The King Has Spoken – Take His Advice

I happened to catch an episode of “12 Nights at the Academy” with Kelly Tilghman this week and her guest was none other than the King himself, Arnold Palmer. I always stop what I’m doing and have a listen when Arnold has something to share and I wanted to pass along some words of wisdom from the King himself.

Ms. Tilghman asked him for advice on practice habits and focus for three different levels of golfer:

-A high handicap player

-A mid handicap player

-A scratch or low handicap player

I was very excited to hear what he had to say about each level of golfer because after all, Arnold is the King.

The first type of player he commented on was the High Handicap player. Arnold began with the importance of a good grip like his father showed him when he began playing and then stressed a high handicap player should always work on the basics: Grip, posture, balance, and solid contact.

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“If you work hard on the basics, the rest of the game will begin to fall into place.”

Great advice if you ask me, I think golfers are trying to do too much as high-handicap players, the basics are where they need to focus for sure.

The next player Arnold was asked to comment on was the mid-handicap player. The 12-18 handicap player that can get the ball around the course pretty good, but needs to shave off a few strokes to bring their handicap down. Arnold said that these players are already pretty good, but in order to get to the next level, they too must work hard on the basics:

“Working on the basics of the game allow the mid handicap player to progress to the next level more quickly. A mid handicapper will get more out of the basics than trying to do too much.”

Again, I have to agree that in my experience, mid handicap players are trying to do too much by trying to implement everything they read or see on TV, this will surely hold them back.

The last player Arnold was asked to comment on was a scratch player, or low handicap player. Arnold turned to Kelly and said:

“When I talk to a scratch player, I would tell them the same thing I tell myself when things are going bad, when I am struggling with my game…I do what my father told me and go straight back to the basics. I work on stance, alignment, balance, grip, and making solid contact. “When I get all these things working well, the game comes around pretty quickly.”

Once again…I have to agree. The low handicap players I work with are always trying to find something magical to bring them back when the game goes south. The answer is…as it is with every level of player…work on the basics.

Simplicity is the KEY to playing this game well; the more you try to complicate things, the worse it gets. I know this to be a fact, and when you hear it straight from the King, there should be no argument. I thought I would comment on this show because Center of Gravity Golf is built around the basics and a validation from Arnold himself, although not direct, is worth it’s weight in gold.

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The message here is pretty clear, work on the basics…keep it as simple as you can, get good at grip, balance, alignment, and solid contact and the rest will take care of itself. That’s how COGG is structured, and it works very well for any level of golfer.

Rob Bernard | Center of Gravity Golf | PGA of Canada Professional

What’s Your Battle Plan?

The “Game” of golf is really a strategic battle between you and the golf course you’re playing. As the golfer, you’re trying to get your golf ball into the hole and the golf course is putting obstacles and things in your way in order to make it difficult for you, “and” the golf course has Mother Nature on its side! Wind, rain, heat, bugs, pests, etc. are all there trying to throw your concentration off as you try to negotiate your ball around the course, taunting you into a loss of concentration and a poor shot.

It always surprises me how golfers go to battle with the golf course day after day with no specific plan of attack. A wise General once said: “It’s better to have a plan and be wrong, than to never have a plan at all”. Truer words have never been spoken, especially when it comes to the “game” of golf. I see a game of golf as a strategic battle with the golf course. In order to win, or even advance, you must have a plan of attack for the course, and follow the plan.

A Touring Professional will have a very detailed plan of attack for the golf course he or she is facing for that day in order to give them the best possible chance of beating the golf course on that day. The Tour Player dissects every hole, every shot, giving them the greatest opportunity to beat that particular hole they’re playing by making a birdie or better, sometimes they win, sometimes they tie (par)…sometimes the golf course wins, as long as the player wins or ties the majority of the 18 battles of the day, they win the war and collect a nice cheque.

Your battle may not be with Par, yours may be with bogey, or double bogey; it really doesn’t matter as long as you identify it and create a plan to win. The more of the battles you win, the lower your handicap gets, and the more challenging the game gets, hence the never ending lure of golf. I know it’s not fair to compare our game with that of the Touring Professional or expect to have as intricate a plan as they do; they have a caddie to help them map out and plan a strategy to attack the hole and they spend the hours of the day while we’re at work, practicing specific shots, yardages, and options to help them win as many battles as they can with the golf course.

If we are to start winning more battles, having and implementing a plan is the answer. We all know golfers plateau with their game…they become an 85 shooter, or a 90 shooter and they seem to stay there, never really improving. I truly believe (and I’ve seen it a thousand times) when you have and implement a plan for each hole you can and will improve on a steady basis, you really can’t help winning more battles.

The biggest problem we face is the guesswork that plagues us when we have an uncomfortable distance to carry the ball to the green, especially if there are hazards guarding the green that love to swallow up new white golf balls. Ponds, bunkers, streams, out of bounds, and countless other hazards put there to intimidate us, do just that.

The major reason they intimidate us so much is that we are always guessing at the shot we have to hit in order to avoid the hazard and get the ball safely on the putting surface. When we are guessing at what it will take to get the ball safely on the green we create doubt in our minds and in our stroke, inevitably miss hitting our shot creating another doubt filled shot or a penalty stroke if we happen to find a hazard.

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The majority of our extra shots in our golf games happen from inside 50 yards of the green. This is the area of the golf course where we need to possess, and implement a game plan. The average golfer in North America (mid handicapper) will hit on average 3 greens in regulation in a round of golf. This means he/she is in this “scoring zone” a minimum of 15 times during a round of golf. How many times have you been down in front of the green in 2 shots and then end up taking 4 (or more) shots to get the ball into the hole? THIS is where a plan will bring your game to the next level. The simple math tells us if you implement a plan successfully only 1 time every 3 times you attempt the shot, you will save a minimum of 5 shots off your scorecard. The more confident you become with the plan, the more shots you will shave off your score.

On a good ball striking day, I will hit 9 or 10 greens in regulation, in order for me to shoot even par or under par, my short game and finesse game plans had better be working, and they do!  If you are a 95 shooter now, once you implement “The Plan” you will be shooting in the 80s in no time.

Let’s get smart and create a plan that WILL change your golf game and lower your scores permanently. I have formulated, use, and teach such a plan that has proven to be a great success for thousands of golfers worldwide.

The COGG short game plan encompasses the 4 short games in golf:

The Chipping game

The Finesse game

The Pitching Game

The green side bunker shot, and Putting

(I know that’s 5, but I threw in the Green side bunker shot for good measure)  Understanding and putting this plan into action will virtually guarantee lower scores the first time you use it.

With Center of Gravity Golf you can take the guesswork out of your short games and start to win more battles and reduce your handicap…guaranteed!

 

Rob Bernard | Center of Gravity Golf | Former PGA of Canada Professional

But I Hit It Great At The Range!

I wanted to write a blog on these anguished cries I hear on a daily basis at the golf course:

“I was hitting my driver great on the range”
“I was sinking everything on the practice green”
“I wish I could take my range game to the golf course, what am I doing wrong?”

I have said it many times before, ”hitting a large basket of balls is not practice, it’s exercise.” Mindlessly hitting golf balls on the driving range will not make you a better golfer in the same way enjoying a Sunday afternoon public skate with your sweetie will not make you a better hockey player.

Professional golfers take their range game to the golf course on a daily basis because they practice like they play, every shot, swing and motion is done with a specific purpose in mind and a specific outcome expected.

Like every professional hockey or football team practices exactly what they want to accomplish in every possible situation they will face in the upcoming game, professional golfers do the same by creating, and re-creating situations they will face next time out, attaching a value to each swing, and creating pressure situations by forcing narrow parameters for tee, and approach shots and up and down situations from various difficult positions around the green. This puts game- like pressure on each and every shot with consequences for miss hit or poorly executed attempts. This type of practice prepares the player for game pressure situations where every swing counts and the consequences reflect on the paycheque.

When you practice with specific purpose, creating game-like situations and attaching a value to every shot you take, you will find it easier to transfer your range game to the golf course (and it’s more fun). This type of practice enhances the biggest intangible bullet in your arsenal…confidence.

I have witnessed countless talented players who hit it like pros on the range, but can’t put it together on the course and the reason is always the same, perceived pressure.

I say “perceived” pressure because if there’s not a cheque waiting for you at the 18th hole based on your performance then the only real pressure you should face is personal or peer pressure to perform that day, (and this is important) with no “real” consequences facing you at the 18th hole except maybe who’s buying the beverages.

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If you want to see real improvement in your golf game

-Practice with a purpose

-Focus on one thing at a time

-Download your COGG Practice Schedules & master your fundamentals

-Play your favourite course on the range

-Practice short game and scoring situations with the COGG “Plan”

This will give you the confidence to take practice sessions and free swing to the golf course.

And always remember, this is a game…have fun!

Rob Bernard | Center of Gravity Golf | Former PGA of Canada Professional

Indoor Vs. Outdoor Practice – What’s Better?

There has been much debate on the effectiveness of practicing or getting golf lessons in an indoor facility versus an outdoor driving range or practice facility. Until just recently, golfers had no choice but to find a spot on a range when they could and get some swings in trying to work on their swing; or just relieve some stress.

While a traditional driving range can be a wonderful place to spend an hour on a nice day, is it the best learning environment for a new golfer, or the best practice option for a serious player to hone specific skills?

Until recently, I would have emphatically said yes, but with the terrific advances in the technology of ballistic golf ball tracking and behaviour, my thoughts on the subject have dramatically changed.

Let’s look at the Pros & Cons list of the driving range learning experience verses the Controlled environment learning experience. 

Driving Range:

Pros:

– Readily available

– Fresh Air

– Plenty of room

– Sunshine

– Real life experience

– Familiar


Cons:

– Outside distractions: wind, rain, heat, cold, bugs

– Inconsistent surfaces

– No privacy

– Time constraints (darkness)

– Unsure of carry distances

– Unsure of trajectories

– No feedback on ball speed, or spin rates

– Poor learning environment

– Typically bucket sales driven (limiting time or adding expense.)

– Limited essential feedback if no Professional guidance.


Indoor Golf Simulator Controlled Environment:

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Pros:

– Readily available

– Open long hours any weather

– No outside distractions

– Comfortable, controlled  learning environment.

– Privacy

– Consistent hitting surface

– Instant essential feedback on  ball speed, trajectory, spin  rate, and carry distance.

– Able to see improvement

– Able to focus on skill sets

– Practice effectively without

– Professional feedback

– Able to practice “in-game situations”

– Ability to record results

– More fun = better learning


Cons:

– Unfamiliar environment

– May feel closed in

– Trouble adjusting to instant feedback

– May be uncomfortable with computer technology

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The indoor learning and training golf facilities today are far advanced from the simulators of just a few years ago. With the new tracking technology, better playing surfaces, and ever more realistic graphics than can mimic wind, fog, or rain conditions if you want, have in my opinion, eclipsed trudging down to the range to get in a few licks.

Golfers can now practice or play after work, before work, on lunch hours, even when they only have 30 minutes to spare.

As a Teaching Professional, this technology is a godsend. No more “rain outs”, “wind outs”, or” too hot” outs to mess up my teaching book. Not only is the environment controlled, I can teach until 11PM if I want, but the real advantage is the accelerated learning.

In the controlled environment of a new technology golf simulator, we can work on specific aspects of balance, consistency, trajectory control, ball speed, and distance control with very specific, instant feedback. This quickly builds golfer confidence and accelerates the learning experience.

For me the choice is clear, on a beautiful day, an hour at the range will always be an enjoyable distraction; but if you want to learn a solid golf swing and short game scoring prowess…head inside, take full advantage of new technology, Professional feedback, and take control of your learning process.

Learning a new skill, or perfecting an existing skill requires the full concentration of the golfer in order to retain the necessary nuances of balance, sequence, ball compression, and expected results into their “golf swing memory.”

Learn more with Center of Gravity Golf and see natural improvement in your game, no matter what your experience or skill level is.

Rob Bernard | Center of Gravity Golf | former PGA of Canada Professional