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Pro Lesson: Structuring A Practice Session

This issue's lesson is by Michigan PGA pro Dave Kendall, director of the Kendall Academy at Miles of Golf in Ypsilanti. Mr. Kendall was the head professional at Cadillac Country Club for 17 years. Included in his accomplishments are two Northern Michigan Chapter PGA championships, one NMC/PGA Match Play championship, and three Michigan PGA Pro-Pro championships. In 1990, Mr. Kendall was the Michigan PGA Golf Professional of the Year; in 1986 and 1995 he was the Northern Michigan Chapter PGA Player of the Year.

Currently, Mr. Kendall provides instruction at Miles of Golf, a 28-acre driving range, retail store, and leaning center. Miles of Golf is at 3113 Carpenter Rd., Ypsilanti 48197, but is "just a 7 iron" from the Ann Arbor city limits. Call 1-734-973-9004 for information.

Lesson: For many players, "practice" means going to a range, getting the large bucket of balls, and hitting a driver fifty times. I also see players work through a set of clubs until they find one they can't hit, and then they stay with that one for the remainder of their practice time. In both cases, this approach just reinforces bad habits and does not lead to better scores. Players need to have a basic knowledge of the control mechanisms of golf before they can improve. An awareness of the position of the clubface (revealed by the curve of a shot), where the ball starts (which indicates the swing path), and their alignment are keys. Once they can accurately observe these three things, then they have the knowledge to make corrections in their game.

To begin a session, a player should warm up with a club that requires less than a full swing, a wedge or 9-iron for example. As they slowly stretch, they need to be aware of the clubface position, making tiny adjustments so the ball flight is straight. When the player is consistently hitting the ball straight with a half or three-quarter swing, then they should move to a mid-range club, like a 6-iron. Taking a full swing now, still observing the clubface position and ball flight, they should work to establish a smooth body motion, proper weight transfer, and a fluid swing. Again, by paying attention to the curve of the shots, small adjustments can be made until the player is comfortable and shots are consistently straight.

The next step is a lofted wood, like a 3-wood or a 5-wood, using a tee at first and then off grass. Again, build rhythm and observe the same three components - clubface position, swing path, alignment. The final club to practice would be the driver. The logic behind this practice plan is that it's easier to speed up than it is to slow down. By beginning with less than a full swing, and by gaining consistency with one club before moving on to the next, a player will then have the knowledge to solve swing problems and make minor adjustments.

One last thing I tell my students is that for every minute they spend on clubs requiring a full swing they need to spend one minute on shots that require less than a full swing. Hitting one drive is pretty much the same as hitting the next one, but chipping, pitching, and putting (the short game) is where the real inroads in scoring can be made. Knowing your game well enough to be able to control speed, line, and distance in a variety of situations is a sure way to save strokes.

Avon Golf Grips is proud to sponsor this month's Pro Tip. You can get more information on Avon Golf Grip by calling 1-800-334-7477.

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