ARTICLE #1
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Golf Instruction: 3 Ways to Make More 4-Foot Putts
One of the fastest ways to shave a couple of strokes off your round is to make more 4-foot to 6-foot putts. Why? Because the average golfer will have putts from this distance an average of two to eight times per round but will only make 40% of them. Learning to hole a few more putts from this critical distance is an easy way to lower your scores and boost confidence in your game.
The key factor to keep in mind on short putts is that direction is everything. The ball will go wherever your putter face is aimed, so learning how to get your putter face square at impact should be your primary objective. Here are three ways we work with students to help them make square contact.
1. Start with a square face. Studies show that the average golfer is aimed incorrectly 80% of the time in their set-up. It's awfully difficult to get the face square at impact if it doesn't start square! We like to use a string line suspended between chopsticks about 4" over the green, with one end placed 12" in back of the hole and the other end stretched 8' feet from the cup. With the string bisecting the hole students have a great visual for a true, straight line. Since most putters have an alignment line on top of the club head it is easy to see if their putter alignment matches the string line.
2. Keep your head steady. It's tempting to peek too soon - a major fault on short putts. If your head moves it changes your body angles and your face angle. Here's an easy drill: after you hit your putt count three blades of grass directly under the spot where your ball was before you look up.
3. Make square impact. Since face angle accounts for 85% of the ball's direction you must be able to square up your putter at impact. Here's an easy drill for square impact: hit two balls at once. Put the balls side-by-side and learn how to hit them both at the same time.  A heel-shot where the inside ball is hit first means an open club face at impact and is the most common fault. This is a fun drill because the feedback is immediate, and most golfers figure out how to square the club face within 10 to 15 putts.
Start square, keep your head steady, and make square contact and you will make more putts.

 
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ARTICLE #2
 
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PGA Pro Tips: Add 10 Yards to Your Drives by Starting Your Golf Swing in Athletic Balance
You can hit longer drives – without changing your golf swing - simply by starting in better balance. Because golf is a sport it requires good balance. When you are not in good balance your body wastes energy keeping you upright – energy that otherwise could be translated into more clubhead speed. Since clubhead speed is the most important factor in distance (every 1 mph increase in clubhead speed generates about 2.5-yards in distance), wasted energy means loss of distance. The trick is to start in an athletic "ready" position, which you can easily achieve during your set-up. ​​  
    What is the Athletic “Ready” Position?
In an athletic "ready" position you are capable of moving instantly in any direction. Picture a basketball player guarding the ball, or a linebacker waiting for the snap. They don’t know exactly which way they will have to move, so they have to be ready to move in any direction.
    Your Athletic, “Golf-Ready” Position
In your golf “ready” position your weight will be on the balls of your feet. You should feel poised and “centered”, capable of athletic, tension-free movement. The key is to have your center of mass (a spot located a couple of inches up from your belly button and a couple of inches in from your spine) over the middle of your feet. That will give you a stable, vertical axis of rotation which will help you generate more clubhead speed and that extra 10 yards.
    Simple ​Test for Athletic Balance
Here's a quick test for athletic balance: Get in your address position and make a small hop. If you hop forward, your center of mass is too far forward over your toes (most common fault). Same idea if you hop backwards - your weight is too far back on your heels. If you hop straight up and come down still in balance, you are in athletic balance.
    Taking it to the Course
To set yourself up in athletic balance on the golf course add this simple component to your pre-shot routine: Just before initiating your golf swing alternately lift up and tap your left and right toes on the ground. You may need to adjust your posture or hips to find your athletic balance. Once you find it swing away. You'll get that extra 10 yards AND make more consistent contact.

 
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ARTICLE #3
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PGA Pro Tips: How To Eliminate Mistakes (GASP) on the Golf Course
Sometimes the easiest way to lower your score isn't so much to make a better swing as it is to simply eliminate mistakes. Jack Nicklaus believed that 80% of your swing mistakes could be addresses in your set-up, and he makes a good case because changing your set-up is far easier than trying to change your swing. So if you want to avoid those blow-up holes it pays to pay attention to your set-up during your pre-shot routine.
To set up correctly to every time just remember GASP. GASP stands for Grip, Alignment, Stance, and Posture. Here are the checkpoints of GASP to include in your pre-shot routine:
Grip: There are the 3 key checkpoints for a good grip: Left thumb at 2 o'clock, Right Thumb at 10 o'clock, and the pad of your hand ON TOP of the grip. You'll know you have a good grip when you can easily make a 90 degree hinge with your left hand.
Alignment: Alignment is THE most common cause of mistakes on the course, not swing mechanics! Take special care to align your club face up with your target. Learn how to use the grooves on irons and the top line of your driver to line up the club face with the target. I spend more time aligning my clubface to my target than any other step of my pre shot routine. It is worth the effort to get this one right.
Stance: Take your stance square to your target line with your feet perpendicular to the grooves on your club. Your right foot should be square to the target line, not rotated to the right. You need a square right foot so you can push on the downswing. Your left foot should be rotated about 20 degrees open, towards the target. For irons your feet should be under your shoulders. For the driver you feet should be just outside your shoulder line. Your hips and shoulders should be square to your feet line.
Posture: Golf is a sport, and you want to get into as athletic a stance as you can. Keep your spine as straight as possible, bend from the hips (not the waist), and have a slight flex to your knees. The taller you can stand, the easier it will be for you to create an athletic move.
GASP – Grip, Alignment, Stance, Posture. Master these keys to the set up and you will eliminate half of your errors on the course and lower your scores.

 
 
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ARTICLE #4
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PGA Pro Tips: Should My Junior Specialize Early In Golf?
There is an increasing level of pressure for juniors to specialize early in one sport. But is it a good thing? Parents ask us "Is specializing early what it takes to produce the next Tiger Woods or Jordan Spieth?"
The answer, according to emerging research, is no.
Parents naturally want the best for their kids, and on the surface early specialization seems to make sense. They see other parents doing it, they see other kids winning young, and then mistakenly think it is the path they must take too. There is a fear that if their child is not winning tournaments by age 8 or 9 they will fall hopelessly behind. The truth is that early specialists may achieve early success, but there is no evidence showing it leads to success at a later age.
On the contrary specializing in one sport before age 14 may do more harm than good, setting kids up for failure as teens. Early specialization puts them at greater risk of injury. It creates unhealthy psychological stress. It leads to a higher burn-out rate. Kids actually become less likely to play the sport as an adult. Perhaps the biggest drawback is that early specialization keeps kids from developing their overall athleticism - the explosive speed, strength, agility, endurance, and gross motor coordination it takes to succeed.
Early achievers are often eclipsed by more well-rounded athletes in high school and college. The reason is that playing multiple sports allows the whole body to develop, not just the sport-specific muscles. Multi-sport kids develop better balance, quickness, and core strength. It may take longer for the athlete to emerge, but well-rounded athletes have better overall motor skills, longer careers, increased motivation, and more confidence.
The key point we convey to parents is that skills are transferable between sports. The explosive speed needed for soccer and hockey will show up in more club head speed and distance. The balance required for gymnastics and skating will improve consistency. The hand-eye coordination from baseball and tennis will lead to better ball-striking.
Almost all the players on the PGA Tour were multi-sport athletes as kids. Jordan Spieth was an outstanding quarterback, pitcher (throws left-handed) and point guard. Tiger can play almost anything, Dustin can dunk, Sergio plays tennis, Phil can pitch, Rickie rode dirt-bikes, and the list goes on. The US Olympic Committee found that on average Olympians played in three sports through age 14.
Parents need to resist the temptation to specialize their kids too early in one sport and to recognize the long-term benefits of cross-training in multiple sports. We believe golf is one of the sports kids should learn golf at an early age, because it is a game they will play for life. But we encourage them to play at least one complementary sport as well.

 
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ARTICLE #5
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PGA Pro Tips: Let The Kids Fail, Please!
We all want the best for our kids. We want to nurture them. Protect them. Keep them safe. Help them avoid making the same mistakes we made growing up. But it has led to an epidemic of helicopter parenting, hovering over kids to protect them from every possible mishap, and it is ultimately sabotaging the very thing we want most - to see kids grow into happy, successful adults.
Sports provide one of the best opportunities for kids to take risks and learn to deal with failure. One of the reasons we believe kids should learn golf is that it also teaches life skills, two of the greatest of which are resiliency and resourcefulness.
Resiliency is about grit; the ability to take whatever life throws at you, persevere, and ultimately prevail. Resourcefulness is about creativity and ingenuity: the ability to meet challenges and solve problems.
Life - like golf - cannot be taught. It can only be learned. And learning involves making mistakes. We need to give kids not only the space but also our permission to make mistakes. To learn by facing failure directly. Yes some of the mistakes can be heartbreaking. But without adversity it is impossible to build resiliency. The risk of failure must always be a possibility because our minds do not function well when the objective is merely to prevent failure or avoid mistakes. Resourcefulness and creativity kick in when we give kids the space to find their own solutions. To experiment, to be creative, and to step outside their comfort zone. It is only when they step outside their comfort zone that they stretch themselves, expanding their horizons which then become the new, greater norm.
The best way to help kids fail successfully is to focus on the positive. In our Junior Golf Academy we do that by stressing the importance of effort over outcomes. We let them know that it is not only normal but expected to make mistakes. We don't focus on what they are doing "wrong": only on ways they can take what they are already doing and make it better. "Winning" is not the barometer for success. Effort is. There is no such thing as failure as long as they keep trying. We help them exercise creativity by playing games and inventing their own solutions. Kids can be amazingly resourceful when we let them. When they are having fun they are teaching themselves two of the most important skills to be successful adults: resiliency and resourcefulness. Give 'em room to make mistakes. We'll all benefit.

 
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ARTICLE #6
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PGA Pro Tips: Top 10 Reasons Kids Should Learn Golf
Getting your juniors started in golf will be one of the greatest and most valuable gifts you ever give them. Here are our Top 10 reasons to get kids involved in golf:
1. It's FUN!
2. It's a great way to spend quality time with family and friends
3. They will learn important life lessons and practice personal responsibility
4. It is time spent outdoors, in a safe and positive environment
5. They will learn social skills and establish friendships that will last a lifetime
6. They will learn self-discipline, and how to manage their emotions and behavior
7. It will prepare them for business
8. They'll have a chance to earn a college scholarship
9. Golf helps develop healthy habits and wellness for life
10. Anyone can play!
 
Golf is one of the most difficult sports to master, and the later they begin the harder it is to learn. In fact golf is much easier to learn than unlearn, which is why most adult lessons and golf schools focus on correcting flaws. For kids it's worth learning golf the right way at the outset so they develop proper technique and build foundational skills.
So how do you get your kids started? Here are four essential requirements for a good start:
1) Find a coach. Someone who is kid-friendly, understands skill progression, and to talks at their level. Literally. Going down on one knee to be at their eye level establishes friendly communication.  
2) Get the right equipment. Clubs need to be the right length and weight. Cut-down adult clubs are too heavy, and clubs that are too long force swing compensations that have to be corrected later. Clubs are not like clothes: you don't want to start big and grow into them. Start with the right size, and have kids grow out of them.
3) Learn from the hole backward. Start with putting. Then go to chipping. Then pitching, then half-swings, then finally full swings on the range. Learning putting first is the best way to introduce the three fundamentals of golf: hitting in the middle of the club face, aiming at a target, and controlling distance.
4) Lastly, make sure that having fun is the #1 objective. Fun is why they play. Let them learn their own way at their own pace. Play games, have rewards - anything from stickers to popsicles - and celebrate successes often.
Start kids early in golf. After all, have ever heard an adult say "I wish I'd started later?"
 
 

 
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ARTICLE #7
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PGA Pro Tips: Add 25 Yards to Your Drives by Letting Go of Tension (the Famous Potato Chip Exercise)
The best thing you can do to improve your distance off the tee is to increase your swing speed. The worst thing you can do to try to get more distance is to swing HARDER.
Consider that for every one mile-per-hour increase in swing speed you will gain an extra 2-1/2 yards off the tee. Adding just 10 mph to your swing speed will get you 25 yards! The problem is that when most golfers try to get that extra 25 yards the almost universal instinct is to “muscle up” on the ball. The paradox is that you don’t need more power, you need more speed. And to get more speed in your golf swing you have to lighten up.
When you swing harder you will introduce tension in your swing. Tension kills swing speed. Tense muscles do not operate as smoothly nor as quickly as tension-free muscles. The typical result of muscling up is an actual LOSS of distance as well as inconsistency.
Try the Potato Chip exercise
The Potato Chip exercise came about while working with a student who was trying to add distance. As a big, strong guy his instincts told him distance came from power. As he started his swing he was so tight the cords in his neck literally stood out. Tension radiated from his clenched teeth, down his neck, into his shoulders, and out his arms.
Grabbing a bag of potato chips from the snack shop we put a chip between his teeth and asked him to swing. On his first try he couldn’t even get his swing started without biting the chip. As soon as he started his take-away, Crunch! It took 5 chips to get the swing started, and 20 before he could get to the top of his backswing and start his downswing without breaking the chip.
But the lesson was learned. By the end of the bag of chips the student was able to swing freely all the way through the ball to the target. He added 10 mph to his swing speed and 25 yards to his drives. He was much happier (and not as hungry).
The potato chip exercise, while a fun drill, was really just a feedback mechanism to help understand how much tension he had in his golf swing, where the tension was coming from, and how to let his tension go. By working on his awareness of tension rather than brute strength he was able to generate a more naturally powerful, faster swing and consistently longer drives and 25 yards.

 
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ARTICLE #8
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PGA Pro Tips: The Secret to 15 More Yards Off The Tee Is At Your Fingers
Do you make this mistake with your grip pressure that could be costing you 15 yards or more off the tee? In an effort to pick up a few more yards on your drive, do you grip the club really hard, thinking that if you could just put a little more power into the shot you could launch a bomb?
Rule of Thumb for Grip Pressure
If you were to measure your grip pressure using a scale of 1 to 10, your grip pressure with your driver should be in the range of 5: strong, but not tight. Anything beyond strong will cost you distance and accuracy. For irons and fairway shots, use a grip pressure of 4: firm. For shots around the green, use a grip pressure of 3: light to moderate.
Keep your grip pressure consistent, and you will be rewarded with more distance and more fairways.
Another Rule of Thumb: The 10:00 Position
You may be making another grip mistake that is robbing you of forearm rotation, and therefore robbing you of distance. If you have your right thumb on top of the grip – called a 12 o’clock position – you will tend to push down with the thumb and squeeze with the right forefinger on the downswing.
This results in too much grip pressure as well an early release. The problem is that using the thumb and forefinger activates a set of muscles on top of the forearm that prevent rotation, thus slowing down club head speed.
Your right thumb should be in a 10:00 position, on the other side of the grip logo. Making this change is awkward at first, but the reward will be more club head speed and square club face at impact. That will translate into more distance off the tee, and more drives in the fairway.
Take the time in your pre-shot routine to fix your grip - both the grip pressure and the thumb position. The answer to 15 more yards may be right at your finger tips!

 
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ARTICLE #9
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PGA Pro Tips: Add 30 Yards To Your Drives With The Power-X
The idea of having a fluid, tension-free swing that is at the same time powerful and dynamic enough to drive the golf ball 300 yards seems like a contradiction until you understand the concept behind the Power-X.
The Brute Force Approach to Distance Doesn't Work
The common misconception is that driving the ball farther takes more power. This is the brute force approach most golfers instinctively take when they try to "muscle up" on the swing to get more distance. Yet if you were to ask these same golfers to describe their best drives, they would use words like "effortless", "smooth", "fluid", or "solid", which are not power terms.
To drive the golf ball farther you need to maximize your swing speed. Yes, there is power in the swing. But it has to be the right kind of power: dynamic power that produces effortless speed.
The Answer to Dynamic Power is the Power-X
When you cross your arms in front of your body while standing so that each arm is pointed down the opposite leg (left arm points down right leg), your arms will form an "X". This simple visualization of arms crossed in an X can help you understand which muscles provide dynamic power throughout the swing, and which muscles are relaxed.
The left arm/right leg side is the strong and dynamic axis. The right arm/left leg is the tension-free, relaxed axis. This is the "Power-X."
To get more distance make the left arm and right leg as strong and powerful as possible. At the same time, keep the right arm and left leg relaxed.
Although it may seem like a contradiction to have one part of your body strong while keeping another relaxed, consider a weight lifter performing a curl with barbells. The muscles that do all the work are the biceps. The triceps remain relaxed. The biceps are the protagonistic muscles, while the triceps are the antagonistic muscles. If the weightlifter activated their antagonistic triceps they would not be able to curl the barbell. The protagonistic biceps do all the work.
Effortless Driver Distance Comes From Using the Correct Muscles
In much the same way, using the protagonistic left arm/right leg to do all the work of supplying the power and speed will help you drive the ball 30 to 40 yards farther. Use the image of the Power-X to help understand where dynamic power comes from in the swing.
 

 
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ARTICLE #10
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PGA Pro Tips: Widen The Arc of Your Golf Swing to Add 25 Yards to Your Drives
Driving the golf ball farther is largely a function of maximizing swing speed through impact. One of the most effective ways to add 25 yards or more to your drives is to focus on a wider swing rather than a taller swing.
The Ceiling-to-Floor “V” Golf Swing
Imagine swinging your driver in a room of your house. Most golfers waste club head speed with a golf swing that is too vertical – that is, their swing is focused on going from the floor to the ceiling to the floor again. The vertical golf swing is narrow and very up-and-down, and its shape resembles a "V."
Because the club head cannot go through the ball into the floor, the vertical golf swing has to shed swing speed on the downswing, either through a cast from the top or through an early release. That means the club head is already losing velocity by the time it impacts the ball. That will cost you distance.
The Wall-to-Wall “U” Golf Swing
Contrast vertical golf swings with wide golf swings. With a wider golf swing the golfer feels like they are trying to reach the walls of the room rather than the ceiling and floor.
A wide swing from wall-to-wall creates a "U" shaped rather than a "V" shape. The U shape allows the club to accelerate through the ball all the way to the target, maximizing swing speed through the ball and therefore increasing distance. It also helps increase shoulder turn to maximize power from the core.
Address the Fundamental Issue: Swing to the Target, Not the Ball
More fundamentally, however, the wall-to-wall swing can help the golfer change the focus of the swing from hitting the ball to swinging to the target. It is far more effective to make a swing change by addressing the fundamental underlying cause than it is to treat the symptoms.
A Wider Golf Swing Means More Distance
Widening your swing arc can improve your driving distance 25 to 50 yards. Thinking "wall-to-wall" rather than "ceiling-to-floor" will produce a "U" shaped golf swing that will increase swing speed through the ball and simultaneously address many common swing flaws. When done in tandem with an efficient, leveraged pivot, the result will be effortless power and consistently longer drives.
 
 
 

 
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ARTICLE #11
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PGA Pro Tips: Power Golf: Add 30 Yards To Your Drives By Maximizing Your Leverage
You don't need to be muscle-bound to hit longer drives. But you do need to take advantage of all the power you have available to you. The way you maximize power in your golf swing through leverage. Archimedes once said "Give me a lever and a place to stand and I can move the world."
Proper leverage is what provides the power to generate speed. The power in your golf swing should be used to rotate your core faster through impact to the target. Faster core rotation will generate the clubhead speed you want, because distance comes from speed.
The common mistake most golfers make when trying to drive the golf ball farther is to throw the clubhead at the ball with their hands and arms. The challenge is that the hands and arms are not nearly as strong as the big muscles in the core.
The Key to Leverage is Good Foot Work and the Ball of Your Right Foot
Jack Nicklaus believes that a good golf swing begins with good foot work. Creating more leverage in your swing – and consequently effortless power – starts with your feet. At the top of the swing you should be loading power and energy on the inside part of your right foot, specifically on the ball of the foot.
The inside part of the ball of the right foot is your action position. If you don't have your weight set on the inside part of the ball of your foot at the top of your swing, you run the risk of a sway or reverse pivot.
Think of a baseball pitcher and the way they push off the rubber to hurl the ball over 90 mph. The same concept applies to distance and your golf swing. It is almost impossible to initiate the downswing with the lower body - where all good golf downswings start - if you can’t push to the front side with your feet.
Pigeon Toe Drill to Help You Feel Leverage
To help get the feel of good leverage, try the "pigeon toe" drill.
Take your normal driver stance. Before swinging, turn your right heel out so that your right foot is "pigeon toed." Square up your hips and keep a little flex in your right knee. Make a ¾ swing and pay attention to the tension that builds in the right leg. You will likely find that it is very easy to push towards the target with the lower body when the right foot is turned in a bit.
If you want to add more distance to your drives with effortless power, maintain your leverage position throughout your swing: like Archimedes, you will be able to move the world.
 
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ARTICLE #12
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PGA Pro Tips: Is Your Aim True?
You don't need a perfect golf swing to score well. In fact most golfers can easily drop three to five strokes per round simply by making one simple adjustment. The single best thing you can do to eliminate mistakes and improve scores is to aim correctly.
We’ve conducted thousands of playing lessons where we’ve observed every kind of golfer in all kinds of conditions. By far and away the number one mistake golfers make on the course is misalignment. Lining up incorrectly on the course can change the swing, send the ball to the wrong place, and lead to bad swing habits.
Getting someone to line up correctly, however, is not as straightforward as making sure their feet are pointed the right direction. We follow a 3-part process that retrains first the eyes, then the body, then the brain.
EYES: Setting up for alignment starts with the golf club: the club face must be square to the target. But if the golfer does not see a square face as square, the rest of the set-up is doomed. To train their eyes we use two parallel alignment rods, placing the ball in the middle. As long as the clubface grooves are perpendicular to the rods the club face is square.  Most of the time the error is a club face pointed to the right, or open. 
BODY: Once the golfer is able to square up the club face the next step is to square up the body. We use the alignment rods to make sure that both feet are the same distance from the rods. But we don’t just look at the feet. We also make sure the hips and shoulders are square and in line with the feet. The most common mistake we see is the feet square but the shoulders swung out to the left. These “open” shoulders typically create a slice.
BRAIN: Lastly we make sure the golfer knows where the target is. We test target awareness by having golfers get into their stance, close their eyes, and point to the target. It is not unusual to see students pointing 20 and 30 yards away from their target. Fortunately they quickly grasp the importance of knowing where the target is, and in short order figure out how to memorize the location.
The great news is that perfecting your alignment is a lot easier than changing your swing. A few practice sessions focused on alignment will soon find you hitting better shots to more fairways and greens.
 
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ARTICLE #13
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PGA Pro Tips: The Golf Breakdown
When seeking to improve at golf - or any other sport - it helps to know how to break the game down. Like the old saw "How do you eat an elephant?” breaking the game down to smaller parts will allow you to concentrate your efforts "one bite at a time."
For instance, we break golf down into three core components: Technique, Strategy, and Self. Technique is everything you do to swing a club and hit a ball. Strategy is knowing where to position yourself and what club and shot will get the job done. Self is everything you do to manage the way you think, feel, and act.
Then we break a core component like Technique into more specific areas such as driving, approach shots, short game, and putting. It's much the way a football coach might break down the game into Offense, Defense, and Special Teams, and then break down offense into 1st, 2nd, and 3rd down plays, or passing and running plays.
With these smaller bites we can now develop a Play Book. The Play Book includes drills, instruction, assessments, and benchmarks - everything we use to take action for that area of the game.
Once we have a play book we develop a Game Plan. The game plan serves as our strategic guide. It helps us keep sight of what we are trying to accomplish and the way we plan to accomplish our goal: what to focus on, how much time to spend, results to strive for, and more.
Our approach to game planning is to have students develop two really strong parts of their game while addressing the one part of their game that holds them back. The goal of every golfer should be to play from their areas of strength as often as possible.  
The last part of breaking the game down is measuring performance with benchmarking and stats. Benchmarks help us understand where we are, while stats tell us how we are doing on the journey.
The benefit of this approach is the flexibility. As our game changes, so does our game plan. Breaking the elephant down allows us to make a game plan, work our play book, and benchmark our progress - one bite at a time. 

 
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ARTICLE #14
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PGA Pro Tips: 6 Ways to Winterize Your Golf Game
Here are six easy ways to winterize your golf game so you can hit the ground running next spring.
1. Chip & Putt - at home, the office, and the course. Short-game “feel” is often the hardest skill to recapture after a layoff. Work on 6-foot and 30-foot putts, chipping from 1-3 yards off the green, and pitching from 15 to 20 yards to stay sharp.
2. Fitness. Get on a regular program to improve your golf-specific fitness, particularly your flexibility and balance. You know you need to do it anyway.
3. Review the basics of GASP (Grip, Alignment, Stance, Posture). It’s how Jack Nicklaus started every season, and if it was good enough for him, well ...
While you are at it, write out and refine your pre-shot routine and include that as part of your “basics.” You’ll see a big improvement in your consistency.
4. Work on Swing Changes. The Tour pros make all their swing changes during the off-season. They don’t want to be fighting the uncertainty that comes with making swing changes during season, and neither should you. In particular, get out your training aids to enhance your feedback and accelerate the change process. If you are looking for great training aids, visit our website.
5. Check your equipment. Take your clubs in and check them for loft, lie, and swing weight, and put new grips on them. If you are going to be investing in new equipment, now is the time to do it. Prices are at their best, and having your new equipment now will give you time to become familiar with it over the next few months so you don’t have any questions when the season begins.
6. Invest in Instruction and Coaching. Your coach can help you put together a game plan that will keep you focused on mastering your top priorities that will improve your game the most. They’ll help you with drills and with putting together a complete training plan so that you are maximizing your time on the range.
For all of these tips find ways to a little in each area, but to do them consistently. When the season kicks off next year you’ll already be in the swing of things.
 

 
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ARTICLE #15
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PGA Pro Tips: Stop Fixing Your Swing. Start Training For Results
The one thing golfers value above all else is consistency. Yet when they practice they often achieve the exact opposite. If you want to improve your consistency - and your scores - it is vital to understand the difference between practice and training and to adjust your range time accordingly.
We like to think of the difference this way: you practice to change; you train for consistency.
If you want your swing to improve, you practice.
If you want your scores to improve, you train.
When you go to the range to “fix” your swing you are practicing. Working on making a change. And while we always want to be improving our swing, at some point you need to be able to get the ball in the hole.
We know change is difficult. It takes time and effort to create a new habit strong enough to replace the old habit. And almost by definition when you are making a swing change your swing is in flux. In other words, inconsistent. Sound familiar?
When you train, on the other hand, your primary focus is on results. It doesn’t matter how you improve your results: only that you do improve.
For example, we ask our Academy students to see how many time out of 10 they can sink a 6-foot putt. If they make six we set a goal to make seven. When they make seven we set a goal to make eight.
We call this “leveling up”, a concept familiar to online gamers. When you level-up in an online game it means you have reached a new skill level. More options and opportunities open up to you. Leveling-up in golf works the same way. You’ll be more skilled, you’ll have more options when you play, and your scores will improve by leveling-up.
The basic idea behind level-up training is to set performance goals: how many times out of 10 you can reach or improve upon an objective. You can set performance measures for any club or shot by focusing on directional accuracy, center contact, distance control, and even shot shape consistency. Two that we use most often on the range are driver accuracy (how many times they hit a 30-yard wide fairway), and distance control (how many times plus or minus 5 yards from a 100-yard target).
The smart way to spend your range time is to devote 2/3rds to training and 1/3rd to practice. Switching to more emphasis on training will make your range time a lot more enjoyable, especially as your scores drop.   
 

 
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ARTICLE #16
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PGA Pro Tips: Spots, Shots, and Thoughts: 3 Word Mantra for Smarter Golf
The next time you play try repeating this simple mantra to lower your score: spots, shots, and thoughts. You’ll make smarter course navigation decisions, better club selections, and simplify your mental game.
“Spots” refers to where you want your ball to go. You want to be specific. “In the fairway” with your drive is too general (even if that is your goal). Instead pick out just one side of the fairway, or better yet a specific landing area or target in the distance. When hitting into the green imagine a bulls-eye with concentric rings centered on the spot where you want your ball to land. Focus on throwing a dart into the bulls-eye. You will be pleasantly surprised at how much more accurate and consistent you will be when you “aim small to miss small.” Pick your spots.
“Shots” refers to what you need to hit the ball to your spot: club selection and trajectory. Hitting driver is not always your smartest option off the tee, just as a full swing iron is not always your best choice hitting into the green. For every “spot” that you identify you will almost always have at least two club choices that will get the job done. A 3-wood will often get you where you need to be off the tee, but with greater accuracy and consistency. A three-quarter 9-iron will travel as far as a full-swing pitching wedge, with a lower trajectory and more accuracy. Good players learn that it is the spot that matters, not the shot, which is why you’ll seldom see a Tour pro take a full swing with a short approach club.
“Thoughts” refers to what you think about during the swing. There is a lot of confusion around what constitutes the best swing thought. As a rule anything “mechanical” should be avoided. Thoughts about tempo and targets will yield better results. Here’s some of the best advice we can give you for what to think about: When you have a longer shot (generally anything beyond 150 yards), focus on directional accuracy; when you have a shorter approach shot into the green focus on your exact yardage to a specific target.
The sooner you start using “Spots, Shots, and Thoughts” the sooner you will start shooting lower scores.
 
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ARTICLE #17
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PGA Pro Tips: The Learning Process: What’s My Brain Doing?
Whenever we learn something new we go through three phases of learning: the Cognitive phase, Integration phase, and Automatic phase. These three phases are called the Learning Process, and understanding how the learning process works will help you learn new skills better, faster, and easier.
Let’s take a fun example you can do right where you are sitting: grab a pen and write your name with your off hand (your left hand if you are a righty). It will feel awkward and probably won’t look much like your regular signature. Here’s what’s happening:
Because this is probably a new skill for you, you’ll have to consciously think about what you are doing. You’ll have to figure out how to hold the pen, where to put your hand, how to move your hand, how to create the letters, and more. This is the cognitive phase, where each part of the process has to be thought about separately and there is a great deal of inaccuracy.
Your task in the cognitive phase is to experiment: to find the most comfortable and effective way to do something - such as how to hold the pen. There’s a lot of trial and error in the cognitive phase, along with a great deal of inconsistency. Failure is your friend in this phase, because when you fail you know you’ve at least eliminated one approach. The quicker you eliminate approaches the faster you figure out what works.
Eventually - as you keep experimenting - one method will emerge as the best. The various parts will begin to feel like a smoother process, and accuracy will improve. This is the integration phase, where parts come together into the greater whole.
Your task in the integration phase is to learn to repeat that best motion as consistently as possible. This is where training kicks in. There’s a lot less emphasis on trial and error, and much more emphasis on creating routines and habits. 
The more consistently you repeat your routines the faster you move into the third phase - automaticity. In the automatic phase you don’t have to think about how you do something; you just think about what needs to be done and do it. Like signing your name with your regular hand: you’ve done it so many times you don’t have to think about it.
The goal for all golfers should be to make their swing as automatic as possible so that they never have to think about how they do something, only what they need to do, and then trust their training. Understanding when to shift from practice to training is how you accelerate the learning process.