The Local Knowlege

Golf instruction

Make The Turn Weekly Challenge #50: Rhythm Master

To develop a quality putting game you need to attain a reasonable level of skill in the elements of distance control, direction and green reading. Very often, I believe golfers focus on building this skill set in an order that's not entirely conducive to having fun and lowering their score. So often I work with clients who have spent hundreds of hours honing their strokes in putting tracks or focusing on some technical aspect of slope recognition. Yet with all of this work they still don't make many putts. I too have fallen victim to perfectionist attitudes in the mechanics of swing path and club face. I've also dissected and over-analyzed every inch of a putt only to see my ball roll towards the hole with the conviction of a drunk lumbering down Main Street.

Over time what I've learned is that great putting is "all about the roll." That is, feeling a sense of flow and rhythm that puts a beautiful turf hugging roll on your golf ball. When the roll is pure and the contact is sound, predictable speed control becomes attainable. When contact and speed are absolutes, read and line mechanics take on a higher and more relevant level of importance.

You can argue that path and face influence contact and I, of course, agree. What I'm contending is over emphasis on the "how" sometimes works to the detriment of the "what." That's why with all my clients goal #1 is developing rhythmic, confident, free flowing strokes that make the ball feel good and act predictably. A pure roll improves speed, and with good pace you have the foundation for great putting.
Ben Crenshaw said, "Putting is an art, not a science." I like to believe great putting is both art and science sprinkled with a little bit of magic. When you look at the size of the cup, nuances in slope, differences in grass, variables in distance, and wind or circumstance, it's truly amazing how many putts are made at all. That's why I think a great putt is just as enjoyable as a smashed tee shot. The feeling of a perfect strike that finds the bottom of the cup elicits a level of joy only a golfer can resonate with.

The metronome drill seen in the video below is a great exercise that really works! Great putting involves a number of elements. Just remember, it all starts with the roll!

Better Contact
Improved Distance
Make More Putts

Jeff Ritter is the CEO/Founder of MTT Performance. The program operates out of Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Calif. Follow him on Twitter at @mttgolf
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Golf instruction

Make The Turn Weekly Challenge #48: Awesome Ankle Activation

One of the more overlooked aspects of golf or any type of fitness has to be ankle mobility. Unless you're a top athlete, you're probably unaware of how small bits of stiffness in your ankles over time are affecting your performance. As it relates to a good golf game, the ankles are integral in supporting body rotation, while also facilitating a strong push into the ground for a powerful strike. Ankles that lack reasonable ranges of mobility adversely affect swing fundamentals, while also putting a dangerous amount of stress on other joints in the body.

I believe the ability to live powerfully on or off the course is pretty simply rooted in how good you feel. When you're light, fast, explosive and most of all "pain-free" an unlimited number of experiences are open to you, making life and golf a lot more interesting. When I was younger I'll freely admit my desire to be fit was mostly a product of ego. I wanted to look a certain way and really didn't care to focus on little things like ankle mobility. Now that I'm older, the #1 goal is to feel great. I walk when I play, surf on the weekends and run with my dog on the beach. I understand if I can't physically move well, my enjoyment for everything disappears. Knowing a small amount of attention to key areas will keep me active is enough incentive to make sure I never have to watch from the sidelines.

A pretty cool lesson on the importance of "flexibility" comes from Zen culture. The lesson looks at the "birth-death" continuum or the process of life itself. In analyzing the life cycle of a living organism such as a tree or plant, at the early portion of the continuum the plant exhibits a high level of flexibility. Over time the plant stiffens, until eventually at the end of its lifespan it has become so brittle, even a strong breeze can snap it in two. In comparison, at birth, human beings are as mentally and physically flexible as they'll ever be. Over time, we become more mentally conditioned or "set in our ways," while our bodies tighten, weaken and slow down. Whereas the plant lacks the ability to exercise such uniquely human gifts as free will, we have the power, if we so choose, to lean more towards the birth side of things. That is, actively choosing to keep our mind and body as flexible as possible for as long as we can. It's such a big deal, some argue that mental and physically flexibility is the key to happiness itself.

The point here is that being flexible is a very good thing. Good for golf and a whole lot more. Spend some time taking care of the little things and you can count this week's challenge as complete.

Increase Power
Improve Rotation
Feel Better

Jeff Ritter is the CEO/Founder of MTT Performance. The program operates out of Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Calif. Follow him on Twitter at @mttgolf
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Tenuous golf connection

What Odell Beckham Jr.'s circus catch has to do with a Ben Hogan golf tip

Social media exploded on Sunday night thanks to Odell Beckham Jr.'s circus catch in the second quarter of the Giants-Cowboys game. The NFL rookie hauled in a leaping one-handed grab for a touchdown (while drawing a pass interference call on his defender) that had many quickly labeling it as the greatest catch of all time. Just look at it!


But as Deadspin pointed out, Beckham really only used three of his right fingers to make his one-handed highlight. So why are we mentioning it on a golf blog?

Well, Ben Hogan advocated practicing with just a three-finger grip in the right hand in his iconic instruction book, "Five Lessons." Hogan suggested taking the thumb and forefinger -- "potential swing-wreckers" -- off the club and taking practice swings to give a golfer "a wonderful sense of having just one corporate hand on the club." Here are the drawings on page 31 of what it should look like:


Related: More of Ben Hogan's timeless tips

So go ahead and try Hogan's drill while you're stuck indoors this winter to get that correct feeling of having your hands work together in the golf swing. If you're playing football this Thanksgiving, though, it's probably best to leave the back-bending, gravity-defying, full-extending, one-handed catch attempts to the pros.

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Make The Turn Weekly Challenge #37: Bomb It Big

Everyone wants to hit their golf ball farther! Although it helps to be built for power, anyone can very quickly learn to train themselves into a little more club head speed. 

This week's challenge was presented to me while running my Nike Junior Golf Camps in Pebble Beach. I had hired a good young coach named Jim Waldron to teach on staff and run the fitness component of our program. Jim won the Arizona Long Drive Championship Series in 2014 with a ball of 426 yards. As someone who is built for power, Jim's clubhead speed has been clocked as high as 147 miles per hour!

One morning before camp, I was awakened to the sound of a feverish lashing coming from outside the walls of our camp housing. The continuous "whoosh" was powerful, crisp and concise as if being executed by the hand of an accomplished swordsman like "Zorro" himself. As I walked out to investigate, I saw Jim working on a technique he called "overspeed training." Just like the exercise demonstrated in the video below, Jim would alternate between max speed swings with a light object and slow, elongated, muscle stretching swings with a heavier weighted club. He would spend 10-15 minutes with the practice, training three-four times per week. 

Anything you can do to work towards hitting it harder is worth the effort. I guarantee within your first time trying this exercise you'll begin to notice and "feel" where speed is lacking and how to start producing it. Go as fast as you can with the light shaft or alignment stick swing, but make sure the long weighted club swings are slow and deliberate as to avoid injury. 

Dedicate a few minutes to trying out big Jim's training routine and you can count this week's challenge as complete.

Increased Club Head Speed
Longer Drives
More Fun

Jeff Ritter is the CEO/Founder of MTT Performance. The program operates out of Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Calif. Follow him on Twitter at @mttgolf

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Golf instruction

Make The Turn Weekly Challenge #27: Hogan's Practice Secret

There's a big difference between practicing hard and getting the most out of your time working on your game. All too often, we think buying a jumbo bucket will serve us more than hitting only a few balls. As a kid, I desperately wanted to be a great player and heard somewhere that I needed to hit 1,000 golf balls a day! I'd grab the massive yellow range bucket from the cart barn and fill it until it overflowed. Dragging it to the tee, I'd embark on a marathon practice session under the hot summer sun. Very often, my sessions would start positively. I knew what I wanted to accomplish and would get into a pretty nice rhythm. The more I hit, however, the worse I'd perform. I'd quickly lose focus and begin hitting shots at a feverish pace. The moment of poor contact, I'd immediately rake another ball over to lash at again. I'd become so undisciplined in my approach, each session would end out of breath and full of frustration.

One afternoon, one of the better players at the club took notice of my downward spiraling practice effort. This guy was a real "ace!" It was the 80s and I remember him purely striking shot after shot with his forged irons, collar up and cigarette dangling from his mouth. He proceeded to tell me a story about Ben Hogan and how to craft the perfect practice session. He said, back in the day, Hogan and his caddie would go to the practice tee with only a small shag bag full of balls. He'd then proceed to hit no more than 20 shots, directing total focus and commitment to properly executing his specific goal for the day. After 20 balls had been struck, Hogan would sit and enjoy a cigarette, as his caddie would collect the balls. The short break would allow him to mentally refresh, reflect, and consider adjustments for the next series of shots.

Did Hogan "actually" practice this way? I have no idea, but building my practice sessions in this way really helped my game. I didn't take up smoking or have someone shag balls for me. I did, however, begin hitting only 20 shots at a time, followed by a short water break. For me this process had the same effect, and it felt really good to leave the course feeling as if I had accomplished something. Try incorporating this little secret into your next training session and you can count this challenge as complete!

Specific Goals
Increased Focus
Better Results

Jeff Ritter is the CEO/Founder of MTT Performance. The program operates out of Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Calif. Follow him on Twitter at @mttgolf

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Golf instruction

Make The Turn Weekly Challenge #26: Live above the "O" line

Shakespeare said, "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." My buddy Chris from New Jersey, paraphrased this by saying, "Hey it ain't bad, just is." Either way, they both make the same powerful point that "interpretation" is a decision.

I spent a lot of time learning about concepts such as this from my buddy Chris, who also happens to be a top mental toughness coach for athletes, sales teams and business executives. Of all the lessons learned, this idea of "Living Above The "O" Line" has continued to be helpful on a daily basis. The lesson basically states, If you're feeling "stressed" it's because you're choosing to believe in something that's simply not true. That is, you're deciding to interpret outcomes or events as negative, when in reality, the negativity is produced entirely by you. We also call this the "victim's mentality," where we think in a manner that makes us feel like the world is "happening" to us, versus demonstrating the ability to be creators of our own happiness.

In many cases, we've been conditioned to think in this way as a means of getting attention or even sympathy from others. How many times has someone approached you and said, "You're not going to believe what happened to me today?" Nearly 100% of the time it's a tale of being wronged or on the receiving end of so-called "bad luck." "You're not going to believe what happened to me. I got stuck behind that accident on HWY 51 and it took me over an hour to get to work!" "You're not going to believe what happened to me. I hit a perfect drive down the middle on #4 and my ball ended up in a divot!" "Oh the humanity! Poor YOU! How did you ever survive? Boy do you deserve to get a break one of these days!" That's what we expect to hear right?

Deciding to live above the "O" line is one of the most important skills you can develop in becoming a more disciplined thinker. The goal is, at the very least, to simply see outcomes and events as neutral observations, where they don't affect your mood in a negative way. In the example in this video, my ball goes into the trees. If I remain neutral in my observation, I accept that the outcome just "Is" and then proceed to hit my next shot. When we decide to live "above" the observation line, we think in manner that turns a moment of perceived "adversity" into fuel. In the video, I decide to see my ball in the trees as an opportunity to hit a fun shot. A shot that's way more exciting and inspiring than if my ball were in the middle of the fairway. When I live above the "O" line, I elevate my mood, thus activating the creative genius we all possess when we feel our best.

In learning this lesson, I was encouraged to consciously look for opportunities to utilize this practice not only on the golf course, but also in everyday life. Shortly after, while driving to work, a rock hopped up off the freeway putting a big crack in my windshield. Being conscious of my goal, I thought for a moment how I might normally react to such an event. How I'd act like a victim blaming it on the dump truck driving in front of me and then walk into work spouting the "you're not going to believe what happened to me" story. Instead, I looked for ways to "interpret" the event in my favor. I noticed there were already a lot of little nicks in my windshield which I had to look through for the past few years. "This is perfect I thought. I finally get to look through a perfectly clear windshield!" I then acknowledged that I had an awesome insurance plan with full glass coverage and how glad I was to be able to get something out of the money I'd paid into getting the plan. While on my drive, I phoned the insurance company and learned that not only would my windshield promptly be fixed. They'd also come to me to fix it while I was at work and give me a voucher for a free detailing through a promotion with my dealer! Living above the "O" line turned a moment of perceived "bad luck" into an awesome tale of good fortune, all through the conscious power of positive interpretation.

This lesson isn't about looking at the world through rose colored glasses. It's about removing the glasses all together and seeing things the way the are. Neutral in reality, with the opportunity to be perceived any way you wish.

Try consciously committing to elevating your interpretation of basic observations for just one full day, on or off the course, and you can count this challenge as complete.

Elevate Mood
Have More Fun
Increase Performance

Jeff Ritter is the CEO/Founder of MTT Performance. The program operates out of Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Calif. Follow him on Twitter at @mttgolf

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Golf instruction

Make The Turn Challenge #23: Shift Your Perspective

One of the more confusing aspects associated with putting is green reading. The most common problem I see golfers make is significantly under-reading the break. This is always evident when I play in a scramble tournament with a few amateurs. During a scramble, the group plays collectively as a "team" from the position of the group's most favorable shot. As it relates to putting, the "team" aspect really kicks in as players strategize to find the perfect line. Without fail, the amount of break or "read" is often very minimal. I hear a lot of "right edge," "left edge" or a "cup" out. The reality is, putts break a lot more than the eyes naturally see. In fact, research has shown most golfers tend to under read putts by up to 75 percent.

I learned a lot about reading greens during my years coaching for Dave Pelz. Part of the learning process was demonstrating just how far off a person's read actually was. I always loved setting up a test putt for a big group. I'd pick a putt with about three to four feet of break and then let each individual offer their best guess. In the hundreds of times doing this exercise, I don't believe a single person ever nailed the exact break. Like the research suggests, most were at or below the 25 percent line.


Does being a lousy green reader make you a terrible putter? Not necessarily. In order to make putts, you simply have to be able to compensate to maneuver the ball to the proper line. As it turns out, some people are just better at compensating than others. During my time at the Pelz school we tested a number of tour players who didn't read greens much better than the average Joe. Still they putted pretty darn good. One player, after learning how far off he was, remembered how as a kid he would play the course early in the morning before the greens had been mowed. He said he would make putts, but would then be surprised at how the ball's track mark through the morning dew was always way higher than he had intended. I found this to be a pretty cool point that I remembered experiencing as well.

So what's the best way to improve your putting? For the majority of my clients, I start with learning how to create a quality roll that lends itself to reasonable distance control. Next is learning how to better understand the slope for a more accurate read. The final step is tuning up issues associated with direction. Why is direction last? If you're not consistently seeing the proper line, a repeatable directional pattern is of no use.

Putting will always be a combination of art, science, emotion and adjustment. As it relates to finding a better read, there are even some cool new strategies, such as "AimPoint," you might want to check out that are actively getting players more engaged with developing this vital skill.

Spend a little time trying this week's exercise and you can count your green-reading challenge as complete.

Improve Green Reading Skills
Increase Confidence
Make More Putts

Jeff Ritter is the CEO/Founder of MTT Performance. The program operates out of Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Calif. Follow him on Twitter at @mttgolf
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Golf instruction

Make The Turn Challenge #19: Trap Perfection

By Jeff Ritter

Coaching golf has come a long way. If you're working with someone on your game, chances are you've utilized video analysis and possibly even super high-tech devices such as force plates and launch monitors, which dissect every action and reaction associated with your golf swing.

While advances in technology provide golfers with more information than ever before, the real secret to playability is to develop the "feelings" unique to you that deliver the contact and control over the golf ball you're looking for.


A great way to do this on your own, is by practicing a simple self-coaching trick called "trapping." This is a fantastic exercise in personal development, that can quickly deliver big results. The key is to create an environment where you allow yourself to make drastically different swings. Instead of always seeing the same pattern in your golf shots and not knowing quite "HOW" to change them, trapping pushes the parameters of cause and effect to intentionally produce opposite ends of the ball flight spectrum. Once you establish your "extremes" in a particular characteristic such as: Contact point, height, direction or curvature, you essentially know that your perfect result lies somewhere in the middle, "trapped" between swings A and B. Within only a few attempts you should now be able to find the motion that delivers the upgraded contact and flight pattern you desire.

My goal as a coach is always to empower the player in a manner that makes them as self-sufficient as possible. Commit to practicing this exercise in the art of self-discovery and you can count this challenge as complete!

Increased Impact Awareness
Develop Self-Coaching Skills
More Accurate Shots

Jeff Ritter is the CEO/Founder of MTT Performance. The program operates out of Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Calif. Follow him on Twitter at @mttgolf

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Gear & Equipment

Three reasons the Swing Caddie SC100 is a launch monitor worth looking at

By Keely Levins

ORLANDO -- Voice Caddie, like many other companies, is making a launch monitor. The Swing Caddie SC100 will be on sale starting in March. Here's why it matters:

swing caddie.jpg

1. The SC100 doesn't cost a billion dollars. When I'm looking at techy products such as simulators and launch monitors, I'm always wary of the price. There's a ton of very cool stuff out there that is very much out of the average person's price range. Swing Caddie SC100 is not one of those products: It's going to retail at a manufacturer approved price of $269.

2. It looks cool. There's nothing boxy or boring about this piece of equipment. It's simple, sleek, and kind of looks like a big iPhone. You can hold it in your hand without a problem, making it easy to pick up and look at your stats, and easy to carry in your bag on the way to a range session. 

3. You're given stats you understand. As minimalist as it is in looks, it's equally minimalist in the stats it gives you - and that's a good thing. Too much information can be overwhelming and end up being more of a hindrance than a help. Set the SC100 up four to five feet directly behind your ball (it has a built in stand) and hit your shot. The SC100 gives you carry distance, swing speed, ball speed, and smash factor. These are all stats the average golfer can understand and use; nothing extra, nothing unnecessary. As with any company new to launch monitors, we're going to have to wait and see if they'll earn their place by being accurate. 

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Gear & Equipment

Full Swing makes simulator golf two steps: drop and hit

By Keely Levins

You know when you're hitting into a simulator, and a thousand other people have hit a thousand shots off it before you - but you can only hit off that one specific spot, because otherwise the simulator won't pick up your ball flight? On Wednesday at the PGA Merchandise Show, Full Swing Golf and Swing Catalyst announced the solution to this problem: ION 2 Vision Technology. 

swing catalyst.jpg
ION 2 Vision Technology uses a camera mounted on the ceiling above the hitting mat. The camera can notice the ball when its placed anywhere within about a two-foot diameter circle on the mat. Once the ball has been identified, the simulator automatically adjusts to the angle at which you're hitting into the simulator screen.  

Ian Poulter was an early adopter and now he has company; Hunter Mahan and Bill Haas both are now using Full Swing simulators. If you're as techy as these pros, all you have to do to get the ION 2 and the rest of the simulator set up is foot the $40,000 - $65,000 bill.  

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