Friday, November 29, 2013

Golf Dreams Still Happening, Continuing the Dream

I am back from a long break.  I know some of my readers have been looking forward to my tips and story of my dream.

I have had other things going on in my life and have had to stop blogging for a while.  For those of you that have been my avid readers I apologize for not giving you any thing new for a while, but hope you have enjoyed the re-reading of the blogs that I have already written

Through the course of the 2013 attempts of disappointment of my dream of qualifying in a PGA event I am not totally displeased with my year. 

I have had a marvelous time practicing, traveling and playing in events even though I didn't qualify for any of the tournaments.  My biggest disappointment was the qualifier that I broke my finger/hand while going into the last four holes with a chance only falling to unexpected disappointment leading to my withdrawing due to injury.

I am very hopeful that the 2014 year will be more eventful and injury free.

I have learned a lot through the course of the year on my game and philosophy of the mindset in course management and working with the pressure of disheartening rounds.

Through the next several blogs we will cover more on how to deal with adversity, course management, dealing with the pressure of performance and fighting through the bad shots.  We will also discuss what you can do through the winter months to keep your game sharp for the spring.

Before we start on that my next blog will be the final blog on my bunker series, Long Bunker Shots.

Until then, swing smooth and enjoy the game.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Golf Sand Shots, Don't Be Afraid of the Bunkers Cont'd, Low Running Shot


When I have a lot of green to play with and the flag is on a plateau, this is when I would consider using this shot.  when you have a plateau to play to you don't want to pitch it directly on the plateau, because you could find it difficult to stop your ball rolling off the green into deeper trouble.

Play this shot planning your landing spot and the amount of run you need.  Play the ball off the center of your stance, with weight o left and your hands slightly ahead of the ball.  This technique is similar to that required for the low, spinning shot.  Only this time you use your pitching wedge instead of your sand wedge.

Open your club face and stance just a little.  This delofts the pitching wedge and allows the ball to fly out low.  Stand Closer to the ball and aim to hit to the sand about half inch behind the ball.    If you did this with your sand wedge the ball would bite, but the loft of the pitching wedge will send it running on the green.

Next we will go over Long Bunker Shots,

Until next time, Don't be afraid of the beach and learn to play in the sand......

Friday, August 23, 2013

Golf Sand Shots, Don't Be Afraid of the Bunkers Cont'd, Low Spinning Shot


Another shot you want to add to your bag is the low bunker shot that bites on the green.  As all shots, they are made in the set up, this one is opposite of the high shot, although, still just a variation of your standard shot.

You play this shot with the ball off the center of your stance.  Have your weight on your left side as usual and your hands, with your normal grip, are lightly ahead of the ball.   Don't set up very open and the club face will be a little open from square.  Also, stand closer to the ball and aim to hit into the sand closer, perhaps half an inch behind it.

By opening your sand wedge very little - is delofting it - resulting in the ball coming out lower.  Reason you get more spin is that you have less sand between club entry and ball.  The ball should land on the green, take one bounce and then grip firmly.

Next we will go over the Low Running Shot.

Until next time,  keep your shot low and your spin hot....

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Golf Sand Shots, Don't Be Afraid of the Bunkers Cont'd, High Shot No Spin


This shot has a very similar V-shaped action, although there is little spin on landing.  You need to play this shot sometimes when you're in the deep greenside bunker and there is little or no green between you and the flag.

To successfully hit this shot, you set up with the ball even more forward toward the left foot.  maintain a wide stance, but this time you should set much of your weight on your right foot.  This shot you will place your hands slightly behind the ball, having your right hand turned well to the right, as you are aiming for an even earlier flip action through impact.

You will strike the sand farther behind the ball than for a standard shot, about two and a half inches behind the ball.  The extra sand will help provide no backspin, just a high flying ball that drops gently and stays put.  Once you have set up correctly, just swing back with a smooth tempo and strike the match.

Next I will write about low spinning shot.

Until next time, enjoy the sand and bring your shovel.....

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Golf Sand Shots - Don't Be Afraid of Bunkers Cont'd - Making the Short Shot

We have gone over the past few blogs how to overcome fear, understanding why the traps or bunkers are there, strategy, types of sand, bunker designs and now we will go over how to hit the shot out of these bunkers.

We will take a look at shots out of Fairway and Greenside Bunkers.

Before we go into those bunkers let me just state the standard shot from a good lie is called a splash shot because it is played with feeling; gently, yet firmly, without the sheer force used in an "explosion" shot from a difficult lie.  The basic fundamentals, you dig your feet in, bring the right, open your stance, keep your weight left, cock your wrists early and swing back slow, then strike the match, splashing through the sane under your ball.

Once you have mastered it through plenty of practice you will have a general purpose bunker shot in your bag.  You will also be well on your way to mastering even the most difficult sand saves.  The action you are practicing I used in every type of bunker shot you play around the green, with different variations of set up.  From long ones of 40 yards plus, high shots with no pin to low shots with plenty of bite and short shots of a few yards away you only need to understand how to adapt the basic shot to gain real confidence n the sand.


On these shots that have good lies he shorter the shot the more you open the club face.  For a shot just over the front lip of a bunker, say four or five yards of green to play with, I stand so open that my body almost faces the target area, with the club face as open as you can.

Grip the club with your left hand in the usual position, but your right hand strengthened a little, turned more to the right, so that it is under the left through impact.  Play the ball off your left heel, with weight on left side and plan to enter the sand about one and half inches behind the ball.  As stated above slow takeaway with same tempo, cock the wrists quickly and the backswing is full.  Timing a shot with a short swing is difficult, although you must guard against decelerating the club from a full one.  Swing like you are striking a match.  Remember when striking a match and you go easy the match won't light.  You have to pull the match quickly through the striking area firmly so the stick will start the fire.

The set-up creates an abrupt up and down, almost V-shaped, swing arc, which gets the ball up quickly.  Your positioning of the right hand allows it to flip under the left through impact, which farther increases the loft of the club and holds the club face open.  This action has your club face go through the ball slightly ahead of your hands and there will be a concave break in the back of your left wrist through impact.

This will give you two point to bear in mind.  If you don't practice this shot, swinging with a wide open club face often results in you hitting the ball with the hosel or the neck of the club, driving it deep into the bunker face.  When you start practicing it, try addressing the ball more off the toe of your sand wedge rather than the center of the club face.  Remember also, your ultra open stance and club face will put a lot of cut, or slice, spin on the ball.  On a level green, it will spin to the right o landing; something to think about when you're picking your target spot. 

As I continue writing about the Golf Sand Shots, I will cover the High Shot without Spin next.

Until next time, while in the sand keep your tempo smooth........

Monday, August 12, 2013

Golf Sand Shots - Don't Be Afraid of Bunkers Cont'd - Strategy

Well I have informed you about sand and bunker types now we are going to talk about Strategy.

Since you have gained an understanding of bunkers your attitude toward them will start to change.  As you start to play any hole, you start to think hard about its defenses, real or imaginary, and the bunkers in particular.  First, especially when the course is new to you, get a feel for the sand, which you can check out at the practice bunker by walking in it and digging your feet in.  You note what the sand type is, softness, or well-packed down and try to estimate the effect it will have on your shots if you find yourself buried in them.

Secondly, checking the layout of the bunkers on every hole and figuring why they are positioned that way.  You will see which ones you can play toward, the ones you can flirt with and the ones you must avoid.  Sometimes the bunkers frame and guard a specific area narrowing the fairway target making you play toward them, not giving you an option.

When faced by a cross pattern of carry bunkers stretching diagonally across the fairway, or a luster of them guarding a dog-leg and inviting you to try a little too hard on your approach, don't get to greedy.  You don't want to face to tough a recovery by risking too much.

By understanding bunkers, it can really help you score better by revealing how best to tackle any hole.  You will gain confidence, particularly if you practice your sand shots, even taking a lesson or two on them from your local professional.  In fact, most pros will tell you that they prefer to find themselves in a bunker rather than in deep rough, because they can generally control the ball much better from the sand.

Confidence is everything in golf.  It comes from practicing thoughtfully on and off the course, understanding the course and the techniques and, above all, from a positive mental attitude.  Golf is very much a mind game.  You are constantly contending with weather frustration, the course, stress and luck - the "rubs of the green".  You can't combat luck, but you can certainly control yourself and develop a positive mental attitude.  When playing with my friends and they hit a bad shot they tend to get frustrated and start attacking the mental attitude by stating what a bad shot.  I turn toward them and explain the good point of how their shot made out, such as you have a better angle to the green.  You landed in the bunker instead of the thick rough and so on.

To many golfers today go out there and let the frustration and course beat them before they even start.  Think positively.  If you are standing at the tee box and looking out to the hole and you see yourself as an unlucky golfer, if your positive you will get a bad bounce off your drive and roll into a bunker of plunge into the water, or going into the trees, then you will.  Stay positive, see yourself going down the middle of the fairway hitting long and straight, chip like a pro and putt like a champion, then you have a head start on the whole thing.  What you think, you will be.  If you think defensively, you will play negatively.  Think positive and you will play positively.  That doesn't mean I am positive I am going to play bad.

Never brood on past failures.  Your out at your home course and you remember your long drive down the middle of the 1st tee, that will allow you to take positive attitude toward the start of your game.  Don't recall the times that you hit your drive into the deep rough to the right of the fairway bunker.  Clear all the negative thoughts from your mind.  Think only of the times that you made great shots.  The long 15 foot putt you drained or the 3 foot putt you holed for your first birdie or eagle.    It is up to you to bring the memory of those shots, because your competitors surely won't.  They will probably remind you of those bad shots.

So when you go out to play and end up in the bunker, think of them as your friend and not the enemy.  Strategize what the bunkers are there for to help you decide what your outcome will be.  Learn the different sand types and practice hitting out of the bunkers so you an make them work for you and not against you.

Until next time, when we learn about shot making from bunkers, if they are your friend then they will make you happy and help your score instead of ruining your score......

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Golf Sand Shots - Don't Be Afraid of Bunkers Cont'd - Bunker Design Types

In the early days of golf the bunkers were formed naturally by nature and animals such as rabbits and sheep.  Now the bunkers are created by the course designers to give beauty, strategy, and hazards to stimulate the golfers ability to challenge the course.  Apart from being carefully placed to encourage the well-struck shot or to unnerve the fainthearted, they should also clearly indicate the best way to play a particular hole and highlight certain danger areas.

Some of the modern courses today, unfortunately, sport some large, very flat fairway bunkers which are so shallow you could take a driver to play out of them.  They are formed this way to keep costs down, but they are not what bunkers are all about.  Another trend, is putting bunkers too close to the surface of the putting green.  As far as green keepers are concerned, this is a bad move, as sand is always splashed onto the putting surface causing damage and disease to the grass.  If the sand contains  high lime content or made up of course particles, it will be incompatible with the top dressing material.  It will cover up the turf, which could lead to mold and possible weaken the turf itself over time.

By putting sand near the putting surface it provides a unfair hazard for the golfer.  On well designed courses you should be able to use your putter from the immediate surroundings of the green.

There are three different types of bunkers from fairway to green that positively aid the golfer in playing the hole, namely direction, carry and saving bunkers.  Two other types, called definition and face bunkers, can be both a help or a difficult hazard, while waste, collection and pot bunkers come under the dangerous hazard classification and should be avoided at all cost.

The  bunker designs that are usually used to help by indicating the best route or direction for your drive are directional bunkers.  Placed well down the fairway on par fours or fives way out of reach of the handicap player even if he this his Sunday best shot.  By aiming directly at them, this will keep you from any of the trouble on either side of the fairway.  The purpose of these bunkers is to allow you to open up a dog-leg for you and certainly give the best line of approach to the green. 

Another type bunker you find off the tee box is the carry bunker.  They are called this for they threaten the landing area of your drive so that you musty carry them, can help to define the area more clearly, although they often inhibit a free swing by their mere presence.  Don't be to concerned though,  They are usually placed well short of your optimum landing area, but if you do catch your ball a little thin and find yourself in he sad, the changes are you will be in a good lie as these bunkers are usually fairly large and flat.

Another helping type bunker is the saving bunker.  These are generally placed around the green.  They are placed where there is generally real trouble spots, as the bunkers are carefully positioned to stop the ball from bouncing or rolling down into them.  A steep slope leading to an out of-bounds to the right of the green will sometimes be marked by a saving bunker above it, which will grab an over-hit approach shot or slice. 

You often find them behind or in front of the green where there is water or trees.  As they almost invariably give you an uphill lie, recover onto the green is rarely difficult; the option is certainly better than the trouble they bar.  This allows you to have confidence to go after the pin and be safe from the trouble.

Since saving bunkers help define trouble areas, definition bunkers are positioned to outline the target area for your drive off the tee, or to help you judge your line or distance to the flag.  These are the most common bunkers on the course, the fairway version will pose more difficult problems, due to steepness of front slope or lie, on the shorter par fours.

Green side hazards, should give some indication of how much green there is between hole and the bunker, when viewed in relation to the flag, which helps in club selection.  They can bracket the green, are deep and difficult to escape from, so you should never flirt with them.

Now Face Bunkers, which are found in front of the green more often than not, help to decide the area of green you should play for.  They generally help mask the distance to the flag from the edges of the putting surface.    They are generally quite steep, with sharp down slopes in front, you should play well clear of them.

The menacing hazard includes waste bunkers.  The word waste before the term bunker should give you a great indication that this will be a difficult area to hit from.  They are long, flat areas of sand surrounded by local shrub rather than fairway grass, they often feature clumps or islands of grass inside them to create an even more difficult problem for the golfer.  Sometimes you get lucky with your lie and pick your ball cleanly off the sand or if you're close to the green, play a standard splash shot.

Collection bunkers are another dangerous type.  They are usually found lining the fairways of older courses, often on the inside corner of a dog-leg.  Designed to catch all but the best struck tee shot, as most of the surrounding fairway slopes into them.  They are usually deep and can be small or large.  In most cases they have a steep face of 1:1 or steeper.

This years Open, won by Phil Michelson, at Muirfield was an example of a lot of Pot Bunkers.  These are typical of most courses in Scotland.  These bunkers are small, round and deep with step faces everywhere that demand a high recover shot.  Pot bunkers are the most menacing form of the hazard and provide a real challenge for you to keep calm in their vicinity and just play steadily toward the flag. 

As you can see there a number of hazards some helpful some not.  When you understand which is which then you should be able to help with the strategy of your game and lower your score.

Next blog we will talk about the Strategy of Bunker play.

Until then, when you are in a bunker and cannot see the flag you know you are in trouble.....

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Golf Sand Shots - Don't Be Afraid of the Bunker Cont'd - Sand Types

To continue with the information on Sand Shots - Don't Be Afraid of the Bunker you want to get as much knowledge of what you are dealing with so you can remove your fear.  Fear is not having the understanding or information necessary to accomplish what you need to do with confidence.

Sand Bunkers

All sand is silica (SiO2) but its composition varies to a certain degree all over the world.  Almost all golf courses use the natural sand found in their location. 

In he tropic, many golf courses have bunkers filled with coral sand, which contains  fair amount of shell in it.  As a result, the grains are quite large and pack together loosely.  When a ball lands in one of these bunkers, it will tend to sit up on top of the sand and be played out without problem.

Sand on inland tropic courses is usually made out of limestone.  This type of sand will allow you to play out with backspin and control, unless it's ground too finely in which case it tends to produce buried lies, from which you cannot get backspin.

Generally, golf courses use local sand to save cost, some designers specify very white sand for aesthetic reasons.  The very pure silica sand is often imported from Idaho in the US or comes from Australia.  While the bunkers may provide a beautiful contrast with the rich green fairways, the sand grains are too rounded and mobile, so your ball will tend to sit down well in them and you're not likely to get any control when you blast out.

Golfers worldwide are fortunate, what most common type of sand found in bunkers is river pit or beach sand.  This tends to have hard, gritty grains on which the ball sits up well.  Some river sands however, can be contaminated with silt, which will cause it to set like concrete when wet.  Too much of a shell content will attract worms on inland courses. Beach sand is often so fine and in St. Andrews, the home of golf, sand for the bunkers is carefully taken from a particular pat of the beach where it is just course enough.

Sand is the shape of its grain, and this comes in eight different grades of granulation which is the most important factor.  Quarry or Pit sand has very angular grains which tend to bind tightly together, but some sea sand is too rounded and as a result too mobile.  Very fine sand usually blows out of the bunkers on windy courses and often sets with a "crust" in certain conditions, proving an unfair hazard.

Sand  that allows the ball to plug excessively and offer an unstable footing is course and rounded.  The ideal composition is a medium grade of sand, of some 2.5 mm in size and semi-rounded.  This gives a firm surface from which water will drain away well and you can play off in most circumstances with confidence.

When playing different courses golfers generally get knowledge of the types of grass on fairway, rough, and greens.  They generally never ask what is the composition of the sand in order to understand what type of lies and or shots will be required during the course of their round.  With the above information you should have a better understanding and idea of how you will need to hit shots which are determined by the type of sand you are hitting from.

Next blog we will cover Bunker Types.

Until then......If you don't understand the conditions at the beach stay out of the sand......

Monday, July 22, 2013

Golf Sand Shots - Don't be Afraid of the Bunker

Shots from the Sand Trap on the Golf Course - Don't be afraid of them.

One of the most feared areas for the average golfer is the Sand Trap or Bunker.  Just the name Sand Trap puts negative thought into your mind. 

The word Trap as defined is a device intended to catch an intruder or prey. "Trap" may also refer to the tactic of catching or harming an adversary. Conversely it may also mean a hindrance for change, being caught in a trap.

In the rules of golf Trap or Bunker is defined in USGA Rules and Regulations Section III Definitions:  A “bunker’’ is a hazard consisting of a prepared area of ground, often a hollow, from which turf or soil has been removed and replaced with sand or the like.   The key word in this is hazard which implies that there is trouble. 

With the above definition of bunker or sand trap along with the how it is talked about and described in the game of golf by golfers this is a place that you don't want to be.  Then you have to ask yourself the question, why is it that when watching the PGA Tour the commentators state that the Professional Golfers a lot of times try to hit the green side bunker with their drives on short par fours or second shots on some of the par fives.

I will tell you that it is easier to hit a bunker shot most of the time near the hole or hole out than try to do it from the rough around the green.  You generally have a smooth lie and have more control of distance and stopping ability. 

Now, I will tell you that the professional golfer does practice this shot a lot.  There is a technique to it and if the average golfer would put some practice in it they would loose their fear.  Of course fear of something is not knowing how to deal with it.  So the only way to loose your fear is to work through it and learn all you can about your emissary the bunker shot.

There are many you tube videos and books on the subject, but, I find that Gary Player is the master of the bunker shot.  He has spent countless hours of practice in this field to be able to help any level of golfer.  His booked titled "GARY PLAYER BUNKER PLAY WITH MIKE WADE THE GOLF MASTERS SERIES" is a must read.

I will continue over the next few blogs talking about the various types of bunkers, sand, and shots you can use, along with strategy.

Until then, learn to have the bunker work for you and don't be afraid....

Monday, July 15, 2013

Golf Course Management - Tips

Golf Course Management - The Toughest Outlook in Golf. 

Lets dissect the words Golf Course Management.

Golf Course - A golf course comprises a series of holes, each consisting of a teeing ground, a fairway, the rough and other hazards, and a green with a flagstick ("pin") and hole ("cup"), all designed for the game of golf.

Management - Management in all business and organizational activities is the act of coordinating the efforts of people to accomplish desired goals and objectives using available resources efficiently and effectively.

With the two definitions above you have to take a look at Managing your round at the golf course.  You have to establish goals of your round with objectives to accomplish what you are seeking your outcome to become.

Below are tips on how to better course manage and get your score lower.

Goal/Objectives -
  • Final Score
  • Plan of attack
  • Hole by hole objective
  • Execution

  1. Determine the Final Score Goal
  2. Plan of attack
    • Evaluate the Course
      • course layout
      • yardage
      • rough
      • elevation differences
      • Wind direction and speed
  3. Hole by Hole objective
    • Plan each shot per hole (work from pin back)
      • Is green sloped, flat, undulating
      • determine spot you need to hit green with approach shot allowing position needed for optimal chance at 1 putting.
      • Determine yardage you desire to hit to spot determined on green
      • Distance from Tee area to determined yardage of approach shot (this will determine club you will want to hit from Tee area
  4. Execution
    • Be Accurate
      • Avoid the common mistake of trying to hit the ball as far as you can every time off of the tee on par fours and fives at the expense of accuracy.  The benefit of having a shorter approach shot to a green is more often than not lost one the ball rolls out of bounds or into a hazard because you have tried to hit the ball as far as physically possible  Novices will typically struggle to hit their driver with any degree of accuracy ad until the club is mastered the lower-numbered woods should be used off the tee to keep the ball in the fairway and give the player a realistic shot at hitting the green.
    • Have Targets
      • Try to have a tangible target for every shot you take on the golf course.  Rather than hitting the ball towards the green and hoping it lands somewhere that gives you a decent chance at an approach, you need to plan for the hole.  Once you have become acquainted with the course and have a good concept of where it is advantageous to be on each of its holes, pick out targets n the background to aim for.  Know where the hazards are, especially the "blind" ones that cannot be seen from the fairway, and have targets chosen that can keep you clear of them  One of the key aspects of golf course management is hitting shots that make your next shot less difficult.  Rather than try to hit at a flagstick on a green, it is sometimes advisable to hit to a spot that gives you an uphill putt at the hold or keeps the ball away from a bunker.  Having a target in mind during a shot can help you to achieve these goals.
    • Play Intelligently
      • Playing smart and controlling your emotions are a large part of good golf course management.  By not abandoning a game plan and focusing on each shot, you can become a consistent player.  Many golfers make the error of thinking about upcoming shots and lose their concentration on the shot about to be played, causing a poor result  The mistake then gets compounded when he tries to recover with a shot that is well beyond his ability  It is important to realize your limitations, understand which clubs you have a good feel for and which you need to work on, and then use this knowledge on the course.  Realize that you cannot duplicate the shots that you have seen professionals make on television and don't let your ego dictate your next move on the course.

By using the above information you should be able to better understand not only your game and limitations but be able to manage the course to allow you to score better than you ever have.

Until next time,  by learning your limitations, staying within yourself, and checking your ego at the door you will have a lot of fun on the course....