What is Your Golf System?

Golf System

What is a golf system? Do you have one? Is it producing results for you? if not, you probably should look for a new one.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to systems and how they can produce very predictable results.

I know — “systems” seems like such a dry, clinical, corporate word, something that business analysts at IBM or Intel sling around with an impetuous fury.

But think about it in terms of your golf game. It can be a lovely word. It can be a transforming word.

How? Think about it this way: Whatever system you are currently using is THE perfect system for the results you are getting.

What are your results? Not very good? Maybe it’s time to look for another system.

The trick is most people don’t go about it this way. They want to make it everything about them. They want to make it personal.

They say:

“I’m not good enough” or “What patterns in myself should I be looking for to see what character flaws I have” or “I’ll never get good at this” or “What’s wrong with me?” — you get the idea. It’s like, “how else can I find a label for myself”

However, if we think in terms of systems we can rise above, like a Phoenix from the ashes, and use systems as a new way to frame the current challenges you have in your game.

See, if you’re totally focused on the problem level you cannot use your inherent creativity and rise above it.

You’ve heard the quote by Albert Einstein that says:

“We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”

The deal is, if your down at the level of the problem you can’t see the problem clearly. You have no access to change there.

But when you use your creativity and look down upon your issue from a bird’s eye view you can come up with creative solutions. Solutions for a new systems. Maybe you need a new short game practice system or maybe Stack and Tilt or a system by Dave Stockton for your putting.

You can ask yourself, “Given that I have this problem in my golf game, what can I create?”

That IS a totally different question. Now you are using “whole-brain” thinking. You’re not just trapped in the logical, left-side of your brain. In some way we become free again by exercising our creativity.

Kinda the same freedom we had when we were kids. Remember? We were almost always creating. Creating space ships out of TV trays and blankets, pretending we were certain characters, inventing wacky, fun games.

Is this easy? no it’s not. When we become adults we get used to certain patterns of thinking. The good news is—it’s still there. We just need to coax it gently. To become re-aquainted with that feeling again.

By thinking and creating via systems we can create (or find) a system that gets results. Give it a try.

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101 Ways to Increase your Golf Power

Golf Power Book

This is an excerpt from the 1st chapter of the new and soon-to-be-released book, 101 Ways to Increase your Golf Power called Golf Power Swing Keys.

I wanted to write this book because I could not really find it anywhere. If you’re looking for more power, distance and lower scores this might be for you.

However, I could only find bits and pieces here and there. So I tried to put all the best stuff I could find related to increasing your golf distances (and accuracy) by developing your golf power into one “power-packed” book.

I wanted to aggregate all the best stuff I could find and even some cutting-edge modalities that are little known but used today by some of the top players in the game. Below you can see how the chapters will lay out.

The first chapter is included below. I hope you enjoy it. After this chapter we only have 91 tips to go! Lot’s more good stuff, promise. I would love to hear your comments and what you think. I will leave my social media contacts at the bottom of the post.

On we go . . .

#1: Get Width It!

First, you need to create some semblance of width in your swing otherwise your quest for power will be limited at best. No chicken winging here, please!

Without width in your swing it severely narrows the arc of your swing. A bigger arc simply has more time to gather power before it contacts the ball.

This typically manifests itself as a collapsing of the left arm (for right handed golfers) where, all of a sudden you have both hands close to your right shoulder on your backswing and both arms are bent with your elbows very close to your body.

A good way to “feel” this “proper” width is to grab a club with both arms extended at shoulder level. The club is now horizontal in front of you with one hand toward the grip end and one hand toward the head end (your arms being about 2 feet apart).

Now assume your golf stance and turn as if you are making a backswing but keep your arms extended but not rigid. Now turn through as if you are moving into your follow through. Feel the difference? That is what extension should feel like. You still don’t want to loose connection with your core/trunk but this is a much more powerful pattern to integrate.

This is often referred to as the triangle. The “triangle” is formed by your 2 shoulders and the peak being both your hands connected on the club handle. It’s a good concept to keep in mind in your practice sessions. It’s not something you should try to rigidly maintain, however, you don’t want it collapsing in your backswing or forward swing either.

Another way to feel this extension is to imagine you have a pail of water in your hands and you are holding it with both hands on the side of the pail. Arms are extended in front of you. Now, keeping your arms extended turn to hand the pail, without spilling it, of course, to an imaginary person behind you. That’s the feeling of width and extension we’re looking for.

Now you might not be close to getting the club to parallel with your golf swing but even if your go three quarters of the way there (or even less!) you are going to feel much more powerfully coiled (of course, keeping your legs solid so to create dynamic tension between upper and lower body)

Personally, this has been such a game changer for me. I started to use the “bucket drill” and my driving distance increased by about 20 yards, easy!

Tom Watson takeaway

#2. Stance, Shmantz

Stance is one of the easiest of fundamentals to overlook when is comes to generating power in your swing. I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to this. My stance definitely favors the narrow side which can lead to loss of balance, hip slide or hanging back (via verse pivot) and end up flipping at the ball ( I don’t mind flipping pancakes but flipping at the ball is definitely NOT cool!)

Stance is all about stability. Think of a back-hoe with that large bucket arm coming out, filled to the brim with a massive load of good ‘ole fashioned – dirt. It has those wide, flat legs that stabilize the tremendous weight exerted on it.

You also want to be aware of the position of your feet. I like to have the back foot be approximately 90 degrees. This is so you can achieve good torque (torque = stored power) and limit your hip turn as you make your backswing. Just don’t flare it out that much, otherwise you won’t get that solid, tight-like, loaded-up feeling.

Your front foot, on the other hand, should be slightly flared out (unless you have super-flexibility) so you can allow your a bit more freedom hips to turn a bit more freedom as you turn through the ball.

Often it’s mentioned to really hike up your left shoulder so you can hit the ball on the upswing. That’s not quite accurate. A better way to think about it is if you are in a completely straight neutral stance the buttons on your shirt would be completely vertical.

What you want to do is tilt those line of buttons so they are  slightly aligned to the right so your spine is angled away from the target. This will give you the best angle to make a crushing, upward blow into the ball — and watch it sail far, far into the distance :-)

So try to maintain a stance a little wider than your shoulders, slightly tilt your spine away from the target and keep the back foot square and front foot slightly open. This will give you a solid base from which your power can be generated. Look out Rory, there might just be a new sherif in town – YOU!

#3. Tee It High (now let it fly!)

A study was conducted a number of years ago on tee height and involved twenty-seven golfers, aged 25 to 71, with handicaps ranging from scratch to 29. Of the players, 25 typically used a mid-height tee and two preferred a high tee.

The tee heights were as follows:

I won’t get into all the details like launch angle, club speed, etc. The results?

“Within each of the three handicap levels, carry distance for mid- and high-tee heights was significantly longer than the low-tee height, largely an effect of the higher tees promoting higher launch angles and less spin. The high tee height provided the most distance, giving the players an average of 12 yards more carry per drive than the low tee height.”

The biggest winners were the high-handicappers (20+) who benefited the most from having a higher tee height, picking up a whopping average of 18 yards over their drives with a low tee height!

Striking the ball above the center of the face—the new “sweet spot” promotes a higher launch angle and less spin. This results in a longer, more efficient ball flight.

Nuff said.

Most players I play with use the large 460cc club face for a driver. These modern drivers naturally have there sweet spot above the center of the club face. Therefore, you also want to tee it up higher to maximize the potential contact with the sweet spot.

Finally, make sure your ball is teed up off your left heel or either farther forward. If you tee it back too far your club really doesn’t have a chance to get square on the downswing and, further, you won’t be taking advantage of the higher “sweet spot” on the driver.

Tee it high and let it fly!

PS: Impact Labels are a great way to begin to see patterns in your ball striking. They identify the precise location of where the golf ball strikes the face of the club. I always carry some in by bag and they always prove valuable to have.

#4. Relax Your Grip, Please

Grip pressure is one of those things that is often so in the background of your awareness that you have no idea whether it’s tight, loose or somewhere between.

A lot of higher to mid-handicappers *tend* to lean on the side of gripping the club too tightly and the result is often a slice because the right hand is gripping the club too tightly and the club head won’t release into the ball, it will be open a impact, resulting in a loss of power and distance.

A good drill to begin the feel your wrist and grip soften bit is to get one of those weighted donuts and put it at the end of one of your shorter irons and just begin to move the club back and forth (with one hand, then the other, then both) and start to feel your hands, wrists and arms “soften.” Really try to feel the weight of the club head. Just move the club head a few inches back and forth to begin.

Eventually you’re hands and wrists will become softer and you can then try to do “figure 8’s” with your arms and other more complicated moves to get even more freedom from loosening your grip.

Here’s another grip pressure drill by legendary teacher, Bob Toski:

“Hold one iron club by the clubhead in each hand. Point the grips toward the floor and tap them together. Not as easy as it looks, is it? Tap them together until you make dozens of taps in succession. Notice that it becomes easier as you ‘soften’ your hands and let the feel of the movement take over.

“When you are doing the drill well, observe your grip pressure and the flexibility in your wrists. Stiffness and pressure may at first feel like control but they only make the task tougher.”

#5. Release the Club (but don’t let go of it!)

To generate adequate golf power, you have to practice releasing the club. This is one of those concepts that can be rather hard to explain without actually “feeling it.”

So one way to feel it is to pick a club (say 7-iron) and swing it with your left hand only from half way back to half way through. Really feel like you’re “slinging” the club back and through. Keep your wrists very soft and try to feel the weight of the club head. Once your left arm is perpendicular to the ground (in the downswing) the club should be almost parallel to the ground. It’s like the club travels a lot further than your arm ever does. That’s where the speed and release come from.

What gets a bit tricky here is that you want your arms/hands to release the club but you don’t want to “flip” the club with your hands. Try this. Swing a club like a baseball bat – making sure to keep your arms extended and soft. Feel like your forearms are touching (they won’t) is another visual to re-enforce this feeling.

Imagine you are trying to chop down a tree with an axe. Your arms would be fully extended when doing this, creating a triangle between your hands (top of triangle) and the base being the line between the shoulders. Keep this intact as you accelerate and extend down and through impact.

Further, feel like your right knuckles are pointing downward through the strike. Rotating your right palm down will help square the clubface.

This video below explains the release rather nicely:

#6. Hip Spinning is NOT Cool

This is something I’ve truly come to understand as a myth – to most golfers. That is, the idea of spinning or opening our hips as fast as possible on the down swing with the hope of generating as much power as possible. The ideal finish having your belt buckle facing your target.

Tiger Woods is certainly, the example used as one who generates explosive power by using his hips with tremendous speed. The trouble is, we are not Tiger Woods (or PGA Pros) and, further, this can cause a lot of stress on our joints and we end up in non-neutral joint alignment.

Another thing spinning your hips does it that it tends to keep your upper body axis tilted backwards because you’ve spun your hips way out in front of your body. This not only leads to pushed, blocked and often thin shots (because you’re coming on to much of an inside path) but also some (soon to be) back injuries. It resembles the old reverse “C” look that many players had in the Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller era.

One way to re-think this is to try to keep your belt buckle “looking” at the ball before and even after impact. Now it will be impossible to do this but we’re looking for the feeling of solidness when doing this. Look at the photo below. Notice how Phil’s hips (in picture below) are not spun forward but just shifted laterally so he can get properly stacked on his right side.

It can be a totally new feeling for you but I ask you to stick with it. Feel the power in the move. Let your arms extend like Phil’s are. Try hitting balls just halfway back and halfway forward. Don’t worry about any sort of follow through for now. That will come easily once this is mastered because the momentum of your arms will carry you through to a proper finish.

Phil Mickleson Hips

#7. Turn, Turn, Turn

Let’s face it if you don’t complete your turn in the backswing a lot of “not good” things are bound to happen in the downswing for the basis of a solid golf swing is the powerful turning and uncoiling action of the body.

A lot of people (myself included) want to finish the swing quickly, not realizing it takes time to complete the coiling action of the arms connected to the torso. The feeling can often be the more you turn the less likely one is to hit the ball. Utter nonsense, I say!

Here’s a way to ensure you are turning your body properly. Take an athletic stance with legs active and knees slightly bent. Then concentrate on moving the backside of your right shoulder (right-handed players) back and around. It’s only a slight movement of a few inches or so.

Your back knee should now be bent and begin to feel like it’s loaded. The weight is on the inside of right foot. This active, loaded and “springy” feeling is what you want. It will “feel” like you have no choice but to propel forward. Winding up (which creates dynamic tension) then an uncoiling of that tension in a smooth and powerful motion forward.

Also, it should not be a “effortful” move. It should be very smooth and relaxed. It’s just like keeping your feet solid (hands across chest) on the ground, turn halfway back like you just saw someone who looked familiar to you.

Note: you might have to exaggerate this move. Often, it can be easy to just tilt the shoulders – where the bottom shoulder goes down and the top goes up. Think more baseball – around and level with the shoulders. It might seem like your entire upper body is moving way to much (if your a tilter) but it’ll only “seem” that way.

Note 2: I’m an over 50 golfer so it’s been helping me tremendously to let the front heel rise during the backswing – a la Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Phil Mickleson and a host of others. I’m probably getting another easy 10 yards off the tee. It really helps complete my backswing and produces a “burst” of power. Give it a try on the range. You just might be super glad you did!

Like a lot of fundamentals, this is one that should be monitored on a regular basis. A mirror can be a wonderful aid in feeling (and seeing) this move.

#8. Be Still, Grasshopper

When you setup to the ball – assuming, of course, your setup fundamentals are sound – you don’t really want to disrupt those initial angles you setup. The less moving parts the better.

Imagine (when in your setup)  a metal rod going from the top of your head through your spine, between your legs and into the ground. This is a good image to work with as it helps you to “visualize” your center or axis you are rotating around.

A lot of golfers (me included, of course) can introduce excess lateral movement in the swing. This can be swaying or a feeling of having to “wind-up” to get more weight to the back side. Regardless, it therefore moves you off your center and somehow you have to get back there to hit the ball solidly. Not good, not good at all.

So practice this first at home. You don’t need a club at all. Just practice moving slowly around your spine. Don’t introduce any excess motion. Go the the extreme (sometimes you have to do this to really “feel” the difference). It’s amazing how often we introduce more “stuff” to the swing that actually gets in the way of solid ball striking.

A good training aid to help you with this is the TeeSquare – a golf training aid endorsed by Tommy Armour III. It’s a small plastic orange tee that has a plastic disc attached just below where you tee the ball. If you sway or move off the ball you can see the orange disk protrude. Simple and effective.

Tee-Square website: http://shop.golfinnovations.com/

#9. Start Singing (I mean “Swinging”)

I‘ve heard of many golfers singing, humming or whistling (Fuzzy, for example) to keep relaxed before and during their swing but I want to focus on the swing key of “Swinging” not singing (for now anyway!).

How many times have you (or you have heard) of players who have a smooth, powerful, relaxed practice swing and then step up to the ball and it looks like they’re trying to kill a rat with a hockey stick. This has often been a particular bugaboo of mine and has produced my fair share of frustration. It’s that dreaded “Hitting from the top” move that totally takes any synchronization completely out of the swing. We want to swing not hit. So what to do?

The good news is – there is always a solution (or solutions) and the key is somehow taking your focus off the ball and onto something else. I mean why is the practice swing so smooth? It’s because no ball is there and there is nothing impeding the natural motion of the golf swing.

The one simple way to begin to get back to “swinging” versus “hitting” is to simply start swinging the club. Do the 9-3 drill in the Swing Drills section.  Swinging is such as natural motion. Try to just let it happen. Feel the freedom in the swinging motion. Let your hands, arms be loose and relaxed.

The speed and power come from loose (not Jello pudding loose!) and relaxed muscles. Just keep doing this. Do it with your eyes closed. Get that feeling into your subconscious.

Next, when you go the range, grab a 6 or 7-iron and with your feet just a few inches apart, swing smoothly back and just try to get the club to “fall” into the ball. Let your lower body unwind to initiate the downswing. No swaying. Keep your feet and core solid and steady. Let the transition be as smooth as possible.

Feel a softness in your hands, arms and shoulders. Let gravity help in allowing the club to fall into the ball and freely and naturally release the club. It should feel effortless and smooth.

Try not to let anything impede the “swinging” motion. Don’t worry about if you even hit the ball or not, just swing back, drop and release.

One note: If you’re not used to this motion (and feeling) it’s going to take some time to integrate. Don’t give up on it. Even when you start to play rounds it’s not a bad idea to hit “half” shots with this feeling. With your new effortless swing the ball will probably go just as far if not farther than with your old, full swing.

upper/lower body separation

#10. The “Magic” of Separation

I just love this pic! It really reinforces the idea of upper and lower body separation, don’t you think? But what if you get so separated that you can’t find you’re lower body? Ugh – that would NOT be cool . . .

Onward . . . In order to create distance we must create dynamic torque in the body. This is produced much like the “load” we put on a bow and arrow. We load the bow by pulling back the string then the built up force is released when we let the arrow go.

A good visual I have seen for this is to “torque” or twist the top half of a larger car sponge while keeping the bottom part stable. The minute you release the top it unwinds quickly due to the release of dynamic tension. For me, I like the words “create torque” as a swing key.

We want to use this dynamic tension to our advantage. First get a solid base, now turn, keeping that right leg (for right-handed golfers) slightly bent, solid. You should begin to feel the dynamic tension building between your left shoulder right hip/right leg.

Feel like right glue is loaded and that your driving your right ankle into the ground. This is what we’re after — that “tight,” loaded feeling. That is the feeling of separation between upper and lower body.

Keep in mind, we don’t want to be forceful, with this. In other words it should not be this overly conscious, tense move. It should build naturally with minimal effort.

Note: A way to actually feel this dynamic tension (off course) is actually quite brilliant and shared in this post we did: Braced Right Knee in the Golf Swing.  

This is something you can practice anywhere, at home, in the office, the gym, wherever . . . Then try it on the range, taking just half swings.

Pros know this secret of building torque then releasing it fully to get maximum distance.

PS: Check out our Golf Power Exercises chapter to help build and stabilize these important muscles we discussed.

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AT&T’s “Fan’s Eye View” – A Huge Success

fan's eye view AT&TAT&T’s “Fan’s Eye View” was a huge success this year at the 30th Annual AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am won this year by Brandt Snedeker.

The weather, I might add, was unbelievably spectacular this year with bright, sunny days in the mid 70’s. Musician Huey Lewis said it was the nicest weather he has experienced in playing the Pro-Am for over 25 years!

As I mentioned in a previous post called, Celebrating 30 Years of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am AT&T, gave 4 individuals the experience of a lifetime by allowing them access to the tournament itself as well as many cool, behind-the-scenes activities as well.

The “foursome” included: Marine Veteran, Tim Lang; Tiffany Fitzgerald of Black Girls Golf, “The Dan Plan’s” Dan McLaughlin, and 17-year old golfer Katie Horsford. All were encouraged to share their unique experiences via Social Media, hence, giving us non-attendees a “Fan’s Eye View”.

Some of cool things they experienced were meeting with superstar-in-the-making PGA professional, Jordan Spieth, individual golf lessons at the Pebble Beach Golf Academy utilizing some of the most innovative technology available and watching the 3M Celebrity Challenge from AT&T’s Sky Box.

Additionally, they received a walking tour of Pebble Beach and it’s history and got “behind-the-scenes” with just one of the many charities, The Veterans Transition Center, which the tournament supports.

Tiffany Fitzgerald summed it up best,

“I had no idea a golf tournament could have this type of impact on a community and be able to see how those dollars are impacting people. It’s pretty inspiring.”

All in all, the “Fan’s Eye View” was a tremendous success. Personally, it gave me an increased appreciation of the effort, dedication and support AT&T has for the fans, the tournament itself and all the wonderful charities. Bravo!

This post is brought to you by AT&T, celebrating 30 years of the #ATTPROAM. All opinions are my own.

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Old World Golf at Riviera

Riviera Country Club

The Northern Trust Open is being played this week at one the the premier golf courses on the West coast swing, Riviera Country Club, located in Pacific Palisades, California (within city limits of Los Angeles).

Defending champion Bubba Watson and FedExCup leader Jimmy Walker are also joined by world No.7 Sergio Garcia and No.16 Victor Dubuisson who are making their 2015 U.S. debuts on the PGA Tour. It always a shootout at Riviera so be sure to check the latest golf betting odds.

Two-time NTO winner Fred Couples returns once again on a sponsor invite, extending his own record with his 33rd appearance at Riviera.

Riviera Country Club was designed by George C. Thomas (with help from famed architect Alister MacKenzie and William Bell) and opened for play in 1927 as the Los Angeles Athletic Club. It’s listed as a par 71 with a length of 7,279 yards.

The private club has been a playground for celebrities like Douglas Fairbanks, Bing Crosby, Walt Disney, Charlie Chaplin, W.C Fields, Humphrey Bogart* and Howard Hughes.

Current celebrity members include both star athletes and Hollywood elite like: Adam Sandler, Tom Brady, Larry David, Mark Wahlberg and Billy Crystal.

Ben Hogan, who had 3 wins here in an 18-month span (including the 1948 U.S. Open) once remarked, “Some of my most pleasant memories and thoughts are of this wonderful club and magnificent golf course.” The course is often affectionately known as “Hogan’s Alley”

Former PGA Tour player and current NBC Golf analyst Johnny Miller said,

“Riviera is definitely one of the greatest, no-nonsense golf courses in the world. It requires a player to play every club in his bag and every shot in his game.”

Hole 6 Riviera Golf Club

Riviera has some of the most memorable holes on the tour including the par-3 sixth which is famous for its bunker in the middle of the green (see pic above), and No.10 may be the best drivable par-4 in golf.

The marquee hole is the 18th – a world-famous par four. The tee shot is blind, and the ball must find the sloped fairway to have any chance of reaching the green, which is surrounded by a natural amphitheater with an exceptional view of the Spanish-style clubhouse.

*A tree by the 12th green is still known as “Bogey’s Tree”, since that’s where Humphrey Bogart would relax – flask in hand – and watch the L.A. Open – (aahhhhhhhh – sounds like a lovely afternoon for me!)

The Northern Trust Open is being held this year (2015) at the Riviera Country Club from February 18-22.


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Celebrating 30 Years of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-AM


30 year ATT&T Pro-Am

Who doesn’t love the Pebble Beach Pro-Am—all the great golf, uber-cool celebrities and some of the most beautiful, majestic views of ocean and land that you will ever see.

Who would have thought this now marquee and worldwide event began in 1937 when Bing Crosby invited some friends to play golf, enjoy a little clambake and a raise a bit of money for charity in Rancho Sante Fe, California.

Like many I have never played the course, only enjoyed the HD version on the large screen at home. It’s hard to imagine actually being there live and in person-but 4 folks are actually getting to do that! In celebration of 30 years with Pebble Beach, AT&T has invited four golf fans to the tournament to cover it from the fan’s perspective.

The Foursome is comprised of: Marine Veteran, Tim Lang; Tiffany Fitzgerald of Black Girls Golf, “The Dan Plan’s” Dan McLaughlin, and 17-year old golfer Katie Horsford are getting the opportunity of a lifetime to experience VIP access at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. They have met with Jordan Spieth, had one-on-one swing lessons, watched the 3M Celebrity Challenge from AT&T’s Sky Box, and will be doing so much more over the weekend.

"Foursome" at AT&T Pro-Am

They will be living it up for the fans who couldn’t be there and sharing all the awesome-ness via social media from a “Fan’s Eye View”

For all of the fans who couldn’t make it out this year, this Foursome is sharing a first-hand look of all the cool and unique things that make this tournament one of a kind.

They will utilize the AT&T Network and HTC devices to document their journey and share via their social properties.

To help raise money for charity Golf pros, Hollywood celebrities and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs come together to raise over $120MM in donations for charity. Some familiar faces playing this year are (the ever-present and star huckster) Bill Murray, Don Cheadle, Jake Owen, Josh Duhamel, Andy Garcia, Chris O’Donnell, Kelly Slater and many others.

The 2015 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am takes place February 9th through the 15th in Pebble Beach, California.

To keep up to date with the journey, follow #ATTPROAM and the Foursome via their Twitter handles:

@TimLangGolf

@BlackGirlsGolf

@TheDanPlan

@KTHorsford

Website: http://www.attpbgolf.com/

This post is brought to you by AT&T, celebrating 30 years of the #ATTPROAM

This post is in partnership with AT&T. All opinions are my own.

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Golf Rx: Focus Starts with Your Eyes

golf rx prescription sunglasses

Golf Rx is on a mission to bring golfers specialty prescription eyewear at the same level of quality and craftsmanship they expect from the rest of their gear and equipment. It’s about time.

ABOUT

In the early 1990s Sports Optical pioneered the technology to put prescriptions into curved-format sport lenses. Since then, They’ve been in the trenches daily and hard at work perfecting their craft.

Today, their lenscrafting pedigree is second to none and ship their glasses worldwide to almost every imaginable athlete—including, of course, golfers.

For the past twenty years, via their parent company, Sports Optical, Golf Rx have been highly innovative leaders in the prescription sport optics industry and developed their own, proprietary formulas and methods for crafting their lenses.

Currently, there exists a gap regarding the importance of a golfer’s eyesight, not only in terms of visual acuity and performance but also with regards to general eye health as we golfers spend hours in the sun hitting great shot after great shot (we can pretend, right!) so with Golf Rx you get the best of both worlds.

THE NEED

Let’s do a bit of quick math here to set the proper context. Roughly, there’s a domestic demographic of approximately 30 million golfers, with the core market being somewhere in the 15-20 million range, depending on how you define that core group.

The industry average of US adults who wears glasses is generally agreed upon in the 60% range (with another 10% choosing other forms of corrective lenses either via contacts or Lasik)

We’ll go right in the heart of the core market (between 15-20) and say 17.5. 17.5 x 60% = 10,500,00. Even if slightly skewed (one way or the other) that’s a whole bunch of “Fore-eyes” playing golf!

THE PROCESS

Basically, it’s a quite a complex, highly specialized process to adapt a prescription lens to a curved-format sports frame.

It requires numerous optical adjustments and formulas to make the prescription hold true in the peripheral areas of the lens in order to provide clear, distortion-free optics.

THE GLASSES

Lenses

All of Golf Rxs’ prescription lenses are fully customized and handcrafted in their labs.

Some of the more popular lenses include a polarized lens which can drastically cut the glare and sheen that comes off the grass and water on the course. The polarization means you’ll squint less, which will reduce eye fatigue. These can include Polarized Rose-Copper, Polarized Brown, Polarized Grey—talk to Golf Rx as to which ones may be most beneficial to you (see pic below)

Other lenses can include Photochromic (a sunglass lens that changes from a light sunglass to a dark) which is flexible in terms of adapting to various lighting conditions. Unfiltered and clear lenses are also available.

I won’t go into all the science of “lens-ology” (My new made-up word) but they are true master craftsmen and optical innovators who have been at it over 20 years to become the leader in prescription sports optics.

– Frames

Style does matter, of course. We don’t want the coolest optics in the world sitting in unstylish and ill-fitting frames now do we? A lot of people don’t understand that prescription eyewear and sunglasses can be made in the most stylish of ways.

A lot of this is personal choice. Golf Rx are official retail partners (and dealers) of world-class brands like Oakley, Rudy Project and Smith Optics.

Some of these companies do offer Rx sunglasses but their primary business is non-Rx sunglasses. Golf Rx on the other hand is a specialist in custom, prescription lenses and leave the frames to folks who specialize in designing sports frames.

The bottomline is that you want the frame that fits your level of style and comfort best. Golf Rx is happy to recommend frames that have found to be exceptional and time-tested on the course OR they can also make custom prescription lenses for the frames you already have! Now that’s flexibility.

golf rx prescription polarized sunglasses

COMPETITORS

Indeed, there are competitors like Oakley, Rudy Project, Kaenon, Nike; these are all eyewear companies, or eyewear divisions of other companies, prominent in the golf scene who offer prescription lenses for some of the sunglasses they make.

Agreed, these are some of the top and best-marketed companies in the world AND they make some of the best sunglasses in world, bar none. They are not, however, founded upon their optical abilities or their innovations in the realm of prescription sport lenses, nor do they really try to be.

They’re competitors only in the sense that when someone is shopping for prescription lenses for sport glasses they have the option of going through Oakley or coming to Golf Rx.

The product supplied would be quite different, both in the math and formulas applied to the prescription to ensure optical clarity in curved-format sport lenses, and also in the lenscrafting process.

The phones at Golf Rx are answered by opticians who play sports and sell exclusively prescription lenses and glasses. The phones at Oakley are answered by sales people in a call center.

The other lenses are made in a machine far away from the call center or retail store. Golf Rx lenses literally require physical effort to grind the lenses, which they do right in their lab, on-site.

Says, Kyle Ross, Optician and Director of Marketing at Golf Rx,

It’s the difference between someone getting a suit off the rack at Macy’s and getting one custom tailored. We prefer it when the customer decides to go the custom route, but we’re a fully different choice.

COOL OR PRACTICAL

Even though it’s fun to get cool prescription sunglasses for the hobby we love, the other side of the story is that it’s a legitimate medical device for our eyes and we often forget that.

It’s a unique balance, the coolness and style weighed against the importance and gravity of eye issues. It’s not a trivial matter. At a minimal, please consult with Golf Rx so you are at least getting proper and accurate information.

HOW TO ORDER

Basically the ordering process begins with a phone call or an email. Prescription details are shared and focal style you are looking for — distance vision, lined-bifocal or progressive-bifocal.

Next, comes the frames — any special needs are addressed. For example, things like fogging, light/wind sensitivities, face and head size, etc. and also discuss what you are looking for with regards to style, because style matters.

Finally, the next discussion is where the rubber meets the road — lenses. If a customer knows exactly what they’re looking for in a lens, great. That can be accomplished quite easily.

If not, questions are asked about the light conditions in which you play, and any special conditions they might have.

For example, what do you typically wear, do you feel like it’s ever too dark or too light? Nearly all of the frames have an interchangeable lens system. Are you looking for one lens for all conditions or are you open to a two lens set-up?

The process takes approximately 3 weeks and then shipped out.

PRICING

There are two things to look at here—the frame price and the lens price. Frames range from $109 to $329 and lenses begin at $209, with special treatments like polarizations, transitions, multi-focal prescriptions bringing the lens costs up.

Surprisingly, Golf Rx prices are often lower than the costs charged by Oakley, Rudy Project or other manufacturer’s Rx lens options. Why? because they can that’s why! Also because of their size [those companies] are really not in the business of providing custom information, advice and education like Golf Rx can.

Golf Rx works to keep their prices in a reasonable range so they can be accessible for all. Keep in mind, this is considered a medical device so think in terms of an investment for the health of your eyes.

Note: Many customers submit their purchases for insurance reimbursement or use their Flex-Spending/Health Savings accounts.

CLOSING

Eyewear, both prescription and non, is extremely relevant to the game of golf and Golf Rx is a true, innovative resource for golfing eyewear, both for purchasing eyewear, but also as a place to consult and find information, on a personal level, for the best frame and lens options custom designed for YOU.

Golf Rx is a division of Sports Optical – an independent optical shop in Denver specializing in custom, handmade prescription sports lenses and eyewear.

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The Wonderfully Quirky Golf Course at Yale

9 hole at Yale golf course

The Course at Yale University is one of my favorite courses to play – not just for the history and sheer (often odd) beauty of the holes but the supreme golfing challenge as well.

For a number of years I would travel with my golfing compadres South from Western, MA to New Haven, CT and play the Course at Yale University. Afterwards, we would hit the famous pizza joints in downtown New Haven. Just head downtown to Sally’s or Frank Pepe’s and you’ll be doing fine.

The course concept began long ago, in 1924, when a 700-acre of land was given by Mrs. Ray Tompkins as a gift to Yale in memory of her husband.

It was designed by Charles Blair MacDonald (in collaboration with Seth Raynor and Charles Banks) who was an accomplished golfer, well-known golf course architect and co-founder of the USGA. It was opened for play in 1926.

Today, the Yale Golf Course is recognized as one of the finest examples of early American golf course design. Large deep bunkers and narrow rolling fairways are on magnificent display everywhere at Yale GC.

In 1988, Golf Magazine ranked Yale as 71st among the 100 most difficult courses in the world. Many recognize the layout as one of the best collegiate courses in the nation. Two of the holes- the 432-yard par-4 fourth and the 238-yard par-3 ninth – have been ranked among the 100 most difficult holes.

I’ve played there a number of times and just love this course. In the Fall time, there is probably no prettier course in the Northeast.

swale at 9 green Yale GC

Here are just a few on my favorite holes on this gem.

#4. Hole number 4 is called “Road.” It’s a long 440 yard par 4 that takes 2 excellent shots to reach the green.

Raynor used the pond to re-create the angle of the out of bounds at the famous number 17 “Road Hole” at St. Andrews and created a road bunker twice as deep as the one on the most famous of courses. Stay out of that one to save at least a few strokes!

It has been called one of Ben Crenshaw’s favorite holes due to the creative use of water as a driving hazard. He often called it, “A great par-four-and-a-half.”

#9. Hole number 9 is called “Biarritz” and is the signature hole at Yale (see top 2 pics). It plays up to 235 yards and has minimum carry of 190 to carry the water.

On a crisp Fall day it’s one of the most beautiful holes you’ll ever see. The water, the framing of the trees, the anticipation of a well-struck shot all cascade into feelings of nervousness and excitement. There’s no turning back now!

If you’ve never played the course you’ll find the most bizarre 8 foot deep swale in the middle of the green. If you hit on the opposite green from where the pin is located the ball will actually disappear from view as it goes down (and down and down) the swale and finally back up again towards the flag.

I mean you really have to give the ball a good whollop to traverse this odd anomaly – but at least you’ll have fun doing it!

Yale18bg

#18. Hole number 18 is called “Home.” (see pic above)  Another beautifully strange hole. From the tips its a massive 621 yards. You literally play along a mountain (or over it if you so choose). The shorter way home is up the mountain the longer way down below to the right.

It’s hard to describe it unless you actually experience it. You really have to string some shots together to have a decent score on this ending hole.

My claim to fame the last time I played number 18 from the tips (all 621 yards of it!) – a tap in bogey! Somehow, I’m pretty proud of that :-)

It’s such a beautiful, odd course. So many little unique twists and turns. For example, it has only 2 par 5’s and you don’t see one until hole 16 (the other at 18). The greens can be massive but also have unexpected and surprising contouring and undulation. Almost some magical thing at every hole.

Here’s hoping you can get up to The Course at Yale and have as much memorable fun as I always do. I can almost guarantee it anytime you play this wonderfully quirky but solid course.

PS: Supposedly it’s bad luck to get into the “Principle’s Nose” bunker on 17  (just love that name!) – so don’t go there :-)

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How to Become a Warrior-Sage on the Golf Course

Hogan practicing alone

We all know our thinking creates our reality, but have you ever “thought” about how this can be influencing your golf game? And I mean from a deeper level than just thinking “Hey, let’s make a good swing here” or “I see the ball going in the hole” type of thing.

Warrior-Sages have a Zen-like way of detaching from events. They don’t get overly emotionally involved. They don’t have a constant need to know. They are happy to just settle in the present. They quietly put in the work and slowly built that internal power and fortitude.

What exactly is a Warrior-Sage? A Warrior is a brave or experienced fighter ready at any time to go into battle. Sage means one is of profound wisdom. The Warrior Sage is one that has fought their way beyond illusion and ignorance to embrace perception, deep-knowing and wisdom.

Warrior Sages just settle into reality and accept it AS IS for they know they created it (yep, YOU created your round of golf!) This way you begin to build power internally, the energy is not dissipated externally.

They don’t yearn to know or for things to be different. The yearning to know becomes an affirmation of their weakness. They are quiet and go about their business with little fanfare or notice. They put in the work and practice daily.

When I think of quietly putting in the work in a Warrior-Sage type of way, I often think of Ben Hogan. The top picture perfectly sums up the image I have of him practicing quietly and alone—the beauty of a master craftsman honing his craft.

I often wondered, “What did Hogan think about when practicing in those long, hot, windy, Texas days of yesteryear?” Of course, the physical aspect was very important but what about the mental (or even spiritual) side of things?

At times, of course, he was trying to solve a swing issue, at others times it was a time for him to just practice, to be quiet, to build his mental strength and consolidate his power internally.

A way to visualize this is (external/internal dynamic) to think in terms of space and non-space. For example, in a painting (let’s say representational painting) there’s what’s called positive and negative space.

Van gogh chair painting

If you look at the picture above by Van Gogh you see the chair (positive space) and then you see the space in-between the chair rungs (the negative space).

When I attended art school many moon ago, part of learning about composition was how to create a harmonious balance between both positive and negative space. Often, we would start to create a composition working with negative space only.

By creating the non-material space the material (or positive) space magically appears. It’s quite a mind shift when you begin by painting what’s NOT there.

Think about it, do you ever consider where you’re not? Where is your mind? Where is your energy? Is it here? or dispersed elsewhere?

Ok, so what does all this bloody warrior and art stuff have to do with my golf game?

If all your future thoughts, negative interpretations and constant second-guessing of yourself flow away from you (to the negative—or outside—spaces) your energy dissipates. It’s like a rubber raft that you poke a thin needle into—it begins to slowly deflate. You have wandered away.

By pulling your mind back from all those thoughts that take you into areas where you are not (negative areas), you allow your energy to consolidate. What you are concentrates around you and becomes more solid and powerful.

Tiger Woods, in his heyday most clearly embodied this. It was like he was the center of the universe. He had that power and internal fortitude like no other.

I can here you now, “That’s easy to say when my head is about to pop off after slicing it into the trees all day long . . .” Yeah, that WILL happen but the practice, the mindfulness and the quieting of the mind will build over time.

Keep centered and within your own space. Feel like one of those solid black silhouettes—solid in your own body, mind and thoughts. Everything is consolidated and contained within. Nothing is being dissipated.

Here’s a few things you can do to build your own Warrior-Sage Power for your game:

 

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Quick 9: Interview with Swing Speed Guru, Jaacob Bowden

jaacob bowden golf swing

If you’re interested in increasing your golf swing speed then I’ve got the guy for you. His name is Jaacob Bowden and is the world’s leading expert when it comes to swing speed training.

Jaacob is currently the Official Swing Speed Trainer for the eGolf Tour and he has taught on the subject of swing speed training for the Swiss PGA and at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Read on to find out more.

1. Tell us a little about you and your background, Jaacob.

I’m originally from Barnhart, Missouri, which is about 25 miles south of St. Louis. As as kid I always dreamed of playing professional sports. In those days, I played lots of sports but for me it was mostly about basketball and baseball. After high school, I had the good fortune to play NAIA Division II basketball and also be invited to a Minnesota Twins tryout at the Metrodome.

With basketball, I wasn’t really fast enough or as skilled at ball handling as was necessary to be a 1 or a 2 guard. Mostly I was a 3 because I didn’t have to dribble as much and was a good shooter. I also played a 4 at small forward because I had a 34” vertical leap and was strong enough to guard guys that were 6’4” to 6’9”, despite me being 6’2”.

But in the end, that didn’t work out, in part because I lost some of my aggressiveness due to ligament tears in my knees. Both tears were accidental from freak collisions and not because I had bad knees, but as anyone who has had a knee ligament tear will tell you, it’s not something you want to go through. The risk of getting hurt again wasn’t worth it for me. I like to shoot, but I don’t really play anymore.

With baseball, the Twins were looking to fill out a couple spots in their organization. I got invited to fly to Minneapolis for a 2-day tryout with over 100 other guys. After the 1st day, we were cut down to about 25, which was basically enough to have an inter-squad game on the 2nd day with some extra pitchers.

I would say I was in the top 15 guys, however, there were 1 or 2 guys that were definitely a notch above everyone else. So I didn’t make it. But it was a great experience. My favorite memory was fouling a ball off that big wall in right field at home run distance with a wooden bat. Unfortunately, I struck out after that, but it was still cool.

After college I got a job as a computer engineer. I knew that it would be a temporary thing, so in an attempt to find some direction I wrote down a bucket list of things I wanted to do in life and I just started checking them off the list. One thing was to attend every major sports event at least once…meaning one Super Bowl, one World Series, etc.

As it worked out, in 2001 the PGA Championship was being held in Atlanta while I was in town for my job training some technicians on how to use our proprietary software.

Lucky me, the final day of training got cancelled. With the extra day to play with, I bought a ticket to the tournament and followed Tiger, Vijah, Phil, and numerous others. There was one instant where I was the only person walking across a fairway while the ropes were down after the players passed through. While in the middle of the fairway looking out to the galleries, I was overcome with the feeling of actually being a player.

All of a sudden it was like a light turned on and my entire vision was brighter. I thought, “I could do this. I could be a professional golfer.”

I was only a 14-handicapper at the time, however, golf careers aren’t near as short as an NBA or MLB player…so I figured there was time for me to improve. I enjoyed the outdoors, traveling, sports, etc. It seemed perfect.

I mulled it over for another year or so before deciding I didn’t want to be 40 years old, look back, and wonder if I could have made it. So I sold all my belongings, quit my corporate job, took my $40,000 in savings, and moved to California to pursue a golf career.

I’ve since gone on to win the Pinnacle Distance Challenge with a televised 381-yard drive, finish 5th at the Speed Golf World Championships and shoot the championship record for golf score at Bandon Dunes, and make numerous cuts in professional tournaments around the world with rounds in the 60s and 70s.

I also started a website called SwingManGolf.com which focuses on how I was able to make such a dramatic improvement in both my golf game and in my swing speed.

2. What led you to become interested in increasing a golfer’s swing speed?

In order to better compete in long drive and to hit the ball farther in regular golf, I was researching ways to increase my swing speed. At the time I felt I was already pretty well maxed out from technique and club fitting. As such, the only way I could think of to hit
longer was to get my body to swing faster.

During my search, most of the things I found revolved around the technical aspects of hitting farther. That didn’t really help me much because I felt my technique was already pretty solid.

Golf fitness was also becoming more prevalent, but you can be fit and not fast. I wouldn’t argue against someone wanting to improve their fitness, but the affects of being fit don’t really translate in a substantial way to shooting lower scores. More importantly is speed.

Since swing speed training wasn’t available in the golf fitness industry, I had to look to other industries and use my own intuition to find answers. I ended up putting together a program for myself that added 26 mph to my swing in just 37 days.

Presently, even today the golf fitness industry is still lagging behind in that regard. I’ve seen well meaning trainers get excited about getting a client a few more MPH after months or even an entire season of training. That’s great but it’s actually possible to obtain 12-16 mph in just 30 days with proper training.

3. What benefits are obtained from increasing your swing speed?

All else being equal, more swing speed will translate to more distance. More distance means you can shoot lower scores. In fact, there’s a direct correlation between distance and handicap when you go from a 15 handicapper down to a scratch player and tour professional.

For starters, more distance will allow you to clear more hazards off the tee and cut off doglegs. You can start driving par 4’s and reaching par 5’s in two. You will be able to get out of the rough easier.

You’ll be able to hit your approach shots higher and with more spin, thus making it easier to hit and hold greens. Heck, maybe it even means you’ll be able to reach more greens period. With shorter clubs in your hand, you’ll get your approach shots closer which leads to less bogeys and more pars and birdies.

4. Could you give a few case studies of dramatic transformations some of your clients have produced via increasing their swing speed?

Most of our members pick up 12-16 mph in the first 30 days of basic training. However, there are those who are able to dedicate more time and energy, though. On the extreme end, we’ve had several guys go from the mid 90s to the 140s on their Swing Speed Radars and start competing in long drive.

One guy was even in his 50s. This took a lot of hard work over many months. However, the point is that if you’re motivated and willing to hang in there and bust your butt, it is possible.

5. What 2-3 things can a person do right now to increase their swing speed?

If you want to get more swing speed, the first thing to do is to start practicing swinging faster…and still under control. You won’t get faster if you don’t try to go faster. This is something that all professional long drivers do. They work on their speed. It’s like any other skill in life. To get better at the piano, you need to sit down and start clacking away.

It doesn’t have to be your entire golf practice. Just hitting 15-30 balls a couple times per week where you are working on ripping it faster can have benefit.

It’s also important to get a radar for the immediate feedback. I like the Sports Sensors Swing Speed Radar because it’s portable, it travels well, it’s relatively inexpensive, and it’s accurate. Plus you don’t need to hit balls to check your speed (meaning you can train at home) and you can also check speeds on any training aids you like to use.

Another key thing to do is to make your golf swing muscles stronger through various forms of strength training.

6. How important is golf-specific fitness in reaching top club head speed? Can you recommend one that can help immediately?

As I mentioned, more important than being fit is being strong and fast. The 2-time RE/MAX World Long Drive Champion Jamie Sadloski is only around 165 lbs, however, he can do hex bar deadlifts for reps at 480 lbs. That takes tremendous strength of his hands, lower back, glutes, and hamstrings.

Other world long drive champions like Joe Miller, Ryan Winther, Mike Dobbyn, Jason Zuback, Sean Fister, etc also show similar strength characteristics. Similarly, when I was at my fastest, I was also at my strongest.

Making your training exercises as golf specific as possible is very important in regards to swing speed training. Perhaps my favorite golf specific exercise is a wood chop.

Go to one of the cable machines in the gym a couple times per week, grab the cable up high (in the same position as the top of your back swing), and pull the weight down to impact (in the same position as impact). Low reps (only 1 or 2 at a time with rest between sets), heavy weight (and moving up whenever possible), and explosive movements are critical.

7. What new developments in swing speed training are you most excited about?

There is very little quality information available as far as swing speed training goes, even by reputable institutions and famous trainers who I’m sure mean well. So honestly I’m most excited about what we’re doing at Swing Man Golf.

Of course we have very good information already in the Premiere Member area of the website, however, every other year or two I try to revamp the swing speed training content…and I’m due for another upgrade. So I’m excited to update it with even more new things that I have learned over the last couple of years.

Beyond that, I’ve done lots of small clinics around the world and taught classes at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology as well as for the Swiss PGA. Now that I have a base back in the US again in New York, I’m excited that it will now be easier for me to bring this education to our PGA of America professionals, golf fitness trainers, etc.

In fact, I’ve started hashing out a swing speed training certification program. I’ve got several projects going on right now which are keeping me busy, so I don’t have an estimated date the certification program will be completed, but I’m picking away at it. It will be very cool once completed.

8. Tell us about some of the products you offer that can dramatically increase one’s swing speed.

I train amateurs and pros in person. However, my time is limited for that. Outside of working with me personally, there is the Premiere Membership at SwingManGolf.com. At the moment, that’s probably the best place to get started.

Becoming a member will also keep you in the loop of future updates and projects like the ones I mentioned above to help you hit the ball longer and lower your handicap.

9. Where can we learn more about you Jaacob and Your Swing Speed Program?

People can learn more about me at SwingManGolf or at my personal website: jaacobbowden.com.

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Bushnell Neo XS GPS Watch

Bushnell NEO XS GPS watch

For those of you who hate to read and just want the bottom line; if you’ve been thinking about getting a GPS watch for golf you won’t go wrong with the Bushnell Neo XS.

If they did away with all yardage tools and markers it would be OK with me. However that’s not going to happen. The best players in the world want to know exact yardages so why shouldn’t amateurs benefit from some course knowledge. I don’t think anyone would argue that they don’t. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve over or under clubbed because I didn’t really know yardage.

First there was the handheld GPS, but they were clunky and got in the way of all the other things a golfer had to manage on course. Many also had annual subscription fees and issues with battery life.

I saw many early GPS users transition to a handheld rangefinder which eliminated battery life problems and monthly or annual fees. It still didn’t fix the clunkiness issue. They’re big and you have to store them securely. Then when you need a yardage you’ve got to fish it out and take the time to aim and get a good reading. While you may know the exact yardage to the pin you won’t find out the size of the green and how much room above or below the hole you have to work with.They also aren’t very useful for figuring out how far you hit your last shot – information which is really helpful if you’re getting serious about scoring.

I’ve had the Bushnell Neo XS for about 2 months now and I love it. It’s lightweight and always available because it’s on my wrist. It weighs less than my everyday wristwatch. It takes a long time to run down the battery – I’ve only charged it twice.

My home course is in the mountains and filled with trees, but I have no problem getting a signal anywhere. When I’m at my ball the yardage is there waiting for me on my wrist. The thing is easy to operate because it doesn’t try to do too many things like some golf watches. I can easily find out how far I’ve hit my shot. Distance to front middle and back of green are the default display. There are distances to hazards, but you don’t get as much information as a high-end handheld GPS, but in my opinion this is easily outweighed by the convenience of the Bushnell Neo GPS. There are some good holiday prices out there now. I’ve seen units advertised for not much more than $100.

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