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Hopefully we remember many of the important “firsts” in our lives; first date, first hole in one, etc. The most memorable golf moment for me was beating my pops on the course for the first time, and it wasn’t easy. We only played 9 holes and I had to eagle the 9th hole at Mountain View G.C. to beat him, it was one of my first rounds in the 30’s and my first eagle. I put all my eggs in one basket and I’m pretty sure my dad was more proud of me than I was happy.
As a coach experiencing my athlete’s “firsts” might be more memorable for me than it is for them, many times I think it is. When I reflect back on the past year I remember the first box jump from one of our young athletes, my daughter Mira’s first 60 yard drive and seeing an athlete figure something out on their own without my prompting, are very memorable for me. It is why I love coaching, to see our young athletes perform or complete something they were unable to do the day before.
Yesterday I had a great opportunity to introduce 6 athletes to the golf course, which is one of the best moments I have as a golf coach. Their parents have a variety of expectations; score well, hit good shots, behave, etc. I respect each of those expectations and they are realistic but I have a different goal for each of them, HAVE FUN! Before the round I try to make sure our parents know that is my goal, that is why we play golf!
Here are a couple of pictures from the course yesterday.
Most of the guys are 6 or 7 years old so we had to take a couple of breaks and we discussed what to do on the course and how everyone liked the golf course. It’s always great to hear their responses; it’s hilly, I need a snack, let’s hit a ball in the water. We are always on our toes, which makes it fun and exciting for me!
I try to leave all of our young athletes with a couple of messages.
- Remember our golf etiquette and congratulate other players on their good shots
- When a shot doesn’t work out as we planned, how do we recover and prepare for our next shot
I’d like to think everyone will remember those concepts, particularly #1. It was great to see the athletes hit good shots and the other guys congratulated them without being prompted. That tells me that our coaching team is doing a good job imparting the skills to be good golfers but more importantly to be good individuals. Golf is just the medium for us to influence our young athletes to be good people.
Yes……Golf Changes Lives!
Academy testing and new hats
The last month has been very busy with our Academy classes and numerous young athletes. We have implemented a new testing system which gives us a very unbiased system to evaluate our young athletes. The testing system is broken down into the skills required to be a competent golfer.
- Irons (7 iron)
- Fairway woods
- On Course play
The great aspect of our new testing system is that it allows us to objectively gauge our players and highlight strengths and weaknesses. It also gives us the chance to track progress over a longer period of time.
Each aspect of the testing system consists of a game. The chipping test is one of my favorites and really highlights our player’s ability to hit a quality chip shot at a variety of targets, our players get to play a game of baseball.
The goal is to move around the bases and score as many runs as they can. Home plate is 20 ft. away, 1st and 3rd are both 30 ft. away and 2nd base is 40 ft. away. To move to 1st base players must hit a ball within a 4 ft. radius of the target, 2nd is a 5 ft. radius and home is a 3 ft. radius. It sounds simple but this really allows us to evaluate different shots at different lengths. It’s also fun for the kids, which is my primary goal with every player, MAKE IT FUN! We play lots of games, I use lots of color and I try to make sure I have bright green golf balls to match my pants (as you can see in the above picture).
Our young players love to earn a new hat and our new evaluation system allows us to give players a chance to show their skills by hitting great shots and having fun at the same time.
We have nearly 60 young athletes in our program. Their improvement and enjoyment is my primary focus. We have 3 goals in our program;
- Ensure golf is FUN
- Improve golf specific skills
- Improve athletic abilities
Our players have shown great improvement over the past few months and we are very excited for the future in golf.
Yes…..golf changes lives!
Why chase a little ball????
I’m often asked, “Why do you love golf so much?”
I really enjoy playing golf, particularly when things come together and I hit a few good shots in a row or make a nice putt. But that isn’t my motivation behind playing and teaching golf, it’s everything else that goes along with golf. My motivations include spending time with my family and friends, being outside, putting down my cell phone, testing myself by trying tough shots, not watching tv, having fun and LAUGHING!
I look back at my most enjoyable moments in golf and always remember those moments that I laugh and have fun. In our Academy Classes this week (click here) we have been discussing expectations; the expectations of our athletes for themselves, of the coaches, of the class and our expectations of them. The overwhelming response was they expect golf class to be FUN! I love it, we have done our job to promote golf as a FUN thing to do.
Here are a few of my favorite golf memories;
- 9 holes with my dad, brother and grandfather (my dream foursome). It only happened once but I will never forget it.
- Getting beat by my best friend shooting his career round
- Beating my dad for the first time
- Giving my daughter her first golf lesson
- Trying to give my wife a lesson and breaking a window…….my bad (she can find a new coach, I’m not the right fit!)
- Watching my son love grabbing a club and hit anything he can
- Playing Wasatch State Park Golf Course in the fall, just do it…..
- Late night putting contests using the headlights of our cars for light
- Hearing about going to the golf course with mom, dad, grandpa, friends by my students. Especially for the first time……this is what golf is all about!
The game means so much more than scoring low and playing well. We can test ourselves, spend quality time with people, smell fresh cut grass and experience life. Too many of us spend to much time on our cell phones, working and watching tv. Golf gives us a great opportunity to interact with those we care about and get to know people. A friend told me that the best way to get to know someone is to play golf and spend 5 hours with them, it is so true.
I’ve added a few pictures of some of my favorite golf moments.
I was “forced” to hit the tennis ball off the first tee. Luckily Devin killed his drive so we were good!
Giving my daughter (Mira, with the pink tutu) one of her first golf lessons.
After golf can be just as good as during golf. Many haven’t seen my dad like this but he has his moments…..
Taking Mira to her first golf tournament. She had no idea what was going on but walked 4 holes with me and really liked the “girl in pink!”
Gotta start with the putts you can make. Mira is teaching Sam how to putt….how cool is that!
Possibly my favorite golf picture I have. My son Sam couldn’t be happier making a putt.
To sum all of this up, each of us have to know why we play golf. Why we chase a little golf ball around and why we spend 5 hours on finely manicured grass fields. The majority of us do this to have FUN, not to shoot our career low round. It’s nice to play well but please remember why we play golf – It’s the greatest sport to get to know yourself, your family, your friends, and spend quality time with those you care about.
Remind yourself the next time you hit a poor shot, JUST LAUGH, you are out having FUN!
The Academy at Del Mar Golf Center
After a significant absence, I’m back and will make this blog an important part of communicating with parents and coaches. Over the past two years we have built an outdoor gym, brought in awesome new coaches, launched our new junior program, and I’ve started teaching a bunch of great kids.
I’ve always enjoyed working with kids, but the addition of Milo Bryant (one of the awesome coaches), and incorporating fitness development into our golf training has been the big catalyst for me. In my opinion just teaching golf skills to young athletes (4-8 year olds) and engaging them each class can be very challenging. The addition of Coach Milo and incorporating a Long Term Athletic Development (LTAD) model has been exciting and very beneficial for the progression of our young athletes.
I’ve seen the results with our players when we focus on developing core athletic skills first and then layering golf specific skills. A great example is the picture above; the player exhibits great weight transfer, lower body separation, and rotational speed. Golf skills don’t have to be taught just by swinging a golf club.
Here are a few of the highlights and “firsts” I’ve seen from our players this year;
- 10 of our under 7 players have gone to the golf course with dad, mom or grandparents for the first time – AWESOME!!!
- First two foot box jump after a young athlete struggled for months (this might not sound like much but it was a major achievement for the young athlete)
- First 100 yard shot for a 5 year old
- 5 consecutive SNAG shots
- Awesome battles of Tic-Tac-Toe
- The chance to have my daughter Mira participate in our program
Involving Mira in our program and seeing her progress is very special to me. She loves coming to golf class and “playing” each week. Her athleticism has increased significantly and for a 5 year old she displays some nice fundamentals. I will continue to show her successes and challenges as I continue this blog.
We now have 4 classes each week, will be expanding to a new day for our SMASH (8-13 yr olds) and have waiting lists for 3 classes. Our program and philosophy is built on developing long term relationships with the players and their families. I can’t describe how excited I am when our players go to the golf course with their dad, mom, grandpa, etc.
The Academy is based on three primary goals;
- Ensure each athlete enjoys the game of golf and has FUN
- Develop golf skills to develop and become proficient golfers
- Incorporate physical training and develop athletes
To evaluate, monitor and develop each of our players’ abilities we use a hat system much like martial arts, I will go into this more in future posts. Test days are big days and we treat them like our “majors.”
Most of our players have never played golf before starting our program; I look forward to going to the golf course with each of them.
How lucky am I ?
Golf has always been family focused for me. My dad taught me to play (how cool is that), my most memorable round was with my pops, brother and grandpa and now I get to be involved with golf for a living. I’ve never played for a living which is a totally different beast, something which I have a ton of respect for. Having to make a five footer to pay rent would destroy me. The most nerve racking putts have been to beat Mark Fernando for a few bucks, take a new golf shirt from Mike Gore or force Chris Lesson to re-work his entire set and replace his irons.
Today was awesome, I had a chance to work with our Marines from Operation Game On and Wounded Warrior Battalion West. Tuesdays are my favorite day of the week, while it’s my Monday I really enjoy working with our returned Marines along with the big fella, Chris Lesson.
Check this out, always makes me take a few minutes and reflect on the freedoms we have.
On top of the boys this morning I was able to work with some juniors from Santa Fe Christian Middle School. I remember my after school golf classes and the first “pro” I worked with. Too bad I don’t have a golf car to take the kids out on, always my top golf camp memory.
In trying to bring this full circle I just thank all of those who have played golf with me. As I sit here with my 5 week old son Sam I just hope I have the chance to introduce him to the game, along with his sisters. Golf is so much more than a game to me; it’s a great opportunity to build character, test yourself, achieve success, feel failure, overcome adversity and most of all have fun.
Not a Spring Chicken Anymore
It seems my New Year’s Resolutions were a little too much for my aging “dad” self to keep up. I was doing great for about 3 weeks until a couple of injuries kicked up and made life a little tough.
A bone spur in my wrist and a lingering shoulder injury have made both working out and practicing much more challenging. I’m now in a wrist brace with potential surgery on the horizon. I’ve decided surgery is the very last option, on my lead wrist at that. A visit to the PT in the morning, Neil McKenna at Elevate Function (http://elevatefunction.com), should help me along my path.
My injuries have really made me rethink my views on golf and being physically active. It’s more important than ever to understand the correct mechanics, sequence and physical limitations required in the golf swing. The folks over at the Titleist Performance Institute (http://www.mytpi.com) opened me up to what our body is made to do and what it is supposed to do. I’ve compared old video of my golf swing to what I am trying to accomplish now and have found the issue……my grip.
I’ve adjusted my grip just a bit a couple of years ago and in my attempt to consistently grip the club the same every shot I’ve gone too far in one direction. The club is now too far in my fingers (just be a few millimeters mind you) which has resulted in a strong grip that my swing isn’t made for. I cup the club too early in my backswing and am unable to maintain a flat wrist during the downswing.
A slightly strong grip has led to an impact position with a slightly cupped wrist and very bad things happen. Bad things happen to my wrist, my ball flight and more importantly to my ego.
I need to always review my fundamentals, something my Director of Instruction preaches every day. Even when I think I’m in the correct positions…..I often times am not. It really is amazing how we can tweak very small things with our swing; grip, stance, posture or alignment…just to name a few. My attempt to keep the club head outside of my hands on the backswing has led to a very bad position during my takeaway and the top of the backswing. I’m forced to release the club early which causes my wrist to be in extension at impact, which is not good at all (casting).
My goal is to avoid surgery and improve my golf swing. The new technology our PGA Golf Professionals have is amazing; K-Vest, Flightscope and high speed video just to name a few. Now I’ve got to adjust my motor pattern and change my takeaway, but more importantly I’ve got to change my release. A new grip is one of the most challenging things in golf but since I’d really like to play with my (now) three kids, change is good!
Visit http://www.mytpi.com/improve-my-game/swing-characteristics/casting for more information on “Casting” and the various screens and fixes.
The New Year and Expectations
Each year I start off with noble and very aggressive goals, most of which I don’t reach or require far to many resources. This year is going to be different. I’m not going to focus on the outcome, I’m going to spend my time on the process and how I am going to get there.
My overall goal is to work on my golf game and lower my average score, but I’ve created multiple small and achievable checkpoints that will help me improve my game. I typically shoot around 75 but have those rather rough days. I’m working on a swing change and didn’t play well the other day….not well at all.
Checkpoints for the year
- Practice 156 times (45 balls and 10 min of short game)
- Workout 260 times (5 days per week)
- Play 30 rounds of golf
- Compete in 6 tournaments
My focus is on the process and journey I take to improve my game, I want to enjoy myself along the way. I know I can achieve each of these goals and they are all realistic for me. All of my checkpoints are broken down into monthly and weekly goals with a sheet for me to keep track. I’ll check back monthly and make sure I’m holding myself to the journey.