Dennis Sales Golf

Informative Golf Information

Monthly Archives: January 2011

Training Aids for Practicing

With so many training aids on the market, advertising, “this is the one that will change your game!” it’s difficult to figure out which one is best for your needs.

This is my and only my view on training aids: Training aids should only be used as an aid to provide students with the feedback they require to feel the proper motion.  These training aids also shouldn’t be attached to the body in such a manner that they cannot fall out and only force the motion to happen. This destroys the creativity that individuals have because we are all created differently.

We all vary in our anatomy, strength and flexibility, which shows why nobody on any professional tour swings the same way.  Since that’s the case, why use a training aid that forces every golfer into a specific position?

Training aids that work best in creating new motor learning patterns are the ones that provide feedback when the motion is done correctly.  If the motion is done incorrectly, the aid should then provide the necessary feedback to let the user know they just made a mistake.  I only say this because many training aids give the illusion of hitting the ball better during practice and then golfers find it difficult to reproduce the same results on the course.

Do you want to practice better or play better on the golf course?  This is one of the reasons why golfers can hit the ball great on the range but have issues in taking their game to the golf course.  Most have this misconceived notion that they must get great results in practice in order to play well on the course.

Through extensive training, I have learned to use certain training aids less and vary targets more during practice to force students to concentrate on the process of executing good shots at hand rather than the rapid fire technique that so many people use.  What are you really getting out of that rapid-fire practice session?  Nothing, since golf isn’t played like that.  On the course we are forced to hit one shot at a time that continuously varies with various lie and situations.

Golfers need to learn how to practice like they play.

 

The 2 things every golfer should have in their bag.

Every golfer should have a couple of alignment sticks and a stretch towel in their bag.  These are the two simplest aids that can, and will if used correctly, create a better golf swing.   Best part apart it; both of these products combined are rather inexpensive at $30.

Let’s start with the alignment sticks.  These are by far and away the most useful tool available for golfers.  I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t have these in their golf bag.  The can be purchased at Home Depot or Lowe’s for under $2 apiece.  They call them driveway markers.  Below are 10 ways that I have my students using them:

  1. To properly align yourself to the target.  These are great when working on the mechanical side of practice.
  2. Perfect for ball position.  The only issue is if you are hitting off the grass.  Simple way to combat that problem is to tee up the ball.  Teeing the ball up is great (and I will explain why in another blog).
  3. Can easily place into the ground to serve as slide/sway indicators.
  4. Used for swing plane if placed on a parallel plane to the club you’re hitting.
  5. Stuck vertically in the ground along your toe line to prevent the club from ripping inside.
  6. Jammed inside the butt end of the grip to indicate the club being on plane at the top of the swing.
  7. Perfect for stopping the flip from happening during chipping and pitch shots.
  8. Placed in the ground on an angle perpendicular to your stance line approximately one arm’s length away from your body to prevent you from casting the club.
  9. Attached to the body to indicate body positions.
  10. As goal posts to start the golf ball in the direction of the target.

I could go on, but I think you get my point.  Many swing issues can be easily addressed with these simple and inexpensive alignment sticks.

The stretch towel could possibly be my favorite.  Flexibility in the golf swing is extremely important and this does exactly that.  Use it before practice or playing a round to get loose, during practice and after practice to keep the body from tightening back up.  Adding stretching to your training will allow you to hit it longer and help prevent injuries from happening which allows you to play longer in life.

 

Golfers require a player-specific program.

Since no two PGA Tour swings the same, they require different types of golf physical training. How can a golfer-specific program be designed without first knowing what the player requires?

Can one just assume that everyone will train the same exact way?  To maximize individual potential, golfers require a proper diagnosis that’s complete.  That requires golf instructors or golf coaches to create an evaluation.  This evaluation should include a TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) body assessment, swing evaluation, efficiency test on body rotation, efficiency test on golf club performance, and a short game test.  Then, and only then, can a specific program be developed which will get students the results they are looking for.

If we continue to train every student the exact same way, how are they going to reach their full potential?  What happens to individual creativity that all touring professionals have?  Would Jim Furyk be on the PGA Tour if he was to train this way?  What about if somebody tried to change Jack Nicklaus’s putting stroke?  Would he be the dominant player that he was?  No way!  Nicklaus was one of the best putters on tour and I never see anyone teach that style of putting.  But I’m sure if somebody was to see that style now, they would almost certainly change it to a more traditional style.  Why would anyone do that?  Because it doesn’t meet the model they have in their head?

Educated instructors are knowledgeable in knowing exactly what you will require.  They have been specifically trained by instructors from well respected programs.  These instructors know the true essentials of the game and will get you shooting consistent scores.

The problem with our field is we don’t have a system in place to weed instructors out.  This creates a problem where anyone can say they are a golf instructor.  What makes these people think they are a golf instructor?  Because they say they are?  Maybe they read a book, possibly a magazine or two or maybe even three. Or is it because they play golf?  Does that actually make them qualified?  I don’t think so. Do you?  If that’s the case why are we spending thousands and thousands of dollars sending our kids to universities to gain an education?  Can’t they just read a book and call themselves doctors, lawyers or accountants right out of high school?  If they were to do that, what are the chances of them succeeding?  Slim to none if you ask me. The reason for that is that in their field they MUST meet certain requirements to work unlike what we have in the golf world.

I suggest that you find the most qualified instructor and he will be able to create that specific program for you.  That means having to do some research on their credentials and if they don’t have any, continue your search.  They should be able to show you certificates of what programs they have completed, just like other professionals.  You would never go see a doctor, lawyer, or accountant because they say they are one, would you?  I hope you wouldn’t, and if you did I hardly think you would get the results your looking for.  You go to them because of their credentials.  So why wouldn’t you choose a golf instructor in the same manner?  I think it’s because of cost and the fact the chances are slim that you’ll get hurt.  If golf was more of a dangerous sport, I hardly doubt anyone would ever go to anyone that isn’t a qualified instructor.

What makes a teaching professional a teaching professional?

As golf professionals, we are considered experts.  So what makes a teaching professional an expert?  Let’s start with the word “professional.”

A professional is: a member of a vocation founded upon specialized educational training, according to Wikipedia.

Now let’s look at “profession.”  A profession, according to Merriam-Webster, is a calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation.

With that being said, what makes your instructor qualified to teach you?  What credentials does he or she have?  What about his or her specialized training?  Does he or she have any of that, or is he or she a self-proclaimed expert?

Think about this: would you go to any other profession that employs experts such as a doctor or lawyer that is self proclaimed? Absolutely not. So why would you see any other self-proclaimed expert?

Being a true professional was one of the reasons I did what I did.  There’s so much misinformation out there and I wanted facts versus opinions.  I desired the information that was being taught to touring professionals and wanted to offer the technology the best of the best seek.  For this, I needed to find programs that the top teachers were affiliated with or studied.  It’s like going to Harvard or Yale, a top academic institution.   I wanted to study like this for specific instructional education and I believe that I have done exactly that.

First was to understand the importance of efficient body movement and learning how to better understand kinematic sequence.  I purchased my K-Vest 3D TPI version and proceeded to go through their two levels of manufacture training. I wanted their understanding what those graphs meant and what to do about it. I wasn’t about to figure out what it all meant on my own.  I think that defeats the purpose of using the technology to its full benefit.  We all know that no two tour professionals swing the club the same, but understanding what they share is very important in being able to create player specific programs.  What they share is a good kinematic sequence and that is key in hitting consistent shots.

Golf has become such a fitness sport that gaining a more thorough understanding of how the body actually works in the golf swing was required.  The best program in the world for that is the Titleist Performance Institute, considering they are the leaders in golf fitness.  I started with their Level 1 class and quickly became amazed at how much valuable information they have obtained through their research.  Because of this class, I continued with their advanced tracks.  Now I have been certified as a Level 2 Golf Professional, and a Level 3 Junior Coach.  The information learned from these tracks has proven to be invaluable.

Now on to a subject that I’m sure will cause some debate — swing methods.  With so many methods out there, this decision was somewhat difficult at first.  Once I started looking deeper into them, I didn’t think it was so difficult.

The first one I choose to study was The Golfing Machine.  I don’t think anyone out there fully understands how smart and how far ahead of his time Homer Kelley was.  His yellow book is comprised of so much valuable insights in how each body part works and how it can be interchanged that it doesn’t get enough credit.  Especially if you just try to read the book on your own.  Now if you also know that the 2008 and 2009 National Teachers of the Year both utilize this book’s information, the decision, in my opinion, becomes a simple one.

The second swing theory was Hank Haney’s training program. After all, he was Tiger Woods’ swing coach for years and that, in itself, should speak volumes — particularly after enjoying the seasons Tiger did with Butch Harmon.  I’m sure this theory may not be well liked by most since. Haney doesn’t get enough credit for his work and is more criticized than anything else.  I’m really not sure why Haney doesn’t get more credit, especially since he is a former teacher of the year and one of the greatest teachers ever.

Now that you have read about the programs I’ve studied and have become certified under, here’s a look at a special piece of technology that I have to offer.

My most prized possession is TrackMan.  We all know and have read how TrackMan has revolutionized the ball flight laws.  How it has changed the fitting experience and how touring professionals rave about its data.  This is the one piece of equipment that I will not teach without.

Once you have learned how to use it, and use it during lessons, you’ll never find yourself teaching without it.  Oh, and I learned how to use it from a one-on-one training session with a TrackMan representative, as well as by attending two TrackMan seminars.

Now I’ve got two questions:

  1. Do you think I’m qualified to give a golf lesson?
  2. Would you take a golf lesson from me?

Golfer’s New Years Resolution

We’re all guilty of it. Just as quickly as we make a New Year’s resolution, we break it.

I’m here to help. This New Year’s resolution for golfers will absolutely help your game as long as you find some qualified professionals to help you.  During your search for these professionals, make sure to check for their credentials as you would a doctor or lawyer.  I’m sure you wouldn’t go to either one of those without knowing more about them.

First, find a certified TPI professional who will be able to give you a complete physical evaluation and then provide you with a custom workout.  This evaluation is vital in unlocking the body potential by identifying any physical limitations.  The custom workout in an on-line based exercise routine that will last @6 weeks should also include pictures, a binder and a website tutorial.

Second, find a highly skilled golf instructor/coach by checking for credentials.  This may cost you more money per lesson, but is well worth it if he does the following: tells you about your plan for improvement; and, technology-wise, offers high-speed video analysis at the very least.  If all the best players in the world use it to improve, why wouldn’t you want to use it too?  His program better include supervised practice sessions.  Golf IS extremely hard to learn with somebody helping you and almost impossible to learn by yourself.

Finally, see if your instructor/coach knows somebody that is a great club fitter and make sure he is also qualified.  Ask your coach/instructor to either be there with you during the fitting or call the fitter to let him know about your swing changes.

If you don’t do that you’re not going to get properly fit.  Book this appointment in advance so they will have time if needed to obtain a few different manufacturers in order for you to have options.    Don’t buy a set off clubs because your favorite player plays them.  Get the ones that you hit the longest as well as the straightest!  The fitter requires a launch monitor.  Check your area for, “TrackMan,” as this is the cream of the crop and the one that every leading manufacturer uses to test their product with their touring professionals.