Dennis Sales Golf

Informative Golf Information

Monthly Archives: January 2012

Shot-by-Shot Strategy

Now that I’ve showed you how I use TrackMan Golf to help golfers gain a clearer understand of ball flight patterns.  Now I’m going to take it one step further by discussing how to use those dispersion patterns and Shot-by-Shot statistics to maximize scoring opportunities.

Shot-by-Shot provides not only the golfer but the coach exact details to potential scoring issues that they are encountering on the course.  Not only will it show them, but it will explain in many specific parameters what’s necessary to improve ones scoring.  I know many coaches take their students out to play which is invaluable in my opinion.  But taking it one step further and being able to collect data from round after round is simply the best way to ensure the student is performing to their peak potential.  What I really like about the program is that students can enter the type of round it was.  Was it a tournament or non-tournament round?  Was it stroke play or match play?  This really helps the coach understand the changes if any actually happens between different competitions.  The data illustrates the weaknessess the players has, so player specific programs can be modified.

Between the data collected by TrackMan Golf and Shot-by-Shot, players and coaches will be able to devise course managements plans.  These plans will focus around the strengths of the player.  Being able to create strategies gives the player more confidence going into the round.  Having confidence in ones ability, let’s the golfer remove tension in their swing.  Removing tension creates a flowing swing that will ultimate help you control your ball from tee to green.

TrackMan Golf for Strategy Building

I’ll have students use TrackMan constantly during practice sessions.  What this does for us in my opinion is indispensable.  Rather then giving the committed player ball control drills to work on their own, I have them do their practice regimen  while TrackMan is collecting data.  This forces them to be discover concepts on their own and become self-reliant since I’m not hovering over their shoulder.  Once they are finished with their practice, we can sit down and look over the data.

Because TrackMan measures and records so many parameters, it allows us to become very precise in grading ball control skills.  By measuring what the ball actually does helps us obtain crucial dispersion patterns.  These patterns help us create course management tactics which will help them shoot lower scores on the course.  If the committed players has precise information on their patterns, this in my opinion, provides them a competitive advantage over a golfer who doesn’t have this information.   Watch the below video as I discuss dispersion patters and how it will help you on the golf course.

TrackMan Golf Approach Practice and Testing

TrackMan is a great way for students to gain a greater understand of their tendencies and strengths.  Being able to constantly use it for practice allows the committed golfer to dial in his accuracy with each club.  What this type of practice does is increase the golfers confidence in his ability to execute shots under some pressure.  Not only that, but it benchmarks the players ability and provides them something specific to improve.

Watch as I go through approach practice and approach test with my game day golf ball.  Learning if your game day golf ball maximizes your accuracy and distance is vital in improving your results on the course.   Maybe changing your current golf ball is all you need?  You won’t know till you test it and compare it to others.

Improve That Wedge Play!

When I ask students how far they carry each wedge, more often than not, they get it wrong.  Not understand how far a full swing wedge shot goes makes hitting it consistently close to a pin difficult.    One thing I’ll do with new golfers who enter my coaching program is go through wedge gapping with TrackMan.  I’ll ask them to tell me their carry yardages and then proceed to have them hit shots with each wedge.   This procedure helps provide the golfer a clearly understanding of their distances and gaps between wedges.  Once the data is collected we will go over the numbers to see a few important keys:

  • Ideally I would like to see consistent gaps with their wedge configurations.
  • What their best and worst distance is.  This improves course management when looking to lay-up.

Once we know their actual carry yardages, we will continuously test and try to improve distance control.  We will work with the approach practice module TrackMan offers.  This helps the student improve their practice session by being more specific when hitting to a target.  Once the student feels they have dialed in the distance, I’ll go ahead and test them with the approach test module.  Here TrackMan then grades each of the ten shots hit.  At the completion of the test, TrackMan provides us with a handicap for that distance, an average distance from the pin and a score.  Now we have a benchmark in place, and that particular student will have a specific task they must improve upon.

Incorporating TrackMan into your practice sessions is a great way to monitor your progression while having fun doing it.  The fun comes from competing with the other golfers who you train with.  That is the environment that helps accelerate the learning curve.  Practicing by yourself can get boring and becomes difficult to really push your limits.  If you improve the way you practice, you will get better results on the course.  A certified golf coach knows that and is dedicated to providing you the tools as well as the training to help you achieve your goals.

Get Your Putter Rolling the Rock

Every time I get asked to give a putting lesson to a student who is struggling, I find that either their speed, line or even both are off.  It’s off because they have gotten away from creating a good set-up at address.  Follow these training concepts and create a perfect practice station.  You will soon find yourself rolling the rock like never before.  You’re going to need a few simple tools to accomplish this.  A Swinkey and six tees will work perfectly.

  1. First you are going to create a “gate” for the putter to swing through.  Use the two tees and position them just outside the toe and heel of the putter.  This is going to force you to create center face contact, a must in being able to consistently control distance.
  2. Place the first alignment rod parallel to your target and just outside the tee that you have marked at the toe of the putter.  This rod is going to help you see what type of arc you’re creating.  Ideally I would like to see similarity between the back swing and follow through during the stroke.
  3. Use the main body of the Swinkey parallel to your target line but just in front of your toes.  This will help you stand the same distance away from the ball.  I don’t want you to either get to close or more away from the ball during this skill building sessions.
  4. The second alignment rod will go through the main body of the Swinkey and point directly at the golf ball.  This will help you maintain the relationship the ball towards your lead foot.
  5. Almost done, place two tees a little wider than ball widths 12″ in front and just outside your intended line of flight.  The will force you to learn how to get the ball to roll through them.  If you really struggle with the distance these two tees are set at, then open them up some.  Your goal will be to work on tightening up that distance and it will as your skill improve.
  6. Finally, the last set of tees.  I want you to place it these tees at various distances with a maximum of 12″ apart.  Your final goal will be to roll the golf ball between these tees.  Continuously move these tees to various distances.  Watch what happens to your ball control skills when you’re able to master this drill.

Indoor Golf Training

I was having a discussing with a group of other professionals on indoor training.  Here is my take on the importance of training indoors in the offseason.  The offseason usually takes a few months especially if you live in the cold weather climates.  A few months give you and your coach the time necessary to go through the following steps.  This will help you finally have the golf season you have always dreamed about.

I truly believe it is so much easier to ingrain new movement patterns when the student does not get to
see ball flight.  That is only created when hitting into a net.  Having a student hit into a net forces them to become more focused on improving the current motion.  Here is the catch though, I’ve said it more than once that ball flight is king and is required.  The instructor must have an accurate way of measuring the collision between club and ball.  If that information is not available or potentially incorrect, then indoor training in my opinion can cause serious issues once you get outside.  The whole purpose of trying to improve your swing shouldn’t be about making it look better on video.  It should be about improving your impact alignments.  Impact alignments include but are not limited to club path, and face angle.  All impact alignments govern how the ball will fly!

So to gain control over your impact alignments you have to give some of that control up.  You give up searching for where that ball ended up and focus on what your coach wants you to do.  Let the coach keep track of what is happening at impact and how the ball flies.  If he is keeping data then you’ll be able to see the improvements happen without stressing about the finish product.  Also, to achieve that finish product you need a plan and must have set goals!

Now I’m going to have you think a bit.  When was the last time you entered the 19th hole and didn’t get asked “What did you Shoot?”  Did they first ask you what your swing looked like or how far you hit it?  Doesn’t it take ball control to shoot lower scores?  Tour professionals all have unique swings but possess unmatched ball control skills from tee to green?    I’m sure I’ve got you thinking now about your ball control skills.

Let’s continue looking at ball control.  The more control you have over the ball the greater the chances you’ll score better.  You’ll be able to hit more fairways, greens in regulation, and even make more putts.  Maybe you already have good ball control skills from the tee but suffer controlling the ball coming into the green. I really don’t know and you might not either.  Hiring a golf coach will help you find out exactly what skills you need to improve on.  Golf coaches and golf instructors are completely different which I’ll get into another time.

Lastly, I firmly believe that if everyone was to shoot lower scores their enjoyment of the game would go up.  Don’t know many people who consistently do things they are not good at or don’t even enjoy doing.  Golf is fun!

How important is Off-Season Work

I find that the off-season is the absolute best time to work on improving the mechanics of your swing.  Changing the mechanics of the swing also must coincide with what the student’s goals are and how much time they are willing to put into the equation. Trying to change a technical aspect in somebody’s golf swing during the season on a Wednesday for instance and they are playing golf on Saturday isn’t fair.  It’s not fair for the instructor or for the golfer.  This in my opinion is where golf instruction fails and where coaching thrives.  That I’ll explain another time.

What every golfer needs to understand is that you are ultimately being judged on your ability to control the flight of the golf ball from tee to green and not the motion of the swing.  If you keep that in mind you are well on your road in starting to shoot lower scores.  If you plan on making any swing changes those changes better be a result of improving a ball flight and not fitting into the method of your instructor.  We all have seen it week in and week out, all touring professional have their own unique style in swinging the club.  They have learned to develop the skills necessary to control their ball and you are no different.

Improving your motion is also best done without you seeing the flight of the golf ball.  The key word is YOU!  The instructor must have a tool to precisely measure your impact alignments because those impact alignments control the flight of the ball.  If you don’t believe me, research the D-Plane yourself.  The D-Plane is ball flight law on center face hits.  Tools that accurately measure impact alignments make working indoors well worth it.

Lastly, using a stat tracking program such as Shot-by-Shot during the season makes figuring out what YOU need in the off-season easy.  These stats help a coach create your program for improvement.  Without stats it’s almost like shooting in the dark!  If you don’t have stats, start researching Shot-by-Shot and get on it.  It will be well worth your time and I’m pretty certain it could open your eyes to what you truly need.  Why do I say this?  I have student’s using Shot-by-Shot now and it has changed what my students now want from me.  That and most students are not honest with what they really need.  I have learned what golfers’ want isn’t exactly what they need.  Now since we are in the off-season and you probably have no stats, so we really don’t know what you need.  This is where getting some type of ball control skills testing is a must!  That test will help direct you in a direction to start your off-season improvement program.

What Makes Indoor Training Worth It

As winter seems to be settling in here in the North East, we find ourselves having to make a decision on how or will we continue with our training.  I find that it’s important for golfers to take a short break, and then continue to work on their swing during the offseason.  Especially, if you want to hit next year’s golf season in full stride, rather than struggling through the first few months.

As you decide on where or even if you’ll continue to practice and take lessons, you need to think about a few things first.  Indoor training means having a limited ball flight.  Working on your swing while hitting a ball into a net, really allows the golfer to focus on the movement more than the flight of the ball.  Is that entirely a good thing?  I tend to think so, but only up to a certain point.  Ultimately what we want to improve is the flight of the golf ball but what if there is no flight?  Even a perfectly felt shot that has a few degrees closed club face turns out to be a poor shot on the golf course especially if your path is right at the target.

This is where indoor training can be tricky and actually hurt the golfer.  Let’s assume that you have a perfectly looking golf swing on video.  Each shot feels really flush and smacks the net over and over again.  The swing feels good and looks good on video.  Man you are now grooving what you think is a great swing.  April now comes around, your first round of golf out on the golf course and you are so excited about this golf season.  You tee up your golf ball, make that same great swing, and low and behold a low pull hook to the left.  You will automatically think where that came from since you have been hitting it pure all winter long.  But have you really?  Or have you been creating that specific ball flight?  We as golfers are only really judged on your ability to control the ball and put it into the hole in the least amount of shots.  Not on how good your swing looks.  The number one thing you need to understand is that what you are trying to do change or even create in your golf swing is directly related to the flight of the golf ball.  What the ball does is the most important aspect and it absolutely can’t be left out of the equation.  So before you start getting into a training program ask yourself these few questions.

  1. What will be measuring the clubs data? 
  2. How will I know where the ball went?
  3. How will my progress be tracked?
  4. How will I know that I’m working on the right motion to improve my ball flight if I can’t see where the ball ends up?

Please don’t think I don’t like the indoor concept cause I really feel it has some major benefits.  You just really need to research what the facility is offering in being able to accurately measure the most important aspect of the swing.  That is the collision between the club and ball.  Simulators are great fun and can be entertaining but some of them really don’t tell the truth behind the flight.  I’m sure you know exactly what I mean if you have been on one.  Have you not laughed at the distance it gave you, especially after you felt a terrible shot?  Then you know exactly what I mean.

Using K-Vest for Pitch Motion

K-Vest is such a great universal tool in helping golfers improve.   I find it especially helpful in building a consistent set-up while we focus our attention on another task.   Here I’m using it with a junior, what we are trying to focus on is creating a solid pitch motion.  Having K-Vest working in the background allows the student to develop the skill of getting into the same set-up.  That then provides them a greater chance of being able to create a fundamentally sound pitch motion.  What it does between us is it keeps the unnecessary shatter out of the equation.  Now the conversation remains on developing pitch motion as well as keeping his mind focused on the new feelings he’s generating.

I’ve found that multi-tasking this way and keeping the dialogue to what’s necessary really helps the student figure out exactly what they need to do.  Ensuring that they hit the essential skill associated with a pitch motion and allowing them to add their own unique twist to the equation works best.  I have yet to see any two touring professionals create the same motion.  At the same time I have yet to see them not perform some of the essential skills necessary to control the golf ball.

Building Consistency to Develop a Great Stroke

We all have heard and know by now, great putting starts with getting into a constant set-up.  The hard thing for all golfers to do is consistently getting into that same set-up so it affects their ability to create a dependable stroke.  Being able to learn how to put yourself into that set-up gives you a chance to develop the other essential skills necessary in becoming an expert putter.

I like using my K-Vest system to assist golfers get into the same set-up each and every time.  Having them go through their entire routine and listening for the audio feedback before they can start the stroke is easily the fastest way to accelerate the learning curve.

Being able to get a golfer into a great set-up, starts with having a putter fitted you.  From there the process goes like this:

  • I position the golfer so their eyes are over the ball
  • Hands under the shoulders with the elbows slightly bent
  • Weight balanced

Set K-Vest “Mesh” mode and now that golfer can rest assured that they must strive to hear the music in order to pull the trigger.  At the beginning it is difficult but with practice the golfer can and will work on developing that consistent set-up.  Once they have developed that consistency we can observe the other essential skills associated with expert putters.

Technology is a great way to accelerate the learning process.  Watch a junior golfer quickly and effectively get into the same posture at address.