Category Archives: Golf Tips

For Big Golf Power, Rotate And Release

Powerful tee, fairway metal and iron shots aren’t just the domain of tour pros. Big golf power is within reach of every golfer if you know how to train your swing to create the conditions for long, straights shots time after time. This lesson will bring those conditions into play, and soon, if you’re willing to take some time to get a few tools together, follow every step carefully and most of all, put in the practice.

Training Tools Needed

  • 6 or 7 iron club (used as your ‘training club’)
  • 12-Inch piece of swim noodle
  • Impact Bag

big golf power 1-3

Hitting From The Top

One of the biggest power killers in the golf swing is the early release of the wrists in the downswing, often referred to as “hitting from the top” (Photos 1-2).  When this happens, all the power stored up in the wrists is lost before you hit the ball.  This also adds loft to the club through impact, making your club weaker and, in affect, turning your 7 iron into a 9 iron.  This is evident with the backward shaft lean in Photo 3.

The result: Shots balloon high into the sky and land short of your target.

Adding a “power punch” to your shots starts with learning how to delay the release of the wrists in the downswing while releasing from the “slot,” not from the top.

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Golf Pride Adds Align Technology To Z-Grip

z-grip 2019Golf Grip manufacturer Golf Pride  will offer the brand’s Z-Grip with its popular ALIGN Technology in 2019. The company made the announcement at the PGA Merchandise Show in January.

According to a recent survey, Golf Pride says ALIGN Technology is now used by 74 PGA Tour players. This technology was first introduced in Golf Pride brand’s MCC and MCC Plus4 hybrid grips and is also available in a Tour Velvet grip (all rubber) option. With the addition of a full cord grip to complement the existing options, Golf Pride will now offer ALIGN Technology in a full range of feel preferences.

Golf Pride says ALIGN Technology activates upon installation with a dedicated raised ridge on the back of the grip allowing for consistent hand placement and an enhanced clubface awareness.

Z-Grip ALIGN grips will hit retail on March 1 for $11.49 per standard size and $11.99 for midsize grip.

For golfers who want to get an up close look at Golf Pride’s inner working, the company’s new headquarters and research facility is scheduled to open later this year in Pinehurst, N.C. The facility is within a stone’s throw of Pinehurst Resort’s No. 8 Course.

“We super excited about it,’’ said Bruce Miller, retail product manager for Golf Pride. “The place looks absolutely  phenomenal. It gives us access to all those groups and men and women who come in to play golf at the resort.’’

www.golfpride.com

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Straighten That Right Knee In The Backswing

All those years of hearing that it’s good to maintain some right knee flex (for right-handers) during the backswing? Forget about it.

Extending the back leg (losing flex) and flexing the left knee forward during the backswing is a necessary motion to make an effective and powerful backswing pivot. It allows the hips to turn more, which allows the shoulders to also turn more. Both the hips and the shoulders turn on an inclined plane, as the left shoulder turns down and in and under the chin and the left knee and hip flex forward and downward. This allows the right hip to go back and up on an inclined plane and creates greater hip rotation and depth going back, which creates the potential for more acceleration and power coming down. This is a function of the back-leg losing flex, or extending, and the left knee flexing forward.

Remember, the goal is to maximize the body rotation (pivot) on the backswing to set the stage for a faster rotation on the downswing. This 3-D motion defines the golf swing.

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How to Avoid the Most Common Golf Injury

Golf is a unique sport because you can often participate even if you’re not as physically fit as you once were. That said, golf isn’t always an injury-free sport. Low back pain is the golf injury you’re most likely to sustain. Luckily, it can be avoided.

The following tips will help.

Warm Up

Golf may not seem as intense as a sport like football or hockey, but you still need to warm up before playing. Loosening your muscles helps to prevent discomfort. Practice these basic exercises to prep your muscles for a few hours on the course:

  • Hold the club behind your neck, one hand on each end, and rotate your torso to stretch your neck.
  • Pull your knees towards your chest a few times to stretch out your hips.
  • Keep your hamstrings loose by bending down and reaching towards your shoes.

If you’re having trouble with these stretches, or they don’t seem to be effective, getting direct access to physical therapy could help. A few sessions with an expert could help you learn how to properly stretch before golfing to avoid lower back and other injuries.

Practice Your Swing

Golfers apply torque and torsion to their lower backs in order to generate sufficient club speed when swinging. This puts strain on the lower back. That’s why practicing a swing regularly is important. You want to emphasize smooth motions. Additionally, researchers have found that attempting to mimic the “X-factor” swing of professionals (in which you attempt to maximize rotation of your shoulders relative to your hips) may result in injury.

Maintaining proper balance while swinging also helps protect your back. Keep your knees bent and shoulder width-apart, while maintaining a straight spine.

It will take practice to develop a smooth swing, but it’s necessary. Doing so will keep you comfortable while also improving your overall performance while playing.

Get the Right Golf Bag

Lifting heavy items incorrectly or repeatedly can result in low back pain. In other words, your swing isn’t the only part of your game you need to optimize if you want to avoid discomfort. You also need the right golf bag.

Don’t use one you have to set down on the ground every time you’re ready to take a swing. Get a bag that has a stand, so you don’t have to lift it up repeatedly throughout a round.

Don’t Make Assumptions About Age

It’s easy to assume low back pain is something only older golfers need to worry about. However, the X-factor swing described above is often more likely to cause certain injuries in younger players. They tend to have more muscle mass than older generations, which puts significant pressure on their spines during the swinging motion. They may also be more likely to apply excessive force. Even if you’re a younger golfer, you should keep these tips in mind. Doing so will also help avoid injury as you get older.

Again, golf is the type of sport you can play well into old age. You’re more likely to be able to if you avoid low back pain. Remembering these points will help you stay out on the course for years.

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Callaway Epic Flash Drivers Embrace A.I.

epic flash driver 2019Callaway Golf CEO Chip Brewer’s job is to be bullish on his company’s products, but Brewer is more animated than usual when it comes to the new Epic Flash driver, which went on sale in retail shops Feb. 1.

“Probably the most impressive driver product I've been part of,’’ Brewer said. “And with this AI (Artificial Intelligence) platform — I'm really excited about it because of the flexibility of the technology.’’

The Epic Flash driver’s two models — Standard and Sub Zero — each feature what Callaway calls “Flash Face’’ technology that is created by artificial Intelligence and “machine learning,” a field of computer science that uses statistical techniques to give computer systems the ability to “learn” with data without being explicitly programmed.

A new driver face design typically takes eight to ten iterations. Through Machine Learning, the company says its computers cycled through 15,000 face architecture iterations, learning from each one, before arriving at Flash Face.

Flash Face’s unique, internal mapping consists of dozens of subtle ripples flowing from heel to toe. Though the size, height and configuration of the ripples appears random, they in fact work together cohesively to elevate COR in the face’s center region. That convention-defying accomplishment results in a significant ball speed boost for a noticeable distance increase with solid contact, helping drives go even longer.

The Epic Flash driver also incorporates Jailbreak technology that promotes fast, face- wide speed. The two internal, hourglass-shaped Jailbreak bars connect the crown to the sole, stabilizing and stiffening those two parts at impact, allowing the face to take on greater impact load to generate faster ball speed. Together, Flash Face and Jailbreak make the Epic Flash one of the most innovative and technologically advanced drivers in Callaway history.

Epic Flash also benefits from Callaway’s proven Adjustable Perimeter Weighting, with a 16-gram sliding weight that can be easily positioned anywhere on the built-in track at the rear of the clubhead. The golfer can promote draws, fades or a straighter flight by positioning the weight in different places on the track.

The Epic Flash driver was introduced this past January and fit into Callaway’s regular product introduction cycle. But Brewer hinted that the company might vary from its – and the golf industry’s – traditional introduction cycles moving forward.

“There is not going to be an absolutely consistency of how we're going to launch product at Callaway Golf,’’ Brewer said. “We obviously launch a significant portion early in the year. And beyond that, it is going to continue to vary and we think that's part of the science and the art of building the brand and delivering energy to the marketplace.’’

Consumers have a choice of three premium stock shaft options: Project X EvenFlow, Project X HZRDUS Smoke and Mitsubishi Tensei AV. Stock grip is Golf Pride’s premium Tour Velvet Align.

$529.99 | www.callawaygolf.com

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Carr Golf Does Ireland Right

Ireland is in my blood, and Carr Golf knew how to get it pumping.

All of my grandparents were born in Ireland, a heritage that has left me with plenty of cousins and family friends to visit. But for all the trips I have made to that beautiful country, none included a formal golf trip. You know, the kind where someone else arranges all the tee times, knows the right restaurants, and supplies transportation with a guide and/or driver who can sort out every other logistic, no bother at all.

That changed in 2018, when I participated in a trip hosted by Carr Golf, a Dublin-based travel business founded in 1988 by Joe Carr, the best amateur golfer in Ireland’s history and a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.

His son Marty now leads the company, and things have never been better for the golf tour business. “It’s very, very robust,” said Carr. “It’s probably at an all-time high. There’s greater awareness of how good the courses are now. But Ireland is also a very safe and friendly destination. People just like coming here. We’re a good laugh, the golf is super, and the Guinness is good. It’s a pretty good formula.”

Indeed it is.

carr golf portmarnock

FIRST STOP: PORTMARNOCK

Portmarnock Golf Club is a short drive east of Dublin Airport, set on a peninsula along the Irish Sea. The course hosts the 2019 British Amateur (it did so once before in 1949) and is a pleasant walk, with room off the tees, stellar par 3s (especially the 15th) and a clubhouse with walls full of memorabilia dating back to the club’s origins in 1894. After dinner in the Joe Carr Room in the clubhouse of nearby Sutton Golf Club, more than comfortable accommodations overlooking the Irish Sea awaited at Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links.

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How To Hit The High Pitch

The high pitch shot, especially a mid-distance one, can be one of the toughest for amateurs to master. You need enough speed to send the ball far enough, but enough trajectory to stop the ball on the green quickly and softly. But it doesn’t have to be a tough shot. Follow my prescription for mastering this type of pitch and you’ll have shorter putts, and save those precious strokes, in no time.

high pitch setupSet-up (Cool To Be Square)

Throw away the old-school open stance and square things up. Getting your feet parallel to the target line helps your shoulders remain fairly level (only a slight amount of right side tilt). This helps your sternum get slightly ahead of the ball at impact, a key to bottoming out in the right place.

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Two Ways To Beat Winter Golf

Like many millions of Americans who live north of a certain latitude — or in my case, above 4,000 feet — winter golf is a dicey proposition unless we head for Florida, Arizona, Mexico, the Caribbean, Hawaii … you know, those balmy locales that infiltrate our dreams through the long, cold nights.

Sometimes we get little to no snow from December through February. That’s good for golfers, bad for green lawns and thirsty populations when spring and summer finally roll around, especially in the arid West. In my hometown of Reno, winter is mixed bag — a few years of drought quenched by an El Niño onslaught or two, which fills the reservoirs upstream. On average, golf is playable year-round, and when snow does fall, it melts within a couple days.

Then there are winters like this one: One cold storm after another leaving a few stubborn inches of white stuff on the fairways and greens for days or even weeks at a time down here in the valley (elevation 4500 feet), while just a half hour away in the Sierra Nevada, snowfall is measured in hundreds of inches. A couple hours south of here, in the ski mecca of Mammoth, 11 feet fell over Super Bowl weekend alone. There may be no complete rounds of golf played at that mountain community’s 27 holes until July.

Truth to tell, I haven’t hit a golf ball on an actual course since a glorious mid-December jaunt to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic. Sure, I knocked a few test shots into the nets at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, but thanks to a packed schedule, didn’t even bring my own sticks to squeeze in a round.

So what’s a snowbound hacker to do, besides sit in front of the 55-incher and pine for Pebble Beach (which, it turns out, may get some nasty weather during this week’s AT&T), any given track in Palm Springs or, of course, sun-splashed Torrey Pines? How to keep off the rust out of your swing and stroke?

By making the most of the great indoors, that’s how.

I’m not breaking any new frozen ground for my fellow cold climate warriors, but I do have a couple favorite (and affordable) indoor golf accessories to keep the winter fires burning, or at least at a low, hopeful smolder.

PHIGOLF SIMULATOR AND SWING TRAINER CLUB

winter golf phiWhen British company Phi Networks sent me a sample of this app-based virtual golf system ($249), summer was at full steam and I was playing plenty of the real thing. Now I’m happy it’s right here at the ready. It’s easy to set up on your phone, easy to stream to your TV and an absolute joy to use and play with. The training club also happens to help you groove your move with its weighted head.

PhiGolf’s 10 gram portable motion sensor, mounted on an actual golf club or the swing trainer club, detects club head speed, swing path, tempo, face angle, attack angle, and estimated carry distance, allowing you to adjust and coach your own swings. Record and analyze your golf swings in 3D on the app. Connect your smartphone to your big screen wirelessly or by using an HDMI cable for an even more immersive virtual golf experience. PhiGolf offers 7 game modes to make your golf practice more fun. Includes Stroke Play, Driving Range, Nearest to Hole, Approach Shot, and Putting. It’s a video game with serious golf learning cred — and welcome winter doldrum-killing qualities.

www.phigolf.com

PUTTOUT TRAINER AND MAT

puttout putting matShaped like a cross between an oversized shoehorn and a space-age ski jump, PuttOUT ($29.99) is designed to help build pressure putting skills and confidence, particularly from those crucial par-saving distances of four to 10 feet.

The device’s action zone is a plastic parabolic curve that gives immediate feedback on both distance and line; after rolling up that concave six-inch-or-so slope, bad putts are rejected back toward the golfer somewhat sideways, while on good ones on the same line they arrived, assuming a perfectly flat putting surface. And you get a great distance benefit, too: each successful putt is returned the same distance it would have gone past the hole if it had missed — great feedback for getting the pace just right with that 18-inch-or-less comebacker the desired result.

But the feature that really puts PuttOUT in the must-have column is its “micro target,” a small hole revealed when you pull down a rear panel. Knock the ball toward that hole with perfect speed and line and it will “stick” there as if by magnetic magic. Then you’ve got a natural target to shoot at with a second ball, and a third.

Make your system with the PuttOUT Mat ($89.99). It runs around 10 on the Stimpmeter and offers consistency in a way that just any regular carpet can’t. Built-in alignment marks and “pace targets” make working on those crucial 3- to 6-footers a snap. The PuttOUT mat makes what could be a boring exercise somehow fun — providing a great opportunity to practice every aspect of those strokes that make up nearly half of your average score … once the snow finally melts. The PuttOUT folks are also working on a mirror and gate system to help your putting practice even more — with some full swing applicability, too.

www.puttout.com

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Going Deep At The Pebble Beach Golf Academy

pebble beach golf academy laird small
LAIRD SMALL (Photo by Randy Tunnell)

Editor’s Note: This story on the Pebble Beach Golf Academy originally ran in the Fall 2015 issue of Golf Tips Magazine

We all know it’s true: If we’re paying attention and passionate about what we do, we’ll gain a wealth of wisdom over the course of our lives. Laird Small, affable Director of Instruction at the Pebble Beach Golf Academy, is certainly a subscriber to this philosophy.

With a demeanor as calm and inviting as Stillwater Cove on a windless day, the man engages his students with an open mind and heart, as all good teachers do. Every individual lesson, corporate gathering or three-day group lesson brings a new story, a new adventure and new insight into how people absorb, process, practice and ultimately demonstrate, on the golf course, what it is to play a game that can’t be mastered, in a place that holds a magical and magisterial place in the American — and, indeed, worldwide — golf consciousness.

“I’m still learning stuff every single day,” he says. “If you’re not, go do something else. It’s a lot of fun.”

And now it’s more fun than ever for Small and his staff, thanks to a new facility built on a former multi-use parcel of land just across the street from the Peter Hay par 3 course.

“There were a few things the Pebble Beach Company had to check off its list before we could get to this,” Small said while looking out over the impressive, 50-spot practice tee with its many manicured target greens — a huge improvement over the old, cramped range just a few yards away, and a hit among both amateurs and the PGA Champions Tour Professionals who had commandeered it a few days earlier, during the Nature Valley First Tee Open (and the regular tour guys who take it over every February for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am).

“When we had a chance to build this place out, we looked at, ‘What do we do for a golf school? We want it for groups and individuals — and sometimes individuals who are part of a group.’”

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PGA Show Download: TecTecTec Rangefinders

tectectec ult-xGolf Tips got its first look at the TecTecTec brand of affordable rangefinders in 2018, and its recently-launched ULT-X rangefinder is even  more feature-packed and impressive in function, finish and price. Add in new satellite GPS watch, ULT-G, which was rolled out during the PGA Merchandise show in January, and we’ve got gadgets worth a look by all golfers.

Designed with innovative Target Lock Technology (TLT) to help golfers quickly and confidently determine yardages on the course, ULT-X ($249.99) guarantees accuracy at plus or minus 0.3 yards up to 300 yards. A bold yellow slope toggle can be activated to calculate elevation-adjusted distances to the target and easily disengaged for USGA-conforming play.

“The attached face plate turns slope off and on so it’s tournament legal,” added Carissa Olezene, TecTecTec marketing manager. “It captures flags up to 400 yards and hazards up to 1,000. It has an automatic voltage regulator, so if you’re playing in fog or light rain it will automatically up the voltage so you’ll be able to capture your target. I don’t think that’s something our competitors have right now.”

Every TecTecTec rangefinder features three unique modes: Scan Mode takes measurements continuously to help make decisions on the fly, Target Priority Mode with Target Lock Technology displays distance to the closest subject to pick up the flagstick even when it is in front of wooded areas, and Normal Mode helps read distances to hazards.

The company’s renowned products have an ultra-clear, multi-layered optical lens for excellent visual clarity and 6x magnification with diopter adjustment. Additionally, all TecTecTec laser rangefinders are equipped with a CR2 battery, wrist strap, microfiber cleaning cloth and quick start guide.

Golf Tips expects to receive a review sample soon and will follow up with a full review.

The ULT-G satellite GPS watch ($99.99) is available for purchase in Summer 2019. Durable, comfortable and fashionable, it provides quick and accurate measurements to the front, middle and back of greens, as well as hazards and doglegs. Users have instant access to over 38,000 courses around the world and there is no subscription necessary. Show attendees who register at the TecTecTec booth will receive a 20 percent early bird discount and exclusive pre-launch shipping.

“It’s both our passion and mission to supply dependable, high-quality products at affordable prices to golfers of all skill levels,” says Renan Lore, Director of TecTecTec. “We are dedicated to creating industry-leading products that outperform anything on the market from a performance and budget standpoint.”

A pioneer in affordable and technologically-advanced rangefinders, TecTecTec was established to provide products of exceptional quality directly to consumers, thus eliminating middlemen in the distribution chain. By doing so, Lore and his highly talented team of industrial engineers help customers save money while providing access to some of the most tech-forward products in golf. In addition, TecTecTec guarantees lifelong fast and friendly service by providing valuable assistance and support 24/7. They also offer a 30-day full refund guarantee.

www.us.tectectec.com

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