>Improving our self-talk is something we could all benefit from and somewhat of a low hanging fruit in the world of trying to improve overall score and perhaps enjoyment of the game
Improving our self-talk is something we could all benefit from and somewhat of a low hanging fruit in the world of trying to improve overall score and perhaps enjoyment of the game. A great trick to start the journey of creating neutral to perhaps even positive emotional reaction is to compartmentalize what we are actually reacting to. In this case Let’s choose a standard greenside bunker shot and explore the process.
In a good majority of my greenside bunker lessons I like to break everything down into two elements. The first of which is something I term “Entry Point.” Which would be defined as the impact point where the club head actually starts to enter the sand. I do hold some preferences as to where and how this happens, however an important note is that there are variations for different types of players and/or skill levels. However, we get the clubhead to enter the sand there is no doubt that controlling that entry point has a lot to do with the techniques used to so. That is why controlling the entry point is number one, to some level we must either push our technique or skill to a point where there is some degree of control.
This step could involve items that are as simple taking your current technique and upgrading your skill. Examples of how to do that would be increasing your awareness of the club head (line drill), creating more awareness of the face (monitoring start direction), and/or creating a spatial awareness (staggered cone drill). However, it could also need to a technique bump. For most the following adjustments can have a huge impact on results.
Most golfers would benefit substantially by moving the ball position for a greenside bunker shot forward in their stance. As stance with is variable I like to put the ball under the chest logo of a shirt for the right-handed golfer. (ahead of sternum on lead side) This allows for many positives… assumption of natural low point and lead side exiting arc would be up near the top.
A great way to give our selves a better chance of moving the low point of the swing forward is to limit secondary spinal tilt. Think of this as leaving the spine neutral to how you would normally stand, picturing each of your vertebrae on top of one another vertically, or “stacked.” This is definitely an understated and often missed missed in most golfers bunker setup.
If you notice from the top image the setup itself is fairly asymmetrical. Some of this is due to the variable stance width and the front ball position, however there is also a purposeful lean into the forward leg. A slight activation of the lead quadricep as of it was trying to bite the ground. This helps establish stability in the lower half and specific action required of the lower body to execute the bunker shot.
Because of some the setup difference that were established above, the pelvic bowl will work differently than the full swing. (I have a whole video on this, click here to watch) As noted in the picture to the right the slight lean into the lead quadricep will come into play helping the lead knee maintain more flexion through the impact area. Notice the entry just at our pre marked line.
Even with the setup adjustments we have to insure the torso keeps moving during the swing. This is the the true controller of the arc and what ultimately allows us to create the image we see to the right…lead knee still in flexion, handle moving up and in, arms extended off chest, clubhead a long way from the torso.
There is more to greenside bunker play than jus entry point however. Technique is a large part of the story, and generally the only one that most poor bunker players focus on. More skilled bunker players will tend to focus greatly on my number two which is creating an understanding of how much sand is beneath the ball. This step is paramount to overall success in result as without this information, establishing what I will call the loft/bounce relationship is essentially just a random act.
Random meaning that if you the golfer move into multiple greenside bunker scenarios, lets say different types of sand, dry vs. wet sand, fluffy sand vs. hard clay.. etc. and we enter into those with the same open face, same bounce exposure, and same club. You the golfer even with very quality entry point will experience a catastrophic mishit in the if not most of the changing conditions.
A skilled bunker player would be defined as one that not only a technique suitable enough to execute the entry point of the club, but also the ability to read and assess how much and what type of sand are underneath the golf ball. Understanding what to do when we find out that there is for example no sand underneath the ball is a skill. That process would be…lower expectations, take more loft and square the face up (deactivate any bounce), possibly narrow the stance. Keeping in mind we activate bounce to deflect of the surface of the stand essentially impending the action of collecting sand particulate.
Hopefully the concept makes sense. We need different amounts of bounce for different types of lies/ situations. Since activating bounce appropriately i.e. neutralizing the shaft could effectively change the loft, we may need to use different clubs to achieve the loft/bounce relationship we desire for the shot at hand. It could also come down to intention, good bunker players control how much sand is between the face and the ball. They do this not with entry point, but with bounce and knowledge of how much we need per sand situation. Most poor bunker players are trying to control how mush sand is between the face and the ball with entry point. The problem with that is that quite frankly as a species we do not have the much control over the impact area.
The best thing to do is experiment. Find a spot in a bunker with no sand, find a spot with some sand. Use entry point as a control variable and move the club face to open in 1/4″ increments while hitting shots. At the end of the day nothing will ever replace human experience. Give it a try and let me know the results.
Anyone who has watched golf over the years has heard an announcer say that a certain green, or even an entire facility will always break toward a certain lake or landmark. The opposite also gets a lot of play too, as in it always breaks away from a certain mountain. The “Indio Effect” is a […]
Anyone who has watched golf over the years has heard an announcer say that a certain green, or even an entire facility will always break toward a certain lake or landmark. The opposite also gets a lot of play too, as in it always breaks away from a certain mountain. The “Indio Effect” is a really famous one that always comes out at what use to be the Bob Hope every year. Phoenix also gets a fair amount of tread with landmarks like Camelback. For anyone who has played in Las Vegas It is always the Stratosphere. (Casino Hotel located on the Strip) So, the big question is, what is the validity to this idea?
For this article I am going to cite elevation heat maps from multiple sources. These sources will also note slope percentage. Which in putting circles slope percentage is used to define how much and which direction putting greens actually break. Slope percentage is universal as in a green with a 2% side hill gradient with same amount of uphill gradient on a 12 stimp green will break the same amount on hole 6 as it does on hole 14. Up and down hill gradient may change the speed and therefore the relative break, however everything being equal 2% is 2%. The greens books cited for TPC Las Vegas are
I am using TPC Las Vegas for the case study as it has been my home course now for the better part of a decade. Different points of the golf course run from 2.933 ft to 2,657 ft, the Stratospere sits at 2037. There is considerable elevation difference even between the lowest points of the golf course to the stratosphere. The questions is does that translate into the putting greens sloping a specific direction. The first hole in the argument for the valley effect comes in the fact that the Stratophere isn’t even the low point of the valley. That occurs much more to the south and west near Lake Mead, bottoming out at an elevation 1,335 ft. However, for the sake of argument we are going to stick to the Stratospere.
Starting off on hole one, only 225 sq ft of the total 5,600 sq ft green breaks toward the Stratosphere. The vast majority of the putting surface actually slopes in the opposite direction.
Number five may be the best example of a green that does in fact subscribe to the valley effect, whereas most of the putting green does actually break the direction of of the aforementioned landmark. .
Hole seven features almost no measurable slope toward the stratosphere.
Hole eight, just like the previous hole features almost no measurable slope toward the stratosphere. Most of the green runs in the exact opposite direction.
Just Like #7, #8, and the vast majority of #9 the green complex on #10 sits in a way where most of its square footage runs directly away from the stratosphere. In total contradiction of the generally stated notion.
The green on 15 features portions of the back 50% of the putting surface sloping directly toward the strip, a small victory no doubt for the valley effect. However, the entire front portion of the green runs in the opposite direction. It is almost as if we should independently decipher slope from green to green and on individual portions of each green.
Large portions of 16 do in fact slope toward the stratosphere to the toon of 1%. Big win for the valley effect.
The finishing hole puts the final touches on the theory that everything breaks toward the strip by boldly sloping in the exact opposite direction on almost every portion of the green except for a small portion of the green in the second third. Which happens to make the green very diabolical in terms of short game.
If you were play solely #5, the back half of #15, #16, and the front half #17 the Stratosphere rule would in fact work. However, that is only about 16% of the total putting surface of the entire golf course. Not nearly enough to call it a rule. There is in fact more putting surface on the golf course that breaks directly away from the Stratosphere than toward it. The valley effect does not work, here or any other facility.
To the crew that insist that the valley effect does not necessarily state slope will run in the direction of landmarks, but does cause the ball to be pulled in certain directions, For example, on what would be optically judged or measured to be a straight putt the valley will still pull the ball in a certain direction. That is total lunacy. The reality is the ball will only be effected by just a few factors, these include:
So next time you’re playing don’t make the mistake of allowing for break towards something that isn’t really there. I would recommend buying a greensbook for your facility or a level to measure problem areas over time. Defining objective things like slope can go a long ways toward improving. Once you measure, use the following as a guideline:
How to Master the 50 Yard Wedge Shot All the way back in March I had the honor of being visited by Eric Cogorno. Eric is a top instructor in Pennsylvania, but he also has a substantial hold in the digital golf world. Having a YouTube subscriber base north of 115 Thousand with over 19 […]
All the way back in March I had the honor of being visited by Eric Cogorno. Eric is a top instructor in Pennsylvania, but he also has a substantial hold in the digital golf world. Having a YouTube subscriber base north of 115 Thousand with over 19 Million views…Woah!
Back when the world was normal back in 2019 he embarked on a 148 day road trip visiting top golf instructors across the country. The trip itself took him from PA all the way down the East Coast, and eventually as far west as California. Fast Forward to his last stop, it happened to be right here in Las Vegas, Nevada. The entire trip can be followed on his YouTube Channel.
At the time of filming the attached video I had just completed my wedge study. The study itself took almost two years of data collection and condensed it into what I hope is few usable tips for the average wedger. The full report was posted in March of 2020 and can be accessed right here is my blog. The video below provides some insight into the study as well a few drills you can try out at home.
Practicing into a net can seem pointless at times, but I think it can be a great thing. Use these three tips to perfect your practice into a net. Download the Flashcards by clicking the link below Practice Combine
Practicing into a net can seem pointless at times, but I think it can be a great thing. Use these three tips to perfect your practice into a net. Download the Flashcards by clicking the link below
Over the last two years I have collected wedge data on a specific golf shot. The partial wedge, pitch, or distance wedge as I refer to it. In this case a 50 yard golf shot. Over 200 unique data points were collected from players of varying skill levels, from beginner to playing professionals. If anything […]
Over the last two years I have collected wedge data on a specific golf shot. The partial wedge, pitch, or distance wedge as I refer to it. In this case a 50 yard golf shot. Over 200 unique data points were collected from players of varying skill levels, from beginner to playing professionals.
If anything I learned quite a bit about my own teaching in the process. Here I share the finding of this study and hope that you as a player or fellow coach can glean a little something as well. The parameters of collection were as follows:
My overall goal with the study was not necessarily to find new groundbreaking information, but to:
To sum it up, my findings were different than I expected them to be. In full transparency I went into the study expecting to find a clear-cut attack angle, launch, and spin loft that would be ideal. However, at this time in looking at the data I cannot say that…really at all. Each golfer brings their own mix to the tee. Key takeaways for the average golfer:
Distance Gapping and Why it Matters By Matt Henderson, PGA, TPI Ever experience a club going too short or too far to what you perceive it should be doing relative to the rest of your set? That is a distance gapping issue and it happens to everybody; the only difference is some choose to deal […]
Ever experience a club going too short or too far to what you perceive it should be doing relative to the rest of your set? That is a distance gapping issue and it happens to everybody; the only difference is some choose to deal with it and lose potential shots over a period and others seek a solution.
Custom fitting is massively important, getting the right amount of spin, launch, descent angle or whatever your parameter your fitter is trying to optimize is very important. However, believe it or not after you get that new set of clubs, or even after you have them awhile there is still another step. Enter the Distance Gapping Session, simply put it is just hitting all your clubs and looking at the results. It looks like the below image on the launch monitor when completed.
After that data is collected, the real work begins because generally we are going to find gaps that are larger or smaller than what they should be. This is stuff that as a player your probably already aware of on some level. As in, “I always hit my 8-iron short on hole 7, but my 7 iron flies all the way to the back of green.” So, let’s see a real-life gapping session and see what the outcome is.
Player X hits is a really good player but notices some potential problems on the course. (Please do not misinterpret that this service is only for good players, all skill levels will benefit) After hitting all his clubs and collecting the data we see three awkwardly placed gaps. The Red arrows in the above picture highlight the data below.
There was only a one-yard gap on average between the Pitching Wedge and 9-Iron, a 23-yard gap between the 7 and 6, and an 18-yard gap between the 3-iron and the 3 metal. Believe it or not this is very common, the large unexpected gaps in between the clubs are referred to as “compression gaps,” in some circles. They occur due to varying degrees of swing speed, and they are generally different on a per player basis. The only common denominator I have found in doing this over a period of 10 years is the fact that it occurs in every player to some degree.
The solution is sometimes simple, but again varying per player. The average TOUR Player has two spots in their golf bag that have gaps of 2-2.5* of loft. Even though you just read that, I am going to repeat it… The average TOUR Player has two spots in their golf bag that have gaps of 2-2.5* of loft. If you’re counting, the average set of clubs is structured in roughly 4* increments between clubs (manufacturer and line dependent) So, I am saying that the best in the world are playing with sets that have been modified to fill those red arrows that we saw from Player X. Which given that the whole goal of the game is to control how far the ball goes relative to chosen target that should make a lot of sense. Adding clubs is the right spots can also be a part of the solution. (ie) A Gap wedge, Hybrid, 5 Metal are generally the usual suspects.
In the case of Player X we strengthened the loft on the 9 iron as well as the 7 iron. The 9 iron was strengthened 3* while the 7 irons was only strengthened 1*. The clubs were true to the manufacturer’s specifications prior to testing. Key point to remember is that loft is relative to the goal, and the only thing that matters is the dispersion of the golf ball. So even though the lofts are unequal in a sense, it works for this player due to the human elements which exist in this game.
The only remaining piece was to potentially add a club between the 3 wood and the 3 iron. Note: The distance above are carry distance, total distance between the 3 metal and 3 iron was mush larger. I recommended a hybrid, and what the picture above shows that respective hybrid covering the gap. Player X could also put in a 5 wood, 2 iron etc. That is where player preference as to trajectory, overall need for that distance on course, and other playing factors merge.
I would urge you to come in, spend some time on the launch monitor with me and let’s figure out your set make-up and loft structure. Whether you are getting new clubs, or we modify the old ones, this is what good players do to get better. Imagine what it can do for you. There are many ways to move the improvement needle forward in this game, it doesn’t always have to be about reconstructing a golf swing or learning a new skill, sometimes it can be the equipment.
Understanding what is possible and what may not be is paramount to setting achievable goals.
To get moving into the correct mindset about improvement I want you to group yourself into one of two categories below. Understanding what is possible and what may not be is paramount to setting achievable goals.
A) I define consistency as hitting the ball relatively the same every time I play or practice golf. Scoring within a range of a few stokes, just like TOUR Players do
B) I will seek to better myself daily, understanding that there will be setbacks physically, mentally, and psychologically. I am understanding of my score being as many as 15 stokes different daily, depending upon conditions, and physical and mental preparedness.
Most of us and many of the players that come to a lesson tee looking for guidance are smack dab in the middle of Group A. The truth is that all of us have a little of Group A in us. But really good players generally reside in Group B. Changing your mindset to a Group B player will take time, understanding and most likely some convincing. To that end, there will be a lot of TOUR player talk in following paragraphs. In full transparency there is just more data, so it is hard not to. Plus, most of us can relate to them on some level, because we watch it so often on television or visit the events in person.
On the other side, arguably, we should not compare ourselves to TOUR players. They have more time to practice, play, generally more funds to pursue coaching and training. They also potentially possess physical gifts and talents which we quite frankly do not. Which means it may not be wise to compare. On the other hand, they are just humans playing a game. Key concept/ term being Human. Golf is a Human game, which means by default it will be inconsistent by nature because there are human variables. This is an important thing to be able to accept mentally.
Everybody wants to be consistent with their golf games. Defining that is sometimes hard and often unattainable in golfs current form. Most amateurs’ expectations of consistency mirror what they perceive of TOUR players. Players so good that they can, on command hit any target desired at any distance. This perception can be due to any number of factors, glorification of certain players over the years, TV Commentators, only the best players of any given week being televised, lack of physical exposure to good players, or just normalcy bias. All of this can paint a picture that the best in the world have a rifle and can simply point, shoot, and fire… ala consistency.
However, learning that the best on the planet still experience troubles is the first step toward facing the reality of the game we play. The average round on tour consist of 12 greens in regulation, ( reaching the green in three shots on a par five, two on a par four and one on a par three) and in fact for any given year on the TOUR there are only about five to six rounds that actually accomplish 18 greens in regulation. That is not five to six rounds per player, that is for the entire TOUR for any given season. The reality with full swing is that they have a shotgun, not a rifle, and that shotgun blast has a different radius pattern (see picture below) with every respective club.
Then we can move to score, TOUR Players are consistent when it comes to score. Right? Ultimately it depends on how we define consistent. If we use the example of a TOUR Player over the period of a 72-hole tournament scoring could seem relatively consistent or the same. How about over the season? I choose someone I perceived to be very successful, the winning est player in Champions TOUR history, Bernard Langer. His score range over the 2018 season is listed below.
Low Score of 62, High Score of 77. Really good playing and amazing to have a scoring average that is sub-70. However, is it consistent by the average golfer’s definition? From my conversations with the average golfer I would say that a 15-stroke span would be considered inconsistent relative to their own scores.
Actual quotes from my lesson tee, from an average golfer:
“I shot an 85 the other day and played pretty well. Then the very next week I went out and ballooned all the way up to 93. I just need to be more consistent.”
“My last six rounds have been: 87, 85, 89, 81, 85, and 90. I just can’t achieve the level of consistency that I want to.”
Back to TOUR players for a second, I’ll do another graph. Justin Thomas had an incredible year in 2017 winning five times, including his first Major, and amassed over $9 Million in winnings. The most impressive feat is that he won five times over the period of 11 months, and certainly could fit the narrative that he was consistent over the entire year.
However, he also missed five cuts, including three in a row. He missed three cuts and had a T47 Finish right before winning the PGA Championship in August. His season high score was an 80 (Open Championship) and season low score was a 59 (Sony Open) coming in at a whopping 21 stroke difference. Again, quality scoring average, quality results, amazing play, and totally world class, but is it consistent as compared to expectation of the average golfer?
On average TOUR players perform within a 15-stroke difference during a competitive season. We are dealing with the best in the world with that stat, but I think it is highly relevant to the average golfer. Golf is played over an ever-changing environment, and our bodies change daily based on amounts of preparation, activity, diet etc. We will experience different scores and we will shoot the same score in different ways, that is the nature of golf. A neutral and relevant goal should be to be able to accept a scoring range as noted above. If you are unhappy with the low score in your range, then you must work very hard to drive the low score down. If you are unhappy with the high score in your range, you must also work to lower your low score, but also be accepting of the fact that there is a high score in that range still possible.
Consistency in golf is adjusting to what is happening in an ever-changing environment over a period time. That might seem generic, but it encapsulates what golf is. The other truth that I have discovered after spending the last 15 years with the average golfer, is that not all goals are score goals. Some just want to hit the ball a little better to enjoy the game more, or to simply impress their father in-law. The keys to goal setting: