Tee It Up with The Little Pro: Ch.1

The Little Pro @ BelAirCC#1

Over the next several months I will be offering you instructional tips from my teaching philosophy that will make your golfing pursuit simple, easier, more effective…..and more fun.

All of this pursuit and accumulation of knowledge bears out the quote to me while I was competing in the 1963 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach by amateur Richard Davies of Annandale Golf Club in Pasadena, CA. He then was the reigning British Amateur Champion. Davies said, “Regarding the fascination of this game called golf, it is the quest.”  How true he was! Let’s begin the quest together!

I’ve always felt that a golf professional should exhaust his or her potential as a player. From the time I turned professional in 1957, I tried to play as many Tour events as I could without jeopardizing my club professional responsibilities. I played in more than 200 Tour events, including 15 Los Angeles Opens, 16 Bing Crosby Pro Ams, 8 U.S. Opens, and 6 PGA Championships during my competitive career which extended well into my employment as Head Golf Professional at Bel Air Country Club in 1962. Competing at the highest level in golf provided me with a unique insight into helping others become more accomplished players.

While working as an assistant golf professional at Merion Golf Club and because I was required to give lessons, I discovered what was to become a very important facet of my life: Teaching gave me a sense of satisfaction that I did not feel from playing. There was a sense of giving that tournament golf did not provide, and I decided to devote myself to learning how to teach others this great game.

I start every lesson by asking my student what he wants to accomplish. This two way communication is essential to the learning process so I want to ask each of you to read my teaching with that thought in mind, “What do you want to take away from this experience?”

Any golfer’s quest to improve and learn is bound to evolve his or her basic fundamentals. There is no escaping the fact that sound fundamentals will build a strong and reliable foundation on which to build a repeating and effective golf swing.

There are 4 pillars that are the underpinning of every golf swing:

  1. Set Up
  2. Grip
  3. Swing
  4. Hand Action

We are first going to present and dissect the “Set Up” in its entirety, explaining each of the six essential, and four elective elements. All of which are designed to make us feel more like a modern day Ben Hogan who was without peer in his “Set Up.”

Speaking of Ben Hogan, in 1957 at the U.S. Open being played at Inverness Club in Toledo Ohio, I found myself in the player’s locker room at the adjoining urinal next to the Great Ben Hogan.

I said to myself, “This is hardly the place to encounter an immortal!”

During my tenure at Merion Golf Club, I was drawn into the “Hogan Mystique” by the legend surrounding his 1950 U.S. Open victory there. Francis Sullivan, a Merion member, was Hogan’s personal and legal counsel and one of his best friends. Sullivan became like a surrogate father to me and served as godfather to my son Michael. Through this relationship, Ben provided me with a set of clubs (1959 model), which were duplicates of his personal clubs. I played with that set of irons for twenty-five years.

All the elements in the “Set Up” are designed to make us effective, efficient and more consistent.  No guarantee however!  The guarantee comes from how you swing the club and contact the ball, but a solid “Set Up” position will increase your rate of successful ball striking.

The 6 Essential Elements are:

  1. Posture
  2. Balance
  3. Ball Placement
  4. Stance Width
  5. Weight Distribution
  6. Alignment

The 4 Elective components of the “Set Up” consist of:

  1. Waggle
  2. Wiggle
  3. Looks at the Target
  4. Forward Press

Mind you these elective features are purposeful but not essential. They will however be of great value in developing a comfortable pre-shot routine that will help you perform in pressure situations.

Posture should be as natural as possible.  Normal posture has us stand perfectly erect, not slouched. A great way to gain a sense of normal posture is to address and grip the club in mid-air, standing erect with the club raised up and in front so that it is easy to get the relationship between grip, club and body.  Then, lower the club to the ball with the arms and hands, measuring the distance to the ball while simultaneously tilting the straight spine forward (toward the ball) at the hips with the weight settling evenly between the heels and the balls of the feet.  Coincidentally, the head will naturally move a bit forward (toward the ball) and the rear end backward (out, away from the ball) as the body naturally finds its center.

When properly postured, you should feel solid, stable, athletic, and poised to move.

I look forward to seeing you on the next tee in a couple of weeks time.

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Posted in The Little Pro

TaylorMade Driver Comparison: JetSpeed vs RBZ Stage 2

jetspeed-vs-rbzstage2

With so much attention given to the SLDR driver, the JetSpeed has been more of a Stealth Jet than a Fighter Jet in the amount of buzz created. I’m convinced that the TaylorMade JetSpeed driver deserves just as much attention as any other driver especially since it is many upgrades from its predecessor, the TaylorMade RBZ Stage 2.

jetspeed-tech

TaylorMade has implemented the SpeedPocket technology into their drivers for the first time in the JetSpeed. The SpeedPocket assists with faster ball speeds across the face, especially on shots struck low on the face.  The center of gravity (CG) has been moved lower and closer to the face, which gives the driver a low-spinning aspect. The lower CG means that you’ll have to follow the 2014 TaylorMade mantra, “Loft Up”, and select a higher lofted clubhead than normal to achieve an optimal launching angle and spin rate. You’ll be able to fine tune the loft up or down a total of 3 degrees, in increments of .5 degrees.

The JetSpeed is plenty long, even on mis-hits! The distance gained with this driver can be attributed to the previously mentioned aspects along with the club’s overall weight and length (46” and 299 gram total weight). The overall lightweight club design allows you to produce faster swing speeds, generating higher ball speeds.

The JetSpeed driver produces a classic, higher pitched sound when it is struck solid, letting everyone know you’ve just piped one down the middle of the fairway. The solid sound can be attributed to the new SpeedPocket.

rbz-stage-2-tech

The TaylorMade RBZ Stage 2 driver is a proven upgrade from the prior RocketBallz driver. The RBZ Stage 2 driver was one of the first drivers where TaylorMade moved the CG lower and closer to the clubface. They found that this re-positioning of the CG would produce faster ball speeds with less spin, compared to a lower and back CG. If you’re playing a RocketBallz, you’ll see shots are launching about 1 degree higher, with 300-400 rpm less spin on the golf ball. This is a good thing, this result will help you gain an average of 7-10 yards of overall distance.

The RBZ Stage 2 has a large clubface which works two-fold. It helps with the ability to work the ball in either direction, and aids in reducing spin on the golf ball.  The hosel on the RBZ Stage 2 has 12 adjustable positions that allows you to fine tune your launch angles and spin rates. With out the adjustable hosel, you wouldn’t be able to adjust your launch angle which is crucial to gaining distance.

 And The Winner Is…

The JetSpeed.

  • It’s a classic driver that fits into anyone’s bag, not to mention it’s easy on the wallet.
  • It also produces low-spinning, higher-launching shots compared to the RBZ Stage 2. What that last sentence means: MORE DISTANCE.

Sorry RBZ Stage 2, here’s the feedback we heard..

  • “Inconsistency”
    • Multiple players stated that hits off the toe create a high draw, while shots off the heel don’t travel.
  • “Distracting Graphics”
    • The graphics on the crown of the clubhead were startling for some players. They stated it was a little distracting, while others stated once you begin to see results, you’ll be able to ignore the graphics.
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Posted in Drivers, Fairway Woods & Hybrids, Equipment

TaylorMade JetSpeed Is All About Speed! Clubhead Speed, Swing Speed and Ball Speed.

How many times have you heard the expression “thin to win”? Well, now you’ll be able to take “hitting it thin” to a new level thanks to the JetSpeed driver by TaylorMade. This driver will produce more distance on low struck shots by reducing the spin and launching it high. The combination of faster ball speeds and higher launch angles will lead to greater distance on all shots. To achieve these results, TaylorMade is continuing to ride the wave of their highly successful Speed Pocket design, previously used only on irons.

jetspeed-speedpocket

TaylorMade’s innovative design, the Speed Pocket, is so successful that they are incorporating it into the JetSpeed driver. This will be the first driver to ever feature the Speed Pocket design. The Speed Pocket is a slot that has been cut out of the club, behind the face, from heel-to-toe. The slot is filled with polyurethane which enhances the sound and feel of the golf club. The Speed Pocket allows the clubface to flex at impact, rebounding energy to the golf ball faster than ever before. The Speed Pocket in the JetSpeed driver has been radically redesigned, when compared to its previous incorporation in their irons. The design is much smaller and therefore accounts for less weight.  Even though it’s smaller it’s just as efficient at boosting ball speed off the clubface.

jetspeed-cg

TaylorMade is also incorporating a low and forward center of gravity (CG) location in the JetSpeed driver. This technology has been used in previous TaylorMade drivers, most recently the SLDR. It has shown that this CG location generates faster ball speeds and lower spin when compared to the drivers of old that featured a low and back CG. The combination of the low and forward CG with the Speed Pocket drastically minimizes the spin produced on golf shots, translating to long and powerful drives.

jetspeed-loftsleeve

The Loft-Sleeve on the shaft is a fine tuning feature of the driver, which enhances the launch angle. It can be altered into a variety of twelve different positions to effectively change the loft of the driver +/- 1.5 degrees from the standard loft setting. The JetSpeed is available in 9.5, 10.5, and 13 degrees of loft. Be aware that this driver will significantly lower the ball spin, which is necessary for the golf ball to fly extreme distances. You’ll need more loft than usual to achieve an optimum launch angle, so just make sure to take this into consideration.

jetspeed-shafts

The shaft on the JetSpeed driver is the Matrix Velox T. The driver shaft length will be 46 inches and weigh 49 grams. This shaft, while long and very light, is built for increasing speed and maximizing overall distance. So, naturally this shaft is a perfect fit for the JetSpeed driver. It is available in senior, regular, stiff and extra stiff. For those seeking the JetSpeed TP driver, the shaft will be the only difference between the two clubs. The TP shaft will be heavier, weighing 60 grams.

jetspeed-fairway-woodThe TaylorMade JetSpeed fairway wood has a sleek and shallow appearance.  The clubhead is smaller, from sole to crown, than previous fairway woods manufactured by TaylorMade.  This size allows the CG to be lower and forward, relative to the center of the clubface. The shallow clubhead design makes it easier to launch the golf ball from the tee or turf, achieving more distance than ever before. The face of the golf club is made of an ultra-strong steel alloy that increases ball spee.  This design inspires confidence at set-up, leaving no doubt that this club will perform at the highest level. The JetSpeed fairway wood is available in 15, 17, 19, 21 and 23 degrees of loft.

jetspeed-hybrid

The TaylorMade JetSpeed hybrid is available in 17, 19, 22, 25 and 28 degrees of loft.

As you can tell the JetSpeed driver, fairway wood, and rescue are all about producing crazy amounts of speed. The combination of a light-weight clubheads, shafts and head shapes will have you gaining massive amounts of speed all around; swing speed, clubhead speed and ball speed. All of this combined velocity will have you booming the ball all season long. Don’t be left behind!

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Posted in Drivers, Fairway Woods & Hybrids, Equipment, Most Popular
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