Showing posts with label The Journey To Better Golf. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Journey To Better Golf. Show all posts

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Lee Westwood wins The Dubai World Championship and the Race to Dubai

Congratulations to Europe's No1 Player Lee Westwood on winning the Dubai World Championship and the Race to Dubai. In doing so he finished as Europe's top golfer for the second time in his career and is now the 4th best player in the world!

Earlier this season Lee Westwood returned to his long-time golf coach, Europe's top coach Pete Cowen. Unsurprisingly, this conicided with his return to sparkling form which culminated in a breathtaking display of power and control for 4 days in Dubai. He showed the kind of form and presence that usually only World No1 Tiger Woods shows. His final round 64 was awesome and even Tiger would have been blown away with the consistency shown by Lee on the final day - all fariways hit and GIRs!

Consistency is one of the keys you hear from Lee's coach Pete Cowen all the time. Consistency in practice leads to consistency in results. If you haven't got your copy yet, then buy Pete's golf instruction DVD, it's the perfect Christmas present for any golfer this Christmas - you can even hear what Pete really thinks of Lee's swing!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Jeremy Dale's Short Game Scoring Schools

The Day I Learned to Score Better Without Changing My Golf Swing

I've been on my fair share of 'golf instruction days' over the years and I have to say that this was different and better in so many ways than so many I have attended before.

On Sunday, I attended a Jeremy Dale – Scoring School set in the beautiful surroundings of Stapleford Park Golf Club just outside Melton Mowbray. Before, I go into what I learned and how it will transform my golf; I first must explain what is different about this golf school and the approach of Jeremy Dale that I feel is at the root of his success.

Jeremy Dale is one of the country’s most accomplished trick shot artists. He’s performed his golf trick shows in over 30 countries worldwide and once finished second in the World Trick Shot Championships.

He is also an accomplished and ambidextrous scratch golfer.

Yes, he plays golf better than most of us with left handed or right handed clubs!

I believe it his ability to play the difficult shots (some would say impossible) with such ease that makes his Golf Scoring Schools so refreshingly different. He has a knack, even a gift, for making the difficult seem easy; and better still he communicates this so masterfully.

In one day, he had helped me let go of all the technical swing thoughts and paralysing mechanics of the golf swing and had helped me focus on the one thing that really matters, the one thing that everyone cares about - saving shots. The day started with a friendly group chat with the four other golfers who have travelled from across the country to learn how to lower their scores.

Within half-an-hour, with the help of a few flipcharts and the odd diagram, Jeremy had convinced us all that the area of our game that would make the biggest single difference to our scoring ability was the Finesse Game – chipping, pitching, bunker play; and the Mental Game – making good decisions and controlling one’s emotions and concentration.

We then spent the rest of the day on the practice ground ‘re-learning’ each aspect of the game, but not from a technical perspective, from a shot making and shot saving point of view. Sure enough, Jeremy went round the group in turn giving us a few pointers about various aspects of our technique and showed us the key Dos and Don’ts for each type of shot. But his focus was primarily on changing the way we approached each shot, by giving us a method that would help us make better shot making decisions that would increase our margin of error and make the percentages work for us.
Every aspect of the day and his coaching was geared around giving you practical tools that you could use in your practice that would make you more effective out on the course. Whether, it was his practical tips for practising long putts, so you get a great feel for the strength required to play a 9 yard, 12 yard or 15 yard putt; or his practical short game tips for consistent wedge play using different clubs and a 9 O’clock, 10 O’clock and ‘L—Shaped Swing’; and then applying the same swings to your bunker play so you instinctively build a short, medium and long bunker shot into your shot making arsenal.

As a leading golf trick shot artist, Jeremy Dale is ideally suited to translating what most people find a difficult and sometimes frustrating game into something that all of a sudden seems simple!

As a consequence, his session on the mental game was peppered with practical suggestions about how you can use these skills on the golf course to make the right decisions and keep a cool head; and left me feeling confident that the skills I had learned on the day would stand the test of time.

After a full day’s ordinary golf coaching you often leave with more questions than answers, more swing thoughts and technical modifications than you can possibly remember and perhaps a handful of tips that you think might really work for you.

After a full day’s golf scoring school with Jeremy Dale, I left with a much clearer picture of how I can lower my scores and a golf bag brimming with an exciting new repertoire of golf shots (none of them trick shots). If you are interested in attending a Jeremy Dale Golf Scoring School then visit or call Jeremy on 07748 307849. To see what my fellow golfers thought of the day please visit

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Explanar Takes Some Explaining to My Wife

In my quest to get to single figures I have brought home many, many weird and wonderful contraptions and peculiar paraphernalia for lost and desperate golfers.

My wife has always been very supportive and hasn't seemed to mind me cluttering up the garage, the garden and now the house with these brightly coloured items....until now.

Generally, golf swing improvement aids or golf putting training aids are small bits of kit that attach to a club and are reasonably portable. Explanar on the other hand comes in a huge 44kg box, and is a large steel hoop that stands 8 feet tall and 13 foot wide and dominates an entire room. It is big, shiny and solid and looks like it will last a lifetime.

As my garage was full of other golf equipment, I decided to assemble my shiny new Explanar Home System in my living room early one Friday evening. Later that evening, long after my wife had given up trying to watch TV and gone to bed, I managed to finally get it fully assembled. For a piece of training kit that costs £615 (including delivery) I would have hoped the instructions could have been a bit better – colour photos would definitely have helped. But this is only a small gripe about what is probably one of the most useful training aids I have ever used.

Explanar was designed by PGA Master Professional Luther Blacklock as a training aid that could help any golfer develop the correct golf swing action. It has been endorsed by leading coaches such as fellow PGA Master Professional Pete Cowen and Butch Harmon to name a few; so it must be good! Even Tour Players are using it and recently Explanar celebrated their ‘first Tour win’, when YE Yang won his first PGA Tour title at PGA National when he secured the Honda Classic.

It consists of a weighted power roller that you swing around a large adjustable steel hoop that stands on a solid base. Assuming a golfer has the basics of a good grip and posture then all they need to do is adjust the hoop to their height and then swing the weighted power roller back and forth around the edge of the hoop on their optimum swing plane.

It really is that simple; but it does come with a useful golf swing DVD by Luther Blacklock if you really want to fill you head with even more golf technique!

The one part of the DVD I did scoff at was the safety demonstration; that was until a friend of mine nearly took my chin off swinging the heavy power roller whilst I was still adjusting the height of the hoop! You have been warned!

The real safety question I wanted to answer was whether it was safe to use Explanar to change my golf swing; and the answer is a resounding ‘Yes’.

I have been trying to rectify some problems in my golf swing for many months. I have what my more polite friends call an ‘unorthodox swing’. I have a tendency to take the club away with my arms outside the line and disconnected from my body in the backswing, and then re-route it across my body to a reasonable, if a little steep, position at the top, before dropping it inside the swing plane on the downswing (a la Jim Furyk).

I have been working for several months on many drills to help me take the club on the correct inside path and back up and down on the correct swing plane with moderate success. But finally after only a few hours on Explanar I have started to develop an instinctive feel for the correct positions and I am much closer to a better hand line and my correct swing plane than I have ever come close to before.

Blacklock says Explanar creates ‘swing feelings’ and this is exactly what it has done for me.

It is not a substitute for lessons, I still go to see London’s leading golf instructor Dave Wilkinson at the Knightsbridge Golf School. He tells me Hugh Grant has an Explanar on his roof – but he too still drops in for lessons.

And the jobs of other PGA Pros are safe; after all it can’t teach you course management, straighten out your putting and improve your bunker play. In fact hundreds of teaching professionals have bought the Explanar Professional System at £1,999 to help them accelerate the improvement of their students.

The Explanar can help groove new swing positions that you have been trying to reach, it can allow you to practice your golf without leaving the house and braving the elements and it can help you exercise the correct ‘golf muscles’.

I am not sure why, but my wife thought it was essential that I mention that Explanar is offering a ‘Golf Training Aid Amnesty”. If your garage is like mine and full of old swing training aids that are past their sell by date, then return them to Explanar and they will refund the original cost up to £130 against your purchase of an Explanar system.

I like my Explanar and I have a feeling that it will be in my backroom for many months (my wife isn’t exactly thrilled but she’ll be delighted for me when I finally get to single figures).

The Explanar Home Edition at £615 is probably the most expensive golf training aid you are likely to buy.

But what price do you put on a lifetime of better golf?

(Has anyone else bought one or used one? Let me know your thoughts?)

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

My Golf Goals for 2009

Following up on my last post, I have been working on my golf with Frances Goodman a performance coach who specialises in working with leading sportsmen and sportswomen, athletes and business people (sadly I fall into the last category - and I'm not sure about the 'leading' either). She does a lot of work with golfers and has worked with 2005 US PGA major winner Michael Campbell as well as a host of other top golfers and coaches.

I am now working on my golf with her as well as helping her build a new website called "Best Golf Yet". On the site she is developing some fantastic tools and resources to help everyone achieve their goals in golf. Believe me I have looked at hundreds of online coaching and mental game and coaching for performance websites and there really is nothing quite like it.

She envisages launching the service in the summer. There will be a quite reasonable subscription price to play for access to all these great tools but if you register your interest early then she'll give you a special offer when it launches. Why not join this exciting golf programme now?

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Achieving Your Goals in Golf

For ages I have strived to play to single figures and for the first time in 2008 (and for only the 4th time ever) I managed it last weekend. Playing the golf course for the first time and dropping my SkyCaddie (a brilliant shot saving aid) in the car park did not deter me from at last succeeding in what I have been working towards all year. Now I know one swallow doesn’t make a summer; but it’s a good start to a year long programme in which I hope to play my best golf yet.

I put my recent improvement in form down to a couple of things:

1. Last month I started working 1-2-1 with a performance coach for golf. She has worked with Michael Campbell as well as other top golfers and athletes, so she really knows her stuff! Just talking through with a coach what my goals were, why they were important and making a plan made me much more confident of my ability to easily achieve my goals. We have since gone through a number of questions and answer sessions, a few exercises and visualisation techniques and my confidence, and attitude to achieving my aims has changed beyond all recognition. I am well on my way to becoming a better golfer – now it’s just a question of how low can I go! I certainly feel I have every chance of playing to single figures each time I play. If you are serious about improving your golf (especially if you want to turn professional) then I recommend you call Frances Goodman at Imagine Success.

2. I have continued my regular lessons at Knightsbridge Golf School with Dave Wilkinson – he has transformed my swing and ball striking and although it’s still work in progress (and there’s lots more to do), I am more consistent than ever – and my bad shots are not nearly as destructive as they used to be. If you are in London, near Harrods, then drop in for half and hour, you will be pleased you did!

Friday, 28 November 2008

Credit Crunch Beating Christmas Golf Gifts

Credit Crunch beating Christmas Gifts - Just thought all you keen golfers out there would want to take advantage of some special christmas offers on great golf presents for him or her!

Dizzy Heights are offering a special christmas discount on the cost of their excellent Pete Cowen DVDs. Pete Cowen is Europe's No1 Coach and he continues to coach some of the best players in Europe. I have used both of his DVDs extensively and they have made a significant contribution to my recent improvement and have got me ever closer to playing single figures golf.

Golf DVDs and GiftsThe Pyramid of Learning is a golf swing lesson that takes you through the whole golf swing in Pete's straightforward down-to-earth style. He uses great analogies to make it easy for you to relate to the technical principles without you getting lost in technical swing speak! It covers the basics, balance, body action (his Spiral Staircase drill is innovative and so useful in developing the correct body action) and how to create a powerful and dynamic golf swing. It also has interviews with some of his top players and his views on their golf swings.

The normal cost is £14.99 + p&p - but if you enter "CREDITCRUNCH1" when you checkout you will get a 20% discount off the nett price and 3 FREE POCKETSHOTS GOLF LESSONS worth £12.

The Ripple Effect is Pete's bunker lesson. Lee Westwood describes Pete Cowen as the best bunker coach in the world - watch the DVD and you will see why. I played golf with a top European Tour coach the other day and got up and down out of green-side bunkers twice (100% sand saves) thanks to this technique! It has eradicated my irrational fear of bunkers - and now when I am in a bunker I'm not thinking, "How do I get this out?", but "How close will it finish!". This DVD will dramatcially improve your bunker technique!! It is simple to learn and it corrects the common bunker technique taught by coaches all over the world (but not used by the very top players) which sees you open the club face, with an open stance and swing across the ball - the result typically being a left to right ball flight - it is difficult to control the trajectory and the reaction of the ball on landing. With Pete Cowen's Ripple Effect technique you will learn to build control of the ball from sand and to get the ball releasing like a putt towards the hole. The DVD costs £12.99 + p&p - but if you enter promotional discount code "CREDITCRUNCH1" then you will get a 20% discount off the nett price and 3 FREE POCKETSHOTS GOLF LESSONS worth £12.

golf gifts for him and herThe last special offer is on this gift pack of 6 lessons from 6 top coaches. It covers all aspects of the game and really is an ideal gift for someone taking up the game for the first time or looking to improve all aspects of their game. If you buy a golf gift pack before Christmas then Dizzy Heights are offering you a credit crunch boosting bonus of 3 extra Pocketshots lessons which will make really useful stocking fillers for Xmas - just enter "FreePS" in the voucher code section when you checkout and you will get all 9 golf lessons in the range for the price of 6.

I hope these tips help you save a few shots and a few pounds this Christmas.
Happy Golfing and Happy Christmas!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Add A Computer to Your Golf Glove and Save Shots!

Senso glove golf swing training aid golf swing grip tips

When I first picked this up I thought this might be an expensive gimmick. But boy was I wrong! This has proved to be one of the most useful training aids I have tried and for £49.95 + p&p it’s good value too.

SensoGlove is simply a normal cabretta leather glove with a built-in computer that continuously reads your grip pressure. You can use it with any club and receive audio and visual feedback about the exact grip pressure on the club at address and during your swing.

Working on the “tight muscles are slow muscles” theory, I have been using this in my pre-round warm-ups and I have been hitting the ball further than ever before. By pinpointing areas of tension in my fingers at address and during my swing, I have managed to improve my rhythm and tempo resulting in more consistent ball striking. It’s even proved useful for chipping, pitching and putting.

What I like about this most is that it’s one of only a few golf training aids that you can use on the practice range and during a practice round. Replacement gloves are available for £11.20 + p&p from .

Trueplane – Putting Training Aid

trueplane putting training aid improved my putting

I am getting used to hearing “nice putt” much more often during my rounds these days due to a few minutes regular practice with one of the simplest game improvement products around.

TruePlane could not be easier to use, simply slide the putter along the guide following the black line for the ideal inside-to-inside stroke. There is also a handy guide rod which attaches to your putter to aid correct putter alignment during the stroke.
It’s light and portable so it can be used indoors or outside and it is definitely something I will be using over the coming winter months, in combination with my 2Thumb grip and Scotty Cameron putter, to improve my putting at home. Trueplane can be ordered via for just £39.99 plus £5.99 P&P.

Monday, 22 September 2008

How the Ryder Cup Was Won

Well the Ryder Cup is over for another 2 years and I'm already counting the days to Celtic Manor in 2010. I cannot believe the drama and the excitement - it was even better than the K Club....apart from the result obviously!

Well here's what I've taken out from my weekend in front of the TV watching the best players in the world (bar Tiger Woods) play unbelievable golf. Hopefully, learning some of these lessons will help me get to single figures, lower my scores and my handicap.

Lesson 1 - When Captaining a side that is behind going into the last day singles put your form players out first. Faldo should have led the side with Karlsson, Poulter and McDowell who were all playing brilliant golf and who were all clearly in the right frame of mind to succeed.

Lesson 2 - Don't let your opponent get 'in your head' in matchplay - Anthony Kim clearly got to Sergio Garcia and it affected his game. The game was won well before the 8th when Sergio missed that short birdie putt to get a hole back.

Lesson 3 - Work on your wedge play - the quality of the approach shots was outstanding all week. These players clearly can make the ball dance with a short iron in their hands. This ability to make birdies or to recover from a poor shot to make par is the key to keeping your round on track. I am going to devote a much greater proportion of my practice time to 8 iron to lob wedge from now on.

Lesson 4 - You've got to putt well. Casey didn't make nearly as many putts as McDowell, Karlsson, Poulter and Harrington (who seemed to hole everything from within 20 feet in the last 4 balls match). Work on your putting. And when you think you're getting good, do some more work on it.

Overall, it was an enthralling weekend of sporting achievement - disappointing for the Europeans and momentous for the Americans - but at the same time a glowing tribute to the fascination of matchplay golf; and hopefully millions of youngsters watching this weekend will have been inspired to take up the game as a result of the spectacle they saw this weekend.

Fingers crossed for 2010; if I can just work on lessons 2, 3 and 4 who knows I might even make the team.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Golf Practice - Dr Karl Morris Golf Tips Have Helped Me

I've been trying something really simple for my last couple of rounds and it seems to be working as my scores are slowly falling (I shot 10 over last week, which is my season's best). Following the advice of Dr Karl Morris one of Europe's leading sports psychologists I've been trying this simple 3 tasks approach.

Basically from the first tee to the last green for every shot just focus on the same 3 things only. In my case it has been;

1. Visualise the shot all the way, including its trajectory and reaction on landing.

2. Take 1 practice swing only standing behind the ball (only once I have a clear picture of the shot from point 1).

3. Make and slowly release a full deep breath before each shot and then approach the ball.

It's been working for me. You can see some of Dr.Karl Morris' golf video lessons on or on

Friday, 15 August 2008

Why SkyCaddie Will Help Your Course Management and Save You Shots

It’s like SatNav for the golf course, but it’s much easier to use than the one in my car, and it doesn’t have that monotone voiced woman telling me I’ve ‘driven’ in the wrong direction. I love this gadget; it is proving itself to be a really useful course management aid. By giving you targets to aim for and to avoid, it helps you make better decisions off the tee. Using the Driver less often, I have been finding more fairways and greens in regulation, which has got to be a good route to saving shots.

At £299.95 it’s not cheap. After all you could have your choice of drivers for this kind of money. But I would lay a £10 bet that you would save more shots on your next round with SkyCaddie in your hand, than a new driver in your bag!

The only potential drawback is that your playing partners will start asking you for distances from around the 2nd hole until the end of the round – Tell them to get their own!

Products I have Been Trying This Month

Always looking to save shots I recently fitted a 2Thumb putter grip to my putter. 10 minutes to fit it, 15 minutes practice with it and off I went onto the golf course. 3 rounds later my putting stats have improved by just over 1 stroke a round and I feel as if I cannot miss from 8 foot. If I could save a stroke for every £17.99 I spent on golf equipment it would cost me just £233.87 to get to scratch!

There are at least 7 different ways to grip it and it certainly feels different when you first pick it up. It stops you breaking your wrists and reduces putter face rotation and I’ve found it has helped me achieve a better roll on the ball. – 3 different styles, 7 different colours, prices from £14.99 to £17.99 per grip. As a bonus it will soon be shipping with a putting lesson DVD from PGA Master Professional Denis Pugh.

Friday, 27 June 2008

New Golf Video Website Launched

Hi, if you've dropped by and looked around then you will probably know that I am focusing on trying anything and everything to improve my golf. In fact over the past few weeks and months I have been busy working with a team of classy golfers and world famous coaches to create a new website aimed at improving standards and lowering handicaps worldwide. It's currently in beta testing and we'd love your feedback so why not take a look. It features:

Hundreds of free golf video tips from famous golf coaches
The ability to upload your own swing and ask questions of experts in golf forums
A UK golf club directory with great course descriptions, reviews, maps, photos and videos
A Golf Day Wizard making it easy to organise your golf day

Give it a try and let me know your comments!

Thursday, 22 May 2008

New Prototype Golf Swing Training Aid Testing

Every now and then you read about a remarkable individual who has miraculously gone from 28 handicap to scratch in a matter of months. Much as I’d love to think that could happen to me, or better, that I could actually invest the emotional and physical effort to make it happen. It’s as unrealistic for me as it is for the majority of amateur golfers who have; a) a job; b) a family; c) a life.

For me, just a minor miracle will do. If I can improve from a playing handicap of 24 to single figures in less than 2 years then I will be happy. If along my journey I can share some of my experiences with other golfers who want to embark on a similar journey, then so much the better. I will leave no stone unturned, no gizmo untried, no DVD unwatched in my quest over the coming months.

Since the PGA Show I have waded through my shiny new pile of ‘paraphenalia for lost and desperate souls’ and carefully selected a range of products for experimentation.

First up, was the peculiarly named “Tour Impact”, or TI for short. It is a strange name to give to a training aid that is so full of delicate electronics that you cannot actually hit a ball with it!

The idea behind the TI, is that it is a practice club that helps you swing with the rhythm, tempo and timing of a tour pro. A bold claim - and one the manufacturer claims is achievable by blending recorded swings of 10 top tour professionals (they don’t tell you who they are) into a realistic feeling golf club.

The idea is simple enough, you select the speed that you feel is the most desirable for you; then you swing the club in time to the different sounds that the club emits. From a nice address position, as soon as you start your backswing you hear a loud audible tone; this tone then changes in pitch during the downswing, with a distinctive ‘swoosh’ sound through impact. The idea is simple enough; make enough practice swings keeping time with the sounds you are hearing and you will ingrain a consistent rhythm into your swing.

In theory, and to be fair with some practice, you should start to be able to mimic the timing and rhythm of your chosen tour professional. I have used this throughout every practice session for over a month, and although I cannot quite get over the fact that I cannot hit the ball with it, I have found it to be really quite useful and entertaining.

There are 10 speed settings (0 – slowest to 9 – ridiculously fast) and after 10 minutes of great fun trying to swing so fast I nearly pulled a muscle I finally settled for using it at 0, its slowest setting. With the setting at 9, I could barely finish the backswing before hearing the ‘swoosh’ of impact – I am not sure it’s physically possible to swing that fast!

After a few weeks I noticed that I was striking the ball more consistently out of the sweetspot and hitting fewer poor shots. How much of this was down to the TI is difficult to say. Certainly it deserves some credit if only for nuturing my interest in what working on my tempo could do for my game. In all my years of playing golf (20+) I had never ‘worked on my tempo’ and I was genuinely excited and enthusiastic about doing so.

After a few sessions I started to look for other instruction articles and videos about tempo and surprisingly found it hard to come by. Eventually, I found an excellent piece on the importance of tempo in one of my favourite golf books, “The Swing Factory” by Steve Gould and D J Wilkinson of the famous Knightsbridge Golf School in London. They describe tempo as, “the ultimate refinement that concentrates power at exactly the right place every time you swing”.

They go on to say, “most golfers swing much too fast to retain control over the delivery, so their point of release and shape of their swings are subject to constant variation. You cannot standardise the shape of your swing and point of delivery until you have a constant tempo”.

This advice has proved to be invaluable. The TI has served as a useful aide-memoire to stop swinging like a lunatic and to start swinging within myself. I’d often heard TV commentators talking about top pros swinging at 80%; now I know what they mean, and even better I can do the same myself. This has started to produce better scores in the low 80’s already this year, and I have even played to single figures once!

I have certainly benefited from considering, and experimenting with, my tempo more often in practice and giving it some thought during play. For too many years I have been a victim of hitting rather than swinging. I have been concentrating so much on getting the backswing right, by the time I got to the top I was always in so much of a hurry to hit the ball, I would not swing back down and round through impact, but make an aggressive hurried swipe at the ball. Hitting from the top usually ended in disaster; I would lose my height and spine angle, lurch with my upper body and head, and generally make a pig’s ear out of a promising backswing. I have suddenly realised how important it is to give myself enough time to make a coordinated movement of my body through the ball and the results speak for themselves.

I’m still itching to give the ball a good whack with the TI, or should I say a rhythmic and smooth strike, with the TI. That’s perhaps the major drawback with an otherwise likeable and useful product. If it wasn’t a prototype they’d like back in one piece, I might have succumbed to that desire and given it one almighty swing just to see what happens.

The TI is not available in the UK yet, but if you can find out more about it at Tour Impact's website. Over the coming weeks and months you will also be able to see a few of the other game improvement aids I have been testing. If they work I’ll be letting you know here soon.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

GPS Golf RangeFinders Can Save You Shots

Recently I met Jackie Hitchcock, Managing Director of Sky Caddie at the glorious Oxfordshire Golf Club. I interviewed her about her range of golf GPS rangefinders. Here's a little clip of that interview. It took less than 10 minutes for Jackie to convince me of the merits of using a SkyCaddie; and only 2 minutes to convince the cameraman to get one too!

I've got my eyes on the SkyCaddie SG5 - with its large colour screen it's easy to read and straightforward to operate. You can download your course from the SkyCaddie website - they have over 17,000 professionally mapped courses worldwide and if yours is not listed they can survey it for you (with the club's permission). Yes, unlike every other GPS device supplier, SkyCaddie actually sends out surveyors to map each and every course! Thinking as a caddy would do for his or her player, they plot all the distances to the hazards and target areas so you can manage your way around the course effectively. It really works and because it uses commercial grade GPS engines (if you are considering a cheaper GPS then ask them about the quality of their engine) it is very, very accurate! Certainly more accurate than the 100 and 150 yard markers on your average golf course!

I would love to hear feedback if you are using a GPS unit and it is saving you shots?

I can see 3 easy ways SkyCaddie is is going to save everyone shots; 1) by avoiding errors in shot strategy off the tee or for your approach; 2) perfect club selection to get the exact distance to the pin and the front and back of the green (check out Sky Caddie's Intelligreen feature at the end of the video); 3) knowing how far you actually hit the ball (SkyCaddie can tell you!) - Yes let's face it we all overestimate how far we actually hit the ball on average.

Check out the video and let me know what you think. I think this is definitely going to help me in my quest to get to single figures!

Monday, 17 December 2007

Does Singing or Humming a Tune Help Your Golf?

Songs/Tunes that I have sang or hummed during a round to help me improve my golf!

Yes I have tried it and yes it can work. Your playing partners may or may not approve, but it is worth a try and it is funny to see oter players’ reactions.
Warning - do not use Vanilla Ice’s track “Ice, Ice Baby” as my own experience tells me that it soon becomes “Slice, Slice baby” with the obvious disastrous results. I suppose for similar reasons anything by Dr.Hook should also be avoided!

The Beautiful South “Song for Whoever”

During a 4 ball better ball match on the annual boys golfing holiday in Spain one year, a playing partner happened to be humming this tune which I then picked up on. Next thing you know, I’m singing the chorus on the tee (out loud whilst swinging - much to the bemusement of my playing partners) and I start to hit the ball really nicely. My timing seemed to come together, I lost all the usual tension in my swing and I started to belt the ball long and straight. We won the match. I continued to do this for the rest of the holiday and actually played some decent golf; but unfortunately my playing partners did get a bid fed up with it after a while - perhaps if my singing had been a bit better then they wouldn’t have minded!

Give it a try! Start the backswing on “Jennifer” and hit the ball between “Philppa and Sue”

Jennifer, Alison, Philippa, Sue, Deborah, Annabel too

Jennifer, Alison, Philippa, Sue, Deborah, Annabel too

Full lyrics below:

I love you from the bottom, of my pencil case
I love you in the songs, I write and sing

Love you because, you put me in my rightful place
And I love the prs cheques, that you bring

Cheap, never cheap
I'll sing you songs till you're asleep
When you've gone upstairs I'll creep
And write it all down

Oh shirley, oh deborah, oh julie, oh jane
I wrote so many songs about you
I forget your name (I forget your name)
Jennifer, alison, phillipa, sue, deborah, annabel, too
Jennifer, alison, phillipa, sue, deborah, annabel, too
I forget your name

I love your from the bottom of my pencil case
I love the way you never ask me why
I love to write about each wrinkle on your face
And I love you till my fountain pen runs dry

Deep so deep, the number one I hope to reap
Depends upon the tears you weep, so cry, lovey cry, cry, cry, cry

Oh cathy, oh alison, oh phillipa, oh sue
You made me so much money, I wrote this song for you
Jennifer, alison, phillipa, sue, deborah, annabel, too
I wrote this song for you

So let me talk about mary, a sad story
Turned her grief into glory
Late at night, by the typewriter light,
She ripped his ribbon to shreds

The other song I still often humm (to myself!) during a round is “Ain't Got No - I Got Life” by Nina Simone vs. Groovefinder.

Whilst it’s quite a difficult tune to sing (well for me at any rate) I find it’s a great tune to humm and it really helps me mentally take my head out of my game. I stop worrying about swing mechanics and just concentrate on enjoying the game, thinking about what a good shot from my current position would be and walking the course taking in the scenery and chatting to my friends.

When I take this approach I tend to play much better golf than when I really try and concentrate for 4 hours (which is impossible, unless you happen to be the world memory champion!). Next time you are playing a competition round try it. Pick a tune and try and humm it to yourself between shots as you walk up the fairway, from green to tee and so forth. It also helps you deal with the inevitable poor shots you will hit rather than the usual swearing, ranting and raving which only serves to get you more tense and worked up for your next shot.

For me it helps put the game into proper perspective; I’d like to play like Tiger Woods, but unfortunately mostly play like Victoria Woods. Humming a tune like this helps me see the wood from the trees (sorry for the awful pun); it’s only a game of golf, there are far more important things at stake in life or going on in the world. It helps me stay good humoured and in control, the keys for me to play good golf.

I’d love to hear from any other crazed golfers out there who have tried similar things to help them? Anyone aware of any professional golfers using simialr techniques?

Full lyrics below:

Ain't got no home, ain't got no shoes
Ain't got no money, ain't got no class
Ain't got no friends, ain't got no schoolin
Ain't got no worth, ain't got no job
Ain't got no mind

What have I got?
Why am I alive anyway?
Yeah, what have I got?
Nobody can take away

I got my hair, I got my head
I got my brains, I got my ears
I got my eyes, I got my nose
I got my mouth, I got my smile

* I got my tongue, I got my chin
I got my neck, I got my boobies
I got my heart, I got my soul
I got my back, I got my sex

Ain't got no father, ain't got no mother
Ain't got no children, ain't got no faith
Ain't got no earth, ain't got no water
Ain't got no ticket, ain't got no token
Ain't got no love

What have I got?
Why am I alive anyway?
Yeah, what have I got?
Nobody can take away

I got my hair, I got my head
I got my brains, I got my ears
I got my eyes, I got my nose
I got my mouth, I got my smile

* I got my tongue, I got my chin
I got my neck, I got my boobies
I got my heart, I got my soul
I got my back, I got my sex

** I got my arms, I got my hands
I got my fingers, Got my legs
I got my feet, I got my toes
I got my liver, Got my blood

I've got life, I've got my freedom
I've got a lot

Getting A Little Bit Better At Golf

My Progress So Far
I have improved from 24 handicap to 13 handicap in 18 months. I’ve broken 80 three times this year and had a hole in one! It’s not amazing I know, but it is a massive improvement and for most golfers it is a realistic and achievable goal to set yourself. I’ve played once a week (sometimes twice) and I’ve practiced in my kitchen or garden (not hitting balls) just practising swing positions and doing golf specific exercise drills with only the odd trip to the range (usually during the long summer evenings when you can also play a few holes after work).

Here follows a list of the top 10 things that have worked for me so far:

Swing model - simple swing exercises. I have used the simple 4 stage swing model from the Knightsbridge Golf School as the model for my swing and have re-built my swing from the ground up. It’s still not the finished article by any means, but there have been more than the occasional flash of brilliance this year ( ;-) ) and the bad shots aren’t as bad as they used to be! I have also had lessons from time to time as I happen to live in London. I could not recommend them highly enough.
Never, ever, ever think about the mechanics of your swing whilst playing - it is impossible to do this and to swing freely and well. It is also hard to do this (or not do this) when you are making changes to your swing. I have persevered and am getting slowly better at not thinkning about it during a round.
Only having one swing thought - The Target - This has really worked for me in all areas of my game. Especially in chipping and pitching where I now focus on where the ball has to land for it to roll out to the target.
Developing a consistent pre-shot routine during practice and play.
Pete Cowen’s Pyramid of Learning - An Advanced Swing Lesson - writing these articles for Golf International and producing a
Golf DVD with Pete improved by knowledge of the golf swing by a factor of 500%!
Pete Cowen’s Ripple Effect DVD - I now know how to play a bunker shot properly using my arms and body not my hands. This makes life so much easier.
Singing/Humming on the golf course - helps take my mind off all thing swing mechanics! (See my post on this topic).
Practising properly - working on all aspects of the game. That means Putting, Short Game (including bunkers), swing - in that order of priority and giving more than 70% of my time to the short game and putting. I had never realised that since 40%+ of your shots are putts during a round, a 5% to 10% improvement in your putting can shave several shots off your score.
Mental game - I’ve read all of Karl Morris’s
mental game lessons and read his book. I’ve also read Raymond Floyd’s excellent book called “The Elements of Scoring” plus Timothy Gallway’s “The Inner Game of Golf”. More than anything else, I refer to them time and time again.
Making notes. Writing a little diary of what I have been working on, what has worked, how I have played and so on. If I get more time then I may make more of these notes online.

That’s all for now. I’ll post some more
golf tips and free golf video content here from time to time, in the meantime do join me in my quest to help everyone play better golf by posting the top 10 things that have helped you improve.

Golf Practice

Golf Practice
All these years, I’d fallen into the trap of practising incorrectly as it turns out have most of my golfing buddies. My typical golf ‘regime’ was: A trip to the range once or maybe twice a month; tweak a few things based on something I could just about remember the gist of from the latest golf magazine, hit a few balls. In fact typically I’d hit so many balls in an attempt to find some form that eventually my hands and timing would become good enough to compensate for the obvious inadequacies in my game and I’d eventually hit some semi reasonable strikes aimlessly down the driving range. For every 100 balls my ratio was probably 80% driver/3 wood; 10% mid irons, 0% long irons, 10% wedges….and 0% putting and 0% bunker play. Let’s face it there’s only 1 bunker on our driving range (and this probably mirrors the paucity of facilities at most UK driving ranges). The trouble with this approach was that it bred inconsistency. Somedays I’d play OK and others I’d be all over the place - and yet there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to it.

Pete Cowen calls it “Find it, Lose it!”. One day you think you have it the next day you don’t. But the truth is you never did. In chatting to these top coaches I soon realised that my ‘regime’ of trial and error golf was in fact stopping me getting better. So with their help we set about devising some instruction products that helped me set a programme of improvement that would lead to a lasting and marked improvement in my standard of play and enjoyment.

We have since produced a series of golf lessons, golf gifts and golf DVDs that are designed with this in mind. They are modular and are designed so that you can work on one thing at a time and implement it correctly (which is more than half the problem for most golfers). We have had some great results - here’s some golf product reviews and golf testimonials from real golfers. And here’s mine! I have improved from 24 handicap to 13 handicap in 18 months! I’m thrilled but know I can get to single figures with the right practice and help. I have posted what has worked for me on the next post. Would love to hear your thoughts on what has worked for you.

My Journey On The Quest So Far

Well 18 months ago I started on a journey, my quest to improve my game and anyone else who’ll listen! I’m planning to post more of what has worked for me and what hasn’t - 2007 has been a great golfing year for me. I’ve broke my personal best in March shooting 80. I then finally broke 80 for the first time in April shooting 79 and then broke it again shooting 78.

But my most memorable round so far has got to be the day (8th September) when I shot 80 at my home club Hampton Court palace. Having started with a double bogey, I then went par, birdie, bogey, bogey to be 3 over par by the time I’d reached the 6th tee. I then went birdie, birdie, hole in one, par, to finish the front nine at 1 under par!

OK the hole in one was lucky, it was the 8th hole, a par 3 playing about 160 yards that day and I although I hit my Mizuno MX23 7 iron nicely, I’ve got to admit that a lovely members bounce on the edge of the green took it nicely in the right direction and it rolled 20 feet or so up the green into the cup. But, the previous holes were birdie, birdie! I had been 4 under for 3 consecutive holes (not sure that’s ever going to happen again in my lifetime!) and I’d had 3 birdies and an eagle on the front nine. If only I hadn’t started with a double bogey. If only. If only. These must be two of the most commonly used words in golf, specially in the club house after a round. I certainly used them a lot that day. For after sending an MMS of me by the flag with my playing partners to everyone in my phone on the 8th green I then somehow managed to hit a solid drive down the 9th and make par but then totally lost the plot losing balls on the 10th and 13th and shooting 45 in for an 80. The weird thing is I was still hitting the ball nicely on the way in, I just wasn’t “in the zone” anymore and I was making mental errors in my approach to the round, the hole and shot selection.

I was guilty of over celebrating, I was distracted and my game suffered. I’ve learned a lot from this experience and who knows next time (stay positive - you never know it could happen!) I have a front nine like this perhaps I’ll be able to maintain it for the back nine too.

I decided to start my quest to improve my game at the top of the game. I began with an investigation to find out who the best coaches in the UK were. Most of the instruction I had seen was from David Leadbetter or Butch Harmon or other US coaches (Dave Pelz, Harvey Penick, etc) but I could hardly persuade my long-suffering wife, although a keen golfer herself, that I needed to fly to the US once a week for a $1,000 dollar lesson. I had to start closer to home. Who and where was the current crop of great British golf coaching talent? Eventually by sniffing around I managed to link European Tour winners with their coaches and I finally got a nice list of international names covering all aspects of the game:

Pete Cowen, PGA Master Professional - Europe’s most successful golf coach - He has had more winners than any other coach and coaches over a dozen top players including Henrik Stenson (he has rebuilt his swing and got him to World No6), Colin Montgomerie, Thomas Bjorn, Simon Dyson, Charl Schwartzel, Oliver Wilson, John Bickerton. He’s also coached some of Europe’s greats including Darren Clarke, Ollie, Woosie, and Lee Westwood (got him to European No 1).

Harold Swash - Europe’s putting guru. He has worked with 8 of the 12 European Ryde Cup team in 2006 and runs putting schools in the UKand US. He is the UK’s foremost authority on putting and instructor to many of the world’s top professional and amateur golfers including Padraig Harrington, David Howell, Thomas Levet, Darren Clarke, Ian Woosnam, Constantino Rocca, Robert Jan Derksen and Nick Faldo to name just a few.

Denis Pugh, PGA Master Professional - Denis is probably best recognised these days as the golf analyst on Sky Sports Golf Night. A former tour player himself he has coached over 150 Tour Pros since 1988, his most notable success being his long time association with 8 time European Order of Merit winner and Ryder Cup start Colin Montgomerie.

Dr Karl Morris is one of Europe’s leading Sports Psychologists, delivering cutting edge methods of peak performance and goal achievement to a range of clients across sports and business. From the world of golf, he has worked with players such as Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley, Graeme McDowell, Alison Nicholas and Trish Johnson to name a few. He has written and starred in the Pocketshots™ editions on the mental side of the game.

Ramsay McMaster is a world leader in the field of Golf Physiotherapy. As director of the Melbourne Golf Injury Clinic he has given golf specific programs to over 5,000 golfers. A consultant to individual players on every Tour in the world (11 Tours) and a consultant Physiotherapist to US, British and Irish, Australian and New Zealand PGAs amongst others.

D.J.Wilkinson and Steve Gould are from London’s oldest, most famous and most successful golf school, the Knightsbridge Golf School. They have been teaching golfers of all abilities from beginners to tour superstars and celebrities for years. Yet they still offer very reasonably priced golf lessons to amateurs!

Keith Williams, PGA Master Professional - One of the most experienced coaches in Europe. Keith was National Coach and Director of Coaching for the English Golf Union for 9 years and was instrumental in writing the manual which is used for training all PGA professionals. As well as being a European Senior Tour player he has coached major winners and the PGA champion. He currently works full time on the European Tour and also teaches the Czech National golf squad.

I asked many of the
UK’s best coaches why golfers were not improving their games despite all the latest advances in technology; the answer almost to a man was, “People don’t practice, and if they do practice they don’t practice properly.” So with the help of some of the best coaches in Europe (if not the world) I set about working out how to practice properly - see Golf Practice post.

Please Join My Golf Quest

Please join me in my quest, my crusade to get everyone (well, me first then the rest of you!) playing better golf.

OK, there’s a million golf blogs out there - so why visit this one?

Well hopefully together we can piece together a common strategy for improving our golf.

Let’s try and amass the biggest collection of words of wisdom, golf lessons, tips and advice that actually will improve our games.

If you have a tip, a juicy nugget passed on by a famous coach or player; or maybe just a recommendation for a book, DVD, practice aid or piece of equipment that can save us all shots - then for heaven’s sake let us know!

There is no doubt that anyone who has ever picked up a golf club (whether they still play or not) will wish that they could be that bit better at golf. From the rank beginner, to Challenge tour, European Tour, PGA Tour and Ryder Cup players we all have one thing in common - we all have room for improvement. Even Tiger Woods the undisputed world number 1 player, and probably the best player ever (with apologies to Hogan and Nicklaus fans), still works on his game tirelessly. He still has a coach, Hank Haney; and he still gets frustrated with his game as well as enjoying the occasional frequent moments of brilliance. This blog is dedicated to anyone who has been bewitched, bemused, befuddled and bewildered by this great game.

Perhaps, together if we can harness the collective wisdom of let’s say a million or so fellow golfers then we might just be able to come up with a formula, or formulae, or at the very least a tried and trusted and well trodden road to success at this game that we can all follow.

So here we go. I’ve already posted a few articles and video tips from the coaches I have met and worked with and will be posting more as soon as I get a little more time. First here’s what I have learned so far in my quest for better golf.

18 months ago I left quite a good corporate job and decided to do something else more interesting instead. I wanted to start my own business and also spend some more time playing golf in order to improve my level from a mediocre 24 to anything lower! I decided to combine the two desires and set about creating my own golf business (see:

My qualifications for starting a golf business were at best unconventional. I was not (and am not ….yet!) a scratch player or a PGA professional. In fact most of my playing partners have decided that my golf swing resembles a giraffe drinking at a waterhole (hence my profile picture). If you have ever been on safari then you will know what I mean; if you haven’t, then what are you waiting for? After golf, going on a safari is the next best way to relax for 4 hours (with or without your husband/wife). South Africa is one of the best places on the planet to combine both activities, check-out - they organised a superb golf and safari holiday for 24 of us + partners this year. The exchange rate is so good at the moment that it was great value too.

Anyway back to my qualifications. Having never worked for a golf company, or even in the sports and leisure industry my only qualifications were a background in sales, marketing and product development. But my most relevant qualification was my experience. My personal experience of trying everything under the sun over more than a decade to improve; every new golf gadget, the latest techniques, the expensive driver, the new balls, the old balls, dvds, magazine tips, books, the odd lesson, acupuncture, hypnosis, meditation, positive thinking, thinking about nothing, singing tunes (The Beautiful South “Song for Whoever” and “Ain't Got No - I Got Life” by Nina Simone - see other posts), humming tunes (same ones as before, plus the Dambusters from time to time) and occasionally the odd lesson from a PGA professional. Some worked, some didn’t. Some lasted 5 minutes, others have lasted the test of time. All I’d ever wanted to do was to try and get better, win more than the odd game off my mates and generally not embarrass myself too often at a corporate golf event. Why was I finding it so difficult? Why did I always feel that I was taking 2 steps forward and 1 back (and often the other way around)? Why could I sometimes hit it well at the range for 30 minutes before a round and then lose the ability to hit the ball cleanly once I’d stepped onto the first tee? Where were all the answers to these questions?

If only there was a definitive list of advice on all aspects of the game. If only I could have had all this advice 20 years ago when I first picked up a club, perhaps I’d be a little bit richer and a little bit better at golf by now.

Well there isn’t, but there could be. If only we (the long suffering golf playing nuts) could create such a thing together and share the thoughts and experiences of thousands of golfers then perhaps, just perhaps, we might all get that little bit better!

Podcasts - Pocketshots video free golf lesson downloads to iPod, iTunes, mobile phones

Pocketshots - Free Golf Video Lessons from famous European Tour golf coaches