You’ve practiced at the driving range and gone out for a couple rounds. You see steady improvements every time you walk on the course and feel that you’re getting a better grip on the game. Is it worth taking golf lessons, you ask? After all, Bubba Watson never took a lesson in his life and he turned out okay. Then again, there’s only one Bubba Watson and secondly, you’re not a kid who has all the time in the world to figure out a swing. You have a finite amount of time with work and family. Why not cut out some of the struggle and let a pro help you build a repetitive swing? Sure, it costs money. But spend a little now to save time and struggle in the future. The following are some tips on what to look for in a golf instructor, and the advantages of taking lessons:
What to look for in a golf instructor:
Personality/Philosophy Compatibility – This is the most obvious. You want a coach that lines up with your personality, whether it’s laid back or more intense. Find a coach who can put the technical language into something you understand. Clubs will often let you schedule a lesson with an instructor before committing to an entire package.
Price - Find an instructor that provides good value. The most expensive pros at clubs might not be the best instructor for your game.
Level - Find an instructor who focuses on teaching beginners. Some bigger (read: more expensive) instructors might be best at working with a higher skilled players than teaching basic fundamentals.
Private vs. Group Lessons – private lessons are one on one and are generally more expensive. Group lessons are cheaper and can be effective as you not only learn from an instructor but your peers at the same level. Plus, you may find a playing buddy.
Accreditation- make sure your instructor has proper accreditation.
Lastly, keep in mind that the best players do not make the best teachers.
Advantages of taking golf lessons: Learn the swing once – Learn a proper, repeatable swing one time and spend time repeating it. Do this before you develop bad habits as it takes twice as long to learn a new swing.
Get past lulls - Everyone experiences beginner’s luck. But after a while, players level out and can’t seem to reach the next level. An instructor can point out that “one” tweak or advice that takes your game to another level.
Define a goal - An instructor can see your game from a bigger perspective and will help you focus on a long term goals to develop your skill. You don’t have to take a million lessons. Most clubs offer lessons in small 3 or 4 session packages. Take a few lessons every time you feel that you have hit a lull and need to fine tune a part of your game. Golf is about repetition – let a professional eye guide you on the proper path.
This is the second post in the Get Into Golf Series offering tips for amateurs to start from scratch. This post focuses on getting a foundation in golf on a budget.
Golf can be an expensive sport. From the latest technology in clubs and balls to private lessons to course fees, there’s no end to how much one can spend in search of the perfect stroke. A round of 18 holes at a public course can set you back $100. That’s a lot of money for a struggling beginner to spend. But with some planning, it is possible to play and improve on a budget. The key phrase here is to find discounts. Discounts appear in various forms, including:
Find used/last year’s clubs – buying new clubs is similar to buying a new car. You could go for the shiniest one with the latest technology (which may or may not help your game). Or, you could be patient and wait until the new clubs are pushed to the discount line at the end of each year or search for used clubs. This move can save you hundreds of dollars. For example, the Nike VR Pro STR8-FIT Driver retailed at $400, but can now be had at $79.99 used. Don’t get set on one brand as finding club discounts may result in some mixing and matching. Look at websites with discountedclubs or go for a more traditional route like Craigslist or eBay. Sure, the new BMW looks nice, but the Honda Accord will get you where you need to go for a quarter of the price.
Find used golf balls – this is an easy tip for two reasons, and not just because we run a used golf ball website. First, you’re a beginner and you’ll end up losing a lot of shots in the rough or the water. The Titlelist Pro V1 runs $47.99 brand new. You can get the same ball at the highest grade of used ball quality for $16.99 at the GBU store. Second a beginner will most likely not see a difference between a cheaper ball and a more expensive ball. Save the expensive stuff for later down the line once you’ve gotten a grip on the game.
Find course discounts – There are golf websites that are similar to Priceline to search for discounted green fees. Another way to find cheaper course fees is to play during off hours. Many courses have an early bird discount fee. Take advantage of all this.
Par 3 golf courses – As the name suggests, these are courses where every hole is a par 3. These courses are cheaper and quick to play. While many frown upon the simplicity of the layouts, these par 3 courses still provide a challenge for the beginner and are an excellent way to work on your short game.
Practice with Wiffle balls – Golf improvement is about getting consistent repetitions of the same swing. Wiffle balls allow you to practice at home in your backyard any time. A much cheaper alternative to going to the range.
Learning the game on a budget is possible if you do a bit of research. There are always deals to be had, and you don’t even need to leave your computer.
Business meetings on the golf course have long been romanticized. A golf outing between CEOs and other power brokers is often seen as an essential step in closing any deal. Last fall, a golf outing between President Obama and former President Clinton was seen by many in the press as a symbolic gesture of support passed from one generation to the next. Although your own golf outing with potential clients won’t be as publicized as a meeting of Presidents, it is still an important event that could make or break a deal. We previously discussed golf etiquette. But what are the important ideas of business etiquette on the course?
We are in an attention economy. The most important part of a golf round is that you will have four or five hours of uninterrupted time with potential clients and partners.
Time spent away from the white noise of technology has never been more important in an ever increasingly connected world. Do not waste this time by being on your cellphone, texting, or checking Twitter. Focus on the scenery, your next shot, the round…anything but your cell phone. The golf course is one of the few places where getting away from it all for a few hours is part of the business process. Use it wisely.
Focus on your behavior, not your skill
Similar to poker, play the man and not the hand. Do not be intimidated by your lack of skill. Your golf ability is not what clients are paying attention to (and similarly, is not what you should be paying attention to in potential clients). The important thing is how you handle yourself and how you handle adversity. Golf is a difficult sport that reveals character. If you see someone hit a bad shot then slam their club, what kind of business partner would they be? On the other hand, what if you see someone struggle yet play through it and maintain an even-keeled demeanor? Business has its own ups and downs. Look for the qualities you’d want in a client or partner and see how it plays itself out on the course.
It’s said that character is revealed through adversity. Golf, even for pros, is a difficult, almost impossible game to crack. The same goes for business. Who do you want to work with?
This goes hand-in-hand with the point above. Golf is an honest game. No one’s checking your score, especially on a sunny weekend, knocking back a couple beers with clients. No one will know if you knock a couple strokes off your final score.
Another aspect of this is “playing down” to a potential partner and letting them win. Play your game – if you happen to be that much better than your group, so be it. Don’t hit miss putts on purpose to inflate your score. Anyone can spot a fake from a mile away, and at this point, you are pandering to your partners. Remember, the final score, who wins, who loses, isn’t the point of a business outing. Winning the business with genuine behavior and personality matters most.
Who Brings Up Business First?
Deals are rarely ever closed on the course itself. The time is spent more for getting to know and getting comfortable with a potential partner. It is a shared experience from which a potential business deal can draw from. It’s getting to know a stranger’s character through sport.
There’s differing opinions on who and when business should be brought up. Use the first few holes to warm up and make small talk. As a general rule of thumb, if you are hosting a client, let them bring it up first. Maybe you make the first move if you are being hosted. Above all, don’t count it as time wasted if business never comes up in the actual round. The subtext is much more important.
Maurice Allen began his athletic career with dreams of being an Olympic sprinter. He ended up a long drive golf champion, driving the ball 450 yards on a consistent basis. Long drive competitions are, as the name suggests, tournaments based on driving the ball the furthest distance off a tee. Allen’s talent lead to a profile on NBC News:
Allen recently sat down with Golf Balls Unlimited to discuss how he found long drive competitions, using social media to grow a fan base, and future PGA plans.
Golf Balls Unlimited: How did you discover a knack for a long drive? I don’t want you to reveal any secrets, but there must be certain things you do from a technique perspective that gives you that extra 50-100 yards.
Maurice Allen: To be honest, I discovered my talent two years ago when a local golf store owner challenged my ability to hit a golf ball. I explained to him that I did golf – I had grown up around it and was introduced to the game as a young child. So he gave me a club to hit in his simulator which happened to be a 7-iron. I took a swing and the ball went 230 yards. He was shocked and asked if I could repeat it so I took about five more swings, all within a ten range of distance. From that moment, my long drive career began. I had never heard of long drive nor seen it on TV. I remember looking it up online as I was being driven to a local qualifier thinking that anyone who hits a golf ball 400+ must be on steroids. I competed in that local with a club given to me that day by ex-PGA tour player Kenny Knox. It was a standard length tour issue burner 8.5 loft with a s flex shaft. At the local, I hit 18 balls (3 attempts), all which were 20-30 past the leaders but I couldn’t control the 120-160 yard slice. My final ball in my last attempt rolled out of bounds by 6 inches at 387 yards and from that moment on I was hooked on long drive.
I believe speed is the factor that gives me the extra 50-100 yards. It is a God given gift that I have had as long as I can remember and I guess it just transferred over to my golf swing.
GBU: Multiple part question: You’ve been a world class sprinter, and now you’re a world class long driver. What are the differences and similarities in physical demand and preparation between the two. Secondly, is the PGA Tour on your horizon? If so, will you be making any adjustments to the way you drive the ball?
MA: I think both sports are equally demanding at the elite level. In the sport of long drive, the competition is very tough and sometimes it can come down to 7-8 inches. I’m not sure about the previous history of the sport but today if you look at the stats on most of the elite long drivers, they’ve all played some other sport ranging from the college to the professional level and I believe most have carried that same training and thought process over into the training for long drive. The major difference is sometimes I can start hitting balls in a practice session and get in the ‘trying to fix something’ zone. I don’t like about my ball flight, stance, etc., and before I know it, I look up and 6-8 hours have passed. Though that would never happen with track, I’ve been in the zone and ran for 3-4 hrs in a practice without breaks. Track workouts are still a huge part of my training in long drive.
Is the PGA Tour in my future? Yes, I would like to play on a tour, then hopefully make it to the PGA tour. That is one of my goals, for sure. I think the major thing in doing that is learning and focusing on the other skills of golf like I have with hitting the driver. The major adjustment I would make is control and getting the distance on my clubs in a better sequence by dialing back. Right now, my 60 wedge goes about 125-130, 56 wedge 135, 52 wedge 145-150, P wedge 160, and 9 iron 195. I can’t play tour golf with those kinds of distances nor gaps.
GBU: One of your Youtube videos has 15,000 views in addition to having a web presence. Long driving seems like a great fit with Youtube – it’s short, and it’s a spectacle. How has social media, namely Twitter and Youtube, influenced your business perspective?
MA: I think Twitter gives people, mainly fans, the chance to connect with me and my thoughts and the way I train. It is also great for sponsors to gain an audience to market products, news and discounts. YouTube is great because it allows potential sponsors the ability to see a long driver in action without going to an actual competition. Social media has allowed the branding market to change and I think it is fun and exciting to see where these chances will take me as an athlete and long driver.
GBU: Since this interview is for a golf ball blog, what kind of golf ball do you use? We have a couple of articles explaining the difference between a ball meant for distance, and a ball more for control. I assume you look for distance?
MA: I use the Volvik Vista is and Volvik Vista iv balls when playing. I feel these balls are great off the tee with distance yet soft enough to spin, and they have a great feel around the greens. I also love the colors that the balls come in, making the balls very stylish as well as functional. When playing golf, I don’t look for a ball with distance because no matter what ball I hit, it will be longer than average. So I look for a ball that feels good when I’m using my wedges and putting.
GBU: Last question – it’s you, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, and Bubba Watson on the first tee of a practice round. One thing leads to another and soon, they make a friendly wager for the longest drive. How much are you putting down on that?
MA: That would depend on the format. Is it one ball or six balls? What is the length of the grid we have to keep it within? Lastly, I have always been told never bet more than you can afford to lose. So me against the pockets of a former number one player in the world with countless PGA tours and major winner, current number one player in the world, and masters champion – it looks like what they could afford to lose is a whole lot more than what I could afford to lose. Also, let me remind you, they are very long off the tee but we don’t know how long because we have yet to place them in a situation where they can swing all out and not worry about control. I would love the chance to have a long drive challenge with myself and some PGA tour guys to raise money for charity. I think it would be a lot of fun and very entertaining.
The “Your Beautiful Golf Swing” Contest is a month long golf contest on Golf Balls Unlimited for April-May. Send YouTube or Vimeo clips of your best swings to GBU for various prizes. Official announcement coming soon and more info at the bottom of this post.
There are over 650,000 hits for “Beautiful Golf Swing” on Google. YouTube has thousands more hits, from those admiring professional swings to amateurs showing off their hard work. The swing is the lifeline for any golfer. Golfers will go for years, from coach to coach, driving range to driving range, and methodology to methodology in search for the elusive, perfect swing.
The swing itself can be broken down into three actions: the backswing, the impact, and the follow through, each with fundamental rules. But beyond that, swings are dependent on individual level, size, and purpose.
Golf swings, like people, have their own personality and characteristics. Everyone has a favorite golf swing. We break down several types below:
Tiger Woods: Woods is an interesting case study due to rapid changes of his swing since he first broke onto the scene in 1996. Known for his powerful, violent swing, Woods had to reconstruct it entirely from scratch following knee surgery in 2008. Below is his swing as an amateur from 94-96:
Woods swing put unnecessary torque and pressure on his knees, eventually leading to his ACL surgery. Many debated how effective Tiger would be with his new, post-surgery swing designed to put less attention on his knees. A clip of Tiger’s current swing, rebuilt under current coach Sean Foley, is below:
Bubba Watson: Watson won the imagination of many casual fans with his recent Master’s winning performance. The lefty’s seemingly wild swing added to his shotmaking aura.
Statistically one of the longest drivers on the tour, Watson’s power comes from the coil of his arms, hips, and legs on his backswing. The combination of the three gives off the impression that Watson is “unbalanced”. Another unusual distinction comes from his follow through. While most golfers shift their weight onto their front foot to increase power, Watson’s power comes from the torque of his torso on the aforementioned backswing. Watson’s swing is composed of many moving parts coming together for one violent and powerful action.
Jim Furyk: Furyk, like Watson, is known for his unusual, yet consistent and effect swing. Furyk’s unorthodox approach begins with the ball uncomfortably close to his club, as opposed to a relaxed distance. From there, his arms move back vertically on his backswing. The driver appears over his head at the top of his backswing. He then drops his right elbow, and the club shaft, on the downswing. These moving parts seemingly creates a loopy motion:
Golf Digest has step by step photos of the swing in action, as explained by Furyk’s dad. Although his swing is considered unorthodox by many, a key feature (and commonality amongst professional swings) is Furyk’s steep backswing followed by a shallow coming down.
Fred Couples and Ernie Els – there’s beautiful swings and then there’s Fred Couples and Ernie Els, both of whom are known to have the smoothest, “silkiest” golf swings on the tour. If your preferred aesthetic is simple and easy, Couples and Els have you covered.
The ease of both swings is especially dramatic when compared to Furyk and Watson. Els and Couples go straight back and straight forward, with no wasted movements. As Leonardo da Vinci said, “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. It’s an approach of maximum efficiency and economy. A common refrain is that both players make it look effortless. Yet while both swings look easy, the rhythm and timing of Couples’ and Els’ torque ensures a powerful drive.
Golf swings, similar to golf balls, could be simplified into two categories. On one side, you have violent drivers of the ball (Woods and Watson). Then you have swings that resemble the ease of a walk in the park (Els and Couples). To go further with distinctions, Jim Furyk and Bubba Watson are world class golfers with unique swings that many coaches wouldn’t teach to younger pupils.
There’s more than one way to swing a club. As you can see from the videos above, golf swings, like golfers themselves, have their own personality and characteristics based on certain fundamentals. What do you look for in a beautiful swing? Now it’s your turn to show off. From May to June 30, 2012 tweet us a link to your creative photo of your beautiful swing (you must follow us on Twitter to be eligible for the prize). Alternatively, you can post your photo to our Facebook Fan Page (you must like our fan page to be eligible for the prize pack). The winner will be chosen based on the photo’s creativity by special judges, Bomani Jones and Josh “PUNTE” Zerkle, and GBU staff. The winner’s prize pack will include:
*BRAND NEW Taylormade Burner Gap Wedge
*1dz BRAND NEW Callaway HX HOT BITE golf balls
*BRAND NEW Callaway Pro Vent adjustable cap
Welcome to the first post of the Golf Balls Unlimited blog. This section will consist of posts about Golf Balls Unlimited, the advancement of golf ball technology, the best values in the shop, best course stories, and other related topics. Enjoy!
We’ll talk about golf ball basics in our inaugural posts. Look around the GBU shop and you’ll see there’s a variety of balls from Titleist, Nike, Callaway, Bridgestone, and so on. So how do you go about choosing a ball? Golf ball construction take place in two spheres of thought: control/spin or distance. While styles and ideologies mesh, amateur players should recognize their level and style while choosing golf balls. The following are some basic terms and ideas:
Distance: golf balls designed for distance are generally constructed with two pieces: a synthetic core with a thin Surlyn cover. This dense core is ideal for long hitting. This ball is good for beginners who are looking for distance and have not developed proper feel for spin (and also are more encouraged to continue to play by hitting long, impressive drives).
Spin: balls built for spin and control are constructed with at least three pieces. The core is surrounded by a rubber layer with a synthetic cover as the final touch. These balls are more expensive than two piece balls and meant for higher level and professional golfers.
Compression: compression deals with the “feel” of the ball, relating to the density of the core. A lower compression number equals higher distances so beginners should look for a number around 80. Likewise, balls with higher compression will have more spin and control. Higher amateur players should look for numbers around 90 to 100.
Dimple Count: The effect of dimples on distance/spin will be covered in further blog posts. In short, dimples normally range from 350-450 per ball with performances based on depth and number of the dimple.
The Golf Balls Unlimited shop gives a technical description under each ball to let consumers know what to expect from each ball:
Whether you’re new to golf and trying to find your feet or a weekend warrior, the lesson is the same: find a ball that fits where your game. The Golf Balls Unlimited shop has a ball for every level.