one of the most feared. Short puttsAs a matter of fact, studies show that the fear of missing is one of the main reasons this shot is missed so often. Although no one makes 100% of these shots, this tip will help you make the short putt with increased confidence and success. When dealing with this shot, the player must do four things:

  1. Be absolutely certain that the putter face is aimed at your intended target. This sounds overly simple, but you’d be surprised how many putts are missed because the face was not pointed directly at the target. Try marking a line on your golf ball and then line this line to your target.  Then all you have to do is align the center mark on your putter with the line on the ball; if you have read the putt correctly and you have the correct speed, you will make more putts.
  1. Make sure you have a very specific target. Aim at something definite – a blade of grass or spot on the line of your putt. The theory is that if your target is the entire hole, a quarter inch left or right of that target will result in a miss.
  1. Stroke the ball hard enough to go 12 inches past the hole. When you hit the ball hard enough to go 12 inches past the hole, it is less likely to be affected by such things as grains of sand, or other impurities that might deflect the ball. A ball that is accelerating to the hole will hold its line much better than a ball that “dies” at the hole.
  1. Listen for the putt to go in the hole. This means you need to keep your head still and do not follow the ball with your eyes as it leaves the putter face. A good thought is to count to two before you look up.

Give these tips a try and you’ll see improvement in your putting and your score. So practice it regularly. Good luck and have fun!

For more tips please visit our website at kandicomergolf.com or stop by my office located at Old Trail Golf Course located just outside Charlottesville in Crozet, VA.

Memorial Day Junior Golf Festival

This will be a day that you will not want to miss. We will have basic instruction, fun inflatables, water balloon contests, parent-child relays and much more. Dennis Walters will have an amazing trick shot show beginning at 2:00 along with Dottie Pepper 17 time winner on the LPGA tour and now an ESPN commentator. Come join us at 1:00 for a fun day at Old Trail Golf Club located in Crozet, Virginia. This is all free of charge and all ages invited.

Junior Golf Festival

 

 

How to Hit a Draw

During lessons, I always ask golfers what shape they are looking for with their shots. It seems like everyone wants to hit a draw. Since I wrote about the clubface controlling the launch direction of a shot in last week’s article, I figured I would explain how to hit a draw this week.

There are several theories on how to draw the golf ball, and the theories have changed over the years due to more testing with new and better launch monitor technology. That new technology has determined new ball flight rules and has revealed what causes the ball to curve.draw_trajectory

Here is my advice:

  • If you are a right-handed golfer, aim your clubface to the right of your target.
  • Aim your feet, hips and shoulders further to the right of the target than your clubface. This will give the clubface a closed position in relation to your swing path, which will create draw spin on the ball.
  • Swing along the line of your feet, hips, and shoulders. The ball will start right of your target, because that’s where the club face and swing path are going, and will curve it back left because the club face is closed to the swing path.
  • Note: if you are a left-handed golfer, reverse the direction of alignment.

Hit the range this week and practice this advice so that you are comfortable with it before you take it to the course.

Enjoy the game! Find a PGA professional that uses a launch monitor so that learning and improving can be easier for you. Launch monitors tell us the cause and effect of each shot; therefore, it is much easier for the golfer to make corrections in their ball flight, which results in quicker learning and quicker results.

For more information, please visit KandiComerGolf.com, or stop by and visit us at Kandi Comer Golf located just outside of Charlottesville at Old Trail Golf Club in Crozet, VA.

Get the Ball Started on Line

I have seen several golfers lately who come for a lesson and tell me they are always starting the ball left (right for left handed golfers) and hitting pulls, so they think they must be coming over the top. When I look at their swing path through video and when I put them on the launch monitor it does not show an over the top swing. They look at me so confused about how can they hit it left of the target if they are not coming over the top.

golf1In order to get the ball started on line, the club face must be square to your target at impact. The face of the club at impact determines the launch direction. The path of the club will determine curve (spin) and path relative to face determines the overall shape of the shot. So the first step for any golfer is learning to control the club face at impact so they can get the ball started on line.

A good drill is to put an alignment rod about 20 feet in front of you and practice launching the ball right of the rod by controlling the club face in an open position at impact. Then try to launch some shots left of the rod by controlling the club face in a slightly closed position at impact. Finally try to launch some shots right over the top of the rod by keeping the club face square at impact.

A second drill that gives golfers a really good feel for a square impact position is to take swings into an impact bag. You will feel how the club face squares up once it hits the bag. I suggest taking these swings in slow motion so you can feel the club face squaring up.

Once you can start the ball on line, you will have a much better feel for the club face at impact. I will talk about path and curve in another article.

For more information please visit kandicomergolf.com or stop by and visit us at Kandi Comer Golf located just outside Charlottesville at Old Trail Golf Club in Crozet, VA.

How to Hit a Fairway Bunker Shot and other News

There are a lot of golfers that have a lot of fear when they hit the ball in a fairway bunker.  Here are some simple steps to help you eliminate that fear.  Set-up is very important when you are trying to hit a shot out of a fairway bunker. Fairway Bunker Shot

1.  When you step in the bunker stand on top of the sand and do not bury your feet.
2.  Play the ball slightly ahead of center in your stance.
3.  Put a little more weight on your front foot.
4.  Look at the front of the ball.
5.  Make sure you have enough club to clear the lip in front of you.
6.  Think tempo and hitting the ball first.

Try these tips and I think you will see yourself hitting more successful shots.

Click here for more ways to improve your game through our newsletter.

 

5 Ways to Get Your Golf Game Ready for Spring

As I drive into work every morning and see a snow covered driving range and golf course, I only have to think that the golfers are getting bored being stuck inside. The first thing I want to remind everyone is that Spring will be here on March 20th. This has been the busiest winter to date with golfers taking lessons in the indoor teaching center but there are also ways you can prepare at home.

Here are 5 tips to get your game ready for the spring:

  1. Check your equipment. Do your clubs need to be re-gripped? How do the faces of your wedges look? Are the grooves worn down? Go through your golf bag and check your golf balls and get rid of any old golf balls. How do your gloves look? Take the time to do a club fitting to make sure you are playing the right clubs for your swing and your game. If you are playing with a club that is too flat your misses will have a tendency to go right and if the club is too upright your misses will be left. Find a facility that has a launch monitor that can fit your equipment and also do a gap fitting to see if you have any major gaps in between clubs. We use the GC2 launch monitor which will give you the feedback you need immediately.
  2. Get your mental game in check. Take some time to read some books on how to practice and how to think both on the golf course and while you practice. There are some good books out there written by Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott that I would highly recommend along with some of Bob Rotella’s books. One of my favorites is the The Little Red Book by Harvey Penick. I would not read a lot of books on instruction because there is not a “one swing fits all” technique out there. Everyone is different and therefore everyone has a different swing.
  3. Practice putting indoors. Putting is something we can all do indoors on the carpet. Practice with the Putting Arc training aid and then when you get back outdoors you know your putting stroke will be ready to go. I like to practice putting to a quarter because then I know the hole will look large when I start playing again. Practice different distances to work on your speed control.
  4. Fitness. It is important to get your body ready from a fitness standpoint to be ready for theRedcord golf fitness program spring season. I encourage Yoga, Pilates, and any cardiovascular workout that you enjoy and work on your core strength. I would highly recommend finding someone that has a golf specific exercise program.  I use a Redcord program with my students, which is a core based program that has shown tremendous results for golfers. Fitness is important to prevent injuries and to add more yardage to your shots.
  5. Lessons. It has been a great winter in our indoor facility and it Winter Golf Programshas been very encouraging seeing so many golfers work on their game. I always hear golfers say, “I wish I would have worked on my game during the off season.” If you choose to put your clubs away for the winter, save yourself some frustration by starting the season off with a series of lessons so you know what to work on and you will be way ahead of the game. It is important to find an instructor that you are comfortable with and will teach in a simple and concise way so you are not overwhelmed. Taking a lesson should be fun and you should see improvement quickly.

So get to work on these five items and I can guarantee you that you will enjoy the spring golf season with improved golf.  As I always remind golfers, playing better golf is more fun.

For more information please visit kandicomergolf.com or stop by and visit us at Kandi Comer Golf located just outside Charlottesville at Old Trail Golf Club in Crozet, VA.

How to Play Better Golf Under Pressure

Golf Putting PracticeWhether you are gearing up for the high school golf season, prepping for an   upcoming Member-Member, or just getting ready for a big weekend round with your friends, you are undoubtedly worried that all those great shots you hit on the range won’t transfer to your next competitive round. A good golf game is not something that can just be turned on and off—it has to constantly be tuned and developed. In this article, I am going to give you a few suggestions as to how you can keep your game sharp and always bring your “A Game” to the course.If you want to be able to play well in your competitive rounds, all of your practices on the range and fun rounds have to be more about quality than quantity. It is nearly impossible to go from rapid firing balls on the range without a care in the world to needing to knock it close because your partner hit it in the woods. The more we can put ourselves in game-like situations, the better we will perform when it really counts.

There are several ways to go about doing this:

  1. Always pick a specific target on the range, and change that target often. I would recommend spending the first part of your time on the range working on whatever changes your PGA/LPGA Instructor has given you to make (while still focused on the those targets) and the second part playing pretend holes. Pick tricky holes that you have trouble with and play them on the range. Be sure to go through your routine on every shot, just as you would in a real round. Doing this type of practice on the range will keep you in each shot mentally and will make hitting it to a specific target on the course nothing out of the ordinary.
  2. Practice short game! Practice short game! Practice short game! No one ever seems to practice their short game, yet the majority of shots on the course are played from inside 60 yards. When you practice your short game, make it count. Try to get up and down with just one ball. Pretend like each shot or putt is to win something big. Don’t just pour a pile of balls and whack away. A good short game takes a lot of pressure off the long game.
  3. Don’t take gimmes or mulligans (or even that “well I won’t play this second ball, just let me see what I can do” shot). It’s not that I don’t believe that you can make that seven incher, it’s that not finishing each hole or hitting extra balls takes us out of a competitive mindset and causes us to lose track of how the round is actually going. Play only one ball, play it as it lies, and finish even the shortest of putts. This will give you closure on each hole and allow you to stay mentally sharp by letting you know where you really stand score wise.
  4. Always put pencil to paper. Keep score even if you’re playing alone. This adds pressure and keeps you in a game-like situation. Not only should you always be keeping score, but also you should be keeping it correctly. If you hit a shot out of bounds, proceed under the Rules of Golf, don’t just say “oh I’ll drop one up there”. Play and count every shot like you are in a tournament.
  5. Finally, develop a routine and stick to it. Whether it’s how many practice swings you take or how many times you inhale and exhale before a shot, make sure you do the same thing every single time. Focus on the routine, not on what the shot means. This will instantly alleviate the pressure.

Hopefully these tips will allow you to transfer those beautiful shots and incredible putts from the practice tee to the first tee of your next competitive round.

Enjoy the game and, remember, if you are interested in more tips visit my website or stop by the Kandi Comer Golf Academy located at Old Trail Golf Club in Crozet and just outside Charlottesville, VA.

3 Ways to Hit Your Irons Closer to the Flag

I hope everyone has been able practice and play golf now that the weather has finally gotten better after the very long winter. I have had a lot of students come to me this week who desperately wanted to improve their iron shots. Golfers are looking for more consistency in hitting greens, and, of course, would also like to hit it closer to the hole.

Hit closer to flagThere are three areas that I think are important when you are trying to hit your irons closer to the hole.
1. Grip: You must have a fairly neutral grip when you grip the golf club. This means for most golfers that you need to see 11/2 knuckles on your lead hand at address and then the V formed between your thumb and forefinger on your trail hand needs to point towards your trail shoulder at address. You also need to hold the golf club with a relaxed grip pressure.
2. Alignment: Always make sure your clubface is aimed at your target. This might sound like a simple suggestion but you would be amazed how many golfers aim their bodies at the target and therefore the clubface is aimed right (right handed golfers) of the target. Start with aiming the clubface at the target first and then set your feet, hips and shoulders parallel to the target line. Visualize railroad tracks. Your clubface is on the outside of the track and your body will be on the inside track.
3. Impact position: I feel the truth of the moment of any golf swing is what happens at impact. As a result if I have to give one tip without seeing the golfer swing and they want to hit the ball closer to the hole I will tell them they have to make sure that the back of their lead hand must face the target at impact. What that means if you wear a glove and when you are at impact the back of the glove must be facing the target and the shaft is leaning a little towards the target.

Go outside and take some practice swings with these tips in mind to see where the back of your lead hand or your glove hand is facing at impact. If it is not facing your target, then you will see why you have had trouble with your irons. Take slow motion swings, and I mean very slow swings, stopping at impact so your lead hand faces the target at impact. Once you get the feeling down in slow motion, then try hitting shots at real speed until you get the same feeling.

I know you will see results. Good luck. For more tips visit kandicomergolf.com or stop by our office at Old Trail Golf Club in Crozet.

Can You Take Your Game to the Course

Golf Putting PracticeHow many times do we hear, “I can hit the shots when I practice, but I cannot do it on the golf course?”  I always have students that tell me they practice their golf game a lot, yet they never seem to improve.   I feel better practice habits are very important for the golfer to improve after a lesson, and then take what they’ve practiced to the course.

There are a couple ways to practice and I believe we need balance in our practice sessions to see results.  The first type of practice is called block practice. Block practice is used most often just after you have taken a lesson.  This is where you have a pile of balls and you are working on making changes in your swing or with your short game.  You hit each ball focused on the changes you are trying to make.  This is also the time you are working on the drills you received from your instructor during your lesson.

The second type of practice is random practice. Random practice is when you are working on the changes so they will transfer to the golf course.  You will hit different clubs to different targets with your focus on target and not technique. It is important to have good fundamentals throughout your golf game, but you also have to be able to transfer the changes to the golf course.  I encourage golfers to go through their routine on every shot during thisMasters Golf Course part of their practice session.  It is important to treat these shots as if you were playing on the golf course.  I even encourage the golfer to play some holes on the range hitting the clubs they would normally hit on each hole.  Make each shot mean something.

It is also important to practice all aspects of your game.  You need to focus on your full swing, chipping, pitching, bunker shots and putting.  There are too many golfers that just go to the range and hit balls.  During their range time they are just rapid firing balls instead of having a plan for their practice.

So the next time you go to practice try these steps:

  1. Write out a plan before you leave for the course and stick to your plan.  Your plan should include a couple different areas of practice (full swing and short game).
  2. Include some block practice and end with random practice.
  3. Play a few holes on the range before you leave.
  4. Make notes on your practice session before you leave.  For example, What you were working on and the results you were seeing.  What were you feeling?  etc.

I hope these practice suggestions will help you lower your scores.  For more tips and information sign up for our newsletter below, or come visit us at Kandi Comer Golf located at Old Trail Golf Club in Crozet, just west of Charlottesville, Virginia