Handicaps

The game of golf has 34 rules and numerous interpretations in order to help all players post an honest score and protect playing partners and competitors from indiscretions or even honest mistakes. The number one rule in golf is “Play the course as you find it, and play your ball as it lies”. This simply means, don’t complain about the course setup, it’s the same for everyone, and don’t touch your ball unless you’re on the teeing ground or the putting green. I find that if you follow this rule, everything else will fall into place. It’s a good idea to own a $3.00 rule book and have a look at it from time to time; you might be surprised at how many times in a round of golf the rules will work in your favor. The largest abuse of the rules of golf and the honor system is the current state of the handicapping practice. The system itself isn’t flawed; the computerized handicapping system in my club works great when players enter their information correctly. The problem lies in what information goes in the system for computation, and what information never makes it in. The handicap system is designed to create an equal playing field for all levels of players in competition. This will allow an occasional player the opportunity to compete on a head to head basis with a champion golfer and will also group players of the same golfing abilities together for competition. This can’t happen in any other sport, tennis, hockey, football…there is no way an average athlete could compete head to head with the top players in any of these sports, this is one of the reasons golf is the greatest participation sport. There are two kinds of “Rules infractions” associated with handicapping, the first being the player who is too proud to enter a poor score for fear of ridicule from peers. This player is really only cheating him, or herself when competition time comes and they are paired with much better players. The other player is the one who omits his/her best scores from the handicap computer in order to inflate their factor and give them an edge in the competition. This practice is no different from an Olympic athlete using a banned substance in order to gain an advantage over his peers. This habit is wrong, and if caught, the athlete will always be branded as a cheater. As a Golf Professional, I am asked often to verify handicaps for competition and on some occasions have refused to sign player’s cards at the handicap they have posted as it may compromise my reputation as an honest professional.

As a fellow golfer and lover of the game, I ask everyone to do three things;
1. Post all your scores to your handicap system, good or bad.
2. Ask your Pro about “equitable stroke control” and apply it to your scores.
3. Ask your playing partners to do the same.

If everyone will do these three simple things, the RCGA Handicapping system will sort everything else out and our competitions will be fair, and more fun. For more information on your handicapping system, ask your local Pro or your local RCGA official.
Have a great rest of the season, and keep it on course.

Erin Hills Golf Course – A Commentary Piece

I don’t write commentary pieces much anymore, they really are only opinions and as you know, everybody has one. The first hot topic this week is Erin Hills Golf Course, the host of this years US Open.

The course has come under a lot of fire recently for the “unfair rough” where Tour Players may (god forbid) lose a ball or two… welcome to our world.

I really welcome a golf course like this for those players, they are the best in the world and everyone plays the same venue so what’s the problem? I believe the problem is that “golf” used to be; Fairways, Greens, Putts and now, on the big tour it’s more like; drive, wedge, chip, and putt. A venue that puts the emphasis on accuracy off the tee gives the Strickers, Pavins, and the Weirs of the PGA Tour a chance against the Watsons, Johnsons, and the McElroy’s.

Keep the ball in play and you will always have a shot! The course looks lush and beautiful right now, I sincerely hope the USGA / PGA Tour does not stress it out like they did Chambers Bay in Seattle, That was a very bad representation of the Chambers Bay course. Having played there I can tell you it is lush, green, beautiful, and a pleasure to play. It is not the bombed out pasture they showed us at the Open. Erin Hills looks very inviting as well, however if I was playing there this week, I couldn’t afford enough for caddies to keep me in golf balls.

The Over Thinkers

“I’ve got enough to think about without having to think about all that stuff… while trying not to think about anything.” 

You know who you are… but do you really? There are a lot of “over-thinkers” out there. Influential people that totally overthink this golf swing debate. It seems like everyone these days has an opinion on this. Well, here is mine.

First of all, let’s start at the top. Swing changes seem to be what I hear about the most on the PGA Tour. One of the oldest sayings among the best players in the world is “Dance with who brung ya”, which loosely translates to “let your body do what it’s doing”. I can see if you’re 156th on the money list. If all you have is a draw, I can see why you may want to work on a swing change in order to become a more complete player. Fair enough, your pay check depends on it… but then we must remember Tiger Woods.

TIGER WOODS went through a swing change…an overhaul. Now I agree, at this time, every year, his body is getting older. He has had to tighten things up and while he has, it has taken a little bit of time. However, he made it happen because he is an exceptional athlete. And then he did it again, and managed to do it again, and again…always using something he already had. Tiger was years ahead and the new generations of golfers had to catch up with him, rather than the other way around. When you start messing with what you naturally have, especially at that level, you’re taking a step backwards. In my opinion Tiger set the bar for others to meet, and would have continued to surprise these guys with a few “Tigeresque” outings, and win his share.

Setting a new standard in golf often requires the physicality of a younger body, in my opinion. To my knowledge, Jack Nicklaus didn’t change much about his game during his career but he set the bar that Tiger was after. I personally think Tiger can still continually win tournaments. He just has to be himself and naturally own it the way he has for decades instead of overthinking it and searching for new ways to win. As far as I know, Wayne Gretzky did not go through a skate change during his career. Instead, he set a bar through his entire career for others to follow the same way in which Tiger did in his early years. Gordie Howe also played well past his “prime” in the NHL without undergoing an overhaul in his game…so what’s the difference when it comes to golf? And why is it happening now?

I also think about how nobody tried to change Lee Trevino’s swing or his approach to the game. In fact, his approach was honed through thousands of hours that left him with blistered hands. It wasn’t done on a launch monitor in a lab. The same goes for Chi Chi, Calvin, Thorpe and many others. I feel like this whole process is getting too scientific and is less artful as a result. I’m not trying to say that all PGA stars overthink their golf swing. Notable golfers like Bubba Watson, John Daly, Jim Furyk among others have unique swings people talk about in the golf world but do not emulate.

Everybody’s swing is unique…and I mean everybody’s. It’s not the differences we should be talking about but the similarities. The similarities are what need to be applied when teaching the masses about how to achieve the right golf swing. It’s done by working on an organic skill set and not by a swing change or calculated tips.

In a previous article, I wrote about Arnold Palmer and how he was talking to a golf channel host about what players at different stages of the game should be working on. His answer for all four levels of player from a beginner to a professional was to understand and work on the basics. This is what you should be looking at when all else fails.

I get it. I have clients that believe that simple isn’t enough; even though it demonstrates that it works every time. These golfers believe that there must be more. Of course there is more! There is much more, but you just have to get there to find out. As you become more skillful from mastering the fundamentals, you will see your game improve to a point of consistency when you play. You then have the choice to devote the time and the effort to see how far you can take that – and that’s a whole other conversation. As long as you master the fundamental skills and their sequence, you can do a lot of things with the golf ball. It never happens the other way around.

I think the mainstream message today is based on the personal differences between the greatest players in the world. The only reason they have become the greatest players in the world is because of the tremendous effort that has been put into mastering the basic fundamentals of golf. They then took it from that point to create their own masterpiece – an artful way of swinging the club and playing that has set standards for the new generation.

This is what I believe: Teach the fundamentals well,  and let the student create their own game with this very sound base. I believe we as teachers have an obligation to take a look at the education model. I believe, and have also witnessed, that with increased attention to fundamentals, confidence levels rise and scores start to move in the right direction quickly.

I’m not saying that there is no need for the complicated scientific approach when it comes to changing a golf swing. I find it  interesting to see how there is a whole swing geek culture client base that has been built around this concept. Sorry, I just can’t get excited about it… I’ve got enough to think about without having to think about all that stuff… while trying not to think about anything.

The type of golfer I’m talking about needs to know how to stay still during the golf swing motion while repeating a sequence of 3 moves. That is all that needs to be accomplished in the golf swing. The rest is how your body puts it together as naturally and consistently as possible.

Then there’s Justin, and Jordan, and Sergio, and Ricky, and Rory – golfers who all possess monumentally beautiful golf swings that are extremely powerful and graceful at the same time. I’m really happy I got to witness this era in my life. I believe the golf swing has gotten as efficient as it can get and it’s becoming more athletic and precise…seemingly all in the quest for distance. They hit ridiculous distances, something the 95% of us will never see in our golfing lifetimes.

If you want to see how an efficient golf swing really works, watch the LPGA. These ladies put together technically perfect golf swings to produce incredible power and accuracy. It’s both impressive… and attainable. These ladies are incredible players that hit 7 irons from a reasonable distance and can shoot 26 under par over 4 rounds, of Championship golf… It’s truly impressive.

I have to close this discussion but the bottom line is: there will always be over-thinkers, there will always be someone with more technical data, but all of it is fruitless without sound fundamental skills as the base.

Let’s talk about that for awhile.

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 Is Center of Gravity Golf Too Easy?

I think as a species, we have been conditioned to believe that learning a new task or becoming proficient at a skill should be difficult. This idea is very evident at every turn when I watch golf videos or listen to golf professionals explain how to swing a golf club “properly.”

It seems to me that almost everyone has a different idea on how this should be accomplished, which just adds to the confusion and slows down the learning process. Any time there is conflicting information, the brain has trouble filtering out what it is supposed to tell the body, and frustration sets in.

Appreciating the Uniqueness of Golf Swings

Let’s think about something: Old Tom Morris used to get a featherie ball around the Old Course in St. Andrews in the 1800s in very few strokes without the aid of a swing coach, fitness coach, or nutrition coach. I love watching the old Champions Tour videos with Chi Chi, Lee Trevino, Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer, and a host of others – every swing is different, and they getting the job done with not a swing coach in sight.

With all the differences in the golf swings of the early 20th century, the similarities were glaring. Sure, every player had impeccable balance, a specific sequence to their swing and understood how to use geometry to control their ball flight – other than that, each and every swing was very unique.

The Modern Golf Swing Approach

It seems that today, we are trying to force a new belief system of perfection in a golf swing, with specific angles and positions that must be hit in order to produce desired results. While that may be great if your paycheck depends on your golf score and you have 20 hours a week to devote to practice, but for the rest of us, it spells disaster.

Having too many swing thoughts or conflicting information makes it impossible for the weekend golfer to improve or enjoy the game to its fullest. The golf swing is an athletic move, and while everybody has different physical limitations, every golf swing is also a little different. The Great Golf teacher Harvey Penick once said, “Beware of the golfer with a bad grip and a bad swing, for he has learned how to score with the swing he has.” I believe amateur golfers world wide should take heed in this comment, your swing doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be yours, and you have to own it!

Students and clients of Center of Gravity Golf have told me a thousand times: “This is too easy, I finally get it!” The reason is simple, I let them use what they have naturally and teach them the proper sequence to swing the club, and it never fails. Once a student discovers his way of getting it done, it never leaves him.

The principles are easy, the boss fingers control the clubface, the feet control the ground, the center of gravity triangle controls the geometry of ball flight and consistency, and the two power sources are the “engine” and the “piston” – put them in the proper sequence and you have a golf swing you can rely on.

So is Center of Gravity Golf too easy?  I think it’s just easy enough, but I’ll let you be the judge. A very smart man once said, “This is so easy…it just might work”, and it does!

 

 

 

 

How to Attract People to Golf: It’s About Making a Connection

Having been involved with the game of golf for more than 30 years now, including 20 in a professional role, I think I finally understand what the unending lure of this game is. To non-golfers, golf seems like nothing more than chasing a little white ball around a field, which leads to the typical reactions of “what’s the point?” and “how boring must that be!” Now I understand that the game is not for everyone, but let me shed some light on why it is so important to us golfers.

Anyone who plays golf on a regular basis – and if you’re reading this post you’re probably one of them – understands it’s not just a game. It’s a lifestyle, a passion, and an itch that begs to be scratched.

Living in Canada causes you to truly miss the game for 6 months every year, which I think contributes greatly to the fanatical Canadian golf culture. If you’ve ever stood in a Pro-Shop in April and watched 4 guys tee off in temperatures 2 degrees above freezing you would understand what I mean… it’s not just a game.

An opportunity for peace of mind

We now live in a world of “hyper connectivity” with our phones, tablets, Bluetooth, texts, tweets, Facebook and instant messages; the problem is…these really are a false sense of connection. Outside of work, real connection with other humans in a (non-fleeting) manner is quite rare these days. When it comes to golf, the nature of the game allows us to connect with friends, new and old, family, colleagues, clients, or even ourselves. Sometimes there is nothing more soothing and mind-clearing than a solitary 9-hole walk in the evening – just you and your clubs.

Along with the inherent challenges golf gives us, it is my go-to activity for a combination of exercise, fresh air, connection with nature, mental and physical challenge, and 2 to 4 hours of uninterrupted connection with one or more like minded people – all in the guise of a game.

For the fun of it

Golf is “me” time for everyone that plays this game, save for the very few who are playing for a living. For the vast majority of us, the score is very secondary to the experience of the sights, sounds, smells, and personal connections we make. I can attest that whether I shoot 65 or 85 nothing in my life is going to change. However, the “Fun Factor” increases the better I play that day, and that’s why I put in some practice time when I can.  We all know that one great shot will bring us back, and leisure time should be fun. Invest in yourself, learn a skill set that will produce more “great shots,” and increase your fun factor. It will always lead to stronger and better connections in business, and in life.

Getting involved

So with all of the personal and business benefits of being involved in the game at some level, why does it appear to some that the game is stagnant?  For my entire life in golf I have been told by friends, local pros, and the golf media that golf was hard…extremely hard to learn to play, and  that in itself was an early deterrent to playing as a junior member at my local club.

The fact that kids (juniors) were not really welcome at the golf course but were tolerated as an inconvenience to the regular playing members, the pros unwillingness to spend any real quality time with the junior players, and the constant bombardment about how hard and frustrating this game is were obstacles I was not willing to try and overcome as a potential new golfer, and instead turned to Tennis as my summer sport of choice. That was in 1973…How have we grown golf as a business and a lifestyle since then?

Back in 1973, the only access to golf instruction was the local pro, or if your dad made you watch “Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf,” a TV show pitting one great player of the day against another in a head to head contest. Each player would give a short tip and then showcase their talent. Then there was the gym teacher who couldn’t shoot 100, and even worse, friends who “thought “they knew something. Sure there were golf magazines and publications but it has been only the last few years with the internet and YouTube that the breakdown in the golf instructional industry has fully come to light.

In the history of the game, there has never been a standard of golf instruction that could be taught to the masses of players wanting to learn how to propel the ball downfield and get it into that little hole. Tennis has coaching standards, hockey has coaching standards, baseball has coaching standards – even swimming has coaching standards. Golf? Not so much.

Golf is the hardest game to learn as a child or an adultor is it?

Golf is a skill set, the same as any other sport or leisure activity. At the highest levels it is extremely difficult to perform under the pressures of anxiety and fear, but does that mean the basic skill set is too difficult for most people -in my 20 years of experience teaching golf lessons -absolutely not. The basic skill set needed to learn to play golf, to navigate a golf course with a golf ball or two is not rocket science, I believe anyone with a desire to learn to play, can learn (in a very short period of time) the basic skill set required to complete most golf shots, and I’ve seen it thousands of times. If a player then wishes to ascend in the ranks of competitive players, that skill set has to expand to include a repertoire of specialty shots and most likely mental training; and then there is the time commitment.

I believe the disconnect between the people who desire to play the game, and the people teaching the golf skill set is the real culprit in the stagnant growth of (what I believe) is the greatest game in the world; not for the potential of greatness as a player, but the connection with likeminded people, playing a non-violent, friendship building, nature-based game that can be enjoyed for a lifetime, and is never the same twice.

I believe we have to look to the educators to find common ground, and deliver a consistent message that does not contradict, or compromise the trust factor between student and teacher.

The governing bodies of the game (the PGAs) of the world of which I have been a member of for 20 years have (in my opinion) dropped the ball on an educational model for the masses, and left it to individual members to piece together their own methods, leaving much to interpretation, and creating a host of contradictions.

It’s a new world, and change is not only inevitable, it’s here…and if this sport is to thrive and survive, the burden rests solely on the “new” education model for the sport…whatever that may be.

“A well hit golf shot is a feeling that goes up the shaft, right through your hands and into your heart.” ― Ben Hogan

Rob Bernard, Center of Gravity Golf

PGA of Canada.

Golf: It’s All About Focus

Golf is the ultimate game of focus – let me explain. If you consider yourself a half decent golfer, and have a modicum of consistency and ease on the driving range but cannot seem to take it to the golf course and hit it the way you do on the range… you’ve lost your focus.

Focus is a very fleeting and fair friend. Whatever you focus on is where your brain takes you in that instant – whether it is a thought, a noise, or a shifting of your eyes. Focusing is not an impossible task; you do it daily when you drive your car, sing along with your favourite song on the radio, learn any new task, or do your chosen job or career to the best of your ability. What you focus on is what differentiates you from everyone else, so you can, and do focus on a daily basis… on something.

Golf is the ultimate game of focus, and there are so many things that can distract us from our job. It seems everything bothers golfers: the wind, a noise, a distracting thought, perceived pressure form peers. We have cell phones and e-mails that consume our focus. Finally, bunkers, water hazards, and out of bounds all take a portion of our focus, and golf course architects design these focus grabbers right into your playing field… on purpose!

Any or all of these distractions can spell disaster for your golf game. As I explained in my last article, Learn to tell the Story, you have to tell the same story to the golf ball every time you stand over it. If you lose your focus, and leave out a part of the story, or mix up the story in any way, the ball does not do what you want it to do – it does exactly what you told it to do.

In today’s world, losing focus is very easy with our phones, tablets, and computers. Access to information (even the wrong information) is easier than ever and bombards us constantly. Just now my phone dinged and I lost my focus on this story…ok got it back.

Focus Makes All the Difference

I believe I can hit a golf ball as good as anyone in the world – from time to time. I don’t play on the Tour because I can’t hold my focus from shot to shot, for 4 ½ hours on a daily basis, which is what it takes to be a professional player – and that’s why there are so few of them.

Everyone who plays this game for a living has tremendous focus and can win on tour at any given time, so why does Tiger, Phil, Rory, Jack, Arnold etc. win seemingly more than their share? They have better focus, not better skill. The skill level is exemplary on tour, but it’s not the equipment, it’s not the ball – it’s how well they can focus, and get the job done before something takes their focus and causes a bad swing or a bad decision.

Sports psychologists are a big deal today, and when you cut through all the jargon and exercises they have you do, they are really teaching you to focus, bring back positive emotions and a sense of ease standing over the golf ball. If you feel anxious, scared, or un-easy standing over a shot, you have lost the focus on what it is you have to do at that moment.

I had a front row seat to an LPGA event in Waterloo Ontario Canada this week and I have to tell you, these girls are awesome. They don’t hit the ball over 300 yards, or smash a 7 iron 175 but they very seldom miss a shot, and the 26 under par winning total for the week is proof enough of that.

I implore you to watch more LPGA golf tournaments. They don’t overpower a golf course the way the men’s tour does (they can’t…and neither can you or I). They actually have to plan and play the course strategically. Other than the methodically slow and smooth golf swings they all possess, it was their ability to focus that made me really take notice. With thousands of people gawking at them, television cameras watching their every move, and commentators’ dissecting their golf swings, their ability to focus on the task at hand is what makes them professionals.

The golf course should be a sanctuary, a place to go and forget all the distractions in life, and enjoy a game on the most beautiful and diverse playing fields on the planet. Use this time to enjoy nature and the camaraderie of like-minded friends. Being frustrated, throwing clubs, berating yourself, and ruining everyone’s day is not the peaceful pastime golf was designed to be, especially when you pay good money to be able to play.

Tiger Woods’ dad not only trained him to swing the golf club properly and manage his game, but also used to try and distract him every chance he got on the golf course, even using an air horn on occasion. He was training Tiger to focus on the task at hand and not let anything distract him, emotions, noise, surroundings, or elements. Skill sets aside, this is why he is #1 in the world.

Now I know you’re probably not going to be able to focus like a Tour Pro. I surely can’t, but I can focus enough to play a decent game and keep it around par, some days I even dip into the 60s and have a 63 scorecard from Mexico on my office wall…but I can also throw in an 80 here and there. My point is, the more you can focus for 10 seconds or so on what you have to do, and don’t be distracted by outside influences, noises, or the worst distraction – wondering where the ball will go and taking a peek before you finish what you started – you will soon be in control of your game.

Center of Gravity Golf teaches you to control your focus until the job is completely done… then you can look down the fairway at another good shot, just like the pros.

Work on focus, and completing the job at hand without distraction, and you will see that soon enough, you will be surprised at a bad shot, and not when you hit a good one. Now you’re on the right track!

 

 

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.

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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!

 

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Rob Bernard | Center of Gravity Golf | 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!

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