Monday, December 10, 2012

3-under (Repeat)

Improve your focus and ability to repeatedly make 6-8 footers

What to do:
Grab two balls and your putter.  Pick a putt 6 to 8 feet long and, going through your full routine first, try to make the putt with both balls.  Pretend your first ball is for birdie and your second is for par.  So, if you make the first (for birdie) and then make the second (for par), you are 1-under.  If you miss a putt and make another you are even-par, and if you miss both you are 1-over.  The object of this game is to get to 3-under par.  After hitting both putts and taking note of your score, move on to a different spot, changing the break and speed for the next pair of putts.  The absolute best you can do is making 6 in a row, getting to 3-under without missing one putt.  

How I did:
Latest try I made all 6 in a row.

Beginner- Both putts are for birdie

Monday, November 26, 2012

Putting Reps

Improve short putting through focus and routine

What to do:
This drill requires focus and stamina.  You'll need a handful of golf balls, your putter and a relatively straight 4-footer.  Once you've located a straight putt and placed a marker 4 feet from the hole, your objective is to make 25 putts in a row from this spot.  However, you must go through your FULL ROUTINE for every putt!  This drill is not meant to test your ability to mindlessly knock in 25 putts; rather it challenges and strengthens your pre-shot preparation and mental discipline.  Improve your ability to sink putts under pressure with focus on a sound pre-shot routine. 

How I did:
Made all 25 on my second try... Took around 20 minutes.

Beginners do 10

Monday, November 5, 2012

BCS Ballstriking

Improve focus and practice ball-striking in this College Football themed game

This is a great game given the time of year.  It is a focused practice session for any college football fan/golfer. 

What to do:

On the range, set right and left boundaries, between which you will attempt to hit 12 shots with the possibility of a bonus 13th.  The width between the right and left boundary marks should be about 30 yards (roughly 10 paces).  Once you have clearly defined these boundaries, work your way through your bag, hitting a shot with each club just once.  Each club represents a different team on your schedule.  If you land a shot between your boundaries it means you've won, if not you've lost.  Excluding your putter and your most lofted wedge, this should give you 12 total shots, or 12 total games for this year's football season.  Keep track of your "record" as you work your way through the bag, hitting each club only once. 

Once your "season" is complete, meaning you've hit a total of 12 shots with 12 different clubs, look at your record.  If you won at least 6 games (landed at least 6 balls within your boundary points) then your team is bowl eligible.  Hit a 13th shot with a mid-iron... land it in and win your bowl game, miss and lose.  If over the course of your season you missed only once (11-1) you made it into a BCS Bowl Game.  Hit a 13th shot with a long iron... miss and lose, pull it off and win.  Finally, if you were flawless and went 12 for 12, congratulations... you've made it to the BCS National Championship.  Hit your Driver, attempting to win a National Championship by landing the shot in your set "fairway".

Play around with this one... there are several imaginative variations, for instance if conditions were particularly difficult (e.g. 30 mph winds), maybe missing only one shot means you still made it to the National Championship.  The important thing as always is to have fun and be focused on each shot.

How I did:

10-2 with a Bowl loss... narrowly missed my 13th shot with 6-iron. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

1-Side Driving

Improve driving accuracy by eliminating one side of the golf course

What to do:
Pick a side of the driving range that has a tall net, trees or water bordering it on that side... if your range does not have any of these, the edge of the range will do.  Pick a target as close to the edge as possible, and hit 10 shots to that target.  Each shot should be as aggressive as possible, however keep in mind the side on which you CANNOT miss.  Trees, water, OB, etc. is no good, so really focus on landing your shot just to the opposite side.  Attempt to hit all 10 shots close to the pin without a poor miss.

How I did:
Missed 1 out of 10 shots to the left which was trees... all the rest were either at or to the right of the flag stick.   

Monday, September 24, 2012

Shortgame Assessment #6 Wedge Shot

20, 40, 60, 80, 100 yards, the scoring zone

What to do:
You'll need your wedges, 5 cones or other makeshift markers and also a partner (it's near impossible to complete this phase without some help).  On the driving range, take your markers and place them at 20, 40, 60, 80 and 100 yards respectively from your hitting spot... you can pace or use a laser to find each distance. Have your partner move to the first cone and prepare to score each shot.

Once you're all set up, hit 2 balls to each distance, attempting to FLY each shot as close to your target as possible.  After you hit each shot, have your partner determine how far the shot landed from the target.  You'll hit a total of 10 balls. After pacing off the distance, have him record the score.  Here's the point system:

Hit on the fly- 3 points
0-9 feet (0-3 paces)- 2 points
9-18 feet (3-6 paces)- 1 point
18-30 feet (6-10 paces)- 0 points
Over 30 feet (over 10 paces)- (-1) point

How I did:
Toughest station by far... scored 9 here. 

Good luck... I hope you enjoyed these assessment games.  It's fun to do them all at once in 2 hours or so.  It's also fine if you do them individually.  Repeat this assessment over time and watch it reflect on your scorecard.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Shortgame Assessment #5 Bunker Shot

Sand-shot scoring system

What to do:
We are almost there... the fifth shot you'll be hitting will be a green side sand-shot, as today's title implies.  You'll need your sand-wedge, 5-10 balls and preferably a partner to help score each shot.  Pick a mid-range green side bunker shot, ideally somewhere around 15 paces, or 45 feet.  Make it as straightforward as possible, giving yourself preferred lies in the sand and enough green to allow for a reasonable amount of roll.  Once you've found your shot, hit 10 balls, scoring each one based on it's proximity to the hole.  Here's the point system:

Hole-out- 3 points
0-6 feet- 2 points
6-12 feet- 1 point
12-15 feet- 0 points
Over 15 feet- (-1) point

Record each shot's score, given it's distance from the pin, then total your points.

How I did:
I scored a 10 on the bunker shot.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Shortgame Assessment #4 Pitch Shot

Part 4 of the 6 shot short game assessment, pitching

What to do:
Take 5 golf balls and a wedge to a part of the chipping green with room to hit a 20 yard pitch shot (5 yards of carry and 15 of roll).  You will hit a total of 10 shots, attempting to hit each shot as close to the hole as possible.  You earn points based on how far each shot comes to rest from the hole.  The scoring system is as follows:

Hole-out - 3 points
0-6 feet - 2 points
6-9 feet - 1 point
9-12 feet - 0 points
Over 12 feet - (-1) point

How I did:
My score for pitching was 16. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Shortgame Assessment #3 Chip Shot

Continuation of the Shortgame Assessment, improve and assess your skill level on chip shots

What to do:
You'll be hitting 10 total chip shots, 5 from 40 feet and 5 from 60 feet.  Grab the club that you're most comfortable hitting medium length, running chip shots with (I used my sand wedge and 9-iron).  At the chipping green, select a hole to which you have room to hit a chip shot from 40 feet  (ideally, you should have to carry the ball over 10 feet of fringe, and have 30 feet of green to work with).  Once you've selected your 40 foot "chip shot", go ahead and hit 5 chips, trying your best to get each to stop as close to the hole as possible.  After each shot, either measure its proximity to the hole yourself, or better yet have a partner measure for you, then assign points based on how far each shot came to rest..  Here is the scoring system:

Holed-          3 points
0-3 feet-       2 points
3-6 feet-       1 point
6-9 feet-       0 points
over 9 feet-  (-1 ) point

Once you've calculated your score for the 40-foot chip shot, move on to the 60 foot chip shot.  Again, give yourself roughly 10 feet of fringe to fly the ball over and now 50 feet of green to work with.  Hit 5 more chips to this hole, and using the same scoring table try to rack up as many points as possible.  Once finished, add your points from both distances to get your "total chipping score". 

How I did:
10 points on the 40-footer and 9 points on the 60-footer for a TOTAL of 19. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Shortgame Assessment #2 Lag Putt

Sharpen your speed while assessing a critical part of your golf game

What to do:
You'll need your putter, 2 golf balls and a handful of tees.  Find a hole with enough green to allow you to hit a 50 foot putt.  Pace off 20 ft, 30 ft, 40 ft, and finally 50 feet, marking each distance with a tee.  You're going to hit 2 putts from each distance, 8 putts total, measuring the proximity of each putt to the hole, then giving yourself points based on how close each putt came to rest from the cup.  The point system is as follows:

Holed-putt = 3 points
0-3 feet = 2 points
3-6 feet = 1 point
6-9 feet = 0 points
over 9 feet = -1 point

Go through it, giving each putt full effort, then total your points to see how you've fared. 

How I did:
I scored 15, leaving all but 1 putt within 3 feet.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Intro to Shortgame Assessment and #1 Short Putt

Objectively measure and improve your skill for the most critical shots in golf 

Recently I was made aware of a book entitled You're Not Lifting Your Head, written by Charlie King, a Top 25 Golf Instructor.  Contained in its pages is a short-game assessment for the reader to attempt.  King took 6 different types shot from 100 yards-and-in and created a scoring game to objectively measure a golfer's skill in the "Red Zone".  Based on this score, King claims to be able to predict one's actual handicap.  So of course I dove right in...

What to do:
The Author recommends that you have a partner complete the test with you.  The main purpose is so he/she can keep score while you focus solely on the shots at hand.  It is possible to do it alone, however it's MUCH easier the other way. 

Ok, so here are the 6 different types of shot you'll be hitting:

1. Short Putt
2. Lag Putt
3. Chip Shot
4. Pitch Shot
5. Bunker Shot
6. Wedge Shot

Each shot has its own scoring key and detailed explanation, so I'll have to spread this out and give you 1 explanation a day, starting with the Short Putt. 

#1 Short Putt
Take 2 golf balls, a handful of tees and your putter and find a hole on the practice green with some break.  Place a tees in the ground in a straight line starting at 3 feet, moving to 6, then to 9, and finally 12 feet away.  Do the same thing directly opposite the hole, one the other side, placing tees at 3, 6, 9, and 12 feet, marking where you'll be putting from. 

You'll hit 2 putts from each tee, alternating the sides of the hole (hit 2 putts from 3 feet, then move to the other side of the hole and hit 2 more putts from 3 feet, then return to your original side, hitting 2 from 6 feet, then moving to the opposite side and hitting 2 more from 6 feet, and so on...).  Your objective is to make as many putts as possible, as you'll get points only for a putt that is holed.  You'll be hitting 16 total putts (4 from 3 feet, 4 from 6 feet, 4 from 9 feet, and 4 from 12 feet). 

Once you've finished up at 12 feet, count how many putts you made.  Give yourself 2 points for each putt drained.  For instance, if you made a total of 8 putts, you've scored a 16.  The maximum score is 32 (16 makes x 2 points = 32 total points).  Your actual score will likely be much less than this. 

How I did:
I made 9 total putts, scoring an 18.  I missed all of the 6 footers, however, so I felt that I underperformed a little.  According to Charlie King, 18 is what a 3-handicapper would typically score.  (For the detailed scoring/handicap chart rent or buy his book You're Not Lifting Your Head. )

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sand Ladder

Hone in your carry distances out of the greenside bunker

What to do:
Bring your sand-wedge and 7 golf balls to a practice sand trap.  Give yourself at least 30 yards of room in the direction you will be hitting your shots, and a flat lie in the sand from which to execute.  On your first shot try to barely land it outside of the bunker, just barely clearing the lip.  With each successive shot, to to carry your ball just past where the previous one came to rest.  If you fail to carry the lip on your first shot, start over.  If you fail to fly any shot past where the one before came to rest, start over.  Once you've finished, successfully executing all shots as desired, pace off the distance from your first ball to your last ball.  The shorter the distance, the more precise your shots must have been.

How I did:

Had to start over twice... once I finished the distance from my first ball to the last was 18 paces.  I think under 10 is a challenging yet attainable goal. 

Beginner- hit only 5 balls

Monday, July 23, 2012

4 Putts, 4 Majors

Clutch putting

What to do:
You'll need your putter and just one ball for this game.  On a practice green, pick a putt from 10 feet and prepare to make the putt.  Read it just as you would on the 72nd hole of a major championship, say, the Masters. If you make this putt, you are Champion.  Use your whole imagination, painting the scene in as much detail as possible.  Once immersed in the moment, execute the putt.  Do this 3 more times, once for the U.S. Open, Once for the British, and once more for the PGA Championship.  How many majors did you win?

How I did:
I won the Masters and PGA Championship, making 2/4 putts. 

No Scaling.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Indoor Chipping

'Rainy day' chipping game

What to do:
If you find yourself unable to practice outdoors for any reason, grab your most lofted wedge, a couple of golf balls and a cooler, hat, small trash can, etc. (something into which you're comfortable landing a golf ball, it will serve as a target for your chips). In a spacious room with carpeting, lay your target item down at an angle, then pace off 5 yards to the spot from which you'll chip.  In 10 minutes see how many shots you can fly into your target consecutively.  If you have a streak going and miss, start over and try again to beat your best number.   

How I did:
This past week I vacationed in the Outer Banks.  Last minute I decided to pack my putter, a wedge and two golf balls in hopes of getting some practice.  Since no golf courses lay within 2 hours of this island, this game provided a way to have fun while keeping my short game sharp.  My longest streak was 2... not very impressive.  One of my fellow vacationers made 4 in a row which was pretty good.  Make sure to turn any television screens away from your line of fire... we had a couple of close calls.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Putting Lines

Enhances feel for break and speed

What to do:
Grab five golf balls and your putter.  Pick a putt with some break and read it.  Drop your balls on the line that you've read, spaced apart about a foot, starting at a 2 foot distance.  Make all of the putts you've given yourself, starting with the 2 footer and moving back with each successful stroke.  Do not take practice strokes, simply step back to the next one and make a stroke.  Once you've made all 5 putts in a row, repeat this process on the opposite side.  Do this 4 ways around the hole, in North-South-East-West fashion.  Feel your confidence grow as you make putt after putt.

How I did:
I was able to complete this one only missing 5 times, 4 times on the 6-footers and once from 3-feet.

Scaling: None

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Scoring Zone

Sharpen the 80 to 115 yard wedge shots that are so critical to scoring

What to do:
Late in the afternoon once your golf course clears, take a cart and head to the first hole.  Drop a ball at the 80 yards from the pin and play the hole.  On the next hole, move back to 85 yards and play from there.  Tee off from 90 yards on Hole 3, and continue playing in this fashion, moving back in 5 yard increments until you reach 115 yards on the 8th hole.  Don't play from more than this distance, simply start over at 80 yards on the 9th.  See how low you can score playing 18 holes in this fashion.  Also, take note of your proximity to the hole on each shot. 

How I did:
Look for results on Tuesday.

Beginner- Play 9

Monday, June 4, 2012

Four Corners (repeat)

I've chosen to repeat this drill because it is such a good one.  Sure to build confidence in your ability to make clutch short putts.

What to do:
In North-South-East-West fashion, place 4 tees around the hole, 3 feet away (about 1 putter length).  Do the same at 4 and 5 feet.  When you've done this you'll have 4 sets of 3 tees in the ground, 12 total, one for every putt you must make.  Pick a 3-footer and, going through your full routine first, make the putt.  In that same line, move back to the 4-footer and repeat the process, making the putt.  Do the same at 5-feet.  Once you've completed this line, making the 3-footer, 4-footer and 5-footer in a row, move counter- clockwise to the next tee line (East) and do it again.  The objective of this drill is to make all 12 putts in a row.  

This is a difficult drill.  Those last few putts are real nerve testers, and a miss challenges your patience.  When you do finish, confidence is born in your ability to sink those critical 3,4,5 footers. 

My results:
Finished most recently on my second try.  

Scaled version:
Make one line of putts all in a row, then move on.  If you miss a putt on the next line, stay on that line, starting over at the 3-footer on that side.  Never return to a side that you've already completed (made the 3, 4, and 5 foot putts in a row).  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Bozo Buckets

Sharpen your chipping

What to do:
For those who have seen the once popular children's show Bozo the Clown, today's drill is a take off the "Grand Prize Game", which came at the end of the show.  In this game, 6 buckets stretch out in front of the contestant, into which he or she must toss a ping-pong ball.  If the child manages to toss the ball into all the buckets consecutively, starting with the shortest and ending with the longest, a grand prize is awarded to the lucky player (usually a trip to Space Camp).  As a 4-5 year old kid I remember this show being a little creepy because of its host, an adult clown with enormous red hair, however this game always got my attention. 

I've taken the same basic idea and modified it slightly for golfers.  Take your most lofted club and 6 golf balls to the practice green.  Stand a range bucket up on a flat surface and drop a ball 3 feet away from it.  Drop another ball and 5 feet, another at 7 and so on until your 6 golf balls are arranged in a straight line extending away from the bucket.  Attempt to fly each ball into the bucket, starting with the closest and ending with the farthest.  See how many you're able to make, placing emphasis on the last your final "Grand Prize" shot.

How I did:
I only made 2 in my first attempt at this drill... will not be going to Space Camp.

Beginner- If you hit the bucket on the fly, count it as a bucket.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Between the Wickets

Start your putts on line

What to do:
Take 2 tees, your putter and a handful of golf balls to the putting green and find a straight putt. Standing about 4 feet from a hole, drop a ball onto the green about that distance from the hole.  Arrange your tees about halfway to the hole like to goal posts or wickets, with enough room for 2 golf balls to fit side by side between them.   Your object is to roll putts between the tees, and then into the hole.  Try to make 20 in a row from this distance without hitting the tees. 

How I did:

Was able to do this on the first try.  Feel free to shrink the space between your tees to add difficulty. 

Beginner- Make 5 in a row
Intermediate- Make 10 in a row

Monday, May 7, 2012

Slam Dunk

Focus on landing chips where you want

What to do:
Grab your most lofted club (in my case it's a 60 degree L-Wedge).  On a chipping green, pick a hole and give yourself about 5 paces from which to chip to it.  Attempt to fly a shot directly into the hole.  Once you have done this, move back 1 pace and try to fly in another.  Repeat this until "dunking" a shot from 10 paces away.  When completed, you will have flown in 6 shots.

How I did:
This one took me a while.  It's a great game though... not only is it very effective in moving your focus to a landing spot while you chip, but it's also fun.  The tendency is to land your first few chips a little short, but as you continue to focus in on the hole it becomes easier to fly them where you want. 

Beginner- Move only to 7 feet.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Wheelhouse Wedges

Sharpen wedge game from scoring distances

What to do:
When actually playing a round on the golf course, play a shot from the 100 yard marker on every other hole.  Go through your full routine and execute the shot to the best of your ability.  Over 18 holes this will afford you 9 quality shots from around 100 yards (Each hole will be a different distance given different pin placements.  For example, a back pin might leave you 115 yards, and a front pin may give you an 85 yard shot).  If your playing partners don't mind, try doing this over the course of 5 rounds and I promise you'll see drastic improvement in your wedge-play. 

How I did:
Sometimes I will actually play out my shots for added pressure and practice... try if you like. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

100 Putts

Gain confidence in your short putting

What to do:
You'll need a red permanent marker, a handful of golf balls, and your putter.  This drill requires a bit of prep-work.  With the permanent marker, dot the green 2-feet away from the hole.  Do this 12 times, rotating around the hole in a circle, creating a circle of 12 evenly spaced dots around the hole.  Repeat this process at 3 feet, 4 feet, 5 feet, 6feet, 7 feet, 8 feet and 9 feet, then make 4 dots at 10 feet.  This should leave 100 dots around the hole.  You will hit a putt from each of these markings.  Make as many of these putts as you can.  80 is a lofty but realistic benchmark. 

How I did:
The last time I did this drill I scored an 83.  My high is 84.  Good luck. :)

Beginner- Dot at 2, 3 4 and 5 feet, leaving yourself 48 putts. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Eyes Closed

Enhance rhythm and feel

What to do:
Starting with a wedge, work your way up the bag hitting one shot with your eyes open, then one with your eyes closed.  Once you've done this, pick a club you struggle with and hit a succession of shots, all of them with your eyes closed.  You'll find that even only after a few shots your feel will be greatly heightened.  In order to find the center of the club-face, your setup, rhythm and balance must all work together.  This drill increases your ability to make this happen, building confidence in your natural swing. 

How I did:
My first attempts at hitting balls with my eyes shut were pretty embarrassing, so I wouldn't expect flush shots immediately.  Stay patient and don't try to overwork the club.  Just make a loose, rhythmical swing, letting the ball get in the way.  This is what I had to do, and after a while I was able to find the center of the club pretty consistently.  What I also noticed is my ball flight straightened out dramatically.  Part of this surely has to do with a slower club head speed.  However, because your swing falls into proper sequence, minimal distance is lost.

Beginner- try chipping and pitching with your eyes closed before moving on the full swings

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

'Round the Green

Chipping repetition and confidence building

What to do:
Take 3 balls and a wedge to the chipping green.  Pick a hole and drop your 3 balls, spacing them about 1 yard apart, extended out in front of you.  Hit the first ball, attempting to make the chip.  Hit the remaining two chips and retrieve them.  Move counter- clockwise in this fashion all the way around the chipping green, chipping to the same hole and attempting to make each shot.  You may find that at certain points around the green you will have more or less green to work with.  Adjust the distance from the green, giving yourself enough room so that the wedge you chip with fits the shot in front of you (for example, most likely you would not hit a long bump and run with a 60 degree lob wedge, nor would you hit a high flop with a pitching wedge.  So, move back if you have too much green to work with, or move up if you have too little so that the club you're using fits the shot).  When you've completed a full circle around the green, total your hole-outs.

How I did:
Last Saturday I used my 60 degree lob wedge and had 3 hole outs.

Scaling:  None

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Hear it Fall

Groove a trusting putting stroke

What to do:
In this drill you with make 50 putts in a row without watching any of them fall into the hole.  Take 5 balls and mark a spot 4 feet from the hole.  Make 25 putts in a row with your eyes closed.  Reset your golf balls and make 25 more with open eyes, yet without training them on the ball as it rolls towards the hole.  Rather, keep them focused on the ball’s original resting position.  If at any time you open your eyes during the first 25, or allow your eyes to watch a putt go in, start over. 

How I did:
This drill requires more focus than it may seem at first.  I completed this drill recently on my first try, but I can tell you that it does require a lot of focus.  If your habit is to peek at the hole, then you’ll have to fight the urge over 50 putts. 

Beginner- Hit all 50 putts from 2 feet away.  The important aspect of this game is that you’re keeping you’re focus on a process. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Narrow Your Focus (Playing Drill)

Tighten up your ball striking by using this mindset on the course

This drill is to be done while playing a round.  My two coaches, Dr. Bob Christina and Eric Alpenfels, strongly advocate this way of playing.  What you do is this:  mentally divide the fairway in half on your tee shots and pick a side of the pin on your approaches.  On tee shots, pick either the left side of the fairway or right and attempt to hit it.  On your approach, pick the portion of the green to the right or to the left of the flagstick and try to leave your ball on your chosen side.  This "shrinking" of your target will narrow your focus, bringing your attention to a much more defined area of acceptability. 

How I did:
This one is difficult to carry through your entire round.  I have to stay on myself with every tee shot and approach, making sure I've picked a side and made a swing towards the smaller target.  The more I do this the easier it gets, and I've found my ball striking improves every time I play this way. 

Beginner- Pick a side of the fairway and try to hit the center of every green

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Land Them Soft

Develop touch for short chips with little green to work with

What to do:
Take your highest lofted wedge and 5 balls to the chipping green.  Pick a flat spot near the green with room to back up and hit progressively longer chips to a target on the green.  Select a hole 5 paces from the fringe, or if there is no hole mark the spot with a tee.  The space between your tee/hole and the fringe is the "acceptable zone".  Now, from one yard off the green hit 5 chips in a row attempting to land each one on the green, not letting it roll out of the "acceptable zone".  Do this 5 times in a row with each of your 5 balls and you may move back 1 pace.  Repeat this process, pulling off 5 "soft landing" shots that do not roll out of your boundary, then moving back 1 pace.  Attempt to make it back 10 paces, executing 5 quality shots in a row to finish.  If you do miss a shot, either landing it short of the green or letting it roll out of the zone, start over from the distance you currently play from.  Do not completely start over! 

How I did:
Using my 60 degree L-wedge, I finished this drill missing only 4 times.  As the distance became longer it obviously became more difficult to hit a shot long enough to carry the fringe but soft enough to keep it short of the hole. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Drive 5

Gain feel and confidence for most challenging drive

What to do:
After hitting some shots on the range and getting warm, grab your driver and reflect on the most challenging tee shot you have ever faced... one that you have struggled with in the past.  Draw a fresh image in your mind's eye, seeing the hole stretching out before you in great detail.  Set right and left fairway boundaries by picking out 2 distant trees, flags, or other easily seen items on your range.  The fairway you've created with these points should be very close to the same width as the one you envisioned.  Now you're ready to proceed with the drill.

Going through your full routine first, attempt to hit 5 drives in a row into your fairway.  Before hitting each shot, conjure up the image of your most challenging tee shot faced, go through your routine just as you would on the course, then pull the trigger.  If you complete this drill, gain confidence and know that you can hit the fairway under pressure. 

How I did:
I just thought of this drill today... think I will use #18 at Mission Inn's El Campeon.  Almost every tee shot there presents a challenge, but this one definitively sticks out.  It's a sharp dogleg right with water running along the right all the way up to the green.  There is a bunker and jungle left of and through the fairway, and a tree just right of the tee preventing a corner-cutting high draw.  Adding to the challenge is the fact that the water pinches in 200-240 yards from the tee, pretty much forcing the player to hit driver.  Finally, there is almost always a strong prevailing wind coming from in and from the right.  So, the shot one must hit is a low 260-290 yard fade.  You must miss the tree and its overhanging limb, not hit it too far into the palmetto forest, but not fade it too much into the water.  The fact that it's the last hole of the day adds a bit of pressure as well.  Sound like fun?  That's why I chose it :)

Beginner/Intermediate: Hit 3 in a row into your fairway

Monday, February 27, 2012


Force yourself to hit quality lag putts, and make pressure-packed knee-knockers

What to do:
This game is a classic.  Wonderful for honing in your speed, the concept is very simple... make the putt or suffer a consequence.  The consequence is an additional club-length of distance added to your next putt.  All you need for this drill is one ball, your putter and a practice green with some room to hit longer putts.  On the green, pick a putt outside 30 feet and, going through your full routine first, try to make (or leave as close as possible to the hole) your putt.  If you do make the putt, congratulations, the next hole awaits.  However if you miss, draw the ball away from the hole 1 club length and putt from its new position.  Play 9 holes on the practice green in this fashion and see how low you can shoot.  Consider every hole a par-2.  Each hole should be slightly different from the last.

How I did:
+1 last go around... not bad, but can be bettered.

Beginner- Only draw back putts that come to rest short of the hole.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

U.S. Professional Hickory Championship/Chipping Line

Sorry for the delay in posting… I was away from my computer all day yesterday competing in the United States Professional HICKORY Golf Championship.  Yes, that’s right, hickory!  It was an incredible experience, meshing the finesse and feel of the modern game with its historical roots.  Stepping onto the practice green dressed in a long sleeve button-down, tie, sweater and slacks, and then proceeding to play an untouched, early-century golf course (Temple Terrace) felt like being in a time warp.  I picked out my own set of original hickory irons and woods that morning and used a replica mesh pattern golf ball played pre-1930 to shoot 76 (+3).   I was pleased with my ability to figure the clubs out as the round progressed.  They force you to stay smooth and languid or else the massive torque of the hickory shaft takes over and you’re not sure if you’ll even make contact.  Interestingly, I found the most challenging adjustment to be on simple chips around the green… I could feel the play in the shaft, and the sharp leading edge of the niblick made crisp contact very difficult.   

Great experience, wonderful event, definitely want to try it again…  Many thanks to Mike Stevens of the Hickory Golf Association and Temple Terrace Golf Club.  If you want to read more about yesterday's event check out today’s NY Times article -->

On to this week’s drill…

Chipping line
Enhances your feel for chipping at different distances

What to do:
You’ll need your wedges and at least 10 balls.  Go to the chipping green and pick a shot that is fairly straightforward, where the pin is about 5 paces from the collar.  Drop a ball just off the green onto the fringe, then drop another 2 feet behind it.  Keep doing this until you’ve made a line with all of your golf balls stretching back away from the hole.  Each ball should be spaced about 2-feet from the previous.  Once you have this you’re ready to begin.  Return to the first ball and execute the shot.  Simply step back and hit your next shot in the line.  Continue doing this until you’ve hit all of your shots.  Your only goal for this drill is to hit each shot as close as possible.

How I did:
This is obviously more of a drill or style of practice than an actual game, however I feel it is beneficial enough to include in this blog.  Try to hole out as many as possibly in your line of 10, and track that.  Do this drill a couple of times during one practice session and you’ll definitely be able to feel a difference in your touch around the greens.

No Scaling.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Speed Ladder

Hone in your speed on the greens from medium to long distances

What to do:
You’ll need your putter, a few golf balls and a handful of tees.  Pick a flat, 15-foot putt and place a tee down to mark where you’ll hit the putt from.  Take another tee and put it 2 feet behind the hole, marking the acceptable, tap-in distance in the event you miss the putt.  Move back to your “tee marker’ from 15 feet and hit a putt, attempting to make the putt, or if you miss to leave yourself in between the hole and the tee you put down behind it.  This will train you to hit your putts with proper speed getting the ball to the hole but not running it by too far.  If you make or miss the putt within the tee then move one club length back (roughly 3 feet) and hit another putt with the same objective.  If you miss short of the hole or behind the tee, start over at your original tee (15 feet).  See how many putts you can hit with perfect speed, moving back 1 club length with each successful putt. 

How I did:
After 3 attempts at this drill my best result was 7 putts before I missed short of the hole.  Great drill… one that I need to do quite often.

Beginner-  Move the tee 3 feet behind the hole, giving yourself more room to miss past the hole.

Monday, February 6, 2012

First to 7 Chipping Contest

2 or more player chipping game 

What to do:
This is a 2-player game so find at least one other person to compete with.  Each player should have 2 balls and a wedge.  The process for this game is simple: In a 2-person game, after deciding which hole to chip to, each player hits 2 chips, attempting to hit each as close as possible.  After both players have hit both of their chips, they compare each-others worst shot, seeing which is closest to the hole.  The player whose worst shot is closer than the other player's worst gets a point for that hole.  (There is one exception... if a player holes-out, making a chip than that shot counts no matter where his/her other chip ends up).  A new hole is then selected and the process is repeated, both players hitting both chips, comparing each-others respective worst shots.  The first person to score 7 points wins.

This drill can also be modified if 2 players of different skill levels wish to play eachother.  All you do is compare the better player's worst shot to the less-skilled player's best.  This forces the better player to hit 2 quality shots while giving the higher-handicapped player an opportunity to score some points.   

This game works great for more than 2 players as well.  The process remains the same... the person with the closest "worst shot" gets the point.  The only difference is it may take a little while longer for someone to score 7 points  because there is more competition for the points. 

How I did:
My results vary depending on who I play :)

As stated above, a low-handicapped player may wish to play a high-handicapper, and in this case the worse player compares the best of his 2 shots to the greater skilled competitor's worst.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Line Putting

For seeing line and speed on 3-7 foot putts
What to do:
Grab 5 balls and your putter.  Pick a putt and drop one ball down 3 feet away from the edge of the hole.  Drop the next ball down about 4 feet away from the hole, staying on the line of the original putt.  Drop a third ball down at 5 feet… you should now begin to see the balls form a line in ‘single file’ fashion.  Repeat at 6 and 7 feet.  Once you’ve arranged each ball along a line directed at the hole, start at the 3-footer and knock it in.  Step back and make the 4-footer.  Repeat until you’ve made all 5 putts in the line in a row.  If you miss, arrange the balls back into the original line and start over. 

Try this first on a straight putt and then move on to a putt with more break.  If you do choose a putt with break, make sure the line follows the break directly toward the hole.  For example, if the putt you choose breaks from right-to-left, the line should arc out to the right back to the center.  The balls should be placed along this break line. 

How I did:
When I do this drill I will complete this drill on all four sides of the hole.  This mixes up the speed at which I must hit the putt and also the type of break I must play.  Once I’ve finished say, the ‘straight’ putt I do not return to it, even if I move on to the next line and miss.  I only start over at the line I’m currently on. 

This is a great game for seeing you’re the line of your putt more clearly.  After completing this drill you’ll have a greater feel for both the speed of a short putt and how that speed corresponds to line.  It’s great for confidence because you’ll fill the cup with 5 putts in a row.

No Scaling.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Shot-making and visualization

This game can be played alone or with multiple people.  This week I'll offer the 1-Player version.  (Look for the multi-player version in the coming weeks)

What to do:
After warming up, grab a 6-iron and prepare to hit 9 consecutive shots, each combining different heights and curvatures (see below). 

1. High               Straight
2. Medium         Straight
3. Low               Straight
4. High               Draw
5. Medium         Draw
6. Low               Draw
7. High               Fade
8. Medium         Fade
9. Low               Fade

Each time you attempt a shot and do not get both the height and curve correct, give yourself a letter as you would in the basketball version.  For instance, if you pull off the 'High Straight' shot and then attempt the 'Medium Straight' and accidentally fade it, then you have an "H".  Make it to the last shot, the 'Low Fade', without spelling "HORSE" and you've completed the game.  If you're a HORSE before getting to the last shot then start over.

How I did:
To be honest I haven't yet tried the 1-player version of this drill yet :)... thought it up just now, and I am anxious to give it a try.  Look for my results very soon!

Beginner- Avoid spelling "HOLEINONE"
Intermediate- Avoid spelling "BIRDIES"

Tour- Avoid spelling "PIG"

Monday, January 16, 2012

Leap Frog Putting

Great for feel and gauging speed

What to do:

Grab a golf ball, your putter, 2 tees and a handful of ball markers or coins.  Go to a spot on the practice green where you will have room to hit a 40 foot putt... it should be relatively flat.  Put one tee about 20 feet (7 paces) in the ground in front of you.  Next, place a tee at 40 feet (13 paces) in front of you along the same line.  Now you are ready to start the drill.  Begin by hitting a putt just past the first tee at 20 feet.  If you do in fact make it past, mark the spot where it stopped, and attempt to hit a second putt a little farther than the spot you marked.  Repeat in this fashion.  Try to fit as many putts in between the 20 and 40 feet boundaries, hitting each one a little farther than the previous.  In other words, 'leap frog' each putt you hit by hitting the next putt past the mark from the one before it.  If at any point you not hit a putt past the spot where the previous one stopped, game over.  If, as you get closer to 40 feet, you hit a putt past the 40 feet mark, game over.  How many can you get in between 20 and 40 feet?

How I did:
6 was my number yesterday, before I hit a putt past the 40 feet mark.  Defnitely room for improvement.  I really like this drill because it zeros in my speed and really gets me focused on solid contact.  With solid contact comes a consistent roll, which in turn leads to better control over your distance for a putt.  

Doing this one with your eyes closed can add another element to this drill,  enhancing your feel on each putt, helping build better muscle memory.  Try closing your eyes just before you hit the putt... open them after the ball has been struck. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

21 for Chipping

Fun points game that sharpens your chipping

What to do:
Pick either your lob wedge or sand wedge, whichever you'd prefer to practice with, and grab 5 balls.  Drop 4 tees around the chipping green at 4 different locations, giving yourself 4 diverse shots.  Start at the first tee and hit all 5 balls, going through your full routine.  Then measure with your club how far away each shot ended up and total your points for that hole (points below).  Repeat this at all 4 stations.  The point system is as follows:  

Over 2 club-lengths- 0pts
1-2 club lengths from the hole- 1pt
Inside 1 club length- 2pts
In the hole- 3pts

To finish you must score 21 or higher.  Try to finish within the 4 selected holes... if you do it means you averaged within 2 club lengths on every shot.  See explanation below:

5 shots * 4 stations = 20 total shots... 1 point for every shot within 2 club lengths, and if every one is within that range that gives you 20 points... to get 21 requires at least one  2-pointer.  If you finish at or above 40 it means your average shot was within 1 club length!

How I did:
I used my 54 degree, selected 4 holes that were all a little different, and played from a drop rather than giving myself preferred lies.  After 4 holes, my score was 29.  Your results may be different depending on the types of holes you select and the types of lies you give yourself.  

Scaling:  To scale for this one, vary each hole's difficulty depending on your skill level.  This requires some subjective judgment.  Make sure that getting to 21 is not too easy... challenge yourself to get something out of this one.   

Monday, January 2, 2012

Long, Medium, Short

All around putting

What to do:
Take one ball and your putter to the putting green and pick a long putt (over 30 feet).  Go through you full pre-shot routine and then hit the putt.  Finish if you miss, and make note of how many putts it took to hole out... you'll be keeping score for this drill.  Now, on the second hole pick a medium length putt (15-25 feet) and repeat the process.  Once you've holed out on the second hole, pick a short putt (5-8 feet) for the third.  Repeat the process again.  Play 9 holes in this fashion, alternating from long, to medium, to short, then back to long again and so on.  When you are finished you should have completed 3 long holes, 3 medium, and 3 short.  Aim for 15 (3-under the par of 18 if every hole is a par 2).

How I did:
Had to play this game twice before getting to -3.  I feel like I'm really in playing mode after this one.  Hitting different length putts and having to post a number under a little bit of pressure simulates what we actually encounter on the course. The mind stays engaged, making it extremely productive practice. 

Beginners- Aim for even-par, 18.
Intermediate- Go for 2-under, 16.