Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Blueprint For The Consistent Golf Swing And How To Get One - Part 1

What's your style?
When you step up to the tee and "address the ball," do you say, "Ready or not, here I come?" When you lift the club from your shoulder and start pulling it back to begin your swing, do you shout with glee, "Watch out ball, I'm going to knock you into the next county?"

If this describes your golf game, you are not alone. Many of the best started out with such a "slash and burn" approach; but the best wisdom is that golfing is all about finding your own style - your rhythm, your best stroke, and your natural swing. This takes time and hard work even for a natural-born professional golfer like Tiger Woods.

As an expert, I get questions from a lot of weekend golfers who think they should be able to play like Tiger. I got one call from an old friend who told me that her new husband loves golf and wants her to join him in his weekend golf games. She said, "I took a semester of golf in college and I NEVER hit a good shot the entire time. I topped, pulled, sliced, shanked, and dubbed my way to every cup on every hole. I'm sure I had the highest score of anybody in the class - maybe even a course record. I'm a killer at miniature golf but the golf swing eludes me. I need serious help!"

What's your dream?
When I asked my friend about her dream, she said that she just wanted to hit the ball without her husband laughing at her. I told her that every golfer I know feels the same way but that there are bigger dreams to chase on a golf course. There is the elusive "hole-in-one," as well as brilliant putts, perfectly placed fairway shots, and the "winged creatures of golf" - birdies, eagles, and double eagles. Of course, then there's the "holy grail" of golf - a low handicap or, better still, no handicap.

What's your goal?
So, I asked my friend the standard question I pose to all those who seek out my help: what do you want to achieve on the golf course? Straighter drives, more accurate chips and putts, lower scores/handicaps, or just an enjoyable outing with your husband on the links - what's your goal?

Every professional golfer from Sam Snead to Phil Mickelson had a goal when they got started. It may not have been to win the US Open but I guarantee they all had one goal in common: to play better golf. No matter how much they knew about the game, they all found out quickly that there is one basic skill that you must master - the golf swing. Whether driving the fairway, chipping from a sand trap, blasting out of a lake, getting out of the woods, or putting brilliantly, you must swing the golf club. The speed, path, and final destination of your golf ball are all direct results of how you do that.

What's your first step?
My friend's next eager question was: "So what do I do first?" but her smile faded when I answered: "Get serious.You have to develop a consistent golf swing."

"I don't have time to do that," she said. "Can't I just go out and hope for the best? Maybe I'll be lucky and actually hit the ball." I shook my head and told her about my uncle. He was a weekend golfer who was also a member of a weekly bowling league. He was well-known on the lanes for his completely lucky 7-10 split conversion - something he always dreamed of doing. Known affectionately as "Mr. Lucky," he was also famous in the 19th Hole of his home golf course for this shot.

After a decent drive off the 18th tee, he had ended up just off the green in two, not too far from the cup; but the ball was sitting just under a mis-placed divot. He took one look at his bad lie and flailed at the half-buried ball with one desperate swipe with his sand wedge. It exploded out of its spot and took wings! He shoved his club back in the bag thinking that he'd need an iron to get the ball back to the green. Just as he looked up, though, he saw his ball hit the flag squarely and drop like a stone into the cup. Mr. Lucky ended up with the low score for the foursome even though, he said, "It was the worst shot I made all day."

My friend grinned, "So, I can just take a swing and hope I get lucky like your uncle." It took some fast talking to convince her that good golf is not a matter of luck and that she would never enjoy playing without practice. I finally quoted Arnold Palmer, who said, "It's a funny thing, the more I practice the luckier I get" and she agreed to give it a try.

What's next?
Several weeks later we met at the golf course for her next step, which was to analyze her golf swing. She was sure that it must be awful but when I watched her swing, I saw that she was strong and had an easy-going way with the club. So I videotaped her and she was surprised to see how easily she handled it. As we watched, I pointed out to her the basic components of a golf swing and how she could improve hers:

- Address the Ball - Good posture 
- Firm Grip - No white knuckles
- Smooth Swing with Arms and Shoulders
- Golf is not a dance - no swaying or tip-toeing
- Golf is not a performance - no flourishes
- Backswing - not an "upswing" that reaches for the stars
- Downswing - more of a "frontswing" that doesn't chop wood
- Follow-through - smooth and firm
- You're not in Fenway Park - don't "punch it"
- Don't look up - the ball will go the same way if you're watching or not
- Consistency - whatever you do well, do again - and again - and again...

What will make your swing better?
Without a doubt, the key to a better golf swing is consistency. I assured my friend that every golfer - amateur, pro, once-a-week, occasional - can swing better and more effectively and that what it takes to actually play better and improve your scores and your enjoyment is simple - Be Consistent.

She was still hesitant as I knew she was thinking about her busy schedule and wondering where she would find the time to practice, practice, practice. So I assured her that a simple regimen of lessons and practice was doable, even for her crazy schedule, and would help her to focus on her swing, to develop a consistently effective and natural stroke that would at least keep up with her husband's game.


This article was written by Keith Matthews.  Keith is keen to share more of his golfing tips and experience so sign-up for his free weekly emails at

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Can Pregnant Women Play Golf

Catriona Matthew won the 2009 HSBC LPGA Brasil Cup while five months pregnant. Myra Blackwelder played in the 1987 Kraft Nabisco--a major championship--when she was nearly seven months pregnant, tying for 33rd. And with her due date just five weeks away, Blackwelder finished 16th in an LPGA event in Florida. Nancy Lopez, Juli Inkster, Laura Diaz and Hee-Won Han all played LPGA events while pregnant. For women who played golf before they got pregnant--and not just tour players--continuing to play is just par for the course.


Golf is great exercise for a pregnant woman, especially if you walk. Low-impact golf works your core and helps improve your stability and balance, which is compromised during pregnancy, according to Pregnancy Today. recommends pregnant women exercise every day, which can help prevent excessive weight gain, reduce the chance of gestational diabetes and increase strength and endurance in preparation for labor. In addition, being outside and exercising can be a real mood lifter, which can be very helpful during this emotional roller coaster.


As your body changes and your ligaments loosen, your balance decreases and the risk of falls increases. This is especially tricky on a golf course, which has hills, valleys, gouges in the ground and tripping hazards (tee box markers, distance markers, rakes and grounds crew equipment). Whether you’ve been playing golf for years or are new to the sport, get your doctor's approval before grabbing the clubs. And as always, stretch before hitting your first drive of the day.


The baby’s safety is of utmost importance, so it’s vital to stay hydrated. The demands on your body require more liquids, so drink plenty of fluids. Preterm labor, constipation, fatigue and even miscarriage can result from dehydration, according to the American Pregnancy Association. A pregnant woman should drink eight to 12 glasses of fluid a day, even more if you’re exercising, the APA says. Heat can also raise medical issues for you and the baby, so avoid playing when it's hottest. And if you fatigue easily or you’re nearing the end of your term, consider a cart instead of walking.


With your pregnant body changing practically by the day, you may have to adjust your game. If you’re a “grip-it-and-rip it” gal, you may need to change your mantra to slow and easy, which could actually improve your game. Teeing up your ball, marking your putts and grabbing the ball out of the hole will become more awkward as your belly grows. If you use a belly putter, forget about it--you’ll need to use a shorter one. And before you start your round, map out all the bathroom locations.


Get your rounds in while you can, because it will be more difficult to hit the links after your baby arrives. You’ll be too exhausted, fatigued and feeling out of sorts for a while after giving birth, and golf will be the last thing on your mind. But if you do get a chance to break away from the baby to golf and enjoy some “me time,” bring your breast pump so you can pump in the locker room after your round.