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.

What are Golf Lessons Worth anyway?

Okay…It’s true, you do get what you pay for…but only to a point.

Why am I writing about the cost of golf lessons?…Because they range from “free” to “ridiculous” and everywhere in-between. I remember as a newly minted (small p) “golf pro” I would listen to other Pros, read some books, study magazine articles, and try and make sense out of what I was hearing before regurgitating it to an unsuspecting client, who trusted me with his $40 bucks, and his golf game. This was in the early 90s and for the life of me I didn’t understand how I warranted $40.00/hour. Yes…I went to golf school, graduated on time, acquired my Class “A” status and became a Head Professional in the shortest amount of time you could do it, (in the present system). So why did I feel this way as an apprentice / assistant pro?

I remember honing my communication skills on Jr.s and beginners, I had written out a basic lesson plan, based on every other basic lesson plan I ever saw, (Grip / Stance / posture, blah blah) and while the lesson plans were similar, I made it up from there…I had to. Now I’m not knocking the educational system for Professional Golf Instructors (or maybe I am) we did learn how to run a Pro-Shop, buy from the merchandise show and suppliers, run a golf tournament, tee sheet, do books, keep track of inventory, fix and sell equipment, and most everything else required to run a golf shop for an owner or a board, or a committee…including food and beverage, but there was (is) one glaring omission.

Nobody EVER taught me (us) how to teach, what to teach first, in what sequence we should teach it for optimum retention, what words we should use and why, and what is the fastest way to create a level of competency in a new (or seasoned) golfer. After graduation, I was hired to teach in the program I just graduated from, so I got an inside view of the process. Now after you graduate your 3 year course, you can take a teaching and coaching certification course, of which I became a facilitator. OK here we go, let’s go learn how to do this!

Disappointing is the word I use to describe the process; not that it was wrong, or made false statements, but it was more about the psychology of teaching than the act of teaching itself. We discussed how we would talk to a Lawyer as compared to a Plumber, which approach would work best with an endomorph, vs. an ectomorph, (body styles and shapes). We discussed coaching of elite athletes, nutrition, cross training exercises etc…but nothing on why we grip the club the way we do, or anything else actually. We did have a guest lecturer or 2 on teaching, I remember one Pro said (and I never forgot this) “never do anything at the expense of balance”. Excellent advice, but nothing on how to maintain balance, or what things throw it off…

At the conclusion of the course, I left the new instructors with the only piece of advice I could (that was not in the curriculum) “When you say anything to a client, be prepared to have an immediate, solid, and common sense answer when the student asks…why?” something I’ve prided myself on as a teacher of the game.

I think we should have our own Hippocratic Oath…”First, do no harm” , but I believe that ship has sailed. A golf instructor (like any professional instructor) should be able to back up what is said, in easy to understand terms that make sense to the client, without contradicting or convoluting the message.

Anyone who wears the PGA logo is “allowed” to teach and charge (what the market will bear) for golf lessons, but only about 10% are classified as Teaching Professionals, who make it their business to know their craft well enough to to warrant the designation “Teaching Professional”.

Just because you’re getting paid, does not make you a Professional in all cases. Then there are the federations of “Golf Teachers”, who take a course, shoot a score, and are then certified to charge (what the market will bear) to pass the knowledge along. Now I have met, and am friends with a few these teachers, and I have to say some of them are great teachers, who hone their craft, design templates and follow specific teaching guidelines to get from A to B…and stick to their guns…but they are very much in the minority. It has been my experience, most are after the quick $50 bucks and really don’t know why they say what they say. (just an observation)

So how does this translate to price? The FREE teacher, the low (and sometimes medium) handicap players who read an article and is now an expert I feel do the most harm in our industry. If I help my buddy out by changing the brakes on his car, he’d better be careful cause there will always be parts left over, and adding insult to injury, the message is second or third hand and most likely inaccurate. (the nicest way I can say that). If you want / need golf lessons, at least ask for referrals, try and understand the teacher’s process…if there is one, and ask a lot of WHY questions, especially if you don’t fully understand.

Then there is the Elite Teacher…who charges anywhere from $500.00 / hour, to $30,000.00 / day…really?! What super secret, magic, potion are they doling out for 30 grand a day…But; they get it, and more power to them.

So how much is a Golf Lesson worth? It seems whatever you will pay…will the lessons work for you?…maybe, if you stick to the message and don’t continue the search for the silver bullet. What’s a fair price to pay for a lesson?…again, consider the source.

It is my opinion, that we start injecting some common sense and consistency into the quagmire of golf instruction available to us today. Mainstream golf media shows and tells us all about the best players in the world, how they do what they do, and why we all should try and emulate them…I can’t and don’t want to try to swing like any player on any tour…why? I’m not them…muscle structure, flexibility, strength,…all variables. Learn the fundamentals…there are 3, learn the swing sequence…there are 3 pieces, craft a scoring plan for ALL shots based on a repeatable series of moves that does not contradict anything you learned prior, and stick to your guns.
That formula will guarantee success and your lessons (whatever you paid) will be more than worth the time and dollar investments.

Rob Bernard
Center of Gravity Golf

You’re going to get worse before you get better!

Being a golf professional for almost 20 years now and watching, listening to, and performing tens of thousands of golf lessons, I have to call bull&*$% on that statement.

I have seen that statement written, and have heard it from many sources and I’m here to tell you once and for all it’s simply NOT true! If you are trying to change something, and get the right information on what it is you absolutely HAVE to do in order to strike a golf ball with some consistency, you will improve immediately, and continue to improve as you work on the basic fundamentals and understand what it is you have to get done every time, more on that later.

I believe this statement comes from the PGA Tour, and articles describing the best players in the world, the difference is, they are trying to undo positions in their golf swing that has been honed with countless thousands of practice balls and hundreds of hours perfecting what got them to the tour.

When you read about, or observe a Tour golfer trying to make changes in their swing, they are undoing hundreds of hours of perfecting something different, and while it seems they are struggling trying to make cuts and implement at the highest level of the game in the world, we see that as a digression in their swings. This is simply not true…they are still among the best players on the planet while they make the change, but they all have one thing in common…the basic fundamentals and their intimate understanding of cause and effect is still in tact while they make seemingly minute changes in their delivery of the golf club.

As an amateur player trying to get to the next level of play, whether it’s breaking 100 / 90 / 80 or getting to a single digit handicap, it all comes down to your understanding and implementation of the basic fundamentals of consistent ball striking.
Center of Gravity Golf focuses you on the three basic fundamentals of golf before teaching you the three pieces of the golf swing and the proper sequence they go in. If the three basic fundamentals break down, it doesn’t matter how pretty your swing is or how much your equipment costs, you will not improve… period, and the best thing is…EVERY miss hit shot can be traced to one of the three fundamentals.
Success in YOUR golf game (whatever level success is for you) depends 100% on how good you are at three things…how well do you maintain your Center of Gravity triangle as you swing the club around your body. This geometry is controlled by 3 things 1) boss fingers, (controls where the bottom of your swing happens every time), 2) Your feet (which controls the base of your triangle) and 3) your face, (which controls the side-to-side motion of your triangle). The better you get at these three things, the better you get, it happens immediately, and only improves every day until it becomes automatic.

Professional players work on these fundamentals every day, and that’s why they can make changes to their ball flight at the highest level and still hang with the best players in the world, their fundamentals are practically flawless, they understand what they are and how to control them. Conversely…when they get away from the basic fundamentals of consistency, the struggle is almost unbearable for them, sometimes causing injury and always causing confusion. This was never so clear to me after watching our Canadian hero Mike Weir try to make changes to the fundamentals, and we all know how painful that has been for us to watch.

So don’t fall into the trap of (it has to get worse, before it gets better) follow the Center of Gravity golf system, work on your skill set, and stop looking for the silver bullet tip, it just doesn’t exist!
Play better today…

Tiger – Two sides to being “The Greatest” When Athletes are viewed as Role models

While we all know commentary is nothing but an opinion shaped by perceived ideals, morality, and values stuffed into our sponge-like brains by our caretakers, media, and religion, while we struggle to develop our personality.

That’s why I never bought into the whole “Role Model” moniker thrust upon any one of us who falls into the “extraordinary person” category. The problem I have with that is the person is usually “extraordinary” at only one thing. Take Tiger for example, The media seems to feel we need to see these people being “people” outside of their profession we all love to watch. I don’t need to see Tiger anywhere else but the golf course, that’s where he shines…not in the tabloids. Magazines saying“What’s wrong with Tiger?” I’ll tell you what’s wrong with Tiger,he’s human.

Why do we have a “build em up…and take em down” attitude these days with athletes?…and don’t say it’s because of the money they make. They only make as much as the people who pay them based on what WE will spend because of their talent. Eldrick was raised to become Tiger, and had a very different experience than most of us. Judging him for human indiscretions simply puts a negative “spin” on all the great moments he gave us on the golf course.

Moe Norman said it best “Don’t try to be like me…you can’t be me…you have to be you”. In a world where everyone is his or her own news service with a camera / recorder / & video studio right in their pocket, just be grateful we are not as famous as Tiger, or TMZ would be airing our dirty laundry for the righteous world to judge us by. Glass houses stand as much of a chance against golf balls as they do stones. I hope he recovers enough to thrill us with his undeniable talent, and finds love and peace in his personal and Professional life.

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.

Is C.O.G. Golf Too Easy?

I think as a species, we have been conditioned to believe learning a new task or becoming proficient at a skill should be difficult. This 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; almost everyone has a different idea on how this should be accomplished, adding to the confusion and slowing 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.

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 different, all getting the job done, and not a swing coach in sight.

With all the differences in the golf swings of the early 20th century, the similarities are glaring, 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.

It seems 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, and while that may be great if your paycheck depends on your golf score and you have 20 hours / week to devote to practice, 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 it’s fullest, the golf swing is an athletic move and while every body 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.

The Modern Golf Swing

Hi I’m Rob Bernard and I want to talk with you frankly about the modern golf swing. In my opinion, the modern golf swing is an on-going scientific experiment. I even had to put the word “Science” on the cover of my book so people would look at it. If you’ve read the book already, you will know that simple geometry is the only science I talk about. Every where I look at Golf Professional vlogs and blogs the science is getting geekier every day, and frankly…I’m lost. I have been a golf Professional for 20 years and I could not begin to explain what all that data means to me a Pro…let alone a beginner golfer.

You know you’re coming from a different place when you start your next sentence with “Back in the day” Golf swings were an art form, each player had a very distinctive “look” when he /she would strike the golf ball. They all looked different not because they were taught that way; they looked like that because that was how their body felt the best with the swing motion…consistently.

Even though they all looked unique, they all had similarities as well. It’s those similarities we need to be looking at, not the differences. They all swing the golf club (primarily) with the same hand – they all hold their center of gravity as still as possible during the swing, and they all know and use the same sequence of moves that makes a ball go far and straight…and they do it really good, most of the time.

Most of us don’t…even me, a 20 year Pro, I can’t hope to be even close to the guys we compare everyone to, and if you’re reading this article…you too. We have to realize, they are a unique collection of the 200 or so best players in the world, “can’t touch that”. That’s not saying nobody can, I know a few players that if they can hold their emotions together they have all the talent in the world, I’ve been in this game 20 years, they are the only 2 (one Jr. and 1 Canadian Tour Pro) out of 10’s of thousands of golfers I have encountered.

The rest of us need to understand how to hold our COG as still as we can, swing the club with the proper hand, and do it in sequence…that’s it! everything else falls into place because it is a system.

Now don’t get me wrong…all this technology is great in the right Pro’s hands, with the right pupil. The golfer that will benefit from this technology already knows what how to hold their stuff together pretty good and are “fine tuning” or “science-a-fying” their golf swing; not for the majority of us I feel.

As a Club / Teaching Professional, I expect to maintain a decent golf game without playing much golf and having little time for practice, like most of you. I was able to do so because I did not follow with the technology and science of the golf swing, and focussed on the artful golf swing…one my body will repeat more often, but it doesn’t matter how pretty your swing is if your foundation (center of gravity triangle) is not solid…and that is what I work on the most…sixty balls at a time… doesn’t take up my whole day, gets me goal based-focussed practice, and keeps every part of my game pretty sharp when ever I do get a chance to play…and you can too.

Center of Gravity Golf is teaching the “Artful” way of swinging a golf club…build and understand your foundation…(3-steps), Learn the proper sequence of the golf swing, in order…(3-steps), and carry your knowledge into your short game with the scoring system (3-steps). When your swing is “Artful” it will repeat more often, and when your foundation is strong, your consistency rises…a lot, and when you have and execute your short game plan, you are a different player. Any golfer will do nothing but improve as the foundation gets stronger, and the swing more artful and free…not manufactured in a lab. The other unique thing about Center of Gravity Golf is the message…the language is not typical golf jargon; the sequence the message is delivered in, and the language paints an indelible picture on the learning process; and you can talk to other COGG players about your game and the conversation won’t hurt you…which brings me around to golf lessons.

The best advantage to Center of Gravity Golf is that any COGG (Certified) Golf Instructor will say the same things in the same order, fix or tweak anything while following the system, and not contradict or undermine anything you have learned previously, a confidence builder in itself. This is unheard of in the golf industry so you can take a “tune up” lesson anywhere a COGG Instructor is available, and be sure you’re staying on track.

Center of Gravity Golf has been tested with many different Nationalities, in more than 30 Countries around the world, and the results are always the same…


Tim hails from New Hamburg Ontario and is the Champion of multiple Regional and Canadian Long Drive Championships. Tim’s ability to annihilate a golf ball is truly an experience to see. After coming to Center of Gravity Golf, Tim has learned not only how to generate even more power in his swing, but to stabilize his body in order to keep the ball in the tiny 40 yard wide grid. Tim has multiple 400+ yard drives in practice and is poised to take on the Worlds best at the Remax World Long Drive Championships in Las Vegas. Have a listen to Tim explain how Center of Gravity Golf has taken him to the next level of excellence.


Hardy is a performance coach and the creator of the Star Attitude Performance series. Hardy had gone from not ever holding a golf club, to shooting in the 80s in ONE SEASON under the guidance of the Center of Gravity Golf system. Hardy explains the simplicity of the Center of Gravity Golf program and how it will help everyone who wants to have a non-confusing, and complete understanding of the golf swing and how it works.

Try Center of Gravity Golf for Free! a special offer on my website gives you 7 days of “are” access to the first 2 chapters of my video series, and the first few chapters of my book, they coincide of course so you can absorb the information from the book, and see it in action to solidify the lesson and give you a visual.

The Entire System (Book & VOD) package sells for only $99.00, a small investment for the return in happiness, and fun times at the golf course.

I’m Rob Bernard, and I endorse this message.

How would you teach Rory?

Do you become a better teacher by teaching better players?

This is a question I have had for quite some time now, after 20 years teaching beginner, iVIRGINIA WATER, ENGLAND - MAY 25: Sergio Garcia of Spain reacts to his approach shot on the first hole during the third round of the BMW PGA Championship on the West Course at Wentworth on May 25, 2013 in Virginia Water, England. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)intermediate, top amateur, and Professional players; I can tell you from vast experience that it is far more rewarding and challenging to teach beginners and intermediate golfers the skill set they need to acquire, in order to become as proficient as they want to be, right up to Professional.

This is the skill set all top amateurs and Pros already have…thats why they are where they are, along with a lot of work…I wouldn’t call it a job, because it’s something they love to do.

Beginning golfers, on the other hand have to work on their basic fundamentals and swing sequence in order to be able to play at a pace and score they are comfortable with. Their proficiency at the game can only increase when these fundamentals are practiced with a purpose until the golfer is proficient enough to experiment with different ball flights, distance increases, and predictive curvatures of the ball.

I believe teaching the game to new and intermediate players, is the basis not only to the growth of the game, but to the industry itself. There is far too much emphasis placed on the swings and games of the best players in the world, and while they are extremely compelling to watch (much like any Professional sport), emulating, dissecting, and comparing their game to the one we play,  is akin to comparing your car driving ability to that of Lewis Hamilton, or Ken Block, fun to watch, but…

Beginning and intermediate golfers turn into avid golfers if and when they become proficient enough at the game to have fun, and challenge themselves to get a little better each year. Sometimes they play in a league, participate in local or club tournaments, support local charities, and purchase the fashion, equipment, and accessories to keep this industry afloat.

Once a player becomes a potential Professional player, the industry looks after them. Equipment, clothing, and accessory manufacturers, will support these players in hopes they will influence other golfers to purchase the equipment they endorse. So…it is those of us who love the game for the game that

support the industry as a whole, so we (Teaching Professionals) should support them. How?

By delivering a consistent, understandable, common sense laden message that ensures the player is not inundated with contradictory, misleading, or un-necessary information that leads to confusion and frustration. Teaching a Professional or top amateur player ,in my experience, is an exercise in ball flight adjustment and cheerleading. These players have tremendous control over their basic fundamentals and sequence, they just need (want) a small adjustment and an ego stroke like all Professional athletes.

The future of this game depends on the men and women in the trenches, delivering a positive, understandable message of simplicity and encouragement so they can rise to whatever level of play they desire; not inundated with the tweaks and idiosyncrasies of the players who already have a great command of their bodies and fundamentals.

So, here’s to the Professional (Amateur Golf) Instructors, it’s up to us to make the difference and focus the industry’s attention on the 95%, who love and play this game for fun, exercise, and connection with nature, friends, and family.   Talk soonsignature

COGG at the Toronto Golf Expo – A Natural Winner

Thank you to everyone who joined us at the Toronto Golf Expo; what a great experience! Center of Gravity Golf took the stage for 8 hours and had the opportunity to share our story and system with hundreds of golfers and participants. The Toronto audiences were truly receptive and it was very exciting to see how strongly the message resonated with both newly ‘enlightened’ golfers and industry professionals.

If you missed the Toronto show, I will be on stage again April 2-3 at the Atlantic Canada Golf Expo in Moncton, New Brunswick. If you’re in the area, grab some friends and come see us –  we promise you a fresh, natural look at golf that really works! …Center of Gravity Golf.

Get your swing in gear!

Rob Bernard