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SATURDAY GOLF CLINICS WITH SEAN KLOTZ

Silverado

Sean Klotz's Golf Tips

Just north of Tampa in beautiful Zephyrhills, FL
A retreat from fast-paced day-to-day life

MARCH 2020

How to Practice

As we head towards the dog days of summer, the thought of getting out on the range in the hot sun to hit 75 balls is not very appealing. If that’s not going to happen, then I’m sure that 45 minutes of putting or bunker shots aren’t going to happen either. So how do you keep your swing and stroke in check during the oppressive Florida summers? Here are a few tips:

You can accomplish just as much from a small bucket as you can from a large bucket if you concentrate on what you are doing. Practice swings are way underrated in their benefit to your golf game. Do you know what the best thing about practice swings is? They are always just practice, not real, live action. You can also control the speed of your practice swings and work on individual parts of your golf swing. Ideally, with each practice swing, you will make a divot—preferably from the inside to the outside. Even on the course, take time with your practice swing and visualize what you are trying to do with each shot.

On the putting green, the best practice can be had inside of 6 feet. If you are practicing from any further away, you either have aspirations for the PGA Tour or you don’t know what you are doing and probably should be back at the clubhouse playing cornhole. Again, it’s not quantity; it’s quality. The more 3-4 footers you make on the practice green, the more 5-8 footers you will make on the course. Finally, practicing at home on the carpet for just minutes a day will go a long way to making you a better putter.

Remember, PRACTICE DOES NOT MAKE PERFECT! PERFECT PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT!

FEBRUARY 2020

D Plane, Part One

What is D Plane, and how will it improve my ball striking, lower my scores and ultimately help me enjoy the game more?

D Plane is a relatively new teaching term that originated roughly around the same time as high speed cameras and laser analysis of swing path, face angle and attack angle. Once you get the concept, it will change the way you think about hitting golf shots forever.

The math is irrefutable. These are not concepts based on opinion or conjecture. The facts are the facts. In golf teaching, these are actually called ball flight laws, just like laws in science. After reading this, look up D Plane on YouTube to keep learning. I recommend James Leitz or Tom Stickney's videos explaining D Plane. They are both excellent!

So, what are we talking about? There are two main points to remember: face angle at impact and swing path relative to target. Face angle is probably more simple to understand. D Plane says that the initial starting line of the golf ball is determined 65-75% of the time by the angle of impact. If your club face is pointing left of the target at impact, the ball will start left of the target. Likewise, if the club face is pointing right of the target at impact, the ball will start right of the target. Finally—you will probably get this one—if the club face is pointing at the target at impact the ball will start at the target!

With our understanding of face angle and initial starting line improved, let’s ask this: why does the ball curve, either right-to-left, left-to-right, or ideally fly straight without much curve? The answer is D Plane, and how it relates to swing path. Imagine an alignment stick (or club) laid on the ground roughly one foot in front of the ball pointing directly at the target. For right handed players, a club path that (after impact) swings left of the alignment stick will produce a left-to-right ball flight more commonly referred to as a fade. In exaggerated form, it produces a slice. On the other hand, a club path that (after impact) swings right of the alignment stick will produce a right-to-left ball flight more commonly referred to as a draw—in exaggerated form, a hook. For left-handed players, just inverse the terms and you’ll get it.

This is a lot of information, but once you understand the basic principles, you will start seeing better results. The physics of why all this occurs is not as important for you to understand as your understanding of the relationship between the face and the path to the shot that you currently hit. Many factors influence face angle at impact, including grip placement, distance away from the ball (proper posture), and rotation of the hands through impact. Equally, if not more, factors influence swing path. The most important thing to consider is where your feet, hips and shoulders are in relation to the target line.

For more information about the D Plane and to book your next lesson, email me at [email protected] With some basic understanding of this concept, I know your game will improve!
 

JANUARY 2020

Good Balance, Lower Scores

Watch any good player and you will consistently see one thing: good balance. “Swing easy” is one of those golf clichés that I just hate. Look at Bubba, Tiger or Daly and tell me that they are “swinging easy.” What do they actually have in common? They all have good balance.

In golf terms, what I mean by good balance is finishing with all of your weight on your front side. The only weight on your back leg should be on the back toes, as they help you stay upright on the ground. An ideal finish would have just your back foot touching the ground with only the toes, at a 90 degree angle to the ground, perfectly perpindicular. Watch the swing of PGA Tour player Luke Donald for a good example .

In the video, you will see what I am trying to awkwardly describe through words and phrases. Donald’s move is so effortless and easy and non-violent and unforced and…You get the idea. There are many PGA Tour players, good amateurs, and pros around that accomplish this, that stay in balance. Now, if you come out to Silverado and look down the line of range players or watch your own friends the next time out, the light bulb should pop on above your head.

Yes, yes: you should “swing easy” if a) you don’t know how to swing hard and keep the club on line (Bubba, Tiger, Daly, etc.) b) score is more important than distance c) you have to start manipulating other parts of the swing to accomplish swinging hard and swinging in balance, i.e. taking the backswing past parallel because you want to “hit it further,” but then not completing your followthrough in a nice, balanced position.

DRILL TIME: My number one, best drill to work on achieving good balance is to make a practice swing and allow the back hand (right hand for right handed players) to literally come off the club right before impact and complete the swing using only the front hand while achieving the most complete followthrough your body can achieve. End in a balanced position with only the toes of the back foot connecting to the ground upon completion of the swing.

Read that last paragraph again. Again. In fact, cut it out and put it in your golf bag, so the next time out on the range or going to play you will have this drill to warm up. There are some hidden gems in that paragraph. First, only a practice swing—do not try this with a ball in front of you. Second, go slow at first, because the first few times you try it, you will be getting over to your front side quicker and further than you ever have. It is not a “normal” feeling, and you may rip out your left shoulder socket or tear your rotator cuff if you go too fast. (Medical disclaimer: by you reading this article, I am fully absolved of any future golf injuries from trying my golf drills. Just kidding. Just, please: go slow.) Third, to make it work. the key is to remove your hand from the club just before impact, wherever you feel that will be. Try to keep your front arm engaged a bit more than it would normally be all the way through the swing, but especially on the downswing. Finally, your finish may not look anything like Luke Donald’s, but you can certainly finish in better balanced position than you do now—and with a more complete followthrough.

As with all drills and tips, if you need more help, email me at [email protected] or call me at (813) 788-1225 to book your next lesson. Stay in “good balance.” That’s a good tip for life and golf.
 

DECEMBER 2019

FINISH

The ability to finish the swing is possibly one of the most overlooked Laws of Golf. I mean it. Watch any tour professional, ladies or men, and you will start to see what I mean. The ladies may finish better than—or at least as good as—the men, in fact. They look more flexible and really use all of the power in their smaller frames to generate maximum club head speed. Maybe now I have your attention, because you should realize that when I say “club head speed,” that key phrase translates into more yards.

So, what exactly are we talking about when we discuss finishing your swing? I think this is the best visual image: when you are complete in your followthrough, your right shoulder should be past your left shoulder (for right handed- golfers); you should be in perfect balance, with your upper body over your lower body; your right knee should be facing the target, and the gap between your right knee and left should have closed up; and finally, your weight should have shifted from your right side, completely over to the left side, with only a slight bit of weight on your right toes to stabilize you. If any of this does not make sense, go to YouTube and look at Adam Scott, Luke Donald or Jordan Speith and how they reach all of these positions at the end of their swing.

“But, why does it matter how I finish? The ball is long gone by this point.”

Valid question! Why do baseball coaches focus so much effort on the mechanics of a pitcher? Why do the best free throw or long range jump shooters in basketball maintain their position after the ball has left their hands? Why are the most accurate quarterbacks in football always lauded for their great footwork and balance after the ball has left their hands?

Finishing matters in most anything in life. The saying is, “It’s not how you start; it’s how you finish.” How much do you get out of reading half a book? ...Are you starting to get my point? I will be the first to say that there are multiple moves and positions that must be accomplished that will help you get to a good followthrough position, but I am also saying that golf instructors spend way too much time and effort on all of the mechanics leading up to impact.

Pre-swing set-up accounts for a ton of in-swing success. Yes, re-read that last sentence: In an article labeled “FINISH,” I just put emphasis on pre-swing set-up. The point is that if you start off with good posture, grip, ball position and alignment and get to a good finish position, you are way ahead of the game. Try to get out of your own way. Get out of your own head. It’s so simple: start in a good position and FINISH in a good position, and let all of that other stuff take care of itself.

I know, I know: easy to say, tough to do. This game is hard, but we make it hard. Practice with a tee. Practice with 7-8 irons. Practice with your feet almost together. Practice ½ back swings. Practice getting to a full followthrough. Practice staying in balance. Practice holding your finish. Practice holding your finish until the ball hits the ground (that’s a hard one, by the way). Practice swinging driver to a full finish. Usually, of all the clubs we will finish best with, the feeling is to overswing driver so we can hit it far. Not the correct thought, but at least most players do fully finish their driver swing. Treat SW and 9 irons similarly. Get to a full finish with all clubs!

As always, if you need more help, contact me via email ([email protected]) or call the pro shop to book your next lesson (813-788-1225).

Have fun and FINISH!

NOVEMBER 2019

Chipping with Different Clubs

There are many different options to choose from when chipping. While the standard club to use is the Sand Wedge, when chipping from the “fringe,” I recommend using a variety of clubs. Before we go any further, let’s define “fringe.” The fringe or the “apron” is typically the closely-mown area surrounding the green—usually 8-10 feet off the green, before you get to the rough. Many players like to putt from this area. The idea is that it is safer, with less chance of “skulling” the ball or hitting it fat. With a bit of practice and imagination, you can lower your scores measurably by learning to master shots from around the green with different clubs.

Like standard chip shots, the technique is very similar. First, a narrow stance with your heels almost touching and slightly open is ideal. Second, you want to keep your grip slightly in front of the club head at all times. Keep your weight favoring your front side as well. Both of these pre-shot moves will insure a downward strike, allowing the ball to carry just over the fringe, then roll the rest of the way towards the target. Finally, stay down through the shot, trying to listen for the ball to hit the green before lifting your body to see what a great shot you have executed. The goal is to carry the ball 1/4 to 1/3 of the way to the target, and then let it roll out the rest of the way.

The length of the backswing is short, with the club head going back—just past your back ankle. For longer shots, change clubs, rather than trying to take it back further and judging distance with how hard you are swinging. A good rule of thumb is the following: 9 iron chips will average 15 feet; 8 irons will go 25-30 feet; 7 irons will go 35-40 feet; 5 irons will go 50 feet plus. This point can not be emphasized enough: change the club for longer distances, rather than changing your technique or speed through impact. Keep the tempo the same for all clubs when chipping, and always accelerate through impact. There is no correct distance, but with practice you will be able to find your ideal distances.

Learn to use your hybrids to chip with, and even your 3 wood! My tips here lay in the distance away from the ball. With these longer clubs, you want to stand the club up tall, reducing the amount of arc in the backswing and followthrough. Treat these clubs like a putter—but now you have a little more mass than a putter, and a bit more loft, which will allow the ball to get through the fringe or over the fringe easier. Definitely grip down to the bottom of the grip with the longer clubs, and swing back and through on more of a straight line. All of the other fundamentals stay in line whether it is an 8 iron chip shot or a 21 degree hybrid.

 If you have any further questions or would like to set up a lesson, please contact me at [email protected] .
 

OCTOBER 2019

Divots

Should I or shouldn’t I? Bottom line: you should try to, but don’t kill yourself if you can’t.

In general, we get too caught up in trying to make our shots and swings look like the PGA Tour players we see on TV.

One of my new favorite concepts is this: the length of the divot AFTER the ball is in direct relation to the person’s handicap. When you watch better players hit balls, the divot typically starts after the ball and extends two to three inches past the ball. This is a result of our downward strike into the ball and holding our position of the front arm as it extends towards the target. If you are having trouble making good ball contact, this is a goal that you should try to achieve.

The most common error I see on the range or during lessons is consistency of contact. The two most common mistakes are: hitting the ball fat (hitting the ground before the ball) or hitting the ball thin (hitting the top part of the ball, causing a line drive result). The fat shot primarily comes from using your back hand too much just before impact. The thin shot primarily comes from trying to help the ball up again using your back hand as the power.

When striking the ball properly, the movement from the top of the downswing is as follows: The back foot pushes into the front foot, the back knee drives towards the front knee, the back hip drives towards the front hip, the front arm pulls the club down, then the club head remains behind the hands until just before impact.

Good players hold their front arm through impact, and this allows the club to go straight down the target line. Got it?

I know that is a lot of info, and I promise you good players don’t think about all that—but they do it.

The best drill to learn good divot position is to take a 7 iron to the driving range, narrow your feet to the point where your back heels touch, and hit balls off of a tee with a half back swing and a full followthrough. The goal of the drill is to hit the tee out of the ground with a divot after the ball.

If you hit the ground first, it means you’ve hit the ball fat. If the tee remains in the ground, it means you’ve hit the ball thin. If you have any further questions or would like to set up a lesson, please contact me at [email protected] .
 

JULY 2019

Keys to Short Game

These notes are meant to act as reminders. Keep it simple, and, if it gets more complicated, come see me!

CHIPPING - 4 key ideas:
- Narrow stance: heels almost touching, open stance
- 70% of weight must start and finish on the front leg
- Hands ALWAYS—ALWAYS!--stay in front of clubhead
- Backswing is ALWAYS shorter than follow through

SAND PLAY
- SAME AS ABOVE: Stance can be a bit wider; aim a bit more left of the target
- Keep 70% of weight on the front side. Allow for some natural weight shifting back in the swing, but make sure when           coming through impact that more weight is on the front side than the back leg
- Open the clubface
- Bigger swings on both sides: backswing and follow through. The follow through is the MOST important part of the             swing
- ALWAYS hit the sand first, then the ball will come out

PUTTING
- Have a consistent pre-shot routine, including practice swing, to feel the stroke for that length of putt. Pick out an                intermediate target to line up the putterface, and then your body, to the intended line of the putt
- Backswing is ALWAYS shorter than follow through
- Head stays still until the ball is holed
- Use reverse overlap grip
- Ball position off front foot. Keep it close to front foot to create more of a straight back, straight through stroke
- For long putts, walk the putt for distance and to read break
 

JUNE 2019

How to Hit the Ball with Your Head Up

It is a widely held belief in golf that you must keep your head down to consistently hit the golf ball. I say: PHOOEY! Now, before I get my PGA card taken away from me, let me explain my thoughts.

Yes, yes: you do have to keep your head down to have a better chance of effectively hitting the golf ball. BUT, the act of lifting your head does not cause the problem. Let’s assume that you are a right handed golfer, and therefore a right-handed person. Based on this, I am going to assume that you will try to swing the club from the top of the downswing with your right hand and help the ball up into the air. (Reread that last sentence, because this may be the root of many of your ills in golf.)

Here is the deal: When you try to help the ball up into the air with your back hand, your front knee will straighten before impact, which will raise your front shoulder and ultimately your head. The cause of the bad shot was not picking your head up. That was the end result. The cause of the bad shot was the back hand trying to hit the ball.

So know that we know the cause, how can we fix it? The first step is to understand that your front arm needs to be more involved in the downswing. From the top of the swing, allow your front hand and arm to pull the club down through impact and beyond. If done correctly, you will see and feel a few “new” things. First, as you swing the club into the impact area, your front knee will remain bent. Second, this will also allow your front shoulder to stay more “in” the shot, meaning that it stays down longer. When you are trying to “hit” the ball with your back hand, you will notice that, just before impact, your front shoulder will invariably be higher than your back shoulder, causing an upswing and typically a “topped” shot or “thin” shot. Both topped and thin are words that describe hitting the top half of the golf ball, which produces grounders or line drives--neither of which is good for consistent ball-striking. Finally, yes your head does remain behind the ball and on the ball. What this means is that good ball strikers keep their head in line or behind the ball at impact. Their eyes are looking at the ball, not ahead of it.

Personally, I don’t like the saying, “Keep your Head Down," because it implies that your head must stay down--which, from what I’ve seen, generally keeps an amateur golfer from being able to rotate their shoulders correctly through impact. Try it now as you read this. Sit straight up in a chair or stand straight up. Move your chin to your chest. Try to rotate your shoulders back, then through, like in a golf swing. NOW, try this same drill with your eyes looking straight out onto the horizon. You will feel that you can turn your shoulders much better with your head UP, NOT down.

This idea with your left side is typically foreign to most golfers. Did you know that Tiger Woods does most everything left-handed except golf? Phil Mickelson is right-handed, except in golf. Vijay Singh has been known to keep a 2 handicap as a left-handed golfer. (Remember, Vijay has won many PGA tournaments as a right-handed golfer.)

Here are a couple of drills to use to start helping you use your front arm more in the swing:

1) All practice for now is done with 7, 8, and 9 irons off a tee. This builds confidence and allows you to start working on swinging the club, rather than hitting the ball. There is a huge difference in those two ideas.

2) When gripping the club with your back hand (right for right-handed golfers, left for left-handed golfers), take your thumb and forefinger off the grip. Make practice swings and try to take a divot. Then, hit balls with the same grip. You will find out that there is not much need for these two fingers.

3) For the next drill, make practice swings with your back hand coming off of the club just before impact. When done correctly, you should feel a shotgun effect, and remark on how far over to your front side that swinging with one hand will allow you get. Fair warning!! Make sure no one is around the first few times, as I have seen the club fly out of people’s hands. Go slow for the first few times so as to not throw out any back muscles or shoulders. This drill more than any other shows you how much your back hand holds you back from maximizing the distance of your golf swing.

4) Advanced Golf 101: The last step is to practice swing, then learn to hit balls, one-handed, FRONT ARM ONLY. I have been doing this drill for over 10 years, and the only difference between my regular 8 iron and the one-handed 8 iron is about 30 yards of distance. The direction, height, and finish position of my one-handed swing all match my real golf swing.
 

MAY 2019

Are You Mental?

While I watched the British open held at St. Andrews—the one where Tiger Woods won the 10th major of his career--it seemed to me as if there was a passing of the torch.

Watching Jack Nicklaus compete and then walk up the 18th fairway for the last time in a major, my thoughts were mixed. We were watching the greatest player ever to compete in majors making his last few strokes. In 1986, I was 15 years old, trying to decide between golf and baseball. As Dad and I watched Jack come down the back 9 at Augusta, my decision was made. I had found my career path. I thought it was so fitting to see Jack grind out the last putt on #18 at St. Andrews for his final score: birdie.

The really interesting part of that putt to me was that, in his 2 rounds at the British Open, he didn’t make anything. While his distance was not what it used to be, his ball striking was still magnificent. He just could not seem to make any of the putts that we were so used to seeing him nail.

Now, fast forward to Tiger’s week: he seemed to make all of the 4- to 8-footers that he faced (except on holes 6-8 on Sunday). Make no mistake: the reason that these two players have more major championships than anyone in history is because they are mentally tougher than the other players. When they need to sink the putt to keep the round going, they do!

Here’s my tip: Stay focused on the task at hand. Think about only the next shot. Treat a 3-foot putt with as much respect as a 200-yard drive, because, after all, they do count the same. Think target. Mechanics are great for the range or the practice putting green, but on the course, think target. Grind it out and have fun!

APRIL 2019

Putting Scared

Our golf course has come out of its winter hibernation and has shown some of its summer glory. With this comes more grass on the fairways, roughs and greens.

For the golf course, this means is it’s easier for us to mow the greens a bit tighter. This combination of quicker greens and our undulating, tilted contours can take years off your life if you let it get to you, so here’s a tip:

When putting and chipping, try to leave the ball “underneath the hole.” What this means is, try to leave yourself an uphill putt for your final putt. It is much easier to put a good solid stroke on an uphill putt than it is testing yourself on a downhill slider.

If you do find yourself above the hole, make sure to leave yourself in position to make the comebacker. If you are above the hole, always play more break than you think is necessary to allow the ball to fall into the hole, rather than trying to ram it into the hole.

Finally, if all else fails, play the ball off the toe of the putter to deaden the ball as it gently travels into the cup. Good luck, and keep the head still!

MARCH 2019

Driver and 3 Wood: Tips for Longer, Straighter Drives

Reading this won’t instantly put 30 more yards onto your drives. But you may find some hints, tips and changes here that will add some yardage to your drives while improving your accuracy.

First and foremost, use the correct tool. Make sure that the driver you are using is fit for your swing. If you don’t know what the correct settings are, go see your local PGA Professional for advice. Custom-fit irons are important for accuracy, but using the correct loft, length and shaft for the driver or 3 wood is vital for accuracy, distance and trajectory.

Second, the #1 goal of the tee shot is to set up your second shot. Contrary to popular belief, it is not to see how far you are capable of hitting a golf ball. When you are on the green in 2 shots on a par 4, neither the green nor the ball asks you how far you hit your drive or what club you used to hit into the green. That is all clubhouse banter amongst ego-driven, loud-mouthed golfers with a 15 handicap.

Use this checklist before each drive to set yourself up in position for success from the tee:

Pick out a target using a consistent pre-shot routine
Visualize your shot. Consider shape, trajectory and tempo
Align the clubhead behind the ball with the ball in the middle of the clubface
Set the driver (3 wood) on its belly on the ground--do not alter the face of the club so that it is hooded or turned
Always set your shoulders up so that your front arm is straight, then, when gripping the club, your back arm is behind and bent slightly. This will allow your front shoulder to stay in front of your back shoulder for a longer period of time throughout the swing
Ball position! This may be the most mistaken part of a driver setup that I see from amateur golfers. The proper ball position with a driver is directly opposite the big toe of the front foot. This helps promote an ascending blow with the driver to get the ball up in the air.

During the 1.4 second golf swing there are only a couple of “swing thoughts” that you should have. Here they are:

WIDE: Swing wide, not up. Keep your back elbow tucked close to your body on the takeaway to achieve this position.
Start downswing with lower body first, specifically back leg driving into front knee. Then upper body will fall into place.
FINISH: all the way around until all of your weight is on your front foot.

It is very difficult to think of all of these during the swing, so pick one and have that be your one swing thought.

These notes are just tips. To really enhance your distance and accuracy, contact me at [email protected] or call me at 813-388-0970 to set up your next lesson.
 

FEBRUARY 2019

JANUARY 2019

Silverado Golf & Country Club

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Zephyrhills, FL 33542

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