Developing an Athlete Golfer

This video contrasts Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson in 2015 on the LPGA Tour. Both played 23 events and one of them earned $1.7 million while the other earned $340,000 (prior to the final event). Michelle grew up playing and practicing "inside the lines" and under the watchful eye of expert coaches and her parents continually striving for perfection while Lexi grew up playing golf and other sports. She mostly tried to keep up with her 2 older brothers.

These two golfers have both been phenoms from a very early age, however the manner in which they were exposed to the game was completely different. Michelle was always trained to be a golfer, while Lexi, with the help of her brothers, ended up becoming an athlete first and a golfer second.

Here is some great stuff from Dr. Martin Toms at

  • Kids who specialize early are 70-90% more likely to get hurt, are more likely to burn out, are more likely to develop psychological issues and don’t develop all-around sports athleticism
  • There is a huge difference between specialization and early-engagers: Specialization is adult-driven, organized environment, focused on long-term goals, while engagement is child-driven, play-centered, focused on enjoyment of the game. They have the space to fail, the freedom to be creative without an adult looking over their shoulder telling them what they are doing wrong. They will fall in love with the game and there will be tons of free-play
  • What if your 7-year-old says he only wants to play 1 sport? – You are the adult and you need to guide them to branch out and try different things.

So what is the right way to develop an athlete golfer? Start with a "diverse portfolio!" Have the young athlete participate in multiple team and individual sports. Keep them active and develop their skills in a broad variety of fields. Do all you can to avoid early specialization for as long as is feasible. Do all this in an open, play-centered environment that is predominantly child driven. Encourage as much "outside the lines," abnormal (fun) practice as possible.

Just my 2 cents!

2009 in Review

That's all she wrote! The 2009 "official" golf season is in the books and while there were glimmers of excitement, I felt like the year was not one to write home about. Here are a few thoughts: Tiger Woods eclipsed the $10 million mark again - Steve Stricker, his nearest challenger was more than $4 million behind!

Steve StrickerNo majors for Tiger. If he does not win at Augusta next year I predict Hank Haney will be looking for some new students. Biggest surprises in the top 20 on the money list: Kevin Na; Z. and D. Johnson; Y.E. Yang; Brian Gay; Lucas Glover. How about this list of golfers outside the top 125: Chris DiMarco; Carl Pettersson; Stuart Appleby; Rocco; Chez Reavie; Johnson Wagner; Trevor Immelman; Ken Duke and multiple other tour winners.

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How About this Golf Shot?!

It's not easy to make a golf ball do this!  The question is - are you mad at the result or happy with the result? Do you snap the flag or celebrate a near miss? I would love to hear how you would feel about this outcome. If you are doing this on a regular basis then you must be doing something  right through the impact zone.

Knocking Down Pins!

(Thanks to one of my students, Steve Southern for this little gem)

A few things to Ponder:

  • The golf ball spend 1/2000 of a second on the clubface during impact! So if you're a single figure handicap golfer and you play 250 rounds a year, the ball spent 1 second on your clubface.
  • Val Skinner interviewed Michelle Wie on the Golf Channel yesterday and asked her what her plan is for the weekend. Her response - "Well, I'm gonna hit lots of fairways, I'm gonna hit lots of greens and make lots of putts"....................followed by a long pause as Val waited for something deeper than that. Thanks for that insight into the mind of a tour golfer Michelle.
  • Alexis Thompson at 14 years old is in a tie for the lead at the LPGA event going into the weekend! She does not seem to be afraid of too much.
  • Is there a PGA Tour event this week or is the season over?

Golf's Simplest Practice Aid

Simple Alignment Aid This must be one of the simplest, yet most helpful practice aids I have ever come across!

This teaching aid will greatly assist any golfer, not only with their alignment, but also provide an excellent visual image of what the swing path should be through impact.

If you are looking for a “high tech device” you are in the wrong place!  All you need is a 8-10 foot heavy piece of  nylon string available at any home improvement store and two golf tees.   Attach the ends of the string to each tee by burning off or tying and place the tees in the ground as illustrated.  There is no concern for a line that is 'parallel left' of your target here, as the string is placed almost directly on your target line.  It cannot be bumped off line or cause damage if hit during a swing.

The golf ball should be placed a few inches inside the string.  When hitting driver you can actually tee the ball up right on the string!

As you address the ball, not only will you be aligned correctly, but you will get a clear sense of what it means to swing "down the line."   This handy device can be used for all shots, including work on your chipping and putting.

If PGA Tour players are using this, surely you too should give it a try!

  • Place the tee closest to the target in the ground first and then back up and align the string at your intended target.
  • Start hitting shots toward the front of the string and work the divots back along the inside of the string.
  • The clubhead should never cross the string, either coming into impact or exiting the hit.  Feel the clubhead staying 'inside the wall' so to speak.
  • If you think you don't need this, trust me, you do!

Proper Practice!





Things to Ponder:

  • What do Kenny Knox, Nolan Henke, Tom Byrum, Willie Wood and David Peoples have in common?  Besides the fact that they all played in the 1988 Greater Hartford Open (?) they are all playing on the PGA Tour this week!  There must be more competent golfers out there......
  • Lance Ten Broeck (see above group) caddied for Jesper Parnevik in the morning and then played, shooting 71, in the afternoon!  Never heard of that before...
  • Hey, David Feherty, ever heard the joke about two bullets, Nancy Pelosi and Osama?  Ever heard of a fellow CBS commentator called Ben Wright?  BTW Feherty is working the Valero Texas Open this week although I'm surprised he's not playing!
  • Michelle Wie still wants to compete against the men!  And I want to drive down Magnolia Drive in a red Ferrari and win the Masters....
  • My pick this week, Justin Leonard, is looking good so far.  Go boy, go!
  • I know of two teams in fantasy golf who picked Henrik Stenson and Ian Poulter!  How's that for a $2.8 million pay day?