Posted by: Dana Rader | March 26, 2014

Teachable moments: By Dana Rader

Spring training is here for the 2014 golf season. Something to keep in mind for your golf season are three basic things.
First, know the numbers. That is understand your score and what areas need the most work and develop a plan to sharpen those skills. It is highly important to keep your playing stats so that you can see a pattern of where you need to put most of your work. For example lets say you are a good ball striker but you have an average of 36 putts a round. Your goal is to break eighty so lowering your putts per round is the best way to lower your score. You spend seventy-five percent of your time on putting and twenty-five percent on other areas of your game so that you can maintain and keep those skills sharpen.
Second, Great golf starts with a great coach/teacher. A teacher can assist you with swing and short game improvements in a fast and effective way. It’s just too hard to figure it out by yourself and even worse having your friends misdiagnose your problem and make it worse. A good teacher will equip you with some simple skill development tools, drills and practice plan for your over all 2014 goals.
Third, Play more golf! It’s hard to improve if you are not getting on the course on a weekly basis. Set a goal to practice twice a week and play at least once a week. Your golf game will get better as you continue to monitor your scores through out the season and make necessary adjustments in the weak parts of your game so that you are continually improving. Even if you can only play six or nine holes at least you are getting on the course and putting your practice to the test.
Enjoy the journey!
All the best,
Dana

Posted by: Dana Rader | August 28, 2013

Teachable Moments: August 28, 2013

Over the years of teaching this great game of golf, I have come to realize that there are four factors to a student’s ability to be successful in playing the game. First, help a student understand the importance of the fundamentals. Grip, stance, posture, alignment and ball position. Second, help them to create a playable ball flight through an understanding of the shape of their swing. Third, is an understanding of body motion meaning, pivot or turn.  Lastly, you must practice. You don’t have to spend hours practicing, but you have to spend quality time working on the right things. To go out and practice after reading a tip is a sure way to add confusion and frustration. Many times golfers are uncertain even if the tip applies to them.

  It is important to know that everyone’s golf swing is unique and that you must have a framework for how you build and maintain your swing. Too many thoughts, tips and advice are a killer for your swing and do not bring continuity, but will certainly bring confusion.    So why these four factors or principles? The fundamentals dictate distance and direction. What that simply means is before you ever pull the club back, if your set up is wrong it influences how far the ball will go and the direction. For many of us we can stop right there. If you can successfully set up to the ball, you can accomplish the next two factors. Without sound fundamentals, the foundation is on shaky grounds.     The swing shape and pivot are fairly simple to learn if the set up is solid and consistent. I spend most of my teaching days getting golfers to set up correctly to the ball. I work on balance in the swing and helping golfers coordinate upper body and lower body movement, and help them understand how their swing should be in terms of shape.    The next time you go out to practice ask yourself these questions: Am I gripping the club correctly? Grip controls the face of the club. Am I aligned properly to the target…you do have a target don’t you? Is my posture right and ball placement for the appropriate club? Am I standing too close or too far away from the ball? Before you worry about anything else in your swing make sure you get a teacher to get you on track to a fundamentally sound golf swing.

Best to you,
Dana

Posted by: Dana Rader | May 14, 2013

Lessons from The Players Championship

  I have asked several people that play golf as a profession what were the lessons they learned from The Players Championship. The most common answer I got was Sergio should have hit his shot on 17 to the middle of the green. While I somewhat agree with this answer I think there is a lot more to it than his break down on the 17th hole.

 I believe Sergio lost the Championship not because of 17, but because of his mind set. He was playing to beat Tiger and prove to the world he could do it. He criticized Tiger and caused some conflict with Tiger drawing a club out of his bag and the gallery applauding it. I respect both players and their golf abilities, but I also have to say that Tiger Woods proved once again to the world that he is a true champion. Tiger hit a terrible shot on 14 that cost him a double bogey. He could have given up, but instead he said to himself “I need to finish one under par” and that was exactly what he did.

 There are two mindsets according to PHD Carol Dweck. A fixed mind set and a growth mind set. The fixed mind set tends to blame everyone else for whatever happens to them such as a gallery applauding when Sergio was hitting his shot. The growth mindset says what can I learn from this and get better which is what Tiger did after his double bogey on the 14th hole.

  The lesson is to never give excuses a place in your golf game. No more windy conditions, bad greens, bad luck, terrible bunkers, slow play or bad playing partners, etc. For all the golfers out there, have a growth mind set with every round you play good or bad and leave the excuses out of your game forever.

All the best,
Dana

Posted by: Dana Rader | May 9, 2013

Teachable Moments: May 9, 2013 edition

  I would like to share a very simple alignment test that I have used for years with my students.  I discovered this by listening to my students comments regarding on course play and the difficulty they were having keeping the ball in play. 

  The test is to hit say a five iron to the far left side of the range to a specific target and then swing to the far right side of the range with a driver or fairway wood. You then move slightly left with another club and again select a target to the right. It is amazing to see that virtually no one passes this test. For right-handed golfers, when I ask them to aim on the far left side of the range, their alignment is off some forty to fifty yards. When aiming to the far right, their aim is still off some twenty yards off target, but not as much as the left side. As they swing more to the middle the alignment gets a little bit better. For left-handed players, it’s just the opposite with the same alignment errors. 

 Here’s the lesson I want you to learn. When you practice, don’t make the mistake of aiming to targets that are in the middle of the range and are easy for you to be comfortable with while you practice. It is important that you do random practice instead of the typical block practice, which is pounding balls one after another to the same target, or in many cases no target at all. Random practice mirrors more of actual on course play using different clubs and aiming at different angles.  Random practice develops your ability to adapt to different angles using your full bag of clubs not just the favorite ones. 

  When you do this test, take aim at a target on the extreme left or right side of the range. Before you hit the shot, place your club behind your heel (this gives a more accurate read of your alignment as opposed to your toe line) step back and take a look and you will see that your aim is considerably off.  Practice with an alignment aid for a while to get the feel of the correct aim and you will learn how to set up on all angles of the range, which will quickly transfer to the course. 

  Remember, make your practice more difficult and your play will be easier.   

All the best,
Dana

Posted by: Dana Rader | April 25, 2013

Nothing Takes the Place of a Good Golf Teacher

  Out of all the golfers I have taught over the years the one thing I see over and over is a poor set-up. I think the reason for this is the mindset that the swing is the reason for miss-hit shots, not how you address the ball. The set up is a chain reaction of things that can go fundamentally wrong with the mechanics of the swing because your body cannot function without some type of compensation.  For example, if your posture is slouched and knees too bent this will cause your body to slide or move up and down during the swing, raising you out of posture and causing a lot of erratic shot patterns. 

   Now, I could write a long description on how to set up to a ball, but it is crazy to think you can learn how to perform a skill properly by reading it. This is where I have to draw the line and say that golf is a skill and you need to have a teacher or coach to train you.  Reading lots of tips will only piece meal your swing and will continually keep you in a state of frustration. 

  And yes, I have personally written hundreds of tips on the swing, and I do so in such a way that it is simple and easy to understand. But, I also know that one tip does not apply to every golfer, and as I hope to help those who are searching on the web or through the magazines, I do know and promote that nothing takes the place of a good teacher.

   So my advice to everyone playing the game, take lessons and pick a teacher much like you would a Doctor, Lawyer, or Hair Dresser. Ask your friends, Google and other sources to provide a good recommendation. A good teacher will make the game more fun and remove all the confusion you may have about your swing, and put it in to order so that you can have more enjoyment of the game.

Posted by: Dana Rader | April 11, 2013

The Masters – April 11, 2013

  Today starts the first round of the Masters. It is my favorite tournament of all. There are so many lessons to learn watching the Masters from mental skills to mastery in the short game and the desire to win the most prestigious tournament of all.

  I think the thing most amateurs miss while watching the Pros play is how many times they miss -hit shots, spray the ball from the tee and scramble to make par. What separates good golf from great golf is performance, not their great ball striking.

 For example, I have a mini tour player that I have been working with for the past year totally rebuilding her swing. Her ball control off the tee was very inconsistent and her iron shots were erratic.

 After a lot of work, we have finally resolved her swing errors to control her ball while competing. The greatest lesson she shared with me was learning how to score while accepting her miss-hits and not so solid shots. What has really paid off for her is her understanding that most of the time you will not hit the ball just the way you would like to each time and to rely on all your skills to play the game, not just perfect ball striking.

  So my point for you today is watch and listen how many times the pros are screaming at their ball to go right, left, stop, hurry or simply look away in disgust.  When they hit that undesirable shot the great pros deal with the mistake right then and there and leave it behind without taking it with them to the next shot.  
  Remember, the most important shot in golf is the next shot.  To play the game well you must learn to adapt to mistakes, learn from them and let it go so it doesn’t affect the next shot.

  Enjoy watching the Masters this week- end and learn from their mistakes and miss hits and apply the lessons you learn to your own game.

All the best,

Dana

Posted by: Dana Rader | March 26, 2013

A Teachable Moment

I have spent the past thirty three years teaching golf. In all the years out on the range I have come to one basic conclusion for all golfers. You must have a coach/teacher to play the game and enjoy it.

 I played basketball in high school and had a coach at every practice and every game. Helping me with the mistakes I was making and teaching me new and better skills.

Golf is skill based and cannot be learned by reading a few tips or taking a lesson every three or four years or listening to your friends out on the course. The students that excel at the game are the ones that work on developing their skills through practice and ongoing support from a trusted coach.

How many lessons do you need? The answer is lessons are a lifetime in which the student continues to get their swing tweaked and their on course performance evaluated.

I have had so many of my students tell me “wow, I wish I would have taken lessons years ago but I’m glad I’m doing it now.”

 Once a good teacher instills a solid foundation with your fundamentals and mechanics, lessons become less frequent and the game becomes more fun. To get a solid foundation it takes time but the benefits are remarkable.

 Take time this year to work on your game and develop the skills necessary to have success no matter what level you play. When I see golfers out on the course with poor fundamentals I want to help them and tell them there is a better way to play this great game. You will avoid unnecessary frustration, injuries and most of all confusion.

 Enjoy the journey with the greatest game ever played.

Best to you,
Dana

Posted by: Dana Rader | March 11, 2013

A Teachable Moment

Tiger Woods victory yesterday was a defining moment for him I’m sure. He is back in the winner’s circle and his eyes are focused on the Masters.His comeback has many teachable moments for us all. I see three great lessons that that we can all learn from.

First, is his ability to receive forgiveness from fans, friends, family and from himself. Without forgiveness he would have no second chances in his mind and made the choice that what happens to you in life, even when you bring it on yourself, it can make you bitter or better. I think he chose the latter.

Second, he chose a growth mindset and used his failure to start fresh. A new coach, a new swing and a new attitude. One that would influence better decisions, choices and behaviors, both on and off the course.

Third, his work ethic. There is nothing in life without it. If you don’t work at your skills, no matter how much talent you have, you will never reach your full potential. I believe Tiger wants to win and does all the hard work to make that happen. Keeping his focus on the physical, mental, and emotional conditioning. 

Whether you are a Tiger fan or not, we can’t argue with the fact that he has risen from despair to the victory circle.  It took courage for him to do this and it will take courage for him to continue. We will all be watching to see what Tiger does next.

Best to you,
Dana

Posted by: Dana Rader | March 22, 2012

Golf is a Target Game!

In all the years of teaching I have observed one consistent problem that golfers have and that is the set up to the target. It all starts with learning how to walk in to the golf ball and set yourself up squarely to the target. When I watch a student walk in to a ball, I can quickly see they will have difficulty on the course aligning themselves to a target. In this blog I am going to provide you with three essentials that will provide you with a more effective process on how to walk in to the golf ball, or better known for addressing the ball.

First, when you practice on the range, steer away from the block style practice with an alignment aid such as a Dow rod. Although these tools are necessary when you are working on specifics  in your swing, they simply do not teach you how to align to the target. If you practice with an alignment aid or pay little or no attention to your alignment in practice, you will encounter a lot of difficulty on the course due to how the holes are designed with dogleg holes and tee boxes that align straight to the trouble and away from the fairway.

Essential #1: Implement more random practice to simulate more actual on course play. For example, take your driver and align to the far left side of the range. Once you hit the shot, check your alignment by going back to your address position and placing the club behind your heels. Then go back behind the club to see where you are aligned. Subsequently, aim to the far right side and do the same thing. You will see that you have difficulty aligning in those extremes and you can keep adjusting your body aim until you get the ball on target with the proper aim. Select hybrids, wedge shots, short irons and vary your target.

Essential #2: Walking in to the ball, stand about 10 feet directly behind the ball in line with your target. This is one of the most important steps. Many times golfers don’t get on that direct line and it skews the aim line. When you are directly in line to your target step to the left instead of walking in to the shot on the target line, you will walk in to the ball on the body line. This will assist you in establishing the parallel line. Here’s the real key, keep your head up looking at your target as you walk in to the ball so that you are connecting to the target not the ball. Once you settle in to the alignment you can adjust ball position and distance from the ball. The last thing you do before you hit the ball is LOOK at your target!!

Essential # 3: Transference! Take it from the range to the course. The true measurement of practice is transference to performance. These three essentials can be used for short game as well as full swing, and here’s the good news…it’s fun and it doesn’t take more than thirty minutes of quality focused time. So put away your iPhones and enjoy a practice session that enhances performance.

All the best,

Dana

 

Posted by: Dana Rader | March 6, 2012

The Fundamentals of Scoring

When I ask golfers to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their game, invariably I get a vague answer. These are golfers in the mid-to-low handicap range which is a bit surprising. I ask questions like how many putts do you average per round, fairways hit, penalty strokes and scrambling ability. They want to lower their scores, but are not sure how to do this because they don’t have enough facts about their game to know what to practice.

The most common thing I hear is more distance off the tee will cure their handicap woes and make them a better player. Now, hitting it longer off the tee is important, but what is more important is looking at your overall game factually and not guess at where you are losing the most strokes. Ball control, adequate distance with all your clubs, up and down off the green, and a good putting average is really the fundamentals of scoring.

Below is a guideline of five areas that will help you get the facts about scoring and is helpful at no matter what your level of play is. Every time you play a round of golf (18 holes) or two 9 hole scores combined, and can be on separate days, use this chart to get the facts. This is also helpful to share with your golf instructor so that they see the areas for greatest improvement and can manage your scoring with the total picture.

1.Putts per round: record the distance of each putt. This information will reveal two things. First, it will show if you are not chipping the ball close to the hole and you need more work on chipping or that you are getting the ball within six feet and not converting. For example, your total number of putts may be 36, but the facts are they should have been 30 because you missed a lot of three and four foot putts.
2. Up and downs (scrambling): record how many times you got up and down and the number of times you did not. This is very revealing and will help you determine where you are losing the most strokes.
3. Penalty strokes, ie., water, ob lost ball etc.
4. Greens hit in regulation
5. Fairways hit

Keep track of your stats over the summer and practice those ares that need improvement and continue to work on the areas that you are strong in. This will provide you with a blue print for success in your overall performance of your game.

Best to you,
Dana

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