Tips to improve your game.
By Nick Moretti
There are those who golf and there are golfers. Golfers are competitive, like to win and are always engaged in ways to improve their game, however incrementally.
Yet there comes a point for many golfers when it appears they may have peaked in terms of scoring. Are there some tips and tricks to improve one’s score and take the game to the next level?
SEEN talked with several local golf pros for some of their recommendations on “bridging the golf” between a rut and a next-level game.
LONG GAME: SWING AND CORE
For starters, many golfers could use improvement to their swing, which can enable them to hit the ball farther with more accuracy.
“Most golfers have bad habits, including me,” says Dave Zink, director of golf for Indianwood Country Club in Lake Orion. “I think the most common factor is people don’t use the lower half of their body correctly.
“‘Over the top’ in the golf swing is when the lower half doesn’t work correctly. People start their downswing with their upper half instead of their lower, which means you have to use your core so the base of the golf swing is from the feet to the middle of the body. People have to rotate that properly. I get good golfers who don’t do that. I’ve found that when the core is fixed, many other things fall into place.”
Bob Krause, Metro Detroit golf expert for WDIV-TV Channel 4, concurs on the importance of a mind-body connection.
“Great players think below the waist in golf, and proper weight distribution in the feet is overlooked by many instructors and most amateurs,” Krause says. “The big thing on tour now is a product called the Body Track, which identifies weight distribution in the feet as you go through your swing.”
Often, along with improper core emphasis, golfers become more concerned with distance rather than technique.
“One thing golfers need to understand is swing path,” says Guy Samples, head PGA professional at Shenandoah Country Club in West Bloomfield. “They need to realize how they are attacking and from what angle. Distance has become so huge; everyone is concerned with distance and is spending money on equipment but not fixing the swing path itself.”
Steve Vickery of Paint Creek Country Club in Lake Orion recommends technology to assist with these issues.
“The end cap you can put on your club records your swing path and speed and other measurements that go to your phone,” Vickery says. “The serious player has this technology at his fingertips, which really wasn’t prevalent five years ago. Golfers can self-analyze better than ever, see their weaknesses and work on them. They may not know how to correct the problem, but they can see it, and that’s where we can help.”
FIND A GOOD TEACHER
Not surprisingly, all the pros recommend the benefits of going to a good instructor. A golf pro can assist all levels of golfers in ways to improve their game, many times in ways they aren’t aware of.
“Everyone needs another set of eyes,” Zink says. “Instruction to me is for those who are looking to improve. Golfers who want to get better need someone to look at them from a PGA standpoint. They can see something differently. When we show someone video of what they’re doing, it’s nothing like what they think they’re doing.”
Sample agrees. “Generally, people do not get enough instruction, and this includes people who play a couple times a week. I know if I was going to do something twice a week and be mediocre or get worse, I’d try to get some help.”
This assistance always seeks the same result, the proper form with the proper feel.
“You’ll see more than a hundred different golf swings on tour, but all are rotated properly and in the same spot at the impact of the golf ball,” he continues. “When you get people to that point, it comes through good grip, rotation and set up. Once I’ve fixed the grip and setup, we work on proper body rotation, and when we fix that, golfers have their best improvements.”
Sometimes that extra set of eyes can take players out of a comfort zone they are used to and even take their game a few steps back in order to relearn something properly.
“To me, there are two kinds of lessons: to become a better golfer or to get instant help, a quick fix,” Zink says. “If they’re trying to become better, I might give them some changes that initially don’t work. People get comfortable with how they swing, whether wrong or right. Even pros can take six months to make an improvement. Patience is required to overcome initial awkwardness.”
The pros definitely agree that any serious talk about improving one’s golf score must include at least 50 percent more work on the short game.
“The most common mistake is lack of work on the short game,” Vickery says.“They want to hit it farther, but 50 percent of all shots taken are 125 yards or less.”
Zink believes that the short game alone can bring a golfer to a better level. “People should work on their short game at least 50 percent of the time,” he says. “Improved pitching, chipping and putting can bring scores down after even a month of practice without even touching the golf swing. When it comes to scoring, it’s all about chipping, pitching and putting. Improve that short game!”
What about those Michigan cold months when golfers press their sad heads against the frosty windowpanes dreaming of green greens and summer days? Depending on one’s passion level, there are indeed things golfers can do when not on the course to keep their game on course.
“Making 100 practice swings a day keeps you in the swing of things,” Sample says. “Of course, you can chip and putt in the living room. It’s great to have the club in your hands in general.”
Using mirrors when practicing swings can also be very helpful.
“Drills in your house can improve visualization,” Krause says. “When chipping or putting using a mirror, I can visualize my swing and do drills and improve even in the middle of winter. If I just go hit balls, but not drills to back up the mechanics of the golf swing, I’ll never improve. Just hitting the ball isn’t enough. You have to know why it’s going left or right or high or low, and that’s how you improve your game.”
Of course, shag carpeting is no help when faced with a fast green.
“Hitting balls indoors keeps muscles in tone,” Vickery says, “and working and staying flexible are key things you can do. But remember, putting in the living room doesn’t often translate when you’re on the green. Do practice, but remember it’s not a realistic substitute.”
All the pros recommend keeping fit and flexible. The more athletic ability a golfer has, the better the game will be and the easier improvements will be to make.
The pros also recommend that all serious golfers get their clubs properly fitted. Sometimes less than an inch in club length variation can make a drastic difference in the player’s command of the swing and impact of the ball.
“In addition to the skill and talent you bring to the game, course management and mental preparation are two other factors to consider,” Krause says. “If you’re nervous, there are little things in the game of golf that inhibit people from getting from a 10 to a five.
Ultimately, a golfer must approach the game one hole at a time.
“Identify your thoughts based on the shot at hand. Courses don’t make it easier or more difficult. Decisions are made based on what you face at that moment,” he says. “A 150-yard shot is the same anywhere. Identify the nervousness factor and execute under that kind of pressure. Focus on how you perform based on that situation.
“Overcome this and you go to the next level, and then you have a track level of success. Improvement is situational based. Execute under pressure and overcome fear to become the next-level golfer.” NS
FOR MORE INFO
Forest Lake Country Club
1401 Club Drive, Bloomfield Hills
(248) 332-8300; flcc.us
Indianwood Country Club
1081 Indianwood Road, Lake Orion
(248) 693-2598; iwgcc.com
Paint Creek Country Club
2375 Stanton Road, Lake Orion
(248) 693-4695; paintcreekgolf.com
Shenandoah Country Club
5600 Walnut Lake Road, West Bloomfield
(248) 683-6363; shenandoahcc.net
4 Seasons Pro Instruction for All
Bob Krause and his wife, Stephanie, opened 4 Seasons Golf: Home of Bob Krause Golf in Birmingham 15 months ago to offer serious-minded golfers the chance to get the most state-of-the-art instruction available in the game.
“A facility like this has been a brainchild of mine for about six years,” Krause says. “I wanted what amounts to an indoor private golf club with the best technology and simulators available to help golfers mold and build a golf swing more efficient and more productive.”
Opening in March 2015, 4 Seasons Golf is enjoying the success Krause hoped for.
“We’ve been doing really well. I built it on my reputation,” Krause says. “I waited until I had a strong-enough reputation to make sure the building of the facility would be viable.”
The facility teaches small groups but mainly specializes in one-on-one lessons, which last 45 minutes to an hour. The latest launch monitors and simulators are bringing some students from as far as Cincinnati and Frankenmuth.
The facility has many qualified golf pros, and Krause enjoys matching the right student to the right teacher. All levels of players are welcome, from high school students to local professional athletes and entertainers.
“It’s an art and a skill. Not everyone can teach a golf swing,” Krause says. “You have to know how each individual interprets information you’re providing as an instructor to enable them to reach their personal goals. If you only teach one way, it’s unfair to the guy who’s paying.”
4 Seasons Golf, 555 S. Old Woodward Ave, Birmingham; (248) 792-3055; 4-seasonsgolf.com
New Equipment To Improve Your Game.
With the Masters Tournament about to get under way as SEEN goes to press, golfers are getting fired up for the season.
We talked with Pete Line, general manager of Carl’s Golfland of Bloomfield Hills, about what new and exciting gear is available this season.
“For clubs, the TaylorMade M2 drivers are doing really well. They’re very popular and perform really well,” Line says.
The M2 is built with multi-material construction that features an ultra-light, ultra-thin and high-strength carbon-composite crown, unlocking more distance and forgiveness for more golfers, according to the manufacturer.
“The G Series of golf clubs by Ping are very easy to hit with for the average person,” Line says, “and very well-liked by more experienced players as well.”
The G Series is designed to advance speed, distance and forgiveness to unprecedented levels without sacrificing other performance attributes.
“For wedges, the Vokey SM6 is really hot this spring,” Line says. Its center of gravity is progressive through the wedge set. Aligning the center of gravity with the impact position of each loft should produce precise distance and better trajectory control.
“For irons, another new club is the PXG line. A relatively new company, this is their first full year in business,” Line says. “They’ve had tremendous success with this iron. It is a premium-priced golf club. They make drivers and wedges as well, but their iron is really awesome.”
PXG 0311 irons are designed to be the world’s most forgiving golf clubs that launch higher, go farther, feel softer and have a bigger sweet spot. The irons are made with the finest alloys and are manufactured using a costly, sophisticated process, according to the company.
Finally, Line recommends the Callaway XR OS irons.
“These irons are new and doing very well this spring,” Line says. They’re precision-engineered to offer consistent ball speed across the face, easier to hit, more forgiving and designed to be easier to launch for a ball flight that leads to more distance.
Of course, golfers require quality shoes for comfort and success, and Line mentions two.
“The new Footjoy Freestyle is on fire right now,” says Line. “It’s a new technology that is lightweight and comfortable.”
The shoes are engineered to deliver a flexible and comfortable “ride” for players seeking best-in-class footwear. The shoes offer traction and ground contact while allowing the feet to roll through a shot. The shoes are also waterproof.
Line also recommends the Adidas 360.
“A lot of the pros are wearing these shoes right now,” Line says. The Adidas 360 is designed to offer exceptional breathability and stretchability, a new heel shape that follows the natural contour of the foot, along with a lighter and more flexible saddle material.”
Golf Fashion Trends
Photographer: Jerry Zolynsky
Casting & Production: Constantina for Talent Media Services
Creative Director: Deborah Schultz
Wardrobe Stylist: Michelle Hutchins
Make-Up Stylist: Aferdita Qafa
Hair Stylist: Raimonda Gjekaj-Pepaj for Fiaz Salon & Spa
Camera Assistant: Karl Otto
Models: Stephanie Buckles/The i Group and Andrew Krucznski/Productions Plus
Venue: Shot at Forest Lake Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
*Special thanks to Dan Swetich/Membership Director and Dominic Izzo/Head Golf Professional at Forest Lake Country Club.