My golf school season starts here and now. It is very nice to return to a course and hotel I had the pleasure to see grow over the years. From a brand new course with a tent as a pro shop to a lovely hotel and spa with a brilliant set up for a golf school. I have 12 people on the Valle del Este golf school 2017 who have arrived from different locations in the UK. They all have the single objective of improving their golf under the sunshine in Spain.
I started the first day going over the basics of what is needed to improve the feeling of playing good golf and recording a good score. The low point , contact, direction and balance. To start the build up we concentrated on pitching with the basics in mind and the need to achieve distance control. This session gave me opportunity to make a video record of everyone’s set up, swing and ball contact as well as let the group warm up for the more vigorous work to come. After lunch we played the course which gave everyone opportunity to experience the swing and ball hitting feeling they started to build up during the morning.
On the 2nd day we reversed the programme by playing on the course. It was good to see some improvements but also exposed the need to do some really concentrated work on putting, which we all know has a massive impact on the card. We moved on to the practice ground at the far end of the range, and discussed the importance of a good set up, keeping as still as possible, keeping the head and eyes still when playing the stroke and listening for the ball to leave the club face and drop in the hole. I set up stations with aids to encourage everyone to keep the club face square at take away, contact and follow though. I used a rail to help maintain a straight pathway throughout the stroke and judge whether the putter head is square at impact. We also talked through the techniques of reading greens. The whole session was great fun in the sun. We moved over to the range to work on driving and long shots where the importance of balance, keeping the core centred over the ball with pressure remaining firmly on the left leg (for right handers and right leg for left handers). I use drills in these sessions to enable players to develop a good feeling of being able to allow shoulders to turn with a tilted angle while also keeping arms straight. It is great to see the ‘light switch moment’ as the group get the feeling.
We started day 3 with bunker play and long game. In order for me give everyone the maximum individual attention and concentration I divided the school into two groups of 6 with one working on the long game and the second on bunkers. We then switched the groups. The long game group focussed on set up and balance through the swing. For most students playing bunkers has a big fear factor that has to be overcome. We focussed on the techniques for hitting good bunker shots: look at how the ball is lying; how to address the position of the club face at address; always keep the weight forward 60/40; keep looking at the sand behind the ball; most importantly make a full swing and follow through. I was impressed with everyone’s concentration and how much they improved. I stressed the need to practice bunker shots frequently to ensure the techniques gained are not lost. After all we always try to avoid bunkers and can play a number of rounds without needing to hit out of sand – the techniques can be easily lost through playing well on the course.
We started day 4 with a favourite of mine – chip and run shots. This is being lost a bit on the pro tours where players seem to favour hitting the land and stop shots. I feel these are more difficult for club golfers. Using a 7 iron the aim is to flight the ball 25% in the air and 75% run out to the hole; the aim with a wedge is to carry the ball 50% in the air to the hole and 50% run out on the green. Much depends on getting the right contact with the ball and the right flight. In general terms 45% of the overall game is played within 60 yards of the green. Following the very concentrated work in the morning we had a really pleasant afternoon playing the course.
As always the last day of the school came around too quickly. At this school I felt everyone was a tad tired. We had a round up clinic to go over the major work covered over the week and give the important opportunity for questions and queries. After lunch the group played their last day competition; a full handicap stableford in lovely sunshine. The winner was Chris (aka John boy Walton) with a fab 38 points, Jan H was second with 30 points.
This was a great group to work with and I was so so lucky and really impressed with the hard work everyone put in on a very concentrated school.
There was also a Stack and Tilt Group on a teaching camp and I was lucky enough to spend some time with my mentor, Andy Plummer and to watch this master at work.
I do so love my job.