Dennis Sales Golf

Informative Golf Information

Tag Archives: Golf instruction

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.

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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.

7 Nights at the Twitter Academy – “The Experience”

This is one experience that I will never forget for a number of reasons.  I felt much like what an average golfer goes through.  I’ve used TrackMan on a daily basis for almost two years now.  The three topics I talked about have been discussed literary hundreds if not thousands of times before.  But to record this video, I had to go through the process completely different then what I was accustomed too.  This now took my out of my comfort factor and it felt foreign to me.  I didn’t know how to act without having another person to engage with.  I felt like a golfer who feels like they hit it great on the range, but can’t take it to the course.  That’s who I literally felt like during this whole process.   Never mind that the previous 6 videos were awesome and let’s not forget about the additional pressure by having the final episode.  I’m pretty sure you know that feeling I’m referring to.  It’s the one that gets your stomach tied up in knots when you arrive on the first tee.   You get that feeling because of a false sense of security mainly from of how well you think you practiced all week.  The pressure of playing well is now staring you in the face and you’re not prepared to handle it.  Well you can relate that to how I use TrackMan in teaching versus using TrackMan in a video.  Since I was not prepared to perform this action by myself, I became nervous. The more I made mistakes, the worse I got.  Does that sound even more familiar?  Further proof to the situation was when a good friend of mine stopped by.  I was struggling at a specific point in the video, and I explained it perfectly to him.  But when I had to record it, the whole process changed again.  I quickly reverted back to the same mistakes I was making before.

So what does this mean?  I’ll never be able to do it or you will never be able to take it to the course?  Well you and I may never if we both don’t break our comfort factor.  Golfers don’t like to practice in a way that reflects how the game is played.    Hitting golf ball after golf ball with the same club doesn’t recreate the same situation found on the course.  Golfers need to add constant variety to their practice, but doing that makes it so much harder.  Not many people like doing things that they feel are too difficult.  I’m no different in that respect, I don’t like doing videos alone, so we both shy away from doing those things.  We can change this by how we practice. I vow to get better are creating videos by producing more of them by myself. The more I do these the more comfortable I’ll become.  You should vow to add variety to your practice even if you are not doing it well at first. If we commit to the process of learning, in time we will improve at what we both want to do well.

I would first like to thank Jason Helman for inviting me to participate in the 7 Nights at the Twitter Academy.  This is one amazing group of dedicated professionals to be associated with.   Second, without all of you in Twitter land this would never have happened.

Thank you,

Dennis Sales