ConnectingWomen

 

Reading Putts

Reading PuttsAs we all know, the quickest way to lower your score on the golf course, is to practice the short game.  Yet many golfers prefer to hit golf balls at the practice facility or play 9-holes rather than practice putting.  When practicing, remember putting is all about distance control - so it's more important to get comfortable with this, before worrying about which way a putt will break.

To begin on the practice green, roll golf balls to different holes with your hand rather than with a putter.  This will help you get an idea of the speed of the green. 

Once you have a feel for roll and speed, you can work on reading greens.  This begins as you walk toward the green.  Look for big slopes and pick a place where you want the ball to finish (hopefully near the hole.)  Again, roll a ball toward a hole and see if it does what you thought it would.  Now hit the putt and watch the ball to learn what it does.  Reading greens is based on practice and experience - so take 30-minutes each week during your golf season to practice putting.

Some good drills include practicing from one putter-length from the hole (probably a 3' putt since most putters are 34"-36" long.)  See if you can make 10 putts in a row from this length.  Once you master 8 or 9 out of 10 putts, move to two putter-lengths and try to make 7 or 8 out of 10.  If you miss a putt, go back to one putter-length and try for 10 again.  This builds confidence in your putting and is much more productive that standing at one side of the practice green and hitting giant lag putts at holes from 30' away.   

When you transition to the golf course greens, your goal is to have two putts or less, so make sure you give the first putt a chance to make it close to the hole so you have an easy second putt.  Practicing speed and distance control will help you achieve that goal.

 

Understanding Green Speed

Green SpeedYou can probably recall a round of golf where you putted well, maybe even made a few long putts and commented that you “liked the greens.”  This is probably due to the fact that the green speed – which is the condition of putting as it relates to ball-roll distance – suited your putting stroke.

The speed of a putting green is measured by using a Stimpmeter – a tool used invented by the USGA and used by golf course superintendents to make a standard measurement of the relative speed and uniformity of the putting greens.  If a green has a long ball roll when measured with the Stimpmeter, it is considered fast and if the green has a short ball roll, it is considered slow.  Its purpose is to keep the greens as consistent as possible throughout the golf course. 

While a golf course superintendent tries to maintain that consistency in the green speed, it’s important to know that green speed changes all the time.  Even if you play the same course multiple times a week or during the month the green speed is likely to change.  Green speed not only changes from month-to-month, or day-to-day, but even within the day from hour-to-hour due to the weather environment and how the grounds staff maintains the green. 

Weather and environmental conditions like temperature, humidity, the sun, moisture, type of soil, time of day, etc. all affect the speed of the green and how the ball will roll.  If you play early in the morning when dew is present on the greens, they will roll slow.  As the temperatures increase during the day and the greens dry out, the speed of the green increases.  How the greens are maintained will affect the ball roll as well, depending on the type of mowing height, rain or irrigation on the greens, if the greens are rolled and how much fertilizer, topdressing and aerating is done to the greens.

Knowing that the green speeds vary from day-to-day will help you on the course.  Take time to visit the practice green before you play to get a feel for the green speed.  Hit some long putts and watch how they roll.  If your ball traveled well past your target, you may need to adjust for fast greens.  The opposite is true if you hit a putt that doesn’t get to the target – you may be playing on slow greens.  Take this knowledge to the course and be prepared to adjust your putting stroke if the green speeds change during your round.

Mentor New Golfers

MentoringAs part of the EWGA theme for July “Mentor New Golfers Month” we are pleased to partner with The First Tee for a third consecutive year.  The two national organizations are proud to come together to help increase female role models and mentoring opportunities.  

Many EWGA Chapters and The First Tee chapters are partnering to host events throughout the year to support mentoring activities, especially during July as both organizations focus on a Mentoring theme during July.

With EWGA Chapters in 108 communities throughout the United States and approximately 170 The First Tee chapters nationwide, the partnership is a great way to increase female participation through a welcoming, non-intimidating environment.  For the past two years, EWGA Chapters nationwide have worked with their local chapters of The First Tee through a variety of events to mentor young golfer participating in The First Tee Chapter events.

Last year, more than 35 EWGA Chapters partnered with their local The First Tee chapter to conduct special events for female participants and contributed more than $21,000 to support The First Tee.  In addition to traditional nine hole playing opportunities where EWGA members could mentor young women, some activities included hosting a golf fashion show, collecting golf equipment for the youth to use, a girls night out on the golf course and even hosting an LPGA Tour player at an event.    

The EWGA is proud to help The First Tee’s “Growing Girls Through the Game” initiative that will positively impact the lives of countless young women who would not otherwise have the opportunity to grow through the game of golf.

Another opportunity to mentor new golfers on the course is through the EWGA Grads to Golf program, designed to introduce MBA or graduate students to the game of golf.  EWGA Grads to Golf is a six week program that combines classroom presentations with hands-on golf instruction.  It also includes a Clubhouse Orientation designed to make a new golfer comfortable at the facility and on the course.  The program culminates with a Graduation Scramble – where local EWGA members are paired with the students for a 9-hole on course event.   This is a great opportunity for both on-course as well as off-course mentoring.  To start or help with a local program, contact Le Ann Finger, EWGA Director of Player Development. 

We all enjoy playing golf for a number of different reasons, but the best one is introducing someone new to the game and helping them navigate the golf course as their mentor.  Have fun!

(Photo Credit: The First Tee)

USGA PLAY9™ Days

Play 9 join golfers everywhereFor the third year in a row, the USGA is sponsoring and promoting PLAY9 Days across the United States.  This year, however, rather than focusing on a specific day, the USGA has designated the ninth day of each month as PLAY9 Day throughout the golf season.  (July 9, August 9, September 9 and October 9). 

Launched in 2014, the USGA encourages golfers of all ages and abilities to take time to play 9 holes.  While many non-golfers state time and money as reasons they don’t play golf, this campaign is designed to encourage people to spend two hours on the golf course playing, rather than not playing at all.

EWGA Board Member Jon Last from the Sports & Leisure Research Group shares a report with the USGA that states 60 percent of golfers perceive that 9-hole rounds are a great way to introduce non-golfers to the game.  It’s a great way to experience the game, without consuming large amounts of time to play or when time does not allow for an 18-hole round.

Some benefits of playing 9-holes include:

·        Less time commitment to play 9-holes than playing 18 holes

·        It helps new golfers learn the game’s fundamentals, Rules and etiquette in a less intimidating manner

·        Golfers may post nine-hole scores for handicap purposes

·        Nine-hole rounds may be more cost-effective than an 18-hole round

More than 30 percent of the public courses in the United States are nine-hole golf facilities and 90 percent of 18-hole public facilities offer rates to play nine-holes.  Building on the success from the first two years, the USGA hopes to increase awareness and have more facilities and golfers participate throughout the summer and fall months this year.  Golfers are encouraged to share their experiences on social media and post photos using the hashtag #PLAY9Golf.     

USGA Executive Director Mike Davis states, “What we love about PLAY9 is the opportunity to welcome more people – both recreational golfers and non-golfers alike – to enjoy the great game of golf.”

What to Expect When Taking a Golf Lesson

Golf LessonsYou’ve made the decision to take a golf lesson and carefully selected your PGA or LPGA Professional.  Now what can you expect from that lesson?

Your professional should ask you what goals you want to achieve from the lesson or series of lessons.  He or she should ask about your playing history – how long you’ve been playing and if you prefer to be a casual golfer who plays a few times a season or if you have the desire to compete in events locally, regionally or nationally.  A good professional will always ask if you have any physical limitations – do you have back, shoulder, hip or knee injuries, etc. that will prevent you for reaching your full potential with your golf swing.

You have hopefully engaged in friendly conversation with your professional so you feel comfortable with each other.  Think of your instructor as your friend and treat him or her as you do your other friends and create a positive experience.  If your goal is to get better, help the instructor understand what that means.  We all want to hit the ball farther and straighter, but break it down to manageable things – so you want to stroke your putts better?  Maybe you want to hit bunker shots better or hit pitch shots more crisp.  Whatever your reason for asking for a lesson, it should be communicated to your professional.

You should be “moved forward” in your golf progress – meaning there should be and understanding of what causes problems in your golf swing and how to identify it and correct it.  A good professional will work with your swing and not expect you to swing like someone else.  He or she will also give you one or two things to concentrate on during the lesson and ask you to practice it on your own between lessons.  Think back to grade school piano lessons:  If you didn’t practice between lessons, you were just paying for the teacher to watch you play at each lesson.  The same holds true with golf lessons – don’t let your precious time with your professional turn into “supervised practice.”

As we discussed in the article last week in “How to Select a Golf Professional,” your instructor should provide feedback that is not too technical (unless you like technical advice) and should listen to your comments and feedback as well.

You professional will help determine your learning style – if you are a visual learner or kinesthetic learner.  You may be a visual learner who appreciates being shown how to swing with the help of mirrors, video or demonstrations.  Perhaps you are a kinesthetic learner who benefits from how things feel and the use of teaching aids to help with how temp and timing feel.

Your lesson will end with the professional reminding you what you learned and what drills you can use during your practice sessions between lessons.  Be willing to practice and take more than one lesson.  This is an experience designed to help you improve and play your best, not a one-time, quick fix.  Enjoy your time with your professional and learn as much as possible about the golf swing and playing this game.    

(Photo credit:  SuzyWhaleyGolf.com/Montana Pritchard)

How to select a Golf Professional

LPGA PGA Professional·  Trust and personable – just as you would select a medical doctor with whom you feel comfortable, you want the same experience with your golf instructor.  Ask for references from other golfers or from people where you play.  The golf professional should be compatible with you as far as mutual goals, swing philosophy and personality.  

·  Communication skills – make sure your golf professional explains terms or the swing concepts without being too technical (just as you don’t want a doctor to use detailed medical terms).  You need to understand the concepts and ideas from the golf professional without him or her being more technical than you are comfortable.  If you don’t understand a concept or comment, but sure to stop and ask for further explanation.

·  Credentials – seek golf instruction from PGA or LPGA Professionals.  Both associations offer extensive training and education for their Professionals – not only to obtain certification but also to maintain their credentials.  You may wish to learn from a well-established Professional rather than a newer Professional – keep in mind the price for the lesson will vary according to the instructor’s credentials as well.  A newer instructor will have lower hourly rate for a lesson than an established instructor.

·  Teaching Aids – many Professionals use teaching aids or swing aids to help you feel the difference in your swing or the concept your instructor is trying to explain.  They are designed to provide feedback to you, to help you improve.  Many professionals have a staff bag full of fun teaching aids – a good professional will explain swing concepts to you by sharing various swing aids. 

·  Technology – in the past, golf lessons were even more expensive if your lesson included video.  Now with the advancement of technology in the golf instruction space, you not only should have a video of your swing, but it will likely include feedback on your ball flight.  Ask your professional if your lesson includes ball flight monitoring and if so, how you might access the video, etc. after your lesson.

·  Enthusiastic – your golf professional should be enthusiastic and make the lesson fun and educational for you.  You should see his/her passion for the game of golf and his/her desire to help you get better.  Avoid a golf professional who treats you like a number and is eager to get to his/her next lesson.   

·  Variety of learning opportunities – ask your golf professional if he or she offers other types of instruction in addition to individual lessons - such as group lessons, clinics, playing lessons or playing in Pro-Am events.  Many will offer a special rate if you take a series of lessons (three, five or more lessons).  Group instruction, while not as personal as one-on-one instruction, offers you a chance to bring a friend and learn in a group setting, which should be less expensive than an individual lesson.  Some professionals offer instructional clinics that focus on certain parts of the game – short game, putting, bunker play, etc.  When you are ready to take what you learned on the practice tee to the course, ask about a playing lesson.  You will pick up all kinds of tips and course management ideas that help you while playing.  Finally, when you are ready, many professionals are invited to Pro-Am events and look for players to compete on their teams.  This is a great way to show what you have learned while having fun at the same time.

Next week we’ll talk about what to expect when taking a golf lesson and how to get the most out of your instruction time with your golf professional.

Healthful Golf Snacks

Healthy Snacks for Golf

For years the standard golf course “snack” at the turn was a hot dog, with a bag of potato chips and a soda to complete the “meal.”  That was long before chicken salad wraps, roasted almonds and kale chips.  Golfers today have more options when it comes to food and beverage offerings making it easier to select healthful food options on the course during the round.

Eating properly on the golf course is important to maintain your energy level and avoid drops in your blood sugar levels that can cause you to “crash” and not perform your best.

While many golfers would prefer a frozen Snickers bar, here are some healthful golf snacks many golf facilities now offer for you to purchase at the course that provide protein and energy during your round:

  • Nuts– Almonds, cashews, pistachios, peanuts, pecans, walnuts, etc.  If you like sunflower seeds, please don’t dispose the shells on the golf course (no one likes to putt through or remove sunflower seed shells on the putting green.)  You can add raisins, craisins or other dried fruit to make your own golf “trail mix.”  These are easy to make and store in a Ziploc bag and keep in your golf bag.
  • Nutritional snacks– granola, granola bars, energy bars, trail mix, chickpeas, edamame, kale chips, etc. are all healthy snacks that are easy to pack and make for a quick snack while playing. 
  • Veggies– Carrot sticks, celery, cucumbers, etc.  You can always bring a small container of hummus for dipping the veggies.  Some veggies are harder to transport and keep, but in general they are great to satisfy your hunger during the day.
  • Hand fruit– Apples, (cut into wedges), orange wedges, bananas, grapes, berries in yogurt, etc. are great to eat on the golf course.  They are easy to keep in your bag until you want a quick snack and are pretty easy to eat between shots.  Fruit gives you energy, without a crash, which is why you see many Professional golfers eating bananas and other fruit during their round.
  • Beef Jerky– this is a great golf course treat that comes in a stay-fresh bag and provides a lot of protein.  There are some varieties that are flavored as well, if you like spicy or Cajun jerky – look for all-natural brands that don’t have MSG, salt or other chemicals.
  • Popcorn– a fun and easy snack to have in your bag either in plain, cheese or carmel.  If you like the cheese flavored, avoid the cheddar (orange) as that residue from your fingers doesn’t look good on your golf shirt!
  • Cheese cubes or cheese sticks– these offer a good source of protein and carbohydrates and are easy to bring since they come in individual packaging.  Not just for toddlers anymore!
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches– a quick bite of a PB&J sandwich provides protein as well as 27 percent of a person’s recommended daily intake of fat.  Smuckers makes a fun version of a “sealed crustless” PB&J appropriately called “Uncrustables.”  You can find them in the freezer section of the grocery store available with grape, strawberry, raspberry jelly or honey with peanut butter on white or wheat bread).   Throw a frozen Uncrustable in your bag or purse and in 30-minutes you have a nice peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Regardless of what you buy or bring to the course, making healthy choices will help you to stay your best during the round.