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Golf Coach's Corner

Golf Tip

Presented by Jeff Ritter, National Director of Instruction
Nike Advanced Junior Golf Camps, Monterey Peninsula

Model Your Favorite Tour Pros For A Better Golf Game

Jeff Ritter Swinging

With the professional golf season in full-swing, there is tremendous opportunity to learn by simply watching your favorite players. Golf is available to watch on TV or online all day, every day. Instead of simply following the tournaments, see what you can learn by taking note of and modeling the actions and behaviors of the game’s best.

World-Class Warm-Up

The first place you can really learn something is during the players warm-up. After getting loose through light cardio, massage and active stretching, the world’s best arrive at the practice area a good 45 minutes to an hour before their tee time. Although each player has their own unique method to their madness, all will cycle through a series of putts, green side shots, irons and tee shots. The goal is simply to feel the ball on the face and find their rhythm for the day.

Tee Ball Basics

In general, amateurs tee the ball too low for the driver and too high for irons. When watching your favorite players, notice how high they place their driver tee height. They understand maximum carry comes from a high launch and low spin. A high tee perfectly sets the stage for an ascending hit with the ball striking above the club face center line. Conversely, top players will tee irons much lower. How low? Picture what would constitute a sweet lie in the fairway and you will have a good guide to incorporate into your own game.

Adjust Your Aim

Ever set up for a shot and then put the club across your hips to check your line? You will never see a top player do that. Most golfers set their feet first, which is always a no-win situation. To develop better aim, watch the professionals. You should notice they all employ an “eyes-club face-feet aiming” sequence. First, they aim with their eyes, standing behind the ball and finding their preferred line of play. This is followed by aiming the club face. Only when they affirm the face is correctly aligned, will they set their feet.

Rethink Your Strategy

Do you add up fairway hits, greens in regulation and putts? New research shows that there may be a better use of your time. Dr. Mark Brodie, author of “Every Shot Counts” and statistical consultant to many top players, says the only way to truly evaluate stats is to look at what he calls “strokes gained.” This means, moments when your performance delivers an actual advantage over the field. The best way this can help the average golfer is understanding when a shot aimed out of the fairway might be best. With out of bounds or water on the right, a smarter play might be to aim to the fairway center or left rough. While a missed fairway left would kill traditional statistics, it may lead to a stroke gained simply due to playing smart.

Be Aggressive

Great putters tend to be more aggressive. Research shows many players in this category leave their first putts further past the hole than others. Watch the pros versus their amateur counterparts and you will likely see this trend in action.

Rehearse Success

Top players are masters from 100 yards and in. When watching, notice how many rehearsal swings are taken on distance wedges, chips and pitches. You will notice many more rehearsals than for a standard tee or iron shot. Why? Partial-length swings require more fine-tuning to get just the right amount of club speed for the shot at hand. In addition, different lies around the green also need more attention as to how the club might respond to the grass and how the ball will come off the face.

Finish Strong

Today’s athletes understand how better nutrition can lead to lower scores. You will see plenty of water and snacks being consumed every few holes. The most educated players will supplement their hydration with whole, natural foods such as high-quality protein, fruit and nuts. All of this is prepared away from the course and stuffed in the bag ahead of time. Add a little nutritional preparation to your routine before you head to the course and you will be sure to finish strong.

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