New Season, New Goals

This game is crazy. Incredible shots are sometimes followed by the most awful shots imaginable. But it seems every round has a reason to come back. Maybe it’s a great finishing drive. Or maybe the worst front nine turns into the best back nine and you salvage a round. Or maybe you see one of your friends hit the shot of their life.

This game is crazy. Incredible shots are sometimes followed by the most awful shots imaginable. But it seems every round has a reason to come back. Maybe it’s a great finishing drive. Or maybe the worst front nine turns into the best back nine and you salvage a round. Or maybe you see one of your friends hit the shot of their life.

Things are finally warming up in the northeast. My course opened yesterday, and I’m playing on Saturday.  I’ve been looking forward to this all winter, especially this winter. This was the most brutal winter in recent memory.

Anyway, I’ve decided I want to keep it simple this season so for now I have just 2 goals. I’m sure this will evolve throughout the season but it’s a place to start.

1) Learn AimPoint Express.

I especially like the express part. No more taking too long to read a putt. You get some you fell the slope, maybe in more than 1 spot, depending on the putt. Pick your number. Line it up and hit it. Seems much easier than looking at the hole from every angle, walking around, or relying on someone else’s read. It should be quick and accurate from what I’ve seen. Now to put it in play and see how it really goes.

2) Fix my driving.

I feel like I’ve said this every year for the past, well every year since I got back into golf. I feel like I’ve figured something out. And that I’ll actually be able to release the club.

So there are my goals. We’ll see on Saturday how things start to shape up. Being the first round of the season I can’t be expecting awesome results. Will take some time to get the rust out.

BTW and just show how much rust is out there take a look at these stats from a recent trip to Golfsmith.

Way off line with driver
First hitting session at Golfsmith this season

Play well and good luck.

Review: SkyPro

This review was meant to be published back then but a lot if things got in the way. I’ll talk about how I felt about the SkyPro originally and I want to share what’s changed since then.

This is not your typical review. Instead of having a brief period to use the product I have had months with the SkyPro from late in the 2013 season.

This review was meant to be published back then but a lot if things got in the way. I’ll talk about how I felt about the SkyPro originally and I want to share what’s changed since then.

In 2013

I was initially very excited about using the SkyPro. I took it to the range the afternoon that I bought it. At the time I didn’t have an iPhone but I did have an iPad. Actually it was an iPad 2 with a somewhat bulky case.

One of the first things that you need to do whenever you start or switch clubs is to calibrate the device. This involves putting your phone or iPad on the club face, touching and holding the sides of the screen and then rotating it around you. Even with an iPad 2 and a bulky case the calibration worked flawlessly correctly identifying my club every time.

I then started to hit shots with it. It was very exciting to see the data coming back. There were all these new things to look at. Club shaft lean at address, etc. my swings typically had a couple if warnings and I started to address them I saw things happening. Ball flight started changing, distance, contact etc. It was pretty exciting.

But there was a downside. I didn’t really know how to change certain things or really understand waft they meant. I had no drills or resources to dig deeper. Overall though the device worked as advertised.

Later on there was a glitch. I got an iPod Touch (5th generation). This thing had trouble even connecting to the sky pro at all. In the end I stopped using it with the iPod and just stuck to the iPad.

Fast forward

to now. I have an iPhone 5s and it works great with it. But until recently I still had the same issues regarding really knowing what the different things meant. I didn’t want to create bad habits but I did want to make the right kind of changes.

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An update changes everything

It’s really amazing what an update can do. And the latest update to SkyPro app really makes things great. Along with some new practice modes and tools, the best thing is clear explanations of what each thing being tracked is, what different numbers mean and video explanations from Michael Breed.

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The result is a true SkyPro. It’s feedback that really helps you improve and change your swing for the better. As we all know Michael us an exceptional teacher on the Golf Fix. But he makes each element of the swing that SkyPro measures, not only understandable, but allows to see how and why to change.

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And this is what SkyPro really needed. This is what separates it from everything else. At the end of the day we want to get better. Understanding what to do and why in a clear way makes all the difference. Based on this latest update SkyPro has become my go to practice, training and learning aid. I have not yet tried the new putting feature, but that will come in a future review.

Zen Chili Rating for Sky Pro

5 Zens out of 5

• Immediate feedback you can use
• Groove make practice easy
• Michael Breed explains things clearly

5 Chilis out of 5

• Light, it does not affect club weight
• Easy to charge
• Connects to iPhone easily
• Calibration is easy on iPhone, but a little challenging on iPad
• Useful for full swing, and putting (to be reviewed later)

To learn more about the rating system click here.

Review: Powerchute

Powerchute
Powerchute

For the past month I’ve worked with a swing trainer called the Powerchute. I’ve given it an extensive test and the results are in.

What is the Powerchute?

It’s a swing training aid that aims to increase clubhead speed and lag, and improve timing and lag. In addition it strengthens the fast twitch muscles.

You attach the powerchute to your club and it becomes a small sail, that uses the wind created by your swing as the resistance you swing against. I was skeptical at first. I watched the videos on the website and Jack Nicklaus using it and I was still skeptical. It wasn’t until I took my first few swings with the powerchute, and then without it, that the wow factor hit me.

The first swing after you take the powerchute off your club is an amazing. The club feels lighter. The backswing feels normal, and then you start your downswing. My first swing without the Powerchute was so fast that it threw me almost off balance.

After using the Powerchute for a few months now, my old weakness: driving, has turned into a strength. Working with the powerchute daily has really helped with that trouble spot for me. I find that I’ve developed much better sequencing, even better lag, but more importantly I am able to use that lag properly. The resitance from the Powerchute has forced me to use my body and my hands properly to finish the swing correctly.

Over the last few months, the Powerchute has become my favorite swing trainer. I really enjoy heading down to the basement, where I have my golf practice area setup, to make some Powerchute swings. I feel that not only am I practicing solid fundamentals, but I am developing good golf fitness, and in the right muscles.

I can honestly say that the more I use the Powerchute, the more I want to use it. I’ve found new uses for it to help my game overall. It really is the only swing trainer I use now.

Golf Fitness

Now, to the fitness part of the powerchute. I’ve been told that the Powerchute, strengthens the fast twitch muscles that you use in the golf swing. These are the muscles needed to generate speed and power. The Powerchute achieves this by providing a plyometric workout. What are plyometrics? The following is from Wikipedia.

“Plyometrics (also known as “plyos”) is a type of exercise training designed to produce fast, powerful movements, and improve the functions of the nervous system, generally for the purpose of improving performance in sports. Plyometric exercises may also be referred to as explosive exercises.”

The golf swing is all about controlled explosive power. It requires finesse, touch, feel, and power. Plyometric training is a perfect fit for golf. A friend of mine trains using Kettle Bells to achieve this, and he happens to be a director of golf so I know that those are great exercies for golf.

I do find that the Powerchute provides a plyometric workout and a very good one at that. The faster you can swing with the powerchute, the more resistance you create, and the more you work out those fast twitch muscles.

Zen Chili Rating for Powerchute

5 Zens out of 5

• Improves power, lag. sequencing and fitness virtually automatically
•No need to think about it, swing it, feel it

5 Chilis out of 5

• Well made product that can take a beating. Ingeniously designed.

At first I found I struggled when I switched from Powerchute swings, to iron swings. They felt too fast. Over the past few months everything that’s gone into the driver has also gone in to improve my iron play.

Conclusion

The Powerchute has been amazing to work with. I was so skeptical at first, but it has improved my power with all clubs, my balance, and my fitness. I have zero hesitations about recommending it. It is worth every penny.  Check it out at: http://www.powerchutegolf.com/

Tour Striker gets me back on track

If you’ve played golf with me in the past month you would have known that my ball striking has put me in a bit of a slump.  My distance control was off, and my shots were coming up short.

In a few minutes the Tour Striker brought my ball striking back.  An hour and half and two buckets of balls later, I’m feeling much better about my ball striking.  The difference is dramatic.

Sadly, before this session I was having trouble hitting my 8 iron 150 yards.  It was extremely frustrating.  This afternoon, my 8 iron was a much more respectable 165-170 average carry, with several carrying 175-180.  Now that’s what I’m talking about.

I knew I was on the right track when I started to hit what some low bullets with the Tour Striker.  These bullets went no higher than about 30 feet, but they carried about 200 yards.  The Tour Striker pro that I use is the equivalent of an 8 iron, so that’s some serious contact.  In an earlier conversation I had with Martin Chuck, the inventor of the Tour Striker, he assured me that when I’m hitting those low bullets, it means I’m very close to excellent contact, just millimeters away from perfection.  He’s right.

Shortly after the those low bullets, with a minor adjustment I began to hit them high, super high and solid, and they just carried forever.  It felt so good after this past month of less than perfect ball striking.

My new favorite practice putting game – Split Nines

If you want to add some pressure to your putting practice to make it feel a bit more like what you’ll feel on the golf course then try this game.

If you want to add some pressure to your putting practice to make it feel a bit more like what you’ll feel on the golf course then try this game.

The game is split into two halves, your front nine and your back nine.  On your front 9, each putt is like you’ve hit the in regulation.  Every putt made is a birdie, every putt missed leaves a par putt (you must putt in, 3 putting does count as a bogey).

On your back nine, these are your greens missed in regulation.  Every putt is for par.  Miss and your next putt is for bogey.

So, on the front nine, you want to get as quickly and as far under par as you can.  Be sure to mix in 3 shorter putts (4-6 ft), 3 medium putts (6 – 12ft) and 3 longer putts (more than 12 feet) in each nine.

You’ll find after you finish the front nine and start the back, the pressure really starts to mount as you try to remain under par.  Give it a shot, and tell me what you think.  I’ve found it to be an awesome way to practice.

A key to serious power and distance

I had a very interesting experience on the range yesterday and had a revelation as I was practicing.

I’ve tried a lot of different things to maintain a good tempo, but a quick thought came into my head that made for a really good swing thought.  “Lazy Explosion”.

It may sound a bit funny, but it really worked for me.  The feeling that resulted was one where the swing felt slow, especially the downswing, but the ball just EXPLODED off the club face and flew very far consistently.  When I was doing it right, I never felt rushed and it felt like power built up in a very subtle way.  Of course I still fought my tendency to swing hard, but this idea of a lazy explosion really cut through that most of the time.  I was compressing the ball way more than usual and it felt like it stuck on the clubhead for a split second, before blasting off into space.  Even though my irons are very stiff, with shafts designed for a lower ball flight, the ball flew higher, farther than I’m used to, with no balooning.

Obviously the swing itself wasn’t slow, but it felt that way.  In fact it felt like I had a lot of time between the top of the swing and the start of my downswing and the resulting shots were really exciting to watch.

Tour Striker – Day 12 – Confidence Building

Over the past 12 days working with the tour striker I’ve seen a significant improvement in my ball striking. For a while and before re-acquainting myself with the TS my distance control was inconsistent.
I’m now much more consistent with my distance control and my I’ve added about 15 yards with each iron.
I’ve found that not only is the TS a great practice tool, but it is also a fantastic way to check your ballstriking.
The Tour Striker helps with consistency
Twelve days ago I was very inconsistent with the TS. If you take a look at the last few posts you’ll see me talk about the inconsistencies. Yesterday on the range my strikes with the TS really surprised me. Not only did the ball fly high and far and straight but it just felt great.
I’ve been working on the on practicing with each hand separately and wow is that a challenging drill. It’s really good though. I’m very pleased with progress I’m making with the Tour Striker.

Tour Striker – Day 3 of 30 – a plan comes into focus

This morning I headed to the driving range early.  Got there around 6:50 am, got set up and hit balls into the foggy morning.

I was encouraged by my practice session on Monday evening.  This morning it was a slightly different story.  I hit a couple of toppers which right away told me that I had too little shaft lean.  When I corrected that I hit a number of low flat stingers.  The balls took off low, stayed lower than 30 yards high and carried about 175 yards into the fog.  They felt solid.

I decided to reach out to Martin Chuck, the inventor of the Tour Striker to tell him about this month long test with his product as well as to get some advice on how best to take advantage of the time.

Based on his suggestions I will be working on the following over the next 30 days.

Tour Striker Practice Game Plan

1. Learn how to let the club land with forward lean. Do this with both hands and with each hand individually.
2. Monitor where you are touching the ground with hands together and individually. Seek to get similar results with the club landing inside the left heel.
3. Hit some “9 to 3” shots trying to get the leading edge of the TS as close to the ground as possible. Keep the left arm on the upper chest, don’t chase the target line.
4. Get use to anticipating the “thud” of touching the ground, not smashing, just touching.
5. Take this “9 to 3” into fuller swings with a focus on balance and rhythm.

I plan to take about a week with each of these guidelines (give or take a few days).

Low Flat Bombs

The exciting thing about hearing from Martin was that to cure my low flat bombs I need just a touch more shaft lean.  So things are not that far off.  All in all it was an encouraging session.  I had a lot of very solid strikes and my distance control feels somewhat more consistent.

I’ll be working to add that little bit extra shaft lean and see what happens with these low flat bombs.

Tour Striker – a month long test with it began today

I’ve decided to do a month long test with each of my favorite swing training aids to see how they impact my ball striking and my game with intense practice.  To begin this series I’m going to use the one that I’ve used the least lately, the Tour Striker.

Why the Tour Striker

I picked the Tour Striker because over the past couple of months I’ve noticed something interesting.  Inexplicably I’ve had periods of incredible ball striking, followed by periods where I lost significant distance with my irons.

With this in mind I decided the Tour Striker would be the perfect tool for the job.

So today I brought the Tour Striker out and headed to the range.

Although I had no problem getting the ball in the air with the tour striker, hitting off firm mats, I knew I wasn’t making perfect contact.  Over the next hour I was able to hone in on the problem and the Tour Striker was incredibly helpful.

The results of Day One

My shot shape went from high spinny shots to penetrating shots that seemed to fly forever.  It was exciting to see my distance come back, and to boot it happened so quickly.  However, I’m not ready to say 100 percent that it was the tour striker’s influence.  I may have happened to have a great range session.  All in all it was a good start.  I will continue working with the Tour Striker over the next month and report back on the results.

Stop quitting on your putts

One night while I was on a golf trip in Maryland a few weeks ago, I thought it would be fun to have some putting contests in the room.  The carpet was probably rolling about a 10 so it wasn’t too quick.  We played a version of leap frog and set the cup out about 12 feet away.  The thing that quickly became clear was that it was hard to hit the putts short enough in the beginning to set you up for a good potential leap frog run. It took me some time but I finally figured out why that was.

What I’ve realized is that I was decelerating on those short putts and when you do that it becomes very difficult to have any consistency or to actually control the speed of your putts.  Our minds don’t react well to deceleration.  They can’t judge have quickly something is slowing down as well as they can judge how quickly something is speeding up.  At least that’s true in my experience, although I’m sure there are some of you out there who will disagree and that’s fine.

For putting though you always want to be accelerating.  One of the best ways to practice this is actually with short putts.  It will really train in feel an in an amazing way.

As I worked with this technique last night, in a very short while I gained tremendous feel for distance.  The main thing I did was to ensure that on every through-stroke you feel an acceleration compared to your back swing.  Try this out, take some short putts and really focus on feeling the acceleration into the ball.  You’ll start to get a lot more feel, and your putting will improve.