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Practicing these holidays

“The more I practice, the luckier I get” – Gary Player       

It goes without saying that the only way to get better at something is to practice, practice, practice.  If playing golf didn’t require practice, everyone would be able to do it but we all know that is not true. Becoming a better golfer doesn’t happen overnight but, through dedication and committing to learning a new skill, or improving a particular skill, will make you a better golfer. With the summer holidays nearly here, it’s a great opportunity for you to become that better golfer.

Golf requires three different skill sets – long game (full swing), short game (pitching, chipping and bunkers) and putting. All are equally as important as each other and you should be dividing your practice time equally to all three different skills.

For example, if you have two hours to practice, I would plan my session as follow:

  • Stretching: 10 minutes
  • Full Swing: 30 minutes
  • Break: 10 minutes
  • Short Game: 30 minutes
  • Break: 10 minutes
  • Putting: 30 minutes

It’s also very important to set some goals and challenges during each practice session. You want to make your practice as enjoyable, rewarding and meaningful as possible. Most importantly, you want to have fun while doing it!!

Here are a few challenges for you these holidays.

Full Swing
  • Purpose: Aim and alignment
  • Equipment: Sticks, witches hats and three flags.
  • Set Up: Place targets (ie: a flag) certain distances out from the hitting areas, e.g. 30, 50 and 70 metres out, depending on your level and club you choose you use.  Create a ‘V’ or ‘fairway’ down the driving range using cones.
  • Points are awarded for each flag you hit past: 1st flag = 1 points 2nd flag = 5 points 3rd flag = 10 points – your balls need to land inside the cones to count and receive points
  • Hit 10 balls and record your score. Set a record and try beating it every practice session.

 

Short Game
  • Purpose: Aim, alignment and distance control
  • Equipment: Witches hats, cones or rope to create circles or use Hula Hoops.
  • Set Up: Create a bulls-eye about 20 metres away with three circles. Depending on your level you can choose to create larger circles for beginners.
  • Hit 10 shots at the bulls-eye and receive the following points: Outer Circle = 10 points Inner Circle = 50 points. Set a record and try beating it every practice session.
  • Try from different distances away and set score from a range of different distances.

 

 

 

 

Putting
  • Purpose: Distance control and Risk vs Reward
  • Equipment: Tape or string to create ladders.
  • Set Up: Set up ladders different distances apart to putt over. Use the ladders to create the three different boxes or zones.
  • Putt from a particular point and attempt to land the balls in the ladder.
  • Hit 10 shots at the bulls-eye and receive the following points, 1st Zone = 1 points, 2nd Zone = 5 points, 3rd Zone = 10 points.
  • You can introduce the ‘Snake Pit’ behind the 3rd zone, and if the balls go into the Snake Pit, the snakes eat some or all of your points.
  • Try from different distances away and set score from a range of different distances.

Parents – Let’s help grow the game together!

Parent’s play a vital role in helping to grow the game we have all come to love; and what better way to introduce your child to golf than experiencing that feeling of playing out on course together.

Through my own experiences as both player and coach, I have found that kids would much prefer to be out on the course chasing the ball and having fun instead of on the range practicing – unless you are continuingly challenging them with stimulating activities and games.

When kids are on the course, let’s try to imagine ourselves in their shoes. Here are some easy tips to make it a fun and enjoyable experience for both parents and kids out on the course:

  • Kids are never too young to be on the course playing – the sooner the better! When starting off I always suggest playing a couple of holes first – just so that they can get the feel of the game.
  • Tee up everywhere – let’s make it as easy as possible for kids! Teeing up will help with making better contact with the ball.
  • Get the correct equipment – having correctly fitted clubs will only make it easier for your child to hit the ball correctly. We all acknowledge that golf is not the easiest sport to learn so let’s set them up for success – imagine playing basketball with a 20kg medicine ball? Kids will only need three clubs to start with – a driver/fairway, a wedge and a putter.
  • Shorten the course as much as possible – get the kids to tee off from where you think they can get on the green for two. It will save time, help with speed of play and kids will not be discouraged and get bored of hitting the same shot and same club ten times over. Imagine playing a hole that’s 800metres long – it’s not fun!
  • Keep it simple and focus on the FUNdamentals – grip, posture and balance.
  • It’s perfectly normal to not hit every shot perfectly. Don’t focus on the mis-hits, instead let’s encourage and celebrate all the good shots. Let’s help them remember the ‘feel good’ moments that will make them want to come back again and again.

The Eastern Golf Club encourages families to play together as often as possible. Shark Waters provides a great course environment for families to golf together – it allows for flexibility in the interpretation of the rules, it accommodates all levels of golfers and it presents a fun environment.

I’m always available to have a chat about the progression of your child’s golfing journey; and the positive role you play in supporting this even if you don’t play golf – give me a call or come in to The Sports Shop for a chat when you are next down at the Club. 

Look forward to seeing everyone out on course.

 


Sergio’s Golfing Adventure

Last month, during my holiday to the US, I had the privilege and great honour to play The Bethpage Black Course. Ranked in the top 100 courses in the world, The Black Course has hosted two US Opens and other PGA Tour events; and will host the 2019 PGA Championship and 2024 Ryder Cup.

Arriving at the course you could feel the energy and aura in the atmosphere – you knew this place was something special.

Approaching the tee, golfers are greeted by their famous sign that says, ‘Bethpage Black is an extremely difficult course, only suitable for highly skilled golfers’. But, if I’m completely honest, it should say at the end of it ‘…….only suitable for highly skilled golfers such as Sergio Abreu’ – the challenge was set!

The course lived up to its name with its narrow fairways, mercilessly thick rough and slick greens that are superbly protected by strategic bunkering.  Add these facets to the course’s extreme length and you’ve got yourself a brutal test, even on the best of days.

To say I was excited to follow in the footsteps of some of the greats of our game who have taken on this course was an understatement – to do so with a score of 6 over par on the day (+6) was ‘icing on top of the cake’. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and highly recommend playing this course to any golfer visiting New York.

Another tick off the bucket list!

 


Why getting the right clubs for your child is so important for their development?

Starting kids off with the correct clubs is essential.  The biggest mistake parents make, regardless of the age their kids start playing, is buying clubs that are too big.  Clubs that are too long and heavy are guaranteed to be detrimental to the child’s swing sequence from the very start and may form habits that may be difficult to change.  It never hurts to play with lighter and shorter clubs.

Tiger Woods got his first fitting at the tender age of four, and his clubs were rechecked every six months thereafter.

“It was a big part of my job to help Earl keep clubs fit to Tiger,” said Rudy Duran, Tiger’s first swing coach. “Earl knew the importance of club fitting, and as a result we worked together to make sure that Tiger had clubs that fit him every year.”

There still are a few important things to consider when selecting your next child’s set.

Length

The key is to find a set of clubs that is the right length for the junior golfer, but also a set that the junior can grow with. Remember that it is all right for the junior to choke or grip down on the club.  A set of clubs where the junior only has to grip down an inch allows them to make a normal swing; anything further and the club is too long.

Shaft Flex

The main problem with the old cut down set of golf clubs is the stiffness of the shafts. When you take four to five inches of length off a golf club you make the shaft extremely stiff – this is the reason that junior golfers can’t hit the ball high with a cut-down set of clubs. Using light-weight graphite shafts has made junior golf clubs more playable and easier to hit.

Weight

If the club is overly heavy, your child will struggle to take the club to the top of the back swing. The struggle to get the club back causes a manipulation of the swing that will result in inconsistent shots. A lighter club will help the junior get the club in the correct position at the top and lead to an easily repeatable swing. The lighter the shaft, the easier it is to generate greater clubhead speed and therefore making it easier for kids getting the ball in the air.

Grip Size

If the grip feels like a baseball bat, it’s going to change the swing mechanics. Thinner proper junior grips will make a difference in your kid’s game.

Lastly, how many clubs does my kid need? If a child starts at an early age –  four or five years old, they need two clubs to start… a putter and a pitching wedge. Why a wedge instead of a driver? Because the length of the pitching wedge is short and it’s easy to get in the air. Longer clubs are obviously harder to get airborne and can lead to frustration. As the junior progresses, add a seven iron, then a hybrid, and then a three-wood or driver. Those five clubs will get them through their first couple of years of golf. Once the junior has enough swing speed to make a noticeable difference in distance between irons, then they need eight or 10 clubs in the bag.

As adults, we realize how tough golf can be and how much the right equipment can help our game. By keeping these considerations in mind when buying junior golf equipment, you can help your child play better golf, and more importantly have more fun on the golf course. Please don’t hesitate to Sergio Abreu for assistance with equipping your child with their golfing equipment. 

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