Hitting uphill or downhill shots

If you want to be able to post a good score at RedTail Landing or any other course that has undulation as a ‘defense’, you need to know how to hit it well from hills and valleys.   When hitting shots from ‘uphill or downhill’ lies, it is important to first match your shoulders to the slope and then take a slightly wider stance to help maintain your balance during the swing.  For a shot on an uphill lie, you will need to adjust your shoulders (and spine angle) to allow the club head to follow through past impact and not get ‘stuck in the ground’ at the ball.  When you tilt your shoulders and spine back, take a practice swing to confirm your balance and where the club is hitting the ground (needed to confirm correct ball position for the shot).  This adjustment will mean that your shot will launch higher with the addition of the slope to the loft of the club, and you may have to take a less lofted club and choke down a little on the grip to control the trajectory and distance.  For a shot on a downhill lie, adjusting your shoulder and spine angle forward to match the slope will keep you from hitting the ground behind the ball as you swing, but be aware that this shot will launch at a lower trajectory and have more roll out when choosing your club and your target.  The big key for these shots is to maintain your ‘balance’ as much as possible so don’t be afraid to ‘club up’ and take an easier swing.

See you in the ‘flat stuff’, Dave Lengyel

Evaluate your golf season

An easy way to analyze your season…

For most of us, the golf season is at an end and it is time to move on to ‘winter activities’.  This means that unless you have a winter golf getaway planned, obsessing over golf will get about a five month break.  Before you turn your golf switch off, look back at the season and do a little analysis of your game.  For those of you with the latest and greatest smart phone applications, you can continue to obsess over your golf game whenever you pick up your phone, but for those of you ‘low technology’ folks try this…
For most of us, the golf season is at an end and it is time to move on to ‘winter activities’.  This means Take out a piece of paper and write down what your handicap index was at the start of the season and what it finished at.  If your handicap index decreased, write down which part of your game had the most improvement (for most of you it will probably be some area of your short game) and which part of your game you know still needs work to help you lower your scores even more.  Now write down ‘See my golf coach in the spring for more guidance’.  If your handicap stayed about the same, write down what you think the reason was… injured, new job, new baby, didn’t play, didn’t practice, ‘don’t know’, etc., and then write down ‘Take golf lessons in the spring’!  If your handicap index increased, jot down why you think your game went downhill and then write the words ‘TAKE GOLF LESSONS IN THE SPRING’!  Now take this piece of paper and put it in your golf bag where you will find it first thing next time you grab your clubs.  I recommend putting it inside of your golf glove.
Make sure to bring this piece of paper with you to your first golf lesson in the spring and we will use it to help create the  ‘game plan’ of learning and practice that will allow you to play your best golf ever…

Cheers, Dave Lengyel

The Fall Golf Checklist

Now that it is getting a little cooler outside it is time to go through the ‘fall golf checklist’…

Make sure that you are carrying extra layers for warmth, a toque, cold weather gloves or cart mitts, some air activated charcoal hand warmers, an extra towel and some softer compression golf balls.  Keeping your hands warm is one of the most important cool weather tips for a number of reasons.  With extra layers on your arms will feel ‘confined’ in your backswing so remember to complete your full shoulder turn.  With the ground a little harder and the greens firming up consider the ‘bump and run’ shots a little more often.  Lastly, try to remember all of the wonderful things that your golf coach taught you earlier in the season so that you can shoot your best scores yet!

See you on the practice green,


The Swing Transition

There is nothing more rewarding to a golf instructor than to see that a student can feel a swing change during a lesson and improve their ball flight because of it.  Long term changes to a golf swing however take a lot of repetition… practice, practice, practice!  During the time when we try to break the old habits and create the new ones; the ‘swing transition’, there will be a few missed shots as the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ are battling with each other.  This can lead to some serious frustration out on the course.  The best thing that I can suggest to those of you who want to continue to play as they make their transition is to consider that the practice range is where you ‘study’ and do your homework by working on your swing mechanics and that the golf course is where you write the exam.  If you want a better score on the exam… spend more time studying!  If you gave up playing one round of golf during the week and used that 4 to 5 hours of time practicing (a bucket of balls every day for a week), your transition would be much more complete.   The bottom line… while your swing is in transition practice more and play less.

See you on the range,

Dave Lengyel

What about the little shots?

Far too often during my days of instructing as I stop to survey our fabulous practice facility I see a site that makes me shake my head in wonder… The driving range full of well meaning, yet white knuckled ‘want-to-be long drive champions’ trying to smash their drives to the highway and beyond, and not a sole at either of our two beautiful practice putting greens, the chipping green, or the greenside bunker. 

The single best way to lower the numbers on your score card is to spend at least as much time working on your short game as you do hitting balls on the range.  Next time you head out to practice; do yourself and your scorecard a huge favor by just pulling out your putter and your wedges and leaving the rest of your clubs in the trunk of the car.  Let me finish by reminding you of one of golf’s great truths…

‘He or She who hath the best short game wins’…

Play well, Dave Lengyel

How to Hit Out of Fairway Bunkers

The main key to hitting this shot well is to pick the ball clean from the bunker… you need to hit the ball, not the sand.

When choosing your club, make sure that you have enough loft to clear the lip of the trap… don’t bite off more than you can chew and leave yourself ‘another’ shot from the hazard.

If your lie is good and clearing the lip is not an issue, take one more club than you need to cover the distance and choke down a little.  This will allow you to take a ‘three quarter’ swing and keep your focus on staying stable and balanced.

The quieter you can keep your lower body during the swing the better.

Position the ball a little farther back in your stance than you would for a normal fairway shot to help you hit the ball first (not the sand).

In taking your stance you will want to dig your feet in only enough to feel planted.

Remember that a good miss on this shot is to hit it a little ‘thin’… if you hit the sand first, you will probably get to try this shot again much sooner than you had planned.

Lastly, take advantage of the wonderful practice facility that we have here at RedTail Landing and ‘go practice this shot’ before you will need to play it on the course.

Put a Scope on your Putting Rifle

It has come to my attention that many of my new students are still unaware of, or have yet to try using one of the most valuable tools around to help you sink more putts… those little plastic doodads (the LINE M UP for instance) that you can snap on to your golf ball and use to draw a perfect straight line along the equator of the ball and in turn use this line as a guide for squaring up the face of your putter to your intended target line.  It is still very common even for golfers with solid putting strokes to simply make the mistake of poor face alignment at the ball, and even miss those little three footers having the face pointed in the wrong direction.  Using the line helps take the direction component out of the equation and lets you focus on the most important aspect of never having another three putt… distance control.  Our very own Head Professional Joshua Davison has been using ‘the line’ for many years, as do most of the pros in your Golf Shop, not to mention the guys and gals on ‘Tour’.  I have been encouraging my students to use ‘the line’ for as long as I can remember, and ‘the line’ has made me a much better putter over the years.  Many of the current ball manufacturers incorporate alignment aids in the form of logos or ‘subtle’ lines on the balls right from the factory, but I still prefer to make the line distinct and easy to see from five feet above the ball.  Putting your own line on the ball using different colors of markers also satisfies the ‘identifying’ of your ball from a provisional or a competitor’s ball.  My final words on the matter will be quite simple…
Use the line… IT WORKS!

Dave Lengyel

Sand Shots

High on the list of the defining features of RedTail Landing Golf Club are the beautiful and bountiful bunkers that help shape the fairways and protect the greens.  If you are going to come out here to play, you need to know how to hit it out of the sand.  Without going too deep into the proper techniques for the various shots you will need to play form the ‘beach’, let me just say this… “If you want to be good at hitting balls out of the bunkers, you need to be good at hitting the ‘sand’ out of the bunkers!”  Next time you are at the practice bunker, forget about the balls and simply practice removing consistent patches of sand out of the bunker.  Draw a couple of parallel lines in the sand about 6 to 8 inches apart, take a stance so that the lines are roughly pointed at your ankles and take swings focusing on removing just the sand from in between the lines.  You will find that the steadier you keep your head, the more accurate you will become at having the club enter near the back line and exit near the front (no dipping or getting tall here please).   Start off by taking smaller swings and always remember to ‘finish’ (don’t leave the club head stuck in the trap).  Rake up your area, draw the lines again, and put a ball in between the lines.  Don’t worry about the ball; just keep your focus on removing the sand from in between the lines under the ball, and the ball will take care of itself.  We will talk more about sand shots in future tips, but for now if you are still having trouble with these shots, practice good course management by focusing on hitting more fairways and greens and stay tuned for more help on getting out of the sand …

See you soon,

Dave Lengyel

Check your equipment

The snow is almost gone, the temperatures are rising and the season is just about here.  If it has been months since you’ve looked at your golf bag, you may notice that there is still dirt from the last game of last season stuck in the grooves; it is that time to check your gear.  Dust off your golf bag, pull out your clubs and ‘clean’ them.  Check the grips for wear and tear… remember that they are like the oil in your car and need to be ‘changed’ from time to time.  While you are at it, check to make sure that the shafts are not cracked, dented or bent and that all the heads are still securely epoxied on.  Get some warm soapy water and a brush and see if you can find the faces of your clubs again.  Now that your clubs are clean and inspected, take one outside and SWING it.  You don’t have to hit anything with it… just take some slow easy swings to remind your body what it feels like to swing a club again.  Now if you can swing that club again just a few times every day until the range opens, you will be far less likely to hurt yourself by overdoing it on opening day.

See you in a week or so…Dave

Prepare the Speed Hinge

I’m sure most of you are aware of just how important the ‘release’ is in the golf swing for maximizing club head speed and in turn distance.  Your ability to hang on to the ‘magic’ 90 degree angle created between your target side forearm and the shaft of the club until the very last millisecond before impact is crucial for hitting the ball far.   Just before impact you will unleash a ‘fury’ of club head speed at the helpless golf ball by unhinging your wrists with authority as your forearms rotate to square up the club face and continue rotating to get the toe of the club pointed up to the heavens post impact.   Ahhhh… the release.
You can prepare your ‘speed hinge’ for the upcoming season by working on your wrist and forearm strength.  Get yourself a ‘stress ball’ for your office desk drawer, and use it often whether you are stressed or not.  You can use the old ‘wring out a wet towel’ exercise or any of the other wonderful wrist and forearm strengthening gadgets on the market.  But here is my personal favorite…
Take a hammer or a plumbers’ pipe wrench and hold it right at the end of the handle.  Rest your forearm on the top of a table allowing your hand to hang out over the edge.  Now holding the hammer or wrench pointed straight up, rotate it ‘slowly’ to the left and right stopping when the handle gets to parallel to the table top (no need to go past parallel, and don’t overdo it).  Now to focus on the wrists, simply hinge the hammer or wrench up and down with your wrists as if you were trying to hammer in nails with just your wrists in slow motion.  Remember to work both arms and if you make this a regular routine, don’t be surprised when you hit the ball farther this spring.

It won’t be much longer now,

Dave Lengyel