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Why Taking Golf Lessons in Winter is a Great Idea

golf winterI’m sure many golfers have taken a lesson or two in that endless pursuit to get better at this game. I’ve taken countless lessons – with teaching professionals too numerous to mention. And you know the drill….you work with him or her on the range and you’re just hitting it great. Then you’re left alone to work on a few key things…maybe you have a couple of drills to ingrain that new swing or grip. You’re so excited that you’re finally going to conquer this game and play to your potential. With those positive thoughts in mind you head to the course….and its a disaster! You can’t stop thinking of mechanics, your head is spinning with thoughts from the lesson. What you hoped would be your record low round turns into one of the worst rounds you’ve played in – well you can’t even remember the last time you played that badly!

And that is exactly why the best time to take lessons is in the dead of winter when you can’t rush on to the course and try to bring it to its knees.  Almost every city has some type of indoor golf facility and taking lessons now, when you can’t get out on the course to play, gives you the much needed time to just focus on practice. Because lets face it, when you take lessons in the summer, how much time do you spend practicing? Almost none right?  You’d rather play than practice because it’s more fun.

I’ve often said that I wish taking a golf lesson was like taking your car to the mechanic. The pro tinkers with your swing and then its all fixed. You head back out and you’re striping it down the middle of the fairway. Sadly that’s not the case.  So if you have that itch to swing a club but you have 2 feet of snow on your lawn (and on your local course), look for a teaching professional and put those winter months to good use.

What are Your New Year’s Golf Resolutions?

2015 ballsHi everyone out in golf blog land! Hope you all had a great Christmas or Hanukkah. Before I start talking about your 2015 New Year golf resolutions I want to mention golf-related gifts.  I’m sure a lot of you received some great gifts but one of my fave gifts is a box of golf balls. It’s one piece of equipment that you cannot play golf without and for me, there is nothing like cracking open a sleeve and starting to play with a brand new ball. You take out your Sharpie and put your mark on it, tee it up and you’re on your way to another great day on the course. Hope there were lots of golf balls under the tree this year!

On to resolutions.

1. A firm decision to do or not to do something. A formal expression of opinion or intention agreed on by a legislative body, committee, or other formal meeting, typically after taking a vote.
2. The action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter.

Have you ever made any golf-related resolutions?  In the past some of my resolutions have been pretty specific…reduce my handicap by 5 strokes, practice my short game once a week. I think the key to a really good resolution is to make it achievable. Dropping my handicap was a noble idea but I needed to focus more on how I might be able to do that. We all know it doesn’t happen just because we want it to! Resolving to practice more is a good start but how about practice your short game once a week? Practice should certainly help to reduce that handicap. Better yet, practice with the help of your favourite golf professional – you want to practice good technique and not reinforce bad habits. Unfortunately for those of us in Canada or the northern U.S its a challenge to do that over the winter so we are left to putt on our living room carpet or chip balls onto some imaginary green in the basement. If you have an indoor facility like a dome near you. take advantage of that.  When we lived in the Toronto area we regularly visited the Markham Golf Dome but the facilities out here in Niagara are surprisingly scarce.

So let me know what your golf resolutions are for 2015.  I’m making one this year – it’s simply to play more golf.

Happy New Year!

PS – remember the first event on the PGA schedule is next week. The Hyundai Tournament of Champions from Kapalua in Hawaii. I love watching live golf in prime time!

My PING Fitting



That’s me hanging out with Bubba at the PING facility in Oakville.

About a month ago, as the season wound down here in southern Ontario, my thoughts turned to new clubs. I don’t know if it’s my brain’s way of keeping golf right up there in my consciousness but I always start thinking of shiny new equipment at this time of year. Maybe it’s the promise of a better next season. Kind of like when you were a kid and you bought all those new back to school clothes and Laurentian coloured pencils! A new beginning!

So my search took me to the PING facility in Oakville for a custom club fitting. My fitter Ryan started the session by learning a bit about my golf game and my objectives for the session. Well what golfer doesn’t want to hit the ball farther so for starters I wanted to see if PING equipment could improve on my current set of 5 year old Callaways (okay maybe 4 years old – I’m trying to justify a new club purchase here). Secondly, I wanted help figuring out if I had the correct set makeup – did I need a 4 hybrid? Was I hitting it the same distance as my 7 wood? Should I carry a 3 wood AND a 5 wood? Or should I saw if off in the middle with a 4 wood?

After warming up a bit, Ryan had me hitting my own 7 iron to create a baseline. I hit a bunch of balls to get an average distance and then I started to hit balls with the PING 7 iron. To begin with I was hitting the women’s Serene clubs and then Ryan changed up the heads and shafts for some other combinations. The result – none of the PING combinations performed any better than my current irons. Bummer. Moving on to hybrids, Ryan was looking for the next club that would produce a 10-yard distance gap. That is, a club that would get me 10 more yards than my 7 iron. The next club in my bag is my 6 hybrid and I could have sworn I hit that club a good 10 yards farther than my 7 iron but the numbers don’t lie. At best I was getting maybe 7 yards so we had to move up to my 5 hybrid. I tried the PING 6 hybrid and actually hit that club as well if not better than my current 5 hybrid so finally… the potential of a new club!

Progressing through the clubs I was surprised to find that I had to move up to a 7 wood as the next club in my bag in order to get that 10-yard gap. All this time I’ve been carrying a 4, 5 and 6 hybrid – I guess I don’t need all those clubs! There wasn’t a great deal of difference in how I was hitting the 3 and 5 woods but we agreed that the 3 wood would be the better club to include because I was getting good distance especially when I hit it off a tee. And the 3 wood is a great club to hit on those long par 3’s – or on any other hole on those days when your driver just isn’t behaving.

So we finally get to the driver. I have to confess that the driver is the MOST changed club in my bag. Where I will keep a putter for 8 years, I likely don’t go more than 2 seasons with the same driver. Its that distance thing – maybe a new one will get me those elusive 10 more yards the manufacturers are always promising! Again we started with me hitting my own TaylorMade Burner driver – I’m not sure what the loft is but its high – it says HT on the bottom. I then hit the PING Serene driver with 12 degrees of loft, and then another combination of a different shaft with a G30 driver head. After all that, my own driver was the winner. Ryan explained all the numbers on the Trackman monitor to me – explained the optimal launch and spin rate and while my own numbers could be a bit better, none of the PING equipment could outdo my current driver.

We finished my fitting session with a putter fitting – yes you can be custom fit for a putter. PING has a cool iPhone app that will analyze your putting stroke – they attach an iPhone to your putter shaft and after 5 putts, I learned I had a “slight arc” style of putting stroke. This helps them determine the best putter for you because apparently putters are weighted differently and different types of putters suit different putting styles. Who knew??

So after 90 minutes and hitting what seemed like 1000 balls, the recommendation was that I don’t change my irons or driver but I could ditch my hybrids for the PING 6 hybrid and then round out my set with the PING 3 and 7 woods.

All in all it was a great experience and I came away a more educated consumer. I would strongly urge any woman to be fit for clubs and don’t just buy a set off the rack. Its like buying shoes – you know you’re a size 7 but not all size 7’s will fit you the same. You don’t have to go to a facility like PING but the next time you’re looking for new clubs try multiple brands. Hit the same club in all sets as an initial comparison – if you love your 7 iron hit every manufacturer’s 7 irons. But don’t stop there. Most golf retailers have simulators now so you can check to see if you’re getting enough of a distance gap between the clubs in the set. And remember, the store will always show a set made up of 4 iron or hybrid down to pitching wedge but you don’t have to buy them that way. If you find you’re hitting those hybrids about the same distance, go for the one that gives you that extra 10 yards over your longest iron. The same holds true with fairway woods.

I’ve decided to hold off my club purchase for now and I’m eagerly awaiting the Golf Digest Hot List edition in the new year. But when I do look at clubs again, I’m going to follow the same approach that Ryan used with me at PING. Then I know I’ll end up with a set of clubs that has been truly fit for me!