Tips With Todd

TIPS WITH TODD

Head Golf Professional, Todd Bailey, returned from the 2018 US Senior Open after an exciting run for the trophy. Congrats to Todd Bailey for finishing T24

11.12.18 "Using The Bounce"
As we transition into winter, our game presents different challenges as the elements start rolling in. The ball doesn’t go as far, the ground seems to stay soft or even muddy for weeks at a time, and the beverage cart girl doesn’t look as comfortable in the ski pants, stocking cap, parka ensemble in which she is bundled. While I can’t help you with 1 and 3, we can focus on how to be best prepared for those dodgy lies that are begging for a side of chili around the greens.
One word, Bounce.
We have to be extremely precise when striking the turf without it. The best way to expose the bounce on your wedges is to open the face of your wedge at address. The key is to strike the ground with the trail edge of the sole before the leading edge. This creates a skid into the ball and makes solid contact much easier. Use your normal chipping stance and stroke, making sure the hands stay ahead of the club head through impact, but instead of setting the club behind the ball as you normally would, open the club 10-20 degrees depending on the trajectory of the shot and the club you’re using. Opening the clubface adds to the bounce that is already built into the club itself, for added security from the chunks. We already do this for bunker shots around the greens, why not see the advantages that proper use of bounce gives us for the chips and pitch shots? As always, try it around the practice green to see how much higher and softer the ball comes out before taking it to the course.

​10.16.18.  "Get Out Of The Bunker"
There are hundreds of ways to play bunker shots around the green to get the ball close enough to the hole for a tap in. High with spin, low with run, chunk and run, drop on the green like a sack of potatoes, you name it, there are more options than holes on the course. Whether your goal is to just get out of the sand or put the ball into the hole, there are a few fundamentals that can help you improve, and with minimal practice, you can see better results quickly.  
  1. You first must have a reasonable expectation of how much sand is going to come out of your divot. By controlling the depth of the divot, you can control the entry and exit point of where your club interacts with the sand.
  2. Most golfers underestimate the speed it takes to propel the ball the proper distance. (Ladies, this means you!!) I believe a lack of confidence causes more poor shots out of sand than improper technique.  
To achieve both the precision and speed necessary to extricate yourself out of your sandy predicament and onto the putting surface, try to employ more wrist cock on the backswing and follow through to create the proper speed for the shot.  Done properly, this will help you stay centered and have a predictable divot location. 

If your course has a practice bunker, try this. As you swing the club back, make sure your club’s grip is pointing straight down at the sand while your lead arm is parallel with the ground. Mirror this position on the follow through to allow your wrists to hinge properly to attain sufficient speed. Make a few swings noting the start and exit point of your divot, and when you get comfortable enough, place a ball in the middle of where your next divot will be. Once you get more confident, you’ll be able to make a faster swing to vary the carry distance needed for all the shots around the green.

9.19.18.  "Staying in the Present"
How many times has this happened to you? You have three or four holes to go to finish an excellent round, or maybe even your all time low score. You begin to plan out the rest of the round like this…”If I par the last couple of holes, I can finally break par” or 80, or whatever. Your brain begins to focus on the finish line as your body is busy working on the current snap, hook and subsequent triple bogey. Professional golfers are not immune. My recurring nightmare happened at the Qualifying school one year when I allowed my brain to figure out that I was clear of the number by 4 shots with 6 to play. Three bogeys and a double in the next hour left me without a job for the next year.
 
The bigger the moment, the easier it becomes to slip out of the present, and that shift of focus will wreck your score as bad as breaking a leg on your downswing.  

"Okay, Todd, I hear you, but how do I stay in the present?"  "Am I just supposed to do it or is there a trick?" The answer lies in making a conscious effort to include as many of your five senses as possible to get you back into the “Here and Now.” Look at the trees to get a sense of what the wind is doing. Smell the grass or the smoke from a nearby barbecue. Listen to the birds or people talking in the background. Feel the wind on your face or the heat from the sun. These are examples that force you to think about what is going on RIGHT NOW, and if you can consciously focus on those tiny tasks, instead of a shot you may be faced with two holes down the road, you will give yourself a chance to experience minimal anxiety and be prepared for the shot that lies ahead of you. We all know it’s the most important one.  

8.31.18. "A WORD FROM TODD"

Do you have a routine?
I'm sure many of us have heard this from time to time, but it bears repeating. A consistent pre-shot routine sets you up for your best results on every shot. When you watch a professional event on television, it isn't hard to notice that each player will perform the same exact mannerisms before every shot they play. This is not only by design, but has most likely been perfected during practice to within fractions of a second. Why is this important? While each shot counts the same, many of them seem more important than others, and there are certainly varying degrees of difficulty within the course of a round. Some of these shots are relatively easy and others can paralyze us with fear, making it difficult to even pull the club back.

The pre-shot routine helps tie this all together. A difficult shot takes on less anxiety when it is followed by a familiar habit. When observing the professional on TV, that routine usually starts before the club is taken out of the bag, then begins the process that includes the same number of steps to address, same number of waggles, same number of looks, etc. This process may take anywhere from 5 to 30 seconds, but it is consistent from shot to shot, round to round, and year to year. Sometimes when that routine is disrupted, you will see the player put the club back into the bag just to start that routine all over. It is that important to them, and it should be to you as well.
 
A pre-shot routine can also help speed up the pace at which you play. Not only does indecision help to ruin shots, it can also add to the time that you're standing over the ball, or give you a mental checklist to follow when your brain wants you to speed up and get the shot over with. Many professionals can trace poor shots to not committing to their pre-shot routine under pressure situations. This is why most of them use their pre-shot routine before every practice ball they hit.  

Next time you're on the practice tee, take the time to monitor your own pre-shot routine. Study your favorite professionals and see what they do before each shot, and compare some of them with yours. Get a stopwatch or count out loud to see how long yours takes with the goal of having each routine exactly the same as the last. Practice this routine enough that you can do it without thinking about it on every shot, and you will be well on your way to more consistent golf and better scores.

8.16.18.
"For anyone who has played thi­s game with any passion whatsoever, you know that sometimes golf can be more of a mental struggle than a walk in the park. I applaud those who can hit a poor shot and step up to the next one without any conscious or subconscious thought about the previous disaster that put them in their current predicament.

There are millions of reasons why poor shots occur, but the main avoidable ones can be overcome before the swing takes place. I'm talking about making good decisions.

Do I hit driver across the dogleg to that tiny area or 3 wood in the wide part of the fairway? Do I play for my normal fade or do I try to pull off the miracle straight shot that I am able to hit one out of 10 times? Do I chip this or putt it? Do I continue with my swing while I listen to the argument three houses down from the tee box, or do I back off and start over after the distraction?  

All the aforementioned situations can put doubt in your mind. Doubt ruins swing rhythm. Doubt ruins focus. One doubtful swing can lead to multiple holes full of poor decisions, which can lead to an avoidable inflated score if you let it seep into your confidence. Play the shot that you are most comfortable with AT THAT TIME.

We all hit bad ones every time we play, its the poor decisions (the stupid shots) that pull you off your game into the abyss of golfing doom. Don't fall for it. Avoid the doom."