My PGA Professional Training Progress – Playing Report

At the end of last year, I turned Professional and have played in my first few tournaments as a professional since April this year. I had a bit of a shaky start in the first couple of events to say the least, nerves didn’t help and I started with a couple of poor scores. However, things started to look up in the Shanklin and Sandown Pro-Am where although my individual score could still be improved upon, during my second round I managed 7 birdies including 5 in a row on my final 9 holes! This certainly helped my confidence and as part of the team in the afternoon, I won the team event with my partners Lee Haward, Spencer Simpson and Jay Squires!

As we all know confidence plays a massive part in this game and this gave me a massive boost going into his next event at Ampfield Golf Club as I finally had belief in my game and new I could perform well as a professional. I arrived at Ampfield Golf Club with an air of confidence that I hadn’t felt for a long time and just went out and enjoyed my golf. I went out and shot level par for the first 18 holes with 5 birdies and 5 silly bogeys which put me 1 shot behind the leader. In the afternoon I learnt quickly as to what clubs to hit and putted really well, I came in with -2 under par with 3 birdies and a bogey. This finished me with -2 under par and a tie for the lead and then went on to win the first playoff hole against the current Hampshire PGA order of merit leader.

Jason and his golfing journey

Jason and his golfing journey

Hopefully you have seen him around already but last month we welcomed to our team Jason Clabon. Up until recently Jason was a full time fireman and is now retained but with his keen interest in golf has started working here full time at Westridge Golf Centre. Jason currently plays off a handicap of 16.3 and with our help is keen to reduce this and get his handicap as low as possible. As for all of us time is at a premium and with a wife and young child Jason is no different so needs to make the most of any practice time available to him. With this in mind I asked Jason if he could set aside a realistic target of 5 hours per week and told him to help reduce his scores that 4 hours of that time should be spent on his short game (within 100 yards of the green)

Obviously the full swing is very important too, but a good short game can get you out of trouble on the course even if you are not hitting fairways and greens.

To see where Jason’s short game is currently at, I made him do a Par 18 short game challenge. What this involves is placing 9 balls in various spots around the green then simply chipping them onto the green and seeing how many shots it takes to get them all in the hole. Obviously Par 18 would involve getting each ball up and down which would show a very good short game, but whatever the score it gives a benchmark of where the player currently is in terms of ability.

I won’t post his score for the first time he did this but I will say there are some improvements that can be made, which highlights straight away where we can shave some shots off his rounds.

Saying all this we had his first lesson the other day and we focused on the full swing for this one. Jason has had a couple of lessons in the past and I think he will say the same that at the time they worked nicely and improved his accuracy. He had a slice and the drills and advice he was given helped to alleviate this so that he hit the ball much straighter. At Westridge Golf Centre our coaches understand that people want results instantly and the lessons we gave allowed him to play to his handicap and below it on several occasions whilst not having to spend hours on the range bedding it in. However now with more loftier ambitions in the game we took the decision to change his swing with a more long term view of improving his distances and consistency throughout his long game.

Below are some images of Jason’s before and after swings, the left hand side is before the lesson and the right hand side is after the changes had been made.

As you can see Jason has a good posture and set up, however his grip was slightly weak which caused shots to go right of target at times. His backswing took the club very much around his body and this restricted his backswing length costing him potential power and distance. This also created the issue of him getting stuck with the club too far behind him in the transition from backswing to downswing which meant his hands moved forward as he started his downswing and a lot of shots were coming out of the heel, particularly with the longer clubs in the bag.

So we got Jason to take the club away a lot wider in his backswing and you can really see the improved position at the top of the backswing, the swing is a lot fuller, his hands are higher and this allowed his hands to drop slightly into the downswing meaning he was on plane much more during the whole swing. This doesnt look like a massive change to have to make, but ask Jason and the exaggeration he has to feel he is making to get the club in this position has thrown him quite a bit, and his short term ball striking may be a bit indifferent, which is why he will need a good short game! He had his first competition yesterday and wasn’t pleased with his score, but we took some statistics to review and will hope to make some progress with these soon.

We will continue to document Jason’s progress with his golf so keep your eyes peeled for further updates.

If you would like to put a plan together to help your golf then please do not hesitate to get in touch and we can get a structure in place to make sure you improve your scores and performance.

How To Drive Long Off The Tee!

There is one thing every golfer wants and that is distance off the tee! Anyone who says they are not bothered about how far they hit the ball is either lying, or they have just excepted the fact they will never be a bomber off the tee. Learning how to increase your driver distance not only makes you look awesome in front of your regular playing partners, but providing your still hitting it straight, makes the game a whole lot easier. There is nothing better than stepping up to the tee box knowing that you’ve got the confidence to hit it long and straight down the middle, and this is a skill that every golfer should try and develop. If you can learn to hit it longer off the tee, this will lead to shorter approach shots into the green, more greens in regulation, and more importantly better golf scores. So what are the key factors to hitting long drives? In this blog I will give tips which will show you a step by step process on how to increase your driving distance.

 

  1. Ball Height: The primary goal when using a driver is to make sure that your “Hitting Up” on the golf ball through impact. By teeing the ball high this will encourage an upward strike and better drives. As a general rule I tell people the equator of the golf ball should be directly in line with the top of the clubface at address.

 

  1. Wide Stance: The driver is the longest club in the bag that you will have, therefore it is the it is the also the club you can swing the fastest. If you are going to swinging with increased club speed, you need to make sure you have the correct width of stance and solid base to maintain balance. I see far too often amateurs setting up with narrow stances which leads to sloppy unbalanced swings. To ensure you have a solid base at address, set up with outside of your shoulders extended down to the inside of your feet.

 

  1. Forward Ball Position: Many amateurs make the common mistake of placing the ball too close to the middle of their stance as if they are preparing to hit a medium iron shot. When this happens the hands get in front of the ball and the clubhead becomes de-lofted as a result of the improper set up position. When the ball is placed in the wrong ball position it affects how a players shoulders are also set at address, which therefore can have an effect on the path of the club through impact. Players tend to strike down on the ball at impact which is the exact opposite of what you should be trying to achieve. This causes excess spin on the ball resulting in ballooning drives especially into the wind, which makes the ball go very high, but not very far in distance. In order to maximise your distance you must strike up on the ball! To do this simply place the ball in line with your left heel to ensure the clubs bottoms out earlier in the swing, meaning the club connects with the ball on the upswing.

 

  1. Spine Angle: At set up your upper body specifically your spine should be tilted away from the target. This means for a right handed player, their left shoulder should be slightly higher than their right shoulder at address. Making sure your spine is tilted the correct amount at address is important because it puts your body in a powerful position to strike up on the golf ball.

Obviously things such as swinging in balance and how centred your strike is on the clubface will also determine how long and straight you hit your drives. But hopefully these short tips in this blog will enable you to see instant changes and hopefully positive results! Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. To book a lesson with myself please call 613131

Christopher Reed

PGA Professional

Westridge Golf Centre                            

Dan’s Weekly Top Tips

The Importance of Staying in The Moment

When you come to play in a high stress environment under tournament conditions, I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep yourself in the moment and don’t try too hard and don’t try to make things happen.

The minute you try that bit harder or you try to make things happen because you want to score well, is the very moment you can wave goodbye to a good score. I am speaking from recent experience, as I have no worries about talking about my failures as they only make you stronger. I was playing in my first pro-am since turning professional and I just wanted to play well so much that I tried that bit harder and tried to force shots and take on the impossible shot.

When you are in a high pressure situation or you are in a competition that you really want to do well in, then you need to try and stay in the moment and keep relaxed. The key thing is to try and not force shots or take on shots that you wouldn’t normally, as this will create opportunities to force unnecessary errors.

Ways to help you stay calm and focused on the shot ahead of you and not to try and take on silly shots, would be firstly to take a couple of seconds and think about the shot you are about to play. Does the shot you are about to play, have a high percentage of coming off the way you want it too, if it doesn’t then don’t play it.

Secondly, once you are happy with the shot you have chosen, just take a couple of slow deep breaths to control your heart rate and focus your mind.

A great book that I read in the past about mental strength and staying confident and in the moment was a book by Dr Bob Rotella - Golf Is Not A Game Of Perfect.

I would HIGHLY RECCOMMEND this book.

How Often Should You Change Your Grips?

There are three pieces of equipment that golfers use on every shot, a golf ball, golf shoes, and a golf grip. A glove could be used but most golfers don’t wear gloves on every shot if sometimes atoll. We think about what golf ball we need to use, trying to get the right combination of maximized distance and ideal spin on every shot. But golfers don’t think about their grips much, even though it is used on every shot and is very important. The golf grip is what keeps our hands on the club, allows us to comfortably hit long drives, and also play those delicate touch shots alike. Also, they allow golfers to play in all kinds of weather conditions and feel comfortable in doing so.

When Should Golfers Replace Their Grips: Just like a golf ball does, a golf grip loses efficiency over time and use. Instead of being somewhat tacky and comfortable to touch, weathered old grips feel slicker, worn down and just frankly old! Golf grips need to be replaced every so often restoring the tacky and comfortable feel. The question is though, how often should a golfer replace their grips? The general rule of thumb is a golfer should replace their golf grips every 6 months or so, that is if you’re playing at least 3-4 times per week in conditions exposing your grips to heat and humidity. So, basically, if you live in the South of the United States, like Florida, Texas or Arizona, and you’re retired or super rich, then replace your grips every six months. For most golfers, they don’t need to change their grips every 6 months. They need to change them either once per year or approximately every 40 rounds. Since most golfers don’t play 40 rounds of golf per year, once per year is perfect. It’s usually a good idea to get them changed in the winter months like November, December and January when you’re not playing as much. This is so you can get used to the particular feel of the grips, and also so they won’t get too worn out before the summer months start. The bottom line is if your grips feel firmer or less tacky than normal, you need to look at getting your grips changed sooner rather than later.

Which Size Grip Should You Buy: Most golfers don’t really think about the proper sizing of their golf grips, but a golfer should ideally have a grip that doesn’t allow them to over grip the club. By that, I mean a golf grip shouldn’t allow you to dig your fingers into your palms on your bottom hand. If you can, then your grip is too small. Likewise, if the gap is too big between your fingers and palms, then the grip is too large.

The most important thing in a grip is the comfort on all types of shots. That might mean having different grips on different clubs although this is very rare to do. It could also mean finding a grip, more common these days, which has a variety of surfaces on a single grip, depending on where you grip the club. Those multi-purpose grips give you the most value for money, offering smooth and rougher surfaces which can be useful in any situation such as weather conditions.

Thank you for reading my latest blog. To book yourself in for a lesson with me, please call 01983 613131

Christopher Reed

PGA Professional

Westridge Golf Centre               

 

Is It Time To Upgrade Your Wedges?

Most golfers change their driver and irons like they do a pair of socks! But chances are if you have a certain wedge or putter which you like the look and feel of, then it stays in the bag forever! This is not a bad thing when it comes to the putter, as this is a club that changing often is not the greatest move! With wedges though a frequent change is actually a good thing. This is something that is tough to do if you know it works well for you! There’s also a good chance that the grooves have practically worn away due the years of ball striking during playing or practising!

Which leads to the question, does worn grooves on a wedge actually affect your game? The answer is a very simple yes! A brand new wedge with new grooves produces twice the amount of backspin and loads more control! In addition to this, the ball will slide up the face of a wedge with worn out grooves, and launch higher rather than being grabbed by the grooves which reduces spin!

So when exactly should you start thinking about replacing your wedges? How many rounds before you make your next purchase? Titleist’s Vokey R&D team took to its Manchester facility to experiment on this very dilemma, and provide the necessary answers. They found that groove wear begins to affect performance after about 75 rounds. It continues to worsen around 125 rounds. For the casual golfer looking to improve, that means making a difficult decision. Do you want to upgrade wedges and deal with the cost and a potential learning curve, or do you want to stick with the worn-out wedge in your bag and deal with the performance drop?

Click on the link below and watch the short video to see just how much grooves can affect the performance of a wedge and if it’s time to upgrade yours:

At Westridge we stock a variety of wedges from Titleist, Taylormade, Ping, Mizuno, and Callaway and more. If you require any more information, or if you would like to book a lesson with me, please call 01983 613131

 

Christopher Reed

PGA Professional

Westridge Golf Centre