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Golf Instruction [MattRistine]

Golf instruction refers to teaching the game of golf. Golf instructors require both technical and physical ability to teach golf, and are typically best performed by recognized golf instructors certified by relevant bodies such as the professional golf association in the United States. Golf instructors typically use a combination of physical conditioning, driving range instruction, videotaped swing analysis, and on-course play to teach. Golfers begin to learn by learning the fundamentals of the swing and the different aspects of the various shots required to play golf. GolfSmash's instruction page is one of the first golf websites to provide golfers with real-time lessons from real golf instructors around the world. GolfSmash's certified golf instructors will post their daily tips, comment on questions, analyze golf swings, and communicate directly with golfers who have questions. Golfers can also follow their favorite golf instructors and will be automatically notified when the instructors they are following post new tips. GolfSmash's golf instructors will be ranked throughout the world based on the interaction golfers have with them, number of followers, and the number of posts on GolfSmash.
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MattRistine
(Students 1)
Dec 29, 2014 4:53 AM Quick Tips | All Levels
 
For most golfers, winter is a slower time of year. Even if you live in a warm state, chances are you won't play as much golf during the winter as you will in the summer. While that might not be much fun, it does give you the chance to work on your game and improve some of your weaknesses. You don't want to mess with your swing in the summer when you are busy playing as much as possible, so put off those changes until the off-season. So what should you work on during the winter? Figuring that out is as easy as looking back on the season that you just finished. What were the weak parts of your game? Where were you happy with your performance? You shouldn't have to think too long in order to decide what parts of the game you need to work on. Don't make the same mistake that most golfers make and practice the parts of the game that you are already good at - attack your weaknesses if you really want to get better. Below are a few ideas for improvements you can make during the winter months - Ball flight change. If you would like to change from a draw to a fade, or vise versa, winter is the perfect time to make the change. This is an adjustment that will take some time, so it is best done when you aren't playing very often. Grip changes. Making an adjustment to your grip might be the most challenging change that you can make in your game. Should you decide to change your grip, commit to taking some time away from the course so you can simply practice your new grip on the driving range until it becomes comfortable. Changing putters. Decided that you need a new putter to take your performance on the greens to the next level? Try putting the new flat stick in the bag during the winter. That way you can gradually get used to the new putter before the golf season really kicks in again. For any major change you plan to make in your game, the winter season is the ideal time to do the job. Give yourself plenty of time in between rounds to work on your improvements, and you should be ready to take a big step forward in your game when spring arrives.
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MattRistine
(Students 1)
Dec 11, 2014 6:30 PM Miscellaneous | All Levels
 
Many amateur golfers think that there is some kind of trick - or magic - to being a professional golfer. They can’t imagine shooting the scores that the pros shoot, so they build up this idea in their head that the pros are doing something they as amateurs aren’t even capable of. That isn’t true at all. In reality, most professional golfers are simply highly proficient at what they do, capable of repeating good shots over and over again. Sure, they can hit the ball good distances and generate backspin, but the consistency of their performance is really what leads to the good scores. If there is any ‘magic’ involved, it comes in the form of something so simple that most amateur golfers ignore it completely - decision making. Simply put, pros make better decisions than amateurs. When you are playing for your paycheck each week, there is no room for error due to poor choices. The game is hard enough - making bad decisions can make it impossible. While professional golfers generally hit better shots than amateurs do, the real difference between the two is the decisions they make from the first tee to the last green. Following are five ways you can quickly stop making amateur decisions and start thinking like a pro. Don’t reach for your driver all day. There are great times to hit your driver, and times where you should opt for a fairway metal or long iron. Pro golfers understand that the game is about position, not distance. Placing your ball in a safe position to play an approach shot into the green is far more important than raw distance off the tee. Stay under the hole. Whenever possible, you want to be playing uphill. Why? You have more control over the golf ball when playing uphill, especially on short shots. As you pick targets throughout the round, keep in mind the desire to position the ball below the hole. Avoid a repeat shot. A repeat shot is when you have to try the same shot twice in a row - such as leaving your ball in a bunker after hitting a sand shot that doesn’t get out of the trap. These are strokes that you can’t get back, so make sure to do everything you can to avoid having to hit the same shot twice in a row. Play more break. There is a reason the low side of the hole is called the ‘amateur side’. Most amateurs don’t play enough break on their putts, and they watch them miss on the low side time after time all day long. When reading your putts, add a couple inches to the line you think is right - and you will be amazed at the results. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Thinking about shots that are still to come on the course is a great way to make bad decisions on the shot you are currently playing. Staying in the moment is vitally important on the golf course, so focus all of your mental energy on the shot that is currently in front of you.
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MattRistine
(Students 1)
Dec 11, 2014 6:03 PM Trouble Shots | All Levels
 
One of the most important decisions a football coach has to make on any given Sunday is the choice of going for it on 4th down - or punting instead. Sometimes, the choice is easy. When it is 4th and 20, the punt is the obvious choice. Likewise, facing a 4th and 1 when you need a touchdown to win is a pretty easy decision to keep the offense on the field and go for the first down. Just like a head coach in football, you need to know when to punt on the golf course - and when to go for it. Of course, you don’t actually punt the golf ball. The golf version of a punt is chipping the ball back onto the fairway instead of going for the green. If you find your ball in a bad spot after your tee shot - behind some trees, for example - you will have to choose if you are going to be aggressive or if you are going to play safe and pitch out sideways. Pitching out is the safer option, but might mean you will make a bogey on the hole. On the other hand, going for the green could be rewarded with a par or birdie - but it could also be punished with a double bogey or worse. So how do you make this difficult choice? The first thing to think about is the context of your round as a whole, and where you stand on the scorecard. If you are on the first couple holes, it is usually best to chip out and not do too much damage to your score early on. There will be chances later in the round to be more aggressive if you so choose. However, if this decision comes late in a round and you need a par to set a new personal best, for example, the risk might be worth the reward. Another important factor is the variables that you are facing on the shot. How many dangers do you need to avoid in order to achieve a good result? Having to get your ball over a tree is one thing - but if you have to get over a tree and then avoid a water hazard near the green, that is likely too much risk to take on. Count how many different ways the shot could go wrong, and if you find more than one or two, you are better off playing it safe. You can’t count on hitting a completely perfect shot - there needs to be at least a little margin for error. So - do you prefer to go for it, or are you a player that opts for the punt more often than not? Neither one is right or wrong, and there are good golfers that take both approaches. The important thing is that you understand all of the variables in play and make an informed decision - and then be confident in that decision as you hit the shot. Often, your commitment to the decision is more important than the decision itself. Good luck!
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MattRistine
(Students 1)
Dec 10, 2014 12:54 AM Miscellaneous | All Levels
 
Through the years, I have played with golfers of all different skill levels, ranging from complete beginners to accomplished professionals who have competed in major championships. Over that experience, there is something interesting I have learned - many amateur golfers don’t think that course management matters to them. Nearly every good golfer I played with understood the importance of course management, and how crucial it is to make good decisions from shot to shot. However, less accomplished players seemed to think it was good enough to just grab a club and swing away - and the results were usually in line with how much thought went into the shot. Course management is important for each and every golfer. While a professional golfer will have more shots at their disposal, and will be able to rely on their shots more consistently, it is still vital to every golf to think their choices through carefully before hitting a shot. Just like a football team wouldn’t head out onto the field without a game plan, you should never head onto the course without a plan of attack. Following are just a few of the many reasons why you should take course management more seriously - Eliminate a variable. No matter what your handicap is, there are certainly plenty of shots throughout a round that you wish would have gone better. The important thing is to understand what poor shots are due to bad execution, and which are due to bad decision making. When you pay attention to course management, you will have a specific reason for each shot - so you should be making good decisions most of the time. That way, when you hit a bad shot, you can look quickly to the execution of your swing knowing that the decision making was sound. Learn more about your game. As you put more and more thought into your shot selection on the course, you will start to learn things about your game that you might not have known otherwise. For example, if you notice that you continue to fail to execute a specific shot with a certain club, you can start avoiding that situation or just stop trying to hit that shot. Those patterns are only going to make themselves known when you put time and effort into course management. Lower your scores! Isn’t this the point in the first place? Believe it or not, and many amateurs don’t believe it, good course management can lower your scores in your very next round. Pick the right clubs, use solid strategy, and you will see your scores start to fall even without making a single change to your swing.
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MattRistine
(Students 1)
Nov 23, 2014 5:28 AM Quick Tips | All Levels
 
One of my favorite things to do in golf is to travel and play courses in different locations and different climates. I have found over the years that it requires a certain level of golfer to be able to handle the adjustments to a new environment and still be able to post the same scores that they do at home. It is one thing to be able to get the ball around your home course where you know every slope and every hazard - it is quite another thing to do it on a course that you have never seen before when you are thousands of miles from home. I believe that every golfer should try to take a trip at least once to test how their game holds up under different conditions. Not only is it great fun, but you can also learn a lot about your game and what parts of it need work. I am from the Seattle area where most golf courses are lined with trees and the turf is generally soft and damp. While my game is well suited to those conditions because they are what I am used to, I enjoy heading south to the desert to play on golf courses that are completely different than what I am comfortable with. It requires me to hit different shots, think differently, and adapt quickly in order to shoot good scores. If you do get a chance to take a golf trip, I have a few quick tips to help you play your best - Figure out yardages first. Depending on where you have traveled, there is a good chance that the ball will fly a different distance than it does at home. For that reason, make figuring out your yardages the first task on your list. Pay close attention to the shots you hit on the first few holes and quickly adjust once you figure out a pattern in the distance of your shots. Ask around. There is nothing quite like local knowledge, and most golf pros will be happy to share their tips. Tell them you are visiting from out of town and that you would appreciate any advice they have on how to play the course. Get out on the practice green. The type of grass used on the courses where you visit might not be the same as at home, so get onto the practice green before your round and figure out what the grass is like. Different grasses affect putting and chipping the most, so pay attention to those areas of your game while making the adjustment. You don’t have to play great golf to enjoy a golfing vacation - I have played plenty of poor rounds on my trips and still have a memorable time. However, it is always more fun to play well, so I hope my tips can help you dial in your game as quickly as possible.
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MattRistine
(Students 1)
Nov 23, 2014 5:26 AM Miscellaneous | All Levels
 
I have been lucky enough in my life to have played in many, many golf tournaments. For me, playing in tournaments provided great motivation to practice my game for countless hours all in search of better finishes. The feeling of pressure and competition that you get when playing in a tournament is one of the best experiences in all of golf. For me, the routine of playing in a tournament is second nature at this point. Things like how to warm up, how to handle the nerves, and how to prepare for each round are just part of the process. However, if you are someone who is yet to experience your first tournament, all of those steps might seem intimidating and a little overwhelming. This article offers a few pieces of advice based on my experience that I hope will help you overcome the jitters and enjoy your first tournament. Give Yourself Time The first thing you want to make sure you do when playing in a tournament is to give yourself plenty of time before you are due on the first tee. A good rule of thumb is to take whatever amount of warm up time you normally use for a round of golf, and add twenty minutes to it. So, if you usually arrive a half hour prior to teeing off, try showing up for the tournament 50 minutes ahead of your tee time. This will give you a chance to check in for the tournament, and to complete your warm up without feeling rushed. The extra time also can help you shake off the hitters and get comfortable with your surroundings. Stick with What Works Are you a golfer who likes to hit a lot of range balls before you tee off? Maybe you only like to hit a few shots with a couple clubs and you feel ready to go? Whatever your routine, stick to it as closely as possible. Doing something different just because it is a tournament round is a recipe for throwing your game off. I advise arriving a little earlier as mentioned above just to have a little breathing room before you tee off, but try keeping everything else as consistent as possible. It’s Just Golf There is no denying that you will feel more pressure during a tournament round than you do during a regular round - and there is nothing wrong with that. However, it is still just golf at the end of the day. The golf course will look the same as it does on any other day, and you can still play well as long as you remain focused and shake off the nerves. While you want to play well, don’t make the round bigger than it is - take it one shot at a time and enjoy the competition. I hope you are able to enter a tournament near you sometime soon and test your skills under pressure. It doesn’t matter what kind of tournament or what the stakes might be - even a small event can make you feel the pressure and require you to step up to the challenge. Good luck!
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MattRistine
(Students 1)
Nov 7, 2014 6:41 PM Putting | All Levels
 
Truth be told, I don’t really even like typing the word ‘yips’. It isn’t something any golfer wants to think about, let alone talk about for any length of time. The yips are frustrating, annoying, embarrassing, and damaging to the scorecard. If you have ever had the yips – even for just one round – you certainly know how bad it can be. However, plenty of golfers still struggle with the yips, so I would like to offer my ideas on how to quickly and easily solve the problem. The first thing to understand is that the yips are a mental affliction, rather than a physical one. I’m quite sure you are capable of making a two or three foot putt, and you can probably do it over and over again on the practice green. The space between your ears in what is getting in your way, and these tips are designed to crack the code. Try any or all of these tips as you try to make your putting yips a distant memory – More Practice. Sometimes, the solution to the problem can be as simple as practicing more. When you don’t spend any time working on your short putts during a practice session, they can become far more intimidating on the course. Spending just five or ten minutes during each practice session on your short putts can make all the difference in the world. Quiet Your Eyes. It starts simply enough – you miss one or two shorts putts during a round, and don’t think much of it. However, during your next round, you miss a couple more and it starts to get in your head. Then, your eyes start to dart around during your stroke in an attempt to guide the ball into the hole. There is no need for your eyes to do anything but look at the ball during your stroke. Keep them quiet and focus only on solid contact between the putter and the ball. Be Aggressive. On a short putt, you can almost always aim right for the center of the hole and hit the putt with enough pace to make it hold the line. As you lose confidence, you may start to read more break than is actually there – and this can cause big problems. Aim for the center of the cup, make a good stroke, and watch it fall in. Keep it in Perspective. Is it frustrating to miss a short putt? Of course. Is it the end of the world? Not even close. Putting more pressure on yourself than necessary is a common way to make the yips worse. Take a deep breath, put the putt in perspective in terms of real life and things that are actually important, and go ahead and knock it in.
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MattRistine
(Students 1)
Nov 2, 2014 12:59 AM Miscellaneous | All Levels
 
One of the best feelings in golf is setting a new personal best score. It doesn’t really matter if you do it in a tournament, a round with your friends, or just a round when you went out by yourself after work. Whatever the circumstances may be, posting your all-time low round is a feeling that you will remember for a long time. For me, that number is 65. I have shot 65 just once in my life, and I remember it clearly. While I played in many great tournaments through the years, my 65 came during a casual round with nothing on the line – yet I remember it like it was yesterday. Perhaps I’ll find a way to post a 64 one day, but 65 is my magic number until that day. What is your career best round? Are you stuck on 80 and wish you could make your way into the 70’s? Maybe you have never quite gotten below 100, and feel the pressure every time you have a chance. No matter what the number is for you, the mental challenges that golfers face when trying to lower their career best are always the same. Following are three quick tips to help you break down the barrier and successfully post your new best round – #1 – Don’t Do the Math The worst thing you can do is get out the scorecard early in the round and start doing the math on what you need to do to break your record. You don’t want to be thinking about that number on every shot that you hit – rather, your attention needs to be focused on the shot at hand as you make your way around the course. All you can do is your best on each shot. #2 – Don’t Limit Yourself Imagine that your best ever round is an 80, and you are hoping to one day break into the 70’s. That doesn’t mean you have to shoot a 79…you could go ahead and shoot a 75, or better, and breakthrough in style. Don’t put mental limits on yourself or your scoring ability based on the past. Do your best for all 18 holes and you might be surprised at what is possible. #3 – Don’t Panic It is easy to get nervous and panic a little bit when you start to get close to the end of the round and you still have a chance at your new record. The best way to successfully set your new record is to do exactly what you have been doing all round long. It doesn’t take anything superhuman to set a new scoring record – it just takes consistency. Keep a calm head and make good decisions all the way through to the last shot. If you are able to maintain focus and patience, that new record could be well within reach.
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MattRistine
(Students 1)
Oct 29, 2014 8:48 PM Full Swing | All Levels
 
Imagine the level of comfort and confidence that you would have when standing on the tee if you could be sure you wouldn’t miss on one side of the fairway or the other. That would surely be a great feeling, and would allow you to make confident and aggressive swings far more often. Whether you eliminate the right or left side of the course off the tee, you are sure to reap the benefits of this strategy on the scorecard. It might seem like a fantasy to be able to eliminate one side of the course, but it is not as difficult as you might think. During your next visit to the driving range, pick a specific target out in the distance and hit 10 consecutive drives at that target. Don’t worry about which side those shots miss on at this point – just hit the best possible shot each time, and make a quick note of the result. Once those ten shots are hit, take a look at your notes and see if any patterns stick out. Where are your misses going? Which side to you seem to avoid naturally? For example, let’s say that you missed one drive to the right, hit four drives right at the target, and missed to the left five times. Obviously, the left side of the course is your natural miss. That’s okay – your goal now should be to never miss to the right. Whether you hit a drive right at your target, or miss it to the left, those are acceptable results, as long as you don’t hit the ball to the right. Why does this work? Of course, it would be great if you could hit every drive perfectly at your target time after time. However, that isn’t happening – so forget about it. The best you can hope for is to control your misses so that they are playable and don’t cost you on the scorecard. So, knowing you are only going to miss to the left – if you miss – you can pick targets that allow for a left miss without doing too much damage. Often, the right half (or even right edge) of the fairway will be the best choice. Imagine the following scenario – you step up onto the tee of a long par four and you notice that there are out of bounds stakes lining the right edge of the hole. Down the left side, there is just some rough and a couple of bunkers. Obviously, the out of bounds in the real trouble spot on this hole, while the rough or bunkers shouldn’t be too bad. In this case, you can aim your drive right down the middle and not worry about the out of bounds at all. Hopefully you will hit it right down the middle and the ball will finish in the fairway. Even if it does move a little left, you should still be a playable position. Pick Your Side It doesn’t particularly matter which side of the course you decide to eliminate, as long as you pick one and are confident in it. You should go with your natural tendency so you can easily fit your swing to this new strategy. Starting in your very next round you will be amazed to find how much confidence you can gain just by mentally eliminating one side of the course.
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MattRistine
(Students 1)
Oct 22, 2014 10:41 PM Short Game | All Levels
 
If there is one thing I have learned through teaching a wide range of golfers through the years, it is that most amateurs have lousy short games (sorry, but it’s true). While the average amateur golfer would lament that their full swing is the reason for their high handicap, the truth is that the short game is what lets most of them down. When I moved from playing high school golf up to the college ranks, I was shocked to see how bad my short game really was. I could hold my own off the tee and from the fairway, but I was a mess on and around the greens. In order to lower my scores and keep up, that had to change. To help you sharpen your short game and bring your own scores down in the process, I am happy to offer the three tips below. Rushing the Stroke Whether it is a short putt or a pitch from just off the green, most amateur players rush through their short game shots like they just want to have them over with. There is no hurry – the ball isn’t going anywhere. In fact, good rhythm is just as important in the short game as it is in your full swing. When you are practicing your short game, work on using a smooth tempo that takes the club head cleanly through the ball with confidence. Rushing will only lead to a breakdown in your technique, and all kinds of bad things can happen from there. Wandering Eyes I’ve never been a fan of the idea that you need to ‘keep your head down’ when hitting a golf shot, because I feel like that is too physically restricting. However, it is important that you keep your eyes down on the ball to ensure a solid strike. Don’t make the mistake of following the club head with your eyes. Instead, focus on a specific spot on the top of the golf ball until it is gone. You will be surprised at how much better your short game can be when you simply look in the right place. Squeezing the Grip This one might be the most common mistake of them all – and most amateur golfers have no idea that they are doing it. When you squeeze the grip too tightly, you lose feel for the clubhead and your ability to control the distance of the shot is significantly reduced. During your short game practice sessions, pay attention to how tightly you are holding the club and make an effort to keep your fingers and hands as relaxed as possible throughout the stroke. Don’t follow all the other amateur golfers who mindlessly hit balls on the driving range all day long, only to see their handicap remain the same. If you want to get better, spend your time on the practice putting and chipping greens. This part of your game is ripe for improvement, and lower scores are waiting around the corner.
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