Gary's Favorite Golf Tips and Q&A—————

I'm not a pro and I don't pretend to be. I've been playing golf for over 30 years now and I still have my amateur problems like most of us but through the years I have developed a good understanding of my golf swing. As I get older and start losing some flexablity, the on-going challenge is physically being able to do what my mind wants to do. For me, golf starts with a good frame of mind. Having positive swing thoughts and having the confidence (in your swing) is the key to good results. I composed The Golf Album to help my mental attitude on the course. Just as you practice your golf swing, you need to prepare and practice your mental attitude as well. The Golf Album may help you achieve this.
Here you can read some of my own tips and some quotes from some of the best teachers and pro's. For the golfers who are just beginning or have a high handicap, I always recommend taking a series of golf lessons from a teaching pro and not try to work it out yourself. You will only develop bad habits which are hard to break and take twice the time to get it right. Been there, done that! (photo: Torrey Pines 04')

Slow Takeaway (song title from the Golf Album)
To me, this is huge! I've heard many pro's say how there is no power or distance from a fast takeaway. All the club head speed is coming down to the ball. A slow takeaway and finishing at the top sets up good rhythm, tempo and balance. I've watched golfers think they are taking the club away slow yet they are jerky and fast losing the correct plane of the club path and a good sense of tempo. This is huge to get it into your head to gear down the takeaway. You will hit straighter and purer shots and start to feel a sense of rhythm and tempo.

Improve Your Takeaway by David Leadbetter
Regardless of whether I'm working with a top player or just an average club golfer, the problem that I see most often is that most swing errors happen during the first three or four feet of the takeaway. Many golfers take the club back too far inside or outside the target line. Some pick the club straight up or loop it around. As a result of these moves, most golfers lose backswing width and do not coil properly. Remember, what you do to start the swing really affects what happens later in the swing. If you get a good start, you're likely to have a good finish. Start off badly and you're going to finish badly.
Here is a simple drill that will help you get everything -- the hands, arms, and shoulders (the triangle) -- started on the right track.
Line up two balls on your target line about a foot apart from each other. Move the second ball about an inch inside the target line. Take your address position over the first ball and focus on your target. Swing back and push the second ball away, then swing through and hit the remaining ball.

Focus on the Target by Jim McLean
Do you ever find yourself guiding the putter back maybe too slow, watching the putter head on your backswing, making very tentative strokes or guiding the ball, or even yipping? Well, let me give you a little tip, an idea that Johnny Miller actually used to win a PGA Tour event. What Johnny did was to simply stop looking at the ball when putting. Instead, he changed his focus and looked at the target. It's very similar to a pool player as he looks at the target ball and not the queue ball. Why not do the same thing when putting? By looking at the target, it takes your mind off everything else except the target and you just stroke the putt. It's amazing how much this can free up your body and your stroke. Give it a try and I'll bet you'll make more from the 15 to 20 foot range!

Putt It There (song title from the Golf Album)
Again, looking at your target. Here I'm talking about your target line not always the cup because of breaks and grain on the green. Putt it there is another positive thought to get you to relax the hands and make a smooth and full putting stroke. DON'T DECELERATE!
Swing Tempo Drill by Steve Scott
Whether you're a tour professional or a amateur player, it is really important to have good swing tempo. Here's a drill that instructor Martin Hall has taught me and I think it will help you. Start by hitting three pitching wedge shots, one after the other, using a nice smooth swing. Then take your driver and try to make the same exact golf swing as you did with your pitching wedge. This drill will keep you from swinging "out of your shoes" on the first tee. It's a very simple drill to do and it will help you warm up before you play. I hope it works for you on your next round of golf.

Weight Shift Drill for Straighter Shots by Ed Dougherty
I find the easiest thing to do first is get into a good stance. Then I try to focus on where my hands are during the swing. Wherever your hands are during the swing is where you want your weight to shift. Let your weight shift by turning your hips in the direction that your hands are moving. Thinking about the swing in this way should help you finish the swing with your weight on your left side. A good and balanced finish position usually produces stronger and straighter golf shots.

Green Tunnels (song title from the Golf Album)
Tunnel vision, looking down the middle of a fairway or at your target, blocking out all negative thoughts such as hazards, bunkers and out-of-bounds. Be positive and commit!
Spine Angle
The best players keep the angle of their spine consistent throughout their entire swing. High handicap players usually raise their body up during the backswing and move it forward on the downswing. Add more consistency to your swing by keeping your spine angle in the same position from start to finish.
Shoulder Turn
This is another huge tip for me, hopefully it will help you too. On the takeaway, getting the left shoulder under the chin tells me I'm making a full shoulder turn, keeping my head in a good position and the club in a good position at that top of my swing. I want to feel the left shoulder touching my chin right before I start my downswing. During the downswing, I keep my head behind the ball while shifting my weight to the leftside swinging the club down the target line.
Attitude Is Everything by Jim Flick
The learning attitude sets the whole tone of how people go about developing new skills and/or taking skills that are marginal and improving them. Players must be honest with themselves. They have to be realistic but in positive terms. They have to realize that a good attitude is a necessary part of the learning process and should not get upset with themselves when mistakes are made. Mistakes are a necessary part of the learning process. Champions learn how to handle disappointments, then set up a solution to the problem and identify how to fix it.

Q & A
What's your absloute favorite course, if you have one? I've been very lucky to have played several great courses but not all of them (yet) but I would have to say Ballybunion in Ireland. It has the beauty of a Pebble Beach coastline (more dramatic) and the character of a links course all rolled into one. The Irish are so friendly and enjoy life to the fullest. I enjoy taking a caddy, walking and chatting with the locals.

Hey Gary great music, great CD's. What's your favorite ball? I've tried several brands from Callaway Blue, Nikes, Maxfli Revolution but I seem to always go back to Titleist. I've had 2 hole-in-one's to date, one in each century! Both with Titleist balls. Right now, Titleist Pro V1 and the new Bridgestone 330S are my favorite balls.

What's your best score and on what course? In 2004, I shot a 74, first and only time I played on a newer course in LA called Aliso Viejo in Orange County, designed by Jack Nicklaus. I was jet lagged from Florida. Go figure! But in 2011, I played a newer course in Boca Raton, Florida, Osprey Point and shot even par 72!

I see from your photo you played Torrey Pines in San Diego, what did you think of it? Wow! I spent a weekend down there, stayed at the Lodge (first class place), played North and South courses. I would recommend playing the North first to get a feel of the greens, wind and grass before hopping onto the famous South course. These are great tracks, no doubt. I had my 'A' game with me on the South and it was tough. I loved it, you have to be straight, long and a good putter to score well. Challenging and beautiful. In August the weather could not have been dialed up any better. My only disappoint was the driving range. They need to get it up to speed.

I'm going to LA for a few weeks and wondering if you have any favorite courses open to the public? Sure! Here in the LA area we have some great tracks. Robinson Ranch in Santa Clarita, Tierra Rejada, Rustic Canyon (links style) and Moorpark CC in Moorpark, a newer course Angeles National in Sunland (north LA), Malibu CC, Lost Canyons (Shadow course is gimmicky), Industry Hills. These courses are in the LA/Ventura county area. If you are going to Orange county, I'm not as familiar with the tracks down there. I did play a few in the Corona area. Oak Quarry and Eagle Glen are great tracks too and all of them open to the public.

Have a tip you would like to share or a comment/question for Gary?
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The Golf Album