By Bruce Meadows
We’ve got a tip for you . . .
I recently emailed a request to golf pros and a few amateurs to send me golf tips they think might be of value to players searching for ways to improve their games, lower their scores, or as a friend said to me recently, “I just want to step on a golf course and not embarrass myself!”
I was pleasantly surprised to receive quite a few responses although I would love to hear from others. And while pros, especially teaching pros, have the expertise to help golfers, I have found over the years that some of the best advice about golf I’ve received has been from friends.
Simple stuff, some things that seem so obvious. I’ve tried to pass those same things along to friends and fellow golfers.
I work at Fairgrounds GC (shameless plug — which has the only covered, lighted driving range in Santa Rosa) and I have the chance to observe a lot of golfers working on their games.
Sometimes an incredibly simple “fix” can make a difference. Sometimes golf instruction can be a bit too complicated for some players when all they need is some slight adjustments.
This is not to minimize the value of a qualified golf instructor, who has the know-how, educational tools and patience to make a difference in most players’ games.
As I’ve often said, finding a golf instructor who works for you is like finding a doctor or lawyer or plumber. A lot of them say the same things, but it is how they say it, how they can relate to you as a person as well as a golfer that, in my mind, is a reason for dealing with that individual.
That being said, here are a few of the tips and suggestions I received from local pros and amateurs. If you like what you see, contact that person and see if he or she is the right fit for your game.
Bob Borowicz, Bennett Valley
“What I tell my students first and foremost is that they need to ‘align their expectations with their input’. Their instructor can help them with this. Most golfers have unrealistic expectations based upon their talent and the time they invest.”
Val Verhunce, PGA pro and head golf coach at Sonoma State
”Many of us find ourselves standing over a shot or a putt worrying and concerning ourselves about the outcome of the shot. By doing this, we have created a number of obstacles that will lessen the chance for a successful outcome to occur. Sound familiar? So what should one do?
“We need to concentrate and focus on something! That is true, but not the outcome!
“Let me explain it this way. When you learned math as a child you learned a process to come up with the correct answer. If you did not follow this process the answer was wrong. Those of you that were baking over the holidays, you followed a recipe ‘process’ necessary for the correct outcome so your efforts can be enjoyed by all.
“The same holds true to your swing and all parts of your game. The outcome occurs when the process takes place. If the process is correct the outcome will be correct. Just like the math equation and your favorite recipes. So to worry about the outcome is like guessing at the answer or the amount of sugar for your recipe. Take the time to learn your process and I promise your outcome will be much more enjoyable!
“If you would like to learn more about “The Process” that is correct for you, please don’t hesitate to contact me at 707-799-0712.
Paul Nikol, creator of Golf at the Elementary Level
“I took up the sport of golf at the ripe age of 50. I could no longer play soccer, couldn’t catch the young bucks anymore. When i went to golf instructor school 15 years ago and became a USGTF instructor they stressed teaching a system called GAPP: GRIP, ALIGNMENT, POSTURE, BALL POSITION.
“Now that I’m 70 years old, I have come to the realization after teaching over 200 lessons that the best method is GATE.. this is for my fellow seniors: Grip, Alignment, Takeaway, Execute.
“Senior players need to understand that your game is not the same as it was even 20 years ago. The body is getting old so are the reflexes.
“GRIP: There are two schools to hold the club . . . in the fingers is one, the other is hold the club in the palm of your hand. Experiment see what feels the best and the one that gives you consistent pleasure.
“ALIGNMENT: Align yourself with the club by holding it parallel to the ground and your toes pointing at your target. Remember…the toes knows.
“TAKEAWAY: This the most important part. Bring the club back so the club is parallel to the ground and the back of your left hand is pointing to the sky. Now if you did it right you can look down the club and you will see the head is pointing to the sky. Now stop, don’t move.
“EXECUTE: Now you’re ready to swing bring the club up to where you do and follow through with the swing. One last thing: WATCH YOURSELF HIT THE BALL. There is lots of time to see the ball fly because it’s in the sky.
“Next time if this pilot program pleases you, I’ll discuss the GOLF DANCE.”
Jim Knego, PGA pro, Bennett Valley GC
“Regarding practice on the driving range, it’s not the quantity of how many balls you hit, it’s the quality! Fewer golf balls, with more attention to what one is working on will pay a higher dividend”
Steve Donner, PGA pro, Bennett Valley
“Isn’t it frustrating when you have the “Golf Jones” and you’re anxious to go out and play a round but the weather is hampering your efforts and making the courses almost unplayable. What do you do?
“Well, for the serious golfer, rain won’t stop them from practicing in it. But most of us will wait for the rain to end and the courses and ranges to dry out. Guess what? You don’t have to wait for the rain to stop to start practicing. There are many things you can do right in your home to get ready for good golf when the rain stops. Here are a few ideas for you.
“1. Putting: Practice starting your putts online. One of the four elements of putting is having a square clubface at impact. Put a ball on the floor about three feet from you. Using another ball, putt that ball to roll about 10 feet and try to hit the ball that is three feet away so it moves forward. You can also use a dime in place of the ball that is three feet away, putt the ball and have it roll over the coin. Either way, you want your ball to start on line and if you are hitting the ball or rolling over the coin that is three feet away then your clubface angle at impact is good. Keep practicing. For more on putting look for my upcoming Putting Clinics in February on my website.
“2. Impact: Practice swinging into an impact bag. The impact bag is one of the best training aids on the market. You can swing into it at the pre-impact, impact, and post-impact positions with your club upside down or right side up. Swinging it upside down allows you to focus on your body movements and not the position of the club. Check out this YouTube video from Tathata Golf “Moving into Impact”
“Then, get yourself an impact bag and start practicing. Available on my website under SHOP or make your own with a duffel bag and some towels.
“3. Tathata Golf Training: To get better at your golf game you have to work at it. The easiest way to do this is with Tathata Golf training. 60+ hours of training from any device where ever you’d like to train and you don’t even need a club! Best time to do it is when the weather is foul. It’s an annual online membership. You can take a look at it, also, at my website. As a Tathata Golf Certified Movement Specialist I can assist you with chapter follow-ups and any of the movement training.
“So, there are three ideas for you to get started now while it’s raining. Get started and you will be ahead of most of the golfers when the rains end.
Jim Strong, Strong’s Golf Shop
“I don’t have any fantastic golf tips, but one does come to mind with the wet weather and playing in it.
“The ground is soft and it’s easy to hit full iron shots fat as (1) it’s hard to shift your weight properly and (2) your feet sink into the wet ground, making you shorter.
“With this being said, you can try choking down on the grip of your club on your full iron shots, say 1/2″ to 1″ for a more solid hit.”
Rich Gregus, golf coach, Piner High
“I have several rules of golf: 1. Look up and see a bad shot, that goes for putting, too. 2. The ball goes where you finish your swing , and 3, always finish your swing , slow backswing and watch the club hit the ball.”
Note: Tell your pro to send me a tip and if you have a suggestion you think might help somebody’s game, let me know. Send it to [email protected]
Schroeder named GM at Poppy Hills . . .
Steve Schroeder has accepted the position of Poppy Hills Golf Course GM and COO.
Schroeder, who will report to NCGA Chief Executive Officer Joe Huston, brings extensive general management and golf experience, most recently at Clear Creek Tahoe, a world-class golf club near Lake Tahoe.
A Northern California native, Schroeder is a graduate of Stanford University, where he played on the men’s team. He earned Academic All-American honors and was selected as a NCAA All-American in 1979. After nearly a decade competing in professional tournaments worldwide, including two U.S. Open and two World Open Championships, Schroeder joined the Robert Trent Jones II Group in January of 1990, where he eventually became Vice President of Operations and COO in 1994, responsible for all business, marketing, operations and sales activities within the company.
Schroeder was later selected as General Manager and Director of Operations for Harding Park Golf Course.
His responsibilities at Harding Park included management and supervision of all property operations, including preparation of the new clubhouse and site infrastructure.
Schroeder will begin his duties at Poppy Hills at the end of February.
Top award for CourseCo . . .
CourseCo, a golf course management company with properties in California, Oregon, Washington and Texas, has been selected to receive the 2019 President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship by the board of directors of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.
CourseCo was to officially receive the award Feb. 6 during the Opening Session of the 2019 Golf Industry Show in San Diego.
The GCSAA President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship was established in 1991 to recognize “an exceptional environmental contribution to the game of golf; a contribution that further exemplifies the golf course superintendent’s image as a steward of the land.”
“CourseCo’s strong commitment to the environment is a great example for the entire industry,” said GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans. “They believe in a sustainable turfgrass management, and CourseCo superintendents are supported and encouraged to use sustainable practices and innovative strategies to benefit the environment and their communities.”
Starting in Northern California, CourseCo now manages 36 golf courses that are primarily owned by municipalities or counties. A core principal of CourseCo is a commitment to environmental enhancement, reduction of resource use and sustainable management practices that benefit the communities they work in. Sustainable turfgrass management is an integral aspect of every evaluation, recommendation and management plan they implement for their clients.
“Our environmental focus dates back to our founder Tom Isaak, who attended the first Earth Day,” CoursecCo President and CEO Michael Sharp said. “It has flowed from him since day one.”
CourseCo facilities utilize both Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plans and Chemical Application Management Plans (CHAMP). Each plan describes what cultural and non-chemical control measures will be taken to reduce the use of chemical pesticides. They emphasize an understanding of the micro-environments throughout the course to efficiently employ the implementation of cultural practices that will reduce the pest populations by strengthening the natural defenses of turfgrasses.
CourseCo also prioritizes healthy wildlife habitat. The company maintains memberships in both the Wildlife Habitat Council and Audubon International, with most of their facilities recognized as Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuaries and plans to have all certified eventually.
Let’s hear from you . . .
Thanks for your comments, questions and suggestions. I love to get them and would really like to get more this year.
If you have information about anything golf-related, including upcoming activities, please let me know. And if you have questions, complaints or compliments about golf in our area, I’d love to hear them.
If you have a golfer you know who you think would be an interesting story, let me know. I’d love to hear from you.
Having trouble with your game? Let me know what it is and I’ll try to get a sensible answer for you from a local pro.
And we would be proud to include you as one of our sponsors – thanks to Bill Carson at Wine Country Golf for his continued support – so if you care to get some details about being a sponsor of GOLF 707, email me at [email protected]